June 23 Devotional (2021)

The sun stopped in the midst of heaven and did not hurry to set for about 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…

June 23, 2021
Ordinary Time

Today’s Readings:   Joshua 10:1-15 / Mark 6:45-52 / TO THE GOOD SHEPHERD by ST. GREGORY OF NYSSA

Invitatory

O Lord, open thou our lips. 

And our mouth shall show forth thy praise.

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit: as it was in the beginning, is now, and will be for ever. Amen. Alleluia.

Hymn

“Amen”

Morning Prayer

Our Father, who art in heaven,

    hallowed be thy Name,

    thy kingdom come,

    thy will be done,

        on earth as it is in heaven.

Give us this day our daily bread.

And forgive us our trespasses,

    as we forgive those

        who trespass against us.

And lead us not into temptation,

    but deliver us from evil.

For thine is the kingdom,

    and the power, and the glory,

    for ever and ever. Amen.

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit: as it was in the beginning, is now, and will be for ever. Amen. 

Alleluia!

Short Verse

My heart is firmly fixed, O God, my heart is fixed;* I will sing and make melody. 

Psalm 57:7
“The Day the Sun Stood Still”
By John Lautermilch
(source)

Morning Reading: Joshua 10:1-15

God makes the sun stand still

1 As soon as Adoni-zedek, king of Jerusalem, heard how Joshua had captured Ai and had devoted it to destruction, doing to Ai and its king as he had done to Jericho and its king, and how the inhabitants of Gibeon had made peace with Israel and were among them, 2 he feared greatly, because Gibeon was a great city, like one of the royal cities, and because it was greater than Ai, and all its men were warriors. 3 So Adoni-zedek king of Jerusalem sent to Hoham king of Hebron, to Piram king of Jarmuth, to Japhia king of Lachish, and to Debir king of Eglon, saying, 4 “Come up to me and help me, and let us strike Gibeon. For it has made peace with Joshua and with the people of Israel.” 5 Then the five kings of the Amorites, the king of Jerusalem, the king of Hebron, the king of Jarmuth, the king of Lachish, and the king of Eglon, gathered their forces and went up with all their armies and encamped against Gibeon and made war against it.

6 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.” 7 So Joshua went up from Gilgal, he and all the people of war with him, and all the mighty men of valor. 8 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.” 9 So Joshua came upon them suddenly, having marched up all night from Gilgal. 10 And the LORD threw them into a panic before Israel, whoc 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 Makkedah. 11 And as they fled before Israel, while they were going down the ascent of Beth-horon, the LORD threw down large stones from heaven on 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.

12 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.”

13 And the sun 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 about a whole day. 14 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.

15 So Joshua returned, and all Israel with him, to the camp at Gilgal.

Morning Lesson

The Sun Stands Still

Verse 2 tells us that Gibeon was like one of the royal cities. These were “cities or centers secure against the enemies of a king. warriors. Despite their military superiority, the Gibeonites still feared the power of the Lord that was displayed against Jericho and Ai.” [1]

Verse 3: Adoni-zedek (v. 3) was king of Jerusalem. His name means, Lit, ‘The LORD is righteous,’ a name similar to that of another king of Jerusalem, Melchizedek (‘King of Righteousness’).” [2]

Jerusalem was “also called ‘Jebus.’” [3] In verse 3 we find the “first usage of ‘Jerusalem’ for this city in the OT.” [4]

Jerusalem led the attack against Gibeon (v. 5), “hence it came from the southeast.” [5]

“Joshua stretched out his hand against the city of Ai (8:18), and the armies of Israel destroyed it.” [6] The phrase do not relax your hand (v. 6) “is a call for Joshua to use the armies of Israel to defend against the Canaanites.” [7] Added to the end of this phrase in verse 6 are the words from your servants. Here, the “Gibeonites were reminding Joshua of their vassal relationship to Israel.” [8]

“The Lord would bring the attacking armies into Joshua’s hand to do with as He instructed” (v. 8). [9]

“In order to reach Gibeon in one night from Gilgal near Jericho , the Israelites would have had to climb a rise of 3,000 ft in 17 mi.” [10]

The “Israelites were able to chase the panic-stricken enemy westward [v.10] down a 1,000 -ft descent to lower Beth -horon and south toward the lowlands known as the Shephelah, where Azekah and Makkedah were located.” [11]

“The people of Gibeon sent word, and Joshua mustered all his men of war to rescue them and rout the enemy. So it is with all those who are held fast in the hands of the Lord. In the words of the Lord Jesus Himself, ‘And I shall give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of my hand’ (Jn 10:28).” [12]

“Because the Gibeonites humbled themselves before the Lord, His judgement [v. 11] against their fleeing oppressors is even more fierce than it was against Jericho and Ai. The hailstones . . . from heaven speak of the Last Judgement.” [13]

Heated discussion of verses 12-13 proceed “from opposing viewpoints. (1) Some interpreters find here no miraculous intervention in the regular course of nature but rather a poetic, figurative way of saying that the day was long enough to permit Israel to destroy the fleeing enemy. Hence, it would be similar to the poetic statement ‘The stars fought . . . against Sisera’ (Jgs 5: 20). (2) A second interpretation finds the miraculous element in the fact that God, at the right moment, commandeered the forces of nature (as in Egypt and at Jericho) by sending a barrage of hailstones at Gibeon. The accompanying storm prolonged the darkness of the night. Under its cover, the Israelites surprised the enemy and were able to complete the pursuit of the fleeing allies. Accordingly, the result of God’s intervention was sustained darkness rather than additional hours of sunlight. (3) Opposed to this contention is the view that this day was miraculously prolonged beyond the normal 24 hours, which is the best reading. A believer may readily trust that He who created ‘the heavens and the earth . . . and all the host of them’ (Gn 2:1) could control His creation and stop the vast machinery of the universe.” [14] Martin Luther wrote, “God’s power had been so ordered that the sun retained its course and motion; but when Joshua prayed in his distress and commanded the sun to stand still, the sun stood still at Joshua’s word. Ask the astronomers how great a miracle this is! But what is the reason? No other than that God does the will of those who fear Him and subordinates His will to ours, provided we continue to fear Him. . . . In Scripture there are more evidences of this kind; they prove that God allows Himself to be prevailed upon and subordinates His will to ours. Why, then, are we so remiss in regard to prayer? Why are we without faith to such an extent and so fainthearted, as though our prayer amounted to nothing?” [15]

Joshua said “Sun, stand still at Gibeon, and moon, in the Valley of Aijalon.” And the sun stood still, and the moon stopped, until the nation took vengeance on their enemies” (vv. 12-13). Hippolytus of Thebes wrote, “The sun stood still, and the moon, in their places, so that that day was one of twenty-four hours.” [16] St. Athanasius wrote, “This was the work, not of the son of Nun, but of the Lord, Who heard his prayer.” [17]

“The Word and Son of God caused the sun to stand still. He it was also who rebuked the sea, and on the cross caused the sun to be darkened [Athanasius of Great]. So this passage would be fulfilled and even surpassed on the day of Christ’s Crucifixion. On that day, He would show His Lordship over creation (Lk 23:45) as He stretched our His all-pure hands on the ross, trampling down His enemies and bringing ‘salvation in the midst of the earth’ (Ps 74:12).” [18]

“Joshua’s order that the sun stand still stems from the ancient belief that the sun, stars, and moon revolve around the earth. That, however, does not change the essence of the miracle.” [19]

“According to Ecc 1:5, ‘The sun rises, and the sun goes down.’ Likewise, Christ, the Sun of Righteousness, appears sometimes as risen and sometimes as set… Blessed is the man like Joshua who keeps the true Sun from setting in himself throughout the whole day of this present life, not allowing the Sun to be blotted out by the dusk of sin and ignorance. By doing this, he will be able to defeat the deceitful demons who rise up against him [Maximos the Confessor].” [20]

The Book of Jashar (v. 13) lit, “the book of the upright one,” is an “anthology of ancient Israel [that] has not survived. From time to time, other poetic descriptions of events apparently were added to this collection of songs ( 2Sm 1: 18 ). See note, Nu 21: 14.” [21]

“When the kings in Canaan set out to destroy Gibeon for its covenant with Israel, Joshua honor[ed] that covenant and God deliver[ed] Gibeon (v 11). When confronted by strife, do we try to handle it ourselves, or do we call on the Lord to save and help us? What a blessing to call boldly on the Lord Jesus Christ in our troubles and find in His baptismal covenant with us grace and mercy to help in time of need. • Deliver us, good Lord, according to Your promises, for we trust in Your good Word. Amen.” [22]


OPTIONAL FURTHER READING:
About the book of Joshua

Circumstances of Writing 

“The author of the book of Joshua is not identified in the Bible and otherwise remains anonymous. If Joshua himself did not originally compose the book that bears his name, then it may be presumed that someone who knew him and his exploits recorded the work. There are numerous references throughout Joshua that suggest a final formation of the book after his lifetime. These include the death of Joshua and descriptions of memorials or names that are said to remain ‘still . . . today’ (4:9; 5:9; 6:25; 7:26; 8:28-29; 10:27; 13:13; 14:14; 15:63; 16:10; 22:17; 23:8).” [23]

“The accounts in the book of Joshua occur in the period immediately after Moses’s death. This was a new generation, not the one that had left Egypt. The story of Joshua is thus set when the nation of Israel first appeared in the land west of the Jordan River—the land that would bear their name. First Kings 6:1 states that the exodus occurred 480 years before Solomon’s fourth year as king (966 BC). In Jdg 11:26, Jephthah said that Israel had been living in regions of Palestine for three hundred years. Jephthah lived around 1100 BC, thus dating the end of the wilderness journey and the beginning of the conquest around 1400 BC.” [24]

“Contribution to the Bible Just as Joshua’s leadership begins with the death of Moses, so the book of Joshua follows and completes the book of Deuteronomy. Deuteronomy serves as a means by which the new generation of Israelites renewed their covenant with God. The book of Joshua provides the means by which God fulfilled his part of the covenant. God gave them victories, but each victory required a step of faith. God’s provision for the people as their leader and guide bore witness to later generations of the divinely willed leadership for Israel, and his gracious gift of the land showed how the people’s faithful fulfillment of the covenant could result in abundant blessing.” [25]

Structure 

“The book of Joshua should be seen as a land grant, similar to the land grants and suzerain treaties of the ancient Near East. The suzerain, who was Israel’s God, gave to his people the land that they were meant to receive. There are three major parts to the structure of the land grant.” [26]

“First is a review of the history and events leading up to the gift of the land. This occurs in chapter 1 and its discussion of what has brought Joshua to this point—the death of Moses. Chapters 2–5 detail the preparation for the acquisition of the gift of the land. Chapters 6–12 describe the battles that were fought as background to the receipt of the land. The second section considers the allotment of the territories to the tribes and families of Israel. The many specific names and towns of this part of the text provide a particularity to the gift that affirms it was an authentic fulfillment of God’s promise to his people. The third section is a renewal of the covenant. Here the key parts are the stipulations of the covenant that require loyalty to God alone (24:14-15) and the response of the people that they agree to these demands.” [27]

Chrysostom on Joshua 

“The name of Jesus [that is, Joshua] was a type. For this reason then, and because of the very name, the creation reverenced him. What then! Was no other person called Jesus [Joshua]? But this man was on this account so called as a type; for he used to be called Hoshea [see Nm 13:16]. Therefore the name was changed: for it was a prediction and a prophecy. He brought in the people into the promised land, as Jesus into heaven; not the law; since neither did Moses [enter the promised land] but remained outside. The law has not power to bring in, but grace.” [28]


Midday Prayer

In Adversity

Almighty God, you promised that when we are passing through the waters you will be with us, and that they shall not overflow us: Be my help and savior now in this time of trouble. I need your grace and strong hand. Uphold me and do not let me fall into despair or bitterness or the mire of self-pity. Renew in me hope and faith; give me the assurance of your presence and courage to face bravely the trials of the days to come. Amen. [29]

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit: as it was in the beginning, is now, and will be for ever. Amen. 

Alleluia!

Short Verse

Taste and see that the LORD is good;* happy are those who trust in him! 

Psalm 34:8
“Jesus walks on the water
By Ivan Aivazovsky (1888)
(source)

Midday Reading: Mark 6:45-52

Jesus walks on the water

45 Immediately he made his disciples get into the boat and go before him to the other side, to Bethsaida, while he dismissed the crowd. 46 And after he had taken leave of them, he went up on the mountain to pray. 47 And when evening came, the boat was out on the sea, and he was alone on the land. 48 And he saw that they were making headway painfully, for the wind was against them. And about the fourth watch of the night he came to them, walking on the sea. He meant to pass by them, 49 but when they saw him walking on the sea they thought it was a ghost, and cried out, 50 for they all saw him and were terrified. But immediately he spoke to them and said, “Take heart; it is I. Do not be afraid.” 51 And he got into the boat with them, and the wind ceased. And they were utterly astounded, 52f or they did not understand about the loaves, but their hearts were hardened.

“Jesus walking on water” 
Armenian manuscript. 
Daniel of Uranc gospel, 1433.
(source)

Midday Lesson

Alone in a storm

“The disciples were afraid, but Jesus’ presence calmed their fears. When you experience fear, do you try to deal with it yourself, or do you let Jesus deal with it? In times of fear and uncertainty, it is calming to know that Christ is always with you (Matt 28:20). To recognize Christ’s presence is the antidote for fear.” [30]

“The disciples still did not understand the real purpose for Jesus’ coming to earth. Their disbelief took the form of misunderstanding. Even after watching Jesus miraculously feed 5,000 people, they still could not take the final step of faith and believe that he was God’s Son. If they had, they would not have been amazed that Jesus could walk on water.” [31]

“Is your heart hardened against Jesus? Even Christians can be hard-hearted to Jesus’ words. We can be informed about what his Word says, and we can be amazed at how he has worked in other people’s lives, but we can refuse to believe he will come to our aid in our time of trouble. Such a reaction is not unbelief, but willful, hard-hearted rejection of Christ’s ability to help. Instead, ‘take courage,’ and trust that he is there for you.” [32]

“This is the second time Christ permits His disciples to be caught in a storm (see Mt 8:23-27). The first time He was with them; here, He had left them alone. In this way, Christ strengthens their faith that He will always be with them in the midst of the storms of life. It is I [v. 50] is literally translated ‘I am,’ which is the divine Name of God (see Jn 8:58); Christ reminds the fearful disciples of His absolute and divine authority over their lives.” [33]

“Knowing Christ is a matter of the heart, not merely the intellect. When our hearts are illumined by faith in God, they are open to receive His presence and grace. In the ascetic writings of the Church, the heart is known as ‘the seat of knowledge.’” [34]


Eventide Prayer

I am no longer my own, but thine. Put me to what thou wilt, rank me with whom thou wilt. Put me to doing, put me to suffering. Let me be deployed by thee or laid aside for thee, exalted for thee or brought low for thee. Let me be full, let me be empty. Let me have all things, let me have nothing. I freely and heartily yield all things to thy pleasure and disposal. And now, O glorious and blessed God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, thou art mine and I am thine. So be it. And the covenant which I have made on earth, let it be ratified in heaven. Amen.

— John Wesley [35]

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit: as it was in the beginning, is now, and will be for ever. Amen. 

Alleluia!

Short Verse

The LORD is a great God,* and a great King above all gods. In his hand are the caverns of the earth,* and the heights of the hills are his also. The sea is his, for he made it,* and his hands have molded the dry land. 

Psalm 95:3-5
“The Good Shepherd”
By Sarah Hornsby
(source)

Eventide Reading

TO THE GOOD SHEPHERD 

Where are You pasturing Your flock, O Good Shepherd, who carry the whole flock on Your shoulders? For the whole of human nature is one sheep, and You have lifted it upon Your shoulders. Show me the place of peace, lead me to the good pasture that will nourish me, call me by name so that I, Your sheep, may hear Your voice, and by Your speech give me eternal life. Answer me, You whom my soul loves.

I give You the name “You whom my soul loves” because Your name is above every name and above all understanding, and there is no rational nature that can utter it or comprehend it. Therefore Your name, by which Your goodness is known, is simply the love my soul has for You. How could I not love You, when You loved me so much, even though my heart was black, that You laid down Your life for the sheep of Your flock? A greater love cannot be imagined than exchanging Your life for my salvation.

Show me then (says my soul) where You pasture Your flock, so that I can find that saving pasture too, and fill myself with the food of heaven without which no one can come to eternal life, and run to the spring and fill myself with the drink of God. You give it, as from a spring, to those who thirst—water pouring from Your side cut open by the lance, water that, to whoever drinks it, is a fountain of water springing up to eternal life.

If You lead me to pasture here, You will make me lie down at noon, sleeping at peace and taking my rest in light unstained by any shade. For the noon has no shade and the sun stands far above the mountain peaks. You bring Your flock to lie in this light when You bring Your children to rest with You in Your bed. But no one can be judged worthy of this noonday rest who is not a child of light and a child of the day. Whoever has separated himself equally from the shadows of evening and morning, from where evil begins and evil ends, at noon he will lie down and the sun of righteousness will shine on him.

Show me, then (says my soul), how I should sleep and how I should graze, and where the path is to my noonday rest. Do not let me fall away from Your flock because of ignorance and find myself one of a flock of sheep that are not Yours.

Thus spoke my soul, when she was anxious about the beauty that God’s care had given her and wanted to know how she could keep this good fortune forever.

  • ST. GREGORY OF NYSSA [36]
  • Compline Prayer

    “God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,

    Courage to change the things I can,

    And wisdom to know the difference.”

    Amen. [37]


    Devotionals compiled/written by S.P. Rogers

    Citations:

    [1] A., E. E. (2016). Joshua. In The Lutheran study Bible: English standard version (Kindle ed., pp. 1755). Saint Louis: Concordia Publishing House.

    [2] Ibid. 1

    [3] Ibid. 1

    [4] Ibid. 1

    [5] Ibid. 1

    [6] Ibid. 1

    [7] Ibid. 1

    [8] Ibid. 1

    [9] Ibid. 1

    [10] Ibid. 1

    [11] Ibid. 1

    [12] Academic Community of St. Athanasius Academy of Orthodox Theology (2008). Joshua. In The Orthodox study Bible (p. 314). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson.

    [13] Ibid. 12

    [14] A., E. E. (2016). Joshua. In The Lutheran study Bible: English standard version (Kindle ed., pp. 1755-1756). Saint Louis: Concordia Publishing House.

    [15] Ibid. 14

    [16] Ibid. 14, P. 1756

    [17] Ibid. 14, P. 1756

    [18] Academic Community of St. Athanasius Academy of Orthodox Theology (2008). Joshua. In The Orthodox study Bible (p. 314). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson.

    [19] Cole, J. (Ed.). (2015). Joshua. In Didache Bible: With commentaries based on the Catechism of the Catholic Church (Kindle ed., p. 630). Downers Grove,, IL: Midwest Theological Forum,, Ignatius Press.

    [20] Academic Community of St. Athanasius Academy of Orthodox Theology (2008). Joshua. In The Orthodox study Bible (p. 314). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson.

    [21] A., E. E. (2016). Joshua. In The Lutheran study Bible: English standard version (Kindle ed., pp. 1755-1756). Saint Louis: Concordia Publishing House.

    [22] Ibid. 21, P. 1756

    [23] Joshua. (2019). In Ancient faith study Bible (Kindle ed., p. 714). Nashville: Holman Bible.

    [24] Ibid. 23

    [25] Ibid. 23

    [26] Ibid. 23

    [27] Ibid. 23

    [28] Ibid. 23

    [29] Forward Movement. (2013). Personal Prayers. In Prayers for All Occasions (Kindle ed., pp. 315). Cincinnati, OH: Forward Movement.

    [30] Tyndale House Publishers. (2012). Mark. In Chronological life application study Bible (Kindle ed., p. 6464). Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Pub.

    [31] Ibid. 30

    [32] Ibid. 30

    [33] Academic Community of St. Athanasius Academy of Orthodox Theology (2008). Matthew. In The Orthodox study Bible (p. 1327). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson.

    [34] Ibid. 33, P. 1367-1371

    [35] Forward Movement. (2013). Prayers for Guidance and Surrender. In Prayers for All Occasions (Kindle ed., pp. 483). Cincinnati, OH: Forward Movement.

    [36] Papavassiliou, V. (2014). Prayers of the Saints. In The ancient faith prayer book (Kindle ed., p. 125). Chesterton, IN: Ancient Faith Publishing.

    [37] Achwal, A. (2020, January 09). 10 popular night Time prayers for children. Retrieved April 20, 2021, from https://parenting.firstcry.com/articles/10-popular-bedtime-prayers-for-children/

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