Tuesday, October 19, 2010

the battle on the longest day

The sun stopped in the midst of heaven and did not hurry to set for about a whole day. There has been no day like it before or since, when the LORD heeded the voice of a man, for the LORD fought for Israel.
Joshua 10:13b-14

This was a unique and unparalleled event in world history. As Joshua rushes to the defense of the new Gibeonite allies in Canaan, God intervenes by answering the prayer of the general. The sun slows to a crawl at noon, and the daylight hours increase to twice their normal length. This is more than the summer solstice. This is divine intervention in the order of the universe. Somehow, God is able to slow the rotation and orbit of the earth enough to effect an outcome for His people Israel that He has decreed. The result is that the additional daylight hours give Israel enough time to route the armies of five cities.

Those opposed to any biblical faith attack this account as a heroic, fictional tale. They argue that there is no physical way that the events described could take place without the destruction of the earth. And from a purely naturalistic viewpoint that is true. But the viewpoint that the text takes is not naturalistic. It is supernatural. It says that the God Who rules and made the universe did this. From that point of view it is entirely possible. And the text goes out of its way to talk about the uniqueness of this event. No day has existed like that day since and no day was like it before. It was made by God for a specific purpose to answer the prayer of His servant. So naturalists may scoff. They always refuse to accept anything miraculous. But the point of a miracle is that it is an impossible violation of the laws of nature. That should be enough for those who know their God to accept.

God will stop the universe for His people, if that is what they need. He will bring glory to Himself in the vastness of this universe and in His exceptional control of it for His glory. The biblical text is full of these sorts of exceptional truths, and they always point to the God Who made us all. Miracles are meant to get us thinking about the greatness of God. They may come as answers to prayer. They are clearly seen in scripture, without any other explanation possible. And that is the glory of God at work.

There was another unusual day on planet earth. It was the day in which Jesus hung on a cross between heaven and earth. That day saw supernatural darkness descend upon the earth at the locus of a hill outside Jerusalem. There is a greater miracle than anything Joshua knew. It secured forgiveness. It brought the new life that comes to a person who has found forgiveness and becomes a new creation in Christ. It is secured by the resurrection from the dead of Jesus. And it rests on the most miraculous intervention that God ever made in human history: He became a man, yet without sin, to become our Savior, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Christ. By all measures, the universe stands still at that event as well!

- Prepare your minds for action.
1 Peter 1:13

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