Then Joshua spoke to the LORD in the day when the LORD delivered up the Amorites before the sons of Israel, and he said in the sight of Israel, "O sun, stand still at Gibeon, And O moon in the valley of Aijalon."Joshua 10:12(NASB)
Joshua was the man whom God chose to lead His people across the Jordan and into the Promised Land. But the land of Canaan was filled with groups of Canaanites who had to be conquered.
The land was filled with cities that had to be defeated... and their indigenous kings united against the Israelite army who had come to challenge their authority and claim the land which God had promised to Abraham, as an everlasting covenant.
One ethnic group were the Gibeonites who lived in the strategic city of Gilgal. They made a treaty with Israel and Joshua had promised them protection from their enemies. When five Amorites kings rose up against the Gibeonites, they sent a frantic message to Joshua to come to their aid quickly, and save them.
Although Joshua had won a resounding victory at Jericho, Israel's defeat at Ai, through disobedience, must have caused Joshua some trepidation. But the Lord said to him, "Fear not, nor be dismayed! But be strong and very courageous."
After a long, all-night march from Gilgal, Joshua's forces took their enemy by surprise and engaged them in combat. We read that the Lord threw the enemy into confusion, giving Joshua a great victory - but there is one intriguing verse which tells us that on the day when the Lord gave the Amorites over to the Israelites, Joshua said, in the sight of Israel, “Sun, be silent and stand still at Gibeon, and you, moon, stay in the Valley of Ajalon."
In order to establish a resounding victory over the Amorites, Joshua realised that there was insufficient daylight to complete the task and so he made this astonishing command that the sun and moon stopped moving across the sky and God honoured his prayer: "The sun stood still, and the moon stopped." until the nation avenged themselves of their enemies.
We read: "The sun stopped in the middle of the sky and did not hasten to go down for about a whole day, and there was no day like that before it or after it when the Lord listened to the voice of a man; for the Lord fought for Israel."
Perhaps, more than any other passage in Scripture, Joshua's long day has sparked an increasingly intense debate where the geo-centricity of an immovable, flat earth, where the sun and moon rise from one end of the heavens and circle to their other end, is taken literally rather than the currently accepted heliocentric model where a moving earth orbits a travelling sun in an ever-expanding universe.
Joshua not only showed great courage but a child-like dependent trust in the Lord.. and a willingness to believe His Word and to obey His instructions. May we trust our Heavenly Father in all things and not lean on our own, limited understanding, but give Him the glory and praise to which He is due - and worship Him in the beauty of holiness.
Heavenly Father, thank You for Your Word and the truths that it contains. Thank You that You show Yourself to be the all-powerful God Who hears and answers our prayers. I praise You that You hold earth in the hollow of Your hand and set the sun, moon, and stars in their heavenly courses, for signs and seasons and days and nights. May I keep my eyes looking to You, Whom to know is life eternal. In Jesus' name I pray, AMEN.