God's To-do List

I struggle to get everything on my todo list done everyday. Lately I've been very interested in learning biblical principles for productivity, and I wanted to share some things that popped out of my devotions this morning.

I stumbled onto Proverbs 10:27, which reads

The fear of the LORD prolongeth days: but the years of the wicked shall be shortened. Proverbs 10:27

I thought to myself, "Hmm, that's very interesting. I wonder if the 'prolonging of days' has to do with extending one's lifespan, or with allowing one to fit more stuff into each 24-hour period." I'm not a Hebrew scholar, so when doing word studies in the Old Testament, I have to rely on reading multiple translations and looking at commentaries. It seems like most readings favor the extending-one's-lifespan version.

However, this did get me thinking about an instance where God allowed someone to pack more work into a single "day".

In Joshua 10, we pick up the story of a very fascinating situation of keeping one's promise. The people of Gibeon had made a peace pact with Joshua in the previous chapter. All of the other kings of Canaan were very upset that the Gibeonites were now in an alliance with Joshua, and decided to teach them a lesson. So five Canaanite kings united to destroy Gibeon. The Gibeonites went to Joshua to ask for help to save them from the 5-way alliance that was about to destroy their city.

7 So Joshua ascended from Gilgal, he, and all the people of war with him, and all the mighty men of valour. 8 And the LORD said unto Joshua, Fear them not: for I have delivered them into thine hand; there shall not a man of them stand before thee. 9 Joshua therefore came unto them suddenly, and went up from Gilgal all night. 10 And the LORD discomfited them before Israel, and slew them with a great slaughter at Gibeon, and chased them along the way that goeth up to Bethhoron, and smote them to Azekah, and unto Makkedah. 11 And it came to pass, as they fled from before Israel, and were in the going down to Bethhoron, that the LORD cast down great stones from heaven upon them unto Azekah, and they died: they were more which died with hailstones than they whom the children of Israel slew with the sword. Joshua 10:7-11

In a productivity point of view, one might say that Joshua was at this point in a state of flow. However, Joshua realizes that it's beginning to get dark, and it is going to be difficult for him to finish his task at this point and to wipe out the Amorites as he had started to do.

At this point, something very interesting happens. The Amorites were worshippers of the Sun and of the Moon, and they knew that in the darkness, they might be able to hide themselves from the Israelites. The Holy Spirit inspires Joshua to pray for an incredible miracle.

Then spake Joshua to the LORD in the day when the LORD delivered up the Amorites before the children of Israel, and he said in the sight of Israel, Sun, stand thou still upon Gibeon; and thou, Moon, in the valley of Ajalon. Joshua 10:12

Although the Amorites were worshippers of the Sun and the Moon, Joseph prays that God would arrest the normal movements of the Sun and the Moon relative to the earth-fixed reference frame, and therefore not only allow Joshua to finish his work within the calendar day, but also to demonstrate the superiority of Joshua's God over the things that the Amorites were depending on. It was as much a prodictivity win as it was an evangelism win.

Ellen White makes some interesting comments about this story in Patriarchs and Prophets

The Spirit of God inspired Joshua's prayer, that evidence might again be given of the power of Israel's God. Hence the request did not show presumption on the part of the great leader. Joshua had received the promise that God would surely overthrow these enemies of Israel, yet he put forth as earnest effort as though success depended upon the armies of Israel alone. He did all that human energy could do, and then he cried in faith for divine aid. The secret of success is the union of divine power with human effort. Those who achieve the greatest results are those who rely most implicitly upon the Almighty Arm. The man who commanded, “Sun, stand thou still upon Gibeon; and thou, Moon, in the valley of Ajalon,” is the man who for hours lay prostrate upon the earth in prayer in the camp of Gilgal. The men of prayer are the men of power.
Patriarchs and Prophets, p509.1

From this, I realized that the reason why Joshua was able to cram so much work into a single calendar day was because He knew that His to-do list was the same as God's to-do list. No amount of human effort without divine aid could have "discomfited" the Amorites the way that Joshua did in this chapter. It was because Joshua was partnering with God that he had this success.

Each day, as you select the things on your todo list that you will try to do that day, consider "what things will God bless me in doing today?" If you cut out anything that God will not bless, and only focus on things that you know the Lord will bless, you will experience victory after victory, and may find yourself packing more than 24-hours worth of work into each calendar day.

  1. Matthew Michael, "Twighlight of the Gods, Hidden Polemics in Joshua 10:12-14." https://www.jstor.org/stable/43151466?seq=1