The Longest Day - Part Five
THEME: Faith in Action
This week’s lessons remind us of the unlimited power and ability of God to work for the good of all those who trust in him.
The second lesson is that we ought to expect great days of victory in our service of God. We don't see them every day. There ought to be periods of great victory in our lives where, because God has given us a task to do and we believe that He’s going to be faithful to us in helping us accomplish that task, we really can call out for Him for powerful action and expect to see that powerful action bringing about victory in the battles we face in our own lives. I recognize that we can presume upon God at that point. We can call upon Him to do things that God has never promised to do and won't do. At the same time, we also often fail to simply seize upon the promises He has already given.
I notice that Joshua had the promise. You see, God had said to Joshua in verse 8: "Do not be afraid of them. I have given them into your hand. Not one of them will be able to withstand you." So Joshua knew that God intended this to be a great victory. And when he saw the victory slipping out of his hands as the day was waning and the troops of the enemy were escaping, he asked God to do something so that the victory would come. God heard his prayer and did it.
And as I mentioned earlier, Joshua was not afraid to say that openly. There are times when we are timid, and I think rightly timid, in our prayers. We say to God, “God, this is a real problem, and I don't even know how to pray about it.” And we kind of go off by ourselves, and we mull it over. We ask God if it’s right for us to pray for this. We’re not sure, and so we’re tentative. But there are times when God has given us something to do when to be tentative about it is really a confession of unbelief. And in times like that we shouldn't be afraid to stand not only before God, but before the people of God, and say, "God, now is the time to act on behalf of your people. Now is the time to intervene." And when we do that, God does intervene and give a victory.
The final lesson I see is this. Although God intervened here in a great way and gave a marvelous victory to Joshua and the Jewish troops, I notice that this did not relieve Joshua of his own responsibilities. He didn't cease to be a soldier because God was about to perform a miracle. He didn't stop fighting just because God had sent the hail. Joshua was preeminently a soldier, and he was faithful in his responsibility from beginning to end. He was faithful to his covenant with the Gibeonites. When word came that the Gibeonites were being attacked by the southern confederacy, Joshua said, "We have to stand by our oath. And so, we’ve summoned the soldiers together." And he moved up to relieve those who were besieged in Gibeon.
He was faithful in his strategy. He didn't, as far as we can tell, ever do the same thing exactly the same way as he had done it before. Instead, he was creative in his thinking. He said, “Look, now is the time to march by night and attack in the morning when we’re not expected.” And so that’s precisely what he did. And when, in the midst of the battle he had the opportunity, he didn't give up. He fought valiantly. And he carried through to the very end.
He was preeminently a faithful man as well as a man of faith. Let me say that this is generally the point at which we have to begin. We find ourselves engaged in spiritual battles constantly, and battles of all sorts at one time or another. But we need to be faithful in that. Sometimes it’s the case that God intervenes in a special way to help us. And many of us can look back at our lives and we can say, "Yes, there was a place where God did something that was entirely beyond anything that I could have done myself. That was the hand of God. I don't doubt it for a moment, and I praise Him for it."
But it is more often the case that the battles we win are won by faithfulness, by steady plodding, by carrying out moment by moment, and hour by hour, day by day, week by week, and sometimes year by year, the task that God has given. When we do that, it’s a joy to know that God is as much with us in situations like that as He is in the miraculous moments. And we can rejoice in it and can praise the God who is the God of victory.
- What is the second lesson we can learn from this story? What is one danger we need to be on guard against?
- What is the third lesson we can learn? What are some ways you can seek to demonstrate this in your own life, and how might it impact others around you?
As you seek to apply this passage in your life, ask God to give you wisdom in knowing what to pray for, and then for the faithfulness in carrying out his revealed will.