2 Kings 20:11—How could the shadow retreat by ten degrees on the stairway of Ahaz?

Problem: In response to Hezekiah’s prayer, God instructed Isaiah to prophesy to Hezekiah that God would add 15 years to Hezekiah’s life. When he heard this, Hezekiah asked for a sign to confirm God’s promise. The sign was that the shadow would retreat ten degrees. But, this would involve making the shadow go backward instead of forward as the sun set. How could the shadow retreat?

Solution: Obviously, this was a miracle. Hezekiah realized that it would not be a miraculous confirmation of God’s promise if the sign involved some phenomenon that could be easily explained (2 Kings 20:10). It was the miraculous nature of the event that qualified it as a sign from God. Any attempt at an explanation of how this was accomplished would be pure speculation. Although God can employ the forces of nature to accomplish His purposes, He can also accomplish His will in a way that defies natural explanation. God can perform miracles, and this was a miracle.

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This excerpt is from When Critics Ask: A Popular Handbook on Bible Difficulties (Wheaton, Ill.: Victor Books, 1992). © 2014 Norman Geisler and Thomas Howe. All rights reserved. Used by permission. Click here to purchase this book.