I’ve recently drunk the Star Wars brand kool-aid, and it was good to the last drop. I wore my new Darth Vader socks and crunched on butter-soaked popcorn between my brother and my parents the day after Christmas. I shouted for joy during light saber fights. I’ve got epic legends on the brain.
Imagine it with me… an epic panoramic rendering of modern day cinematography: The Day the Sun Stood Still (in IMAX of course). The vision of a rough-cut trailer on wide screen with goosebump-inducing surround sound practically writes itself, doesn’t it? Kings of five armies against the Israelite mighty men of valor, hailstones and supernatural panic-throwing, ending in the cataclysmic sun hanging suspended in the cosmos, God bending His ear low and regarding the voice of His man Joshua.
Does the plot sound familiar? Let’s revisit the script…
“Then the five kings of the Amorites, the king of Jerusalem, the king of Hebron, the king of Jaruth, the king of Lachish, the king of Eglong, gathered their forces and went up with all their armies and encamped against Gibeon and made war against it.
And the men of Gibeon sent to Joshua at the camp in Gilgal, saying, ‘Do not relax your hand from your servants.Come up to us quickly and save us and help us, for all the kings of the Amorites who dwell in the hill country are gathered against us.’ So Joshua went up from Gilgal, he and all the people of war with him, and all the mighty men of valor. And the Lord said to Joshua, ‘Do not fear them, for I have given them into your hands. Not a man of them shall stand before you.’
So Joshua came upon them suddenly, having marched up all night from Gilgal. And the Lord threw them into a panic before Israel, who struck them with a great blow at Gibeon and chased them by the way of the ascent of Beth-horon and struck them as far as Azekah, and they died. There were more who died because of the hailstones than the sons of Israel killed with the sword. At that time Joshua spoke to the Lord in the day when the Lord gave the Amorites over to the sons of Israel, and he said in the sight of Israel, ‘Sun, stand still at Gibeon, and moon, in the Valley of Aijalon.’ and the stun stood still, and the moon stopped, until the nation took vengeance on their enemies.
Is this not written in the Book of Jashar? The sun stopped in the midst of heaven and did not hurry to set for a whole day. There has been no day like it before or since, when the Lord heeded the voice of a man, for the Lord fought for Israel.” Joshua 10:5-14
We aren’t fools enough to believe supernatural sagas, are we? What do these stories have to connect with our lives that are not in a galaxy far far away or Old Testament war tales? Don’t we long to participate with these harrowing heroes in their quests?
Before we come to the start of this battle, we would find five kings collaborating in enmity set against God’s chosen people. Ain’t that the way it goes? Really, can we all just not crowd onto the crazy train? Must the car start clunking along on yet another shredded tire the same week of crippling medical bills? Sucker punched after a full-blown knock out, I almost want to laugh when Joshua and his men get the message “do not relax.” Katherine Wolf, author of “Hope Heals”, wrote something to the effect once about how much we hope for a free pass in one area while we suffer in another. God is not bound by our human economy of how much struggle seems surmountable. In His goodness, He is not bound by our small ideas of plausible rescue; so five armies against one it is.
“Eucatasrophe” has surprisingly repeated in my working dictionary the past few weeks. Skye Jethani writes about it in his book “With”, our pastor preached about the advent of Christ bursting into the world right when the story had succumbed to deafening silence from God, and you know, The Last Jedi. “…coined by English writer J. R. R. Tolkien which refers to the sudden turn of events at the end of a story which ensures that the protagonist does not meet some terrible, impending, and very plausible and probable doom (so says Wikipedia of the phrase). God threw down panic, hailstones, and then halted the orbit of the very solar system while He worked His plan of rescue. The mighty men didn’t draw a “get out of jail free” card, they fought alongside God Almighty, who supremely fought on behalf of His people. Greater than William Wallace’s lion-hearted bravery, amazing confidence it must have instilled when Joshua repeated God’s promise, “I have given them into your hands.” Theirs was only to courageously walk into the victory already written for them.
And we are more than conquerors, are we not? Paul lists in Romans 8 that which could be our five armies against one: tribulation, distress, persecution, famine, nakedness, or sword. None shall separate us from the love of God, our own eternal trophy. Our catastrophe was cemented in our soul’s headstone, our corpses buried in our sin six feet under, decomposing enemies of God. Not only were we dead at the hands of our enemies – we ourselves were the enemies. And now by the eucatastrophe, Christ bursts onto the scene and has reversed the curse and guilt of our high treason against God.
And the good news just gets better! We are also walking in the declaration of current and future conquering. Our enemy will meet his end in the lake of fire, and death and despair will be no more. That enemy you face today? Be it the chains of sin or wearisome despair? The same God of Old Testament battles is united with New Testament Risen Savior, and He declared,
“Do not fear them, for I have given them into your hands. Not a man of them shall stand before you.”
There will be no more cancer, no divorce, no conflict, no tears or chains of addiction or bondage or wayward teenagers or broken families or dead dreams or Lyme disease or broken hearts of any kind. Our victory has been written for us.
Hailstones or panicked enemy armies would have been enough, and we might have been tempted to hope for celestial repeats of our own. We long to see our own stories in sequels, right? God made sure to remind us that this was a one-time occurrence. While I may wish upon a star that He would hold a star still just for me, just for my own battles, once is enough to believe He is God who is able.
“Be still my soul, the wind and waves still know
The voice who ruled them while He dwelt below.”
The odds of us against suffering are terrible.
Christ is our eucatastrophe, a complete throttling annihilation of the adversary, and He has spanned the heavens with His chariots of wrath.
And if you’ve received His wide-open invitation, these promises are yours!”