The sun stands still in the sky above – Joshua 10:13

Joshua needed extra daylight hours to conquer the enemy. So he prayed to God that he might keep the sun still. In answer to his prayer, God performed the miracle.

Background to the event

Joshua was the successor to Moses. He had been appointed to take the Israelite people into the land promised to them. This was the land covenanted to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. The work commenced by Moses was carried on by Joshua.

The land they were moving into was known s Canaan. This land was occupied at this time by a number of peoples. The Amalekites dwelt in the south, the Hittites, Jebusites and Amorite in the mountains, and the Canaanites by the sea. From a broad perspective, the Canaanites dwelt in the plains  and the Amorites in the hill country.

God told Joshua that he and all the people were to cross the Jordan River into the land which had been promised by God. Joshua’s commission was to destroy the seven mighty nations of Canaan with a nation of warriors that lacked experience in warfare. However, God assured them that he would be with them in these endeavours:

However, in order for Joshua to succeed he had to use the Law given to Moses as his guide. It was only by doing what was written in those laws that Joshua would succeed.

Over the next period Joshua and his men set about conquering the land of Canaan. Many battles took place as Joshua obeyed God and destroyed the seven mighty nations of Canaan. However, one particular event took place which would be remembered for many years after. It all started with the Gibeonites….

The Gibeonites deception

The Gibeonites were one of the peoples of Canaan so should be destroyed. However, the Gibeonites came to Joshua at the camp of Gilgal and told Joshua and the men of Israel that they came from a far country and wanted to make a peace treaty with the Israelites. Joshua was initially cautious in case these people were from the surrounding nations but he eventually fell for their deception and lies.  As a result:

Joshua made the big mistake of not asking God whether they should enter this covenant with the Gibeonites. God would have told them to not enter the covenant a they were inhabitants of the land of Canaan. Joshua later on discovered that he had been deceived. But they chose to respect the covenant because it had been made in the name of the Lord God of Israel. So they did not smite the Gibeonites.

The lesson here is to turned to God for instructions on how we should live our life. His Word (the Bible) is the way we can find out what he requires of us.

Gibeon is attacked

The King of Jerusalem feared the news he was hearing about the conquests of Joshua. As a result, he formed a alliance with other kings of the south and led a attack against Gibeon. Meanwhile Joshua had withdrawn to Gilgal. An urgent message was sent to him by the Gibeonites to come quickly as the kings of the south had attacked.

Joshua and his army marched overnight from Gilgal, with the result that the Israelite army appeared suddenly on the battlefield. This caused the allied armies of the south to flee to the rocky ascent leading to Bethhoron. It seemed that many would escape but God sent a violent storm. Large hailstones came down on the enemy army and many were slain.

The sun stands still in the sky

The day was nearing the end but the victory was not yet finished. So Joshua prayed to God and asked that the day might be extended. This would be done by the day standing still in the sky until the Israelite army was successful in overcoming the enemy.

God answered the prayer and performed the miracle. The sun stood in the sky and extended the daylight hours. This gave more time to secure the victory over the enemy forces. The terms employed to record the miracle agree with the usual manner of describing the motions of sun and earth.

This showed that God was greater than the sun and moon which were worshipped by many Canaanites. This miracle, in a similar way to the miracles in Egypt, was a form of judgement against the local gods and demonstrated that God controlled all creation. It seems that the sun stood still for the time covered by day and night.

Beyond human comprehension

Some have thrown doubt on this event. They ask how can the earth stop spinning so that the sun remains still in the sky? Others try to explain it using astronomical theory. So there are many objections.

The answer to these objections is the fact that the event is given authenticity by being recorded in God’s Word, the Bible. That should be enough ion its own to prove it happened. The manner in which the event was achieved is entirely out of the human field of knowledge, because it is beyond our comprehension. We need to remember that it was God who created nature and therefore he can certainly re-adjust or modify its laws.

Christ’s work in the Future

This event of the sun standing still and the powerful enemy being defeated points forward to the Christ’s work in the future. The event is referred to in the writings of the prophets where they reveal the way in which the Lord will gain a victory in the latter days against the enemy in possession of Jerusalem.

As before, God will rain down hailstones upon the enemy in the future.

The defeat of the forces gathered together in the land of Israel will open it to the Lord Jesus Christ.

The victory of Joshua, therefore, points forward to a greater battle and victory in the future.

Psalm 44 refers to this amazing victory of the past:

The Psalmist declares who is really enabling these victories:

At the time of Armageddon in the future, Christ will first destroy the alliance of nations at Jerusalem, and then launch an attack into the territory of the north. This was foreshadowed in the victory of Joshua.

These battles lead to the establishment of the worldwide kingdom promised by God.


Israel learnt that the difficulties they faced could only be overcome when God was with them. They also had to do their part by obeying God’s commands. Believers are privileged in that they are able to approach their Heavenly Father in prayer and seek His guidance in all aspect of life. God will do his part. We must do ours.