When sinners leave the service of Satan and the friendship of the world, and make peace with God and join His people; they must not marvel if the world hates them, and if their former friends become foes. By such methods, Satan discourages many who are convinced of their danger and are “almost persuaded” to be Christians, but still fear the cross. These things should encourage us to pray to God for protection, help, and deliverance.
Exasperated and alarmed at the submission of the Gibeonites to Joshua and his forces, the southern confederacy of Canaanite kings determined to assault and capture them. They had good reason for alarm, for their position was becoming critical! The Israelite invaders were steadily advancing into the heart of the country. Jericho, the key of the eastern entrance to Canaan, had fallen with startling suddenness; and Gibeon, the key of the west, had just as suddenly succumbed – without the striking of a single blow. Therefore, the possession of this city was all-important; and since the Israelite forces had withdrawn to Gilgal, a final but favorable opportunity was provided for the Canaanites to recapture it. The Amorite kings of Hebron, Jarmuth, Lachish, and Eglon gathered together at the summons of their chief, Adoni-zedek, who was the ruler of Jerusalem. They pitched their camp before Gibeon, and prepared for a vigorous assault on the city and its inhabitants; but a swift and urgent entreaty for help was sent down to Joshua at Gilgal. It is our duty to defend the afflicted, who – like the Gibeonites – are brought into trouble on our account, or for the sake of the Gospel. Joshua would not forsake his new vassals – and how much less shall our Jesus fail those who trust in Him?
The crisis was urgent! The continuance of Canaanite rule in southern and central Palestine was hinging on Joshua’s next move. But the Amorite chiefs were dealing with an adversary who rested with implicit confidence upon the Word of his God! By leading all his selected warriors – through the darkness of night – over 15 difficult miles, Joshua succeeded in reaching Gibeon the next morning. The suddenness of their appearance spread dismay and confusion throughout the entire enemy camp. Panic-stricken, they fled westward; and behind them, the warriors of Israel pursued sternly and relentlessly. The fugitives continued their headlong flight, but the God of Israel smote them by other weapons than man could fabricate. Thunder shook, lightning gleamed destruction upon the doomed Amorites, and a terrible hailstorm poured down missiles from heaven – which killed more of them than the swords of their pursuers had done.
As noon approached, Joshua – probably as he watched the pursuit from some area of high ground close by – uttered aloud a fervent prayer that a day so tremendous in its triumphs might be prolonged until the victory was completed, and his prayer was granted! For a whole day, the sun appeared as if it was stopped in his course, and the moon remained visible above the western horizon, until Makkedah – which the fleeing Amorites were apparently trying to reach – had been captured and occupied by the Israelites. Here we see the great faith of Joshua, as well as the power of the Lord’s miraculous work in causing the sun and moon to stand still, so that the day of Israel’s victories might be made longer. This was a supernatural event that can certainly not be explained by even the modern study of astronomy. “Is any thing too hard for the Lord?” Those words form a sufficient answer to the thousands of difficulties which objectors, in every age, have brought against the truth of God’s written Word.
Unable to enter the city of Makkedah, the five Amorite chieftains took refuge in a well-known neighboring cave. But they were discovered; and their escape was prevented by closing up the cave’s mouth with stones, until all the inhabitants of Makkedah had been slain. Then they were brought out, and the principal Israelite commanders were directed to place their feet on the necks of their fallen foes – a symbolic act that was well understood in that part of the world. The captives were put to death, and their bodies were hung on trees until sunset; and thus God punished the abominable wickedness of these kings. Herein is a picture of Christ’s victories over the powers of darkness, and of believers’ victories through Him! In our spiritual conflicts, we must not be satisfied with merely obtaining some important victory. We must pursue our scattered enemies – searching out the remains of sin as they rise up in our hearts, and thus pursuing the conquest. In so doing, the Lord will give us enough light until the warfare is finished.
The night which followed that memorable day was spent near Makkedah. After this, Joshua went on a vigorous campaign against several more Canaanite strongholds. In Joshua’s battles, the Lord showed His hatred of the idolatries and other abominations of the Canaanites; and herein was pictured the destruction of all the enemies of the Christ, who – having slighted the riches of His grace – must forever feel the weight of His wrath. Israel could never have gotten the victory if the Lord had not undertaken the battle. If He is on our side, who can be against us? In this glorious history, we get a glimpse of the wonderful victory of Jesus over all the enemies of our salvation.
Lord Jesus, make us more than conquerors through Your strength, and give us grace to subdue all the remaining enemies of corruption that dwell within our hearts. Amen.
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