The tribes in Canaan begin to fear the Israelites
After the Israelites escaped from Egypt and started reclaiming Canaan, some of the local tribes decided to band together. So five tribes created a coalition and formed this humongous tribe. They figured if they created a large enough tribe, the Israelites would not be able to defeat them.
Among the tribes in Canaan, one of them was called the tribe of Gibeon (Joshua 10). The Bible defines the tribe of Gibeon as a major tribe with a huge population.
But the Gibeonites decided, “If we keep this up, we are all going to die. So let’s just give in to the Israelites. They are a people who only talk about God. They talk about God and nothing else. I think God is actually with them, so let’s go and surrender ourselves to them. But if we simply go and plead with them as we are, they probably aren’t going to listen. So let’s figure out a way to deceive them.”
So the Gibeonites took a lot of bread and stuff and sent a few people for their delegation. They wore old shoes that were really worn out and went to see Joshua.
When they came, the soldiers reported to Joshua, “There are some people here to see you. They said they are a tribe that cheers for our cause and really likes us. We don’t know what kind of people they are, but they brought a lot of food. But the bread they brought is so old that it has become sour. But their actions are truly gracious.”
So Joshua said, “Okay, let them come meet me.”
The Gibeonites deceive Joshua
As soon as they saw him, they bowed down and said, “We know you are a people God loves. Please save us. We have heard about you and have come from a faraway land. Since we have come from such a distant country, all our bread has gone sour on the way here.”
“Oh really? I’m just happy to hear you say that.”
“While you go out to battle, we will come here and cook for you. We’ll also clean for you.”
“Really? You really want to do that?”
“Yeah, we really want to do that.”
The Gibeonites were smart. They used their wit. They told Joshua, “Please promise us that you will let us live. Just let us live and we will do what we have said.”
Joshua didn’t think too much about it and said, “Okay, that’s fine.”
He did not know that these people were the Gibeonites, a major power in the area.
When they agreed to the treaty, the Gibeonites said, “Please make us a promise.”
Joshua said, “Yes, I promise you in the name of our God that we will never kill you because you are on our side. But that’s a given since you are offering to cook and clean for us. Why would we want to kill you?”
“Thank you. Thank you so much! Our tribe will come and help you.”
But later, Joshua found out that the tribe was the tribe of Gibeon. The kings of Gibeon used their head to trick Joshua. So ultimately, the Gibeonites gave themselves up to Joshua, and Joshua treated them as one of theirs. He instructed his soldiers to not hurt the Gibeonites.
However, the news of the Gibeonites’ treaty with Joshua’s military spread all throughout the tribes of Canaan.
The Amorites form a coalition and attack Gibeon
After the Amorites heard about what Gibeon had done, they were furious.
“These disloyal Canaanites, how could they side with the Israelites? We have to teach them a lesson.”
So the five Amorite kings formed a coalition. They said, “Before we get rid of Joshua’s military, let’s get rid of the Gibeonite, those disloyal scum. They should have asked us for help instead. Why did they go over to the Israelites and give up? What are they afraid of? There is nothing to fear from this tribe of God.”
So as the Amorites were giving the Gibeonites a pounding, the Gibeonites sent men to Joshua. They pleaded for help, “Joshua, Joshua, please, come and save us! We are on your side. We are under you. But these people, these Amorites, they are here and beating us down.”
Once the Israelites heard the news, the message took Joshua by surprise. It happened so suddenly.
Joshua said, “Those Amorites got jealous of the fact that these Gibeonites formed a pact with us.”
So what did the Israelites do in response?
Joshua sent an emergency order and called all his men together. He said, “Emergency meeting!”
So his men marched out for Gibeon on complete alert.
In the meanwhile, the five Amorite kings had brought their army and were having a good time beating up the Gibeonites. They had all thought the battle would take about a week and were happy to end it quickly.
The Gibeonites reported all of this to Joshua.
Joshua march all night to help to Gibeonites
So Joshua and his men marched all night to reach Gibeon.
Actually, it was hard for them to walk for a long time. Because there are no enemies during that time, it gets boring and the soldiers lose focus. But once the enemy appears, everyone goes on high alert. So when the Israelites saw the enemies, life entered their eyes. And they moved with purpose because they could now beat up their enemies and relieve their stress.
When armies go on an operation to defeat their enemy, they proceed in secret. So Joshua’s men crossed great plains and walked all night long. The following day, they stationed themselves right behind the Gibeonite army.
That’s when the real fight began.
Joshua’s soldiers were like the Special Forces. They were fierce warriors. They fought knowing that God had given them their mission to fight. So they never doubted victory.
If you look at biblical history, God always used a small number of people to defeat a large number of enemies. The reason is if God used a large army to destroy a small army, no one would give him credit. People would said they won with their own power. So in the bible, there was another time when God used 300 soldiers to destroy 300,000 men. That was a miracle God created.
The Israelites clash with the Amorites
As the Amorites waged war against the Gibeonites, the Israelite soldiers kept moving forward into the front line. The five kings came with confidence to destroy the Gibeonites. So they were excited to get the war over with and destroy Joshua’s men after they were done. But Joshua intercepted their plan ahead of time.
So they fought an epic battle. It was Joshua’s men versus the five Amorite tribes. And at the time, the five Amorite kings were stationed in the rear, behind their army. They were Adoni-Zedeck, king of Jerusalem, Hoham, king of Hebron, Piram, king of Jarmuth, Japia, king of Lachish, and Debir, king of Eglon.
They were the five kings that joined forces to create this mighty army. At the very least, I’m sure their forces numbered at least in the thousands, probably 10,000 men per tribe. Back then, even civilians joined in the battle. So if you count 10,000 people from each tribe, you are looking at fighting against 50,000 men. That’s a tremendous number of people.
So whose side would you root for?
At the time, the Bible says that the men the Irsraelites were fighting against were as numerous as the stars in the sky. The only consolation the Israelites had was maybe that they weren’t alone. The Gibeonites were with them. So they did make for a powerful force as well.
But ultimately, what happened?
If that many people fight together, it’s hard to coordinate everything actually. But they fought anyway. The Amorites tried to push forward, but as the battle progressed, they realized something off. There were other people among the Gibeonites. They realized that the Israelites had joined in on the battle.
The Amorite kings run away and chaos ensues
So the five Amorite kings got scared. They ran away. And this is something that always happens in a war. When it looks like one side is going to lose, the leaders of that side run away. That is one of the great contradictions of leaders.
The fight Amorite kings abandoned their army and went to hid in a cave. They had doubts and thought, “Gosh, this battle really didn’t go the way we expected. We were here to fight the Gibeonites, but why did Joshua and his soldiers show up all of a sudden? Dang, the Gibeonites probably notified them. That’s why their army was so formidable.”
So the kings ended up hiding in a cave. And since the kings ran away, what do you think the people they were leading did? Their immediate subjects ran away as well.
Since the kings thought, “Oh no, this isn’t going to turn out well,” they evacuated. So everyone followed and ran away together.
God saw that and probably thought, “Hey, you guys should have better conscience. You caused the battle, yet you run away. How could you let your followers die on your behalf as you run away?”
God told Joshua that no one would be able to stand up against him because He was with him. And since God said that, the Israelites pursued the Amorites who tried to run away.
Read Joshua 10 and see.
As they fled before Israel on the road down from Beth Horon to Azekah, the Lord hurled large hailstonesdown on them, and more of them died from the hail than were killed by the swords of the Israelites.
~ Joshua 10:11
That is what the Bible says.
God helps the Israelites defeat the Amorites
As the Amorites were running away, God said, “Hey, are you really running away after starting a war? I made Gibeon become an example for you so that you could follow their lead. But here you are opposing the ones who did what was right. You should have better conscience.”
So as the Almighty, God sent down heavy hailstones. He gathered the clouds in the sky and caused hailstones to fall. The Bible says that the number of people the hailstones killed were actually far more numerous than those the Israelites killed with their swords. If we do the math, that means the hailstones killed more than 50% of the Amorites!
As a result, the Israelites were able to obtain an easy victory. And the battle ended much sooner than they expected.
In the Bible, it says the following:
12 On the day the Lord gave the Amorites over to Israel, Joshua said to the Lord in the presence of Israel:
“Sun, stand still over Gibeon,
and you, moon, over the Valley of Aijalon.”
13 So the sun stood still,
and the moon stopped,
till the nation avenged itself of its enemies,
as it is written in the Book of Jashar.
~ Joshua 10:12-13
I will clarify this scripture right now because many people interpret this passage wrongly.
While Joshua was fighting against the Amorites, he prayed to God. He said, “God, please make the sun stop. If the sun stays up for a little longer and we keep fighting, we will be able to win. But if the sun disappears, it will be dark. We don’t know this area well. But these people know the terrain a lot better than we do. So wouldn’t that put them in an advantageous position?”
God stops the sun
So Joshua prayed like that, and God heard his prayer.
The sun stayed in the sky for almost a whole day, and the moon did the same as well. This is what is recorded at least in the Book of Jashar. And the Bible makes references to this event as well in Joshua 10.
When people read this passage, they think that the sun really stopped. A lot of people teach that this was a natural miracle God did. So the lesson people learn is that if you pray to God, God will even stop the sun for you. This is what many people teach, and it’s the way I learned as well.
But after thinking about it, it just didn’t make sense. How could God stop the sun? If someone said the sun stopped, there’s something wrong with that, right?
The truth shouldn’t have any contradictions, but if you say the sun stopped, isn’t that a contradiction in itself?
Yes, God is almighty, all powerful, and capable of everything. But in reality, the sun doesn’t move.
Who created the sun? God created it. If God didn’t create the sun, the story would have been different. But God made the sun, and he designed the solar system so that it would not move.
Galileo and Copernicus discover the sun doesn’t move
But it wasn’t until the 16th century that scientists like Galileo and Copernicus figured out the sun doesn’t move. They were one of the first heliocentric scholars. And Copernicus was the first person to propose the heliocentric theory.
The heliocentric theory basically says that the earth is the one orbiting around the sun, not the other way around. At that time, many people believed in the geocentric theory, the idea the sun revolved around the earth.
Actually, before Copernicus and Galileo, there were others that had the idea that the sun revolved around the earth. But it wasn’t until Galileo that proof arose. Galileo was able to obtain proof by looking at the sun with the telescopes he invented. He studied the movement of the heavens and proposed the earth was just one of the planets revolving around the sun.
The people asked him, “Are you sure about this?”
He said, “Yes, I confirmed it with my own eyes. I’m sure about this.”
So it was Galileo and Copernicus together that firmly grounded the heliocentric theory. But when Galileo showed his findings of the heliocentric theory, the Catholic Church was completely offended. When Catholics read the Bible at the time, they believed the sun was moving because that’s what the Bible said. But now people were saying the earth was the thing that was moving.
This all happened in Rome since Galileo and Copernicus were Europeans. So as a result of them, the Inquisition came in and threatened to torture them unless they admitted the earth did not spin. But despite the threats, they continued to proclaim that the earth revolved around the sun. They said that because that was the truth.
Know the perspective of the authors of the Bible
The truth doesn’t change. You see, God create the earth, and he created the sun as well. He didn’t create the sun to move. He created the sun so it would be still and so it would act as a source of light for humanity. The sun is the light source of our galaxy, and it is stationary.
Nowadays, if you ask anyone whether the sun moves or not, we all know the truth. We all believe in the heliocentric theory. However, some people think that since the author of Joshua wrote the Bible in such a way, we have to believe no matter what. But when was the Bible written? When did these events occur?
They occurred 3000 years ago. Back then, people believed in the geocentric theory. They believed the earth was stationary and that the sun was moving around the earth. That’s how they were raised so that’s what they ended up seeing from their perspective.
So what I’m saying is that you have to understand when the Bible was written. And when people say certain things in the Bible, you should think about why that person said that.
If you ask a five year old child where babies come from, they’ll say something like, “My mother told me I was born from her bellybutton.”
Since the child is five years old, they don’t know any better. But once you realize they are speaking from a five year old’s perspective, what they are saying makes sense.
“Ah, the person speaking was five? No wonder he said it like that. Yeah, that makes more sense now. If it was someone was married, they would know because they’ve had a baby.”
So in this way, when you mature, you learn about things that you didn’t know about before.
What does the Bible mean when it says the sun stopped?
The sun stopping in the Bible does not literally mean the sun stopped. It means that it was a miracle of time.
If you think about it from Joshua’s perspective, it’s hard to verify whether the sun moved or not. When he was fighting against the five Amorite tribes, they thought the battle would last a long time because wars don’t just end within one or two days.
Nowadays, when nations wage war against one another, even with far better weapons, war lasts for many years. The Vietnam War for example lasted for 30 years.
In this way, battles back then lasted for at least a month or two. And if it was a small skirmish, people would still fight for at least a few days.
But for some strange reason, the battle against the Amorites ended within a day.
Why? Why did it end so quickly?
“Oh, because the sun stopped. So the Israelites didn’t know how many days actually passed?”
People think that way, but that’s trying to forcefully interpret the Bible. Didn’t God tell us not to do that?
It’s not that the sun stopped.
One factor was that the Israelites combined forces with the Gibeonites. That’s what helped speed up the battle. But so was the fact that over 50% of the people running away were killed by hailstones.
That’s why the battle everyone expected to last a whole day or more ended right away. So they all thought the sun must have stopped.
They simply accepted the fact the sun must have stopped. That was how quick the battle ended.
But can hailstones really kill people?
One thing that Pastor Jung Myung Seok doubted in the Bible was the hailstones. He couldn’t believe people were killed by hailstones because he never saw big enough hailstones.
When he was doing research about hailstones in Korea, he discovered hailstones that weighed about 50 kg fell from the sky in 1976.
The average person weights 60 kg. That means hailstones as heavy as humans fell from the sky.
Furthermore, the diameter was about 40 cm. So in terms of size, that’s a tremendous piece of ice, right?
So when Pastor Jung Myung Seok read about those hailstones, he realized that those kind of hailstones fell at Joshua’s time. And if anybody gets hit by something like that, they would die.
Why? Even if a 500 g object falls from 50 or 80 meters up, the impact would be big enough to kill a person. The higher something falls, the more impact it’ll have due to gravity.
So the hailstones that weighed 3-5 kg probably didn’t break upon impact. They were doing the breaking. It’s scary.
And on top of that, because God wanted to kill the Amorites with hailstones, he did it with perfection.
That’s why the Israelites didn’t need to worry. But before they entered Canaan, some of them were critical. They said, “Will God really help us win?”
Looking at the Bible now, the answer is obvious. God absolutely helped the Israelites win.
So God was the one who killed the majority of the Amorites and ended the battle quickly.
God’s miracle of time
The battle ended so quickly that people perceived the sun as having stopped. But the true miracle wasn’t the sun stopping. It was the miracle of time.
In our lives, we’ve experienced something similar, right?
When God is with you, what would have taken you 5 hours to finish, he helps you finish in 10 minutes. That is the miracle of the sun stopping. That is God’s miracle of time.
There are things that would have taken a long time to finish. But with God’s help, you get it done in no time flat. That is God showing you the miracle of time.
To say the sun literally stopped doesn’t make any sense logically. Even now, God performs the same miracles he performed in the past to make people think the sun has stopped. He does this for people as long as they trust in him.
Some people may accuse me and say, “Hey pastor, Jung Myung Seok, why don’t you believe the sun stopped? Why are you saying that it’s a miracle of time? Are you trying to say God isn’t almighty and all knowing?”
But that’s not what I am saying.
Jesus said this.
“So give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s.”
~ Matthew 22:21
You have to divide things well so that everything can return to its proper owner. In this way, when we inquire about things, we need to inquire in detail.
Especially young people, they like to examine everything when it comes to the truth. They want to examine everything before they believe.
For me too, I like to do everything solidly as well. My faith is based on 100% truth. And that’s the kind of teaching I teach as well.
Use your advances in knowledge to understand the Bible
Don’t make something in the Bible a miracle when it isn’t. In fact, the whole event of the Israelites defeating the five Amorite tribes is in itself a miracle. The fact that God judged the enemy is a miracle.
All of the things God did became a sign. And they are all significant.
Don’t believe the Bible literally without thinking. Just because we believe in the Bible literally doesn’t make it any easier to believe.
People will have doubts. If you tell people to stop the sun, even by praying, they will say, “How is that possible? The sun isn’t moving in the first place.”
Because at Joshua’s time, they believed in the geocentric theory. They couldn’t help but write the Bible like that. But now we know about the heliocentric theory. We have been living with that understanding for 400 years. So we should know how to interpret the Bible based on our newfound knowledge God blessed us with.
Because the Bible is the Word of God, some people know they should believe it. So they force themselves to believe even when there are things they don’t understand.
The Bible says Adam and Eve started the history of humanity 6000 years ago. So many believers think Adam and Eve are our oldest ancestors.
But in school, we learn that humans have exited for tens of thousands of years. So it makes us feel miserable.
But I’ll tell you straight right now: Adam and Eve were the ancestors of religion. They were not the ancestors of all humanity.
Now is the time we can understand the Bible
The Bible is a truly awesome book. But because people don’t understand the Bible, they say it has a lot of contradictions in it.
However, if you learn it well and understand the circumstances of the time period, there are no contradictions in the Bible. People think there are contradictions because of their misunderstandings.
Jesus said when the time comes, everything will be revealed to us.
For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.
~ 1 Corinthians 13:12
But until that time, we will see as if we are looking at a poor reflection from a mirror.
Jesus prophesied a time will come when we will see clearly. Now is that time when we can understand the Word clearly.