We have seen both victory and defeat in the life of Israel to this point - from the high of Jericho to the low of Ai, to repentance and even to compromise with Gibeon. Israel would continue to move forward. Joshua led in both the southern and northern campaigns of military conquest. The battles were to purify the land which the Israelites inhabited. God had repeatedly told Israel not to be involved with the people of the land. Thus, battles ensued
Leviticus 18 gives further insight to the destruction of these people. God names the nations and declares that they are defiling the land. Left unchecked, they would infect the Israelites and ruin the land. That the fall of Sodom and Gomorrah, as well as Sihon and Og were opportunities for pagan nations to repent. God's judgment would fall on them because they refused to turn from their unbelief and wicked ways.
Remember, too, that this same God who orders judgment on the nations is the loving Father who sent His own Son to the cross that we might receive the message of salvation. God cannot allow sin, which destroys people, to go without judgment.
Joshua was to continue relentlessly taking the land, and we Christians are to move forward in faith. Our churches are not to be content to sit back and do business as usual. We cannot rest on past victories or be paralyzed by past defeats. We are to move forward in faith personally and corporately as the body of Christ. But how does that happen? Just as Joshua has taught us strategy for victory and the solution of repentance, he now teaches us how to move forward in faith.
Joshua was at Gilgal in the land of Gibeon. While there, five neighboring kings formed an alliance and attacked Israel (v. 5).
I. Persistent prayer (vv. 6-8)
"The Gibeonites then sent word to Joshua in the camp at Gilgal: 'Do not abandon your servants. Come up to us quickly and save us! Help us, because all the Amorite kings from the hill country have joined forces against us.' So Joshua marched up from Gilgal with his entire army, including all the best fighting men. The Lord said to Joshua, 'Do not be afraid of them; I have given them into your hand. Not one of them will be able to withstand you."
Joshua was again at Gilgal, his place of prayer, the place where God had given him direction and plans. Joshua has learned that he must proceed with the direction of God. Because of Joshua's humility and willingness to seek God's counsel, God assured Israel they would have victory over the five kings.
Christians and churches will move forward in faith when they recognize the need for serious prayer and petition to God. He has promised His blessings to those who will seek His face.
II Extended effort (v. 9)
"After an all-night march from Gilgal, Joshua took them by surprise."
This was not simply a matter of prayer. Following the petition, Joshua was on the move all night long. He extends tremendous effort. He avoided the pitfall of attempting this in his own strength by spending time with God. However, he also realized that he could not sit back and wait for things to happen.
Victory for believers comes when we depend on God in prayer and then prepare ourselves and extend the effort.
III. Provided power (vv. 12-14)
"On the day the Lord gave the Amorites over to Israel, Joshua said to the Lord in the presence of Israel: 'O sun, stand still over Gibeon, O moon, over the Valley of Aijalon.' So the sun stood still, and the moon stopped, till the nation avenged itself on its enemies, as it is written in the Book of Jashar. The sun stopped in the middle of the sky and delayed going down about a full day."
As Joshua was running out of daylight, God intervened. He lengthened the day and shortened the night because the people of God followed His plan.
If God is for us, who can stand against us? The God who fought for Israel enables us to face all that comes our way. By His power we are "more than conquerors" (Rom. 8:37).