By Matt Capps
The story goes like this: There was a businessman who wanted to purchase a vacant building and turn it into a scandalous and immoral establishment. A group of Christians from a local church were concerned about the businessman’s plans and organized an all-night prayer vigil, asking God to intervene. It just so happened that shortly after the prayer meeting, lightning struck the building and it burned to the ground. The businessman attempted to sue the church, claiming that the prayers of the congregation were responsible. The church, fearful, immediately hired a lawyer to argue in court that they were not responsible. The presiding judge, after his initial review of the case, stated, “No matter how this case comes out, one thing is clear. The businessman believes in prayer and the Christians do not.”
Far too often, Christians live as functional agnostics, that is, as if the spiritual happenings around us have no real implication on our day-to-day lives. For this reason, I think there are some important lessons in Joshua that remind us of God’s power. One of the most comforting and encouraging truths of Scripture is that God intervenes in this world for His glory and the good of His people.
As Joshua prepares for battle, the allied Canaan powers rally to fight against God’s people because of their presence in the land. But remember, from the very beginning of Joshua’s commissioning to conquer, God told him that every place his foot stepped on would end in victory (Joshua 1:3). He is reminded again in Joshua 10:8: “Do not be afraid of them, for I have handed them over to you.”
This is where things get interesting! When we read Joshua 10:1–15, we find that God, not Joshua or the Israelites, is the primary character in this narrative. The language of the text paints a picture of the God of the universe marshalling all of creation to win this battle. Not only does God throw the enemies into confusion, but He also hurls hailstones from the sky. And if that wasn’t enough, He also causes the sun to stand still, extending the day so that Joshua could finish the battle and secure victory over the enemy.
Joshua asked, praying for help aligned with God’s instructions and for the good of His people, and God answered. We are told to approach the throne of God “with boldness, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in time of need” (Hebrews 4:16). We shouldn’t be surprised when the Almighty God hears our prayers! We can have confidence in prayer because Jesus, even greater than Joshua, sits at the helm of the cosmos pleading on our behalf (1 John 2:1).
As Christians, we should not live our lives as functional naturalists because there are spiritual battles waging all around us. We must depend on God, coming to Him in prayer, faithfully pursuing obedience to His Word. Our God intervenes in this world for His glory and the good of His people.