There Was No Day Like That
December 27th, 1959 @ 8:15 AM
THERE WAS NO DAY LIKE THAT
Dr. W. A. Criswell
12-27-59 8:15 a.m.
To you who listen on radio, you are sharing with us the early morning services of the First Baptist Church in Dallas. This is the pastor bringing the morning message entitled There Was No Day Like That Day. In our preaching through the life of Joshua, we have come to the tenth chapter of the story, and we read now the first part of the tenth chapter of the Book of Joshua:
Now it came to pass, when Adoni-zedek king of Jerusalem, had heard how Joshua had taken Ai, and had utterly destroyed it; as he had done to Jericho and her king, so he had done to Ai and her king; and how the inhabitants of Gibeon had made peace with Israel, and were among them;
That they feared greatly, because Gibeon was a great city, as one of the royal cities, and because it was greater than Ai, and all the men thereof were mighty.
Wherefore Adoni-zedek king of Jerusalem sent unto Hoham king of Hebron, and unto Piram king of Jarmuth, and unto Japhia king of Lachish, and unto Debir king of Eg-lon, saying,
Come up unto me, and help me, that we may smite Gibeon: for it hath made peace with Joshua and with the children of Israel.
Therefore the five kings of the Amorites, the king of Jerusalem, the king of Hebron, the king of Jarmuth, the king of Lachish, the king of Eg-lon, gathered themselves together, and went up, they and all their hosts, and encamped before Gibeon, and made war against it.
And the men of Gibeon sent unto Joshua to the camp at 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.
Joshua therefore came unto them suddenly, and went up from Gilgal all night.
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 before Israel, and were in the going down to Beth-horon, that the Lord cast down 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.
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 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 hastened 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 . . .
I would submit, that in any language and in any book and in any story, that is one of the most remarkable and astounding things that could ever have happened. “There was no day,” even says the Word of God, “like that day before it or after it” [Joshua 10:14]. All of which opens up to us a most interesting and profitable discussion.
Now just to follow through the story of the chapter: heretofore, Joshua had sent himself against one city, such as Jericho, such as Ai. But this time he faces a coalition of five of the kings of the Amorites. And the reason for the confederation was this: they were—the Amorites were infuriated with the Gibeonites, because the Gibeonites had made peace with Israel; and especially Adoni-zedek the king of Jerusalem was full of wrath. Gibeon, you see, is only about six miles north and just a little bit to the west of Jerusalem. And when the Gibeonites made peace with the Israelites, that opened up Jerusalem and all of that central mountain region to Joshua and his army. So Adoni-zedek gathered together all of the confederates that he could make, and there were four other kings with him, and they went to war to destroy, and to punish, and to wreak their vengeance upon the Gibeonites for making peace with Israel [Joshua 10:1-5]. Now this campaign was very momentous and meaningful because it represented the whole heart-country of the Promised Land. And when Joshua fights against these five kings, he is making a great assay, a sally, an attack, a march, a conquest into the very heart of the country.
Well, when the news came that the Amorites were banded together to destroy Gibeon, the Gibeonites were full of fear. And they sent messengers down to the Jordan valley to the east, to the camp of Israel on the banks of the river at Gilgal saying, “Come up immediately and help us, because we are surrounded by the Amorites who are threatening to destroy us. Come and help us” [Joshua 10:6]. And those runners panting, came into the camp at Gilgal and brought these tidings to Joshua. Wonder what Joshua will do? The Gibeonites have reposed their entire faith and fortune in his hands. Wonder what Joshua will do?
Joshua vindicated the faith that the Gibeonites had in him. Do you remember the land was cursed in later years, because Saul sought—King Saul sought to break the covenant that the children of Israel had made with the Gibeonites? [2 Samuel 21:1] That covenant was a sacred thing; all of your promises and all of your words ought to be sacred things. And when Joshua heard from the runners how that the Amorites were surrounding the city of Gibeon, threatening to destroy all of the people, Joshua immediately responded. He vindicated, I said, the faith that the Gibeonites reposed in him, and immediately throughout the camp of Israel there was the sound of the trumpet. There was the call to arms, and Joshua responded with haste, and with genius, and with ultimate and final victory.
That night, that very night, in a forced march of between fifteen and twenty miles, up an ascent of something like four thousand feet, and in the most rugged terrain that you could imagine, Joshua led his warriors into the battle [Joshua 10:7-9]. Now over there in the city of Gibeon, before them, before the city, all around the five kings of the Amorites are encamped. And we can imagine the scene that night: the flaps on the tents of the five kings are still closed, and the soldiers all around are sound asleep; their spears in clumps are stuck in the ground; and the patrols, the watchers, the sentinels, wearily walk their paces around the base of the mountain. Dozing, half asleep, once in a while looking up to the walls of Gibeon, the whole camp is in slumber, and in stillness, and in silence.
Up on the wall of Gibeon, it is altogether different. As those sentinels nervously, restlessly pace up and down the walls of the city, they look with fear and trepidation upon that army, hostile, vengeful, encamped all around them; the armies of the five kings of the Amorites. But mostly, they peer toward the east, toward Gilgal, to whom they have sent runners begging for help, and they look anxiously toward the east. If they have any future, any destiny, any life, any fortune, it must come from Gilgal, from the strong hand of Joshua. And one of the sentinels on the top of the wall, one of the sentinels in the early morning, one of the sentinels says to his friend at the next turn of the wall, “I, I think, I believe, I see a moving.” And the other one peers at his side, “Yes, yes, but I believe it is the runners returning. I suppose they have failed in their mission. Oh, what shall become of our people? They have failed in their mission!” And then another one, peering into the early gray of the dawn, says, “No! It is more than just a few runners. It is a body of men moving!” And then another one peering says, “No, it is not a body of men; it is an army of men.” And as the sun begins to lighten the sky over Moab, and over the hills of Gilead, and beyond the Jordan, behold, coming up from the ascent of the Jordan is the whole army of Joshua.
Now Joshua was a great military strategist; he never lost a campaign, he never lost a war. The only time he was ever defeated was when Achan—when Achan destroyed the fiber of Israel, and Israel ran before her enemies at Ai [Joshua 7:2-12]. Outside of that one tragedy, Joshua never lost a battle. He never lost a war. He never lost a campaign. He is like Thutmose the king of Egypt, the pharaoh of Egypt; Thutmose was a genius at strategy. When he won that great Battle of Megiddo, he threw his troops around the west of the city and attacked the exposed flank of the Canaanites. And when they were busy, the Canaanites were engrossed with the west flank of that attack, then Thutmose, with his high helmeted crown, easily seen above the throng, driving his glittering chariot, flung the strength of his army against the center and completely routed the enemy. So with Joshua; he was a genius at battle.
There the five kings of the Amorites are sound asleep, and all of those soldiers around the city of Gibeon are in slumber. They never begin to realize that coming up out of the ascent of the Jordan is this great army with spears glittering and swords drawn. And it says here in the Bible, “And Joshua went up all night from Gilgal and came upon them suddenly” [Joshua 10:9]. Suddenly, just like you would snap your finger, and out of the dusk, out of the dark, out of the dawn, from everywhere, the soldiers of Joshua began to drive furiously into the camp of the Amorites and just cut them to pieces. There was fighting all day long as the Amorites ran before the Israelites. Pursuing them, Israel cut them down; cut them down, up to Beth-horon, and then down to the Valley of Ajalon [Joshua 10:10-11]. And when the sun began to wester across the Mediterranean, and when the pale moon began to appear over the Valley of Ajalon, Israel still had not completely vindicated the trust the Gibeonites had placed in them. They had not completely won the war. So Joshua dared to do a thing that no man before or since has ever dared to do: Joshua stood and addressed the great God of heaven and asked that the sun stand still over the hills of Gibeon, and that the moon stand still over the valley Ajalon, in order that Israel that day might complete the work of the Lord. And the sun stood still and the moon stayed until the battle was won. “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 day before it or after it that the Lord hearkened unto the voice of a man” [Joshua 10:12-14].
Law me! You ought to hear what the astronomers and what the infidel scientists do when they get ahold of that. Why, with all of their mathematical computations and with all of their astronomical elucidations and explanations, why, they have got it all figured out, that if that thing were true, that the whole universe would collapse; that everything in this universe is just according to those gravitational laws, and if there were one deviation in one of these great planetary movements, much less if the thing had stopped for a whole day; but if there was one variation in one of those movements, the whole universe would go to pieces. And not only that, but they say that if that thing were true and this earth would have stopped just like that, all of the oceans would spill out, and that the whole world itself would crack wide open and break into atoms, if it were to stop in its great movement, if the sun did not go down and if the moon failed to rise. Oh, it is a sight, what they say. Well, you get the thinking about it—you get to thinking about it. Well, what about that? Could it be? Is it possible that such a thing could have happened: the sun stood still and the moon stayed?
Did you ever read John Jasper’s famous sermon, “The Sun Do Move”? I will tell you, that is one of the most interesting sermons any man ever delivered in this earth. You know, they say that the most gifted, the most naturally, natively gifted of all the preachers that America has ever produced was John Jasper. The thesis of his sermon is that “the sun do move.” Well that is the title of it, “The Sun Do Move.” You know, we say that the earth turns over and the sun is stationary; and the earth turns over, and that is what makes our night and day. Well, John Jasper says that the sun is the one that moves and the earth stands still; and the sun goes around the earth and that is what makes our night and day. Well, I am an infidel there, I believe that the sun stands still and that the earth turns over, and that makes our night and day. But in any event, in any event, you have here the phenomenon, the phenomenon of the earth stopping, and you have the phenomenon of the moon stopping. The earth goes around the sun and the moon goes around the earth. And when that sun stood still for a day, and when that moon stood still for a day, you have the phenomenon of the earth stopping in its orbit—standing still, frozen, solidified in its orbit—and the moon frozen in its orbit around the earth. Well, could such a thing be?
Now I have an illustration of that, and I want you to listen to it, and I could pray that you would remember it. Dr. Lee R. Scarborough was the president of our Southwestern Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas, and a long, long time ago upon a day, his little boy came back from Sunday school and said to his daddy at the dinner table, at the Sunday dinner table—still dinner to me at noon; we eat dinner, and then at evening we eat supper. That is the way it is in the Bible, they had dinner at noon and supper in the evening, and God’s people still do that; you have dinner at noon and supper in the evening. The little boy said at the dinner table at Sunday noon, he said, “Daddy, I just don’t believe my Sunday school lesson today.”
And the father said, “Well, son, that is very unusual for you. Why don’t you believe the Sunday school lesson today?”
“Well,” said the little boy, “we had a story in the Sunday school lesson today, and the story was that a big fish swallowed up Jonah, and he stayed in the stomach of that fish three days, and then was regurgitated out upon the land, got up, and went on his mission.”
“Well,” said the dad to his little boy, “what’s the matter?”
And the little boy said, “I just don’t believe that. I just don’t believe that a big fish could swallow a man and he live in his stomach three days and then be regurgitated!”—except I bet he didn’t use the word regurgitate—“out on the land and walk away.”
“Well,” said the dad, he said, “son, I have been having a whole lot of trouble with that, too. I have been having trouble with that story, too. Well, you come over here and get on daddy’s knee, and let’s talk about our troubles with Jonah and the whale. Now son, you tell me your trouble, and then I will tell you my trouble.“
So the little boy went over there and got on his daddy’s knee. And the dad said, “Now son, what is your trouble?”
“Well,” said the little boy, “my trouble is I just don’t believe it. I just don’t believe that a fish can swallow a man, and he stay three days in his stomach and come out alive. I just don’t believe it.”
“Well,” said Dr. Scarborough, he said, “son, I have trouble with that story, too, but my trouble is not quite like your trouble.” Dr. Scarborough said to his little boy, he said, “Son, my trouble is this: I have never been able to figure out how God could make a man. And son, I have never been able to figure out how God could make a big fish. Son, if I could ever figure out how God could make a man, and how God can make a big fish, it would be very simple for me to figure out how that God could put the two of them together. But my problem is, I can’t understand how God made the man and how God made the fish.”
Now there is an identical thing with this: I can’t figure out how God, out of nothing, could make the sun. And I can’t figure out how God, out of nothing, could make the moon, and I can’t figure out how God, out of nothing, could make the world. If I could ever figure out and understand how God can make the sun, and how God can make the moon, and how God could make the earth, if I could ever understand that, it would be very simple how God could rework them any way that He wanted to. If He wanted them to go around this way now, and God wanted them to go around that way—the opposite way—why, that would be very simple for God to do. He would just turn them around the other way. If they go around this way and He wanted them to go around the other way, why, that would be very simple.
If I can ever get in my head the ableness, and the might, and the glory of God, then all that God could do—changing anything around—would be very simple; very, very simple. If God could make me five feet, ten inches tall; if I could ever get in my head about how God can make me five feet ten inches tall, well then, for God to make me five feet, eleven inches, or six feet, one inch, it would be very, very simple, if God wanted to do that.
First I have got to get it in my head about God. If I could ever get it in my head that God is able, why then, that you are a brunette, and you are white-headed, and somebody else around here is blond, why, that is very simple how God can do this and this and this. It is just all easy. But first I have got to get in my head about God, and that’s the way about this day. If I can get in my heart, and in my soul, and in my mind, and in my head, God, then all of the rest is very, very simple.
God made that sun and put it up there in the heavens by fiat [Genesis 1:14-19]. He spoke the word and there it was shining in its glory. And God spake the word, and according to that word all of these planets whirl around their orbits, according to the mandate and the fiat of God; it’s an ordinance; it’s a decree of the Lord. God did it. If I can ever get that in my head, everything else is very simple.
And if I can ever get it in my head that God controls destiny, and rules life, and is the Lord of history, then I have a key for the ultimate hope of all mankind, and for us, and the destiny of our earth, and our world, and our lives, if I can ever do that. So with this story here; this is a phenomenal thing, it is a marvelous thing. And the Bible comments on it: “And there never was a day like that day… that the Lord hearkened unto the voice of a man” [Joshua 10:14]. But if I can ever get it in my head that God is, that He lives, that He reigns, that He is able and mighty, well then, these things are just little in the hands of the great and mighty God.
Now it’s time to quit, and I have just gotten to the preaching part of my sermon. The preaching part of my sermon was this: “that the Lord hearkened unto the voice of a man” [Joshua 10:14]. I wanted to preach this morning about the power of prayer; that the Lord hearkened unto the voice of a man. Joshua was in the will of God, he was carrying through the mandate of God. And listen: a man is invincible when he is carrying through the decrees of the Almighty. “This is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask any thing according to His will, He heareth us: And if we know that He hears us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of Him” [1 John 5:14-15]. This is the confidence… if we ask according to His will, He hears us” [1 John 5:14]. “If thou shalt say to this mountain, be thou cast into the sea” [Matthew 21:21], if you ask in the will of God, and in that faith and persuasion, “this is God’s assignment for me,” that mountain will arise and be cast into the deep, deep waters. And nothing shall be impossible, when the Lord hearkens unto the voice of a man. It is just that we get in our hearts and our minds the ableness of God.
Now we sing our hymn of invitation. Somebody you, this morning, give your heart to Jesus [Romans 10:8-13]. Somebody you, put your life in the fellowship of our church [Hebrews 10:24-25]. While we sing this song, while we make this appeal, would you come and stand by me? One somebody you, or a family you this morning, while we make this appeal, while we sing this song, would you come? In the balcony, on the lower floor, as God shall lead the way, would you make it now? While we stand and while we sing.