Today’s reading begins with the people of Gibeon deceiving the people of Israel and concludes with the conquering of south Canaan by Joshua and the Israelites.
In the reading for today, we find what is quite possibly one of the most awesome miracles of the Bible. Moses writes consistently that God worked powerfully to rescue the Israelites from their captivity to the Egyptians and bring them through the wilderness to the Promised Land. The people of Israel had seen the pillar of cloud and fire, the parting of the Red Sea, the stopping of the waters of the Jordan River.
The people of Gibeon had heard of the mighty way in which God was working through the Israelites and they feared for their very existence because they did not serve the God of Israel. They came to realize that they would soon be devoted to destruction, and their only hope of survival was to try and make peace with Israel. The people of Gibeon did this by sending a group of men wearing tattered clothing and carrying with them old food to convince the Israelites that they were from a far away place and had heard of the fame of the LORD and wanted to worship Him. Joshua and the Israelites believed them and made a vow to spare their lives. They made this vow to the Gibeonites before they knew who exactly they were dealing with and for the sake of their vow to the Gibeonites that they made before the LORD, they did not destroy them.
In the miracle described in today’s reading, the people of Gibeon are being attacked by the Amorites because they had made peace with Israel. Gibeon called out to the people of Israel for protection, and the Israelites came out to fight for the people with whom they had made a covenant of peace. During the battle against the Amorites, Joshua called out to the LORD and petitioned Him to make the sun stand still so that the daylight would prevail long enough for he and his men to defeat the Amorites. God heard the petition of Joshua and the sun indeed stood still in the sky until the Israelites had defeated the Amorites.
It’s an act of faith to actually believe the events described in this story. The fact that it takes faith to even believe this story speaks to the depth of faith that Joshua had that he would petition the LORD for additional daylight to win a battle and expect the LORD to grant His request. Certainly Joshua had the kind of faith that Jesus spoke of during His ministry: a faith that could move mountains. If the LORD would stop the sun in the sky, then certainly moving a mountain to achieve His purposes would not tax His strength in the least.