Have you recently seen God do something unexplainable in your life? Maybe a better question is have you ever experienced God do something impossible in your life? We hear stories on radio, or read about individuals in the Bible, that make God appear to be omnipotent (all powerful) and able to harness both the natural and the supernatural realm. But for many people in North America God isn’t much more than an ideology that we attempt to master through knowledge and understanding.
A number of years ago Crystal and I took a team of college students to Thailand with the objective to love and minister to the Thai people however God led us while making relationships with them through teaching English as a second language. The majority of the students that we took with us to Thailand were from the Missionary Church background. If you are relatively new to Pleasant Hill we are a part of the Missionary Church denomination; which, about 150 years ago was an off shoot of the Mennonite Church. We generally believe in the supernatural work of the Holy Spirit however even that has it’s limits. We are willing to embrace that which makes us feel comfortable in an all powerful God but not in a God that makes us look silly. I hate confessing that however in reality that is who the Missionary Church is in the United States.
So anyways, there was a girl that we brought along named April. On one of the evenings that we were in Thailand April came to Crystal and told her that while she was spending time with Jesus, during her devotional time, that God told her that she was supposed to spend the night at the base of a Giant Buddha Statue, that was probably around 50 feet tall & 30 feet wide, praying that God would knock it down. When Crystal told me that I pretty much laughed and said “Ya, that is never going to happen”.
It wasn’t going to happen for multiple reasons. First of all just a few nights before while we were all sleeping a Thai guy, in his underwear, shimmied up to our second floor balcony and rummaged through our stuff, we woke up and caught him, but as he flipped one of the beds towards us he escaped down the balcony once again. Secondly, I wasn’t going to have April out in the middle of the night in prostitute and pimp infested Thailand. I wasn’t going to call her folks and tell them that their daughter is missing. And finally…why in the world would God tell her to pray that the statue falls over? What is that going to accomplish? I don’t care if she says it’ll bring Glory to God…she isn’t going to do it. “Crystal, tell her that if she wants to spend the night praying that she can do it out on the balcony.” That is the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard. Have you ever prayed a ridiculous prayer like that? What about prayed a prayer like that passionately believing that it is one of the most God Honoring prayers that anyone could pray?
When I was in college one of my morning rituals was to listen to Dr. Adrian Rogers between 9:30 & 10AM. Dr. Rogers challenged me both theologically, as he wasn’t from the same theological background I was, and he also challenged me experientially. Adrian Rogers made the claim that we have a God who is fighting for us & that there is nothing that is impossible for us to accomplish. The Christian life is a supernatural life and it is unexplainable apart from God.
I remember hearing Dr. Adrian Rogers say that we as Christians have no right to be believed as long as we can be explained. So to repeat that…he said that “Christians have no right to be believed as long as we can be explained.” Is there anything in your life that you can point to and say, “See that right there? That’s unexplainable apart from God!” Or is it that you’ve just been well-educated and you’ve got some money and you can make things happen? You get good grades and you have influence? Or is it that you are living a life that is absolutely unexplainable apart from a supernatural God breaking through and winning some battles for you?
As long as your life is explainable, then your life is not believable. The outside world is looking to see, is there anything different about our life that can’t be explained apart from God? This morning we are kicking off a series called Sun Stand Still. It is my prayer that through this series that you individually, and we corporately, would start to prayer prayers that are so impossible that only God could make them come to fruition.
Now, let me tell you—the passage of Scripture we’re about to dig into is unexplainable. Now, that’s a challenge to me, because my job description is to explain the Scripture to you. I can’t explain this one, okay? But I believe it—and I want you to believe it, too. I can’t explain how it happened; I can only explain that it happened, and maybe why it happened. If you have a Bible with you today would you turn to Joshua, chapter 10, and we’ll start reading in verse 6.
And the men of Gibeon sent to Joshua at the camp in Gilgal, saying, “Do not relax your hand from your servants. Come up to us quickly and save us and help us, for all the kings of the Amorites who dwell in the hill country are gathered against us.”
“Gibeonites? Amorites? What in the world is this?” If we’d have read Joshua chapters 1 through the beginning of 10 we’d have learned that Gibeon was an enemy nation of Joshua, Israel and ultimately, of God. And through Gibeon’s deception, he got Joshua to enter into a covenant with this enemy nation. This nation that God wanted God to make war with, Joshua made peace with, and he entered into this covenant. As soon as the covenant was made, the covenant got tested, because these five kings from these Amorite cities attacked Gibeon.
So, Gibeon cries out and says, “Hey, Joshua! Remember that little covenant we entered into? Remember how we made peace? Remember how your friends are my friends and your enemies are my enemies? Well, I’ve got some enemies. So we need you to come over here and fight on our behalf. We need you to fight with us and for us.” And so, sure enough—not because Joshua thought it was a great idea, but because there was a covenant that was made—Joshua and his armies went up and fought on behalf of Gibeon.
I tell you this info because you need to see from the very beginning that what we are about to read falls on the heels of a major screw up of Joshua. Joshua had no business making peace with these people. Joshua is in this scenario because he didn’t take God’s will into play. This morning, if you find yourself in a precarious situation because you have been unfaithful to God…you are in good company. You are exactly where Joshua found himself. Let’s keep reading.
So Joshua went up from Gilgal, (that was kind of headquarters) he and all the people of war with him, and all the mighty men of valor.
So Joshua, though he shouldn’t have ever made the covenant with the Gibeonites, honors his covenant with them. You’d expect to read in verse 8: “And Joshua did might acts of valor”. But you don’t.
And the Lord said to Joshua, “Do not fear them, for I have given them into your hands. Not a man of them shall stand before you.” 9 So Joshua came upon them suddenly,
Do you find that difficult to believe? Joshua was the one who got himself into this mess. Again, he had no business making an alliance with Gibeon. My view of God…he would say to me…you got yourself into this mess…now you get yourself out. This wasn’t part of my plan for your life so I’m hands off buddy.
But that isn’t how God responded is it? Even in the midst of Joshua’s mess the Lord says: “I’m doing something here Joshua. Go get em. In fact Joshua…if you move foreword every man who comes against you will fall.” Does that mess with your theology at all? Maybe it doesn’t because you’ve settled this years ago but for the rest of you recognize that even in your self made mess God is able to move and act and there is a good chance that he already is. Why do I say that?
Because we have a God who is fighting for us & there is nothing that is impossible for us to accomplish. The Christian life is a supernatural life and it is unexplainable apart from God. It is supernatural…that means apart from the natural. Above the natural. Beyond the natural. God is always moving on behalf of his own glory and in all honesty…there is nothing that you and I can do that will mess up God’s glorification of Himself. He is so much bigger than that!
So Joshua came upon them suddenly, having marched up all night from Gilgal. 10 And the Lord threw them into a panic before Israel, who[c] struck them with a great blow at Gibeon and chased them by the way of the ascent of Beth-horon and struck them as far as Azekah and Makkedah. 11 And as they fled before Israel, while they were going down the ascent of Beth-horon, the Lord threw down large stones from heaven on them as far as Azekah, and they died. There were more who died because of the hailstones than the sons of Israel killed with the sword.
Notice the sequence here. Joshua has a great track record of seeing the hand of God. But he messes up life with his covenant with the Gibeonites. He senses the Lord telling him to do something…the Lord stirs within his soul. Then Joshua acts. He doesn’t stay stagnant…he acts. Then the Lord comes through with what he said he’d do. He not only does some crazy things through Joshua but he also brings about a mighty hail storm that devastates the foreign armies. But Joshua isn’t content yet. He still has an unsettledness in his gut…
At that time Joshua spoke to the Lord in the day when the Lord gave the Amorites over to the sons of Israel, and he said in the sight of Israel,
“Sun, stand still at Gibeon,
and moon, in the Valley of Aijalon.”
Oh Joshua…why did you have to pray that out loud, in front of all of Israel? Wasn’t the crazy hailstorm enough? Isn’t it enough that God has intervened in your situation, despite your going against his desired path for Israel? Come on…you are going to look like fool here!
JOSHUA 10:13 & 14
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 the midst of heaven and did not hurry to set for about a whole day. 14 There has been no day like it before or since, when the Lord heeded the voice of a man, for the Lord fought for Israel.
God did it. He really did it. Folks, this goes against all of my warped and skewed theology. Joshua prays to the sovereign God of the Universe that the sun would literally stand still. The prayer in and of itself is an inaccurate prayer. He should have technically prayed that the earth should stand still because the earth rotates around the sun. But despite Joshua’s scientifically inaccurate prayer the Sovereign God of the universe actually does what Joshua asks. God, in the midst of Joshua’s mess, actually hears Joshua’s audacious prayer and answers it! This whole thing just seems silly to me.
Well, April did indeed stay up most of the night on the balcony, just as she told the rest of the team she was going to do, praying that God would knock down the giant Buddha statue. I don‘t know how late she actually stayed up but she told us that she prayed most of the night. She ended up going to bed with the statue still standing. I don’t know if she felt defeated that night as she got into her bunk exhausted from praying to the early hours of the morning. But, I can imagine if most of us were in her shoes, we’d feel defeated and discouraged. What a failure. She obviously had missed the voice of God asking her to pray. Maybe it was more for her than it was for anyone else.
The next morning she woke up & believe it or not that massive statue had toppled over! I was absolutely in awe! I couldn’t believe it when I was told that the statue did indeed fall over. The night before as I went to bed I’m thinking this is the most ridiculous thing that April is about do. Why waste your time? Just go to bed we’re sleep deprived anyway. But, she prayed. She asked God for the impossible so that He would be glorified.
Joshua is fighting this battle he shouldn’t have been fighting, but God helps him out anyway because He’s gracious like that. The sun starts to sink, and the enemy starts to get away. Now if they get away then possibly they’ll come back and haunt Joshua as he continues to take over the Promised Land which God promised to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, which Joshua was inheriting even though Moses and the previous generation couldn’t make it happen. If these people get away under the cloak of night, maybe the victory will only be partial. Joshua realizes God didn’t call him to partial victory; He called him to complete victory.
This prayer that Joshua prays, and God answers, reminds me that with God there’s no such thing as impossibility. With God there’s no such thing as a sun He can’t stop. He who creates the sun can tell it where to go. He who creates the ocean can tell it, “Stop right here.” He who creates the storm and the wind and the waves can still them on behalf of His children. What seems impossible to me is not even remotely difficult for God.
My desire over the next few weeks is you would size up an impossible situation in your life. It could be regarding your kids. It could be regarding your business. It could be regarding your bank account. It could be regarding healing in your body. It could be regarding your calling you need to receive from God. It could be regarding a prayer that’s so personal that you’ve never told anybody about it, a sin struggle you can’t seem to get out of and is spinning you round and round and round and ruining your life. It could revolve around something you want to see God break in your blood line that has plagued your family for generations. It could involve somebody who’s not even here at our church, but you want to see God bring them in. Anything you want to pray about you can pray about to a God who can make the sun stand still.
Is there anything in your life that you can point to and say, “See that right there? That’s unexplainable apart from God!” Or is it that you’ve just been well-educated and you’ve got some money and you can make things happen? You get good grades and you have influence? Or is it that you are living a life that is absolutely unexplainable apart from a supernatural God breaking through and winning some battles for you?
Folks if we ever want to experience the supernatural apart from “Wow, that was a coincidence” we’ve got to start believing God for the impossible for his glorification. I’m excited for the rest of this series as we take a look at what it looks like to have a “Sun Stand Still” faith in God. I believe that for your life, my life, and the corporate life of this church that God has some incredible things in store for us. But, some of those things won’t ever be realized unless we have the faith & crazy audacity to ask him for them. Why? We’ll discover that in the weeks to come.