Bible Question:

I notice that many times in the Old Testament it says that “This arrangement continues to this day.” and “Which remains to this very day.” Two examples are in Joshua 9:27 and 10:27. When these words are said throughout the Bible, does it still mean that these things are still there and in effect in the region today? I don't believe so, but why would these statements be made if God knew that at some point these things would disappear.

Bible Answer:

The phrase “to this day” is used about sixty times throughout the Bible. Many times the phrase refers to something that was once true but is no longer true today. Sometimes when the phrase is used, the stated conditions are still true today. The meaning of the phrase in Joshua 9:27 is being questioned here.

“To This Day”

The first occurrence of the phrase “to this day” is in Gen. 19:37 in the New American Standard Bible. The passage says that “Moab . . . is the father of the Moabites to this day.” It is clear that Moab would be the father of any Moabite as well as for any descendants who might exist today. The next occurrence is Gen. 22:14 where we are told that Abraham called a certain place “The LORD Will Provide.” In Gen. 26:33 the author says that the name of a city was Beersheba and this was still true “to this day.” However, today it is called Bir es-Seba (very close to the English Beersheba) and is located 28 miles southwest of Hebron. The next occurrence of the phrase is in Gen. 32:32. Here we are told that the Jews do not eat the sciatic muscle of an animal because Jacob was hit in the same location. The other passages are similar.

Solution

When these passages were written, the authors of the various books of the Bible told us the truth. They told us the truth because the Holy Spirit was writing through them (2 Pet. 1:20-21). Genesis 19:26 is a great example of something that was true at the time of writing and was true for many years later. In that passage, we are told that Lot’s wife was turned into a pillar of salt. The pillar of salt does not exist today, but that does not mean it did not exist at the time Genesis was written. The well known ancient historian Josephus says that he saw Lot’s wife’s pillar of salt.

She was changed into a pillar of salt for I visited it, and it still remains even now. (Ant., I, xi, 4)

The issue is, “Were the statements true at the time the books were recorded?” If the statements were not true at the time the books were written, the authors would have been very stupid because their readers would have known the truth.

Conclusion:

Over the years many have struggled with some of the statements in the Bible. Some have worried, “Is the Bible true?” and skeptics have attempted to discredit the Bible. What we have discovered is that given enough time archeological discoveries have proven that the scriptures are truthful. There is an arrogance in our time that says even though we live 2,000 – 3,000 years after these events were recorded, we know more than the folks who lived back then. But both secular historians and archeology continue to unearth new facts. Jericho used to not exist. The cities of Nineveh and of Babylon were supposedly some biblical writer’s imagination. There is now archeological evidence for all three of these cities. The existence of Nebuchadnezzar and his successor were questioned. The book of Daniel has been under attack for years because of its incredible prophesies. May the Lord show you His kindness in a special way.