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by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

A sermon preached on Saturday Evening, May 29, 2004
at the Fundamentalist Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles

"So the sun stood still in the midst of heaven, and hasted not to go down about a whole day" (Joshua 10:13).

Probably no miracle recorded in the Bible has been ridiculed more than this one. The skeptics say that it is impossible. But of course all miracles are impossible. In performing a miracle, God intercedes and brings about an event that goes beyond the usual working of nature. The British apologist C. S. Lewis said, "I use the word miracle to mean an interference with nature by supernatural power" (C. S. Lewis, Miracles, Macmillan, 1960, page 5).

The resurrection of a human body that has been dead for three days is by nature impossible, and yet God raised the dead body of Jesus from the grave. Once you accept the possibility that God was able to suspend the usual laws of nature in raising the dead body of Jesus, you automatically open the logical possibility that God can suspend and go beyond the laws of nature in other matters.

In dealing with this miracle of the long day there are several points that we should consider.

I. First, what does the Bible mean when it says,
"So the sun stood still in the midst of heaven"?

Dr. Norman Geisler points out that the Bible often uses non-technical everyday language. He says,

To be true, something does not have to use scholarly, technical, or so-called "scientific" language. The Bible is written for the common person of every generation, and it therefore uses common, everyday language. The use of observational, nonscientific language is not unscientific, it is merely prescientific. The Scriptures were written in ancient times by ancient standards, and it would be anachronistic to superimpose modern scientific standards upon them. However, it is no more unscientific to speak of the sun "standing still" (Joshua 10:12) than to refer to the sun "rising" (Joshua 1:15). Contemporary meteorologists still speak daily of the time of "sunrise" and "sunset" (Norman Geisler, Ph.D., and Thomas Howe, When Critics Ask, Baker Books, 1992, page 22).

So, Dr. Geisler points out, that the phrase "the sun stood still" is a figure of common speech. He says,

The Bible speaks in everyday observational language. So the sun did not actually stop; it only appeared to do so (ibid., page 141).

Thus, Joshua 10:12-13 refers to a lengthening of the daylight hours, from a normal 24 hour day to approximately a 48 hour day.

II. Second, how did this lengthening of the daylight hours occur?

Dr. Charles C. Ryrie gives two possible explanations. He says,

Views concerning this phenomenon fall into two categories. The first assumes a slowing or suspending of the normal rotation of the earth so that there were extra hours that day… God did this so that Joshua's forces could complete their victory before the enemy had a night for rest and regrouping. The Hebrew for "stood still" (v. 13) is a verb of motion, indicating a slowing or stopping of the rotation of the earth on its axis (which would not affect the earth's movement around the sun). Verse 14 indicates this was a unique day in the history of the world. The second category [of explanations] includes views that assume no irregularity in the rotation of the earth. One such view argues for the prolonging of daylight by some sort of unusual refraction [bending or reflection] of the sun's rays. Thus, there were more daylight hours but not more hours in the day (Charles C. Ryrie, Ph.D., The Ryrie Study Bible, Moody Press, 1978, p. 341).

Dr. Geisler puts it this way,

First, it is not necessary to conclude that the earth's rotation was totally halted. Verse 13 states that the sun ["hasted not to go down about a whole day"]. This could indicate that the earth's rotation was not completely halted, but that it was retarded to such a degree that the sun did not set for about a whole day. Or, it is possible that God caused the light of the sun to refract [bend or reflect]… so that it could be seen a day longer.

Even if the earth's rotation was completely stopped, we must remember that God is not only capable of halting the rotation of the earth for a whole day, but He is also able to prevent any possible catastrophic effects that might result from the cessation of the earth's rotation. Although we do not necessarily know how God brought about this miraculous event, we know that He did it (Geisler, ibid., p. 141).

III. Third, why did this lengthening of the daylight hours occur?

For God to perform such a miracle, the stakes must have been high. And indeed they were. The fate of Israel hung in the balance. In his book, Israel at the Center of History and Revelation, Dr. Charles Feinberg pointed out that Adam plunged mankind into sin. Then God destroyed nearly the whole human race, because of their sin, in the Flood of Noah's time. Then God scattered the nations for their arrogance at the Tower of Babel. Then Dr. Feinberg said,

From this mass of human wreckage and sin God called one man, Abraham, and His promise to him was… "I will make you a great nation"… God, then, had purposed to use a nation as the channel of His purposes in the earth…

When we thus consider the origin of this miracle nation and then further note its history and God's dealing with it throughout the centuries, we are constrained to say that Israel means a great deal to God (Charles L. Feinberg, Ph.D., Israel at the Center of History and Revelation, Multnomah Press, 1980, pp. 175-176).

God performed many miracles to preserve the nation of Israel. He sent ten plagues on Egypt, so the Egyptians would let the Hebrews go. He parted the Red Sea, so the Hebrews could escape. He led them in the wilderness with a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night. God performed many miracles during Israel's exodus from Egypt.

Now, in the Book of Joshua, the Hebrews were finally entering Canaan, the land that God promised to Abraham long before. But they had to overcome the idolaters to take possession of the land.

God commanded Israel to drive these people out by justifiable warfare.

The combined Amorite armies of southern Canaan were camped together in an open field outside Gibeon. An Israelite victory would break the backs of the enemy forces of the entire region. Furthermore God assured Joshua that he need not be afraid of them.

Gathering his forces, Joshua and his men marched the 25 miles from Gilgal to Gibeon under cover of darkness… There was no opportunity to rest. The army was fatigued and faced a powerful foe. Clearly God must intervene or all would be lost.

Motivated by God's promise of victory, Joshua led a surprise attack…Panic seized the enemy and…they…fled in wild confusion… The Amorites however were not able to escape. Using the forces of nature to fight for Israel the Lord caused great hailstones to fall on the enemy…

But the day of the battle of Beth Horon was wearing on and Joshua knew that the pursuit of the enemy would be long and arduous. At the most [Joshua] had 12 hours of daylight ahead of him. He clearly needed more time if he were to realize the fulfillment of God's promise [of victory]. Joshua therefore took to the Lord an unusual request: ["Sun, stand thou still upon Gibeon; and thou, Moon, in the valley of Ajalon"]…

The [prayer] was quickly answered by the Lord. Joshua prayed in faith, and a great miracle resulted…In answer to prayer Israel experienced the divine intervention of God on their behalf and victory was assured (John F. Walvoord, Th.D., and Roy B. Zuck, Th.D., The Bible Knowledge Commentary, Victor Books, 1985, The Old Testament, pages 350-351).

The nation of Israel prevailed and was saved. God intervened with a miracle even greater than parting the Red Sea. Why? Because of the importance of the Hebrew people and the nation of Israel. Through Israel God would give the Bible to the world. Through Israel Jesus the Messiah would come to save mankind.

Let us stand and read Joshua 10:14 out loud.

"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" (Joshua 10:14).

You and I would not have the Bible if God had not performed this miracle. You and I would not have Jesus, the Saviour, if God had not performed this miracle. You and I would not be here in church tonight if God had not performed this miracle. Thanks be to God - "the Lord fought for Israel" (Joshua 10:14).





by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.


"So the sun stood still in the midst of heaven, and hasted not to go down about a whole day" (Joshua 10:13).

I.   What does the Bible mean when it says, "So the sun stood 
still in the midst of heaven"? Joshua 10:12; 1:15.

II.  How did this lengthening of the daylight hours occur? 
Joshua 10:13.

III. Why did this lengthening of the daylight hours occur? 
Joshua 10:14.

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