'Studies in the Old Testament'

Joshua, Judges - and Sin! - 1

August 2010

Joshua defends the cunning Gibeonites

Because of the covenant between them, Israel was duty bound to go to the rescue of Gibeon, but Joshua was able to lead them into battle with the Lord's gracious assurance ringing in his ears (Joshua 10:81):

Fear them not. For I have delivered them into thine hand, there shall not a man of them stand before thee."

Despite his errors "General" Joshua received this tremendous assurance from his sovereign God, but, instead of relaxing and becoming slack about his duties to his nation and God, because he had been promised the victory, we find that he came upon the enemy quickly by marching throughout the night (Joshua 10v9). We see here correct interfacing between the spiritual promise of God and the physical activity of man. This time Joshua did not go ahead without an assurance from God and, at the same time, he did not sit back and wait for God to fight the battle for him, but he marched with his men through the night to come upon the enemy suddenly to attack and defeat them.  To put this into perspective we should recognize that this would have been a 15-20 mile forced march, in the dark, up a road that rose about 3,000 feet!  When so many Christians today cannot be bothered to go to their church round the corner, or five miles away by car, we see here the perfect blending of physical activity and spiritual promise and all Christians can learn from Joshua's example.  People often ask, 'How can I know the will of God" or, "How do I know if I should do this.' Christians can have the assurance from God through His Word, and by the confirmation of the Holy Spirit who will not contradict the written Word, that we can proceed confidently along a certain path because it is Scripturally correct.  We should then proceed immediately and act swiftly, with the full knowledge that He has given us all the gifts, creativity, energy and innovation for the ministries and situations that He saved us to fulfil.  We should march "through the night" in Joshua style to bring about the victory, objective, or goal that we have been set by God with the knowledge that "we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them" (Ephesians 2v102), for He will work with us, and for us, in this activity.  It is clearly wrong for us to be "hyperspiritual" and sit back and say 'Well, it's in God's hands and He's going to do it' for His Word makes it clear that He has chosen to work with men but, at the same time, we should not go ahead without also consulting God in prayer, to be certain we have His clear counsel and to ensure that we are in His will.  We are blessed to have access to the full counsel of God in our ministries on earth for the Lord Jesus Christ told us clearly that those whose motives are pure (cf. Matthew 5v8; Philippians 1v17) always have the ear of our Father in heaven:

Matthew 7v72 
"Ask, and it shall be given to you; seek, and you shall find; knock, and it shall be opened to you.  8  "For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it shall be opened.  9  "Or what man is there among you, when his son shall ask him for a loaf, will give him a stone?  10  "Or if he shall ask for a fish, he will not give him a snake, will he?  11  "If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more shall your Father who is in heaven give what is good to those who ask Him!

Matthew 6v52 
"And when you pray, you are not to be as the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on the street corners, in order to be seen by men. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full.  6  "But you, when you pray, go into your inner room, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in secret, and your Father who sees in secret will repay you.  7  "And when you are praying, do not use meaningless repetition, as the Gentiles do, for they suppose that they will be heard for their many words.  8  "Therefore do not be like them; for your Father knows what you need, before you ask Him.

But we should always remember the presumptuous sin of Ai and the sinfully incorrect motives of Achan as examples to avoid.  Clearly there is a perfect blending of physical activity and effort following God's clear guidance which will provide the victory and bring glory to His Wonderful Name.  So we find Joshua marching all night and God using this occasion to again involve Himself for, in the midst of the battle, He begins to drop huge hailstones on the Amorites (Joshua 10v112) so that we read that more died from the act of God than from the sword of man:

And it came about as they fled from before Israel, while they were at the descent of Beth-horon, that the Lord threw large stones from heaven on them as far as Azekah, and they died; there were more who died from the hailstones than those whom the sons of Israel killed with the sword.

Kelso comments: "We dare not underestimate the destructive power of these hailstones. On May 1, 1888, during a hailstorm in Moradad, India, two hundred fifty lives were lost. Many more were lost at the battle of Ajalon. Likewise, these hailstones were noted to be
great stones. The largest American hailstone ever recorded was seventeen inches in circumference, with a weight of one and one-half pounds. These stones could have been as large, or even larger. At any rate, their destruction was devastating.  The great hailstorm was conclusive proof, both to the Israelites and to the Amorites, that Israel's victory was from the hand of Jehovah and was not due to the power of men.  The crossing of the Jordan at high flood and the cyclonic hailstorm at Ajalon are of special theological significance; for Baal was the great Canaanite storm god who was supposed to control the rain, the hail, the snow and the floods of Palestine. These episodes proved that Baal was as powerless before Yahweh in Palestine as he had been in the episode of the plagues of Egypt."3

We see a clear symbolism in the use of the elements to bring destruction on those who oppose Almighty God and in the Book of Revelation in the New Testament we read (Revelation 16:212):

And huge hailstones, about one hundred pounds each, *came down from heaven upon men; and men blasphemed God because of the plague of the hail, because its plague *was extremely severe.

Their magnitude and severity are emphasized.  It takes little imagination to picture the destruction hailstones weighing about one hundred pounds would cause to houses and structures and, most agonizing of all, to human beings. Does carnal man even begin to fathom the depth of his alienation from God and earnestly seek to be reconciled to his Judge? The more severe the judgment, the greater has been the blasphemy (Isaiah 30:272):

  1. Behold, the name of the Lord comes from a remote place; Burning is His anger, and dense is His smoke; His lips are filled with indignation, And His tongue is like a consuming fire;  28  And His breath is like an overflowing torrent, Which reaches to the neck, To shake the nations back and forth in a sieve, And to put in the jaws of the peoples the bridle which leads to ruin.

(Continued on page 518)

'Joshua, Judges - and Sin'

Joshua defends the cunning Gibeonites

Joshua's long day!

The Book of Joshua

The four phases of the 'Sin Cycle' in the Book of Judges

The 'Five Judges'

Chronological difficulties and the Book of Judges

The overlap of Judges and I Samuel

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