Staying home, doing our part to manage this Coronavirus pandemic, has not been easy for anyone. With two teenagers and a 7-year-old, we’ve had to come up with ways to stay engaged as a family in our worship. We decided that instead of watching online streaming services, we would have our own worship service. Each family member is responsible for a part, and we trade parts each week. Our family’s Sabbath reflection was on prayer, within the context of Joshua’s request for the sun to stand still. Steven Furtick has written an entire book on this memorable biblical event (Sun Stand Still: What happens when you dare to ask God for the impossible, Multnomah books, 2010). We spent about 20 minutes reading the text, gleaning principles for audacious prayers from it, aligning Furtick’s five steps to Sun Stand Still Prayer to other passages, and finally writing down our personal stand still prayers.
We all know the story. Amorite Kings attacked Joshua. Israel was winning the battle, but the army needed more time to finish the job. They didn’t want to let the enemy get away. Joshua commanded the sun and moon to stand still. In the hours that followed, almost 24 more hours if we understand the text correctly, the sun stood still. Joshua’s army was able to defeat the armies of five Amorite kings completely, including killing said kings. But when we dig a little deeper, we find some interesting things.
- This story happens right after Joshua entered into a treaty with Gibeon, without asking for God’s guidance. It is surprising that he did; he had been utterly defeated in Ai not long before for the same reason. But when the Gibeonite delegation arrived with their stale bread and worn shoes, he made what must have been for him the logical and compassionate choice: he entered into a treaty with a Canaanite tribe. When the other kings found out, in fear of the Jericho and Ai exploits, they entered an alliance and went after Gibeon. The Gibeonites then ran to Joshua, claiming their right to protection.
It would be easy to think that since Joshua did not ask for His guidance, God could have said: “Well Joshua, this seems to be a good teachable moment, you should have asked Me. I’ll let you suffer the consequences of your actions. Maybe the next time this happens, you will remember that I am the Lord your God, and you should come to Me first.” Instead, these were God’s words to His servant: “Do not be afraid of them. I have handed them over to you. Not one of them will be able to fight against you and win.” (Joshua 10:8) This is the God I love. He intervenes and gives us strength and courage, even when we’ve not acted according to His will. I don’t intend for this to be a presumptuous statement, but God’s ways are certainly different than ours.