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The Longest Day

The Bible Study Hour / James Boice
The Truth Network Radio
June 7, 2021 8:00 am

The Longest Day

The Bible Study Hour / James Boice

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June 7, 2021 8:00 am

The Bible tells of a day long ago when the sun stood still over Gibeon and the moon over the Valley of Adullum. Is this poetical language? A scientifically verifiable event? Or merely the effect of refraction? On The Bible Study Hour, Dr. James Montgomery Boice talks about a day like none other - "The Longest Day."

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The Bible tells of the day long ago when the sun stood still over Gibeon and the moon over the valley of the Gullah is this poetical language are scientifically verifiable event were merely the effective refraction today on the Bible study our Dr. James Montgomery boys talks about a day like none other. The longest day to the Bible study are the radio and Internet broadcast with Dr. James Boyce preparing you to think and act biblically. Miracles can be puzzling. People are accustomed to the laws of nature and can be troubled by accounts of miraculous events today in Joshua 10. Dr. Boyce addresses a miracle of enormous proportions.

The day the sun stood still is a verse in the 10th chapter of Joshua that has been used a great effect by Leland Wall and evangelists to American Chinese out in California is Joshua 1013 says the sun stood still. The top of his letterhead, Leland Wong has printed three versus this is the first sun stood still.

Second second Kings 66 which says the iron did float and last of Psalm 4814 which says this God is our God, I've often use those verses.

I think well stress that we believe in a powerful God, the great God of the Bible who is able to do miracles. But did the iron really float the son really stand still miracles of the scope man so many changes in the forces of nature as we know them that it does not surprising that they have been a problem not only to liberal scholars, that begin with a distrust of the ability of God, but even by conservative scholars wonder quite naturally. Whether something more simple than this might be an explanation of the account. I have found that so many people have been troubled by so many of these problems that I've even taken a special section of the chapter in a book of mind to deal with them. The book is standing on the rock.

The chapter entitled dealing with Bible difficulties and in that I look at these things that are miracles I say when I refer to this when we understand the difficulties that are involved in your driving along in the car at 60 miles an hour and you suddenly step on the brakes you fall forward you run into a truck the same thing happens only more dramatically we know what would happen if the normal laws of physics prevail. If God suddenly stopped the earth and everything on it and followed her flat and we can imagine that God stop the sun and the moon and their passage in the heavens without similar kind of the facts taking place in the universe and yet at the same time we are well aware, God is the omnipotent God he can do what he will do. It made the laws in the first place certainly is powerful enough to change them or override them if that's what he chooses to do, but at the same time we come to something like this and where actually just a bit puzzled by it. That's an interesting story all in itself in the geography of this particular battle is fascinating. The Gibeonites had, as we learn to Joshua and the leaders of Israel, pretending to have come from a distant land, and so they sought out an treaty with Israel and the Jewish leaders failing to consult God made the mistake of entering into a treaty with them. It was only shortly after that three days later.

In fact, that they discovered that they were actually very near at hand. They were from this time Gibeon wasn't far north of the city of Jerusalem, not far from where the Jewish troops were the time they had made their treaty. I have taken an oath in the name of God and so they stood by and thus the Gibeonites entered into a league with Israel and came under their protection were told in the next chapter that the other people of these Hill fortresses the cities of the hills heard what had happened and they were greatly distressed by were told that Adonijah's attic, the king of Jerusalem, heard that Joshua had taken a iron that the Gibeonites and entered into this kind of treaty and so he rallied all of the other kings and peoples of these Hill city fortresses said let's go up against Gibeon because what we have here is treason gone over the side of the enemy and unless we squelch this kind of treason.

We're never going to be able to stand in the United Way against these invading forces, and so he rallied all these armies together and they moved against Gibeon. Incidentally, it's interesting to us that this is the first mention of the city of Jerusalem and all the Bible that a course didn't mean anything to Joshua. Joshua merely realize that if all of these troops were getting together. All of these armies were combining for the first time. Now he was going to be up against a Confederacy. I would have to meet these armies of the Canaanites and on or Woody. I don't know whether it went through his mind somebody there must've thought.

Look, here is a case of all these hillside kings going up against Gibeon people of Gibeon are the ones that tricked us, maybe this is God's way of getting us off the hook. We were tricked by them and we said that we would stand by them. Make an alliance with them, but well they tricked Dawson now maybe they're just getting what they deserve.

All we have to do is stay down here where we are Guild our headquarters by the Jordan and let these kings and armies of the hill country attack Gibeon YM outweigh their successful they'll just eliminate this thorn in our side will solve this problem. They'll eradicate this mistake that we made not long ago I guess. A lesser man might've thought that way but we have no indication the story that Joshua thought that way all Joshua given his word you made treaty with them. He had taken an oath in the name of God Almighty and so he was going to stand by what he did instead of seeing this is easy way to get off the hook, as it were.

Joshua sought instead is a great opportunity so he passed the word to his troops to get ready for a march they were going to proceed back up the ravine that led to the hill country at night and then they were going to fall upon this Confederacy of the southern cities in the morning and so we did. We told how the battle when the arrival of Jewish troops was so unexpected and sudden that it through the Canaanites and will panic.

They fled before Israel fleeing south from Gibeon, where the battle began about 10 miles to this town called Beth Horton which was up on the rich and then from Beth Horton down the other side in a precipitous dissent to a valley, which lay beyond the road falls about 700 feet and 2 miles at that point the hillside is cut into rocky steps that the sin toward the valley and this is the area that the fleeing Canaanite troops had the cross. You can understand. I would happen fleeing down these great gigantic rocks toward the valley with the Jewish troops hot in pursuit. This is the scene that greeted Joshua as he arrived at the ridge told in the story that God intervened in the story. By this time God sent a hailstorm. Hailstorms are sometimes quite vicious and that part of the world and at any rate, this was an extremely bad one. Stones fell upon the fleeing armies were told that Moore died from the hail that died from the swords of the Israelites in this Joshua came up over the ridge in the front of his troops, you would understand behind them trying to hold the thing together. As he came up over the ridge. This is what he saw.

Spread out before him here will armies of the Canaanites fleeing down the hillside and across the valley over the valley. This is great cloud on which the hail was thundering down and there were his troops, his soldiers in pursuit.

That scene fell upon Joshua's eyes. He must've recognized two things.

The first thing you must recognize this that this was an unparalleled opportunity to destroy the Southern Confederacy here where the handpicked troops the best soldiers of the best cities of this area of the country fleeing under disarray. Just fall upon them and pursue them before they got back to their city fortresses close the gates and got a moments relief. He could achieve victory which would make further battles in that area more or less mopping up operation then real conquest. He must've seen that once because he was a great general in the under stood an opportunity when it presented itself. But at the same time. He must've put something else. By this time the battle going on for some time.

The sun was passing through the sky and perhaps was soon sent over the Mediterranean to his right. He must've recognized her soon as he looked up and saw the sign that he didn't have enough time to achieve that kind of victory that the military situation presented so Joshua did an utterly unprecedented thing. I really don't know how he had faith to do it but he did this were told that he called out to the Lord in the presence of Israel is openly Indo side retreat a little bit, say or add something I like to ask you, but I'm sure afraid to mention it, he prayed openly in the presence of Israel son standstill over Gibeon over the valley of agile X versus so the sun stood still and the moon stopped till the nation avenged itself on its enemies text continues to say I think with great understatement. There is never been a day like it before or since the day when the Lord listens to Amanda shortly.

The Lord was fighting for Israel. I great miracle has been such a puzzle to so many scholars that there have been, as I suggested earlier, number of attempts to decide what was really going on here Gleason Archer in his recent book in encyclopedia of Bible difficulties discusses this at some length some years before the publication of that volume. Bernard RAM wrote a Christian view of science in the Scriptures also examined the various explanations of this miracle that have been given. Let me suggest just a few of them to you first. I guess the obvious one.

If you have difficulty with the miracle is that the words are political not to be taken literally. Some argument that can be made in favor of this because in ancient times it was quite natural for people to refer to the intervention of the son of the moon and the other heavenly bodies in things that were happening on earth. That's even true in the Bible.

For example, in Judges the fifth chapter, the 20th first Deborah and Barry as they recite him of praise to God for the victory that they achieved in their day say the stars thought of the side of Barrick in the battle. Now you see that's a natural thing in people who look at that say well maybe that's what's involved here. This is just a political way of saying that God gave Joshua and the armies the strength they needed when they needed to achieve a great victory.

They were worn out. They marched all night here. They were fighting in the heat of the day. Time was running out, God supplied their strengths supernaturally so it was stiff and perhaps it did seem that way to them. It was as if the day was extended until they really did achieve the victory they desire. I suppose there are obvious difficulties with that one is that it's hard to believe that this language is to be taken literally. Another one is that that is not the only miracle that's involved. There is the miracle of the hailstones of this is political. What about the hailstones, whether they represent the male stones are poetical of their literal why should the other be poetical and not literal to think it begins to break down when you try to ask that kind of distance about the text. The second explanation is that the sun and moon actually did stop work.

Perhaps this is simply written from the perspective of the way things would've appeared on earth. The earth actually stopped and so it appeared from the vantage point of a human observer that the sun and the moon had stopped in the heavens, I was I saying anybody who believes in an omnipotent God in the final analysis doesn't really have difficulty with that omnipotent means all powerful and if all powerful really is all powerful, then the God all things are possible. The Lord Jesus Christ said that he can stop that son of the moon and the stars. He can stop the art that he can do it without all of the bad effects that we suppose that the basis of our knowledge of physics would have to follow yet at the same time that is miracle of enormous proportions and even very conservative scholars have wondered if that is really what happens no less conservative starling Francis Schaeffer raises a question at that point, he suggests that maybe what the language really suggests here is that by some means unknown to us. The hours of daylight were prolonged. It makes a little comparison to the way days in summer are like that didn't summer in Switzerland where he was living here could be out late in the evening and you still had daylight, but in the winter darkness would come much earlier. He refers to northern countries extremely northern countries like Norway where in the middle of the summer. The day sometimes so long because of the inflammation of the earth from the sun's rays of the sun never sets you have one of these days.

It just goes on and on. He said maybe it's something like that so there is that problem with the view the third explanation of this is that we have here is a miracle of refraction that somehow the sons raise the moon's ways were reflected in such a way that the light continued in their position in the heavens seemed to be where, in point of fact they were not by might be that this is the kind of thing Francis Schaeffer has invited his groping for an explanation.

Bernard RAM sites to articles by a rental short in a book called modern discovery in the Bible and another by J Lowell were called garages are like Benders in a theological Journal suggesting that this is precisely what happened. I don't know if this is the case, but by one means or another. It would seem that the effect was for the prolongation of the day.

RAM does include two other interesting bits of information. He says that in different portions of literature that exists on this particular chapter of Joshua. There are reports that in Egyptian Chinese and Hindu records. There are references to a day in history which was extended or again, there are reports that through astronomical calculations, it is known to astronomers that a day is missing some of these reports quote an astronomer at Harvard University by the name of Pickering is having place dismissing day back to approximately the time of Joshua. Interesting. I seen things like this myself pastors get all sorts of things come across their desks and from time to time I get things that I found just a trifle bizarre. They don't always have any documentation with them at their present as absolute fact one of the things it is come across my desk from time to time as this report that astronomers know the day is missing somewhere in their calculations. Only difficulty with that is that I've never been able to verify it and that Bernard RAM wrote the book I referred to reports in his handling of this and although he tried, he is never been able to verify it either. Maybe trouble if anybody knows of this is astronomers missing a day I would be glad to know about it know how you come up with that particular information would certainly help clarify things but I haven't been able to verify that myself as a final explanation of this. Which is interesting and which is appealed to a number of rather influential scholars that is that Joshua was not asking Hebrew text might support this. Joshua was not asking for the sun to stand still, but he was asking for relief from the suns heat.

This is because the Hebrew word that is translated standstill. There is a word dome which actually means to cease or to leave off for me.

Silence and it's quite possible that's what the word means and it does mean that another case is that what Joshua was asking is that the sun leave off its heat. Another word you say he would be in pursuit of the armies in the heat of the day. The sun would be sapping the strength of his troops. He asked for relief from the gods answer to his prayer would've been the hailstorm which provided relief from the sun while at the same time.

It caused a great deal of havoc in the enemy well I want to say that I don't to.

I don't know what happened. Robert Dick Wilson, who was a great Old Testament scholar at Princeton seminary in days gone by. Like that last.

He was certainly a believer in the omnipotent God, but he said it seemed to him that made a great deal of sense of the story, but I confess that I don't know what happened. I don't think these words are political and accident judgment you literary judgment you notice in your Bible that they are written and political structure political form are said to be recorded in the book of Joshua.

That's a book that involves poetry to a large extent, but still I don't think that means these words are political. I think they referred were real events. I don't know whether God actually stop the sun and the moon, though he could have. I incline to the view that the impression was that that had happened the day was longer white prevailed for a long period of time by some means we don't know what I confess I really don't understand what God did, how it happened.

I assume that one day God's going to explain that to us. I'm not sure when I get to heaven.

That's going to be the first question that I asked sometime in the course of the first millennium. I am going to draw the Lord aside and say now this is a minor question, but I have puzzled over it for a long time. What actually happened there. Gibeon and that account of the sun and the moon standing still and no doubt that Jesus will be able explain that very easily, rationally, and satisfied any questions I may have done that yet, at least not to not to my satisfaction. This passage is not given to us. Of course, to cause our speculation on the nature of the miracle but it's given as Paul said when he wrote to young Timothy is all Scripture is given for our instruction or rebuke our correction and our training in righteousness, so that is the case we look at a passage like this is a whole and we say, what are we to learn from it. Let me suggest a number of things. The first thing were to learn a passage like this is that nothing is too difficult for our God calls miracles. That is not too difficult if it involves the prolongation of the day is not too difficult whenever it is not too difficult for our God, our God is a great God is a big God is a sovereign, omnipotent God, I mentioned Robert Dick Wilson.

A moment ago.

Let me tell you another story about them that involves a former pastor of this church. Donald Ray Barnhouse all agree Barnhouse was invited back to Princeton to preach in the chapel about 12 years after he graduated from the school when he was the pastor here and when he arrived back at Princeton to preach and stood up in the pulpit.

He noticed that Robert Dick Wilson, his great Hebrew professor from earlier days and taken a seat near the front to herein after messages see was standing in the back reading people.

Dr. Wilson came up to him and said young man I came today to hear you preach, I won't be back again. He said I only come once I come to hear my voice preach. Once I want to see whether their big daughters. Her little daughters when I when I get the answer that I know what their ministry is going to be Barnhouse didn't understand what he was talking about. He said what you mean and that Dr. Wilson explained he said well some of my students have a little God and are always in trouble with him. He can't quite handle things he can't provide for the inspiration and the transmission of the Scriptures so they can't trust the Bible, we can't do miracles. And so they don't trust the things they read. There is not really able to intervene in my bike all the little daughters when he said others of my students have a big God. He speaks and it is done as well as the law of the universe. He said you have a big God and God is going to bless your ministry and you bless Barnhouse his ministry did have a big God, but that big God got a Barnhouse was the God of Joshua and his troops and that God is our God to we may have little ideas about God, but our little ideas about God don't like God, little God is still the big God that he was back then. And nothing is too hard for thing that comes into your life that comes into my life is ever too hard for this God. That's the first lesson I see in the story. The second lesson is to expect great days of victory in our service of God.

We'll see them every day to be in our lives. It's of great victory where, because God has given us a task to do and we believe that is to be faithful to us in helping us accomplish that task. We really can call out for her powerful action and expect to see that powerful action bringing about victory in the battles we face in our own lives. I recognize we can presume upon God. At that point we can call upon him to do things of God is never promised to do and won't do the same time we also often fail. I am sure simply to seize upon the promises and believe the promises he has already given I noticed that Joshua had promise see God had said to Joshua in verse eight do not be afraid of them. I have given them into your hand, but one of them will be able to withstand you. So Joshua knew the God intended this to be a great victory and when he saw the victory slipping out of his hands as the day was waiting in the troops of the enemy were escaping.

He said God promised the victory to something like this be a great day in the history of your dealings with Israel. God heard his prayer and did it. I noticed as I said earlier Joshua was not afraid to say that openly times you know when when we are timid and I think rightly timid in our prayers we say to God, God, this is a real problem and I don't even know how to pray about and we kind of go off by ourselves and we mull it over, and we pray and we say God I pray for is it right for me to pray for this were tentative. There are times when God is given us something to do and to be tentative about it is really a confession of unbelief in times like that. We shouldn't be afraid to stand before God. Before the people of God and say, God, now is the time direct on behalf of your people.

Now is the time intervene when we do that God does intervene and give victory. The final lesson I see is this although God intervened here in a great way gave marvelous victory to Joshua and the Jewish troops.

I noticed that this did not relieve Joshua of his own responsibilities in cease to be a soldier because God was about to perform a miracle.

He didn't stop fighting this because God sent the hail. Joshua was preeminently a soldier ready was spiteful in his responsibility from beginning to end. He was faithful to his covenant with the Gibeonites word came that the Gibeonites were being attracted by the Southern Confederacy. Joshua said we have to stand by our own so we summoned the soldiers together and he moved up to relieve those who were besieged in Gibeon. He was faithful in his strategy.

He didn't as we can tell I would do the same thing exactly the same way as he had done it before. Instead he was creative in his thinking. He said now is the time to march by night and attack in the morning when were not expected and so that's precisely what he did when in the midst of the battle. He had the opportunity didn't give up. He fought valiantly and carry through to the very end he was preeminently a faithful man as well is a man of faith. When we say that that is generally the point at which we have to begin. We find ourselves engaged in spiritual battles constantly battles of all sorts. At one time or another but we need to be faithful and that it may be and often is the case that God intervenes in a special way to help us in many of us can look back in our lives and we can say yes there was a place where God did something that was entirely beyond anything that I could've done myself.

That was the hand of God. I don't doubt it for a moment. I praise him for, but it is generally the case more often the case that the battles we win are one my faithfulness by steady plotting by carrying out moment by moment, hour by hour, day by day, week by week and sometimes year by year. The task God is given when we do that, it's a joy to know that God is as much with this in situations like that is is in the miraculous moments we can rejoice in it and can praise God. It was the God of victory.

Let us pray our father, we thank you for your faithfulness stops. We thank you for your power, which we have seen in many ways and for great examples. Severe intervention for your people like this, which is recorded in the book of Joshua.

Father, we have not seen things like that but we have seen you work similar things we thank you for it and we praise you when we ask that you work also.

In this way that you will work in us to make us faithful in what ever task been given and the victories are spectacular. We praise you for that and if the victories instead, by careful plotting day by day, we praise you for that as well say you know what you're doing in our lives and what we most want is to be found faithful, grant that we may be father for Jesus. You are listening to Bible study hour with the Bible teaching of Dr. James Boyce listener supported ministry of the alliance of confessing Evangelicals. The alliance exists to promote a biblical understanding and worldview. Drawing upon the insight and wisdom of reformed theologians from decades and even centuries gone by. We seek to provide Christian teaching that will equip believers to understand and meet the challenges and opportunities of our time and place. Alliance broadcasting includes the Bible study hour with Dr. James Boyce every last word with Bible teacher, Dr. Philip Reich and Dr. Barnhouse in the Bible featuring Donald Barnhouse. For more information on the alliance including a free introductory package for first-time callers or to make a contribution. Please call toll-free 1-800-488-1888. Again, that's 1-800-488-1888. You can also write the alliance at Box 2000, Philadelphia PA 19103, you can visit us for Canadian smell.

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