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The Sun Stood Still

by David Johnson

(Transcribed from the Words of Life Radio Program)

 

IMG_0666  It is good to be together again as we look into the Word of God and make the Word our companion as we follow in obedience to the glory of God. The title for the lesson, “The Sun Stood Still.” The text is in the Old Testament, the book of Joshua chapter 10 verses 12 through 14.  Let’s listen to the Word of God.

On the day the Lord gave the Amorites over to Israel Joshua said to the Lord in the presence of Israel: Oh, sun, stand still over Gibeon, oh, moon, over the valley of Aijalon . So the sun stood still and the moon stopped till the nation avenged itself on its enemies, as it is written in the book of Jashur. The sun stopped in the middle of the sky and delayed going down about a full day.  There has never been a day like it before or since, a day when the Lord listened to a man. Surely the Lord was fighting for Israel.

This incident is one of the most remarkable incidents revealed and recorded in the biblical history when the sun stood still.  This passage has also been called the most striking example of a so-called conflict, or contradiction between Scripture and science, as it is today well known that the sun does not move or revolve around the earth. The sun actually is a star and always stand still. It is the planet earth that moves or revolves around the sun causing daylight and night darkness.

Before we get to the sun stood still, let’s consider the background circumstances. In Joshua chapter 10 and verse six it reads this way: Help us, because all the Amorite kings from the hill country have joined forces against us. this is the appeal, the alarm of the Gibeonites, the sword servants of the Israelites by this time. And they were being attacked by a  coalition or confederation of five major cities of the Amorites in reprisal or in retaliation for making a peace treaty with Israel previously. This would have been considered  a traitorous, punishable act.  This might, for example, pave the way for other cities to surrender to the Israelites. And, therefore, immediate action had to be taken against the Gibeonites.

This brings up an interesting situation. The Israelites could have laid back and let the Amorites annihilate the deceiving Gibeonites who had tricked Israel into a peace treaty in the first place. The Amorites could rid Israel’s Promised Land of these lying, treacherous  Gibeonites. However, according to Joshua chapter 10 and verses nine and 10, Israel protected the Gibeonites and after an all night march took them, that is the Amorites, by surprise in battle.  Plus, according to verse 10 it reveals that the Lord threw them, that is the Amorites, into confusion before Israel. That is, the Lord supported Israel’s decision to fight against the Amorites and protect the Gibeonites.

Well, why?  Well, the answer is in Joshua chapter nine and verse 15. Joshua had made a treaty of peace with them, with the Gibeonites and let them live.  And the leaders of the assembly of Israel ratified it, approved it, confirmed this peace treaty by oath. This oath would have been taken in the most holy name of Yahweh. And all such oaths were binding for the Israelites.

Consider, for example, Leviticus chapter 19 and verse 12.  Do not swear falsely by name and so profane the name of your God. I am the Lord.  There is a great application here for us today. The ancient Israelites acknowledged and accepted the holiness of the name of God. And they would not profane or show contempt or irreverence even toward the name of God. Is that true today even sometimes amongst Christians?
In Exodus chapter 20 and verse seven it says: You shall not misuse the name of the Lord your God.  For the Lord will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name. Is that just an Old Testament law?  Well, no. This is still binding. God’s name reflects and represents his person, his holiness. In Matthew chapter six and verse nine, for example, Jesus instructed in his model prayer when he prayed thus and he said: Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed by your name.  Hallowed. What does that mean? It means most holy, honorable is your name. This does not say hallowed was your name, but hallowed be your name. That is always, like possibly the Lord God even, according to Joshua chapter 10 and verse 11, hurled large hailstones down on them, that is, the Amorites, the for his name’s sake as the God of Israel and because of the oath given in his name which is holy, holy, holy. And also to rid the land of these five armies all at once and their detestable practices.

Now regarding the fact that according to Scripture the sun stood still.  In Joshua chapter 10 and verse 12 note at least three facts. Number one, it says: On the day the Lord gave the Amorites over to Israel. That is, the battle took only one day against many of the enemy, a coalition, a confederation of five Amorite cities. The day of battle was wearing on and Joshua knew that the pursuit and annihilation of a numerous enemy would be a long and strenuous feat. The most a military leader had was about 12 hours of daylight under normal circumstances to fight in ancient combat. Joshua understood he needed more time in daylight to accomplish God’s will regarding the Amorites.

Note also in Joshua chapter 10 and verse eight that it says, in part, that God said: Not one of them will be able to withstand you. This was a battle of annihilation of these Amorites and their detestable ways. Not one would be able to stand against them, that is, the Israelites.

And then, number two, Joshua in chapter 10 and verse 12 it says: Joshua said to the Lord, that is he prayed and petitioned the Lord. And certainly the end result, annihilation of these detested Amorites was in God’s will. He prayed knowing God’s will in advance. And there is an application for us here today also. In the latter part of the New Testament book of James chapter five and verse 16 it reveals there that the prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective. Today God’s righteous prayer warriors praying in God’s will can petition the same God with miraculous results if God so chooses to do so, whatever the circumstances.

Then, thirdly, in Joshua chapter 10 and verse 12 it says: In the presence of Israel, that is, Joshua prayed publicly and audibly this prayer in the presence of the Israelites: Oh, sun, stand still over Gibeon. Oh, moon, over the valley of Aijalon. In verse 13: So the sun stood still and the moon stopped till the nation avenged itself on its enemies.

What do you think this did for Israel’s fighting men?  Well, certainly they became even more ferocious fighters. And what do you think this did for their opinions of their leader of their general Joshua? Wow.  He even petitioned God that the sun stand still and so it happened.  God listened to a man.

So what about verse 13? The sun stopped in the middle of the sky and delayed going down about a full day. And then in verse 14. There has never been a day like it before or since. As with when the Lord hurled large hailstones down on the Amorites from the sky in verse 11, this obviously was a miracle, a supernatural act of God who suspended the natural order temporarily.  But why did Joshua not know to address the earth, not the sun? Because we now know it is the earth that rotates around the sun on its axis causing daylight and night darkness. Well, the answer is simply, because Joshua didn’t live today. He prayed according to his ancient knowledge accurately according to the natural human observation by the senses accurately in his day.  He, Joshua, petitioned from the perspective and accurate appearance of things on the earth.  People, even meteorologists still do today regarding the timing of, quote, sunrise and sunset.   Joshua petitioned according to what he knew and God took care of the rest in his omniscience and omnipotence, being all knowing and all powerful.

Now how did God create this full day, this long day of daylight? Possibly God caused the rotation of the earth to slow down so that it took 48, or approximately 48 hours for the full rotation. Or God stopped the rotation of the earth. And if God could do that, he certainly could stop the cataclysmic effects of the stopping of the rotation of the earth, such as the monstrous tidal waves and objects flying around.  Or God caused the otherwise fixed sun to move in the same way to keep perfect pace with the battlefield giving extended daylight. We really don’t know the answer to this and we don’t need to know the why. We believe in the whom and the Word of God which was and is his will and the power of our God that can do all things that are in his will.  Nothing is impossible with God that is in his will. And if you are not really sure and still question this, you can add this to your bucket list of questions when you see God.

Now it is significant that the Amorites worshipped their gods, which included the sun and the moon.  But these supposed gods obeyed the one true God of Israel to their demise.
In verse 14 it says that the Lord listened to a man.  Do you remember Hezekiah, for example? The Lord added 15 years to his life. Could that happen today?  Surely it could. Anything that is in the Lord’s will can be answered by an all powerful God. We often do not receive because we do not ask. We need to ask to receive and God, according to his will will answer the prayer, the petition, the supplication even of a righteous man or a righteous woman which is the prayer which can be powerful and effective as the Lord answers prayer, even miraculously today according to his will.

 

David Johnson is minister of the Sellersburg Church of Christ, Sellersburg, IN.




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That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

2 Corinthians 12:10