THEME: Worshipping a Big God
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.
I don’t think these words are poetical. I think they refer to a real event. I don’t know whether God actually stopped the sun and the moon, though He could have. I incline to the view that the impression is that this is what happened, that the day was longer, that light prevailed for a long period of time by some means that we don’t know. But I confess I really don’t understand what God did. This passage is not given to us, of course, to cause us to speculate on the nature of the miracle. Rather, it’s given as Paul said when he wrote to young Timothy, as all Scripture is given, for our instruction, our rebuke, our correction, and our training in righteousness. Because that is the case, when we look at a passage like this as a whole, we ask what we can learn from it.
The first thing we’re to learn from a passage like this is that nothing is too difficult for our God. If the situation involves miracles, that is not too difficult. If it involves a prolongation of a day, that is not too difficult for Him. Our God is a great God. He’s a big God. He’s a sovereign, omnipotent God. Donald Grey Barnhouse, a former pastor at Tenth Presbyterian Church, once told a story about Robert Dick Wilson, who taught Old Testament at Princeton Theological Seminary many years ago. Barnhouse was invited back to Princeton to preach in the chapel about 12 years after he had graduated from the school. And when he arrived back at Princeton to preach and stood up in the pulpit, he noticed that Robert Dick Wilson, his great Hebrew professor from earlier days, had taken a seat near the front to hear him. After the message as he was standing in the back greeting people, Dr. Wilson came up to him and said, “Young man, I came today to hear you preach. I won’t back again.” I only come to hear my boys preach once. I want to see whether they’re big-godders or little-godders. And then when I get the answer to that, I know what their ministry is going to be.”
Barnhouse didn’t understand what he was talking about, and so he asked what he meant. Dr. Wilson explained, “Well, some of my students have a little God, and they’re always in trouble with Him. He can’t quite handle things. He can’t provide for the inspiration and the transmission of the Scriptures, and so they can’t trust the Bible. He can’t do miracles, and so they don’t trust the things they read there. He’s not really able to intervene in life. I call them little-godders. Others of my students have a big God. He speaks, and it is done. His will is law of the universe. You have a big God, and God is going to bless your ministry.” And He did indeed bless Barnhouse’s ministry.
But that big God, that God of Barnhouse, was the God of Joshua and his troops. And that God is our God, too. We may have little ideas about God, but our little ideas about God don’t make God little. God is still the big God that He was back them. Nothing is too hard for Him. Nothing that comes into your life or comes into my life is ever too hard for this God. That’s the first lesson I see in this story.
When the Bible does not explain something difficult to us, the best course is to simply believe it and confess we do not know the answer. Why is that a proper approach? What can happen when people refuse to do this? What does it reveal about their view of God and also themselves?
What is the difference between a “big-godder” and a “little-godder”? How do we see both definitions in the church today?
Recall the first lesson we can learn from this passage. How can you use that to be an encouragement to someone else?