The word “holy” can have different meanings to different people.
Joshua 10:1-15 ESV
1 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.
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 all 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.
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
This week it finally felt like spring. And it felt good, didn’t it? God is true to his ancient promise (Gen 8:22), though the winter was cold and hard. God’s purposes are performed by his power. God declares this fact in his providential care for his creation, and most clearly in his word that tells his story, his true story of his glory in Jesus Christ. It is the story of salvation history that includes people like you, like me, and like Joshua and his generation.
Joshua is a large figure in biblical history, striding from the exodus out of Egypt to the entry and conquest of the Promised Land. Joshua had a heart for God. He was a man of faith, who lived according to God’s word. It was important that he was, because he not only had to lead a people group of wilderness nomads to conquer the land God promised, but he also had to follow a great leader. This can overwhelm even a very gifted man, as John Adams found out when he became president after George Washington. The book of Joshua tells how the living God kept his promises to give his old covenant people the land with Joshua as their leader. It shows God’s power at to fulfill his promises.
The book of Joshua is the first in the section of the Old Testament called the Prophets, and so it is the first of the “Former Prophets” (with Judges, Samuel, and Kings). The Former Prophets tell us the history of God’s people from their entrance into the land to their exile from it. Joshua especially presents a lot about the Promised Land that the Lord gave to his people in fulfillment of his covenant promises. The structure of the book is built around actions in regard to the land:
Crossing into the land (1-5)
Taking the land (6-11)
Dividing the land (12-22)
Serving in the land (23-24)
Important ideas concerning God’s story in Joshua:
The Lord (Yahweh) is supreme over all. We must live in the way he tells us pleases him, and we must risk everything to follow him. The book is “written from the perspective that there is none like Yahweh, that his holiness will be vindicated against the idolaters of Canaan, and that his mercy will be shown as Israel inhabits the land” (Hamilton, God’s Glory in Salvation Through Judgment, p. 145).
The Lord has the power to fulfill his promises and to enforce his will. The Lord wants us to know his faithfulness to his word. He tells us, “Trust me; I have more than adequate power to do what I have said.” God’s people always need to hear this in a fallen world.
The Lord wants us to see that his story of glory in Christ progresses until it reaches his goal. Getting his old covenant people into the land is important, but then they were to live in the land to bring glory to God. In the words of Francis Schaeffer, Joshua is about “the flow of Biblical history.” The Lord wants us to know that his story progresses in stages. It moves from the “now” to the “not yet”. The book of Joshua tells how God’s redemptive history joyfully moves from the now to the not yet.
The glory of the Lord can affect people in different ways. Consider two examples. The Lord showed grace to the outsider Rahab but judgment to the insider Achan. Therefore, we can see that the heart of a person matters more to the Lord than the ethnicity of a person.
I.The Lord helps them enter the land (1:1-5:12)
A.The Lord instructs Joshua (1:1-9)
1.God reassures his new servant with a great promise (1:5).
2.God instructs Joshua about his responsibility (1:6-9).
B.The terror of the Lord on the nations (2:1-24)
1.Rahab hides the spies and tells them of the fear of her people (2:4-13)
2.The spies promise to rescue Rahab and her family (2:14-24)
Point: God welcomes everyone to turn from their sins and to trust in him. It doesn’t matter where you’ve been or what you’ve done. There is grace and forgiveness to all who return to God.
C.The Lord makes a way across the Jordan River (3:1-4:24)
1.The way the Lord made them cross – He used the ark of the covenant, above which his cloud of glory rose, to indicate his presence with his people. God was leading the way out of the wilderness and into the land. Notice that the people had to stay at a distance. This shows the Lord’s holiness. The waters piled up in a heap upstream from where they crossed. And they crossed on dry ground, as they had crossed the Red Sea during the exodus.
2.The reason the Lord made them cross this way – God did this to show the people that he was with Joshua (3:7), and that he was with them (3:10). And he did this to show all people groups everywhere that his hand is powerful (3:24). The expected outcome was for Israel also to fear the Lord always.
II.The Lord gives victories while the people fail (5:13-9:27)
A.The Lord gives Jericho into the hands of his people (6:1-27)
1.God gives Joshua a strange battle plan (6:2-5). There is nothing in this plan itself that could defeat a great walled city. In many cases it took human armies years to defeat walled cities. Yet the living God asserts that he will do it in a week without siege works or other weaponry. They only had to praise God and the walls would fall down.
2.God honors their promise to Rahab and her family. Her house in the city wall was the only part of the wall that did not collapse. Notice how the Lord is in control of his power. We might face trouble on every side, but the Lord is able to protect us (Ps 91:5-8).
Point: Trust God, especially when your world seems to be collapsing around you.
B.The sin of Achan (7:1-26)
1.He disobeyed God’s command to take nothing from the city. The tragic sequence of his disobedience is a lesson to everyone: “I saw… I coveted… I took… I hid…” (7:20-21). This pattern is repeated by guilty sinners constantly. If you evaluate what happens when you sin, you will probably discover this sequence.
2.He and his family were put to death (7:24-26). Why did all of them perish? It was because they were living under the law covenant (Deut 5:8-9). The law was a ministry of death (2 Cor 3:6-7) and condemned those guilty of disobedience to death. We only can understand this judgment when we believe in the surpassing worth of the true and living God. If God is greatest, to sin against him is the worst thing anyone can do.
C.The Lord gives victory over Ai (8:1-29)
1.After the first defeat, God reassures Joshua and the people. But they needed to do God’s work in his way, unlike they had in the previous defeat.
2.The Lord acted in a completely different way than at the defeat of Jericho. Here, he simply had Joshua use strategy, and the Lord made sure that Israel won. We must never try to “put God in a box”. Although God did something in one place or time, he is not bound to act the same way in other circumstances. In his word the Lord proclaims the majestic variety of his mighty works. Rejoice in all that he is and does.
D.The failure to inquire of the Lord (9:1-27)
1.Israel had learned the hard way to make war in God’s way. But now they failed by making peace with a neighboring people group without consulting the Lord (9:14). They were ruled by their senses, not by God’s word, and they failed.
2.Though the people of Gibeon deceived God’s people, they acted out of fear of the Lord (9:24-25). Their sin was simply sin, but the Lord showed them mercy.
Point: We can only grasp the Bible’s message when we know the glory of God.
III.The Lord shows his great power (10:1-15)
A.The Lord and his people are opposed by the nations
1.Their fear drove them in the wrong direction. They tried to wage war against the Lord and his people. They could discern that the Lord was giving their land to Israel, and so they decided to wage war instead of some kind of peace. Sometimes God gives people over to their own sinful foolishness to their destruction. Pray that this doesn’t happen to you!
2.Joshua and the others leaders of Israel knew that they must be faithful to the treaty made with the people of Gibeon. Their promise was now going to put them at risk. They were going to have to try to rescue Gibeon by waging war. Faithfulness is part of sacrificial love for our neighbors.
Point: The Lord expects us to keep the covenants we make, whether with him or with people.
B.The Lord’s rule over his creation – We see this in two ways in this event.
1.The Lord sends huge hailstones to destroy the enemy armies. Don’t think that this was some lucky coincidence. First of all, notice the Lord’s promise to Joshua (10:8) that preceded the battle and the hailstorm. Second, observe that the hailstones fell only on the Lord’s enemies and not on the Israelites (10:11). God was in control of his power. The One who could make the water of Jordan pile up in a heap and not run wild in other places could surely direct every hailstone that fell. Mercy and judgment happened at the same time.
2.The Lord makes the sun stand still. Joshua was running out of daylight to defeat the enemy completely. So he boldly asked the Lord to make the sun stand still; that is, to stop the earth in its rotation. Many miracles of physics occurred that day to stop and then restart the universe. Nothing is too hard for the Lord. The writer points out that there has never been another day like this (10:13b-14).
Point: The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective (Js 5:16).
3.Joshua in himself could do none of this. He was a man just like us. But one day Someone greater than Joshua showed up! He instantly calmed furious seas with a word, walked on water, and raised the dead. The One greater than Joshua is Jesus Christ, the Son of God. Do you know him?
Point: Turn to Christ, because he is the all-powerful Lord of creation.
Ideas to transform our lives:
- God welcomes everyone to turn from their sins and to trust in him
- Trust God, especially when your world seems to be collapsing around you
- We can only grasp the Bible’s message when we know the glory of God
- The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective
- Turn to Christ, because he is the all-powerful Lord of creation
Pastor Dave Frampton
The faithful and spiritually profitable labors of Dave Frampton are featured here at CMC. As a Bible teacher he excels. Teachers and student alike will profit much from his labor in the God’s Word. Visit Newtown Square Baptist Church.