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Every parent has tried to find the perfect Christmas gift for their child. They wait in line at the store for the best deal. They snag the last one. They take a box and meticulously wrap the gift with a bow on top. Then on Christmas Day, they hand the gift to the child and watch the child open the gift. The child rips away the paper, opens the box, pulls out the present—and immediately begins to play with the box.
Sometimes we come to passages of Scripture like this child. We miss the most amazing part of the whole passage because we get distracted by something that seems more remarkable. Joshua 10 is one of those passages. Most Bible translations provide a heading for Joshua 10 that says something like “The Sun Stands Still.” In this chapter, the Israelites are battling a coalition of Amorite kings. The Israelites have the Amorites on the run. They are cutting them down with the sword, and the Lord is destroying the Amorites with large hailstones. In the midst of the battle, Joshua prays, “ ‘Sun, stand still at Gibeon, and moon, in the Valley of Aijalon.’ And the sun stood still, and the moon stopped” (vv. 12–13). The sun actually stood still in the sky.
Gallons of ink have been spilled trying to explain this astronomical phenomenon. Did the sun really stop in the sky? Was it an atmospheric illusion in which the sun appeared to stand still? Was it actually that the sun went dark because the Hebrew word for “stand still” could mean “darken”? Was it just metaphorical or poetic language? Skeptics point to this account to try to prove that the Bible is unbelievable. Some Christians respond with a shrug of the shoulders or a simplistic answer. Arguments are made. Counterarguments are volleyed back. And the pages of commentaries and Bible studies and books swell with more and more explanations about this solar miracle. And we miss the most amazing part of the whole passage.
Joshua 10 is not remarkable because of this miracle with the sun. It’s not about astronomy. The author of Joshua tells us that that day was remarkable, “no day like before or since” (v. 14), because the Lord heeded the voice of man. The most remarkable thing about this passage is that the omnipotent creator God of the universe stooped down low to listen to the voice of a man of faith. There is a remarkable and perfect present for you, and we often miss it because of something as insignificant as the sun stopping in the sky.
This should rebuke our flippant attitudes toward prayer. Sometimes we miss the remarkable nature of prayer. If we truly grasped how amazing and marvelous it is that God hears our prayers, then our prayers would cease to be infrequent, weak, and slow. God hears our prayers. This is where we should stop and marvel. This is what we should find incredible. This is the most amazing thing.