Thursday, March 13, 2014

Joshua 9-11 The sun stood still

From Joshua 9-11

Q. The bible depicts numerous supernatural events. Care to name a few?

Josh 9.1-27; Story; The Gibeonites make a deceitful covenant with Israel
Josh 10.1-15; War; The sun stands still
Josh 10.16-28; War; The five kings executed
Josh 10.29-43; War; The conquest of southern Canaan
Josh 11.1-23; War; The conquests in northern Canaan

Passage and comments
More and more people are hearing about Israel’s victories. Although the LORD is the one winning all the battles. In context Gibeon has deceived Israel and has made a covenant with them. This has implications for today’s reading. Today we also see some of the supernatural wonders the LORD is using to display his power. They also show how blessed Israel is to have his as their God.

10 As soon as Adoni-zedek, king of Jerusalem, heard how Joshua had captured Ai and had devoted it to destruction, doing to Ai and its king as he had done to Jericho and its king, and how the inhabitants of Gibeon had made peace with Israel and were among them, 2 he 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 warriors. 3 So Adoni-zedek king of Jerusalem sent to Hoham king of Hebron, to Piram king of Jarmuth, to Japhia king of Lachish, and to Debir king of Eglon, saying, 4 “Come up to me and help me, and let us strike Gibeon. For it has made peace with Joshua and with the people of Israel.” 5 Then 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 their forces and went up with all their armies and encamped against Gibeon and made war against it. (Josh 10.1-5)

Covenants establish loyalties and peace between parties. One of the advantages of being justified (becoming one of the righteous - a covenant member) is having peace with God (Rom 5.1). God is also bound by covenant to look after his people. In the Old Testament this is referred to as God’s ‘steadfast love’. We see the same relationship here. Gibeon made a covenant with Israel and they now have peace between each other. Israel is now bound by covenant to protect Gibeon.

6 And the men of Gibeon sent to Joshua at the camp in Gilgal, saying, “Do not relax your hand from your servants. Come up to us quickly and save us and help us, for all the kings of the Amorites who dwell in the hill country are gathered against us.” 7 So Joshua went up from Gilgal, he and tall the people of war with him, and all the mighty men of valor. 8 And the Lord said to Joshua, “Do not fear them, for I have given them into your hands. Not a man of them shall stand before you.” 9 So Joshua came upon them suddenly, having marched up all night from Gilgal. 10 And the Lord threw them into a panic before Israel, who struck them with a great blow at Gibeon and chased them by the way of the ascent of Beth-horon and struck them as far as Azekah and Makkedah. 11 And as they fled before Israel, while they were going down the ascent of Beth-horon, the Lord threw down large stones from heaven on them as far as Azekah, and they died. There were more who died because of the hailstones than the sons of Israel killed with the sword. (Josh 10.6-11)

Don't mess with God’s people, ‘they struck them a great blow’. Don't mess with God, ‘there were more who died because of hailstones that the sons of Israel killed with the sword’. This is the first supernatural wonder.

12 At that time Joshua spoke to the Lord in the day when the Lord gave the Amorites over to the sons of Israel, and he said in the sight of Israel,“Sun, stand still at Gibeon,and moon, in the Valley of Aijalon.”13 And the sun stood still, and the moon stopped,until the nation took vengeance on their enemies.Is this not written in the Book of Jashar? The sun stopped in the midst of heaven and did not hurry to set for about a whole day. 14 There has been no day like it before or since, when the Lord heeded the voice of a man, for the Lord fought for Israel. 15 So Joshua returned, and all Israel with him, to the camp at Gilgal. (Josh 10.12-15)

Joshua spoke to the LORD and he commanded the sun to stand still. 

What would it take for this to happen? Presumably the sun didn’t stop. Because it isn’t moving. The earth stopped rotating. What are your thoughts on this? If we believe this, then the miracle is not just that the earth stopped and started again. Rather the miracle is that all over the world there were no cataclysmic reactions to this event. That is; Tectonic plates moving, mountains crumbling, tsunamis generated, … houses and cities destroyed, all people thrown off their feet.

Story of Israel
The writing is on the wall. Israel will eventually conquer Canaan, the promised land. But they do not completely remove all the existing inhabitants. And this causes a problem for future generations. They lead them into idolatry and foreign worship. It becomes quite obvious that Israel needs saving when they LORD sends them into exile. But he promises restoration and predicts the coming of the Christ.

Story of Jesus
When Jesus came he also performed many signs and wonders. Not all were of the epic scale of what we have seen here in Joshua. But two have the same sort of cosmic implications for this world. Jesus died and rose again. According to Paul all creation has been affected by these events and is waiting their completion.
18 For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. 19 For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. 20 For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope 21 that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. 22 For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. 23 And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. 24 For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? 25 But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience. (Rom 8:18–25)