Marching Uphill

So Joshua ascended from Gilgal, he and all the people of war with him, and all the mighty men of valor. And the Lord said to Joshua, “Do not fear them, for I have delivered them into your hand; not a man of them shall stand before you.” Joshua therefore came upon them suddenly, having marched all night from Gilgal.

Joshua 10:7–9

I have to say, this is one of my favorite Bible stories. A group of people known as the Gibeonites had heard of Jericho’s fall and the Lord who fought for Israel. Wanting to protect themselves from conquest, they lied to Joshua and tricked him into entering a covenant with them. Joshua vowed not to destroy them but instead put them under contract as Israel’s allies. Hearing of this covenant, a marauding king, Adoni-Zedek, decided to invade Gibeon by joining forces with four other kings and their armies. In this setting, the Gibeonites sent word to Joshua that they were under attack and needed help.

Now comes the part of the story that I like. In one night, Joshua ascended from Gilgal, which lay at an elevation of twelve hundred feet below sea level, and marched forty miles to Gibeon, which sat at an elevation of three thousand feet above sea level. Joshua marched uphill for forty miles just to fight on behalf of a people who had lied to him! No wonder Joshua is considered a type of Christ in the Old Testament. Isn’t that much like what the Lord did for you and me: fought our enemy of sin and death while we were yet sinners (Rom. 5:8)? I also believe this is a great reminder of the effort we must put forth to reach the lost and how God will grant us the strength to do so. Joshua and his army marched uphill for forty miles with a rise in elevation of forty-two hundred feet and then engaged five other kings and their armies and fought all day until they secured the victory—again, for people who had deceived them! Verses 12 and 13 of this same chapter tell us that as the battle was raging and the day was waning, the Lord caused the sun to stand still so that Joshua and his army could finish the battle at hand. Again, all this was so Joshua could defend a people who had lied to him and manipulated him.

This is a wonderful reminder of the Great Commission to go to all the world and preach the gospel. It may not always be easy to get to the battle; it may even require an uphill climb for forty miles all in one night to get to the place where God wants to use us. But after we have made such efforts, the Lord will cause the sun to stand still, if need be, to enable us to accomplish what He has called us to do for His name and glory.

Doing what God has called us to do is not always easy, and sometimes it is a fight just to get to the people He wants us to reach. But oh, what God will do on behalf of those who lay it all on the line for the sake of others! This is why I love this story.

Go out of your way today to reach someone. Not every divine appointment happens conveniently on your way home. For some of them, you may need to march uphill all night just to get to the place where God wants to use you!

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Barry Stagner