(Originally posted 3-7-19)
Prayers Of The Bible: Joshua’s Prayer in Joshua 10
12 On the day the Lord gave the Amorites over to the Israelites, Joshua spoke to the Lord in the presence of Israel:
“Sun, stand still over Gibeon,
and moon, over the Valley of Aijalon.”
13 And the sun stood still
and the moon stopped,
until the nation took vengeance on its enemies.
Isn’t this written in the Book of Jashar?
So the sun stopped
in the middle of the sky
and delayed its setting
almost a full day.
14 There has been no day like it before or since, when the Lord listened to the voice of a man, because the Lord fought for Israel.
Sometimes in looking at stories of the Old Testament, we can often come to an impasse where we don’t understand how that God and those stories are of the same God we love and serve today. And I get it. The stories of the Old Testament can seem far-fetched at times. They defy nature (the parting of the Red Sea), they defy science (fire consuming Elijah’s drenched altar) and they defy everyday common logic (a shepherd boy becomes king). One can easily dismiss much of the Bible and especially the Old Testament, as mere fable and mythology. To be honest, that’s a lot of where modern-day scholars are going and in a world where truth is relative, many are quick to dismiss the Bible as not a standard to live by or follow.
But if the Bible is true, there are so many implications for us. I trust that if you read this blog on a regular basis, you are someone that understands the truth of God’s Word and it’s application to daily living. Even in the Old Testament, there is so much we can take and apply to our own lives. I believe the stories are 100% real. What happened to Israel in its birth as a nation is how God planned it out. We are seeing much of archaeology and even science confirming and affirming what has taken place in God’s Word. For me, it’s too much to avoid and too much to pass off as mere fiction.
In today’s series of Prayers Of The Bible, we investigate one such miracle in the Book of Joshua; a miracle for which we still have no explanation for. In his prayer, Joshua asks God to keep the sun still in the sky. Israel is fighting a battle in which daylight is essential. In order to be victorious, Joshua boldly goes before the Lord and asks Him to keep the sun and the moon from moving. God answers his prayer and in so doing, Israel wins the battle. With Joshua 10 as a backdrop, let’s consider this prayer and how it can apply to our lives today.
1. God honors bold prayers
I believe God is often moved by the level of faith we bring to our prayers. I’ve been convicted in recent years that my prayer life is small and my life bears witness to it. My prayers reflect how big or small I believe God is. Sometimes the stretching of our faith involves offering God a prayer we have no business praying. Just as Joshua asked for a miracle beyond anything He could perform, we are drawn into a similar faith relationship with the Lord.
If you were to examine your life right now and consider what impossible thing you’d ask God for, what would it be? Realize that in asking, God is still looking for action on your part. We don’t simply ask boldly and then shrink away. Joshua and the Israelites still had to be in the battle. Yes God fought for them (more on that later). But in asking the bold prayer, we then put “bold shoes of faith” on our feet, walking out and believing that God is able.
2. God can make the impossible, possible
So the sun stopped in the middle of the sky and delayed its setting almost a full day. Joshua 10:13
There are various interpretations for how this event actually took place; believing that outside of the literal “sun standing still,” there is some rational explanation for what happened. Although some plausible arguments exist (i.e. the earth stopped its rotation, an eclipse occurred, etc), there is a point at which we have to stop and ask, “What if God just made it happen?” It can seem too simplistic and trite in a world in which everything must be proved and science provides all the answers. Hear me out: I believe God, the Bible and science can all co-exist. After all, I believe in gravity…and I believe in a God who designed the concept!
But sometimes in our faith we have to take the leap that says, God can and will do the impossible. The cancerous lump that seemingly disappears leaving your doctor shaking his head in disbelief. The last-minute check that arrives with the exact amount you need, allowing you to take the mission trip. The phone call that comes in saying that out of the pool of hundreds of applicants, you got the job. All of it God. And all impossible things that He does in response to prayer. We go before Him seeking Him to move somehow, someway. When He does, it proves He is still a God of miracles.
3. God fights for us in the battle
There has been no day like it before or since, when the LORD listened to the voice of a man, because the LORD fought for Israel. Joshua 10:14
I absolutely love this footnote to the story because it points back to the source of where Joshua found his strength. Joshua could have seen the odds and just said “Let’s go for it, let’s see if we can beat these guys!” He didn’t have to ask for God to hold the sun in place. But I’m convinced that at this point, Joshua knows the track record of the Lord quite well. He’s seen Red Sea deliverance. He’s seen God provide manna and quail. He’s crossed the Jordan River on dry ground. He’s seen the walls of Jericho crumble. Because of all of this, Joshua is able to pray a bold, audacious prayer and he is able to see it answered.
God gives Joshua the victory. He fights for Israel. An amazing discovery is revealed here and it absolutely applies for us today as well. If we ask boldly, not only does God have the capacity to answer, but He is willing to fight on our behalf. He doesn’t just leave us in the battle to fend for ourselves. No, he picks up the sword and advances before us. We only have to follow Him and stay with Him through the fight. Joshua learned this and the footnote makes it clear: God listened to his voice, He fought for His people.
In these installments of Prayers Of The Bible, I’m hoping that a theme is starting to emerge. You may be stuck in your prayer life and honestly losing hope that anything you ask of God will be answered. You may find yourself in a season of doubt you never thought you would come to. So to say, “God make the sun stand still,” seems pretty ludicrous and fool-hardy. But I would urge you to reconsider.
These prayers I share (Jesus’ prayer in John 17, Jonah’s prayer in Jonah 2, Isaiah's prayer in Isaiah 6, and Joshua’s prayer today) all remind us that God is near. He is not some far-off, distant deity who really has no interest in our daily affairs, cares, or worries. No, these prayers show that not only is He in the midst of the fight, He’s out there leading the charge. He is a God who has more for you and wants you to show you how much He is capable of doing. He created you to display His glory. In that process, He wants to do things for you that point you and others to Him as the source.
If God could hold the sun in place for Joshua, what won’t He do for you?