I recently read Joshua 10, it is a Chapter of the Bible full of things happening. There are kingdoms teaming up to declare war on one another, there are battles and deaths, there are hailstones falling from the sky and the sun stands still in the sky. It is an action scene of the Bible, and yet reading it, what struck me wasn’t the violence or the aggression, it wasn’t the miraculous way that God stopped the day from ending so that the Israelites would be victorious…it was the way that the author of Joshua perceived this miracle. Joshua 10: 13 (?!) tells us that God stopped the sun in it’s tracks for almost a full day, the Lord stopped the laws of nature to show favour to the Israelites, he stretched daylight to almost 24 hours in order to allow the conquering of his people’s enemy. And this miraculous verse is followed by one of the boldest lines of vanity I think I have ever read “there has never been a day like it before or since, a day when the Lord listened to a human being” (Joshua 10:14). The author of the book of Joshua believes and brags that the all powerful God of creation; the Lord who put the stars in the sky and created each of us; our heavenly father who knows everything that has and will ever happen; performed this miracle because a human being instructed him to. I am sure that this claim would have seemed magnificent and incredible to the author and the people of Israel but I just don’t believe it. Our God is an awesome God, and His power is so incredible that he chose to stop the sun moving in the sky – He did this because He is Lord of all, not because man told him to.
Reading this I became very aware of how easy it is to be quite self-absorbed when it comes to prayer. We call on God in our times of need and we pray, “Lord fix this for me” – as though He answers to us.
God is awesome, and He loves you and He listens to you when you talk to Him, but having faith in Him doesn’t mean that you can command Him to do your will. Even Jesus called on God and said ‘Lord I’m scared and I don’t want to do this (“take this cup from me”)’ “YET not my will but yours be done” (Luke 22:42). The nature of God is something I’m not sure the Israelites ever fully grasped in the old testament. They knew He was powerful, they knew He was looking out for them, but then they describe him as a God of vengeance and anger, as a God that they could command – and that is not the God I know.
Yes our God is powerful, and yes our God looks after us, but He is a God of love not anger, and He does not answer to us. When we try to do things in our own strength; when we think that everything is about us and that we know best, we fall short. When we go to God in prayer we should go with humility; go with a knowledge that His plan for you is the best plan you could hope for, and that His will is your calling. It’s so easy to vainly go through life thinking we know best and ordering God around, but that’s not the relationship we are called to have with Him. You are called to walk WITH God not to command Him to fix things for you or to make your life better. You are called to have conversations with Him, like Jesus was – discuss the issue with Him, share your concerns and tell Him you’re struggling, and accept that His answer is the right one. Go to Him in humility and ask that His will be done in your life.
Jesus commands my destiny, I don’t command Him. In the same way, God was the authority in Joshua 10, it was His will not Joshua’s that caused the sun to stop, and we should never be so self-absorbed as to believe that the contrary could be true.
I pray that you can go through life in humility. Approach life with your heart set on God, safe in the knowledge that He loves you and He has a plan for you, but also aware of the part you are playing. We live in service to Him. By grace we can call on Him as a parent and a friend, but by faith we must also trust that His will be done, not our own.