The Day The Sun Stood Still

Title: The Day The Sun Stood Still

Bible Book: Joshua 10 : 12-14

Author: Paul E. Brown

Subject: Prayer; God, Power of; Victory



One of the strangest, most remarkable events in all of human history is recorded in Joshua 10:12-14. Let’s look together at those verses: “Then spake Joshua to the Lord in the day when the Lord delivered up the Amorites before the children of Israel, and he said in the sight of all Israel, Sun, stand thou still upon Gibeon; and thou, Moon, in the valley of Ajalon. And the sun stood still, and the moon stayed, until the people had avenged themselves upon their enemies. Is not this written in the book of Jasher? So the sun stood still in the midst of heaven, and hasted not to go down about a whole day. 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.”

The incident described in that passage is extraordinary, to be sure--but it teaches some very practical, powerful lessons. Here are three great truths that come into focus in that account; for one thing, we are reminded of...


Making the sun stand still was not the only miracle that God performed for Joshua and his army on that occasion. In the preceding verses we learn that he performed other miracles leading up to that one.

Joshua and his soldiers had been tricked into forming a treaty with the people of Gibeon, and when the Gibeonites were attacked by a coalition of five Amorite armies they appealed to Joshua for help. In spite of the deception the Gibeonites had used to obtain the treaty, Joshua felt honor-bound to help them. So he and his troops marched all night to reach the point where they could attack the five Amorite armies. We read about it earlier in the chapter. Let’s begin with verses 6-8: “And the men of Gibeon sent unto Joshua to the camp to Gilgal, saying, Slack not thy hand from thy servants; come up to us quickly, and save us, and help us: for all the kings of the Amorites that dwell in the mountains are gathered together against us. So Joshua ascended from Gilgal, he, and all the people of war with him, and all the mighty men of valor. And the Lord said unto Joshua, Fear them not: for I have delivered them into thine hand; there shall not a man of them stand before thee.”

Don’t miss the fact that while it was ultimately God who would give the victory, he required Joshua and his men to cooperate by exerting enormous effort. Verse 9 says, “Joshua therefore came unto them suddenly, and went up from Gilgal all night.” This long march was uphill, and took hours. Joshua and his troops must have been exhausted when they finally arrived at the point where the battle was to be waged. But apparently they didn’t even take a breather; while day was just beginning to dawn they swiftly launched their attack. The enemy was taken totally by surprise and frantically began to flee.

Now, verses 10-11: “And the Lord discomfited them before Israel, and slew them with a great slaughter at Gibeon, and chased them along the way that goeth up to Beth-horon, and smote them to Azekah, and unto Makkedah. And it came to pass, as they fled from brefore Israel, and were in the going down to Beth-horon, that the Lord cast great stones from heaven upon them unto Azekah, and they died: they were more which died with hailstones than they whom the children of Israel slew with the sword.”

Not only was it a miracle that the gigantic hailstones fell on the enemy, it was also a miracle that the hailstones did not fall on the Israelites. Thus, Joshua and his soldiers were dramatically reminded of God’s great concern for them. They were prevailing over their enemies because of the mighty intervention of God on their behalf.

But they were running out of daylight--and Joshua was convinced that he needed to finish the job while the momentum was so greatly in his favor. Thus it was that he asked that the sun stand still--and God again demonstrated his concern for Joshua and his men by granting that request.

I’m thankful that in every generation God demonstrates his concern for his people. He doesn’t always show it by raining hailstones upon heathen armies, or by making the sun stand still--but in whatever ways are within his will at the time, he expresses his concern. Thus, we are exhorted in 1 Peter 5:7, “Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.” If you know Christ as your Savior, you’re one of God’s children, and that promise is yours to claim.

Whatever difficulties you might now be facing, take courage from the fact that there is an almighty, loving God who is concerned for you--and he stands ready to “bare his mighty arm” in your behalf if you’re genuinely surrendered to him.

But this remarkable event also reminds us of...


Verse 13 clearly records the sun standing still as an actual, historical event. There is no suggestion whatsoever that it is to be understood otherwise. There are those, however, who try to explain away this miracle. Some say, “But everybody knows that it’s the earth, not the sun, which moves, so what is described here can’t possibly be accurate.”

But that objection is totally without merit. The inspired author of this passage was simply using what has aptly been called “the language of appearance”--something we all use every day. For example, when the TV weather man says, “The sun will rise at 6:00 a.m. tomorrow,” we don’t jump up and say, “Aha! He’s not telling the truth! The sun doesn’t move!” Of course we don’t make any such ridiculous response, for we understand exactly what he means. He knows full well that the earth rotates on its axis every 24 hours and revolves around the sun every 365 days; but for the sake of simplicity he uses non-technical descriptive language. It is perfectly legitimate to use “the language of appearance,” and it would be unreasonable not to allow the writers of Scripture to do the same.

Obviously what happened and is being described in verse 13 is that the earth, for several hours, ceased to rotate on its axis and to revolve around the sun--and of course the moon was affected accordingly.  Indeed, it may be that the entire solar system stopped its movements for those several hours.

Someone says, “But if that happened the result would be total chaos throughout the earth, maybe throughout the entire universe.” But not so. God, if he so desired, could put everything “on hold” and see to it that no problem resulted.

Another says, “But for the sun and moon to stand still would be contrary to the laws of nature.” But what are the laws of nature? They are simply processes which God has set into motion--and because he is Sovereign he can alter, suspend, reverse, circumvent, or even cancel those processes anytime he so desires. That’s what a miracle is: it is when some usual pattern of nature is changed or interrupted due to God’s personal intervention. It is not reasonable to think that God would allow himself to be a prisoner of the very processes which he, himself, has created. The late pastor of Bellevue Baptist Church, Dr. R. G. Lee, said, “Any man that has enough sense to make a clock certainly has enough sense to stop it.”

Surely a God who could speak a universe into existence can do anything he pleases with that universe and its various components. In other words, if you accept the fact of God, then anything is possible--for he is all-wise and all-powerful.

If you, in your thinking, rule out miracles, then you have to rule out the virgin birth of Christ, and his bodily resurrection, and whole host of other major Biblical events. Either God can do anything, or he is not truly God.

So, this passage reminds us that God is in control of his universe. There is, of course, much that we don’t understand, such as why natural catastrophes and terrible diseases occur. In the Bible God reveals his purpose for certain instances of natural disaster and disease--but in the vast majority of cases we’ll never understand in this life. Here’s the advice one poet gave regarding life’s mysteries:

“All God’s testings have a purpose

Someday you will see the light;

All He asks is that you trust Him,

Walk by faith and not by sight.”

The Bible reminds us again and again that this is not an impersonal world. God did not create the universe, wind it up like a clock, and then disassociate himself from it. The reassuring truth is that God is actively involved in the affairs of this world and in the individual lives of his people. In spite of our finiteness and frequent lack of understanding, we can be comforted by the fact that God is in charge of this world. His steady, loving hand is on the rudder at all times.

Now let’s look at one other lesson that this unique event teaches us: it reminds us of...


As we have seen, this unusual miracle of the sun standing still, extending the daylight so that the Israelites might finalize their victory, did not “just happen.” It took place in response to the earnest--even desperate--prayer of a committed man of God, Joshua.

Look again at verse 14: “And there was no day like that before it or after it, that the Lord hearkened unto the voice of a man....” That is, never before, or since, has a man’s prayer been answered in that specific way. But in that particular circumstance, it was God’s will to perform a dramatic, once-for-all-time miracle, and he consented to do so in response to Joshua’s bold request.

What a lesson for you and me. Our God is still all-powerful. He still consents to perform miracles to meet people’s needs.

A. The Miracle of Salvation

The greatest need in every person’s life, until it is met, is to experience the miracle of salvation--and God always stands ready to perform that miracle for anyone who will meet those two conditions set forth in Acts 20:21: “repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ.”

A few years ago at a county-wide prayer breakfast I heard the former professional football player, John “Bull” Bramlett, give his testimony. He won many honors as a high school football player, and in his senior year at The University of Memphis was named an honorable mention All-American. He also played baseball, and signed a professional contract with the St. Louis Cardinals, but after just a few seasons got into trouble and was kicked out of baseball. He played professional football in both the NFL and the AFL from 1965 to 1971, and was twice an AFL All-Star. In 1970, with the New England Patriots, he was named MVP. He was considered the hardest hitting player in professional football, and also was known as “the meanest man in football.” His life off the field was no better. He was wild and abusive.

In his testimony, he told of how he had been a drunkard, and had run around on his wife for 14 years. One night in 1973 two men came to visit him and witnessed to him. Their major theme was that God loved him. By the time they left he was under deep conviction. He got the beer he had been drinking and had hidden behind the couch and poured it out. He threw out his stashes of beer and whiskey. Then he went in and got his wife’s Bible (He said, “She probably thought I was going to throw that out, as well!”) and turned to John 3:16. When he got to the word “whosoever” it deeply touched his heart; he said, “Hey, I’m a whosoever!” And he got down on his knees and received Christ as his Lord and Savior. He said, “I had peace for the first time in my life.” For decades now he has lived a clean, God-honoring life and has preached and given his testimony all over the nation, and has won multitudes to Jesus.

If you’ve never been saved, call on the Lord in repentance and faith and let him work that miracle in your life.

B. Miracles through Prayer

Being saved is a wonderful thing. We are assured of a home in heaven, we have newness of life in the here and now, we have the indwelling Holy Spirit to motivate us and energize us--but, as believers, we still have battles to fight, and adversities to deal with. Sometimes the pressures are so so great, and the obstacles so overwhelming, that we need a miracle--and God still consents to perform miracles for his children. But to experience those miracles, we have to call on him, and we have to do so according to his conditions.

To pray effectively and experience the full measure of blessing that God wants to pour out upon us, we must not only be saved, we must also be walking with the Lord in daily fellowship. As the great missionary, Miss Bertha Smith, often expressed it: we must be sure that our sins are confessed “up to date.” The author of Psalm 66:18 declared: “If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me.”

In James 5:16-18 we read: “Confess your faults to one another, and pray for one another, that ye may be healed. The effectual, fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much. Elijah was a man subject to like passions as we are, and he prayed earnestly that it might not rain: and it rained not on the earth by the space of three years and six months. And he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain, and the earth brought forth her fruit.”

If we’ll confess whatever sins have crept into our lives and reaffirm our commitment to the Lordship of Jesus in our lives, God will send the miracles we need. Although it is not always his will to answer immediately, or in some highly spectacular way, it is always his will to respond to the effectual, fervent prayers of his children in whatever way he, in his wisdom, knows is best.

In Jeremiah 33:3 God says: “Call unto me, and I will answer thee, and show thee great and mighty things, which thou knowest not.”

Let me put it like this:

“Joshua and his army had put the enemy to flight,

But were afraid they couldn’t finish, for they were running out of light;

Then Joshua prayed, ‘Oh, Lord, please give more daylight on this hill,’

And God performed a miracle, and made the sun stand still.

Now, our God doesn’t make the sun stand still just every day;

In fact, he only did that once, but that’s enough, I say,

To show that he’s in charge of all, and that he has the power

To do whatever is his will, on any day or hour.

So, when your heart is hurting, and there seems to be no way

To find relief or even just to make it through the day,

With faith in Christ, call on the Lord--don’t hesitate to plead;

And he who made the sun stand still will also meet YOUR need.”

Hearken now to the great invitation of Jesus in Matthew 11:28: “Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. If you’re lost, surrender in repentance and faith to Jesus, and you’ll receive his marvelous gift of eternal life. Romans 10:13 says, “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” If you’re a Christian already but have gotten off the track of God’s will, confess your sin, ask his forgiveness, reassert your allegiance to him, and he’ll give you a new start. His promise to the ancient Israelites who had gone astray also applies to us believers when we’ve fouled up: “I will heal their backsliding, I will love them freely....” (Hosea 14:4).


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