During the Sunday service Pastor (Mrs) Silvia Lia Leigh preached a sermon titled The Cross-over Miracle (9). Her text was taken from the Book of Joshua chapters 9 and 10
THE GIBEONITES – AGENTS OF DECEPTION
We follow the journey of God’s people in the Promised Land. The first three cities in their path to conquer the Land were Jericho, Ai, and Gibeon. By God’s power His people conquered the city of Jericho. When they attacked the city of Ai the first time, they were defeated. It is because they did not seek God’s face in that battle. After they repented, they won an easy victory against Ai. For the first time in the Promised Land, they collected the spoils of war from Ai. The next city to attack was Gibeon. For the first time we see that the Canaanites kingdoms decide to come together to fight Israel. But the Gibeonites refused to join that alliance. They knew that they have no hope fighting God’s people. They were filled with terror for their lives. They cunningly planned to deceive Joshua and the leaders of Israel. They succeeded. They dressed in old clothes and brought bread that was dry and moldy. This was to prove that they come from a distant country. Joshua and the leaders were suspicious at the beginning but not suspicious enough. The Gibeonites praised Jehovah God for His mighty acts. They came in a humble attitude, flattering the people of Israel. They said: ‘we are your servants’. Assuming that they are ambassadors coming from a far country, Joshua and the leaders made a covenant of peace with them. Just three days later, Joshua discovered that they were deceived. The people of Israel were angry against their rulers because they were so easily deceived. Gibeon was the next city they were to destroy. Gibeon a big city was ruling four neighboring little kingdoms. Because of the covenant of peace made with the Gibeon, the people of Israel could not attack these cities and could not take the spoils of war. They were deceived to tolerate these Canaanites in their midst. Israel lost a war without a fight.
At this time in their journey, there is a new season for God’s people. For the first time the cities and the kingdoms in Canaan decide to make alliances to fight Israel together. These kings invite Gibeon to join their alliance to fight Israel together. But Gibeon decides to separate from their neighbors. The Gibeonites know that fighting Israel will end in total defeat and death. They believe that Jehovah God is stronger than all their gods. They decide to make a covenant of peace with Israel so that they can live. Maybe they heard about Rahab and her story. They speak like her, praising Jehovah God for His mighty deeds. But they were afraid to be totally honest, to open their hearts in faith like Rahab. Possibly, they did not trust that God’s people will be merciful to them. That is when they decided to ‘work craftily’, to deceive Israel into making a covenant of peace with them. If they succeeded to manipulate God’s people, then they will survive as a nation. They took a risk and they succeeded. Joshua’s mistake was that he did not pray to God. This is the same mistake he did when he attacked Ai the first time. He trusted in his natural senses and mind. Joshua felt pity for the men who look poor and needy. Some Bible commentators call this ‘an unsanctified compassion’. This compassion is the work of the flesh and not the result of God’s Spirit. The devil is the author of all unsanctified decisions. There is always a price to pay for that deception.
JERICHO – DESTROY ALL AND TAKE NOTHING
Jericho stands for the world. Ai stands for the flesh. Gibeon stands for the devil. We need God’s wisdom and power to defeat each of these major strongholds. God’s strategy is different on how to defeat each city.
Jericho represents the world around us. The law is this: Destroy and take nothing. With the exception of Rahab and her family, God destroyed all people in Jericho. They refused to surrender. They fought God’s people and they perished. What the Bible calls the world, is the system that works apart from God, like God does not exist. The devil is the ruler of this world pretending to be God. As believers in Christ, we are born in this world, we live in the world, but we are not of the world. By faith, we destroy the walls of Jericho and take nothing from it for our personal use. Jesus overcame the world. In His name and by His Spirit we must do the same. Jesus said: “These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world” (Jn 16:33). The world has its own attractions. But we must resist its deceptive, dangerous beauty. Making friends with the world you betray your Savior. Jesus is jealous and will rebuke His bride who becomes infatuated with the fading treasures of the world. “You adulterous people, don’t you know that friendship with the world means enmity against God? Therefore, anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God” (Jam 4:4). The wisdom of this world is demonic. It fights the truth. It is deceptive. Its fruit is bitterness, envy, confusion, and trouble. But God’s wisdom is pure and peaceful. It always ends in victory and prosperity. “If you have bitter envy and self-seeking in your hearts, do not boast and lie against the truth. This wisdom does not descend from above, but is earthly, sensual, demonic. For where envy and self-seeking exist, confusion and every evil thing are there. But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy” (Jam 3:14-17). You can’t save Jericho. You can’t gain anything good from Jericho. It is cursed!
AI- DESTROY ALL PEOPLE, BUT TAKE THE MATERIAL GAIN
Ai represents the flesh. The strategy to conquer the flesh is different. You do not attack it directly. You do not use few soldiers, the way Joshua did when he was defeated. You trust God’s Word totally. God encouraged Joshua: “Do not be afraid, nor be dismayed; take all the people of war with you, and arise, go up to Ai. See, I have given into your hand the king of Ai, his people, his city, and his land” (Josh 8:1). You need to recognize your weakness. Trust God for His strength in your weakness. Joshua took all the soldiers to attack the little city, Ai. You need all your resources to mortify the flesh. By the mighty power of the Holy Spirit, you kill the flesh. You squeeze the flesh thru ambush of the Spirit!
“So then, brothers and sisters, we have an obligation, but not to our flesh [our human nature, our worldliness, our sinful capacity], to live according to the [impulses of the] flesh [our nature without the Holy Spirit], for if you are living according to the [impulses of the] flesh, you are going to die. But if [you are living] by the [power of the Holy] Spirit you are habitually putting to death the sinful deeds of the body, you will [really] live forever” (Rom 8:12, 13; AMP). You owe obedience to the Holy Spirit. You do not owe anything to your flesh. If the flesh demands that you pay your debt, reject that voice, and kill it. Daily, moment by moment, by the power of the Holy Spirit you mortify, kill, put to death the power of the flesh to control your life. As the deeds of the flesh die daily, you will see results. The Holy Spirit will manifest His fruits in you. Love, peace, joy, wisdom, and power will increase. You become a wise and stronger Christian. The power of resurrection will manifest from the ashes of dead flesh. That is the ‘gain’ God told His people to take from the city of Ai. There are many believers that have conquered Jericho (the world) and have been defeated at Ai (their flesh).
GIBEON – BE NOT DECEIVED! DESTROY THEM! MAKE NO COVENANT WITH THEM!
“Gibeon was a great city, like one of the royal cities, and because it was greater than Ai, and all its men were mighty” (Josh 10:2). The city of Gibeon stands for the devil. Joshua and his people were deceived by the Gibeonites. The root of the problem was the same as with the city of Ai. They did not seek God’s face before making decisions. They did not study God’s Word. They did not pray. They were deceived by the old clothes on the men. They did not imagine that such needy well-spoken men they are their neighbors, therefore, their enemies.
“When you go near a city to fight against it, then proclaim an offer of peace to it. And it shall be that if they accept your offer of peace, and open to you, then all the people who are found in it shall be placed under tribute to you and serve you. Now if the city will not make peace with you, but war against you, then you shall besiege it. And when the Lord your God delivers it into your hands, you shall strike every male in it with the edge of the sword. But the women, the little ones, the livestock, and all that is in the city, all its spoil, you shall plunder for yourself; and you shall eat the enemies’ plunder which the Lord your God gives you. Thus you shall do to all the cities which are very far from you, which are not of the cities of these nations….. “But of the cities of these peoples which the Lord your God gives you as an inheritance, you shall let nothing that breathes remain alive, but you shall utterly destroy them: the Hittite and the Amorite and the Canaanite and the Perizzite and the Hivite and the Jebusite, just as the Lord your God has commanded you, lest they teach you to do according to all their abominations which they have done for their gods, and you sin against the Lord your God” (Deut 20:10-18).
As you can see, if they attack a city outside the Promised Land, they had the option of offering peace to the enemy. If that city surrenders, all the people will live but they will become their servants. If the city refuses to surrender, they should attack and kill all the men. The women, the children, and their goods they can take as spoil of war. But when they attack the cities in the Promised Land, there shall be no offer of peace, no agreement or covenant of any kind with the Canaanites. They should kill all the people, men, women, and children and take over their land. God said that these Canaanites serve idols and are wicked. Israel should make no covenant with them because they will seduce them away from God to serve their idols. God is always concerned about the spiritual purity of His people. God hates sin, especially idolatry. God is a jealous God. He judges sin. That is why Jesus died. God could not ‘spare’ His own Beloved Son once He became sin for us.
What was Israel’ mistake? God told His people to behave differently when attacking the nations that are far away from the nations that are in the Promised Land. It seems that the Gibeonites knew Jehovah’s guidelines for war. Their plan was to deceive Joshua that they are coming from a distant country, and they asked for peace. According to God’s Word, that was possible. The people who live outside the Promised Land, if they surrender in peace, they will become servants to Israel. The Gibeonites deceived Joshua with their old dressing and dry bread. They said that they live far away. They surrendered and asked for a covenant of peace. That was their only chance to survive. They succeeded.
Lesson: This is a warning that the devil knows the Bible and he will use it to deceive you if he can! Study the Word and pray always!
“When the inhabitants of Gibeon heard what Joshua had done to Jericho and Ai, they worked craftily, and went and pretended to be ambassadors” (Josh 9:3, 4). The Gibeonites sinned in two ways: They worked craftily and pretended to be ambassadors of a far country. They brought old clothes and dry bread as ‘evidence’ that they are coming from a far country. The deception was not very deep. It was not too hard for Israel to detect it, but they failed the test. They said: “We have come from a far country; now therefore, make a covenant with us” (Josh 9:6). This was a straight lie. Though they lied, they had a genuine admiration for the God of Israel. They believed that Jehovah God is Almighty, and it is useless to fight against Him. They wanted the saving Grace of God, the unmerited favor of God they admired on Rahab. They wanted to surrender to Jehovah but not directly. They were afraid to be honest. They needed to deceive God’s people to accept them. The deception was crafty, therefore powerful. But the main problem was not with the Gibeonites. It was with Joshua and his people. They agreed to make a covenant of peace with the Gibeonites without seeking God’s face for approval. God allowed Israel to make treaties with distant nations, but not with the Canaanites. They were not supposed to make peace with Gibeon. The truth is that the Israelites have not seen old clothes and worn out sandals in their life. They have also not seen bread. This is what Moses told them just before entering the Promised Land. “I have led you forty years in the wilderness. Your clothes have not worn out on you, and your sandals have not worn out on your feet. You have not eaten bread, nor have you drunk wine or similar drink, that you may know that I am the Lord your God” (Deut 29:5, 6).
Lesson: when you go to unfamiliar territory, you need God’s direction more than ever. The devil knows the things that are strange to us. He will attack thru them. You do not need to know everything. But you need to trust the leading of the Holy Spirit in all situations.
Once the people discovered that their leaders were deceived, they were angry with them for being so gullible. Once they discovered their foolishness, Joshua and the leaders quickly repented. They continued to lead the people even after they made mistakes. That is good! When the people wanted to kill the Gibeonites, they insisted that the covenant is valid, because it was done in God’s name. They insisted that the people should accept the covenant even though it came thru deception. They knew that they cannot kill the Gibeonites. It was too late for that. Two sins cannot make something right. Even under the people’s pressure, Joshua insisted that they should respect the covenant. King David described the man who can dwell into the presence of God: “Who may dwell [continually] on Your holy hill?… He keeps his word even to his own disadvantage and does not change it [for his own benefit]” (Psalm 15:1, 4; AMP). Joshua kept his word to the Gibeonites even when it was inconvenient. Much later, King Saul ignored this covenant of peace and killed some Gibeonites. God punished the whole nation for breaking the covenant. “Now there was a famine in the days of David for three years, year after year; and David inquired of the LORD. And the LORD answered, “It is because of Saul and his bloodthirsty house, because he killed the Gibeonites.” (2 Samuel 21:1).
Lesson: God is a God of covenant. He is faithful to His covenant promises to His people. He expects us to do the same. A covenant made before God, like the marriage vows, should be kept, even if there was deception involved at the beginning! (Mal 2:10-16).
Deception was successfully practiced by men and women in the past. For example, Tamar deceived Judah, two times her father-in-law, pretending to be a prostitute (Genesis 38). She wanted to have children in that family. When Judah’s two sons died without giving Tamar children, she deceived Judah himself to have sexual relations with her. She got pregnant for him and twin boys, Perez and Zerah. Her name as the mother of Perez is in the lineage of Jesus Christ (Matt 1:3). Our Lord commended the shrewd manager who deceived his master by saying: “And his master commended the unjust manager [not for his misdeeds, but] because he had acted shrewdly [by preparing for his future unemployment]; for the sons of this age [the non-believers] are shrewder in relation to their own kind [that is, to the ways of the secular world] than are the sons of light [the believers]” (Lk 16:8).
WHAT IS THE PLAN OF THE DEVIL TOWARDS THE BELIEVERS?
The devil comes as a lion, as an angel of light or as a serpent. He intimidates, manipulates, and deceives. The devil tries to make a deal with you about your spiritual life. He wants to become your master, to teach you, to control you. The devil knows he can’t take God’s people out of the Promised Land to go back to Egypt. He will find ways to defeat them in the Promised Land. There are more than 8000 promises in the Bible. Most Christians do not see the fruits of believing them. The devil will cheat you in the land of victory. He cannot steal your salvation, but he can steal your peace, your anointing, your joy, your healing, and many opportunities for ministry. He can frustrate your marriage and trouble your children. He will minimize your victory. He wants you to make an agreement with the Gibeonites. He wants to corrupt your faith and your testimony. If you submit to the devil you will live with the damaging consequences for a long time. To be free you need deliverance!
Most of the time, the devil does not attack openly. He usually attacks thru deception. Like a thief in the night, with his face covered, the devil does not attack in the daytime when the light is bright. Like a serpent, he attacks from the darkness of the forest, from places you never expect to be dangerous. Our Lord recognized the devil’s capacity to be ‘wise’ in his evil way. He commanded His disciples: “Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves. Therefore, be wise as serpents and harmless as doves” (Matt 10:16). The serpent is wise. “Now the serpent was more cunning than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made” (Gen 3:1). He is very sensitive to danger. He knows that all men hate him. He hides behind leaves on the ground. He rarely comes out in the day light. Once he senses danger, he quickly runs away. The serpent was created wise by God. But he corrupted his wisdom when he became an instrument for the devil.
Gibeon stands for the devil. The Gibeonites were extremely crafty at deceiving the people of God. They were professional liars. They invented a story hoping to touch Joshua’s emotions. They hoped that Israel will not pray to seek God’s face. As you can see, the battle is spiritual. We do not fight people. We fight demons that manipulate people. We are commanded to do spiritual warfare. “Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore, take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand” (Eph 6:11-13).
We are commanded to stand against the wiles of the devil. In Greek, the word ‘wiles’ means schemes, strategy, tactics, tricks, all based on deception. It describes the strategy of a skillful leader. The devil is not a fool. He is a master, a successful con-artist of deception. He is the head of a kingdom of evil spirits. It is an organized kingdom that opposes Christ’s Kingdom of Truth and Light. The devil is the enemy of God, of Christ and of His Church. He hates Truth, the Grace of God upon us, and the Glory of God. He wants to be worshipped. He is called ‘the accuser of the brethren’ (Rev 12:10). He reminds the saints of their past of sin bringing condemnation and a sense of guilt upon them. The only way to fight the devil is to imitate our Lord who defeated him with the Word of God, spoken with faith. Full of the Holy Spirit we are to declare: “It is written” (Matt 4:1-11) and the devil will flee!
If a Christian can be deceived by the devil, he loses that battle. To stand against the devil’s deception we need to put on ‘the whole’ armor of God, and not just some pieces. We need to protect your mind with the helmet of salvation. We need to protect your heart with the breastplate of righteousness. The devil attacks with flaming hot arrows. These are hurtful words of condemnation and fear. Only faith in God can quench these terrible lies. “Above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one” (Eph 6:16). The only part of God’s armor used to attack is “the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God” (Eph 6:17). All the other components are passive, for our protection. God’s armor is not to be removed. We cannot rest from spiritual warfare until we go to heaven. We must decide never to submit or yield to the devil. Our battle is not against human beings. It is against demons and the devil. We must live in the center of God’s presence, always obeying His Word. That is the safest place. It is the place of victory. “Submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you” (Jam 4:7). The Bible commands us to submit to God, first of all. It is from that position of victory that we can do spiritual warfare. To submit to God, it means that we study His Word and pray always. Rebellion against God, ignoring the Bible and prayer, will give the devil a foothold to attack with deception. Selah! Please, be careful, for the armor covers you from head to toe, but only in your front. There is no cover for the back. The backsliders are not protected from the devil.
Lesson: The devil hates you. He will attack your soul (mind, emotions and will), your body, your marriage, your family, and your ministry. For victory you need faith in God, in the Lord Jesus Christ! Faith in God’s Word, fasting and prayers, are the basic methods for spiritual warfare. The natural mind cannot separate truth from lies. You need the discernment of the Holy Spirit to identify deception.
Unforgiveness, idolatry, connection with the occult, pride, uncontrolled anger, doubt, lying, stealing, false doctrines, and sexual sins are works of the flesh and doors that open your heart to the devil. Preaching false doctrines are part of the ‘wiles’ of the devil. Spiritual maturity is necessary to gain the victory in warfare. “We should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting, but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head—Christ” (Eph 4:14, 15). To identify false teachers, you need to know the truth, the Word of God. You need to speak it in love to others. “Now whom you forgive anything, I also forgive. For if indeed I have forgiven anything, I have forgiven that one for your sakes in the presence of Christ, lest Satan should take advantage of us; for we are not ignorant of his devices” (2 Cor 2:10, 11). “Therefore, putting away lying, “Let each one of you speak truth with his neighbor,” for we are members of one another. “Be angry, and do not sin”: do not let the sun go down on your wrath, nor give place to the devil. Let him who stole steal no longer, but rather let him labor, working with his hands what is good, that he may have something to give him who has need” (Eph 4:25-28).
Life is not a walk in the park. It is a battlefield. Jesus said that the devil is a liar, a thief, and a criminal. Jesus said: “I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture. The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly” (Jn 10:9, 10). He accused the religious hypocrites: “You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you want to do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources, for he is a liar and the father of it. But because I tell the truth, you do not believe Me” (Jn 8:44-45).
Lesson: the devil has no mercy. He is your enemy. You need to study God’s Word, fast, and pray. Attend a living church where God’s Word is preached. Do not forsake the assembly of the brethren. Submit to God and to the spiritual delegated authority in your church.
THE WEAPON OF DECEPTION
This is God’s command: “Do not be deceived, my beloved brethren” (James 1:16). It is your responsibility to detect and reject lies. Deception is one of the major weapons of the devil. Deception is defined as a statement that misleads from the safe road of truth. Deception is the enemy of truth; the act of hiding the truth, especially to get an advantage. It is the act of causing someone to accept as true what is false. Deception is the trick to get what you want. Deception is a sin against trust, a betrayal, an act that destroys relationships. Most people expect their friends, and even strangers, to speak the truth to them. Romantic relationships are a fertile ground for deception. It is said that 90% of couples have confessed in lying to the partner. The reason giving for deceiving the spouse is that they want to protect the relationship, they don’t want to hurt the other, while having an affair. In a marriage or a close relationship, the deceiver becomes more distant and emotionally cold. He does not feel the warmth of the love like in the past. Deception occurs less in strong marital relationships where the husband-and-wife trust God and each other for a long time. Deception happens more often during dating or at the beginning of the marriage.
It is easier and simpler to speak the truth. To lie, it is not easy. You need to lie more to cover up for the old lies. It takes much more emotional, mental, and physical energy to lie than to speak the truth. The liar must be attentive and watchful. He studies the reactions of the listener to see if he is deceived. It is hard to detect lies. Generally, lies are detected only about 50 %. There is no clear sign to be sure that a person is lying.
Liars try to cover up in different ways: they talk more than necessary, repeat stories, get confused and lose the flow of the conversation. Their bodies seem tense. They do not make eye contact with their conversation partners. Their voice has a higher pitch. There is a lack of expression, a bored look, or playing with his hair. Fear, confusion, and anger are the main emotions found in liars.
The deceiver pretends that he is better than what he is in reality. Deceivers have inferiority complex. In deception, the intent of the heart is important. There is a difference between an honest mistake and deception. A deceiver knows he is a deceiver and plans to mislead others to abandon the truth and follow the dangerous path of lies. A deceiver is never innocent. He gains something for himself by misleading others. There are different forms of deception: lying (speaking things that are not true), concealing (keeping quiet about the truth), exaggeration (making yourself look better than you are) and making understatements (minimizing the truth). Distraction is a form of deception. For example, an enemy will throw a stone to distract the security man at the gate. The devil will create false alarm or send you on wrong paths to distract you from staying focused on God’s Word. Lying or deception is a sin. “You shall not steal, nor deal falsely, nor lie to one another” (Lev 19:11). “Cursed is he who does the work of the Lord deceitfully, and cursed is he who keeps back his sword from blood” (Jer 48:10). There is a curse upon anyone who serves God deceitfully. There is also a curse upon anyone who withdraws from spiritual warfare, betraying his colleagues, and staining God’s name!
You can deceive others or yourself. But you cannot deceive God. Self-deception is more dangerous because it is more selfish. A religious spirit can bring you to church, to listen to God’s Word, but there is no change in your character, no fruits of faith. That is self-deception. “Therefore, lay aside all filthiness and overflow of wickedness, and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls. But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man observing his natural face in a mirror; for he observes himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was” (Jam 1:21-24).
THE GIBEONITES – RECIPIENTS OF GRACE
It is hard for us to believe that something good came out of this sin. Only God can do that. In spite of their deception, and the mistakes of Joshua, God extends grace to the Gibeonites. Can any good thing come from Gibeon? The answer is yes!
The Gibeonites took great risk when they deceived Joshua. If they were discovered before the covenant was made, they were to be killed. Also, their neighbors, feeling betrayed by Gibeon, gathered to attack them. The covenant gave them the right to ask Israel for help in times of need. Joshua led the army from Gilgal to Gibeon and defeated the five kings who attacked Gibeon. From now on, Joshua could not kill the Gibeonites, but he humbled them by making them perpetual servants for the tabernacle service. They became faithful wood cutters and water carriers for all the congregation when they served the Lord in the tabernacle. The Gibeonites did not complain. They were very happy not only that they survived but that they retained their historical land and national identity.
Their greatest achievement was that they could serve Jehovah God in His temple, even though they were low-class servants. This scripture applies to them: “For a day in Your courts is better than a thousand. I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God Than dwell in the tents of wickedness” (Ps 84:10). The Gibeonites became servants at the tabernacle, just as Joshua had commanded. They were faithful in their service to God. Later, Gibeon becomes a priestly city. The ark of the covenant stayed at Gibeon in the days of David and Solomon (1 Chron 16:39-40 and 21:29). At least one of David’s mighty men of valor was a Gibeonite (1 Chron12:4). God appeared and spoke to Solomon at Gibeon (1 Kings 3:4-5). The Gibeonites were among those who rebuilt the walls of Jerusalem with Nehemiah (Neh 3:7 and 7:25). The headquarter of worship in the Promised Land, the place where the Ark of God resided was first in Gilgal (Josh 5:10). It later moved to Shechem (Josh 8:30-35), to Shiloh (1 Sam 1:3), to Gibeon (1 Chr 16:39) and finally, to Jerusalem, Zion, the city of David.
Both Rahab and the Gibeonites lied and were willing to risk the forsaking of their former associations to be counted among God’s people. The story of the Gibeonites shows the power of grace. Though they entered the nation of Israel thru lying and deception, they survived and prospered. They represent the Gentiles who become one with Israel, thru the death of Christ! Their story gives all sinners hope. It gives glory to God who sent His only begotten Son to die for sinners and to set them free! The sinners are now worshippers of God! Praise the Lord!
THE LORD FIGHTS FOR ISRAEL (Josh 10:1-15; 40-43)
One of the great achievements for Gibeon was the protection of Israel during times of war. Because Gibeon made a covenant with Israel, the other five kings felt betrayed and prepared to attack Gibeon. When Gibeon called Israel to help them fight against the five kings, Joshua came immediately. This war was to pay for the mistake of the agreement with Gibeon. But Joshua did not hesitate. The distance between Gilgal and Gibeon is about 21 miles. This was a spiritual emergency. I imagine that some of the men grumbled against helping some deceivers. They maybe suggested that they should allow the Gibeonites to perish, to remove the stain of deception from Israel. But Joshua insisted that they need to be faithful to the covenant they have made. Joshua led the army the whole night from their camp at Gilgal. They attacked the armies of the five kings. God rewarded Joshua for his faithfulness by supernatural help. Two miracles happen in the battlefield. God sent hail stones against the enemies. More soldiers died from hailstones than from the sword. God said to Job: “Have you entered the treasury of snow, or have you seen the treasury of hail, Which I have reserved for the time of trouble, for the day of battle and war?” (Job 38:22, 23).
The second miracle God performed is by answering Joshua’s prayer. Joshua needed more light to complete the battle. God answered by making the sun stand still in the sky so that the daytime was prolonged. “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” (Josh 10:13, 14). ‘The sun stood still’. In Hebrew, the word ‘stood still’ means to be silent, to stop, to be astonished. It seems like the sun was surprised at the command of its creator. The sun became silent and stopped moving. The Canaanites worshiped the sun and the moon. Just imagine their fear when they saw the sun standing still in the sky. The purpose of this miracle was to give God the glory and to exalt Joshua as the leader.
When God is angry, He can stop the sun and the moon from their movements. “The sun and moon stood still in their habitation; At the light of Your arrows they went, at the shining of Your glittering spear” (Habak 3:11). God created the sun. The earth rotates around the sun. That day, God stopped the sun from going down to set for about a whole day. God answered the prayer of Joshua. That miracle has never been repeated. God made it easier for Joshua to fight. The miracle with the sin was localized above the battle, and not all over the earth. Joshua fought five kings at once. He defeated them all. Joshua told his soldiers to place their feet on the necks of the kings before killing them. This is an ancient ritual signifying total defeat of the enemy. Then we are told: “Joshua conquered all the land” (Josh 10:40). The victory was a great! Joshua led the people of Israel to conquer more land in Canaan!
Lesson: God is a warrior! God is not a weak Person. God never loses any battle! “The LORD is a man of war; The LORD is His name” (Ex 15:3); “Who is this King of glory? The LORD strong and mighty, The LORD mighty in battle” (Psalm 24:8).
God answers prayers! God is a God of miracles! God overrules our mistakes and changes them into victories. God controls the whole universe. He can make a day be longer or shorter by controlling the sun. He can prolong your life on earth until you finish your race. When we are under attack, God can intervene with miracles to help us win the battle or God can perform a miracle without our contribution to the victory! God and man work together, for God’s glory and for man’s good. “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose” (Rom 8:28). This miracle of grace is possible in Christ alone! Worship the Lord!