Joshua surveyed the Valley of Aijalon that stretched out before him. Reason told him it was too late. A troop of Amorites rushed across the plain, fleeing his army as quickly as the rolling hills of the Shephelah would allow. The moon had already risen over the valley. Night was falling fast and there was no human way his army could complete the chase.
When they had left Gilgal in pursuit of five Amorite armies set to attack their ally in Gibeon, it had been an intense journey. They had climbed uphill for the entire night in their efforts to cover the sixteen miles that separated them from their foe. Even after exhaustion had set in, they had managed a furious fight, mowing down a significant number before the remaining Amorites chose to scurry down the mountain and flee.
Sleep-deprivation notwithstanding, they had chased the five armies into the foothills, running an additional seven miles until they arrived at the Beth-horon pass where Joshua now stood. Just below, the plain of Aijalon glowed with the impending moonlight and he saw the enemy escaping toward the Mediterranean coastline. He had led an army as far as he possibly could through his own strength. If the sun set, Amorites would be lost to the cover of nightfall before he could fulfill the promise he had made to his ally. And so Joshua turned his eyes upward.
There was one truth he had carried throughout his life: the land beneath his feet was promised to him.
He was a child of the covenant God had made with his ancestors – a part of something bigger than this individual moment. Joshua knew that victory was promised. He had heard it growing up as a slave in Egypt. He had believed it when he had scouted out the land. He had watched God part waters and level a city without a single clashing of swords. Perhaps he thought of Jericho’s ruins in the moment. Perhaps he saw the hail storm forming on the Mediterranean and rushing furiously across the Valley of Aijalon toward the Amorites. Whatever the case, Joshua lifted up his voice in one of the boldest prayers ever uttered:
"Sun, stand thou still upon Gibeon; and thou, Moon, in the valley of Ajalon.” (Joshua 10:12)
And, incredibly, heavenly bodies froze in their appointed places. The sun shone over Gibeon and the moon glowed over Aijalon simultaneously. The day was extended, allowing time for the impending storm to wipe out the majority of the rival armies and lasting just long enough for Joshua to finish his conquest of the valley.
Valleys often seem full of impossible timings. We strive to do everything right but sometimes it seems like moments and opportunities have passed us by. But God operates on a different timetable. When He makes a promise, He knows how to live up to it. In so many situations, it is through His perfect timing that He receives all the glory.
We may have to climb a mountain at midnight with our target just out of reach but God can cause time to stand still and bring victory to us.