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Light and Truth: The Old Testament: Chapter 22 - What a Believing Man Can Do

By Horatius Bonar


      Joshua 10:12-14

      THERE are several miracles referred to in Scripture in connection with the sun. When the sun was darkened in Egypt (Exodus 10:21); when the "light of it shall become sevenfold"; when the shadow went back on the dial of Ahaz (Isaiah 38:8); when the sun was darkened at the crucifixion (Matthew 27:45); when the sun shall become black as sackcloth (Revelation 6:12); when it shall scorch men with fire. But this is the most extraordinary of them all, nay, of all the miracles of the Bible. It is quiet and beneficent; it is conservative, not destructive; it arrests but does not injure. It is not like the deluge, or the plagues of Egypt, desolating and death-dealing; nor like the Red Sea, or Sinai, or Jordan, or the descending fire on Carmel. It is simply a stoppage of creation's movements, the arresting the descent of the two great lights, making day a little longer. It does not look like a miracle, for there is no change in sun, or moon, or sky, or earth; yet it is this "no change" that is the greatest of all miracles,--"There was no day like that, before it or after it, that the Lord hearkened to the voice of a man." The time had not come when they should have no more need of the sun.

      The thing was done in a moment, without premeditation or preparation; not by fasting and prayer, or an appeal to God, as in the miracles of Moses and Elijah; but by a command, a word, addressed directly to sun and moon; as if Joshua were assuming the Creator's authority; the command of faith, uttered in simple confidence in God; the word of one man; the word of a man in sympathy and fellowship with God. O confidence in God, what can'st thou not accomplish! Joshua is a man of like passions as we are, yet he speaks to the sun and it stands still!

      It is not only a very extraordinary miracle in itself, but it is a very manifest one; not done in a corner, but open to the eyes of all. That long long day in Palestine would doubtless be remembered forever. It could not be hid. It was in one respect a beneficent miracle; in another, indirectly, destructive; for it enabled Israel to overthrow their enemies; and in such a ruin God is glorified. It was, we might say, a very superfluous miracle. Why not enable Joshua to cut short the work, or send the lightning or the earthquake? God does not always economise His forces, His gifts, His treasures. He loves sometimes to shew how He can lavish His fullness,-- how He can be, as men say, extravagant. How completely a much lesser miracle would have served the purpose! Yet he does not grudge this, in answer to the word of one of his saints. Stupendous and superfluous it does seem to us,--for the one stoppage of the sun (or earth) includes so many other stoppages and the forthputting of an amount of Power, absolutely inconceivable. We can measure the amount of power put forth in severing the Red Sea or the Jordan; but the arrestment of sun and moon involves an amount of power beyond all calculation or conception.

      I. Familiarize your minds with a great miracle like this. Do not try to lower it or diminish it, or empty it of the supernatural. Take it for what it is here stated to be. God means what he says. He does not exaggerate. Take it for what it is.

      (1.) It will enlarge your thoughts of God. He is seen in this miracle as infinitely great and powerful; able to arrest sun and moon in a moment. We need to have our thoughts elevated, expanded, greatened. It is with a great God that we have to do. Alpine or Grampian magnificence declares His greatness; but this far more. In days when man tries to make himself look great, and to think himself powerful; it is well to remember the greatness of Jehovah.

      (2.) It will increase your reverence. Reverence of God comes, in part at least, from what we see of his power and majesty. We must be steeped in such views of God as this miracle gives us, that we may be delivered from flippancy and frivolity in dealing with God,--in prayer and praise. Are we sufficiently reverential? Are we bowed down in spirit before this mighty God?

      (3.) It will give you a true insight into the true supernatural. The tendency of the age is to disbelieve the supernatural; to assume that man occupies the whole space of being; and that beyond what he sees, and hears, and feels, there is nothing,--no room for angels or spirits, no room for God, no room for agencies apart from known forces and ascertained laws. The Bible is full of the superhuman and supernatural. In studying it we are delivered from superstition, which is the supernatural of the fake, and taught the world of faith, which is the supernatural of the true. For faith deals with the true supernatural, the divine supernatural. It is the evidence of things not seen.

      II. Have faith in God. Here is a miracle so great that we can hardly ask for a greater; hence we ought to say, "Is there anything too hard for God." It cherishes faith and expectation. It shews what God is willing to do for men like ourselves. Let us not be staggered by the greatness or difficulty of any work, or the power of any enemy. What though we needed a miracle? If not a visible miracle, yet something as great? Is not God willing to do it for us? There is still power, still love. He still takes part with His Israel against their enemies. Let us be trustful, believing, brave. If God be for us, who can be against us? What cannot faith do? What cannot unbelief mar? Have faith in God. Not in self, man, schemes, societies, organisations, churches, money, intellect, science, progress; but in God. Let us be Joshuas. Let us shew what one living man, armed with the living word, can do with the living God!

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See Also:
   Preface
   Chapter 1 - The Old and New Creation
   Chapter 2 - The Link Between Being and Non-Being
   Chapter 3 - A Happy World
   Chapter 4 - The Sin, the Sinner, and the Sentence
   Chapter 5 - Man's Fig-Leaves
   Chapter 6 - Expulsion and Re-Entrance
   Chapter 7 - The Blood of Sprinkling and the Blood of Abel
   Chapter 8 - The Way of Cain
   Chapter 9 - The Man of Rest
   Chapter 10 - Going Out and Keeping Out
   Chapter 11 - The Shield and the Recompense
   Chapter 12 - Liberty and Service
   Chapter 13 - The Day of Despair
   Chapter 14 - The Blood of Deliverance
   Chapter 15 - How God Deals with Sin and the Sinner
   Chapter 16 - The Fire Quenched
   Chapter 17 - The Vision from the Rocks
   Chapter 18 - The Doom of the Double-Hearted
   Chapter 19 - Be Not Borderers
   Chapter 20 - The Outlines of a Saved Sinner's History
   Chapter 21 - Divine Longings Over the Foolish
   Chapter 22 - What a Believing Man Can Do
   Chapter 23 - Song of the Putting Off of the Armour
   Chapter 24 - The Kiss of the Backslider
   Chapter 25 - The Priestly Word of Peace
   Chapter 26 - Human Anodynes
   Chapter 27 - Spiritual and Carnal Weapons
   Chapter 28 - Divine Silence and Human Despair
   Chapter 29 - Jewish Unbelief and Gentile Blessing
   Chapter 30 - The Restoration of the Banished
   Chapter 31 - The Farewell Gift
   Chapter 32 - God's Dealing with Sin and the Sinner
   Chapter 33 - God Finding a Resting-Place
   Chapter 34 - The Moriah Group
   Chapter 35 - Diverse Kinds of Conscience
   Chapter 36 - The Soul Turning from Man to God
   Chapter 37 - Man's Dislike of a Present God
   Chapter 38 - True and False Consolation
   Chapter 39 - Gain and Loss for Eternity
   Chapter 40 - Man's Misconstruction of the Works of God
   Chapter 41 - The Two Cries and the Two Answers
   Chapter 42 - The Knowledge of God's Name
   Chapter 43 - Deliverance from Deep Waters
   Chapter 44 - The Excellency of the Divine Loving-Kindness
   Chapter 45 - The Sickness, the Healer, and the Healing
   Chapter 46 - The Consecration of Earth's Gold and Silver
   Chapter 47 - The Gifts of the Ascended One
   Chapter 48 - The Speaker, the Listener, the Peace
   Chapter 49 - The Believing Man's Confident Appeal
   Chapter 50 - The Love and the Deliverance
   Chapter 51 - The Sin and Folly of Being Unhappy
   Chapter 52 - The Book of Books
   Chapter 53 - The Secret of Deliverance from Evil
   Chapter 54 - The Voice of the Heavenly Bridegroom
   Chapter 55 - The Love that Passeth Knowledge
   Chapter 56 - The Vision of the Glory
   Chapter 57 - Man's Extremity and Satan's Opportunity
   Chapter 58 - The Day of Clear Vision to the Dim Eyes
   Chapter 59 - The Unfainting Creator and the Fainting Creature
   Chapter 60 - The Knowledge that Justifies
   Chapter 61 - The Heritage and its Title-Deeds
   Chapter 62 - The Meeting Between the Sinner and God
   Chapter 63 - God's Love and God's Way of Blessing
   Chapter 64 - Divine Jealousy for the Truth
   Chapter 65 - Divine Love and Human Rejection of it
   Chapter 66 - God's Desire to Bless the Sinner
   Chapter 67 - The Resting-Place Forgotten
   Chapter 68 - The Day that Will Right all Wrongs
   Chapter 69 - The Glory and the Love
   Chapter 70 - False Religion and its Doom
   Chapter 71 - No Breath No Life
   Chapter 72 - Every Christian a Teacher
   Chapter 73 - Work, Rest, and Recompence
   Chapter 74 - Human Heedlessness and Divine Remembrance
   Chapter 75 - Lies the Food of Man
   Chapter 76 - The Love and the Calling
   Chapter 77 - The Anger and the Goodness
   Chapter 78 - Darkness Pursuing the Sinner
   Chapter 79 - Jerusalem the Centre of the World's Peace
   Chapter 80 - Jerusalem and Her King
   Chapter 81 - Looking to the Pierced One
   Chapter 82 - The Holiness of Common Things
   Chapter 83 - Wearying Jehovah with our Words
   Chapter 84 - Dies Irae

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