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.
And the sun stood still, and the moon stayed, until the people had avenged themselves upon their enemies. Is not this written in the book of Jasher? So the sun stood still in the midst of heaven, and hasted not to go down about a whole day.
And there was no day like that before it or after it, that the Lord hearkened unto the voice of a man: for the Lord fought for Israel.
The Lord hearkened to the voice of a man, Joshua!
Joshua was exalted above the un and the moon!
The sun and the moon stood still at his command, and hasted not to go down for about a whole day!
And all this took place in order that Israel, the people of Jehovah, might avenge themselves upon their enemies, and in order that it might be revealed that the Lord fought for Israel.
Indeed, there was no day like that before it or after it!
The natural man, who cannot receive the things of the Spirit of God because they are spiritually discerned is foolish. Contemplating the Word of God, he rejects it. Confronted by the wonder, he denies it. It is foolishness to him; and he would far rather believe the lie concocted by his own foolish mind than embrace byfaith the wonder of grace.
Thus, men have invented all kinds of would-be “interpretations” in order to escape God, the God of the wonder. And there are Christians who are misled, deceived by the cunning craftiness of men, who attempt to compromise somewhat with unbelief’s denial, on pseudo-scientific grounds, of the wonder of grace. How dangerous and how comfortless is such compromise!
Some have excused these attempts to avoid the literal meaning of the record of these verses by an appeal to poetic license. The book of Jasher was a poetical book in which some of the most illustrious works of God for His people are celebrated. And using the alibi of poetic license, men have allowed themselves all kinds of license in “explaining” these words. There are those, for example, who claim that that famous day only seemed twice as long as an ordinary day because so much was accomplished in it. Joshua supposedly told Israel, “Let not the sun and the moon go down until the work is finished.” And Israel so busily filled the day with the activities of war that it was as though the sun and the moon stood still; Others “explain” that Joshua said, “Sun, be silent,” that is, shine no more, and that there was an eclipse of the sun on that day. Others find the “explanation” in the fact that the day darkened because of the terrible storm at the time of the battle, the hailstorm mentioned in verse 11, and that after the storm the sun came through again, so that it was as though the day were prolonged after darkness began to fall.
But let it be noted that these “explanations” are not really interpretations at all. They are not serious attempts to understand the language of the text. On the contrary, they are excuses. They are distortions of the text. Moreover, when you compare these “explanations” with the language of the text itself, it is immediately evident, too; that they are indeed distortions. They are distortions on the very face of them, all rather silly and superficial.
How foolish is the natural mind!
It would rather believe anything instead of the Word of God!
It wants to escape the idea of the miracle because, of course, the essence of the miracle is the wonder of grace. I? That wonder of grace the natural man do s not want. Yes, he has his reasons,—scientific reasons. Indeed, the whole universe would be destroyed if anything so utterly contrary to the “laws of nature” should happen! But the reason is this: the things of the Spirit of God are foolishness to him!
But the truth of the Word of God is simple, so simple that a little child can understand it.
And the wonder is faith’s dearest child!
The battle against the kings of the south, who purposed to take vengeance upon the Gibeonites and to recapture the strategic heights of Gibeon, had been joined. And Joshua, captain of the host of Israel, stood somewhere between Gibeon and Ajalon. He spoke “to the Lord,” which here evidently means that he spoke before the Lord, that is, as standing before Him, as His servant, as the one who was called to execute the Lord’s work. Standing before the Lord, in the name of Jehovah this servant whose very name means “Jehovah-Salvation” addressed the sun and the moon. He gave commandment that the heavenly luminaries were to stop in their courses. And the result of that commandment was that Joshua was indeed exalted above the sun and the moon: they obeyed him, and they let their light rest upon Gibeon and Ajalon until Joshua and Israel had finished their work. At the command of Joshua about the length of a whole day was added to that day because the sun hasted not to go down about a whole day.
There was no day like it, before or after!
Could the Word of God be more plain? Could it be said more simply? What other meaning could the words of Scripture have here than the literal meaning that that day was almost doubled in length? How otherwise can the very emphatic language of these verses be understood?
No, I cannot explain this event. Indeed, I need not assume that the Word of God actually teaches here that the sun ordinarily moves and that the earth stands still, as some have foolishly objected against-scripture, asserting that this is an “inaccuracy.” It is evident that Scripture does not speak the technical language of the astronomer, but is God’s revelation to us in “our language.” No more than we ordinarily speak of our days and nights in terms of the earth’s rotations in relation to the sun, but rather speak of the sun’s rising and setting, no more does Scripture speak technical language, but rather speaks ordinary “every day” language. But though I can conceive of the fact that the sun stood still on that day, I cannot comprehend this wonder and explain it. If I could do so, I could comprehend and explain God Himself!
Nor is it necessary to fathom what took place in Ajalon!
Faith has no difficulty whatsoever to believe this wonderful fact. Why cannot the same God who holds the universe in His hand, Who keeps it in existence, Who preserves and directs it by the omnipresent power of His providence, moment by moment, year by year, century after century, yea, Who called that universe into being by the Word of His power,—why cannot that God lengthen a mere day? Is He not much more able to stop the entire universe in its course, if need be, by His almighty Word than I am able to stop the movement of my watch? Is it anymore difficult to believe that He caused the sun to stand still than to believe that He called the worlds into being? Is it more difficult to believe that the moon stood still in the valley of Ajalon than to believe that God keeps all the heavenly luminaries in their courses second by second? Is it more difficult to believe this wonderful event than to believe the final wonder whereby He shall glorify all things by the power of His grace at the parousia of our Lord Jesus Christ? Is it more difficult to embrace this wonder than all the wonders: the incarnation, the resurrection, the ascension, the outpouring of the Spirit, the work of regenerating grace?
No, I cannot understand any of them. Least of all can I understand how God can make of a sinner such as I, a child of the devil by nature, a living and obedient child of God?
But this I know: our God is wonderful above all my comprehension!
And: “Das Wunder ist des Glaubens liebstes Kind.” But then: Faith, which has the wonder as its dearest child, is itself a wonder, a gift of grace!
Faith, however, believes the miracle precisely because the essence of the miracle is the wonder of grace.
God’s miracles are not freaks. They are not the tricks of a magician. They are not even merely manifestations of extraordinary power. In fact, the essence of the miracle does not lie in its element of extraordinariness. The significance of the miracle is that it is the breaking through of the power of God’s grace, whereby He saves His people, into the darkness of our night. Hence, the miracles of Scripture always have a purpose.
Thus it was here. And all was of the Lord. God purposed to show the power of His grace through His servant Joshua. Not Joshua was the originator of the idea, but God. And God revealed His purpose to Joshua, assured him of that purpose, created within Joshua the faith that God would perform it. So it came to pass that Joshua was exalted very highly and spoke in the name of Jehovah.
That the work might be finished and that the people might avenge themselves upon their enemies was the purpose of this miracle. However, this was no ordinary work and no ordinary battle. We must remember that the land of Canaan was to be the old dispensational realm of God’s kingdom, and that Israel represented the army of that kingdom of God, the Lord’s army. The enemies, the Amorites, against whom they fought were the Lord’s enemies, enemies of Jehovah and His kingdom. They were ripe for judgment. The measure of their iniquity was full. It was time for the curse upon Canaan, Ham’s son, to be executed upon them with finality. But the judgment of the world is the salvation of the church. Zion is redeemed through judgment! Hence, after the enemy has been put to flight before the army of Israel, they must not be allowed to escape under cover of darkness. The battle of Jehovah against Jehovah’s enemies must be finished. Israel must avenge themselves upon their enemies.
When this takes place, however, it must also be clearly evident that it is all the Lord’s work. It must be evident that “They gained not the land by the edge of the sword, Their own arm to them could no safety afford.” It must be Israel’s confession, “But Thy right hand saved, and the light of Thy face, Because of Thy favor and wonderful grace.” It must be clearly evident that not we establish the kingdom, but He establishes His own kingdom, while we are privileged through grace to be of the party of the living God.
This explains the repeated promise, “I have given the enemy into Thy hand.” This accounts for the hailstorm that killed more Amorites than the sword did. This also accounts for the standing still of the sun and the moon. The wonder of grace broke through in behalf of God’s people, in order to give them the victory!
There was no day like it either before or after!
And while that is literally true, yet from a deeper point of view a better day has come! The day of reality, the day of the fulfillment of all the types and shadows, has come!
We see not the Old Testament Joshua, but we see Jesus crowned with glory and honor. We see not a servant of Jehovah, but the Servant of Jehovah. And He is the Captain of the host of Jehovah, the Captain of our salvation.
Exalted He is, not merely for a moment, and not only over sun and moon, but forever and over all things. All power is given unto Him in heaven and on earth,—to finish the work!
Hence, all things must work together for evil to the enemy, and for good to God’s people, until the work is finished, the enemy is finally destroyed, and the kingdom of God is established in perfection.
Be of good cheer, therefore!
All things are ours, as we are Christ’s, and as Christ is God’s!
We are more than conquerors through Him that loved us!