Have you heard of Baal-Perazim? He’s someone you should know.
David, recently anointed by all of Israel to be king, was almost immediately challenged by the Philistines. (You can find the story in II Samuel 5 and I Chronicles 14.) The Philistines, who were the arch enemies of Israel, came and spread out their army in the valley of Rephaim, which was located southwest of Jerusalem. Perhaps the Philistines wanted to make the reign of David a brief one by subjugating the nation of Israel and making them slaves. Something they had done before during the era of the judges.
Despite his flaws and mistakes during his lifetime, David was a man after God’s own heart and a man that sought after the will of God. While the menacing army camped in the valley, building up its war power, David took the time to beseech Jehovah for victory. “David inquired of the Lord, saying, ‘Shall I go up against the Philistines? Will You deliver them into my hand?’ And the Lord said to David, ‘Go up, for I will doubtless deliver the Philistines into your hand.’” With the assurance he was looking for, the new king of Israel travelled to the valley and soundly defeated the army of the Philistines.
II Samuel 5:20 says, “…David defeated them there; and he said, ‘The Lord has broken through my enemies before me, like a breakthrough of water.’ Therefore he called the name of that place Baal Perazim” (NKJV). As was custom in ancient days, David commemorated his victory over his enemy by renaming the place where the triumph occurred. He gave it the name “Baal Perazim” in honor of what God had done for Israel. In other words, he called the place “Master of the breakthroughs” in reference to Jehovah God. When you think about it, it’s that what God is?
He is the Master of breakthroughs. He is the Maker of miracles. He is the Creator of the ridiculous, and the Author of the outrageous. He simply does the impossible. He is the Architect of the illogical. His designs dazzle, His plans are preposterous and He gains the victory through unreasonable methods. He flabbergasts. He amazes. He astounds. He startles. His routine stuns on-lookers and dumbfounds the devil. The skeptics shake their heads, and the believers raise their hands. Detractors mock while His worshippers rejoice. I would like to introduce you to Baal-Perazim.
I’m not sure how life treats you, but there have been times when I need a breakthrough. I was backed into a corner. I was staring at the impossible. Darkness was collapsing in on me. Faith was hiding under the kitchen table, hope was knocked out on the couch and confidence was curled up in a fetal position on the bathroom floor sobbing uncontrollably. Trust had been trampled and optimism had opted out of this crisis. The situation was, as politicians say, “not viable.” There was no solution, nor quick fix. The answer had become lost in despair. The dilemmas and quandaries of life had moved in and unpacked their doubts and fears in my living room. Worry kept turning on my bed-side lamp during the night. Anxieties howled outside my windows.
In those moments I needed a Master of breakthroughs. I didn’t need a “jack of all trades” to patch up my problem for the weekend. I didn’t want an appointment with a practitioner to guess what was wrong. I wasn’t looking for a journeyman or a handyman to fill in until someone better came along. I needed a master. I needed someone who could work with the unworkable and achieve the unachievable. I needed someone to calm the storm, to divide the sea, to resurrect what was dead, and to bind up the wounds. The
average Joe or the newest intern would not suffice. It would take a master to solve my problems.
Joshua was in need of a breakthrough one day, too. The battle was not going very well, but he knew of a Master that had caused the collapse of the walls of Jericho. “Then Joshua spoke 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 still over Gibeon; and moon, in the Valley of Aijalon.’ So the sun stood still, and the moon stopped, till the people had revenge upon their enemies. Is this not written in the Book of Jasher? So the sun stood still in the midst of heaven, and did not hasten to go down for about a whole day. 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.” (Joshua 10:12-14, NKJV)
Forgive me, but I take the Bible literal. “The sun stood still and the moon stopped” is what it says. I heard one preacher quip that even though Joshua did not understand the basics of astronomy, God still answered his prayer. You see, the earth rotates once in 24-hour period giving the illusion that the sun moves around it “rising and setting.” It would seem that the earth would have stopped rotating, which would appear to keep the sun and moon in their place, but the Bible does not say that the earth stopped. The sun and moon did. Let me entertain an idea for a moment. Please, bear with me in my folly.
The moon is a natural satellite of the earth and is 238,857 miles away from us. The rotation of the moon and its revolution around earth takes 27 days, 7 hours and 43 minutes. This is called a synchronous rotation allowing us only to see one side of the moon. It is one fourth the size of the earth. It travels at the speed of 10 miles per hour while the earth rotates at 1,000 miles per hour. Joshua was faced with insurmountable odds and a probable defeat, but he cried out to his God, Jehovah. The result was that “the moon stopped.” To be honest, my mind does not have to stretch very far to wrap itself around this miracle. I can handle this part.
However, we are located in the Milky Way galaxy. Our galaxy is about 100,000 light years in diameter and about 1,000 light years thick. (A light year is about 6 trillion miles. You do the math.) Scientists estimate that it contains between 200 to 400 billion stars. The galaxy is flying through space toward the constellation Hydra at the speed of 373 miles per second or 1,342,800 miles per hour. It is a spiral galaxy with curving arms which pinwheels out from the center. Our solar system sits in one of those arms, the Orion Arm, and our sun is 26,000 light years or more away from the center of the galaxy. When you look into the night sky and see that opaque swath of stars that almost stretches from horizon to horizon, you are looking toward the center of our galaxy.
Everything in our solar system and our galaxy circles the center of the Milky Way. Our sun orbits this center about every 226 million years, called a galactic year, and travels at the rate of 486,000 miles per hour. That’s 11,664,000 miles per day. But Joshua spoke and “the sun stood still in the midst of heaven.” Maybe it was a Hebrew figure of speech. Maybe only the earth stopped rotating giving the illusion that the sun and moon had stopped. Maybe Joshua misinterpreted the miracle due to his lack of scientific knowledge. But what if the sun and moon really did stop in their paths?
You see, if the sun and moon stopped, that means everything else in the galaxy did, too. Roll your cynical eyes if you need to, but if I am going to believe in a God, I want to believe in One that can pause a galaxy. When my little world is spinning out of control, I need to know that there is a God big enough who is willing and able to stop everything and restore order and peace in the midst of chaos. I need a God that can hover over the deepest, darkest night of my life and still move unhindered. I need a God that can deliver me from the teeth of probable defeat when I am overwhelmed by my enemies. If I am going to serve a God, I want a God who is a Master of breakthroughs, a God who does the implausible.
I may not understand it all, but something special happened during these two miraculous events when the God of heaven broke through and displayed His power by delivering David and Joshua from their enemies. The prophet Isaiah later referred to these two amazing acts in his writings. “For the Lord will rise up as at Mount Perazim, He will be angry as in the Valley of Gibeon — That He may do His work, His awesome work, And bring to pass His act, His unusual act” (Isaiah 28:21, NKJV). As His disciples were staring wildly at His resurrected body, trying to comprehend the unfeasible, attempting to wrap their mortal minds around eternal events, contemplating how death could be swallowed up in victory, Jesus declared unto them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me” (Matt 28:18, NIV).
If you feel like the enemy of your soul has you penned in a corner, the circumstances of life are smothering you, you are engulfed with the fears and anxieties of day to day living, or there is just no way out of you problem, I know the Master of breakthroughs. Cry out to Him because He is able. After all, He already arrested the galaxy once.
Written by James C. Marse. Copyright © 2011.