This week’s lesson kicks off the summer quarter 2021!  In this quarter of lessons we are going to be taking a look at people of valor.  There are three units of lessons per each month in this quarter.  In the first unit of lessons we are going to be taking a look at “Acts of Courage”.  In the second unit of lessons we are going to be taking a look at “Courage Facing Threats”.  In the third unit of lessons we are going to be taking a look at “Courage for Jesus”.  This week’s lesson is being taught from Joshua 10:1-15.

Person of Valor

Let’s keep in mind that we are going to be taking a look at people of valor.  Valor:  strength of mind or spirit that enables a person to encounter danger with firmness.  Our lesson this week is going to be taking a look at Joshua.  We remember Joshua as the right hand man of Moses who would go on to lead the children of Israel into the Promise Land after the death of Moses.

Many people don’t realize the kind of faith that Joshua had in God – he was a great man of faith.  When Moses sent the 12 spies into the Promise Land, only he and Caleb came back with a report of confidence in both the land and that the children of Israel could conquer the people in the land of Canaan (Num. 14:6-9).  We often quote Joshua when we say, “me and my house, we will serve the Lord (Josh. 24:15).”  We are going to be taking a dive into this man of faith today so that we can see the kind of faith we should have to be a person of valor.

Kings vs. Joshua and Israel

Our lesson opens with the king of Jerusalem, Adoni-Zedek, allying with four other kings (vss.1-4).  What was the purpose for this alliance?  Scripture tells us that Adoni-Zedek had heard of how Joshua and his army was conquering other cities in the land.  The Lord gave command that when the children of Israel entered into the Promised Land that they were supposed to conquer the land which meant conquering kingdoms that was in the land (Josh. 1).

As mentioned in our lesson, Adoni-Zedek heard about how Joshua first conquered Jericho – this was the first city (king) that the children of Israel encountered after crossing the Jordan (Josh. 6).  Remember, Jericho was a very fortified city that Joshua and Israel conquered with ease.  Adoni-Zedek also heard about another city, Ai, that Joshua had utterly destroyed (Josh. 8).

What bothered Adoni-Zedek the most was that Gibeon didn’t even put up a fight against Israel but chose to make peace and ally with them.  Now, this is fascinating because the command that God gave Joshua and Israel was for them to conquer all of the land (meaning all people).  Gibeon, we are told, was a greater city with mightier men than Ai so this was something that gave Adoni-Zedek great concern.  The army of Israel was proving themselves to be extraordinarily mighty and now Gibeon, a great and mighty city, was allying with one another.

So, in his mind, such allied power posed a very great threat to Jerusalem which was not under Israel rule at that time.  This is why we see him ally Jerusalem with four other kingdoms.  What is very fascinating about this alliance of five kings opted not to go up against Israel but against Gibeon (v.5).  I consider that they may have done this with the hopes of forcing Gibeon to ally with them in order to defeat Joshua and his army or Gibeon was easier to defeat first before they could focus on Israel.

Israel’s Response

We are told that in the face of facing the five kings that Gibeon sent word to Joshua about their situation (v.6).  I think the wording of the message that they sent to Joshua is also very interesting.  They say, “Do not forsake your servants; come up to us quickly, save us and help us, for all the kings of the Amorites who dwell in the mountains have gathered together against us.”

This almost sounds like a prayer that we read in scripture, right?  They consider themselves beneath the children of Israel – they say servants.  I know we often see that word servants and think slavery but I don’t believe they were the slaves of Israel.  I think they understood that Israel was the mightier nation and they were in need of Israel’s help – they say “save us”.  Again, this sounds like a prayer that we would pray to God when we are in need of His help!

We are told in the very next verse that Joshua does not delay in responding to the cry of help from Gibeon as he and the men of war quickly go up to Gibeon (v.7).  In fact, we are told that Joshua and the men of war came suddenly upon the armies of the five kings after having marched all night (v.9).  I put emphasis on the suddenly because I want to reiterate that there was no hesitancy from Joshua when it came to keeping the promise they made with Gibeon.

Again, if we can consider the way that Israel responded to this cry of help as a way that God responds to our cries for help.  The Lord does not take His time in responding to our cry, He moves instantly in that moment.  Now, it may take us time to recognize that God has moved on our behalf but never believe that the Lord delays in moving when we make our supplication known to Him.

In the next verse, we see that the Lord approves of the way that Joshua is moving here, even though they chose to make peace with Gibeon.  The Lord tells Joshua that He has delivered the five kings into his hands and that no man would stand before him (v.8).  God, I believe, was pleased that Joshua was honoring a promise that had been made with Gibeon and so we see Him honoring His promise.

Defeating the armies of the five kings

We see the Lord even play a role in this battle.  We are told that God discomfited the armies of the five kings before Israel (v.10).  (This means that God caused the armies to be perplexed or confused).  God does this often, even with our enemies.  The five kings thought they had a battle won, but God put into motion something that confused the enemy.  I believe they were confused by the fact that Israel was unexpectedly at Gibeon on the battlefield.

We next see God play a role in this battle when the armies of the five kings begin to flee from the battle.  As they were fleeing from battle, we are told that it began to hail large hailstones which killed the fleeing army.  Scripture points out that more men died in battle from the hail than did those killed at the hands of the children of Israel (v.11).

The sun stands still

We know that the battle had been won according to all that God had done.  The next few verses dive into something that happened that day that many people struggle to wrap their heads around.  Joshua speaks to the Lord in the sight of Israel,  “Sun, stand still over Gibeon; And Moon, in the Valley of Aijalon (v.12).”  There is an immediate response to Joshua’s request as we are told that the sun stood still and the moon stopped (v.13).

Now, the first question that comes to mind is whether the sun and moon really did come to a stop.  So, did the earth stop spinning on its axis and did the moon stop its orbit around the earth?  The science would tell you that if the earth suddenly stopped rotating on its axis or maybe slowed down in its rotation, it would be deadly for life.  There would be mighty winds, earthquakes, tsunamis, with rocks and things being hurled in the air eastward.

So, should we take this verse literally?  Did the sun, the moon, and the other heavenly bodies come to a stop?  I do believe that God caused His universe to come to a standstill without it bringing any harm to life.  In my mind, this was a divine event that took place and as scripture says, there has not been another day like it (v.14).  The writer was so emphatic about this being a remarkable event that they repeat themselves.  

This event was so prominent in its day that it was not simply written in one book but in another book – the Book of Jasher.  This isn’t our first time hearing about the Book of Jasher in our Sunday School.  We read about this book in a lesson last year – David’s Grief for Saul and Jonathan.  This book was a book that was filled with poetry and songs.  So, yes, I believe that this was an event that literally took place.  The writer clearly states that the sun did not hasten to go down for about a whole day.   

The purpose for Joshua wanting the sun to stand still is also made clear in scripture as well.  We are told that the sun stood still long enough “till the people had revenge upon their enemies (v.13).”  God, I believe, will do the impossible often for those that genuinely believe in Him.  When we feel we are in an impossible situation, we should face that situation with valor, pray to God to help us in that situation, and then trust that God is going to do so.  As He did for Joshua, the Lord will do for us also.


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