Force of Nature
by Katie Borden
Growing up in a Midwestern family, I rather enjoy a good weather story. My family is one who will (perhaps foolishly) stand on the front porch to watch the clouds swirl rather than head for the basement when the tornado warning system activates. I think we’ve always been amazed at the power and force of nature.
So, ever since I was a little girl, I have been fascinated by the story in the book of Joshua in which “The Sun Stands Still." Why did the sun stand still? How long did it actually stand still? Was it actually the earth that stood still since (we now know) the earth is doing the moving as it revolves around the sun? What about the moon? Was it involved? Can any of these celestial bodies actually “stand still” if everything in the universe is technically in motion? And furthermore… what about those hailstones?
Lots of others have had these questions, as well. We may understand this as a divine act of God with no natural explanation. We may believe the researchers and scientists who suggest that there was some form of solar eclipse in history that aligns with the events in Joshua. We may consider another astronomical and/or meteorological anomaly was at play.
I don’t discount that it is good practice to dive into the details (like these) of Scripture. Often, it is in the details that we learn more to support the main thematic material. But let’s not lose the main material for the sake of the details. Let’s not lose the forest for the trees. Or, in this case, let’s not lose the message about the work and character of God for the one or two verses that are mysterious to us.
If you back up a couple of verses, you’ll notice in verse 6 that the Gibeonites are crying out to Joshua for salvation. Joshua brings God’s people to fight on their behalf. But who was really doing the saving? Joshua isn’t in control of the weather. The Israelite army isn’t in charge of the cosmos.
However we might interpret the occurrence of the cosmic events in Joshua 10, we can be assured that it is God who was in charge of the circumstances that day. The literary devices used in this passage serve to point us to the character and power of God.
Israel’s God is capable of great things, more powerful and forceful than even nature itself. And Israel’s God is also compassionate: he hears our cries and pushes back the forces of the evil one on our behalf. “Surely the Lord was fighting for Israel!” (v. 14)
In fact, it is in the person of Jesus Christ that God has already fought and won The Battle (capital T, capital B) for the whole creation. In perhaps the greatest showing of his power and character, our God has defeated, once and for all, the one who threatens to undo us through the cross and resurrection. He has begun the new order of things where our peace is assured and one day will become fully known to us. Surely the Lord fights—and wins—for us, because he loves us so.
God is so good.
Where are you in need of God's intervention in your life? Ask him to help you. Alternatively, where have you see God's provision in your life? Thank him for his work.