Hey, Relentless Students! I hope you are all doing well and getting a chance to get outside and enjoy the sunshine these past few days. Caitlin and I have been taking Ezra outside for walks and letting him play in the grass, it has been pretty nice. Over the last few days we ave gone through the first five books of the Bible also known as the Torah. They are the history of God's chosen people as they enter the promised land and includes the laws that God had required of his people.
As we continue our voyage of the scriptures, today we enter Joshua. The Israelites have finally finished their 40 years of wandering in the desert and are able to enter the promised land. Moses is no longer with the people and he has appointed a man named Joshua as the leader of the Israelites. Joshua is called by God to be the one to lead the people into the promised land. The calling is an empowerment from God using the words "be strong and courageous". The core of this call is found in Joshua 1:9 which says,
"Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”
We all know this verse whether we've seen it on a shirt, a hat, a poster, or someone has it as a tattoo. This was the call of Joshua as he entered the promised land, why? Because the land was inhabited by people before the Israelites and for them to have their promised land they were going to have to fight for it. The book of Joshua is full of war stories and conquerings acquired in strange means. For example, the Israelites were commanded to march around a city for 7 days and on the 7th day to blow their trumpets so the walls would fall and it worked.
One of the stories that are so unique in what happens in the battle recorded in Joshua 10. The Amorites kings who were the ones inhabiting the land before Israel decided to strike at Joshua to prevent him from continuing his conquest of their land. When Joshua learns of what is happening God tells him not to worry for this is God giving him victory. As the Israelites were attacking the Amorite's attempt to escape. Joshua doesn't want them to be able to escape under the cover of night so he asks God to keep the sun in place. This takes place in Joshua 10:12-14 which says,
"At that time Joshua spoke to the Lord in the day when the Lord gave the Amorites over to the sons of Israel, and he said in the sight of Israel, 'Sun, stand still at Gibeon, and moon, in the Valley of Aijalon.' And the sun stood still, and the moon stopped, until the nation took vengeance on their enemies. Is this not written in the Book of Jashar? The sun stopped in the midst of heaven and did not hurry to set for about a whole day. There has been no day like it before or since, when the Lord heeded the voice of a man, for the Lord fought for Israel."
First, Joshua had faith that God did intend victory for Israel that day and wanted to ensure he could defeat them before nightfall. So, he had the audacity to request of God that time stood still. That the sun would become stationary for the sake of their fight and it happened. To have a connection with God that allowed for such faith and response, it strikes awe in my mind.
Second, this is not something that is common, no one before had enough faith to ask something this major of God and at the time this was written it didn't happen again. Joshua was one of the writers of this book, so in his lifetime he never asked something so crazy again. The only other instance in the Bible of time being messed with like this is found in 2 Kings so we'll talk about it when we get there.
Third, what is the book of Jashar? Well, it is not a book found in our Bibles. The book of Jashar is a collection of poems, like psalms, from the beginning of the Israelite people. Likely, generations went by without a word being written down, it was originally only passed down through the oral tradition. People would memorize the words and carry those words with them for their whole life. For the Israelites, when they saw this they would reflect mentally to the book of Jashar and think on the specific reference to the sun standing still. For us, it's not part of our Bible because it is not an inspired word from God but instead created by the people based on what was happening around them.
This passage shows the commitment of Joshua to live out what God had called him to in Joshua 1. After this we see more battles, ending in victory for the Israelites and finally the dividing of the land. Within Israel, there were 12 tribes, descending from the 12 sons we talked about in Genesis. Each tribe was given land to settle into and we end with Joshua coming to the end of his life.
For more info on the book of Joshua check out this video: