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Joshua's Long Day (Joshua 10) August 19

Adonizedek, the king of Jerusalem, is not happy with the treaty the Gibeonites made with the Israelites. His name (meaning "Lord of Righteousness") is probably a title (like Pharaoh), perhaps passed down from the days of the Priest-King Melchizedek ("King of Righteousness," Hebrews 7:1-4), who appears to have been king of the same city in the days of Abraham (Genesis 14:18-20). The similarity ends there, as Melchizedek was actually the preincarnate Jesus Christ while Adonizedek, Israel's enemy, was certainly not a true servant of God. If the Jebusites did have Christ among them in the days of Abraham, they had long since rejected Him and His ways (compare Deuteronomy 7:1-5; 8:20; 12:29-31).

Adonizedek gets four neighboring kings to join him in an attack against Gibeon. The Gibeonites send messengers to the Israelite encampment at Gilgal, asking them to return to Gibeon and honor the covenant of peace they had made (compare 9:15-17) by helping them against the Amorite kings. God lets Joshua know that He will give them the victory, and uses a hailstorm to kill more than the Israelites did during this first battle (Joshua 10:11).

Desperate for more time to deal with Israel's enemies, Joshua makes his request of God that the sun and moon stop moving. Some try to use this as proof that the Bible is not inspired, since the author, they argue, implies that the sun and moon actually travel across the sky each day, while we know today that this is only apparent because of the earth's rotation. But it is clear from the context that the author is speaking from the reference point of one standing on the earth. Even if Joshua himself falsely believed in a geocentric universe with a fixed earth, that does not negate the inspiration of the verses here. For the language used is quite valid. Indeed, if the same phenomenon occurred today, many would still use the same terminology to describe it—describing what they perceive even though they understand the truth of the earth's rotation.

It is amazing to consider the enormity of this miracle. Its complexities, which Joshua himself may not have been able to contemplate, are staggering. The rotation of the earth, with a surface velocity of more than 1,000 miles per hour at the equator, had to somehow come to a screeching halt, and start up again later, without inertial forces then creating tremendous geologic and tidal upheaval, destroying the earth's inhabitants. It is difficult to imagine the multiple cataclysmic consequences that would have occurred if God had not performed many other miracles to accompany the halting of the rotation. As it was, everyone in the world must have been in utter confusion over what was happening. While half the world wondered why the sun wasn't setting, the other half was wondering if they would ever see it again! And indeed, there are obscure myths from several ancient cultures that seem to reflect this very confusion.

As amazing as this event was, the account focuses not so much on the magnitude of the miracle, but on the fact that God listened to the voice of one man and fought so grandly for His people (verse 14). Here is proof that "the effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much" (James 5:17). Much indeed.

Following the initial victory, the Israelites move from one city to another in the southern part of Canaan, destroying the inhabitants and conquering the land—which will eventually be given to Judah, Simeon and Benjamin—before returning to the encampment at Gilgal.

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