Once upon a time long ago, the Moon delayed its arrival. The Sun worked overtime for a full day. It was a day like no other before it and hasn’t been one since. God brought this about and only He could since He was the creator of both heavenly bodies.
The remarkable one-of-a-kind story is told in the Bible (the 10th chapter of the book of Joshua). The story begins after victories the Israelites led by Joshua had scored. One of them was the well-known Bible story of the fall of the city of Jericho when its walls came tumbling down. There was rejoicing among the Israelite camp but not among its unfriendly neighbors, the Amorites, who resided in the mountains. They feared the Israelites were gaining too much territory and didn’t want Joshua to show up at their door next.
The inhabitants of a large city by the name of Gibeon conceded it was best to get on the good side of Joshua and made peace with Israel. This got the attention of the King of Jerusalem and it was the last straw. The King took action on what he saw as a “Joshua” problem and sought the help of four kings who were his allies.
It says in Joshua 10:4-5: “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. 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.”
The Gibeonites sent an SOS to Joshua for HELP! Since he had made a treaty with the Gibeonites, he was obliged to help them out. Most importantly, the Lord told Joshua: “Fear them not: for I have delivered them into thine hand; there shall not a man of them stand before thee.”
The battle began well for the Israelites. The Lord sent down great hailstones from heaven and there were more who died with hailstones than the children of Israel slew with their swords.
Then Joshua did something unusual. In the midst of these battles with these five kings of the Amorites, he asked the Lord one thing. He did so in front of the children of Israel so they would hear his petition to God. Joshua asked the Sun to stand still upon Gibeon and the Moon hold down until his people had victory over their enemies.
This was a bold move on Joshua’s part. He was taking a big risk for if the Sun had set at its regular time, it would have damaged Joshua’s standing with the Israelites. It would have discouraged his soldiers which no leader would want to happen in the midst of battle. My thought is Joshua didn’t come up with this idea all by himself. I believe the Lord laid it on his heart to pray for such and to do so within earshot of the Israelites.
The Sun, like an obedient child, stayed up another full day over the battlefield of Gibeon and the Moon held back from taking its place in the sky. No one had ever seen such before. It was a sign of affirmation to all those who heard Joshua’s prayer that indeed the Lord was with them and no matter how many were left of the enemy, their days were surely numbered.
Chapter 10 ends with: “And all these kings and their land did Joshua take at one time because the Lord God of Israel fought for Israel.”
It was not a simple thing for Joshua to go forward to battle even though he had the Lord’s assurance of victory. He was, after all, human and susceptible to temptation. On his way to Gibeon, he may have been tempted to make a U-turn. It might have popped up in his mind to send word to the Gibeonites: Sorry. You guys are on your own. Five kings are too many. My people and I would like to live a while longer.
It is a constant battle for me to overcome the tendency to go by what I see rather than what I don’t. I know there’s not a storm the Lord hasn’t seen me through; however, when some storm pops up, I sometimes give in to fear and doubt. Whenever I have managed to leave something entirely in the Lord’s hands by faith, I am so much more at peace even in a raging storm.
When I think of what faith looks like, I sometimes think of the one man who prayed for the moon to hold back and it did.