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The Longest Day

June 2003 | by Timothy Cross

June 21st is the longest day of the year – the day when the sun rises the earliest and sets the latest. Before 21 June, the days get longer. Afterwards they grow shorter, until the dark days of winter are on us once again.

If we believe the Bible, we look beyond these regular events and see the hand of God himself. He states in Genesis 8:22: ‘While the earth remains, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night shall not cease’.

The longest day

According to biblical history, the longest day that ever occurred was in the time of Joshua, when God actually lengthened a day to ensure that Israel was victorious in battle.

Joshua 10:12-14 records: ‘Then spoke Joshua to the Lord in the day when the Lord gave the Amorites over to the men of Israel; and he said in the sight of Israel, “Sun, stand still at Gibeon, and Moon in the valley of Aijalon”.

‘And the sun stood still, and the moon stayed, until the nation took vengeance on their enemies. … There has been no day like it before or since, when the Lord hearkened to the voice of a man; for the Lord fought for Israel.’

Here, then, we are dealing with a unique day. The Lord of the universe suspended natural laws for the benefit of his people.

If we believe in God, miracles present no difficulty. Almighty God was more than able to control his creation in Joshua’s day, just as he had previously parted the waters of the Red Sea in the time of Moses; just as also, in the fulness of time, he was able to raise his own Son from the dead. Our Father is omnipotent!

The longest night

In the Bible, all roads lead to Calvary – the sacrificial death of the Lord Jesus Christ on the cross in the sinner’s place. Calvary was a unique day in every sense of the word.

Here we are dealing with the longest ever night – for when God punished his Son for sins not his own, he sent darkness at midday.

We read: ‘Now from the sixth hour there was darkness over all the land until the ninth hour. And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice: ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”‘ (Matthew 27:45-46).

Painful days always seem to go slowly. Calvary, therefore, was certainly a long day and a long night for the Lord Jesus. His physical and spiritual sufferings are beyond our comprehension.

Yet Scripture testifies that this long, dark day, paradoxically, is the brightest day of all. For as the sun was darkened and Christ himself bore the wrath of God, the eternal salvation of all who believe in Jesus was procured.

The death of Christ on the cross in time was an event of eternal significance. The Bible’s explains Christ’s death as follows:

‘Christ … offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins’ and ‘by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are sanctified’ (Hebrews 10:12,14).

Christ’s death, then, was an eternal sacrifice. It is sufficient to save us for all eternity. Here we are dealing with God himself and his way of salvation. ‘I know that whatever God does endures for ever; nothing can be added to it, nor anything taken from it’ (Ecclesiastes 3:14).

The eternal day

Finally, we note that Revelation 21:25 says of the eternal city of God – that glorious eternal home of the redeemed – that ‘there shall be no night there’.

Why not? Because ‘the glory of God is its light and its lamp is the Lamb’.

If we are believers we are heading for eternal day! Few of us will miss the night. At night time, worries always seem more complicated, burdens heavier and bodily pain more acute.

But there will be no such experiences in glory! Christians may take heart, therefore, that in heaven they will endure night no more.

In the Bible, ‘night’ is often used to symbolise sin, danger and evil. By God’s grace we will be free from sin, for ever and beyond the reach of danger and evil eternally – all because Jesus bore the dark night of Calvary for us.

He delivered us from the dominion of darkness and transferred us into his glorious kingdom of light (Colossians 1:13). Christians enjoy Christ – both as the Sun of righteousness and the Light of the world – now and eternally.

I heard the voice of Jesus say,
‘I am this dark world’s light.
Look unto me, thy morn shall rise
And all thy days be bright!’
I looked to Jesus and I found
In him my Star, my Sun
And in that light of life I’ll walk
Till travelling days are done.