In the Name of the Lord
Text: Joshua 10
Proposition: All that we do as Christians in obedience to God we do under the authority of Jesus Christ and within the limits He imposes.
Introduction: Have you ever gotten a prescription from your doctor and taken it to the drugstore? The Pharmacist looks at what’s being ordered but then more importantly he looks at the signature of the doctor on the prescription. It doesn’t matter if it looks absolutely unintelligible to us, it’s the doctors name that the Pharmacist looks for. Maybe a similar principle is at work when a policeman stops you in the name of the Law. In this case he can ask you questions, assess your actions and even restrict your movements in the name of the Law. He does all this under the authority of the Law, not under his own authority. It’s the authority of the Doctors name that the Pharmacist responds to and it’s the authority of the name of the Law that the policeman responds to. So does this same principle hold true for when we ask or do things in Jesus name, in God’s name? You know those verses like Matthew 18:5, “Whoever receives one little child like this in My name receives Me; Matt. 18:20 "For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them." or John 14:13 "And whatever you ask in My name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.” Every day we pray to God and ask things of Him in Jesus name and always it must be under the authority of God and within the limits God extends around each situation. We can’t command God to do anything, we can only move under His authority and within the limits He sets.
Last week we looked at Joshua 9, the account of how the Gibeonites came and deceived Israel into thinking they were a far off nation in order to secure a peace treaty. We looked at how Gibeon had placed a life and death kind of faith in the name of the God of Israel, trusting in the integrity of the relationship Israel had with the Lord such that peace made in the name of the Lord would be irrevocable. Even when Israel discovered they have been deceived, which is exactly what happened just three days later, the name of the Lord was still to be the authority under which Israel treated Gibeon. It was the mercy option that Gibeon put their full hope in, mercy in the name of the Lord.
It’s strange how one event that seems to stand on its own can suddenly become the event that starts all others into motion. To this point Israel has only taken the cities of Jericho and Ai. The cities of the Gibeon remained intact but only under a treaty that made them Israel’s bondslaves. It’s this peace treaty that becomes the catalyst for the next steps to the conquest of Canaan. Chapter 10 opens with the description of a coalition of 5 kings coming against Gibeon in an attempt to reduce Israel’s influence. Joshua and Israel were in Gilgal, a city down in the valley near Jericho waiting their next move. If Gibeon had never been made an ally this coalition would not have been drawn out into one place. In one battle five kings and their cities will be overthrown because of the treaty with Gibeon. As the attack starts the Gibeonites call out to Israel and Joshua honors the request because of the name of the Lord. So let’s just make a few observations about the name of the Lord based on this chapter. Turn with me to Joshua 10: 1-6.
I. The Name of the Lord is a Place of Refuge. Vs 1-6
That’s exactly what it meant for the people of Gibeon, they trusted that Israel would come and intercede because of the name of the Lord. For the second time in less than a week they put their trust in the power and will of Israel and in the God of Israel that directed their steps. The name of the Lord was their only refuge, His power, His authority, His will is what stood between them and five Amorite kings. It’s like that song that quotes Prov. 18:10 says, “The name of the Lord is a strong tower, the righteous run into it and they are saved…”. Though there may be forces and powers that pull you apart, there is a refuge place in the name of the Lord. So for some it is a refuge and for others it is their destruction. Do you remember what God said to Abraham way back in Genesis 15:13, 16, “Know certainly that your descendants will be strangers in a land that is not theirs, and will serve them, and they will afflict them four hundred years. … "But in the fourth generation they shall return here, for the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet complete.” Who is it that is attacking Gibeon… the Amorites who in all the years since Abraham have not changed their ways and their iniquity or sinfulness has reached its peak and they are about to be destroyed. In other words the name of the Lord is a refuge that has been waiting a long time to accomplish the events of this day.
II. The Name of the Lord is a Source of Courage. Vs 7-9
So Joshua responds to Gibeon’s call for help, they march the 30 kilometers up out of the Jordan valley in the middle of the night in order to arrive at daybreak. They will engage in a battle with an enemy whose troops are fresh, well positioned and well equipped. The battle will go all that day and even longer, there will be no time for rest. Perhaps that’s why God says to Joshua in verse 8, “Do not fear them, for I have delivered them into your hand; not a man of them shall stand before you.” Knowing we are under the Lord’s authority, knowing that He controls the outcome and He assures the effectiveness of what we do gives us courage. The name of the Lord is a source of courage to all who serve Him.
III. The Name of the Lord is an Inescapable Power. Vs 10-14
The power that underwrites the authority of God has no limit, it’s why we call God omnipotent. Since it has no limit there is no escape from it. Look at the language of verse 10, “So the LORD routed them before Israel, killed them with a great slaughter at Gibeon, chased them along the road that goes to Beth Horon, and struck them down as far as Azekah and Makkedah.” As the Amorites fled down the descent it says that the Lord caused a great hail storm to occur and “There were more who died from the hailstones than the children of Israel killed with the sword.” As apocalyptic as this display of the power of the name of the Lord was, it was dwarfed by what God did next. He heard the request from Joshua and responded to it. The day was wearing on, it gets dark at 7pm and Joshua cries out a line of poetry as a request for just a little more daylight in order to absolutely defeat these Amorite kings. That’s when the greater miracle occurred, God heard and answered a man. Look at verse 14, that’s the point, God answers prayer in order to glorify His name. In verses 12, 13 it describes how there was this supernatural extension of daylight that lasted almost the length of another day. There are all kinds of theories about how this could be, a tilt in the earth’s axis, a massive meteor 480 miles wide striking the Pacific that literally caused the outer crust of the earth’s mantle to slow while the molten inner core continued to rotate. Some say that it was the light from the Lord Himself and others say that the Lord refracted the light from the sun. Astronomists say that as they map the solar calendar back to that day around 1400 BC that there is day that is unaccounted for. What is true above all this is that the name of the Lord is an Inescapable Power, even darkness cannot hide you when God seeks your face. The Amorites are completely destroyed, the Gibeonites are completely safe, the Israelites have gone for almost 48 hours without stopping and the earth has bowed to the power of the name of the Lord. This is the same God that you and I have been singing praises to this morning, the same God we prayed to when we woke this morning, the same God whose Son has died on the cross to redeem us from sin. His name is mighty, at the name of Jesus every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus is Lord.
The epilogue to Joshua 10 sees Israel go back down to Gilgal to regroup and rest once the Amorites are defeated. Perhaps here too is another reminder that the name of the Lord is a place of rest once the battle is done and before the next battle starts. The next days see Joshua lead Israel in a campaign against the cities of those 5 Amorite kings now that their armies are destroyed. The principle remains that the influence of ungodliness needs to completely removed so that the possibility of intermarriage and the resulting idolatry would removed. If there is intermarriage and idolatry Israel will lose the land that has been promised to them. The eradication of the Canaanite peoples was for the safety of Israel spiritually and nationally.
Today for us the name of the Lord is still a place of refuge, a source of courage and an inescapable power, a place to rest and regroup in His authority, within His sovereign limits and in His mighty name.