Summary: Consider Joshua's motivation - pray boldly to see that God's will is done. Consider his commitment - work hard to see that God's work is finished.
Joshua made an audacious prayer. It was a prayer for the impossible. The fact that he even thought of it surprises everyone.
• Today we want to look at his motivation behind that prayer, and his commitment to fulfilling God’s will.
The chapter opens with 5 opposing Amorite armies planning an attack on the Gibeonites.
• Let’s look at the map and get a feel of the situation. These nations are situated at the Southern part of Canaan.
• They joined forces to attack the Gibeonites, unhappy that they had made a treaty with Israel and wanting to weaken this new threat.
Joshua responded to the Gibeonites’ call for help. He took his army and marched from Gilgal to Gibeon, geographically it is an uphill journey and some 40 km away.
• It’s like walking from here to Changi Airport and back. And they did it in one night! (10:9)
The Lord spoke to Joshua: “Do not be afraid of them; I have given them into your hand. Not one of them will be able to withstand you.” (10:8)
• He was given the assurance that God is behind him on this.
Arriving after an all-night march (10:9), the Israelites unleashed a surprise attack.
• The enemy lines broke and they fled into the valley, down South-West to the valley, to Azekah and Makkedah (10:10).
• Joshua’s men gave chase and then we see God intervening. He rained down large hailstones on the enemies.
• It was so massive that more died from the hailstones than by the swords of the Israelites.
The battle dragged on and Joshua knew he needed more time. It was desperate.
• And so in that curcial moment, he made a daring plea: “O sun, stand still over Gibeon, O moon, over the Valley of Aijalon.” (10:12)
• In short, LORD, STOP THE SUN! (That’s using human language of observation, because the sun does not move actually.)
• Joshua was not addressing the sun. He was speaking to God about the sun! 10:12 “Joshua said to the Lord in the presence of Israel…”
If you think this prayer was incredible, God actually answered him! And promptly.
• 10:13-14 “13SO THE SUN STOOD STILL, and the moon stopped, till the nation avenged itself on its enemies, as it is written in the Book of Jashar (poetic songs honouring Israel’s leaders). The sun stopped in the middle of the sky and delayed going down about a full day. 14There has never been a day like it before or since, a day when the LORD listened to a man. Surely the LORD was fighting for Israel!”
• Joshua prayed with faith and God answered him. He did not figure out the HOW. He simply cry out in desperation.
We saw God intervening TWICE in this battle. The first one, the hailstones (v.11) and now the earth slowed down in its spin (v.12). That is, the sun delayed going down about a full day.
• God did the first on His own accord, and second in response to a man’s cry.
• God fights for Joshua, as He has promised. Joshua’s bold prayer was based on the promise of God had made to him.
Consider Joshua’s Motivation: PRAY BOLDLY to see that God’s Will is done
Dare to make God-sized prayers, based on the promises of God.
Joshua did not say a prayer for himself. It was not for protection or an easy way out.
• It was made in the heat of battle, for the sun to stay so that he can complete the destruction of his enemies.
• In fact, if the sun stays, it would mean a longer battle. According to the text, they fought on for another full day!
The motivation is clear - Joshua is driven by a desire to see total victory.
• Nothing short of complete destruction of his enemies. Anything less will mean that the end would not be as glorious.
• Joshua fought to finish the task. He fought to fulfil God’s promise. He fought to uphold the glory of God, believing that this is the promise of God.
This is the basis of his prayer, and the basis of our prayers too.
• It is what shapes our prayer. We pray because we want to see God’s will accomplished and His Name glorified.
• Let His purposes motivate us to pray. Let’s His will directs the content of what we ask for.
• Jesus says this is how you should pray: “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, 10your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” (Matt 6:9-10)
When Elijah challenged the 450 prophets of Baal on Mount Carmel (1 Kings 18), this was what he prayed.
• 1 Kings 18:36-38 “36At the time of sacrifice, the prophet Elijah stepped forward and prayed: "O LORD, God of Abraham, Isaac and Israel, let it be known today that you are God in Israel and that I am your servant and have done all these things at your command. 37Answer me, O LORD, answer me, so these people will know that you, O LORD, are God, and that you are turning their hearts back again." 38Then the fire of the LORD fell and burned up the sacrifice, the wood, the stones and the soil, and also licked up the water in the trench.