And there has been no day like that, before it or after it, that the LORD heeded the voice of a man; for the LORD fought for Israel.
Have you ever had a day that was so wonderful, you wished you could just stay in that moment forever? Or have you had a day you wish you could just stretch out a little longer, just so you could finish doing something you enjoy? I sure have. I have also had days whose memories are so awful that they simply will not leave me. Those times, no matter how many times I relive it, the memory always turns out the same, and I cannot change what has already happened.
In today’s verse we see Joshua at the height of his power in the Lord. Fresh off his victories at Jericho and Ai, Joshua came to the defense of Israel’s new allies in Gibeon. In order to give the Israelites enough time to completely finish their defeat of the armies of the five kings, Joshua commanded the sun and the moon to stand still in the sky, stretching the battle for nearly another whole day. As today’s verse explains, this would seem to be the only time in recorded history that God “heeded the voice of a man.”
Now, if you, like me, have had a prayer answered in some fashion, you know that God heeds the voices of men and women all the time. Miracles are part of God’s stock-in-trade, a large part of why we know and love our Lord. But even the parting of the Red Sea was not so dramatic as this day that lasted for two days. This was a day when a man took control of time itself, took control of the cosmos in a way that demonstrated God’s power and glory. It is a day people were never meant to forget.
However, just as the day was extended when Joshua led the Israelites to victory over their enemies, so there was another day that God seemed to shorten: the day when His Son hung upon the Cross on Calvary.
44 Now it was about the sixth hour, and there was darkness over all the earth until the ninth hour.
45 Then the sun was darkened, and the veil of the temple was torn in two.
That certainly was a day that God would have liked to never have seen. Most of the apostles didn’t have the courage to climb up Golgotha to watch their friend and teacher slain. Mary surely wanted it all to end very quickly, and yet she watched her beloved Son gasping for breath and slowly dying as He bled from His head and hands and feet. And the “beloved apostle” John would just as soon have taken Mary away from that place, but he undoubtedly stayed there to be sure that his rabbi’s body was taken down before sundown in accordance with Jewish law.
That was a day many of us could never have endured to see, and yet it was necessary. Jesus went to the Cross and died that way for all of us, people who had yet to be born in His time. And although we might like to try to blot out the memory of that day, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John recorded the torment and tragedy of that day for us so that we might never forget it.
And we should NOT forget that day. We should relive it every day, crucifying our earthly selves over and over again so that we can be resurrected anew each day. We truly should stretch that day across eternity for all to know the glory of our Savior who took the awful punishment for our sins. And when the Son of Man returns on clouds of glory, then we will see that God gave us that indelible memory to guide us to the way, the truth, and the life that is found only in Christ Jesus.
Our Father in heaven, thank You for the Cross and the memory of that terrible day when Your Son died for my sins. I praise You, Lord God, that Your mercies are new every morning and that You are a gracious and faithful and loving God. Crucify my heart anew today, so that I may be better conformed to the image of Your Blessed Son, Jesus Christ, in whose precious Name I pray. Amen.