The Prayer that Stopped the World
August 14, 2021
In the book of Joshua, the word “heard” is an important transition word for each major battle. That is, the enemy will “hear” of Joshua and his exploits, and then after hearing come out and attack him. For instance, Rahab said that everyone had “heard” what happened at the Red sea. In Joshua 5:11, we are told that the Amorite kings “heard Yahweh had dried up the Jordan” and so they are overcome with fear. In Joshua 9:1, all the kings “hear” what happened at AI and plant o strike. However, when Gibeon “heard” what Joshua had done at Ai and Jericho, they acted with “cunning.”
Gibeonites were the strongest of the nations that would oppose Joshua. They decided to instead make peace. But instead of coming in a straightforward manner, or repenting, they decided to try and trick Israel. They pretended to be from far away, with moldy food to prove their long journey and worn out cloths. By the way, the text is almost complimentary of the Gibeonites!
In Joshua 9:14, we are told “the mouth of Yahweh they did not consult.” That is, when confronted with an opportunity, Israel did not pray or ask God. They made a covenant with Gibeon only to learn three days later they were their neighbors. Israel had been swindled, taken, conned, hustled.
Joshua’s spiritual weakness
He did not seek God before making major decisions. This is the same mistake he made at AI. In that account, he rushed into battle without going to the Almighty for direction. Joshua was a “ready, fire, aim” kind of guy.
When we don’t pray:
- We miss God’s plan.
- The enemy is encouraged.
- Problems get bigger.
- Burdens get heavier.
- Money gets tighter.
- Our thinking gets smaller.
- Our faith gets boring.
- Storms get scarier.
- Miracles dry up.
When the other kings in Canaan realized Gibeon had made peace with Israel, they decided to go to war with Gibeon. The Gibeonites quickly called on Joshua for help.
Joshua 10:8: The Lord promises Joshua that he has nothing to fear. Note the word “I have given them” into Joshua’s hands. The battle will once again be spiritual.
Joshua 10:9: Joshua leads his army on an all night march.
Joshua 10:10: Yahweh threw them into a panic at Gibeon.
Joshua 10:11: The armies of the five kings fled before Israel. As they fled, stones began to fall from heaven. In fact, the text notes that more were killed by the stones than the sword. They ran as far as “Azekah” which is about twenty miles away.
Some notes on the stones falling:
- It was incredible marksmanship. Only the enemy, the wicked, were struck and not Israel.
- The Canaanites engaged in practices such as the worship of Molech, idolatry, sorcery, severe sexual perversion, child sacrifice and burning children in the fire to worship Molech. All of these sins are punishable in Leviticus by stoning. So. . . God himself stoned the wicked nations.
- This scene foreshadows Revelation 16, when the wrath of God is poured out and 100 pound stones fall from heaven on the wicked.
Joshua 10:12: Joshua prayed, and the Sun stood still in the sky. Note that the text does not say how the day was extended, just that it was. It’s not a “how” story (how God did this) it’s a “wow” story. It gives God glory.
Joshua notes that this event is written in the book of Jasher, and we can cross reference this miracle with Habakkuk 3:1.
Joshua, whose weakness was prayer, prayed and God answered his prayer in one of the biggest ways possible. Joshua was not a natural prayer warrior, he was a trained prayer warrior. Prayer is not a spiritual gift, it’s a learned habit.
What did prayer do for Joshua:
- Joshua 9:18, the people murmured against Joshua for failing to seek the Lord. Murmured is a Hebrew word for “to be obstinate” to “complain” or “grumble.”
- In Joshua 10:7-8 the nation rises up together and marches to war. They put their lives on the line because they now saw the moving and directing of God.
2. Prayer gave Joshua
- Joshua 10:8: The Bible commands over 69 times “do not be afraid.” God again promises to “give” the enemy to Joshua.
- The power of Israel’s hand would come not from weapons of war but the hand of God.
3. Prayer opened the
- There are At least four miracles in this passage. I’d challenge you to find more. 1. God confused the enemy. 2. Hailstones fell in the daylight. (the sun was not blocked by storm clouds.) 3. Stones struck on the enemy. 4. The sun shined longer than normal.
- Joshua 10:12 the Hebrew is not as clear as your translations as to who is speaking. Joshua addresses Yahweh, but the next “He” is unclear. Someone speaks to the sun and commands it to stop. It could be Joshua prays, then speaks to the sun. That’s the traditional way of translating that text. But: The text could just as easily read that the “He” in Joshua 10:12 who speaks to the Sun is Yahweh himself.
- It would read like this:
Joshua spoke to the Lord on the day of Yahweh’s giving the Amorites before the sons of Israel.
And God said in the eyes of all Israel, “Sun, stand still…”
Did God speak to the sun or Joshua?
- The Bible often attributes this kind of miracle to God’s voice. Job 9:7 says that he speaks to the sun and it does not shine. God created the Sun and Moon by his spoken voice.
- Psalm 74:16 says that day and night belong to God. In Isaiah God made the shadow go backward then forward.
- How did Jesus deal with the creation? He spoke to the winds and the waves. By his voice he healed the child from a distance. By his voice he called forth Lazarus.
- I think by his voice God stopped the sun in the sky.
- God’s plan matches God’s Ability. God will not command you to do something in his plan and will and not have the ability to carry it out.
- Joshua 10:13, the result was that the sun stood still. How did that happen? It doesn’t say. Some suggest that Mars came close; or that God stretched the light. In fact, there are lots of crazy ideas out there. Note what the passage does tell us:
- Joshua prayed.
- God spoke.
- What they experienced was that the sun stood still above them.
- It does not discuss the science of the event, the astronomical details, the planetary positions as this event happened. Try to scientifically explain or prove this makes as much sense as trying to explain Jesus rising from the dead. Miracles are above our paygrade.
- Many cultures have legends of a long day. (Look it up.)
- The Amorites were sun and moon worshippers. So God showed them who was truly worthy of worship: God himself.
4. It ALL
- God wants to work in your life in such a way that only he gets the credit.
- Joshua 10:14 notes three things about God’s character:
- God is unique = There has never been a day like it.
- God is personal = The Lord fought for Israel.
- God is attentive = He listened to the voice of a man.
Close: Some Intrusive Pastoral questions:
1. What time have you devoted to be your prayer time?
2. Does your family pray together? DO you and your spouse pray together?
3. Do take time pray before meals?
4. How’s your marriage? How you treat your spouse affects how God answers your prayers. (1 Peter 3:7)
5. Is there any sin you need to deal with? (James 5:16, Proverbs. 28:9)
6. who prays for you?
7. Who prays with you?
When we pray:
- We Experience God’s Power.
- The Enemy is defeated.
- Problems get smaller.
- Burdens get lighter.
- Resources get multiplied.
- Thinking gets bigger.
- Faith assaults mountains.
- Storms get calmed.
- Miracles explode.