[Joshua Chapter Ten] Picking Your Battles, Maintaining Your Focus. In this chapter Joshua is called upon to fight a battle that is not his to fight. In the midst of a distracting situation God fights for Israel sending great hail stones and causing the sun to stand still till the victory is secure. In our day we think God will abandon us if we make a mistake. This is not so if you believe the biblical record. God will fight for you even in the midst of distraction and difficulty if you will as Joshua listen to Him and do what He says.
[Jos 10:1-43 KJV] 1 Now it came to pass, when Adonizedek king of Jerusalem had heard how Joshua had taken Ai, and had utterly destroyed it; as he had done to Jericho and her king, so he had done to Ai and her king; and how the inhabitants of Gibeon had made peace with Israel, and were among them; 2 That they feared greatly, because Gibeon [was] a great city, as one of the royal cities, and because it [was] greater than Ai, and all the men thereof [were] mighty. 3 Wherefore Adonizedek king of Jerusalem sent unto Hoham king of Hebron, and unto Piram king of Jarmuth, and unto Japhia king of Lachish, and unto Debir king of Eglon, saying, 4 Come up unto me, and help me, that we may smite Gibeon: for it hath made peace with Joshua and with the children of Israel. 5 Therefore the five kings of the Amorites, the king of Jerusalem, the king of Hebron, the king of Jarmuth, the king of Lachish, the king of Eglon, gathered themselves together, and went up, they and all their hosts, and encamped before Gibeon, and made war against it. 6 And the men of Gibeon sent unto Joshua to the camp to Gilgal, saying, Slack not thy hand from thy servants; come up to us quickly, and save us, and help us: for all the kings of the Amorites that dwell in the mountains are gathered together against us. 7 So Joshua ascended from Gilgal, he, and all the people of war with him, and all the mighty men of valour. 8 And the LORD said unto Joshua, Fear them not: for I have delivered them into thine hand; there shall not a man of them stand before thee. 9 Joshua therefore came unto them suddenly, [and] went up from Gilgal all night. 10 And the LORD discomfited them before Israel, and slew them with a great slaughter at Gibeon, and chased them along the way that goeth up to Bethhoron, and smote them to Azekah, and unto Makkedah. 11 And it came to pass, as they fled from before Israel, [and] were in the going down to Bethhoron, that the LORD cast down great stones from heaven upon them unto Azekah, and they died: [they were] more which died with hailstones than [they] whom the children of Israel slew with the sword. 12 Then spake Joshua to the LORD in the day when the LORD delivered up the Amorites before the children of Israel, and he said in the sight of Israel, Sun, stand thou still upon Gibeon; and thou, Moon, in the valley of Ajalon. 13 And the sun stood still, and the moon stayed, until the people had avenged themselves upon their enemies. [Is] not this written in the book of Jasher? So the sun stood still in the midst of heaven, and hasted not to go down about a whole day. 14 And there was no day like that before it or after it, that the LORD hearkened unto the voice of a man: for the LORD fought for Israel.
In the previous chapter you see that Joshua and the elders failed to inquire of the Lord regarding the Gibeonites and were deceived into forming a peace treaty with them. When the other kings heard that the Gibeonites were now in league with Israel they gathered their armies to attack Gibeon. First of all you must recognize that God never intended Israel to be in league with Gibeon. Joshua and the elders presumed to know what God wanted and thereby were deceived. Now they are obligated to defend their former enemy who had deceived them. Notice that Gibeon was a royal city and it’s inhabitants were mighty men. They were capable of fighting their own battles but what did they do? They sent word to Joshua in Gilgal saying “come and fight for us…” All of a sudden the Gibeonites are no longer flattering the Israelites about how wonderful they are. Joshua told the Gibeonites they would be servants to Israel but who is serving who here? When this happened Joshua was in a place called Gilgal. Gilgal means wheel. James spoke of the tongue as a wheel:
[Jas 3:6 KJV] 6 And the tongue [is] a fire, a world of iniquity: so is the tongue among our members, that it defileth the whole body, and setteth on fire the course [wheel] of nature; and it is set on fire of hell.
In our culture we think words are inconsequential but Solomon said:
[Pro 6:2 KJV] 2 Thou art snared with the words of thy mouth, thou art taken with the words of thy mouth.
Many times whole seasons and portions of your life will be determined not by God’s plan but because of a detour demanded by the words of your mouth. Proverbs 10:19 says in a multitude of words there “wanteth not sin”. We must learn to trim our words lest we be put in a position to fight battles that are not ours to fight.
Now in this third battle Joshua is fighting a battle resulting from failure to consult the Lord. Jericho was a great victory but Ai was a disaster that God then rescued the people out of. Now they make an ill advised league with Gibeon and are fighting a battle that is not initially theirs. We might expect another failure but what happens? God fights for them. He rains down meteors upon the enemies killing more than the soldiers themselves. When the battle waxes long God backs up Joshua’s words causing the sun to stand still till the battle is over. Do we believe this? A book written in 1936 purports that two scientists discovered and accounted for from this story in the bible 24 missing hours in timeline calculations. Great efforts have been made by many to debunk the story but it persists in the realm of modern myth. What we can see in this remarkable event the lengths that God will go to answer prayer and the authority of our words before God even in a time of trial and challenge.
15 And Joshua returned, and all Israel with him, unto the camp to Gilgal. 16 But these five kings fled, and hid themselves in a cave at Makkedah. 17 And it was told Joshua, saying, The five kings are found hid in a cave at Makkedah. 18 And Joshua said, Roll great stones upon the mouth of the cave, and set men by it for to keep them: 19 And stay ye not, [but] pursue after your enemies, and smite the hindmost of them; suffer them not to enter into their cities: for the LORD your God hath delivered them into your hand. 20 And it came to pass, when Joshua and the children of Israel had made an end of slaying them with a very great slaughter, till they were consumed, that the rest [which] remained of them entered into fenced cities. 21 And all the people returned to the camp to Joshua at Makkedah in peace: none moved his tongue against any of the children of Israel. 22 Then said Joshua, Open the mouth of the cave, and bring out those five kings unto me out of the cave. 23 And they did so, and brought forth those five kings unto him out of the cave, the king of Jerusalem, the king of Hebron, the king of Jarmuth, the king of Lachish, [and] the king of Eglon. 24 And it came to pass, when they brought out those kings unto Joshua, that Joshua called for all the men of Israel, and said unto the captains of the men of war which went with him, Come near, put your feet upon the necks of these kings. And they came near, and put their feet upon the necks of them. 25 And Joshua said unto them, Fear not, nor be dismayed, be strong and of good courage: for thus shall the LORD do to all your enemies against whom ye fight. 26 And afterward Joshua smote them, and slew them, and hanged them on five trees: and they were hanging upon the trees until the evening. 27 And it came to pass at the time of the going down of the sun, [that] Joshua commanded, and they took them down off the trees, and cast them into the cave wherein they had been hid, and laid great stones in the cave’s mouth, [which remain] until this very day. 28 And that day Joshua took Makkedah, and smote it with the edge of the sword, and the king thereof he utterly destroyed, them, and all the souls that [were] therein; he let none remain: and he did to the king of Makkedah as he did unto the king of Jericho. 29 Then Joshua passed from Makkedah, and all Israel with him, unto Libnah, and fought against Libnah: 30 And the LORD delivered it also, and the king thereof, into the hand of Israel; and he smote it with the edge of the sword, and all the souls that [were] therein; he let none remain in it; but did unto the king thereof as he did unto the king of Jericho. 31 And Joshua passed from Libnah, and all Israel with him, unto Lachish, and encamped against it, and fought against it: 32 And the LORD delivered Lachish into the hand of Israel, which took it on the second day, and smote it with the edge of the sword, and all the souls that [were] therein, according to all that he had done to Libnah. 33 Then Horam king of Gezer came up to help Lachish; and Joshua smote him and his people, until he had left him none remaining. 34 And from Lachish Joshua passed unto Eglon, and all Israel with him; and they encamped against it, and fought against it: 35 And they took it on that day, and smote it with the edge of the sword, and all the souls that [were] therein he utterly destroyed that day, according to all that he had done to Lachish.
In this passage is a great lesson to be learned in spiritual warfare. The enemy will even use his defeat to distract you from greater victories. The five kings that headed the battle against Joshua hid themselves in a cave. The battle was on and Israel was pursuing the fleeing armies. When these kings were discovered Joshua instructed that the cave mouth be covered with stones in order to deal with them later after the victory. Then when the battle was one Joshua comes back and deals with the captives.
There are going to be times when you come under great pressure to address situations that are in fact distractions from what God has you doing at the time. You have to ask yourself “what does seek the kingdom look like for me right now”? Is this a distraction from your assignment? Whatever draws you away from the things of God the enemy will enlarge and increase in your life because it is working. In the early days of our ministry we would often get phone calls sometimes minutes before opening a meeting. It would be a family member, a situation or circumstance that demanded our attention and comprised a major distraction from what we were about to do. Learn to shut these distractions down as soon as they surface.
36 And Joshua went up from Eglon, and all Israel with him, unto Hebron; and they fought against it: 37 And they took it, and smote it with the edge of the sword, and the king thereof, and all the cities thereof, and all the souls that [were] therein; he left none remaining, according to all that he had done to Eglon; but destroyed it utterly, and all the souls that [were] therein. 38 And Joshua returned, and all Israel with him, to Debir; and fought against it: 39 And he took it, and the king thereof, and all the cities thereof; and they smote them with the edge of the sword, and utterly destroyed all the souls that [were] therein; he left none remaining: as he had done to Hebron, so he did to Debir, and to the king thereof; as he had done also to Libnah, and to her king. 40 So Joshua smote all the country of the hills, and of the south, and of the vale, and of the springs, and all their kings: he left none remaining, but utterly destroyed all that breathed, as the LORD God of Israel commanded. 41 And Joshua smote them from Kadeshbarnea even unto Gaza, and all the country of Goshen, even unto Gibeon. 42 And all these kings and their land did Joshua take at one time, because the LORD God of Israel fought for Israel. 43 And Joshua returned, and all Israel with him, unto the camp to Gilgal.
Notice that Joshua waged war and did all “the Lord God commanded…” Often we set out to fulfill and assignment of heaven and get distracted. What we actually do winds up looking very different from what God originally instructed. Then we become frustrated because we don’t know why things didn’t work out. In all of this Joshua constantly and continually under much pressure and activity around him CONSULT GOD for DIRECTION. You must not allow yourself to be distracted. You must not allow impediments and obstacles to keep you from moving forward. Miracles often are not seen because you refused to put yourself in a position to NEED ONE. You cannot play it safe and walk with God. You cannot give in to distraction or allow people or the enemy to set the agenda for your day. Maintain fidelity as Joshua did to the instructions of God in the midst of battle.