Then Joshua spoke to the Lord in the day when the Lord delivered up the Amorites before the children of Israel, and he said in the sight of Israel:“Sun, stand still over Gibeon; And Moon, in the Valley of Aijalon.”
So the sun stood still,And the moon stopped, Till the people had revenge upon their enemies. Is this not written in the Book of Jasher? So the sun stood still in the midst of heaven, and did not hasten to go down for about a whole day. Joshua 10:12-13
After defeating Jericho, Ai and Bethel and placing the Gibeonites under subjection, Joshua and Israel were forced into battle with a confederation of five Canaanite kingdoms. The previous battles of the Conquest were fought on Israel’s terms and at the time they chose. This battle was brought to them. I’m sure if Joshua had his way, he would have continued taking city by city, one at a time with rests in between, but, as often happens in life, the time and place of labor was not his. Of course, it was his decision to trust the Gibeonites and make a treaty with them without consulting God that put him in this position — the five kings were attacking his allies and it was the sworn word of Israel that brought them to the aid of their poorly chosen friends.
Since the sun was in the east and the moon in the west, we can see that it was early in the fight that Joshua recognized there was more work here than could be accomplished in one day. He knew that if they did not conclude the matter decisively, the Canaanites would return to their cities, re-arm and attack again and again and again. So Joshua asked God for the time to finish the job — however long it took. An it took time — probably between eight and twelve hours more than a normal day’s work.
Imagine how the soldiers were feeling as the day went on, and on, and on and on. In battle there is no coffee break, no time for a nap, no dinner or even the chance to grab a Snickers and Coke. They were winning, God was giving decisive victory — but it was long, slow, tiring, repetitive work. I imagine God’s blessing and answer to Joshua’s prayer began to feel like a trial and punishment toward the end.
I’ve never fought in a battle, but I’ve worked some long days. I’ve faced tasks I knew must be done before I could rest that took much longer than I had planned. I’m sure you also can feel the frustration, exhaustion and temptation to lay down your tools and rest to face the consequences tomorrow.
Joshua’s eyes were on the victory. He and Israel, instead of watching the clock and holding out until “quitting time” were seeking God’s objective in this battle. They knew accomplishing God’s purpose was worth the sacrifice and labor, and a long, better and more productive rest would be the result of sticking it out.
When we face a battle, it is often tempting to focus on “how long?” rather than seeing what God is seeking to do in our life. In order to have the determination to see it through, we must remember that war has an objective. God is working, bringing us to the place he has promised.
Instead of looking for an end, let us seek God’s objective.