Friday, April 5, 2013

The Day the Earth Stood Still

Today is the final day of the our thirteenth week, reading the Bible through together.  Today also marks that if you've been following this Bible reading plan, you're officially 1/4 of the way through!  Congratulations!  Our scriptures today are:  Joshua 9-13; Luke 16.

Joshua 10 is the story of the Long Day, or the Day the Sun Stood Still.  As Israel fought against Gibeon, they needed more time to complete their victory.  So, verses 12-14 say:

12 At that time Joshua spoke to the Lord in the day when the Lord gave the Amorites over to the sons of Israel, and he said in the sight of Israel,
“Sun, stand still at Gibeon,
    and moon, in the Valley of Aijalon.”
13 And the sun stood still, and the moon stopped,
    until the nation took vengeance on their enemies.
Is this not written in the Book of Jashar? The sun stopped in the midst of heaven and did not hurry to set for about a whole day. 14 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.

Many people disbelieve this story because they say that it shows a geocentric idea of the earth being at the center, with the sun moving around it.  The sun doesn't move, they say--the earth does.  Well, of course we know today that it's the earth that moves and the sun stands still.  This doesn't make the Bible untrue--it simply means that the book of Joshua was written using ancient phrases and speech patterns.  Even today we refer to the sun's movement, though we know it to be the earth that moves.  So don't let this bother you.

Other people say this is an impossibility because if the earth stopped its rotation, inertia would cause dirt and mountains and buildings and people to continue their movement, causing earthquakes and pile-ups everywhere.  To me, if you're a sceptic, then this is a better argument.  Scientifically, this could not happen without doing great damage to the earth.  

But we're talking about a miracle--which by definition is when God breaks the laws of science.  If God can make the earth, then God can certainly stop its rotation while simultaneously protecting the earth from the damage it might do.  You might say that I'm simple-minded in my approach, but either a person believes in a supreme being or they don't.  If you believe in a being for whom nothing is impossible, then a simple matter of stopping the earth's rotation is no big deal.

So, do I believe that this event literally happened?  Absolutely I do.

Now, with that said, I'm cautious about people who try to scientifically explain the Bible, because Hebrews 11:1 says, "Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen."  Also, 2 Corinthians 5:7 says, "We walk by faith, and not by sight."  If you need to have scientific evidence in order to believe a miracle, then it's probably not a miracle!  Some people do try to explain the Bible scientifically, though.  One urban legend that is dealt with on says that "NASA scientists discovered a 'missing' day in time which corresponds to Biblical accounts of the sun's standing still in the sky."  I encourage you to click here to read the whole article.  When you read the article carefully, you'll find that Snopes doesn't debunk the idea that the miracle happened--they actually take no position on the authenticity of the biblical account.  They only debunk the story of NASA proving it to have happened.

The Snopes article concludes by saying, "If the sun once really did stand still for a day, the best evidence we'd have for proving it would be the accounts of people who saw it happen.  That is what the Bible is said to offer.  Some people accept that as sufficient proof, and others don't."  Personally, I agree with that statement.  Rather than turning to science to prove it, we should simply trust the Biblical account.  I do want to point out that the biblical author thought that the readers might not believe it either.  That's why they cite another source in verse 13, saying, "Is this not written in the Book of Jashar?"  The fact that another author also records the same event lends credence.

But is there any evidence of this event, from other historical sources around the world?  You'd think that something so significant would be mentioned in the annals of history.  The fact of the matter is that it was.  Check out this video for yourself to hear about testimonies from around the world:

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