Summary: It’s so wonderful to see God use our mistakes to bring forth His victory in our lives, just as he did for Joshua and Israel.
In Joshua 10 things really speed up. The conquest of the Amorites is complete and then Joshua and the people go into fast motion and conquer all of southern Canaan. To get to this point, though takes a lot of effort and God even works a miracle by elongating a day in order for their efforts to be complete.
For us as we seek to live a victorious life in Christ this stage could be seen as the getting into the flow. We’ve seen the initial victory at Jericho, followed by the tripping up of the flesh, the rededication to following God’s lead in destroying the flesh in ourselves and always seeking Him for direction no matter how innocuous the matter (the Gibeonites) or how confident we feel about our own abilities (Ai).
In this chapter we see how God uses even our mistakes to do His will in the battle for Gibeon that leads to the destruction of the Amorites, and then a string of successes in destroying the enemy and case by case following through with the Lord’s will. I think this chapter ought to be encouraging to us who wish to be transformed into God’s image and do His will and have dominion over sin and temptation in our lives.
Verses 1 - 2
Gibeon stands between Ai and Jerusalem. I’m sure Adoni-Zedek (means Lord of Righteousness) was thinking that now he had two threats to the north: Israel that had captured Ai, and now Gibeon that had joined forces with Israel. In reality it wasn’t really like that, the Gibeonites were vassals of Israel, but it was enough to get this tribal king to strike out, like a cornered animal.
Verses 3 - 5
Gibeon had to be punished for joining forces with Israel. The kings had to stop other cities from defecting and stop Gibeon from marching with Israel. All the cities were to the south southwest of Gibeon.
Verses 6 - 11
In a sense what we see here is God using the occasion of the blunder with Gibeon to goad Israel into doing what God had told them to do in the first place, and that is to destroy the Amorites. Instead of waiting and planning and strategizing, it was time to just jump in with both feet.
Sometimes that happens to us too. I would have liked lots of preparation and intelligence about what things were going to be like in Kenya for Margaret and me. Instead we just prayed that God would guide and fill our mouths when it was time. Then we just got in a Rent-A-Wreck car and when we arrived somewhere God came through. That’s not to say that you never prepare. In fact, we had spent out whole lives being prepared for that moment, though we didn’t know it before. But occasionally God has to sort of kick us out of the nest and show us that we can indeed fly under His power.
In verse 8 they have the specific promise of God that victory is theirs and that no one will be killed from the armies of Israel-that’s exactly what happened.
The march from Gilgal to Gibeon would ascend 3,300 feet! The march under darkness would have taken 8-10 hours covering a distance of about twenty miles. It’s another example of excellent military strategy coupled with divine intervention.
God does not tell us to check our minds at the door. We are thinking people who have talents. The key is to put those talents to work for the Lord and acknowledge God’s control in the situation.
The distance they traveled in chasing the Amorites is about 25 miles towards Makkedah.
It’s cool that more died by God’s hailstones than by the Israelite warriors. God really does win the victories. The Canaanites worship nature gods so they might have even thought that their own gods were fighting against them! They also worshipped the sun and the moon. Next we see how God even turned them against the Amorites.
Verses 12 - 15
Was there an actual extra day? It seems odd to think about. We know now that it would be almost impossible for the earth to stop in its rotation. It’s possible for the Hebrew word "stand still" to also mean "be silent." The alternate theory is that Joshua wanted optimum weather to continue the route of the enemy. Heat-exhausted troops don’t fight very well.
Though physically unlikely that the earth stopped spinning - it certainly is not out of God’s abilities. In fact, a slowing of the earth’s rotation by about 800 kph would create a 48 hour day. Another idea I suppose is that God just stopped time for a bit and allowed the men in this battle to keep on going.