“On the day the Lord gave the Amorites over to Israel, Joshua said to the Lord in the presence of Israel: ‘Sun, stand still over Gibeon, and you, moon, over the Valley of Aijalon.’ So THE SUN STOOD STILL…”
Joshua 10:12-13 NIV
I was cycling back from work this morning at about past six (I was on call through the night), enjoying my leisurely ride, I gazed into the distance above the trees in my far vision and was blinded by the hue of the rising sun. For a moment, I tried appreciating the earth’s horizon, how the road in the distance disappeared in a gentle convexity from which the sun was emerging. And then I remembered the Bible story above. Joshua actually told that sun to stand still. I ruminated a little on that miraculous event – how a mortal man halted the course of nature, and then my mind wondered off to another issue.
Joshua actually did tell the sun to stand still? Was the sun moving before? From the geography I know, the sun is stagnant in our solar system, while the earth rotates around its axis to cause the effect of day and night, and revolves around the sun to cause the effect of different seasons. Then it dawned on me. Joshua’s time was before scientists came to know that the earth was spherical and not flat; and that it was the earth that was in motion and not the sun. The “sun-standing-still” event took place around 14th century BC when almost everyone believed the earth was flat and stationary with the sun and moon doing the movements around it. It was not until 470 to 385 BC that some ancient Greek philosophers started putting forth the theory that we may have a rotating earth instead of the sun, and that we most likely had a spherical earth.
But then, when Joshua and those Israelites and Amorites were to report the miraculous event that took place at Gibeon, they said “the sun stood still.” Someone standing in the sun (if that were possible) would have said “the earth stopped rotating.” God looking from His throne in heaven into our miniature solar system would have said “the earth stopped rotating.” Different perspectives!
But if God had told Joshua then that the earth stopped rotating, and that that was why the sun stayed over Gibeon and did not go down for a whole day, he would have argued, and doubted if he was truly hearing God. So I think that’s why God let him document that portion of Scripture in his own perspective since it still conveyed the miracle that happened to the people of their time. But the different perspectives that stemmed out of the people’s ignorance then, did not change the truth. What truth? That the earth is spherical and rotated, and that the sun did not stand still but the earth.
Now what point am I driving at? Truth is absolute and unbending. Even if everyone gangs up against it, it still remains the truth. It doesn’t follow the democracy principle of “the majority has it.” It may be obscured due to perspective but when that perspective gains alignment, it discovers that the truth had been the same the whole time.
I’ve seen some Christians pick up some portions of Scripture and make it say what it is not saying. They make leading sentences like “this is how I understand it” or “my viewpoint or school of thought about this scripture is this.” And then they begin the argument and appear to back up their points with “Scriptures”. They may end up bamboozling the ignorant and naïve ones, but what they fail to realise is that Truth is absolute.
The truth about God’s word is absolute. Every portion of Scripture has just one truth and the onus lies on the believer to discover that by meticulous study, listening to what others that have gone ahead have to say about those Scriptures and dependence on the Holy Spirit’s illumination.
God already knew that the earth was spherical (after all He created it) way before Greek philosophers started postulating about it in the 6th century BC. The prophet in Isaiah forty verses twenty two said “He sits enthroned above the CIRCLE OF THE EARTH, and its people are like grasshoppers. . .” So when Anaximander and Hecataeus of Miletus were drawing their early world maps based on the early Mesopotamian mythology that portrayed the world as a flat disk floating in the ocean with a hemispherical sky-dome above, God was probably laughing hysterically at them from above. Now with evidencial knowledge at our disposal, we can join God in that laughter at these fellows.
But has it occurred to you that God may be laughing at some of the folly we currently display in the interpretation of Scriptures? Interpretations like “If you sin, just confess your righteousness,” “Once you believe the gospel, that is obedience, no matter what you do afterwards,” “You don’t need to please God since He is already pleased with you,” “You are already in heaven,” “God is good, so He cannot kill.” And many more hilarious interpretations.
I know that someone may be uncomfortable with me saying that “God is laughing…” Remember I qualified that laughter with the word “hysteric.” And the last time I checked, this qualifier can also be used for weeping. So which ever you want, God is unhappy with the wrong interpretation of His Truth, because His Truth is a person – He never changes.