The book of Joshua is both history and scripture. As history, it is a record of the things which happened in the period following the death of Moses. As scripture, it is written for our admonition such that His will might be manifested in us (see I Cor. 10:11).
The text before us includes a record of a day unlike any other, a day in which God caused the sun to stand still. If asked why did God make this happen, many would state that the miracle allowed Israel to defeat the enemy. Very few would declare that God did it for our admonition. Both answers are correct. Believers know God by that which He does. God does that which He does for our understanding.
Consider the events leading up to the day in which the sun stood still. Adoni-zedek, the king of Jerusalem, and four other Armorite kings had gathered their armies against the city of Gibeon with the intent of destroying it because the Gibeonites had made peace with Israel (v. 4). The reason that the Gibeonites chose to make peace is found in Chapter 9.
The Gibeonites knew that the Lord God of Israel had commanded the children of Israel to take possession of the land and to destroy all its inhabitants. The Gibeonites had cause to believe that God would empower Israel to do as He had commanded. They had heard of that which God had done to Egypt. They had witnessed that which God had done to the two Armorite kings who ruled over the cities of Heshbon and Bashan on the east of the Jordan. They knew the likewise fate of the kings of Jericho and Ai on the western side of the Jordan.
The peace deal to which the Gibeonites agreed stipulated that they would become Israel’s servants in exchange for a pledge before the Lord God that Israel would not slay them.
Returning to verse 4: Gibeon was now under siege by the five kings because the Gibeonites believed that God would do what God had said He would do.
Joshua responded to Gibeon’s call for help (v. 7). Joshua could have reasoned that Israel was under no obligation to bring aid because the Gibeonites had falsely claimed that they were of a distant land. Joshua responded because Israel’s pledge before God took precedence over Gibeon’s deceit. Joshua’s desire was to do that which was right before God.
God knows the hearts of men and He knew Joshua’s thoughts. In verse 8, God assured Joshua that he was doing the right thing. Joshua attacked. Verses 10 and 11 describe that which God did. The Lord routed the five kings and inflicted casualties upon their retreating armies. Verse 11 states that the Lord slew more Amorites with hailstones than Israel did with the sword.
The scripture states that Joshua, standing in the sight of Israel, commanded the sun and the moon to stand still. Verse 13 states that the sun and the moon obeyed. Joshua commanded it and it happened. What? No man possesses the power to direct the sun and the moon. How did Joshua do it? Joshua did not make it happen. God did. Verse 14 states, “And there was no day like that before or after it, that the Lord hearkened unto the voice of a man.” God caused what Joshua commanded to happen. The Lord God hearkened to the voice of a man.
Believers know that God does not answer to man. When Jesus dwelt among us in the flesh, He said: “If ye had faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye might say unto this sycamine tree, Be thou plucked up by the root, and be thou planted in the sea; it should obey you” (Lk. 17:6). God answers to faith. Joshua possessed enough faith to make the sun and the moon pause in their journey across the skies. Faith makes things happen. Faith caused the walls of Jericho to fall (see Heb. 11:30).
Where did Joshua’s faith come from? God gave it to him. In verse 8, God said: “Fear them not: for I have delivered them into thine hand; there shall not a man of them stand before thee.” Joshua heard and believed God. Faith comes by hearing that which God says (Rom. 10:17).
God gave Joshua the faith to do that which he did. When Joshua left Gilgal to go up to Gibeon, his objective was to save the Gibeonites. After God spoke to him, Joshua had a new objective. He was to slay every Armorite. Joshua achieved the new objective because the sun and the moon obeyed his command.
Joshua did that which he did in the sight of Israel. The power of faith is power from God. God gives His power to all who would do His will as Joshua did. God would have all men know that He empowers them who seek His will.
Let us use the faith which we have been given.