God Fights For His People
Stephen Caswell © 1999
God Fights For His People
Behind The Scenes
Do you ever feel you are alone in the Christian life? Do you ever feel that you are fighting the enemy by yourself? While learning to use a new computer, I was troubled by a faint clicking sound that indicated it was working even though nothing was happening on the screen. The manufacturer’s representative on the hotline said, “ No problem. The computer is probably running an application you can’t see and is working in the background. ” As I thought about the phrase “ working in the background, ” I began to realise how visually oriented I am in my relationship with God. If I can’t see something happening, I assume it’s not happening. But that’s not the way God operates. God works behind the scenes for His people. And God also fights for His people!
Last Sunday we saw how Israel made a league with the Gibeonites. They were deceived by them because they didn’t consult the Lord. Things aren’t always what they appear to be. However God’s providence overruled the situation. The people of Gibeon served the Lord and Israel by drawing water and timber for sacrifices. They came to know the Lord and forsook their idolatry. They became a part of Israel. God turned their curse into a blessing. Now God used this treaty to Israel's advantage. God was working behind the scenes for Israel.
Firstly God Determined The Attack
a. They Feared Greatly
Verse 1 says, that the Canaanite nations soon heard of this treaty that Gibeon had made with Israel. They already knew of the Defeat of Jericho and Ai. Bad news travels fast. Joshua 10:2 gives the result: that they feared greatly, because Gibeon was a great city, like one of the royal cities, and because it was greater than Ai, and all its men were mighty. The Lord’s promise that He would bring fear upon the Canaanites was being fulfilled yet again. Even though Gibeon didn’t have a king it was still a city of some reputation. Their military skill was well known. The king of Jericho was understandably afraid. Gibeon had become Israel’s ally. This meant that she would fight with them if asked to. This weakened their position.
b. They Fought Against Gibeon
The king of Jerusalem responded by sending word to four other kings. He requested that they form an alliance to punish Gibeon for their treachery. He wanted to ensure they couldn’t help Israel. Joshua 10:5 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. Gibeon was in a desperate situation. They had five kings and their armies attacking them what would they do.
c. Gibeon Said, Don’t Forsake Us
Joshua 10:6 says: And the men of Gibeon sent to Joshua at the camp at Gilgal, saying, “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.”
Gibeon sent a runner to Joshua at Gilgal for help. They asked for help because of the covenant. It doesn’t say this directly, but it is inferred by the remark that they were their servants. How would Joshua respond? After all Gibeon had deceived him and now it had backfired. He could just leave them to their own ends, couldn’t he?
d. Joshua Fought
Joshua didn’t do that. He honoured the covenant. I believe that the Lord put this plan into the heart of the king of Jerusalem. He knew of the covenant Israel had made with Gibeon. He also knew that Israel was obliged to defend Gibeon. God’s providence used the circumstances for Israel’s good. Chapter 9:2 says that they decided to fight together against Israel. God had determined the attack. Up until now Israel had been fighting against one city at a time. If they continued this way the campaign would take a long time. The confederation of five kings brought their armies out of their walled cities into open country to attack Gibeon. Joshua sensing that this was an opportunity to gain a great victory immediately left Gilgal and ascended to Gibeon. This was a steep climb, a journey of about 25 miles. By doing this Israel could possess the land much faster. This trial was a blessing in disguise! God was using what seemed to be an inconvenience to help Israel. Because Joshua had faith, he saw this trial as a blessing.
To develop photographs, the film must first be taken into a dark-room. Only after the chemicals have done their work is it safe to expose the negatives to light and produce the final prints. The light, which would have destroyed the film, now brings out its beauty. God takes us through darkroom experiences to develop our spiritual life. As we pass through trial, sorrow, frustration, and disappointment, the image of Christ is produced in us. Then we are ready to be displayed in the light. Too often we blame people or circumstances for our dark tunnels of despair and frustration. Although they may be the secondary causes, we need to realise that the hand of the heavenly Father momentarily shades the light of our pathway. He graciously takes us through such experiences because He wants to provide us with the benefits of darkness. God allows us to go through trials so that we will rely on His strength. The trial enables us to grow and accomplish an even greater victory for God's kingdom!
When obstacles come into your life do you become discouraged? Do you complain about it and question God’s purpose in it all? Or do you see it as an opportunity to further Christ’s kingdom? If God is sovereign then we should accept His trials as opportunities. Paul was imprisoned in Rome for 2 years. But instead of complaining and questioning God’s will, he used it as a way of sharing Christ to the guards and Caesar’s household. He saw it as an opportunity to reach people that he normally couldn’t get to. Paul turned his trials into triumphs. He relied on God's power in his life. God reached just as many people through Paul when he was a prisoner as when he was free.
God determined the attack But He also Delivered Their Armies
Joshua 10:8 says: 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. After Joshua left for Gibeon the Lord spoke unto Him words of encouragement. He said that not a man would be able to stand against him. This was the same promise he gave in Joshua 1:5. He also said that He had delivered them into Joshua’s hand. This is a key statement in this chapter. Five times it says that God delivered the enemy into Joshua’s hand.
1. The first 14 verses tell how He delivered the kings armies into Israel’s hand.
2. The next 13 verses tell how God delivered the kings themselves into Israel’s hands.
3. The final 16 verses tell of how God delivered their kingdoms into Israel’s hands.
Joshua was a man of great faith. He believed God and attempted great things for the Lord. He lead Israel on an all night march to Gibeon. Under the cover of darkness Israel marched to Gibeon. The enemy would not have suspected this. This was a daring move and God used it to help defeat the enemy. However it meant that Israel had to fight immediately after a long march without any sleep. Obviously Joshua believed God would help them and strengthen them in the battle. And the Lord did just that.
a. He Confused Them
Verse 10 says that, the Lord confused them before Israel. The KJV says he routed them. The meaning is similar. God caused them to run before Israel in confusion. They didn’t know what to do, or where to go. For soldiers this seems like an amazing statement. But God was behind it. He caused them to be afraid and run in confusion.
b. He Cast Hailstones Upon Them
Joshua 10:11 says: 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. God turned the weather against them. He cast down large hailstones on them with pinpoint accuracy. More soldiers were killed by the hail then by Israel’s sword.
c. He Caused The Sun To Stand Still
Joshua 10:12-13 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. And the sun stood still, and the moon stayed, until the people had avenged themselves upon their enemies. So the sun stood still in the midst of heaven, and hasted not to go down about a whole day.
Joshua realised that they would not have enough time to complete the victory. So he asked the Lord to stop the sun from moving across the sky. As we know today the sun does not move but rather the earth rotates on its axis. Therefore some people claim that the Bible is at odds with science. However this terminology is still used today by the weather man.
He tells us what time the sun will rise and set. This particular day lasted for about 48 hours. The people of Canaan worshipped the sun, the moon and weather. They were their gods. Yet now Joshua had been assisted by the gods that they supposedly served. The sun stood still, giving aid to Israel. Great hailstones had fallen upon them. This must have discouraged them greatly. To find that their own gods were either against them or overpowered by Israel’s God. Israel’s God must be God. Joshua 10:14 says. And there has been no day like that, before it or after it, that the LORD heeded the voice of a man; for the LORD fought for Israel.
The Strongest People
The picture in the newspaper caught my attention. Above the caption “ strong man ” was a photo of a workman displaying what seemed to be superhuman strength. He appeared to be lifting a piano up to a second story apartment porch. An explanation under the picture plus one discernible clue, however, told the unseen story. By looking closely I could see a cable attached to the piano. The real power to lift it was coming from a crane above, rather than the man bellow. This scene reminds us how the Lord works in and through those who trust Him.
d. Israel Chased Them, Struck Them Down
God fought for Israel. Yet Israel was very much involved in it all. God had determined the outcome at the start. But Israel still had to fight the enemy. Israel marched all night to Gibeon so as to take the enemy by surprise. Previously they took part of three days to make the same journey, after they found out the deception. But this time it was urgent. Israel chased them as they fled. They pursued them as they sought to escape. They cut them down with the sword. They started with a great slaughter at Gibeon and did not let up when the enemy fled. God fought for Israel. Israel also fought, and with God’s help they accomplished much more. They continued pursuing even though they must have been weary.
The enemy trusted in their armies. They even formed a confederation to increase their strength. But Joshua trusted in the Lord. God did not let him down. Where does your confidence Lie? In human resources or God’s? If your confidence rests in God, are you standing courageously for Him? Are you praying for the lost? Are you witnessing to them also? Phil 2:12-13 says Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. For it is God who is at work in you both to will and to do His good pleasure. Are you working out what God works in? Like Joshua, believe God will work mightily behind the scenes. God delivered their armies into Joshua’s hands.
But He also Delivered Their Kings
a. They Trapped Them
The five kings had escaped from the battle and taken refuge in a cave at Makkedah. Joshua became aware of this and instructed his men to place large stones in front of the cave to trap them in. He told them to set a guard by the cave also to make sure they didn’t escape. Then he gave important commands in Joshua 10:19: And stay ye not, but pursue after your enemies, and smite their rearguard; suffer them not to enter into their cities: for the LORD your God hath delivered them into your hand. Joshua didn’t want to waste time on these five kings now. There was still much fighting to do. So he told them to trap the kings, set a watch then continue the fight. He knew that it was much easier to defeat the soldiers in the field before they could enter their walled cities. Joshua commanded them to take the victory that God had delivered to them.
b. They Trampled Them
After Israel returned from a great slaughter of the enemy, Joshua brought the 5 kings out of the cave. Joshua 10:24 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. This was a custom observed by victorious commanders in the middle east. This was a symbol of complete subjugation of the enemy. Joshua told his captains that the Lord would do this to all their enemies. He did this to encourage them for the future. The 5 kings that had threatened Gibeon and Israel had been totally defeated.
c. They Terminated Them
Joshua 10:26 And afterward Joshua smote them, and slew them, and hanged them on five trees: and they were hanging upon the trees until the evening. After this ritual, Joshua killed the 5 kings and hung their bodies on trees as an example to others. At evening they took their bodies down and put them in the cave where they entombed them with stones. This became another memorial of God’s faithfulness in giving them this victory. It was useless trusting in the power of armies for deliverance from God. It’s just as futile trusting in the king’s power.
People in Canaan believed that the king had great power. Often these men were great warriors having military prowess. They commanded respect from the people of the land. But Joshua was not afraid of them. He trusted in the Lord his God. He knew that God was greater than any king. Do you trust in people who have position or authority? Look out, Men will fail you. Look at what happened to the kings after Joshua caught them. Are you afraid of witnessing to people because of their position or authority? Don’t be! Fearlessly live out your faith for our Lord. Witness for Him, because He will ultimately triumph. God had delivered their armies into their hands. He had delivered their kings into their hands and under foot.
Next God Delivered Their Kingdoms
Joshua 10:28-30 On that day Joshua took Makkedah, and struck it and its king with the edge of the sword. He utterly destroyed them — all the people who were in it. He let none remain. He also did to the king of Makkedah as he had done to the king of Jericho. Then Joshua passed from Makkedah, and all Israel with him, to Libnah; and they fought against Libnah. And the LORD also delivered it and its king into the hand of Israel; he struck it and all the people who were in it with the edge of the sword. He let none remain in it, but did to its king as he had done to the king of Jericho.
God Delivered Their Cities And Lands
The word delivered is used in verses 30 and 32. God delivered all the cities that Israel fought against into their hand. No one could stand against them as God had promised. The word delivered is used five times in this chapter. God delivered the five kings that formed the alliance into Israel’s hands. Now God was delivering their kingdoms to Israel. Yet Israel was very much involved in the conflict.
a. They Fought Against The Cities
As we read a moment ago, Israel fought against the enemy. The word fought is used 7 times in chapter 10. Five times it says that Israel fought against this city or that city. They had to fight to gain victory! God did not do it all for them! He helped them and enabled them to accomplish much more than was humanly possible but they still fought. Even when tired.
b. They Took The Cities
Israel took the cities. After fighting against them they captured them. They took possession of the cities from God. He delivered them unto Israel, but Israel still took them. The word took is used five times in the passage and once in the summary. This again shows the co-working between God and man. God gave or delivered and Israel took it from His hand.
c. They Struck Them With The Edge Of The Sword
The word struck is used nine times in this passage. Israel totally destroyed all the people of the cities. They left none alive in those cities as God had commanded. Nine may be significant for another reason also. There were five kings that formed an alliance against Gibeon. These were all killed. Israel conquered another three kings in the cities they took in South Canaan. One more king came from Gezer in the north to help the city of Lachish. Joshua defeated him also. 9 kings in all were conquered. Although we did not read from verse 33-39, the same thing is repeated over and over again. God delivered, Israel fought against, Israel took and Israel struck with the edge of the sword.
God truly delivered the kingdoms into Israel’s hands. It was just as useless for the Canaanites to trust in the security of walled cities. God can deliver them also. He alone gives security. Joshua obeyed God’s commands completely. He wasn’t discouraged by obstacles like walled cities. When God said He had delivered the cities into his hands, Joshua took the promises by faith and saw it become a reality.
Are you claiming God’s promises in your life? God has given us all that we need for life and godliness. Are you drawing upon them? God has given us the armour of God to take up each day. In Ephesians 6:11 we are commanded to take it up. Are you overcoming the enemies of Christ in your life through prayer and the word of God? 2 Corinthians 10:3-5 tells us our spiritual weapons are for pulling down strongholds. God alone is the one we must trust and obey! Are you obeying you heavenly commander? Are you fighting the good fight of faith?
Joshua 10:40-41 So Joshua conquered all the land: the mountain country and the South and the lowland and the wilderness slopes, and all their kings; he left none remaining, but utterly destroyed all that breathed, as the LORD God of Israel had commanded. And Joshua conquered them from Kadesh Barnea as far as Gaza, and all the country of Goshen, even as far as Gibeon.
Joshua and Israel accomplished much in this campaign. This campaign probably lasted many days if not a few weeks. But still it was amazing how much Israel accomplished in such a short space of time. How did they take so much territory at one time?
Joshua 10:42-43 gives us the answer: All these kings and their land Joshua took at one time, because the LORD God of Israel fought for Israel. And Joshua returned, and all Israel with him, unto the camp to Gilgal.
God was fighting for Israel all along. He was the reason that they had accomplished so much in a short space of time. With God fighting on their side they could make bold attacks and go for broke, because He would bless their efforts.
Firstly God Determined The Attack
To start with it was God’s providence that arranged it all. When obstacles come into your life do you become discouraged? Do you complain about it and question God’s purpose in it all? Or do you see it as an opportunity to further Christ’s kingdom? If God is sovereign then we should accept His trials as opportunities. Like Joshua, trust God to work mightily behind the scenes! Draw on His resources. Like Paul use your trials to extend God's kingdom.
Secondly God Delivered Their Armies
1. He confused the armies before Israel. 2. He cast down hail stones upon them. 3. He caused the sun to stand still. Where does your confidence Lie? In human resources or God’s? If your confidence rests in God, are you standing courageously for Him? Are you praying for the lost? Are you witnessing to them also? Are you working out your own salvation with fear and trembling? Because it is God at work in you both to will and to do His good pleasure! Like Joshua trusted God to work mightily behind the scenes. God fights for His people.
Thirdly God Delivered Their Kings
By God's help, They 1.Trapped their enemies. 2.Trampled their enemies. 3.Terminated them.
Do you trust in people who have position or authority? Look out, Men will fail you. Look at what happened to the kings after Joshua caught them. Are you afraid of witnessing to people because of their position or authority? Don’t be! Fearlessly live out your faith for our Lord. Witness for Him, because He will ultimately triumph.
Lastly God Delivered Their Kingdoms
1. They fought against the cities. 2 They took the cities. 3. They struck them with the sword. When God said He had delivered the cities into his hands, Joshua took the promises by faith. He saw it become a reality. Are you taking God’s promises for your life? God has given us all that we need for life and godliness. Are you drawing upon them? Are you fighting the good fight of faith? God has given us the armour of God to appropriate each day. In Ephesians we are commanded to take it up. Are you striking the enemies of Christ in your life through prayer and the word of God? 2 Corinthians 10:3-5 tells us our spiritual weapons are for pulling down strongholds. God alone is the one we must trust and obey! Are you fighting His battles? Remember, God fights for His people!
Overcoming The Resistance
If you have ever tried to water-ski, you know how the water seems to resist you before you get on the surface. The boat’s engine roars, your muscles strain, and the water does everything it can to keep you down. But if you know how to take advantage of the boat’s power, you are lifted up and within a few seconds you are skimming over the surface of the same water that held you back at first. Water-skiing provides an analogy to our Christian experience as we go through the deep waters of trial. We must learn to take advantage of God’s power. At first there is great struggle as we hang on with all our might to some promise of God. The weight of our weaknesses seems almost unbearable. But like the water that lifts the skis, our difficulties challenge us to draw on God’s supernatural power.
Are we alone in our Christian faith? No God is working behind the scenes. Do we fight the battles on our own? No God fights for His people. So step out in faith and trust Him to use your trials and situations for your growth and His glory. Amen
Romans 16:20 And the God of peace will crush Satan under your feet shortly. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. Amen.