JOSHUA 10: SUN STAND STILL
On the day when the Lord gave the Amorites over to the Israelites, Joshua spoke to the Lord; and he said in the sight of Israel,
“Sun, stand still at Gibeon,
and Moon, in the valley of Aijalon.”
And the sun stood still, and the moon stopped,
until the nation took vengeance on their enemies.
Is this not written in the Book of Jashar? The sun stopped in midheaven, and did not hurry to set for about a whole day. There has been no day like it before or since, when the Lord heeded a human voice; for the Lord fought for Israel (Joshua 10:12-14).
Only 400 years ago Galileo was put on trial for believing the earth is not the center of the solar system and that the sun only appears to rise and that the earth orbits around it. How could this be when the Bible says otherwise in Joshua 10:12-14. Doesn't Psalm 93:1 say "the earth is firmly established and cannot be moved"? Galileo was considered a heretic and church leaders called for him to be banished from the country.
Today you most likely believe what "heretic" Galileo believed, that the earth isn't the center of the universe, not the center of our galaxy, not even the center of our solar system. Is the whole church then heretics if over time we have come to view this passage in Joshua 10 differently? Did the sun stand still that day? I want to say that regardless of what we believe about it, we're probably wrong in one way or the other, just as church leaders were wrong once, and we can be wrong again.
Not having a view or lazily thinking these kinds of things don't matter does not prevent us from being wrong. We can, however, read the Bible texts to learn more about God, more about how people interacted with God, more about humanity, ourselves. The Bible is not written simply for you and I to be right about this or that. The Bible's purpose centers around the long-running relationship of God and humanity and the changing shape of that relationship over time.
So when we read about Joshua praying that the sun stood still and the writer's comment on it that it was a day like no other, it was. And the singularity of this story can be a testimony to the faith of Joshua, the work of God, the need of all humanity to call upon heaven and earth to stand still for the causes we believe are just, right, true, loving, good, merciful, and promise-fulfilling.
- When a baby is dying, we need the sun to stop and we'd be willing to pray this prayer.
- When nations go to war, we'd surely like for leaders to push pause on the headlong rush to violence, and we can pray for anything in heaven and earth to happen to prevent this violence.
- When someone's heart grows cold, we pray for divine intervention, for the Spirit of God to intervene, for the miraculous to enter into the ordinary.
The life of human and divine interaction itself is us calling on You, LORD God Who stills the sun! We call on you to again enter into creation and do what You do to change everything. The prayer of Joshua for the sun to stand still continues to be our prayer today when we're up against the work of the evil one, against our hearts growing cold, up against sickness, and fighting discouragement of dead things around us that must be brought into the life-giving awareness of the resurrection of your Son, Jesus Christ. Amen.
Greg Taylor preaches for The Journey: A New Generation Church of Christ. Greg's wife, Jill, teaches math at Broken Arrow High School and Tulsa Community College. Greg and Jill have three adult children, Ashley, Anna, and Jacob. Greg is the author of many books, including his latest co-authored with Randy Harris, Daring Faith: Meeting Jesus in the Book of John.