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Have a Good Day!

Joshua 10:1-15 - “Now it came to pass when Adoni-Zedek king of Jerusalem heard how Joshua had taken Ai and had utterly destroyed it—as he had done to Jericho and its king, so he had done to Ai and its king—and how the inhabitants of Gibeon had made peace with Israel and were among them, that they feared greatly, because Gibeon was a great city, like one of the royal cities, and because it was greater than Ai, and all its men were mighty. Therefore Adoni- Zedek king of Jerusalem sent to Hoham king of Hebron, Piram king of Jarmuth, Japhia king of Lachish, and Debir king of Eglon, saying, “Come up to me and help me, that we may attack Gibeon, for it has made peace with Joshua and with the children of Israel.” Therefore the five kings of the Amorites, the king of Jerusalem, the king of Hebron, the king of Jarmuth, the king of Lachish, and the king of Eglon, gathered together and went up, they and all their armies, and camped before Gibeon and made war against it.  

And the men of Gibeon sent to Joshua at the camp at Gilgal, saying, “Do not forsake your servants; come up to us quickly, save us and help us, for all the kings of the Amorites who dwell in the mountains have gathered together against us.”

So Joshua ascended from Gilgal, he and all the people of war with him, and all the mighty men of valor. And the LORD said to Joshua, “Do not fear them, for I have delivered them into your hand; not a man of them shall stand before you.” Joshua therefore came upon them suddenly, having marched all night from Gilgal. So the LORD routed them before Israel, killed them with a great slaughter at Gibeon, chased them along the road that goes to Beth Horon, and struck them down as far as Azekah and Makkedah. And it happened, as they fled before Israel and were on the descent of Beth Horon, that the LORD cast down large hailstones from heaven on them as far as Azekah, and they died. There were more who died from the hailstones than the children of Israel killed with the sword.

Then Joshua spoke to the LORD in the day when the LORD delivered up the Amorites before the children of Israel, and he said in the sight of Israel: “Sun, stand still over Gibeon; and Moon, in the Valley of Aijalon.” So the sun stood still, ad the moon stopped until the people had revenge upon their enemies. Is this not written in the Book of Jasher? So the sun stood still in the midst of heaven, and did not hasten to go down for about a whole day.And there has been no day like that, before it or after it, that the LORD heeded the voice of a man; for the LORD fought for Israel. Then Joshua returned, and all Israel with him, to the camp at Gilgal.”
On the morning of Joshua 10, do you suppose anyone said “Have a good day!” to Joshua? Little did anyone in Israel realize that it would be a very good day for Joshua and the nation.In fact, it would be one of the greatest and most unique days in human history. Joshua’s longest day is known as one of the great miracles of the Bible.

Background Notes 

In Joshua 9, the delegation from the city of Gibeon, which was located in the land of Canaan not far from Jerusalem, came to ask Joshua and the Israelites to make a peace treaty with them. The Gibeonites knew that God had told His people Israel not to co-exist or make covenants with any of the pagan peoples who lived in the Promised Land. God had told Israel to make a clean sweep of the enemy nations in the Land, because He knew that these pagan nations would contaminate and pollute His people with their gross idolatry and immorality if they lived side by side in the Land.

However, God had told Israel that they could make peace treaties with the peoples that lived outside the Land (Deuteronomy 20), and somehow the Gibeonites found out about this policy. So they sent a delegation to seek a peace treaty with Joshua and the people of Israel. The men in the peace delegation wore old clothing and carried moldy provisions to make it appear that they were people who lived in a far country. Joshua and the children of Israel apparently didn’t ask the Lord for His guidance and counsel about making a covenant with these men, and they were tricked into signing a treaty with them. Israel made the covenant before the Lord, and therefore they had to honor it.

As a result, in Joshua 10 the Gibeonites called on Israel to honor the treaty, because the kings of five Amorite city-states had ganged up to fight against Gibeon. The men of Gibeon sent a message to Joshua who was in Gilgal: “Do not forsake your servants; come up to us quickly, save us and help us, for all the kings of the Amorites who dwell in the mountains have gathered together against us” (v6).

The Lord promised that Israel would be victorious in this battle (v8), so Joshua and the army of Israel marched up from Gilgal to attack the five kings and their armies. After an all-night uphill march of about 25 miles, Israel attacked the enemy at dawn! (Those Israeli troops were in great physical shape!)

The surprise attack routed the enemy, and as they were fleeing from the battlefield, the Lord fought for Israel by sending a storm of large hailstones that killed a number of the enemy troops. Thus Joshua not only honored the covenant with Gibeon, but he also took advantage of the opportunity to conquer five enemy kings at once!

As the battle continued, more time was needed to finish the fighting, so Joshua asked the Lord for more daylight! Thus we read about one of the great miracles of the Bible: “So the sun stood still, and the moon stopped, until the people had revenge upon their enemies…Is it not written in the book of Jasher? So the sun stood still in the midst of heaven, and did not hasten to go down for about a whole day” (v13). Quite a miracle!

The book of Jasher, by the way, is not a “lost book of Scripture”! It was a book of stories and songs about Israel.It’s also mentioned in 2 Samuel 1:18. However, the book of Jasher is not extant today.

We don’t know exactly how this miracle happened, or exactly how God did it. Did He slow down the rotation of the earth in some way? A number of ideas and explanations have been made. Many of these explanations seem to have been attempts to “help God out,” so that He wouldn’t have to perform such a major miracle without some kind of natural help! One explanation is that certain atmospheric conditions resulted in the refraction of the sun’s rays so that daylight was prolonged for some time after sunset. Another explanation is that Joshua was only requesting relief from the heat of the sun when he asked the sun to “keep still” or “keep silent.” So God sent a cloud to cover the sun, and the hailstorm was associated with this cloud cover!

Why not just say that it was a great miracle, and not try to figure it out or attempt to explain it by some kind of natural phenomenon? After all, verse 14 says, “And there has been no day like that, before it or after it, that the LORD heeded the voice of a man; for the LORD fought for Israel.” God could have had the sun delay its path in the sky, and the moon hold its position low in the sky over the Valley of Aijalon in a number of different ways. He’s God! He can do miracles! Let’s wait until we get to heaven to see how God did it. He did it! And that’s the important point.

Some years ago a story got started that the computers at NASA had found the “extra day” in the universe! Apparently some well-meaning Christians invented this tale to try to “prove” that the miracle of Joshua 10 had really occurred! The NASA story has been checked out and found to be unreliable. It’s an apocryphal tale -- so don’t spread it! We just don’t have enough data to plug into computers in order to find “missing days” or “longest days” or “extra days” in the universe.

But this doesn’t mean that the miracle didn’t happen! Joshua’s longest day did happen. It was a good day for Joshua and a great day for Israel. God graciously answered Joshua’s prayer of faith with a great miracle.

Doctrinal / Teaching Points

1. The Lord can use natural events to help His people.

The hailstorm was a natural event that God used to help His people in Joshua’s day, and God uses natural events to help His people today. When we get to heaven, we’ll look back and see many natural events that God used to protect us, to guide us, and to help us in many ways. For example, not too long ago I had a long flight delay because of bad weather. It was a natural event. As a result of that natural event, I was able to get some important reading and writing done in that airport---work that I would not have accomplished for some time if we hadn’t been delayed by bad weather!

The specific teaching here is the help that God will give us when we are involved in spiritual warfare. There are many lessons about spiritual warfare in the book of Joshua. All the enemies in the Promised Land represent forms of spiritual opposition that we face as we seek to possess the spiritual land of spiritual blessings that God has given us in Christ. In Joshua 10 we see a picture of how God helps us in spiritual warfare. He can use both natural events and supernatural events to fight for us in spiritual warfare.

When I was working with Young Life (a ministry to high school students), some Christian teens told me that one of their teachers was a witch. They didn’t mean that she looked like a witch, or acted like a witch! No, she was actually holding séances, and getting some of the kids involved in witchcraft and pagan practices. We began to pray about this situation, and just a few weeks later the teacher was transferred. This was a natural event, but it involved spiritual warfare! The Lord can use natural events to help His people.

2. The Lord can use supernatural events to help His people. 

The Lord not only uses natural events to help us, but He sometimes uses supernatural events as well. Yes, God can still do miracles! We may not see the sun stand still, and we may not experience some of the other very dramatic miracles that are recorded in the Bible---but let’s not limit God! Let’s not put God in our “little theological box” and say that He can’t do miracles today.

Let’s think of how God can do miracles in a context of spiritual warfare, which is the primary teaching here. For example, every time a person becomes a Christian, a miracle takes place---it’s a wonderful and supernatural event! Sometimes God uses a miracle to rescue and redeem a person out of Satan’s clutches. Some of my Bible college students were addicted to drugs or involved in drug use before they became Christians. When they accepted the Lord Jesus Christ as their Savior and turned their lives over to Him, some of them were delivered from their addiction---immediately! Now that’s a miracle! Of course this doesn’t happen in every case, but when it does, we’ve got to admit that it’s a wonderful miracle. It’s a supernatural event! The Lord can use supernatural events to help His people.

Practical Applications

1. Have a good day!

What’s a good day for you? A good day at golf? A good day at the office? A good day at the stock exchange? A good day on the road? What about a good day of answered prayer?

Well, we can’t have a good day of answered prayer if we don’t pray! Joshua knew that God had promised him victory over the enemy (10:8), but he still prayed for help with finishing the job---and it was a good day of answered prayer!

Notice that Joshua did not get hung up on the details of how God was going to answer his prayer of faith. He just prayed on the basis of what God had declared. What a good spiritual lesson for us! We too can pray on the basis of what God has revealed and have good days of answered prayer.

For example, God has promised that there will be a future spiritual revival in Israel. (Read Romans 11.) So we can pray for the salvation of the Jewish people on the basis of that promise of God. After all, the Jewish people are still God’s chosen people! What a good day of answered prayer it would be if we were to see a Jewish friend or co-worker come to the Lord Jesus as Messiah and Savior!

Here’s another example. From God’s Word, we know that man did not evolve from some kind of “lower creature.” No way! Mankind was created in the image of God, right from the start: body, soul and spirit. (See Mark 10:6 and notice our Lord’s emphasis on the words: “from the beginning of creation.”) What a good day of answered prayer it is when a theistic evolutionist (I am a prime example), is “deprogrammed” from this world’s way of thinking, takes a higher view of Scripture, and fully believes what our Creator has revealed in His inerrant Word.

2. Your prayers can save the day! 

Verse 14 says, “And there has been no day like that, before it or after it, that the LORD heeded the voice of a man; for the LORD fought for Israel.” And the day was prolonged---it was literally saved in answer to Joshua’s prayer! Notice that Joshua’s bold command to the sun and the moon was really a request to the Lord (v12). It was a prayer of great faith. The Canaanites worshiped the sun and moon as deities, but the LORD, the Creator of heaven and earth, the One True God, showed his power over the sun and the moon. What an amazing answer to prayer! God answered that very day because the matter was urgent.

God still answers prayer. God knows everything, and He has determined everything---but He still answers prayer. We don’t fully understand how He works it all together, but He does.

And your prayers can save the day! Are you facing any specific problems right now? Do you know any fellow-believers who are facing big difficulties today, and are in desperate need of special help? Are you praying for them? God answers prayer! Your prayers can save the day!
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