The Longest Day
The Bible you hold in your hands is as much a History Book as it is a Revelation Book. All the events and stories and people recorded therein are historical, factual, and real. “Scholars” and “experts” like to discount the Bible as nothing more than fiction and fantasy, full of mythical tales and legends from times gone by, no more true than Sir Gawain and the Green Knight or Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings. But the truth of the Bible stands tall and has been proven over and over to be authoritative and accurate in everything it says.
Recently, evidence was found of the Egyptian army that was swallowed up by the Red Sea. (Ex. 13:17–14:29) Roughly 5,000 bodies were recovered. Chariots and other artifacts were discovered. Best of all, one archaeologist remarked, “The ancient soldiers seem to have died on dry ground, since no traces of boats or ships have been found in the area. The positions of the bodies and the fact that they were stuck in a vast quantity of clay and rock, imply that they could have died in a mudslide or a tidal wave.” This exactly corroborates the account in the Old Testament, again bringing veracity to the Word of Truth. Over and over, skeptics will try and discount the Bible and disprove it. But their efforts will always prove vain — God’s Word will always win out. Therefore, we come to Joshua 10, in which we find another miraculous account proving the sovereignty and sufficiency of God.
At the outset, the king of Jerusalem, this Adoni-zedek, is getting nervous because a huge city (Gibeon) has just made peace and allied itself with Israel, who itself has been on a conquering rampage of late, defeating the armies of Ai and Jericho in renowned fashion. (Josh. 10:1–4) Adoni was afraid because “Gibeon was a great city . . . greater than Ai, and all the men thereof were mighty.” (Josh. 10:2) Adoni then schemes with five other kings and forms a federation powers bent on destroying Gibeon, striking a blow to burgeoning Israel. “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.” (Josh. 10:4) This coalition of Amorite bad guys go up to Gibeon bent on assault (Josh. 10:5), and immediately the Gibeonites sent an urgent message to Joshua, screaming, “Hey, guys, a little help here! ‘Come up to us quickly, and save us, and help us.’” (Josh. 10:6) So, Joshua and his “mighty men of valor” (Josh. 10:7) respond and go up quickly to relieve Gibeon and defeat the Amorites.
The Israelites struck them swiftly and surprisingly, causing them to run for their lives! “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 Makkedah.” (Josh. 10:9–10) God himself intervenes, raining down rocks from heaven. (Josh. 10:11) And, as always, God must be given the most credit, honor, and praise: “There were more who died because of the hailstones than the sons of Israel killed with the sword.” (Josh. 10:11) But the most interesting part of the story is what happens next.
Not forgetting God’s promise of complete and utter victory (Josh. 10:8), Joshua, in the heat of battle, cries out in the power of the Spirit of the Lord, “Sun, stand still at Gibeon, and moon, in the Valley of Aijalon.” (Josh. 10:12) Literally, the sun stood still, time froze, “the day was miraculously protracted till the end was gained,” until Israel was able to defeat their fleeing enemies, preventing their escape! “The sun stood still, and the moon stopped, until the nation took vengeance on their enemies.” (Josh. 10:13)
The intriguing part about this story is that verses 12–13 seem to come from this “Book of Jashar” (Josh. 10:13), mentioned only one other time in the Bible. “Also he bade them teach the children of Judah the use of the bow: behold, it is written in the book of Jasher.” (2 Sam. 1:18) Not much is known about this “Book of Jashar,” but most believe it was an anthology or collection of stories in poem form in honor of renowned and eminent heroes, “celebrating the heroes of the Hebrew nation and their achievements.” It’s since been lost, most likely among the volumes that have remained lost from the Library of Alexandria since its destruction.
So, through the intervention of God, Israel trounces the Amorites, utterly defeating them and delivering Gibeon itself from defeat. But what are we to learn from this “longest day”? What’s the application of this day unlike any other day (Josh. 10:14) for us? I believe it’s this: If you’re a redeemed child of God, if you’re “in Christ,” if you’ve been made a righteous ragamuffin through the condescending grace of Jesus, this is the God that you’re serving, that you’re living for, that you’re calling upon — a God of miracles! Now that you’ve been “justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus” (Rom. 3:24), you’re enlisted in God’s army and you’re now his children, children and heirs, “fellow heirs with Christ.” (Rom. 8:17) You’re part of God’s family and you’re under his perpetually loving eye. God’s no longer your judge, he’s your Father! Blessed divine paternal love!
There are no problems too large or too small for God our Father to intervene. He rules and reigns over everything. That’s what this story is here to show us. It shows our absolute nothingness and God’s absolute everythingness. It shows our categorical inability to accomplish anything and God’s infinite omnipotence and sovereignty over everything. As much as we think we have control over anything in this life, it’s all an illusion, a mirage. God’s in complete control over the entire universe; nothing happens by accident.
There’s a good chance that you’re in the midst of something right now that’s overwhelming. You may even feel that you’re beyond help, that your situation is impossible, that nothing or no one could ever intervene and intercede for you. In short, you’re wrong! God specializes in impossibilities! “I am the Lord, the God of all the peoples of the world. Is anything too hard for me?” (Jer. 32:27) “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” (Matt. 19:26) Nothing’s too hard for God! Nothing happens by chance! We serve the God of the impossible! Even though it might look like chaos right now, God’s in control, and he’s sovereign over the stars, the planets, the galaxies, and everything in between. “There is no difficulty in his way,” says the great Reformer John Calvin. “God can surmount all obstacles without any labor.” (186) Whatever obstacle, whatever difficulty you face turn to Jesus and surrender to him. Seek his help. Trust his provision. Rest in his love. And bank on his grace.
- John Calvin, Commentaries on the Book of the Prophet Jeremiah and the Lamentations, translated by John Owen, Vol. 4 (Edinburgh: Calvin Translation Society, 1854).