GLEANINGS IN JOSHUA by A.W. Pink


GLEANINGS IN JOSHUA
by A.W. Pink
CONTENTS
1. Introduction
2. The Great Commission
3. The Response of Faith
4. A Scarlet Cord
5. Standing at the Jordan
6. Crossing the Jordan
7. The Two Memorials
8. Symbols of Committal
9. Victory at Jericho
10. Sin, Defeat, Judgment
11. The Conquest at Ai
12. Honor Amidst Deception
13. Victory at Gibeon
14. The Final Conquest
15. The Spoils of Victory
16. The Division of the Land
17. Indolence in Final Possession
18. The Cities of Refuge
19. The Levitical Cities
20. Demobilization
21. Farewell at Shiloh
22. Valedictory
23. In Memoriam.3
CHAPTER 1
INTRODUCTION
THE SIGNIFICANCE OF JOSHUA
“I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvelous are Thy works”
(

Psalm 139:14).
The reference there is to the physical body of man, which is the product of
Omniscience.
“Thy testimonies are wonderful: therefore doth my soul keep
(treasure and submit to) them” (

Psalm 119:29).
The Maker of man’s body is the Author of the Word and each is alike
“wonderful”, evidencing its Divine source. The human body is made up of
two halves; two arms and legs, two eyes and ears, two lungs and kidneys
etc.; so also the Word is made up of the two Testaments. Each is a living
organism: a single and complete entity, yet with many members. Each of
those members is necessary to give completeness to the others, and the
cutting off of one results in mutilation to the whole. Each of those
members has its own function to fulfill and each book in the Scriptures
makes its own separate contribution to the sum of Divine revelation. As
each physical member is fitted for discharging its own distinctive office, so
the substance of each book in the Bible is suited to its own special theme.
As there is a real difference between both the texture and purpose of the
eye and the ear, so there is between the contents and leading subjects of
any two books in the Word.
The analogies drawn between the living and physical body of man and the
living and holy Word of God might be considerably extended. The design
and functions of some members of our bodies are self-evident even to the
layman. But there are others which are understood only by a trained
physician. In like manner, the purpose and purport of some of the books of
the Bible is more or less apparent to the rank and file of God’s people, but
the special character and distinctive features of others is discerned only by
the Spirit-qualified teacher. That particular parallel may be extended still.4
further: as there are certain glands of the body which still puzzle
anatomists, so there are some books of Scripture the theme of which is by
no means certain to the most diligent student. After all the centuries that
have passed and all the attention that has been devoted to the human body
and the Divine Word there yet remains an element of mystery about the
one and the other, and only the blatant or the ignorant will deny it.
Now it should be evident that in approaching the study of one of the books
of Scripture it must be of considerable help to the student if he can
ascertain what is its main design and what is its outstanding topic. As we
pointed out in these pages over twenty years ago, in our Introduction to
Exodus (now out of print), each book in the Bible has a prominent and
dominant theme which, as such, is peculiar to itself, around which
everything is made to center and of which all the details are but the
amplification. What that leading subject may be, we should make it our
business to prayerfully and diligently ascertain. This can best be discovered
by reading and re-reading the book under review, noting carefully any
particular feature or expression which occurs frequently in it — such as
“under the sun” in Ecclesiastes or “the righteousness of God” in Romans.
If other students before us have published the results of their labors it is
our bounden duty to closely examine their findings in the light of Holy
Writ, and either verify or disprove. Before pointing out the peculiar
character and dominant subject of Joshua, let us briefly state that of the
books preceding.
Genesis is obviously the book of beginnings. Considered historically there
is a three-fold beginning recorded: of the heavens and the earth, of the
post-diluvian world, of the nation of Israel — in the call of Abram. Viewed
doctrinally, it illustrates, as might be expected, the foundation-truth of
election, for our salvation began in God’s eternal purpose. Thus we see
here that Noah (alone of the antediluvians) “found grace in the eyes of the
Lord” (

Genesis 6:8), and that Shem (rather than Japheth or Ham) was
the one selected to be the channel through which should ultimately issue
the Savior (

Genesis 9:26). Here we see God singling out Abram to be
the father of the chosen Nation. Here we see God choosing Isaac and
passing by Ishmael, loving Jacob but hating Esau. Here we behold God
appointing Joseph from the twelve sons of Jacob to be the honored
instrument of saving them all from the famine. The same principle appears
again in the passing by of Joseph’s older son and bestowing the portion of
the firstborn upon Ephraim (

Genesis 48:13-20)..5
“God hath from the beginning chosen you unto salvation”
(

2 Thessalonians 2:13),
and that basic truth is illustrated again and again in that book which begins
the Scriptures.
Historically the book of Exodus treats of the deliverance and departure of
the Hebrews out of Egypt, but doctrinally its theme is clearly that of
redemption. That is just what the spiritual mind would expect, for it is by
means of the redemptive work of Christ that the Father’s eternal purpose is
made good. If the first book of the Bible reveals a sovereign God passing
by some and choosing others to salvation, Exodus makes known how that
salvation is accomplished, namely, by the mighty power of God and
through the blood of the Lamb. Moses was bidden to say unto the children
of Israel
“I am the Lord, and will bring you out from under the burden of the
Egyptians and I will rid you out of their bondage, and I will redeem
you with a stretched out arm and with great judgments”
(

Exodus 6:6)
— the first clause showing what redemption is from and the last how it is
effected. At the Red Sea they sang
“Thou in Thy mercy hast led forth the people which Thou hast
redeemed. Thou hast guided them in Thy strength unto Thy holy
habitation” (

Exodus 15:13).
Between those two passages comes the record of the slaying of the lamb
and the efficacy of its blood, while the remainder of the book is devoted to
instructions re God’s habitation.
The book of Leviticus covers a period in Israel’s history of less than two
months, for the whole of it (as well as the first ten chapters of Numbers)
treats of what occurred between the first day of the second year and the
twentieth day of the second month (

Exodus 40:17,

Numbers 10:11).
As we might expect, being the third book of Scripture, it views the people
of God as on resurrection ground — regenerated. It is not so much
doctrinal as experimental. The key is hung upon its door:
“And the Lord called unto Moses and spake unto him out of the
tabernacle” (

Leviticus 1:1)..6
It naturally and necessarily comes after Exodus, informing us what we are
redeemed for, being the book of Divine fellowship and worship. Here we
are shown the glorious privileges of the believer, the holy requirements of
God and the gracious provisions which He has made to meet them. It
proclaims that God will be “sanctified in them that draw nigh Him”
(

Leviticus 10:3). Typically it is full of Christ, setting Him before us as
our Altar, Sacrifice, and High Priest.
The fourth book of Scripture treats of the practical side of the spiritual life,
tracing the history of the believer in the world — for four is the number of
the earth. Its key is also hung upon the porch: “And the Lord spake unto
Moses in the wilderness of Sinai” (

Exodus 1:1) — the “wilderness”
being a symbol of this world in its fallen condition, alienated from God. It
records at greater length than Exodus the history of Israel’s journeyings
and sojournings. Its theme then is the walk and wanderings of the believer
during this life, depicting his testings and trials in the world. Note well it is
preceded by Leviticus, for only as we first commune with God within the
veil are we fitted to go out into the world and there walk before Him.
Typically it represents the experiences we encounter in this scene of sin and
suffering, our repeated and excuseless failures and God’s long-sufferance.
It reveals God maintaining His holy government and yet dealing in grace
with His own, destroying unbelieving rebels yet preserving the faithful.
Deuteronomy is the bridge between the four books which precede and the
seven which follow it, for the former deal with Israel before they entered
Canaan and the latter with their history after settling there. Its name
signifies “a second law” — the ten commandments of

Exodus 20 being
repeated in

Deuteronomy 5: the reason for this being, because of their
awful sin at Kadesh-barnea, God swore that all the adult Israelites who
came out of Egypt (with the sole exception of Caleb and Joshua) should
perish in the wilderness (

Numbers 14). That fearful threat had now been
carried out and in Deuteronomy we find Moses (himself on the eve of
death) addressing the generation who had grown up in the wilderness. That
new generation required to know on what terms they were about to enter
Canaan and on what conditions they should hold and enjoy it. The
addresses of Moses therefore centered around two things: reviewing the
past and giving instructions for the future, pressing upon them the claims
of God (

Deuteronomy 10:12): hence the key words are “remember” (14
times), “hear” (over 30) and “do” (about 100). In its application to us it.7
reveals that whole-hearted obedience to God is the grand condition of
possessing our possessions.
The book of Joshua records one of the most interesting and important
portions of Israel’s history. It treats of the period of their estatement as a
nation, of which Genesis was prophetic and the rest of the Pentateuch
immediately preparatory. The books of Moses would be imperfect without
this one: as it is the capstone of them, so it is the foundation of those which
follow. Omit Joshua and there is a gap left in the sacred history which
nothing could supply. Without it what precedes would be incomprehensible
and what follows unexplained. The sacred writer was directed to fill that
gap by narrating the conquest and apportionment of the promised land.
Thus this book may be contemplated from two distinct but closely related
standpoints: first as the end of Israel’s trials and wanderings in the
wilderness, and second as the beginning of their new life in the land. It is
that twofold viewpoint which supplies the clue to its spiritual
interpretation, as it alone solves the problem which so many have found
puzzling in this book.
As the inheritance which the Lord appointed, promised and gave to Israel,
Canaan has rightly been regarded as a type of Heaven, unto which the
Church is journeying through this wilderness-world. But Canaan was the
scene of fierce battles, and that presents a serious difficulty unto many,
though it should not. They point out that Heaven will not be the place of
fighting, but of eternal rest and felicity, and then ask, How could Israel’s
history in Canaan prefigure our experience on High? It did not, but it
strikingly and accurately foreshadowed what Christians must accomplish if
they are to enter and enjoy “the purchased possession”. The book of
Joshua not only exhibits the sovereign grace of God, His covenant-faithfulness,
His mighty power put forth on behalf of His people, but it also
reveals what was required from them in the discharge of their
responsibility: formidable obstacles had to be surmounted, a protracted
warfare had to be engaged in, fierce foes overcome, before they entered
into the actual enjoyment of the land.
If our conception of what constitutes a Christian or the character of the
Christian life be altogether lopsided, little wonder that we have difficulty in
rightly applying to ourselves the contents of that book which typically
contains so much important instruction for us. If we will confine our
viewpoint solely unto the sovereign grace of God in connection with our.8
salvation, and deliberately close our eyes to all that Scripture teaches upon
the discharge of our responsibility in relation thereto, then it would indeed
be strange if we apprehended how that on the one hand Canaan was a free
gift unto Israel, which they entered by grace alone; and on the other, that
they had to fight for every inch of it! But when we realize that “eternal life”
is both the gift of God (

Romans 6:23) and a “crown” which has to be
won by faithfulness (

Revelation 2:10), that the Christian inheritance is
not only purchased by the blood of the Lamb, but is also the “reward” of
those who “serve the Lord Christ” (

Colossians 3:24), then we should
have no trouble in perceiving how the type answers to the antitype.
“Narrow is the way that leadeth unto Life” (

Matthew 7:14)
i.e., unto Heaven, unto Glory. There is but one way that “leadeth unto” it,
and that is the way of personal and practical holiness (

Isaiah 35:8),
“without which no man shall see the Lord”. That “way” is a narrow one
for it shuts out the world and excludes self-pleasing. True, the few who
tread it have previously been made partakers of spiritual life, for none of
the unregenerate walk therein; nevertheless they must persevere in it to the
end, resisting temptations to forsake it and overcoming whatever would
impede, if they are to enter Life itself. Salvation is indeed by grace, and
grace alone, for human merit has no place therein; yet good works are
necessary, because it was to fit us for them that grace is given. In Joshua
we have a striking and blessed exemplification of the two-foldness of Truth
and the perfect balance of its essential parts. The sovereign grace of God
and the discharge of His peoples’ responsibility run side by side therein.
Canaan was God’s free gift unto Israel, yet they had to fight for possession
of it — let that be carefully pondered, and remember it was typical.
The reader should keep steadily in mind that Israel’s entrance into Canaan
occurred at the end of their trials in the wilderness. Taking that alone, by
itself, we have a foreshadowing of our entrance into Heaven at the close of
this life (

Revelation 14:13); but viewing Israel’s entrance into Canaan in
the light of all that is recorded in the book of Joshua, we must regard what
precedes as the experiences of the soul prior to conversion, and Israel’s
history there as adumbrating his new life. Thus, in Exodus we see the
natural man in bondage to sin and Satan; in Leviticus we behold him as one
to whom God is speaking, making known His holy requirements; in
Numbers he finds himself in a great howling wilderness, which is what the
world appears to one who has been awakened by the Spirit; while in.9
Deuteronomy he learns the strictness and spirituality of the Law, which
cuts into pieces his self-righteousness and reveals that
Another than Moses must become the Captain of his salvation if ever he is
to be estated in the antitypical Palestine.
Let the reader also remember that Israel’s entrance into Canaan marked the
beginning of a distinct stage in their history, and there we have a figure of
the new life of the converted soul. Observe carefully how definitely and
clearly this is brought out in the type. It was a new generation of Israel (the
second and not the adult one that came out of Egypt) which is here in
view; that they were under a new leader — no longer Moses but Joshua;
that they were inducted into a new sphere — delivered from the
wilderness, entering into Canaan. Thus we have a picture of those who
have passed through a season of conviction of sin, who have felt the terrors
of the Law, and have now been brought to put their trust in Jesus Christ,
the antitypical Joshua. Conversion dates the end of the old life and the
beginning of the new. As Israel’s entrance into Canaan marked the end of
their wilderness wanderings, so at conversion the soul experiences the
verity of Christ’s promise, “Come unto Me and I will give you rest”.
Likewise, as Israel’s entrance into Canaan marked the beginning of their
life of conquest, so at conversion we begin that “good fight of faith” which
is required before we can enter our Eternal Rest.
Those two aspects of the Christian’s rest are brought together in Hebrews
4.
First, “we which have believed do enter into rest” (verse 3). The moment a
regenerated, awakened, convicted soul savingly believes in Christ the
burden of his sins roll away, and peace of conscience, rest of soul,
assurance of acceptance by God, are his. Yet, he is not there and then
taken to heaven. No indeed, he is now made conscious of foes, both within
and without, of which previously he knew nothing. He is now called upon
to mortify the flesh, resist the Devil, overcome the world: not by his own
might, but in the strength of the Lord, under the leadership of the
antitypical Joshua; and this in order to an entrance into the promised
inheritance. Thus,
Second,

Hebrews 4:11 bids us “let us labor therefore to enter into that
Rest”. Yes, “labor” is necessary (cf.

John 6:27,

2 Corinthians 5:9):.10
fighting the good fight, finishing our course, keeping the faith is required, if
we are to receive the “crown of righteousness” (

2 Timothy 4:7, 8)!
JOSHUA’S EARLIER DAYS
Joshua was born in the land of Egypt and with the sole exception of Caleb
he was the only adult Israelite in the great exodus who survived the forty
years wanderings in the wilderness and actually entered Canaan. He is
mentioned for the first time in

Exodus 17:9, where he is introduced to
our notice most abruptly, nothing being told us there of his parentage, early
history, or his piety. It was on the occasion when Amalek came and fought
against Israel at Rephidim: “Moses said unto Joshua, Choose out men and
go fight with Amalek”. From that brief statement we gather that our hero
had already attracted the notice of Moses, gained his confidence and was
therefore a man of valor and competent to be captain over others. The
following verse also represents him in a favorable light: “So Joshua did as
Moses had said to him”: he made no demur, objected not to receive orders
from his superior, but obediently complied with his instructions. “And
Joshua discomfitted Amalek and his people with the edge of the sword”
(verse 13): thus success attended his efforts.
What we have briefly glanced at above supplies a most striking illustration
of the law of first mention. The initial occurrence of anything in Scripture
invariably supplies the key to the later ones, forecasting by means of a
broad outline its subsequent usage. In other words, the first time a subject
or object, a person or thing, is brought before us in God’s Word what is
there said of it or him virtually supplies a definition of its meaning, or at
least gives us the principal clue to the significance of its later mentionings.
Thus it is here. The very first time Joshua is brought to our notice it is as a
successful warrior: and note carefully, not slaying innocent people, but in
fighting the enemies of the Lord. How this brief allusion in

Exodus 17
foreshadowed the great work which lay before him! The immediate sequel
confirms this:
“And the Lord said unto Moses, Write this for a memorial in a
book, and rehearse it in the ears of (not Israel, but) Joshua, for I
will utterly put out the remembrance of Amalek from under
heaven” (

Exodus 17:14)
— a plain hint of his future work, as an appointed instrument to execute
the Divine vengeance upon His foes..11
Personally we believe there is a definite reference unto Joshua in

Exodus 23:20-23, though his name be not specifically mentioned. Those
verses contain a Divine prophecy and promise unto Israel, and as is so
often the case with similar passages, there is, we conceive, a double
allusion. “Behold I send an Angel before thee, to keep thee in the way and
to bring thee into the place which I have prepared.” No doubt the primary
reference is to Christ as the Angel of the Covenant, yet subordinately it
points, we think, unto Joshua as God’s “messenger” or “angel”, for he
was the one who actually brought Israel into the heritage which God had
prepared for them. So too it seems clear that there is a double allusion in
“My name is in Him” (verse 21): when the Angel of the covenant became
incarnate it was said “His name shall be called Immanuel” (

Matthew
1:23), and when our hero’s name was changed from “Oshua” to “Jeho-shua”
(

Numbers 13:16), the Divine name was incorporated into his!
Israel were ordered to “obey his voice” (

Exodus 23:22) and in

Joshua 1:16 they affirmed to him “all that thou commandest us we will
do”!
The next reference to him is found in

Exodus 24:13, when in response
to Jehovah’s bidding Moses went up unto Him in the mount that he might
receive from Him the tables of the Law, we are told that “Moses rose up
and his minister Joshua, and Moses went up into the mount of God”. From
this reference we learn the peculiar and honored position which he
occupied even at this early stage in his career: he was the “minister” or
assistant of Moses, the personal attendant of that eminent man of God. But
there is more in it than that: he was subservient to Moses, yet he was also
to complement his work. Moses brought Israel out of Egypt, but Joshua
would bring them into Canaan. That the latter was not disconnected from
the former is clear from the opening verses of his book, for not only is
Joshua there again designated “Moses’ minister” (

Joshua 1:1), but when
the Lord gave to him his great commission He expressly bade him
“do according to all the law which Moses My servant commanded
thee” (

Joshua 1:7).
So in the antitype: Christ was “made under the Law” (

Galatians 4:4).
When Moses left the camp to go unto Jehovah into the mount, his minister
Joshua accompanied him, though evidently only a part of the ascent — the
attendant being left at some lower level as Moses drew near unto the Lord.
In what follows we are furnished with a valuable sidelight on our hero’s.12
character. Joshua was left alone for “forty days and forty nights”
(

Exodus 24:18)! What a testing of his faith, his patience, and his fidelity
was that! His response to that severe test shines out the more blessedly
when contrasted from the conduct of Aaron in the camp. Exodus 25 to 31
gives a record of the instructions which Moses received, while the opening
verses of 32 show us what transpired in the camp. “When the people saw
that Moses delayed to come down out of the mount, the people gathered
themselves together unto Aaron and said unto him, “Up, make us gods
which shall go before us, for as for this Moses… we wot not what is
become of him” (verse 1). Apparently Aaron shared their fears that they
would see Moses no more, for he yielded to their solicitation.
Now in blessed contrast from the unbelief and impatience of the people and
of Aaron, Joshua trustfully and perseveringly awaited the return of his
master. Thus was he tried and proved, manifested to be “a vessel unto
honor, sanctified and meet for the Master’s use” before the grand task of
conducting Israel into Canaan was assigned unto him. Proof that Joshua
had remained in the mount during those forty days and nights is supplied by

Exodus 32:15-18, for there we are informed “And Moses turned and
went down the mount… and when Joshua heard the noise of the people as
they shouted (in their idolatrous and carnal revelry: see verse 6), he said
unto Moses, There is a noise of war in the camp. And he said, It is not the
noise of them that shout for mastery, neither is it the noise of them that cry
for being overcome; but the noise of them that sing do I hear” — observe
that though puzzled by what he heard, yet Joshua placed a favorable
construction upon it, not suppposing the worst.
When Moses drew nigh unto the camp and beheld the idolatrous and
lascivious scene spread before him, he was filled with righteous
indignation, and took the golden calf, burnt it in the fire, ground it to
powder, strewed it upon the water and made the children of Israel drink.
Under his orders the Levites slew about three thousand men and the Lord
“plagued the people”. After they had been severely chastened and humbled,
Moses “took the tabernacle and pitched it without the camp”. Then as he
entered into the tabernacle the Cloudy Pillar descended and stood at the
door of the tabernacle and the Lord talked with Moses. Later
“he turned again into the camp, but his servant Joshua, the son of
Nun, a young man, departed not out of the tabernacle”
(

Exodus 33:11)..13
That is indeed a remarkable statement, yet too brief to warrant inferences.
But it at least shows the distinguished favor bestowed upon the honored
servant of Moses, that he, rather than Aaron, was here left in charge of the
sacred tent of meeting: whether he was inside it when Jehovah stood at its
door we cannot say.
Another brief mention is made of Joshua in Numbers 11. On the occasion
when Moses gathered the seventy men of the elders of the people and set
them round about the tabernacle, the Lord came down in a cloud and spake
unto him, and took of the Spirit that was upon him and gave unto the
seventy elders, so that “they prophesied and did not cease”. Two others of
the elders had for some reason remained in the camp, yet the Spirit now
rested upon them, so that they too “prophesied” even in the camp.
Evidently deeming this irregular, a young man ran and told Moses of the
unusual occurrence. “And Joshua the son of Nun, the servant of Moses,
one of his young men, answered and said, My lord, Moses, forbid them”
(verse 28). That too reveals his character: he did not take it upon himself
to rebuke the elders, nor did he request Moses to slay them. It was zeal for
his master that promoted his petition, as Moses’ reply clearly indicates:
“enviest thou for my sake” There was no jealousy or self seeking here on
the part of Joshua, but only a concern for the honor of the one he served.
We turn now to that passage which is probably the most familiar to the
reader wherein our hero figures. When the Lord gave order to Moses that
he send twelve men to “search the land of Canaan”, a ruler from each tribe,
Oshua was the one selected from the tribe of Ephraim, and it was on this
occasion that his name was changed to “Jeho-shua” (

Numbers 13:16),
or, in its abbreviated form “Joshua”: so that he was one of the persons
mentioned in Scripture — all of them of eminence — whose name was
changed. “Oshua” means “salvation” and “Jeho-shua” he by whom
Jehovah will save. We need hardly add that, through the Greek, Joshua is
precisely the same as “Jesus” — see

Acts 7:45,

Hebrews 4:8. When
the twelve spies returned to Moses and made report of what they had seen,
though they acknowledged the land was one that flowed with milk and
honey, yet its inhabitants appeared to them so formidable and their cities so
powerful they declared, “We be not able to go against the people, for they
are stronger than we”. The immediate sequel was most solemn and sad.
Though Caleb boldly declared “Let us go up at once and possess it, for we
are well able to overcome it”, his fellow-spies persisted in their “evil.14
report” and the whole congregation wept, murmured against Moses and
Aaron, lamented that they had ever started out on their journey and said
one to another “let us make a captain and let us return into Egypt. Then
Moses and Aaron fell on their faces before all the assembly… and Joshua
and Caleb… rent their clothes”. Then it was that our hero (and his faithful
companion) evinced his spiritual character and caliber, for we are told that
they said unto) the whole company of Israel,
“The land which we pass through to search it is an exceeding good
land. If the Lord delight in us, then He will bring us into this land
and give it us… Only rebel not ye against the Lord, neither fear ye
the people of the land, for they are bread for us: their defense is
departed from them, and the Lord is with us; fear them not”
(

Numbers 14:7-9).
Thus we see their confidence in God and their courage, for as the next
verse shows they took their lives into their hands in so remonstrating with
the people.
It was there that that wayward and stiff-necked generation of Israel filled
up the measure of their sin. It was then that Jehovah swore in His wrath
that they should not enter into His rest (

Psalm 95:11,

Hebrews
3:18). They had said, “Would God we had died in this wilderness”
(

Numbers 14:2), and now He took them at their word, declaring
“your carcasses shall fall in this wilderness, and all that were
numbered of you, according to your whole number, from twenty
years old and upward, who murmured against Me, doubtless ye
shall not come into the land which I sware to make you dwell
therein, save Caleb the son of Jephunneh and Joshua the son of
Nun. But your little ones, which ye said should be a prey, them will
I bring in, and they shall know the land which ye despised”
(verses 29-31).
The ten spies who brought an evil report upon the land
“died by the plague before the Lord, but Joshua the son of Nun and
Caleb the son of Jephunneh… lived” (verses 37, 38),
being the only two adults who came out of Egypt which entered into
Canaan..15
In Numbers 27 we have an account of the ordination of Joshua to office as
the future leader of Israel.
“And the Lord said unto Moses, Take thee Joshua the son of Nun,
a man in whom is the Spirit, and lay thine hand upon him (the
symbol of identification), and set him before Eleazar the priest, and
before all the congregation; and give him a charge in their sight (as
proof of his induction into office). And thou shalt put some of thine
honor upon him, that all the congregation of the children of Israel
may be obedient (to him). And he shall stand before Eleazar the
priest, who shall ask for him after the judgment of Urim before the
Lord: at his (Joshua’s) word shall they go out and at his word shall
they come in, he and all the children of Israel with him, even all the
congregation. And Moses did as the Lord commanded him” (verses
18-22).
Thus, to all who feared the Lord and had respect unto His servant Moses,
none could henceforth doubt that Joshua was the man appointed to lead
Israel after the removal of Moses from this scene.
“Surely none of the men that came up out of Egypt… shall see the
land… save Caleb the son of Jephunneh and Joshua the son of Nun
for they have wholly followed the Lord” (

Numbers 32:11,12).
That is another statement which throws light upon the spiritual character
and caliber of Joshua. When Jehovah declared he had “wholly followed”
Him, He did not signify he had lived a sinless life, but that he had trod the
path of obedience, faithfully performed his duty and sincerely aimed at the
glory of God in it. He had stood firm and fearless in a day of prevailing
unbelief and general apostasy. In passing it may be pointed out, at a later
date, Caleb did not hesitate to affirm he had “wholly followed the Lord”
(

Joshua 14:6-8), upon which Matthew Henry rightly said that “since he
had obtained this testimony from God Himself, it was not vain glorious in
him to speak of it, any more than it is for those who have God’s Spirit
witnessing with their spirit they are the children of God, to humbly and
thankfully tell others, for their encouragement, what God has done for their
souls”
“These are the names of the men which shall divide the land unto
you: Eleazar the priest and Joshua the son of Nun”
(

Numbers 34:17):.16
here we learn that our hero, under the guidance of the high priest
(

Joshua 14:1), was to apportion the inheritance among the tribes.
“Joshua, the son of Nun, which standeth before thee, he shall go in
thither: encourage him, for he shall cause Israel to inherit it”
(

Deuteronomy 1:38).
That was surely necessary, for well might he be discouraged after seeing
Moses himself fall under the weight of leadership. A part of the
encouragement which Moses gave to his successor is recorded in

Deuteronomy 3:21,
“I commanded Joshua at that time (namely, when reviewing the
overthrow of the powerful monarchs of Bashan and Og), Thine
eyes have seen all that the Lord your God hath done unto these two
kings: so shall the Lord do unto all the kingdoms whither thou
passest”,
which was as though Moses reminded Joshua, when the Lord begins a
work He finishes it — His overthrow of those kings was an earnest of the
destruction of all who opposed His people. It is blessed to remember that
those whom God calls into His service He also grants “encouragement”
along the way. So we have always found it.
“And Moses called unto Joshua and said unto him in the sight of all
Israel: Be strong and of a good courage, for thou must go with this
people unto the land which the Lord hath sworn unto their fathers
to give them; and thou shalt cause them to inherit it. And the Lord,
He it is that doth go before thee: He will not fail thee, neither
forsake thee; fear not neither be dismayed”
(

Deuteronomy 31:7, 8).
Here was further “encouragement” for Joshua and the final charge which
he received from his predecessor. That “charge” was a wise mingling of
precept and promise, of calling unto the discharge of duty and of informing
him where his strength lay for the performance thereof. It is blessed to see
that the apostle did not hesitate to apply unto all the people of God
(

Hebrews 13:5) this promise made specifically to Joshua “He will not
fail thee nor forsake thee” — something which should be carefully noted by
those who have so much to say about “rightly dividing the Word of Truth”!.17
“And Joshua the son of Nun was full of the spirit of wisdom, for
Moses had laid his hands on him; and the children of Israel
hearkened unto him and did as the Lord commanded Moses”
(

Deuteronomy 34:9).
This is the final reference to Joshua in the Pentateuch, occurring right after
the account of the death and burial of Moses. God may remove His
workmen, but He ceases not to carry forward His work. When one of His
servants be, removed, He raises up another to take his place — not always
to fill his place, for the work may already be completed (for the time being,
at any rate) in that particular section of His vineyard, and if so, the new
man may be called upon to break soil elsewhere. This was really the case
here. Moses was raised up specifically to bring Israel out of the house of
bondage — a stupendous and difficult task — and by Divine enablement he
accomplished it. He was Israel’s leader throughout their wilderness
journeys, but now they were over. An entirely new venture lay before the
people of God: their entrance into and taking possession of their heritage,
and that called for a new leader.
In the preceding paragraphs we have seen how the new leader of Israel had
been duly appointed by God (not chosen by the people!) and then publicly
ordained or inducted into his office, for God requires all things, especially
in connection with His immediate service, to be done “decently and in
order”. We have seen too something of the qualifications which Joshua
possessed for the work assigned him, for when God calls a man to a work,
He endows him suitably for the same, equipping him both naturally and
spiritually. Pharaoh might require the Hebrews to make bricks without
supplying them with straw, but not so the Lord! Joshua was indwelt by the
Spirit (

Numbers 27:18), possessed of unusual faith, patience and
courage, and “full of the spirit of wisdom” — that being as necessary as
any of the others. Finally, we are told above “and the children of Israel
hearkened unto him”, for God ever works at both ends of the line: when
He fits a man to minister, He also prepares a people for him to minister
unto.
A GENERAL SURVEY
As Moses sent forth the twelve spies to “search the land of Canaan” before
Israel sought to enter into occupation of the same, so we propose to now
take a bird’s eye view of that book which bears the name of Joshua before.18
examining it in close detail. We shall not give a chapter by chapter
summary of its contents, but rather essay a comprehensive sketch of those
contents as a whole, pointing out the main design of the book, and some of
its leading features. It has already been stated in our Introductory article,
that this portion of Scripture treats of the period of Israel’s estatement as a
nation in that land which Jehovah gave unto their fathers, and that it forms
both the capstone of the Pentateuch and the foundation of the Historical
books which follow. The design of its penman, under the superintendence
of the Holy Spirit, was to describe the conquest of Canaan by the Hebrews
and the apportionment of it among their twelve tribes.
It was not Joshua’s intention to give an account of his own life, nor even to
undertake a description of his principal exploits and achievements: rather
was it his purpose to show how the Lord had made good His promises
unto the patriarchs. If that dominant fact be kept steadily in mind it will
explain fully and satisfactorily the principle of selection and the
arrangement of the materials he was guided to use. We can then the better
perceive why Joshua recorded what he did, why he related certain incidents
in fullness of detail and merely glanced at others, and why whole years are
passed over in silence. He was writing with a definite plan before his mind,
and therefore he related only what was pertinent to his scheme and design,
omitting everything which was not relevant thereto. The same principle of
selection regulated all the sacred penmen, and it is only as we are able to
discern the particular plan of each book that we can properly appreciate
what is brought into the picture and what is left out.
It has been far too little realized that the historians of Scripture were much
more than journalists narrating interesting events, more than mere
chroniclers writing for the sake of gratifying the curiosity of those who
should live in a future age, or even of detailing memorable incidents to
please their contemporaries. They were theocratic historians (a theocracy
is a government in which the chiefs of state are the immediate servants of
God — there has never been but one), whose object was to trace the
progress and development of the kingdom of God on earth: to mark its
great epochs and record those events which were, from a religious
standpoint, of deep importance to their own and future generations. Thus it
is with the book that is now to be before us — and equally so with those
that follow, for they give not merely the history of Israel, but the history of
God’s kingdom in Israel: discover its plan or theme and tire choice or
rejection of certain materials becomes patent..19
The book opens with the Lord’s directions to Joshua, who had already
been designated as the successor of Moses, to go over Jordan and take
possession of the land which He had sworn to their fathers and to divide it
among the people as their inheritance, with the promise that if he faithfully
observed the laws given by Moses that God would be with him, and
“there shall not a man be able to stand before thee all the days of
thy life” (

Joshua 1:5).
Those opening verses supply the key to the whole book. Joshua’s
execution of his commission in strict obedience to the Divine directions and
God’s gracious fulfillment of His promised assistance are the sum of all it
contains. The first twelve chapters treat of the conquest of Canaan. They
do not contain a detailed account of all the marches and the battles of each
campaign: instead, only the outstanding particulars are narrated — those
which marked the progress of events, those which brought out most clearly
God’s miraculous help, and those which demonstrated the necessity and
inseparable connection between their obedience and that miraculous help.
Many other things belonging to the Conquest, such as battles, capture of
cities, and even long expeditions which had nothing remarkable about
them, are therefore mentioned only summarily, so as to give a general view
of the whole line of operations with its ultimate success. The time occupied
in the conquest was much briefer, everything considered, than might be
supposed. Though we cannot calculate the exact length of it, we may its
approximate duration. After Canaan had been subdued and upon the
division of its territory, we find Caleb saying “And now, behold, the Lord
hath kept me alive as He said these forty and five years, even since the
Lord spake this word unto me (in

Numbers 14:80) while the children of
Israel wandered in the wilderness” (

Joshua 14:10). From that forty-five
years we have to deduct the thirty-eight years spent in the Wilderness
(

Deuteronomy 2:14), so that the whole campaign lasted less than seven
years.
In chapters 13-21 we have the Dividing of the Land among the several
tribes, concerning which it is difficult for a commentator to write profitably
at any length. In chapter 22 the two and a half tribes who had assisted their
brethren in the Conquest and stood by them in the allotting of Canaan,
return to their own possession across the Jordan. Then an interval of
several years is passed over during which Israel was settled in the Land, an
interval which fell not within the scope of the writer to take notice of, for it.20
furnished nothing suited to his particular theme. Finally, we come to the
closing scene of Joshua’s life, when he gathered around him the responsible
heads of the Nation, rehearsed what God had done for them in giving
them-such a goodly heritage, and engaged them to renewed pledges of
obedience unto Him. Thus the book closes with a recapitulation of
Jehovah’s fulfillment of the promise with which it opens and a public
covenant-engagement of the people to serve the Lord who had driven out
the Amorites and the other nations from before them.
After Joshua had received his orders to go up and possess the Land, he at
once sent forth two spies. The experiences they met with are described
with considerable detail not because of the interest attaching to their
hazardous undertaking and their remarkable escape from a perilous
situation, but because what occurred vividly exemplified the promise which
the Lord had given to Moses’
“there shall no man be able to stand before thee, for the Lord shall
lay the fear of you and the dread of you upon all the land that ye
shall tread upon” (

Deuteronomy 11:25)
— a promise, which as we have seen, was repeated in substance to Joshua
himself. Hence we fine in striking and full accord therewith Rahab
acknowledging to the spies,
“I know that the Lord hath given you the land and that your terror
is fallen upon us and that all the inhabitants of the land faint because
of you” (

Joshua 2:9).
The anxious preparations of the king, his vigorous pursuit of the spies, and
their language to Joshua upon the accomplishment of their mission
(

Joshua 2:24) all served to forcibly illustrate that fact.
Next follows the passage of the Jordan. Its waters though unusually high,
were supernaturally divided, so that the people of God passed over dry
shod. Let us pause and ask, What was the design of that remarkable event?
God works no trifling miracles. He does not suspend the established order
of nature without good reason, nor unless some important end is to be
answered by so doing. Wherein lay the necessity for this prodigy? Israel
could have crossed the Jordan by natural means, without the intervention
of Omnipotence. Though the river was then too high for fording, especially
for the women and children, yet boats could have been built or bridges
thrown across it, for the Jordan is neither swift nor very wide, and such a.21
delay had been but a brief one. The reason for this miracle was the same as
of all others recorded in Holy Writ the necessity for it was not physical but
moral. The object of all miracles is to reveal the power and grace of God.
The laws of nature which God established at the beginning were amply
sufficient to accomplish every physical end it is only to meet our moral and
spiritual needs that they are ever interfered with. Israel might have taken
Canaan without any miracle, but in such a case there had been no glorious
display unto them of God’s all-mightiness, His loving-kindness, His
nearness to them. The stupendous marvels which He wrought in Egypt, at
the Red Sea, in the Wilderness, and now in Canaan, were designed to teach
the covenant people (and the surrounding nations, too) that the gods of the
heathen were no gods and could neither do good nor evil. Jehovah was the
living and true God “the Lord of all the earth” (

Joshua 3:11, 13)! Those
miracles were intended to make them more sensible of the infinite
perfections of the One with whom they had to do, and of their complete
dependence upon Him. Consequently they were brought into situations
from which they could not extricate themselves in order to learn it was the
Lord their God who delivered them.
In a variety of ways Israel were made to see that it was not their own valor
and strength which delivered them, but rather Jehovah’s right hand and
mighty arm which secured the victory for them. Canaan did not become
theirs so much by their own prowess and conquest as by Divine gift. But
there was a special reason why the Lord intervened for them in the
extraordinary manner He did at the Jordan, for it was as though He then
opened to them the door of that land which He had promised and
personally conducted them into it. By that memorable act the Lord pledged
to them the subjugation of the whole country. At the same time there was
in connection therewith, the public act of Joshua in his new capacity as
leader of the people, and thus it gave Divine authority and confirmation to
his office in their eyes, and was, in comparison with his predecessor at the
Red Sea, a striking verification of that word to him “As I was with Moses,
so I will be with thee” (

Joshua 1:5).
The circumcising of the people and their celebration of the Passover comes
next (chapter 5). There should be no difficulty in perceiving the relevancy
and significance of these events at this stage in the book we are now
reviewing. They belonged to the Conquest, inasmuch as that very conquest
was conditioned upon Israel’s punctilious compliance with all that Moses.22
had commanded. After the appearing unto Joshua of the “Captain of the
Lord’s host,” there follows an account of the capture of Jericho. In
connection therewith there stand out plainly the same two features which
mark the passage of the Jordan: that an unquestioning obedience to God’s
orders was required from them, and that the victory was His and not theirs.
In the conquest of Ai the same lesson is taught, though in reverse: there
they were made to taste the bitter consequences which followed upon their
disobedience to the Divine injunctions. But we will not now further
anticipate what we hope to consider in the articles which are to follow.
At this point a word needs to be said, perhaps, in reply to the attacks made
now upon this book by the enemies of the Lord. The ethical character of
the contents of Joshua has been viciously criticized by infidels and
agnostics. The Israelites have been regarded as a horde of fierce nomads,
falling upon and murdering the Canaanites, and stealing the land of a
peaceful people. These critics have asserted it is unworthy of the Divine
character to represent Him as sanctioning such injustice and ferocity. In
reply it needs to be pointed out that, Canaan was Israel’s by Divine
appointment and gift long before (Genesis 15) — a promise repeated to
Abraham’s immediate descendants; and it was in fulfillment thereof that
they now received the land. They entered and took possession of Canaan
by immediate command from God, who has an absolute right to interfere in
human affairs as He pleases. Moreover, it was in the exercise of His
righteousness (as well as of His sovereignty) that God now took from the
Canaanites the land which they had forfeited by their sins, and by His grace
gave to Israel with the distinct understanding that they, too, would be
deprived of it if they proved unfaithful and disobedient stewards.
But why should God give instructions for the utter destruction of the
Canaanites? Because of their horrible depravity and gross idolatry: let the
reader turn to

Leviticus 18:3, 27, 28 and then see the verses between 3
and 27 for a description of those “abominations,” and also remember God
did not act in judgment upon them until” the iniquity of the Amorites “had
come to the” full” (

Genesis 15:16). God now glorified His justice by
destroying those who refused to glorify Him by a willing obedience. Israel
acted not under the impulse of a lust of conquest but as the executioners of
Divine wrath — just as the flood, the pestilence, the earthquake are
commissioned by Him to cut off those who provoke His holiness. When He
is pleased to do so, He makes use of men as His instruments, rather than
the elements. “The Assyrian” was the rod of God’s anger to cut off.23
nations, though he knew not he was being so employed (

Isaiah 10:5-7).
Why then might He not use an elect and godly nation as the conscious
instrument of His just vengeance!
Israel was manifestly under God’s guidance, and their success mast be
attributed to His presence and might. Miraculous power attended them and
proved that the commission and commands they had received were no
fanatical delusions, but the mandates of the Judge of all the earth. He
opened a way for them through the Jordan, threw down the walls of
Jericho, smote their enemies with hailstones and even stayed the sun in its
course. There could be no mistaking the fact that the living God was in
their midst. But there was also a special reason why Israel should be the
particular executioner of God’s vengeance in this instance rather than that
the land should be totally depopulated by, say, pestilence. In that case, they
could not have felt so sensibly their own weakness and entire dependency
on the power of God. In such a case they had soon forgotten His agency in
giving them the land, and attributed it to secondary causes; nor would the
residue of the Canaanites been left as a continual trial to test their
faithfulness in the service of the Lord.
But why should only the Canaanites be singled out for this summary
judgment? Were there not many other idolatrous nations? — why then
should they be exempted? The righteous government of God extends over
all nations, and each is punished when its iniquities are come to the full: not
by the same means or to the same extent, but punished as God deems best.
But the Canaanites were not only idolaters, but they were guilty of
practices which the heathen themselves regarded with abhorrence. Let it
also be remembered that this generation of Israel under Joshua was the
most pious one in all their history as a nation, and that they burned with the
same holy zeal against Achan as against the degenerate Canaanites; and
that later God sorely punished Israel, too, when they turned away from
Him. Most important then are the lessons contained in this book. It shows
how God intervenes in the affairs of human history. It reveals that He deals
with nations as well as individuals — deals with them in mercy or judgment
according as they honor or displease Him.
The contents of this book and the lessons which they are designed to teach
us are greatly needed by our own generation. First, in counteracting the
one-sided “evangelism” of our day, which tells the sinner that all he has to
do is to accept Christ as his personal Savior and Heaven is then his certain.24
portion — ignoring the fact that there is a fight which must be fought and a
race to be run before he can be crowned. Second, in rebutting that doleful
view that the Christian should expect nothing but frequent and well-nigh
constant defeat in his warfare against the world, the flesh, and the devil —
overlooking the truth that if he meets the required conditions he may “do
all things through Christ strengthening him.” Third, in setting before us, by
clear exemplifications and striking illustrations, the rules and requirements
upon which success is conditioned. Here,.as nowhere else in Scripture, are
we shown how we may be “over-comers.” Fourth, in making known the
blessed fact — so little apprehended by Christians today — that it is both
their privilege and birthright to enter into a present possession and
enjoyment of their Inheritance. O that more of us may do so..25
CHAPTER 2
THE GREAT COMMISSION
JOSHUA 1:1-9
THE CALL TO FAITH
“Now after the death of Moses the servant of the Lord, it came to
pass that zthe Lord spake unto Joshua” (

Joshua 1:1).
The opening word of this verse, when rightly rendered, supplies to the
spiritual mind an indication of the verbal inspiration of the Scriptures.
Properly translated it would be “And,” and what uninspired writer would
ever think of beginning his production with such a connective! John
Urquhart in his “The Bible: its Structure and Purpose” (volume 1) called
attention to this feature, which though a minute detail is one of
considerable importance, namely, that many of the books of the O.T.
commence with the conjunction ve. This indicates of course that those
which open thus are so closely linked with the ones preceding that they are
really continuations of them. But, we may say, it does more than that: the
employment of “And” at the beginning of quite a number of them signifies
that they are not so many books but chapters in the Book. In other words,
this binding together of the variously books by the copulative “And” gives
more than a hint of their fundamental-unity: that one Author composed
them, that one Rule of Faith is found in them
Genesis has no “And” at the commencement of its opening verse, for the
simple reason that it is the first book or chapter, the beginning. But Exodus
opens with this connective “ve” — “and” — rendered there “Now.” So
does Leviticus, and likewise Numbers. Thereby we are taught that those
first books are inseparably united together, and form the first division of
the Bible. But, as Urquhart pointed out, “It is a surprise at first glance
when we find that Deuteronomy, which is regarded as the completion of
the four previous books, is, as a fact, disconnected from them.” He might
also have dwelt on the fact that such a variation or difference is a designed
evidence of Divine superintendence. The very fact that Deuteronomy is.26
regarded (and from one standpoint, rightly so) as the completion of the
Pentateuch argues that were the first five books of the Bible nothing more
than the uninspired productions of Jews, writing in collaboration, the fifth
one had been brought into accord with those which precede it.
The absence of” and” at the opening of Deuteronomy at once intimates
that that book is not a supplement to what has gone before, but rather a
new beginning, or a new division of the O.T. It looks forward and not
backward: a careful study of its contents will verify this. Joshua comes next
and it does open with “And “ — and so does every book which follows
until 1 Chronicles is reached! Thus, Joshua to the end of 2 Kings is
annexed to Deuteronomy, and the whole forms the second division of the
O.T. Having pointed out this feature, let us pause and consider its
significance. Why are the first four books of the Bible coupled together?
why the next eight? and why does Deuteronomy belong to the second
group rather than the first? The answer must be sought in the history of
Israel, for that is the theme of the O.T. The first four books give us the
history of Israel outside the Land which was promised them for an
inheritance, the next eight treat of their history in it. Deuteronomy
rehearses the past history of the Nation and restates the Law in view of
their approaching possession of. Canaan, informing them how they must
conduct themselves therein.
“And after the death of Moses the servant of the Lord”
(

Joshua 1:1).
The removal of Moses from their head was a heavy loss unto Israel. For
many years he had been their leader and legislator. It was under him they
had been delivered from the cruel bondage of Egypt. It was in answer to
his prayers that a way was opened for them through the Red Sea. He was
the one who acted as their representative before the Lord and as His
mouthpiece unto them. It is true there were times when they distrusted him
and murmured against him, yet on the whole they respected and confided
in him. A stage had now been reached when it seemed that Israel needed
him more than ever, for with practically no fighting experience and
possessing scarcely any weapons, they were about to pit themselves against
the “seven nations in the land of Canaan” (

Acts 13:19). Yet he was no
longer to be their commander: death took him from them. That was a deep
mystery to carnal reason, a most painful providence, a sore trying of their
faith. That they felt it keenly is clear:.27
“the children of Israel wept for Moses in the plains of Moab thirty
days” (

Deuteronomy 34:10).
“And after the death of Moses the servant of the Lord, it came to pass that
the Lord spake unto Joshua the son of Nun, Moses’ minister, saying,
“Moses My servant is dead: now therefore arise, go over this
Jordan” (verses 1, 2).
The work of God is in nowise hindered by the decease of His servants, no
matter how eminent they be in office nor how much used in blessing to His
people. Though the workmen be removed, His work goes forward to its
ordained completion. “God will change hands to show that whatever
instruments He uses, He is not tied to any” (Matthew Henry). That does
not mean that God will necessarily supply another pastor for a church
when one has died, for His work in that particular place may be finished; or
that when His time arrives for the work of this magazine to end, that He
will provide another; but it does mean that He will continue to maintain His
Cause upon earth and supply every need of His people. That is certain, and
it should both comfort and inspire us with courage in these dark days in
which our lot is cast.
It is to be duly noted that Joshua did not push himself forward to fill the
breach made by the departure of Moses, but waited until ordered by the
Lord to do so. The relation which he sustained to his predecessor is not
only one of interest but also of deep importance, not so much so from a
historical standpoint as from the typical and doctrinal. This is the point at
which we should amplify that statement at some length, but we are afraid
to do so lest some of our readers wonder if we are ever going to ‘get down
to business,’ for we have already written three articles without taking up
the opening verses of our book. Yet others will say, What does that matter
if their contents were instructive and profitable? We will therefore adopt a
compromise, and defer our remarks upon that subject until a little later.
Meanwhile perhaps a few may be stimulated to ponder and supply answers
for themselves to the following questions: What was the varied relationship
of Joshua unto Moses? and what important truth is illustrated and
illuminated thereby?
“Moses My servant is dead, now therefore arise, go over this
Jordan, thou and all this people, unto the land which I do give to
them, to the children of Israel” (

Joshua 1:2)..28
The appointed time had now arrived, for Jehovah to make good the
promises which He had made to Abraham and his children long centuries
before. All that had been accomplished through Moses was but preliminary
thereto, yet supplying a sure earnest that He would continue to show
Himself strong on their behalf, so long as they adhered strictly to the
covenant which He had entered into with them at Sinai. For that covenant,
and the earlier one constituted the basis of all His dealings with Israel:
while they kept it, they prospered: when they broke it, they experienced
His judgments. It is to be duly observed that this commission which Joshua
here received from the Lord was given to him as the head of Israel: it was
made not with him alone, but the nation as well: “thou and all this people.”
This needs to be borne in mind in connection with all that follows.
“Every place that the sole of your foot shall tread upon, that have I
given unto you, as I said unto Moses” (

Joshua 1:3).
Here again (see previous verse) the Lord emphasized the fact that Canaan
was a sovereign and free gift which He made unto Israel. It was not a
portion to which they were in any wise entitled: neither they nor their
ancestors had done anything to merit such a heritage, nor would their
subsequent prowess in conquering or dispossessing the Canaanites warrant
the idea that they had earned it. Thus it is with the eternal inheritance of the
spiritual Israel. When they are finally gathered into it, they will with one
accord exclaim
“Not unto us, O Lord, not unto us, but unto Thy name give glory”
(

Psalm 115:1).
And even now while upon earth, they frankly aver,
“Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according
to His mercy He saved us by the washing of regeneration and
renewing of the Holy Spirit, which He shed on us abundantly
through Jesus Christ our Savior” (

Titus 3:5, 6).
They one and all subscribe to that declaration
“By grace are ye saved through faith, and that not of yourselves: it
is the gift of God; not of works lest any man should boast”
(

Ephesians 2:8, 9)..29
Nevertheless, though Canaan was a Divine gift unto Israel, yet they did,
not enter into possession of it without effort on their part: their
concurrence was required, and thereby their responsibility was enforced!
Unless that fact be clearly recognized we shall be all at sea in applying the
type unto ourselves, and seriously, aye fatally, pervert God’s “plan” or way
of salvation. There is not the slightest excuse for our doing so, for the
teaching of Scripture on this subject — both in the type and the antitype —
is as clear as a sunbeam. Canaan was first given unto Abraham, and he is
“the father of all them that believe” (

Romans 4:11), and therefore his
case is the norm or model after which ours is patterned. Concerning
Abraham himself, all room for doubt as to how he obtained Canaan, is
removed by

Hebrews 11:8: “By faith Abraham, when he was called to
go out unto a place (which he should after receive for an inheritance),
obeyed, and he went out, not knowing whither he went.” It was by faith-obedience
that Canaan became his.
What has just been pointed out and our placing that clause in parenthesis is
clearly confirmed by

Genesis 12:1,
“Now the Lord had said unto Abraham, Get thee out of thy country
and from thy kindred and from thy father’s house, unto a land that I
will show thee.”
There was no promise at that time that the land would be made over to him
for a possession: it was not until years after that God said to him “I am the
Lord that brought thee out of Ur of the Chaldees to give thee this land to
inherit it.” Abraham was first required to break completely from his old life
and separate from the world, to submit himself unreservedly to God, to
walk by faith, to act in unquestioning obedience to His revealed will, before
the heritage became his! Yes, my reader, the call which Abraham received
from God made very real and definite demands upon him; and since he is
“the father of us all” (

Romans 4:16), each of his children must be
conformed to the family likeness. Abraham is a figure or prototype of those
who have, by grace, been made “partakers of the heavenly calling”
(

Hebrews 3:1).
“By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he
should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed, and he went out, not
knowing whither he went” — still less knowing that the land would be
given to him. A saving faith is one which heeds the Divine commandments
as well as relies upon the Divine promises. Make no mistake about that,.30
dear friends, Christ is “the Author of salvation unto all them that obey
Him” (

Hebrews 5:9). Abraham obeyed not only in word, but in deed:
“he went out.” In that he was in marked contrast from the prevaricating
one who said
“I go, Sir, and went not” (

Matthew 21:30). Faith and obedience
can no more be severed than can the sun and the light, fire and heat.
Therefore we read of “the obedience of faith” (

Romans 1:5
margin). “Obedience is faith’s daughter. Faith hath not only to do
with the grace of God, but with the duty of the creature as well. By
apprehending grace, it works upon duty: ‘faith worketh by love’
(

Galatians 5:6). It fills the soul with apprehensions of God’s
love, and then makes use of the sweetness of love to urge us to
more work or obedience” (T. Manton).
And now the descendants of Abraham were called upon to act by a similar
faith and walk by the same implicit obedience unto God which had marked
their progenitor! The Jordan must be crossed, cities must be captured,
battles must be fought, the Canaanites conquered, before Israel could enter
into possession of and enjoy their inheritance. True, blessedly true, they
were not required to perform such feats in their own unaided strength: the
might of Omnipotence would work on their behalf. Yet also and equally
true was it that God would show Himself strong on their behalf only while
they yielded to His authority and conducted themselves according to His
orders. The Land was indeed His gift — His free and sovereign gift —
unto them, yet they would only. obtain possession of the same by their own
efforts. There is nothing inharmonious between those two things, any more
than there is an inconsistency in the Gospel call,
“He, every one that thirsteth come ye to the waters, and he that
hath no money come ye, buy and eat; yea, come, buy wine and milk
without money and without price” (

Isaiah 55:1)
— alas that that repeated buy is totally ignored by modern evangelism.’
“Every place that the sole of your foot shall tread upon that have I
given you, as I said unto Moses. From the wilderness and this
Lebanon even unto the great river, the river Euphrates, all the land
of the Hittites, and unto the great sea toward the going down of the
sun shall be your coast” (

Joshua 1:3)..31
As we have pointed out in a previous paper, the contents of this book have
a twofold application: an initial and a progressive, to the sinner and to the
saint. That is intimated, we believe, by the very position Joshua occupies in
the Sacred Canon: it sustains a dual relation: coming after, yet being linked
to the Pentateuch, and also forming the commencement of the Historical
books. That hints strongly at a twofold spiritual significance of its contents.
Concerning the land of Canaan Moses said to the Congregation,
“Ye are not as yet come to the rest and to the inheritance which the
Lord your God giveth you” (

Deuteronomy 12:9).
In contrast from the wanderings in the Wilderness, Canaan was their “rest,”
but in actual experience their entrance into the Land marked the beginning
of years of hard fighting. The moment a sinner believes in Christ peace of
conscience, rest of soul is his; nevertheless, only then begins the fierce
battle between the flesh and the spirit.
That rest of soul enjoyed by the Christian when he ceases fighting against
God and trusts in the Savior is an earnest of his inheritance, a foretaste of
the perfect and eternal rest awaiting him on high. The initial act of faith in
Christ puts him in possession of an inalienable title to “the purchased
possession,” but his actual entrance therein is yet future. But it is both his
privilege and duty to “possess his possessions” (Obadiah 17) even now, to
enjoy them by faith and anticipate them by hope. It is his privilege and duty
to appropriate by faith and live in the present enjoyment of that rich portion
which God has given him in Christ. But the flesh, the world and the Devil
will oppose, and seek to keep him out of a present enjoyment of his
possession. There is nothing the Devil hates more than to see a saint
glorying in God and rejoicing in Christ his Lord, and therefore both directly
and by means of indwelling sin, or the allurements and cares of this world,
he is ever seeking to deprive him of his rights. But if we mortify the flesh,
steadfastly resist the Devil, live a life of faith and walk obediently, we can
overcome both self, Satan and the world.
In this connection we need to recall that word of the Lord unto Israel at an
earlier date:
“I will not drive them out from before thee in one year, lest the land
become desolate and the beast of the field multiply against thee: by
little and little I will drive them out from before thee, until thou be
increased and inherit the land” (

Exodus 23:20,30),.32
which shows that God does not act arbitrarily, but compassionately with
respect to His people. To their short-sightedness it might have appeared a
more signal mercy had God exterminated the Canaanites in the first few
months after the crossing of its boundary, but that had neither been most
for His glory nor their good. There were wild beasts in the land as well as
gross idolaters, and even though the latter had been extirpated, Israel were
yet too few in number to properly occupy the whole of the country — they
must wait for that until they had sufficiently multiplied. Moreover, by
driving out the Canaanites from before them” little by little,” Israel was
kept in a state of constant dependence before the Lord. That is one of His
principal designs in all His dealings with people: to wean them from self-reliance
and teach them to lean more and more upon Himself.
The spiritual application to the Christian of the above is simple and
informative. God has nowhere promised to give him victory over all his
enemies at once, and therefore he should not expect it. Nor would it be
good for him if He did — pride and self-esteem would be the immediate
outcome.
“Therefore will the Lord wait that He may be gracious unto you”
(

Isaiah 30:18).
He has many things to say unto us, but we cannot bear them now (

John
15:12); and He has victories to give us, but we are not yet fitted for them.
As Israel were not to be discouraged by the slowness of their arms, neither
must we be dismayed if victory be not ours at once — still less entertain
the thought that success will never be achieved by us. In like manner, the
possessing of our possessions, the present entering into and enjoyment of
our heritage in Christ, is not attained all in a moment, but it is a progressive
experience — “by little and little.” Growth in grace is not an instantaneous
thing like the new birth, but a gradual one: patience has to have her perfect
work.
Perhaps some reader may recall another word of Jehovah’s spoken before
the Jordan was crossed:
“The Lord thy God is He which goeth over before thee: as a
consuming fire He shall destroy them and He shall bring them down
before thy face; so shalt thou drive them out and destroy them
quickly” (

Deuteronomy 9:3)..33
We need hardly say that there, is no conflict between this passage and the
one in Exodus 23, for there are no” contradictions” in the Word of God.
All that is needed is a little careful attention to each passage. The “I will
not drive them out before them in one year” of

Exodus 23:29 has
reference to the Hivites, Canaanites, and Hittites, as the previous verse
shows; whereas the “them” of

Deuteronomy 9:3 is the Anakim — see
verse 2. Nor does this present any difficulty in the spiritual application:
there are some enemies which the Christian is enabled to overcome
“quickly,” while there are others which continue to try him unto the end of
his earthly course.
DIVINE ASSURANCES
It is scarcely possible to overstate the importance of the book of Joshua.
Its contents are an intrinsic part of “the children’s bread”, which is essential
to their well-being. It is of incalculable value to us both doctrinally and
practically. Doctrinally it casts clear light on a subject which has deeply
exercised the best theologians throughout the centuries, namely, the
relation which the Gospel sustains to the Law; yet so far as we are aware,
none has ever appealed to this portion of the Word as providing a solution
to that problem. Surely it is clear that if we can ascertain what was the
precise relations which Joshua bore to Moses, we shall discover the
relations which the Gospel sustains to the Law. It has indeed been
recognized by many that the relation of those men unto each other
indicated in a general way one of the chief distinctions between the Law
and the Gospel: that as Joshua rather than Moses was the one who led
Israel into Canaan, so it is the merits of Christ and not the works of the
Law to which the sinner must look for his justification; but there they
stopped. Instead of starting at the beginning and tracing through the
subject, they began in the middle and drew a single conclusion.
The very first thing told us about Joshua in the book which bears his name
is that he was “Moses’ minister” (

Joshua 1:1), a statement that looks
back to

Exodus 24:13. Thus, Joshua is not set before us as antagonistic
to Moses, but as his attendant and supporter. Apply that to the antitype
and it should at once be evident that it is a serious mistake to regard the
Gospel and the Law as being mutual enemies. Perhaps some will object,
but is it not derogatory to the Son of God to view Him as subservient to
the Law? Our reply is, What saith the Scriptures? Upon that point there is
no room for uncertainty:.34
“When the fullness of time was come God sent forth His Son, made
of a woman, made under the Law” (

Galatians 4:4).
It was in order to prevent any mistake upon this point, to allay any fears
they might entertain about it, that Christ said to His disciples
“Think not that I am come to destroy the Law or the Prophets: I
am not come to destroy, but to fulfill” (

Matthew 5:17)
— to “fulfill” it by rendering thereto a perfect obedience and then to
endure, on behalf of His sinful people, its unremitting penalty.
But second, it is quite clear from the book of Deuteronomy that the
mission of Joshua was to complement that of Moses, to bring to a
successful issue what he began. Moses had led Israel out of Egypt and he
had been their leader all through the wilderness journeyings, but it was left
unto Joshua to induct Israel into their promised inheritance. Here too we
find no antagonism between Joshua and Moses, but rather the one
augmenting the other. Therein we have a blessed and striking adumbration
of the relation which the Gospel sustains to the Law: it is not its adversary
but its handmaid, not its destroyer but its fulfiller. Christ has not only
honored and magnified the Law person ally, but He secures its being
honored and magnified in the affections and lives of His redeemed:
“For the Law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by
Jesus Christ” (

John 1:17).
“For what the Law could not do, in that it was weak through the
flesh, God sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and
for sin, condemned sin in the flesh: that the righteousness of the
Law might be fulfilled in us” (

Romans 8:3, 4).
Under Moses the Law obtained not its due because of the weakness of the
flesh in those who received it. They declared unto Moses
“speak thou unto us all that the Lord our God shall speak unto
thee, and we will hear and do” (

Deuteronomy 5:27).
Nor was the Lord displeased at such an avowal. So far was He from
condemning them for a presumptuous boast, we are told, “the Lord said
unto me, I have heard the voice of the words of this people which they
have spoken unto thee: they have well said all that they have spoken”
(verse 28). Nevertheless, there was a “weakness” of which they were.35
ignorant, but of which He was cognizant, for He went on to say “Oh that
there were such a heart in them that they would fear Me and keep all My
commandments always, that it might be well with them and with their
children forever!” There we learn what their “weakness” consisted of: they
lacked a heart for the Lord Himself. That is the lack of the natural man the
world over: until he is born again no man has either any filial fear of God
nor love for Him, and where those be absent there is neither desire nor
sincere effort to keep them.
“The carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the
Law of God, neither indeed can be” (

Romans 8:7).
Inexpressibly solemn are those words: true of writer and reader alike until
a miracle of grace was wrought within him. The carnal mind is not subject
to the Law of God nor is it capable of being so: it is utterly lawless,
determined only on pleasing self and having our own way. The reason for
this in-subjection of the carnal mind to the Divine Law is that it is “enmity
against God”: it is alienated from Him, it hates Him — abhorring His
ineffable holiness and despising His sovereign authority. But at
regeneration the love of God is shed abroad in the heart by the Holy Spirit
(

Romans 5:5): a contrary principle is implanted which opposes that
enmity and its reigning power is destroyed. Hence, there is on the part of
the regenerated person a radically changed disposition and attitude to the
Divine Law, so that he declares
“I delight in the Law of God after the inward man…with the mind I
myself serve the Law of God” (

Romans 7:22, 25).
Third, not only was Joshua, originally, “Moses’ minister”, not only did he
supplement his ministry and bring his mission to successful completion, but
when commissioned by Jehovah to conduct His people into Canaan, he was
bidden
“Only be thou strong and very courageous, that thou mayest
observe to do according to all the Law which Moses My servant
commanded thee: turn not from it to the right hand or to the left,
that thou mayest prosper whithersoever thou goest. This book of
the Law shall not depart out of thy mouth, but thou shalt meditate
therein day and night” (

Joshua 1:7,8).
Here again we see that so far from the work assigned Joshua being inimical
to that of his predecessor, he was enjoined to honor and magnify it. That.36
commission concerned not so much Joshua personally as it did the people
entrusted to his charge. If Israel were to “possess their possessions”, then
under the leader ship of Joshua they must regulate their conduct by the
Divine Law. God has not regenerated those for whom Christ died that they
might live as they please, but that they
“might serve Him without fear, in holiness and righteousness before
Him, all the days of our life” (

Luke 1:73, 75).
Herein lies the triumph and glory of the Gospel: not merely that
transgressors are pardoned and sinners delivered from the wrath to some,
but-that they are “created in righteousness and true holiness”
(

Ephesians 4:24), given a nature which delights in the Law and
sincerely serves it. The Law is written on their hearts (

Hebrews 8:10),
enshrined in their affections, and under the leadership of the antitypical
Joshua their conduct is governed by it. Christ has left them an example that
they should follow His steps (

1 Peter 2:21), and He respected, honored,
and fulfilled the Law. True, they do not perfectly obey the Law, though
they long to and honestly endeavor so to do, and where there is that honest
endeavor God accepts the will for the deed. So far from the Law’s being
set aside, N.T. saints are “under the Law to Christ” (

1 Corinthians
9:21), and just so far as they act in accordance with that fact is “good
success” theirs in the spiritual life.
Here, then, is the relation between the Law and the Gospel. First, as Moses
preceded Joshua, so God employs the Law as an instrument for convicting
the sinner of his need of Christ, for “by the Law is the knowledge of sin”
(

Romans 3:20). Second, as Joshua was “Moses’ minister”, so Christ
was made under the Law and satisfied its every requirement, both
preceptive and penal, that a perfect righteousness might be provided for
His people. Third, as the mission of Joshua supplemented and
complemented that of Moses, so when the Gospel of Christ is made the
power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth, there is
communicated to that soul a nature which loves the Law and is subject to
it. Fourth, as the success of Israel in Canaan turned upon their obedience to
Joshua, who was to be regulated wholly by the Law of Moses, so the
Christian enters into possession of his possessions only so far as he is
subject to the Law in the hands of the Mediator. This will be made
increasingly evident if we are permitted to continue our meditations upon
this book of Scripture..37
In our last we dwelt a little on

Joshua 1:1-3. With verse 4 should be
compared

Genesis 15:18,

Exodus 23:31,

Numbers 34:3-12,

Deuteronomy 11:24. Turning now to verse 5 we have the blessed
promises which the Lord made unto Joshua as the basis of the great
commission he then received. “There shall not any man be able to stand
before thee all the days of thy life: as I was with Moses, so I will be with
thee: I will not fail thee, nor forsake thee”. In seeking to ponder them in
the light of what immediately follows, we need to bear in mind that the
terms of the commission were made with Joshua not simply as a private
person, but as leader of the Nation, that what God required from him He
required from them, and that what He promised him He promised them.
We saw this when looking at verse 2, wherein Jehovah said unto Joshua
“Moses My servant is dead: now therefore arise, go over this Jordan, thou
and all this people” That “therefore” is most significant and suggestive so
far from the loss of their former leader inclining them to sit down in
dejection and despair, it was all the more necessary why they should go
forward under their new commander.
“There shalt not any man be able to stand before thee”. That this promise
was made unto the Nation as here represented by Joshua is clear from a
comparison with

Deuteronomy 7:24. There we find Moses addressing
the whole congregation, assuring it of what the Lord God would do for
them when He brought them into the land (see verse 1): “He shall deliver
their kings into thine hand, and thou shalt destroy their name from under
heaven: there shall no man be able to stand before thee”. Thus as

Joshua 1:2 gave the Divine call of duty unto Israel — “arise, go over
this Jordan, thou and all this people unto the land which I do give thee” —
so in verse 5 we see the Divine encouragement given them unto the
discharge of their duty. Moses had to face the haughty monarch of Egypt
— then the mightiest kingdom on earth — and confront his wise men and
magicians; yet none were able to stand before him. Powerful nations were
in possession of Canaan, among them the giant Anakim (

Deuteronomy
9:2), but none shall be able to withstand Joshua and those tinder him: “as I
was with Moses, so I will be with thee”
“There shall not any man be able to stand before thee all the days of thy
life: as I was with Moses, so I will be with thee”. But was that blessed
assurance designed only for Joshua and the Israelites of that day? Is it not
recorded also for our sakes (

Romans 4:23, 24). Then are we making
practical use of it? Do we frequently remind ourselves of the same? Do we.38
plead it before the throne of grace in time of need and ask God to make it
good in our experience? Realizing that we are called upon to “fight the
good fight of faith”, conscious of our weakness and the might of our foes,
have we put God in mind of this word? If not, why not? Is not our failure
at this point the explanation of many other failures? It is not enough that
we should long to enter more fully into our heritage in Christ, we should
also appropriate unto ourselves this blessed assurance and beg God to
overthrow whatever is standing in the way and hindering us from a present
and personal enjoyment of our spiritual portion. We should be daily and
confidently entreating Him to teach us to vanquish the Anakim which are
usurping our rightful heritage.
Should any doubt the dispensational validity of what we have just pointed
out and demur at the idea of Christians today applying to themselves a
specific promise made to Joshua thousands of years ago, then all room for
a questioning of the same should at once be removed by the final clause of
that verse’ “I will not fail thee nor forsake thee” (verse 5). Let the reader
very carefully observe that that very promise is quoted in Hebrews 13 and
a most important conclusion drawn from it:
“For He hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee. So that
we may boldly say, The Lord is my Helper and I will not fear what
man shall do unto me” (verses 5, 6).
The very fact that the Holy Spirit moved the apostle to apply unto
Christians that promise made unto Joshua is clear proof of its significance
for believers in this age. Although the principle of one basic interpretation
with many legitimate applications may still be maintained, the promises of
God frequently transcend dispensational distinctions. This is particularly
true when the promise is restated in another historical context. In such
instances the promise definitely pertains to those living in the other era as
well and God’s children should rightly partake of this needful portion of
their bread.
What has just been mentioned ought to be so obvious that it requires no
further amplification: but since some of our readers have been wrongly
instructed therein, we must labor the point a little further. Are not the
needs of believers the same in one age as another? Does not God bear the
same relation to them and is He not affected alike unto all of His children
— does He not bear them the same love? If He would not fail or forsake
Joshua, then He will not us. Are not Christians today under the same.39
everlasting covenant of grace as were the O.T. saints? Then they have a
common charter:
“For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that
are afar off — as many as the Lord our God shall call” (

Acts
2:39).
Let us not forget that
“Whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our
learning, that we through patience and comfort of the Scriptures
might have hope” (

Romans 15:6).
Then let this principle be held tenaciously by us: the Divine promises which
were made on special occasions to particular individuals are of general use
for all the members of the Household of Faith.
“I will not fail thee, nor forsake thee” is one of “the exceeding great and
precious promises” of God (

2 Peter 1:4) which is addressed to me now
as much as it was to Joshua of old, and therefore is available for my faith to
lay hold of and enjoy. Note the use which the apostle made of the same:
“So that we may boldly say, the Lord is my Helper, and I will not
fear what man shall do unto me” (

Hebrews 13:6).
Those words “so that” point an inference drawn from the promise: a
double conclusion is thereby reached — confidence in God and courage
against man. That intimates the various and manifold use we should make
of God’s promises. The conclusion drawn by the apostle was based upon
the character of the Promiser and similarly should faith ever reason. Since
God is infinitely good, faithful, all-powerful and immutable, we may boldly
or confidently declare with Abraham “the Lord will provide” (

Genesis
29:8), with Jonathan “there is no restraint to the Lord to save by many or
by few” (

1 Samuel 14:6), with Jehoshaphat “None is able to withstand
Thee” (

2 Chronicles 20:6), with Paul “If God be for us, who can be
against us” (

Romans 8:31).
“So that we may boldly say, The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what
man shall do unto me”. Note attentively the change in number from the
plural to the singular: general principles are to be appropriated by us in
particular, as general precepts are to be taken by us individually — as the
Lord Jesus individualized the “Ye shall not tempt the Lord your God” of.40
Deuteronomy 6: 16 when assailed by Satan (

Matthew 4:10)! It is only
by taking the Divine promises and precepts unto ourselves personally that
we mix faith with the same and make a proper and profitable use of them.
It is further to be observe d that “The Lord is my Helper.” etc, is a citation
from

Psalm 118:6. In that quotation the apostle teaches us again that
the language of the O.T. is exactly suited unto the case of Christians now,
and that they are fully warranted in appropriating the same”; “we may
boldly say” just what the Psalmist did! It was in a season of sore distress
that David expressed his confidence in the Lord, at a time when it appeared
that his enemies were about to swallow him up; but contrasting the
omnipotence of Jehovah with the feebleness of the creature his heart was
strengthened and emboldened.
Ah, but does the reader clearly perceive what that involved? It meant that
David turned his mind away from the seen to the unseen. It means that he
was regulated by faith rather than by sight or reason. It means that His
heart was occupied with the omnipotent One. But it means much more: he
was occupied with the relationship of that omnipotent One unto himself. It
means that he recognized and realized the spiritual bond there was between
them, so that he could rightly and boldly say “the Lord is my Helper”. If
He be my God, my Redeemer, my Father, then He can be counted upon to
undertake for me when I am in, sore straits, when my foes would devour
me, or when my barrel of meal is well-nigh empty. But that “my” is the
language of faith and “my Helper” is the conclusion which faith’s assurance
unhesitatingly drew. Often God so orders His providences and places us in
trying circumstances that there may be suitable opportunity for our
exercise of faith and that He may be glorified by the same. Nothing honors
Him more than the unquestioning confidence of our hearts when everything
outward seems thoroughly against us.
Yes, David turned away his eyes from his numerous and powerful enemies
unto the omnipotent One, and so should we. God will not disappoint us if
we do: He never fails those who really trust Him. Consider another
example which illustrates the same principle. On one occasion
“the children of Moab the children of Ammon, and with them other
besides the Ammonites, came against Jehoshaphat to battle” (

2
Chronicles 20:1).
The king was quickly informed that “there cometh a great multitude
against thee”, and we are told that he “feared”. But that was not all he did:.41
he “set himself to seek the Lord and proclaimed a fast throughout all
Judah”. Then in the presence of the whole congregation he prayed and
pleaded with Jehovah, concluding with “O our God, wilt Thou not judge
them? for we have no might against this great company that cometh against
us, neither know we what to do: but our eyes are upon Thee” (verse 12).
Nor did they look unto Him in vain. Read the sequel — verses 14-26:
without themselves striking a blow, the Lord smote their enemies with such
a spirit of confusion that they fell upon one another and completely
destroyed themselves.
DIVINE INJUNCTIONS
When Jehovah called Moses to go down into Egypt and make known His
demand unto Pharaoh He assured His servant
“I will be with thy mouth and teach thee what thou shalt say”
(

Exodus 4:12).
When Jeremiah was ordained a prophet unto the nations and he shrank
from the task before him, God said
“they shall fight against thee, but they shall not prevail against thee,
for I am with thee, saith the Lord, to deliver thee”
(

Jeremiah 1:19).
With such assurances does the Lord fortify the hearts of those whom He
commissions to go forth in His name. Similarly, when the risen Redeemer
bade His apostles make disciples of all nations and baptize them, He first
emphasized the fact that “all power had been given to Him in heaven and in
earth”, and then comforted them with the declaration
“Lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world
(

Matthew 28:18-20).
So too when He told Paul to remain at Corinth, He cheered him thus:
“Be not afraid, but speak, and hold not thy peace, for I am with
thee and no man shall set on thee to hurt thee, for I have much
people in this city” (

Acts 18:9, 10).
In like manner did the Lord prepare Joshua for the undertaking to which he
was called. First, He gave him the threefold assurance,.42
“There shall not any man be able to stand before thee all the days of
thy life: as I was with Moses, so I will be with thee: I will not fail
thee, nor forsake thee” (

Joshua 1:5).
The time had arrived when he was to lead the people of Israel across the
Jordan and marshal their forces for the conquest of the promised land. On
the threshold of that difficult and dangerous task Jehovah had thus
encouraged and animated His servant. Great were the obstacles and perils
confronting them, but great too were the consolations here vouchsafed
him. Highly favored as was Joshua in being made the recipient of such
promises, yet they were not designed to set aside the discharge of his own
responsibility: he was not to say within himself, These covenant
engagements will certainly be fulfilled, so there is no need for me to be
exercised. So far from using’ them as a couch for him to rest upon, they
were designed as, a girdle wherewith to gird up his loins for future
activities.
“Be strong and of a good courage, for unto this people shalt thou
divide for an inheritance the land which I sware unto their fathers to
give them. Only be thou strong and very courageous”
(

Joshua 1:6,7).
The Divine assurance received by Joshua was therefore intended as a spur
unto energy, as an incentive to the performance of duty, for the quickening
of his heart unto the same. The connection between this exhortation and
what immediately precedes it inculcates a most important practical lesson:
God’s promises are not meant to set aside His precepts, but rather are
given to encourage us to do with all our hearts and might whatever He has
bidden us. Assurances of Divine assistance must never be regarded as
nullifying our accountability or as rendering needless the putting forth of
our utmost endeavors, but instead, are to be taken as so many guarantees
that if we be “always abounding in the work of the Lord” (the discharge of
our daily duties), then we may know “that our labor is not in vain in the
Lord” (

1 Corinthians 15:58).
Those professing Christians who reason, God has promised never to leave
nor forsake us and therefore it is quite safe for us to flirt with the world
and trifle with Sill, do but make manifest the unregenerate condition of
their hearts.
They who take unto themselves the Divine declaration.43
“He who hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the
day of Jesus Christ” (

Philippians 1:6)
and then conclude there is no need for them to make their calling and
election sure, or desire the sincere milk of the Word that they may grow
thereby, render it very doubtful that a good work has been begun in them.
They who say, God will assuredly fulfill His decrees and draw unto Christ
all whom He has ordained unto eternal life, and therefore there is no need
for us to be deeply concerned about souls and seek after their salvation,
speak not the language of His true children, but wrest the Truth. If our
response to God’s promises be that of sloth and carelessness, that is proof
we have received them carnally and not spiritually. The use or misuse we
make of the Divine cordials affords a good index of the state of our hearts.
God had just assured Joshua “as I was with Moses, so I will be with thee”
That language was unequivocal and unqualified, yet it was far from
signifying that he might take things easily, or simply “stand still, and see the
salvation of the Lord” — words which have heed grievously misapplied.
No, rather were they designed to inspire him to the performance of duty
and to let him know that his efforts should not be in vain. “Be strong and
of a good courage”’ that was the first effect which those assurances should
work in him, and until they did he was not fitted for the task before him.
That task entailed the facing of problems and dangers such as were enough
to make the stoutest heart to quake, nevertheless, Joshua was to undertake
it without trepidation or hesitation. And why so? Because the living God,
the omnipotent Jehovah had declared that not a man should be able to
stand before him, that He would not fail nor forsake him. Then what was
there to fear? Had not Joshua good ground, sufficient reason, to be strong
and to act valiantly?
Upon entering Canaan powerful enemies had to be faced, for the land was
inhabited by races of giants, men who were famous both for stature and
strength.
They were a fierce and warlike people, strongly armed, for they had
“chariots of iron” (

Joshua 17:16). True, but God had said “Not any man
shall be able to stand before thee”. Formidable obstacles had to be
overcome. The cities of the Canaanites were fortified, described by the ten
spies as “great and walled up to heaven” (

Deuteronomy 1:28) That was
the language of unbelief’s exaggeration, yet they were mighty strongholds
which had to be overthrown. Even so, God’s “I will not fail thee” was.44
more than sufficient. Again, there was the food problem to be considered.
In the wilderness the Israelites had been daily supplied with manna from
heaven, but that was now to cease. When the Jordan was crossed that
great host of people must quarter on the enemy. Who was to provide for
such a multitude? How should they be fed? Was not such a problem
enough to make Joshua quail? No, not after he had received such
assurances.
Not only were the Canaanites a numerous and powerful foe, but those
whom Joshua commanded were a most unpromising people. What trouble
they had occasioned his predecessor in the desert! Ever ready to murmur,
wanting to turn back to Egypt, stiff-necked, and with no faith in Jehovah.
What could Joshua expect from their immediate descendants? How far
could he count on their loyalty and cooperation? Was it not more than
likely that their hearts would turn from him as those of their fathers so
often had from Moses? Even so, God had said “I will not forsake thee”
How well suited were those Divine assurances to his situation! In view of
them what good reason had the Lord to bid him “Be strong and of a good
courage”. And in view of the same what sufficient ground had Joshua to go
forward in full confidence and valor! So he would if he took those
promises to heart and mixed faith with them. Ah, it all turned on that. As
cause stands to effect so would the laying hold of those promises produce
strength of spirit and courageous action. Joshua did receive them by faith,
and such was their effect upon him.
What bearing does the above have upon us today? In our last we pointed
out that the promise of

Joshua 1:5 belongs to Christians today, and here
we must insist that the precept “Be strong and of a good courage” is also
addressed to us personally, that God so enjoins us. “Quit you like men, be
strong” (

1 Corinthians 16:13), “be of good courage” (

Psalm 31:24)
make known the Divine requirements from us. Those are the graces
specially needed by believers if they are to overcome their enemies,
surmount the obstacles in their path and possess their possessions.
Granted, says the reader, but when you bid me “be strong” you do but
tantalize me, seeing that is the very thing I desire to be and yet am
conscious I am not. But cannot you see the fault is entirely your own’ that
your weakness and fear is due to your failure to mix faith with God’s
promises? What more do you want than what God has said to you in

Joshua 1:5? If God be for you, who can be against you? Look away.45
from yourself, from your enemies, from your difficulties, unto Him who
hath said “I will not fail thee, nor forsake thee”: count upon Him, and
strength will displace weakness and courage fear.
“Only be thou strong and very courageous, that thou mayest
observe to do according to all the Law, which Moses My servant
commanded thee” (verse 7).
This exhortation is not a mere repetition of the one in the previous verse,
but a particularizing of it or an application of the same to a specific duty.
The “be strong and of a good courage” cf. verse 5 was more general, this
here relates especially to walking in tee way of God’s commandments.
Resoluteness, fortitude, daring and perseverance were required for the
great exploits which lay ahead, yet equally necessary and essential — if less
apparent unto some today — was strength and courage if Joshua was to be
completely submissive to the legislation of his predecessor. The world
admires most the man who is independent, strikes out along a line of his
own, and counts meekness and submission as a mean-spirited thing. It is
the free-thinker and the free-liver who is generally admired by the godless,
and obedience is despised as something servile. Joshua was now virtually
made king in Jeshurun and it called for real courage for Israel’s
commander-in-chief to take his orders from another, and especially so
when the carrying out of the same seemed to be a hazardous matter.
Let the Christian faithfully apply this exhortation unto himself and perhaps
he will the better perceive what it involved for Joshua. “Be thou strong and
very courageous, that (in order that) thou mayest observe to do according
to all the Law”. Is there not an inseparable connection between the two
things: is not courage required in order to obedience? Fellow-Christian, if
your character and conduct is to be regulated by the Divine standard, if all
{he details of your life are to be ordered by God’s statutes, what will men
think and say of you? Will they not deem you mad? It calls for courage,
courage of a high order, for a preacher to scorn all novelties and disdain
the contemptuous sneers of his fellows that he is “behind the times”
because he declares only the counsel of God. And it calls for real courage
for the private Christian to cleave close to the path of obedience when
many professors will sneer at his “strictness” and “strait-lacedness”. How
many are afraid of being thought “queer” or “puritanical”! Ah, my reader,
it requires resolution and valor to swim against the tide of popular opinion,
as it does to differ from “our doctrines” if one sees God’s Word requires it..46
“That thou mayest observe to do according to all the Law, which
Moses My servant commanded thee: turn not from it to the right
hand or to the left, that thou mayest prosper whithersoever thou
goest” (verse 7).
There was the commission which Joshua received from the Lord. He was
not to be regulated by his own inclinations nor lean unto his own
understanding, he was not to be governed by the principle of expediency
nor be seeking to please those under him; instead, he must be actuated in
all things by a “thus saith the Lord”. For the carrying out of that
commission he needed strength and courage, that he might be daring
enough to strictly heed the instructions which Moses had left in writing for
him. And in order to the exercise of those graces his heart must be
constantly occupied with the assuring promises God had given him. So
God’s servant today must teach His people to observe all things
whatsoever Christ has commanded, resting on His promise “Lo, I am with
you alway”. So too the private Christian must heed that word “whatsoever
He saith unto you, do” (

John 2:5), counting on His promise to make his
way prosperous.
As another has pointed out, “In Joshua’s case, full obedience to the Divine
command involved innumerable difficulties, such as besieging fortified
cities and fighting against warriors who came to battle in chariots of iron
armed with scythes”. He who contemplates enlisting under the banner of
Christ needs well to sit down and count the cost, for it is no child’s play. to
“follow the Lamb whithersoever He goeth”. A merely nominal profession
is easy enough to make and maintain after the manner of the times, but to
be a real Christian means to deny self, take up the cross and go forth unto
Christ without the camp. Through his obedience Joshua made many
enemies. When it became known that Jericho had been captured and Ai
vanquished, we read of certain kings confederating together to destroy
him. Such will be the experience of the obedient Christian. It will be his
desire and effort to make no enemies, but if he is faithful to Christ many of
his old friends will turn against him, and he probably prove that his foes are
found even in his own household. “Woe unto you” if “all men speak well
of you”.
Joshua’s obedience required strength and courage because it involved years
of persevering effort. Rome was not built in a day, nor was Canaan
captured in a twelve month. Long marches, protracted campaigns, much.47
heavy fighting was entailed before Israel fully entered into possession of
their heritage. As another has said “The days were not long enough for his
battles. He bids the sun stand still and the moon is stayed: and even when
that long day has passed, yet the morning sees him sword in hand still.
Joshua was like those old knights who slept in their armor. He was always
fighting”. Such is the life of the Christian a warfare from end to end. No
sooner does he receive pardon from Christ than the great conflict begins.
Every yard of the narrow way which leadeth unto Life is contested — not
a foot will Satan yield to him. When victory has been obtained over one
lust, another immediately raises its ugly head. When one temptation has
been overcome, ten others more subtle menace him. There is no respite, no
furlough is granted. “He that endureth unto the end shall be saved”, and
none other will. Something more than human strength and prowess is
called for.
“Do according to all the Law which Moses My servant commanded thee:
turn not from it to the right hand or to the left”. As one has well pointed
out, “It is the exactness of obedience which constitutes the essence of
obedience”
The fact is that if we do not desire and earnestly endeavor to keep all of
God’s commandments we are totally lacking in the spirit of genuine
obedience. He who picks and chooses between them is a self-pleaser and
not a God-pleaser. The vast majority in Christendom today say, We must
not be too precise: but that is too thin a garb to cover their hypocrisy. At
heart they want to turn their backs on God’s Law altogether, but as an
open avowal of such a sentiment would at once expose them, they resort to
such cant as, We must not be too nice, too strict, too particular. It is this
temporizing and compromising which has brought Christendom into the
sorry state that it is now in. An omission here and a human addition there
opened the flood-gates of evil. As the Lord will have all our hearts or
nothing, so He will accept only an obedience which respects “all His
commandments” (

Psalm 119:6), and not one which is partial and
discriminating.
Joshua was granted no indulgence, but must adhere rigidly and constantly
to the Rule set before him. No matter how contrary to natural wisdom and
prudence might be the carrying out of its precepts, no matter how
unpopular it should make him with the people of Israel, God required full.48
and continuous obedience from him. And so He does of us today, and unto
those of His nominal disciples who fail to render the same, He asks,
“Why call ye Me, Lord, and do not the things which I say?”
(

Luke 6:46).
Yes, “nominal” disciples is all they are, for He Himself declares
“that servant which knew his Lord’s will and prepared not, neither
did according to His will, shall be beaten with many stripes”
(

Luke 12:47).
t is probable that the apostle had

Joshua 1:7 in mind when he said
“by the armor of righteousness on the right hand and on the left”
(

2 Corinthians 6:9)
— righteousness is right doing, acting according to the standard of right,
namely, the Law of God. When one said to a Puritan, “Many people have
rent their consciences in halves: could you not just make a little nick in
yours?” He answered, “No, I cannot, for my conscience belongs to God”
Finally, let us notice that the path of obedience is the path of prosperity:
“turn not from it to the right hand or to the left, that (in order that) thou
mayest prosper whithersoever thou goest” (verse 7). Conformity unto the
revealed will of God may entail trial, but there will be abundant
compensation. Of course there shall, for the Lord will be no man’s Debtor.
The path of obedience is the path of blessing: the treading thereof may
incur the frowns of men, but what matters that if we have the smile of our
Master! True, the prosperity may not immediately appear, for faith has to
be tried and patience developed, yet in the long run it will be found that in
keeping the Divine commandments “there is great reward” (

Psalm
19:11). So Joshua found it: he adhered strictly to the Divine Law and
success crowned his efforts; and that is recorded for our encouragement.
Let us not forget that
“Godliness is profitable for all things: having promise of the life that
now is and of that which is to come” (

1 Timothy 4:8),
yet that promise is conditioned by our keeping of the precepts..49
THE PRIMACY OF GOD’S WORD
We turn now to the closing portion of the great commission which Joshua
received frown the Lord. We have already seen that it came to him after
the death of Moses, and that it was concerned with Israel’s conquest and
occupation of the land of Canaan (verses 1-4). We have contemplated the
blessed assurances which Jehovah gave unto His servant, for the
comforting of his heart and the strengthening of his hands (verse 5). We
have pondered the general injunction which God laid upon the new leader
of His people (verse 6), and sought to show its meaning and timeliness. We
have also noted the particular application which the Lord made of that
injunction unto Joshua, in requiring that he should be very courageous in
regulating all his actions by the statutes He had given through Moses and
placed on permanent record as an authoritative Rule for all who should
succeed him, and how that He enjoined implicit and undeviating obedience
from him, (verse 7), and endeavored to indicate the very real and practical
bearing all of that has upon our spiritual lives today. In what we are now to
ponder, we learn what more was demanded of Joshua in order to ensure a
successful realization of all the foregoing.
“This Book of the Law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou
shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do
according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy
way prosperous and then thou shalt have good success”
(

Joshua 1:8).
Joshua was to be guided and governed wholly by the written Word, which
was something unprecedented, unique, No man before Joshua had received
orders from God to regulate his conduct by the Words of a Book. True,
Abram and his household obeyed God’s voice in keeping His
commandments and His statutes (

Genesis 26:5). Moses too had acted
by Divine authority, but each had received his instructions from the mouth
of the Lord, But Joshua, and all who succeeded him, must be governed by
“this Book of the Law” It is remarkable that Joshua and the Book come
before us together, without any introduction, in the same passage:
“and the Lord said unto Moses, Write this in a book and rehearse it
in the ears of Joshua” (

Exodus 17:14)
— the Book was prepared for Joshua; Joshua came to fulfill the words of
the Book. The typical significance of that is at once apparent..50
Let it be carefully noted that God’s Word, from its very first appearance as
a book, occupies the same position, namely, the position of unqualified
supremacy. It was set above Joshua: all his actions were to be regulated by
it. Let us also observe that the authority of this Book is quite independent
of its quantity or size. “The law of Moses”, “Moses and the Prophets”,
“The Law, the Prophets and the Psalms” (

Luke 24:44) are descriptions
of the same Book, differing in the quantity of its matter but not differing in
its authority, nor in its relation to the people of God.
“Blessed is he that readeth and they that hear the words of this
prophecy” (

Revelation 1:3)
is a declaration that applies with equal force to the Holy Scriptures in every
stage of their compilation, from the opening chapters of “The Book of the
Law” till the completion of the Sacred Canon. Let us further remark that in
this first title given to the Bible in its earliest form, we have emphasized its
leading characteristic: it contains more than good advice or salutary
counsel — it is a “Law” binding upon us, a Law clothed with Divine
authority, a Rule for us to walk by.
“This Book of the Law” comprised the entire Pentateuch, the first five
books (or chapters) of the O.T. It is not “these books of the Law” for all
through the O.T. those five books are regarded as a unit. Now it is very
rare indeed that we turn aside and pay any attention to the ravings of
skeptics and infidels, but on this occasion we will depart from our custom.
It is one of the many erroneous allegations of the self-styled “Higher
Critics” that the Pentateuch was not written by Moses, but was composed
at a very much later date — some say, in the time of king Manasseh;
others, not until the days of Ezra. But over against this assertion, stands
the fact that a definite “Book” is spoken of all through the O.T., as being
constantly appealed to, with directions how it was to be preserved; and it
should be of interest to our readers if we briefly outline the references to
the same. The first mention of this “Book” is as stated above, in

Exodus
17:14, and there we see it was written by Jehovah’s command, and (in the
Hebrew) is designated the Book.
“And Moses wrote all the words of the Lord… and he took the
Book of the Covenant and read it in the audience of the people”
(

Exodus 24:4,7),
tells who was its first penman..51
“Moses wrote their goings out according to their journeys by the
commandment of the Lord” (

Numbers 33:2),
and if we compare

Deuteronomy 1:2, 3 and

Deuteronomy 2:14 it
will be found that those “journeys” were from the early part of the first
year after Israel came out of Egypt until the end of the thirty-eighth.
“Moses wrote this Law and delivered it unto the priests, the sons of
Levi” (

Deuteronomy 31:9)
entrusting it to their custody, and verse 26 of the same chapter informs us
he bade the Levites, “take this Book of the Law and put it in the side of the
ark of the covenant of the Lord your God, that it may be there for a
witness against them”. It is clear from verse 19 that copies were made of
parts of it at least, but the standard copy was preserved in the side of the
ark, which vessel was kept in the holy of holies. From that Standard copy
each king of Israel was required to
“write him a copy of this Law in a book out of that which is before
the priests the Levites” (

Deuteronomy 17:18).
Once every seven years the whole of the Book of the Law was to be read
in the hearing of the entire congregation.
“And Moses commanded them, saying, At the end of every seventh
year, in the solemnity of the year of release, in the feast of
tabernacles, when all Israel is come to appear before the Lord their
God in the place which He shall choose, thou shalt read this Law
before all Israel in their hearing…that they may learn and fear the
Lord your God and observe to do all the words of this Law”
(

Deuteronomy 31:11-13).
This was the Book by which Joshua was to be regulated. At a later date,
the Spririt moved him to write therein (

Joshua 24:26), as Samuel also
added portions thereto (

1 Samuel 10:25). It was this Book Davit] had
in mind when he prayed “teach me Thy statutes”; “order my steps in Thy
Word” (

Psalm 119:12, 133). When David drew nigh unto death, he
gave this commission unto Solomon:
“Keep the charge of the Lord thy God, to walk in His ways, to
keep His statutes and His commandments… as it is written in the.52
Law of Moses, that thou mayest prosper in all that thou doest”
(

1 Kings 2:1-4).
Alas, Solomon failed to heed that injunction, following too much the evil
devices of his heart. The decline which began in his reign accelerated and
continued many generations, and during that time “this Book of the Law”
was lost to the people. In the days of Josiah, the high priest “found the
Book of the Law in the house of the Lord” (

2 Kings 22:8), for He had
guarded and preserved it despite Israel’s apostasy, and the godly king
himself read “all the words of the Book of the Covenant” in the hearing of
a vast assembly (

2 Kings 23:2, 3). Later, we find Ezra doing the same
thing (

Nehemiah 8:1,8, 13:1). Daniel made reference to this Book;
“the curse is poured upon us and the oath that is written in the Law
of Moses the servant of God, because we have sinned against Him”
(

Daniel 9:11).
While the very last chapter of the O.T. contains this injunction, “Remember
ye the Law of Moses, My servant, which I commanded unto him in Horeb
for all Israel, with the statutes and judgments” (verse 4); which completes
the cycle.
“This Book of the Law shall not depart out of thy mouth”
(

Joshua 1:8).
No man, however dignified his position, is above the Law of God. Though
exalted to be commander-in-chief over Israel, and thereby given great
power and authority, Joshua himself must be in subjection to the Divine
Law: he was to issue no orders save those which were authorized by the
Rule given to him. He was to invent no new statutes or ordinances, but be
regulated solely by what was written. If Joshua was to complete the work
which Moses began, then he must maintain the Law which Moses had
established. There was no need for him to make new laws: he was already
furnished with a Divine and complete Charter, and that it was his business
to heed and enforce. “To the Law and to the Testimony” he was to be held
accountable, and if he spake not according thereto, then there was no light
in him (

Isaiah 8:20), and those under him would be left in spiritual
darkness. Just so far as he executed this commision would the smile of God
be upon him and prosperity attend his efforts..53
“But thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest
observe to do according to all that is written therein” (

Joshua
1:8).
Meditation upon the Word of God is one of the most important of all the
means of grace and growth in spirituality, yea there can be no true progress
in vital and practical godliness without it. Meditation on Divine things is
not optional but obligatory, for it is something which God has commanded
us to attend unto. The order which Joshua received was not restricted to
himself, but is addressed to all of God’s people. Nor does it by any means
stand alone.
“Set your hearts unto all the words which I testify among you this
day” (

Deuteronomy 32:46).
“Ponder the path of thy feet” (

Proverbs 4:26); “Consider your ways”
(

Haggai 1:7). “Let these sayings sink down into your ears” (

Luke
9:44), which they cannot do, unless they be frequently turned over in our
minds.
“Whatsoever things are true, venerable, just, pure, lovely… think on
these things” (

Philippians 4:8).
Meditating in God’s Law day and night is one of the outstanding marks of
the man whom He calls “Blessed” (

Psalm 1:1, 2). It is a holy art and
habit commended in the practice and example of the saints: Isaac
(

Genesis 24:62), David (Psalm 119), the mother of our Lord (

Luke
1:19, 51). But though meditation be a duty and a great moral and spiritual
aid, it is practiced by few. The usual plea proffered by those who neglect it
is, I am too busy, my life is so crowded with a multiplicity of duties and
concerns, that, alas, I have not the necessary leisure for quiet ruminating.
Our first reply is, Then you are acting in the energy of the flesh and
suffering yourself to be little better than a slave. God is no Egyptian
taskmaster. Christ’s yoke is easy and His burden is light and if your
“burden” be heavy it is a self-imposed one. God calls you to no manner of
life which crowds out the needs of your soul and entails the neglect of your
eternal interests.
“Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth”
(

Colossians 3:2).54
is His unchanging call, and He has given no harsh and unreasonable
precepts.
But this plea “I am too busy to engage in regular and spiritual meditation”
is an idle excuse, yea it is worse — it is a deceit of your evil heart. It is not
because you are short of time, but because you lack a heart for the things
of God!
“Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also”
(

Matthew 6:21),
and that which most occupies our heart will most engage the mind, for our
thoughts always follow our affections; consequently the smallest actions,
when we have no delight in them, are tedious and burdensome. Is it not
money which most absorbs the attention of the miser? The voluptary thinks
only of satisfying his senses. The giddy youth is concerned mainly with the
pursuit of pleasure. The man of the world devotes his time and energies to
acquiring wealth and honors. It is not lack of opportunity but of relish for
the Word and a desire to please God which lies at the root of our failure
here. Said David “O how love I Thy Law, it is my meditation all the day”
(

Psalm 119:97) — he evidenced his love for God’s Law by constantly
pondering it! To him meditation was not a task but a joy.
You may seek an extenuation by appealing to numerous obligations and
heavy responsibilities, but it is invalid before God. You certainly do not
hold a more important position than Joshua did, nor are your tasks more
numerous and exacting. Well did Matthew Henry point out, “If ever any
man’s business might have excused him from meditation, and other acts of
devotion, one would think Joshua’s might at this time. It was a great trust
that was lodged in his hands: the conduct of it was sufficient to fill him if
he had ten souls, and yet he must find time and thoughts for meditation.
Whatever affairs of this world we have on hand, we must not neglect the
one thing needful”. We cannot expect the God of Truth to be with us if we
neglect the Truth of God. Nor is reading it and hearing it preached
sufficient: they produce but a transient effect upon us, but meditating on
some portion of the Word, going over it again and again in our minds,
deepens the impression, fastens the truth on our memory, and sets our
hearts and hands a-work.
But let us carefully observe that meditation was not enjoined upon Joshua
in a general way, but with a specific design: “thou shalt meditate therein.55
day and night, that (in order that) thou mayest observe to do according to
all that is written therein”. His mind was to be exercised upon God’s Word
with a specific purpose and practical end: not simply to rest in
contemplation, but in order to be regulated by its precepts, through a
serious inculcating of them upon his heart. Meditation was not to be an
occasional luxury, but the regular discharge of a constant duty — “day and
night”, and this in order to a prompter, fuller and more acceptable
obedience. God requires an intelligent, voluntary, and joyous obedience,
and if we are really desirous of pleasing and glorifying Him we shall not
only familiarize ourselves with His Word, but habitually ponder how its
holy precepts may best regulate all the details of our daily lives.
“I will meditate on Thy precepts, and have respect unto Thy ways”
(

Psalm 119:15)
— the latter cannot properly be without the former.
It is easy to persuade ourselves we really desire that our lives may be well-pleasing
to God, but what evidence can we produce that such a desire is
genuine. That which is well-pleasing unto God is made known in His
statutes: to what extent are our hearts and minds seriously engaged with
them? It is by definitely recalling who is their Author that I am most likely
to hold them in greater reverence and esteem, realize they are designed for
my good, and bring my walk into fuller accord with them. It is only by
repeated and prayerful meditation upon them that I shall perceive their
spirituality and scope. For example, that the prohibition of any vice
inculcates its opposite virtue: that the thing forbidden is not merely the
overt act, but everything leading up to and stimulating the same. It is by
meditating on the precepts we come to understand them, that our
consciences are impressed by them, that our wills are moved to do them.
“My hands also will I lift up unto Thy commandments, which I
have loved, and I will meditate in Thy statutes” (

Psalm 119:48).
The moving cause of David’s respect for the Divine commandments was
his love for them, and that produced two practical effects.
First, a “lifting up of the hands”, which is an expression of varied
significance, but here it means to make a diligent application unto the
keeping of them. “Without thee shall no man lift up his hand” (

Genesis
41:44) — attempt to do anything..56
“Arise, O Lord; O God, lift up Thine hand: forget not the humble”
(

Psalm 10:12)
— put forth Thine active power for their assistance. “Lift up the hands
which hang down” (

Hebrews 12:12) — set them to vigorous use. It is,
then, a figurative expression which imports a serious and deliberate setting
about upon a course of action. “I will lift up my hands unto Thy
commandments”: I will apply myself diligently to the keeping of them; I
will earnestly endeavor to put them into practice; such is my solemn
resolution.
Second, and in order to the carrying out of that resolution, “I will meditate
in Thy statutes”. It is not enough to barely approve of them: they must also
be performed — see

James 1:22,

1 John 2:4. If we would seriously
address ourselves to a course of obedience, then we must use much
forethought and meditation. God’s chief complaint against Israel of old
was, “My people doth not consider” (

Isaiah 1:3). God’s statutes must
be kept in mind and what they require from us constantly pondered. The
longer we hold the Divine precept before the conscience, the more
powerfully shall we be affected by it. We complain of our forgetfulness, but
fail to take the right course to cure it: the Word is only fixed in our minds
by turning it over and over in our thoughts. “Be ye not unwise, but
understanding what the will of the Lord is” (Ephesians 5: 17): grace does
not act as a charm, but sets us a-work, and much care and labor is entailed
in obtaining spiritual understanding — see

Proverbs 2:1-5.
“For then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shall have
good success”. Yes, “then”, but only then. We must comply with the
required conditions. Walking in the path of God’s commandments alone
ensures success in the spiritual warfare. God’s smile of approbation will
not be upon us unless we walk as obedient children. Nor shall we possess
our possessions and enjoy our heritage except as we conduct ourselves by
the Divinely-given Rule. And in order to “observe to do according to all
that is written therein” then we must “meditate therein day and night”! The
designed use of this exercise is to bring the heart to a greater detestation of
sin and a more diligent care to please God, and thereby we promote both
our temporal and eternal welfare. We have dwelt the longer on these verses
because they are of incalculable importance to the Christian life. If we
would prosper as Joshua did, then we must act as he did!.57
THE CONCLUDING CHARGE
“Have not I commanded thee? Be strong and of a good courage: be
not afraid, neither be thou dismayed, for the Lord thy God is with
thee whithersoever thou goest” (

Joshua 1:9).
This was the concluding part of the charge which Jehovah there laid upon
His servant. For the third time Joshua was bidden to be courageous. The
natural inference to draw from such repetition would be that he was a timid
and cowardly man; but his previous record effectively disposes of such a
conclusion. He was one of the twelve selected by Moses to spy out the
Land. In his bold dissent from the gloomy report of ten of his fellows, and
in his fighting of Amalek (Exodus 17) he had manifested himself as one
possessed of valor. Yet God saw fit to press this injunction upon him
repeatedly: as Matthew Henry pointed out, “Those that have grace, have
need to be called upon again and again to exercise grace and improve it”.
Though that precept did not imply that Joshua was faint-hearted, it did
import he would be faced with situations which called for the exercise of
sterling qualities.
But let it be pointed out that there is a moral courage, as well as a physical,
and not all possessing the latter are endowed with the former. How many
who flinched not in the face of the enemy’s fire, were afraid to be seen
reading God’s Word! There is also strength of mind and will, which refuses
to be daunted by difficulties and dismayed by failures. Let it also be noted
that that threefold call to act valiantly was not a mere repetition. In verse 6
Joshua was bidden to be strong and of a good courage in view of the task
before him — which demanded physical prowess. In verse 7 it was an
injunction unto personal and moral courage: “that thou mayest observe to
do according to all the Law” — to seek not counsel from his fellows, nor
fear their criticisms, but to order all his actions by “the Book”. It requires
more courage to keep to the old paths than it does to follow after
novelties. A stout heart is indispensable in order to tread the path of God’s
commandments.
“Have not I commanded thee? Be strong and of a good courage” (verse 9).
It seems to us this was more distinctly a call to the exercise of spiritual
courage. In proportion as the child of God becomes aware of his own
weakness and insufficiency, he is very apt to be cast down; instead, it
should make him look outside himself and lay hold of the strength of
Another. Was it not as though the Lord said to His servant: It is indeed.58
unto a great undertaking I have commissioned thee, but let not a sense of
thine own infirmities deter thee, for “have not I commanded thee”! It
would be a great help unto Joshua if he kept his eye on the Divine warrant.
The same One who had issued the precept must be looked unto for
enablement to the performance thereof. Christ Himself was borne up under
His suffering by a regard to the Divine will:
“as the Father gave Me commandment, even so I do; Arise, let us
go hence” (

John 14:31).
“Have not I commanded them? Be strong and of a good courage”. It is not
sufficiently realized that God’s commandments, equally with His promises,
are addressed unto faith; yet a little reflection ought to convince us that
such is the case. That which we are required to believe and take for our
Rule is the Word of God as a whole, and a heart which has been turned
unto the Lord and brought into loving subjection to Him does not delight
in one part of it and despise another. The fact is we do not believingly
receive God’s Word at all, unless we heartily receive everything in it: there
are precisely the same reasons for our embracing the precepts as the
promises. Yea, in one sense, it should be easier for us to be convinced of
our present duty than to be assured of the future things promised us. It is
by our obedience to the Divine precepts that our faith is to be tested and
measured. Faith without works is dead. Faith worketh by love
(

Galatians 5:6), and how can I express my love than by doing what God
bids me:
“he that hath My commandments and keepeth them, he it is that
loveth Me” (

John 14:21).
“I have believed Thy commandments”’ (

Psalm 119:66). Have we? Do
we clearly understand what is signified and included in that statement? To
“believe God’s commandments” is to have a ready alacrity to hear God’s
voice in them, for the heart to be suitably impressed and for our actions to
be regulated by them. Faith always has to do with God Himself. It is the
work of faith to acquaint us with the character of God and His attributes,
and to be duly influenced in our souls by a sense of the same. Faith looks
to His majesty as truly as it does to His love, and submits to His authority
as truly as it delights in His grace. The precepts as much as the promises
bind us to trust in God: the one issues from His lips and requires a
response from us as much as does the other. The commandments are an
expression of God’s will, binding us to our duty, and since they are not.59
addressed unto sense, they must be given unto faith. There can, in fact, be
no acceptable obedience unless it proceeds from faith —

Hebrews 11:8.
Faith views the commandments as what God demands of me and therefore
submits to His authority. As the promises are not really esteemed and
embraced by us unless they are received as from God, so the precepts do
not awe our consciences nor bring the will into subjection to them unless
we accept them as Divine fiats binding upon us. If we actually believe
God’s promises with a living faith, then our hearts are drawn off from
carnal vanities, to seek our happiness in what they pledge us. In like
manner, when we actually believe God’s precepts with a lively faith, our
hearts are drawn off from a course of self-will, for we accept them as the
only Rule to guide and govern us in the obtaining of that happiness; and
thereby we submit ourselves to the Divine authority and conduct ourselves
“as obedient children”. Nothing produces a real submission of soul but a
conscious subjection to a “thus saith the Lord.”
Faith receives the commandments as coming from an all-mighty Lawgiver
and therefore as One who is not to be trifled with, knowing “There is one
Lawgiver, who is able to save and to destroy” (

James 4:12). It is
because the unregenerate do not believe in the majesty, authority,
righteousness and power of God that they so lightly regard and despise His
commandments. But faith realizes there is a Day of accounting, a Day of
Judgment ahead, and keeps before it the penalty of disobedience.

Hebrews 2:1-4 makes it clear that we ought to be as solemnly affected
by the Divine Law and the majesty of its Promulgator as though we had
been personally present at Sinai. But faith not only recognizes the authority
of the Divine precepts but their excellency too. It sets too its seal that
“the Law is holy, and the Commandment holy, and just and good”
(

Romans 7:12).
Nay more, it says with the apostle “I delight in the Law of God after the
inward man” (

Romans 7:22).
When the apostle declared “I consent to the Law that it is good”
(

Romans 7:16) he expressed his willingness and desire to be ruled by a
perfect Law. A bare assent is not sufficient: there must be a consent too —
a readiness to obey. “Consent” is a mixed act, in which the judgment and
the will concur. The commandments are not only received as God’s, but.60
they are highly valued and embraced as such. The more we are convinced
of their excellency, the easier it is to obey them.
“The Lord commanded us to do all these statutes, to fear the Lord
our God, for our good always” (

Deuteronomy 6:24).
Satan would fain have us think God’s Law is a severe and harsh one; but
the Spirit assures us “His commandments are not grievous” (

1 John
5:4). God has made an inseparable connection between the precepts and
the promises: the latter cannot benefit us if we disregard the former — our
peace and happiness depend on complying with the one as much as it does
with the other. Our assurance of acceptance with God cannot be greater
than the diligence of our obedience: see

1 John 2:4.
“Have not I commanded thee? Be strong and of a good courage, be not
afraid, neither be thou dismayed”. Let it be duly noted that the Divine
precepts are to govern our inner man as well as our actions. “Behold,
Thou desirest truth in the inward parts” (

Psalm 51:6). God’s commands
require more than external conformity, including also the state of our
hearts, and the spirit in which, we obey. Covetousness is as sinful as lying,
anxiety as theft, despair as murder, for each is a disobeying God. The
above command is addressed to us as truly as it was to Joshua, and so too
is the promise that accompanies it: “For the Lord thy God is with thee
whithersoever thou goest” — with us as “a very present help”. How that
should encourage us to turn the precepts into believing prayer, looking to
the Lord to work in us that which He requireth, and counting upon Him to
do so! Then, can we, in the fullest sense say, “I have believed Thy
commandments”.
Here then was an additional reason why the Lord should, three times over,
bid Joshua “be strong and of a good courage”:
“it was not written (not spoken) for his sake alone… but for us
also” (

Romans 4:23, 24),
and that is why we have spent so much time upon these particular verses.
The directions given to Joshua for the conquering of Canaan and
enjoyment of the promised heritage, are the instructions we must needs
follow if success is to be ours in the warfare to which we are called. It is
the “good fight of faith” in which we are to engage, and a life of faith
consists first and foremost in a life of obedience to the Divine statutes,
submitting ourselves to the authority of an invisible God, ordering our lives.61
by the Rule He has given us. It consists in a trustful seeking of strength
from Him that we may be enabled to do those things which are pleasing in
His sight.
It consists in a laying hold of His promises as the incentive of our task.
But a life of faith calls for a stout heart, that we may not be daunted by
either the difficulties or the dangers of the way. The flesh, the world and
the Devil are arrayed against us, seeking our destruction. Nor are we called
upon to engage them for a season only — it is a lifelong battle. Nor can we
expect to avoid hardship or escape being wounded in such a conflict. Let
the young Christian realize, then, that if he is to be a good soldier of Jesus
Christ” (

2 Timothy 2:3) he must “be strong and of a good courage”,
and faint not though the march wearies, and be not dismayed when the
enemy gains an advantage over him. He may be bested in the preliminary
skirmishes, he may be hard put to it to so much as hold his ground for days
together, but if he “endure to the end” — and for that fortitude,
resoluteness, perseverance, as well as trusting in the Lord, are
indispensable — victory is certain..62
CHAPTER 3
THE RESPONSE OF FAITH
JOSHUA 1:10-18
“Then Joshua commanded the officers of the people”, giving to them their
orders. Observe that he did not call a conference of the heads of the tribes
to ascertain how many of them he could count upon for cooperation, nor
to seek their counsel and advice. No, like the apostle, when the Lord’s will
was made known to him, he could say “I conferred not with flesh and
blood” (

Galatians 1:16). Nor did he, like vacillating Felix, defer the
performance of duty unto “a more convenient season”. There is an old but
wise adage “Strike while the iron’s hot”: act at once in response to the
convictions of conscience or the promptings of the Spirit. Or better,
perform your duty immediately it is clear to you. The longer we delay, the
more reluctant we are to comply with God’s requirements. Delay itself is
disobedience. Procrastination evidences a lack of heart for the Divine
precepts and an absence of concern for the Divine glory.
It is nothing but a species of hypocrisy for me to tell myself that I am
willing to obey God while I delay in doing so, for nothing hinders me but
want of heart — where there’s a will there’s always a way. When there is
an earnest bent of heart we shall not linger. When the rebuilding of the
walls of Jerusalem proceeded apace we are told “for the people had a mind
to work” (

Nehemiah 4:6). Once a duty is discovered, it should be
discharged. Peril attends the neglect of any acknowledged obligation.
“Then Joshua commanded the officers of the people”: he not only complied
with God’s order, but he did so promptly. There was no absorption with
the difficulties confronting him, no inventing of excuses for the non-performing
of his task, no tardiness of action, but prompt obedience. That
is another important secret of success which each of us needs to take to
heart.
“Then Joshua commanded the officers of the people”. That was his
response to the commission he had received’ an immediate tackling of the
duty nearest to hand. He could say with David,.63
“I made haste, and delayed not, to keep Thy commandments”
(

Psalm 119:60).
He resolved upon a course of instant obedience, and promptly put it into
execution. He considered that the One who was vested with such
sovereignty and power, and who had given him such blessed assurances,
was worthy of being loved and served with all his heart and might. Is that
the case with you? with me? “Whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the
Lord” (

Colossians 3:23), and where there is heartiness, there will be no
delay. Is it not evident then, my reader, that the readiness or tardiness of
our obedience is a good index to the state of our hearts? When we stand
debating instead of doing, reasoning instead of “running” (

Psalm
119:32), something is seriously wrong.
Alas, how different is our obedience from our praying under the pressure
of need. When at our wit’s end or sorely afflicted and we cry for relief or
deliverance, is not our language that of David’s “Lord, hear me speedily”
(

Psalm 102:2)? And how disappointed and fretful we are if His answer
does not come swiftly. Ah, may we not perceive from what has been before
us why it is that His answers are often delayed! If we be so slow in
responding to His calls of duty, what right have we to expect the Holy One
to be early in responding to our calls for favor? The One who has reason to
ask “how long?” (

Revelation 6:10) is not myself, but God. A holy
alacrity in God’s service is much to be desired.
“We are too often in haste to sin; O that we may be in a greater
hurry to obey God” (C.H. Spurgeon).
Have we not much lost time to make up?
“Then Joshua commanded the officers of the people”. In so doing he did
not act officiously, but was rightly exerting the authority with which God
had endowed him. As the servant of Jehovah he was himself subject to the
will of his Master, but as the leader of God’s people it was both meet and
necessary that he should exercise his power and control over them. Therein
he has left an example which each genuine minister of the Gospel would do
well to emulate. While it be true that they today do not occupy a position
which is in all respects analogous to that of Joshua’s, yet as those who
have been called and commissioned by Christ to preach in His name
(

John 13:20) and “rule over” His assemblies (

Hebrews 13:17), it.64
behooves them to conduct themselves with becoming dignity and decorum
so as to command the respect of those they address.
The true minister of the Gospel is neither a pope nor a mere figure-head.
He is to behave neither as a Diotrophes lording it over God’s heritage, nor
as a sycophant who is subservient to others. There is a happy medium
between conducting himself as a blatant dictator and a servile flatterer.
There are far too many preachers today who act as though they are
begging their hearers to do Christ and His cause a favor, who are so
apologetic, fawning and effeminate they have forfeited the respect of real
men.
“These things speak, and exhort, and rebuke with all authority. Let
no man despise thee” (

Titus 2:15).
“The most effectual way for ministers to secure themselves from
contempt, is to keep close to the doctrine of Christ and imitate
Him” (Matthew Henry),
and He taught “as One having authority” (

Matthew 7:29).
‘Then Joshua commanded the officers of the people, saying, Pass
through the host and command the people, saying, Prepare you
victuals, for within three days ye shall pass over this Jordan, to go
in to possess the land which the Lord your God giveth you to
possess” (

Joshua 1:10,11).
It is striking to note the iteration of this word “commanded”.
First, the Lord declared unto Joshua “Have not I commanded thee!” (verse
9), then he commanded his officers, and they in turn commanded the
people: the exercise of Divinely-given authority and the requirement of
implicit obedience was essential if success was to be theirs. And those two
things are indispensable today if we would have the Lord show Himself
strong on our behalf. If the minister of the Gospel be required to “exhort
and rebuke with all authority” (

Titus 2:15), those committed to his care
are bidden “obey them that have the rule over you” (

Hebrews 13:17).
God requires from His people a subjection to the ministerial office, as truly
as he does to the magisterial in the civil realm (

Romans 13) and to the
husband and parent in the domestic (

Ephesians 5:22; 6:1). Discipline
must be maintained in the house of God..65
“Prepare you victuals”. A journey lay ahead, a strenuous campaign was
before them, but the one thing enjoined by way of anticipation was
“prepare you victuals”. The spiritual significance and application of that
unto ourselves is obvious. If we would be strong and stouthearted, and
therefore equipped for our warfare, we must be well fed — nourished up in
the words of faith” (

1 Timothy 4:6). The “victuals” are furnished us by
God, but we must “prepare” them. At no point does God encourage
slothfulness. Unless we give good heed to this injunction we shall not be
able to overcome our foes. That word is addressed as directly to us today
as it was unto Israel in the time of Joshua. We are guilty of flagrant
dishonesty if we appropriate to ourselves the promises
“I will not fail thee nor forsake thee… The Lord thy God is with
thee whithersoever thou goest” (verses 5, 9),
and disregard the precepts “Observe to do according to all that is written…
meditate therein day and night… be strong and of a good courage…
prepare you victuals”.
“Prepare you victuals, for within three days ye shall pass over this Jordan”
One had naturally expected that order to be “Prepare you boats”, for there
was no bridge across the river. There had been none over the Red Sea, yet
Israel had crossed it safely, dry-shod, and that without recourse to boats or
rafts. As Matthew Henry pointed out “He that brought them out of Egypt
on eagle’s wings, would in like manner bear them into Canaan”. Such was
evidently Joshua’s expectation on this occasion. He was fully assured that
if he and those under him rendered obedience to the Divine Will they could
count upon God’s help: hence his contemptuous “this Jordan “ — it would
present no difficulty to Omnipotence, nor need it dismay them. “In three
days ye shall pass over this Jordan: not “ye may”, nor “ye shall attempt to
do so”: it was the language of full confidence — not in them, nor in
himself, but in the living God. Such must be the spirit of those who feed
and lead God’s people today, otherwise they will depress rather than
hearten.
There is an important typical and spiritual truth contained in that “three
days”: it is the number of resurrection. It is only as the Christian conducts
himself as one who is risen with Christ that he can overcome the flesh, the
world and the Devil, and that requires two things from him: the exercise of
faith and of obedience. Faith seeing myself as God sees me, faith viewing.66
myself as one with Christ in His death and resurrection, faith appropriating
His victory over sin, death and Satan.
“Reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive
unto God in Jesus Christ our Lord” (

Romans 6:11).
That is the “reckoning” of faith, for feelings have nothing whatever to do
with it. It is taking our stand on the infallible Word of God, irrespective of
our conscious “experience”. In the reckoning of the Divine Law the one
who trustfully commits his soul unto Christ has “passed from death unto
life”, and faith is to accept that blessed truth on the bare but all-sufficient
authority of God. The believer is legally and vitally united to a risen and
triumphant Savior.
What has just been pointed out is of first importance. There can be no real
peace for the conscience, no substantial rest of soul, no lasting joy of heart,
until the Christian is assured on the authority of Him who cannot lie that
“our old man is (Greek “was”) crucified with Him” (

Romans 6:6) and
that we are “risen with Christ” (

Colossians 3:1). The believer cannot
walk on resurrection ground until it is a settled and glorious fact in his
mind that he is on resurrection ground, legally one with his risen Surety,
rejoicing that “there is therefore now no condemnation to them that are in
Christ Jesus”; yea glorying in the fact that the righteousness of Christ has
been imputed to his account. When that is received by faith then “the joy of
the Lord is my strength”. I cannot possibly go forward and “fight the good
fight of faith” nor expect any success in overcoming the Canaanites, so
long as I doubt my acceptance before God and fail to realize my union with
Christ. That is foundational, and we repeat, feelings have nothing whatever
to do with it.
But something more than the exercise of faith — resting on the
declarations of Holy Writ — is required if I am to enter experimentally and
practically into the good of my being legally one with Christ, and that is,
the rendering of obedience to Him.
“He died for all (His people), that they which live (legally) should
not henceforth live (practically) unto themselves, but unto Him
which died for them and rose again” (

2 Corinthians 5:15).
“But now we are delivered from (the curse of) the Law, being dead
to that wherein we were held, that we should serve in newness of
spirit” (

Romans 7:4).67
— from a spirit of gratitude and joy. Henceforth the Christian is to “walk
in newness of life” (

Romans 6:4): a new principle is to actuate him —
love; a new design is to regulate him — honoring his Master. The self-will
which dominated him while unregenerate is to be displaced by seeking to
please Christ in all things. That is to “walk in newness of life”, on
resurrection ground.
The antitypical Canaan is ours. It is the “purchased possession”, bought by
Christprecious blood. That inheritance is to be enjoyed now: by faith, by
hope, by fixing our affection upon things above. As we do so, we
experimentally “possess our possessions”. “The upright shall have good
things in possession” (

Proverbs 28:10) — not merely in prospect, but in
actual possession. But there are powerful foes seeking to keep us from
enjoying our heritage! True, but we may obtain victory over them, as Israel
did over theirs. We may, we shall, in proportion as faith is in exercise and
as we walk obediently. Note the precision and meaning of Joshua
language: “to go in to possess the land which the Lord your God giveth
you to possess it” (verse 11). God had given Canaan in promise long
before (verse 3), but that promise was to be realized by that generation
according as they submitted themselves to Him. So it is with us: God will
give us a present possession if we meet His requirements.
The Lord God had sworn unto their fathers “to give them” the land of
Canaan (verse 6), yet that did not preclude strenuous efforts on their part.
Hitherto He had furnished them with manna, for there was nothing in the
wilderness they could live upon; but now His command was “prepare you
victuals”, and that was indicative of what was required from them — they
must discharge their responsibility. The Lord never panders to laziness: it is
the one who is out and out for Him who enjoys most of His smile. A
protracted conflict had to be waged, and success there in was made
dependent upon their implicit compliance with God’s orders through
Joshua: only thus would He give the land into their possession. That is the
central message of this book: unreserved obedience as the condition of
God putting forth His power against our enemies and bringing us into the
enjoyment of our inheritance.
“And to the Reubenites, and to the Gadites and to half the tribe of
Manasseh, spake Joshua, saying, Remember the word which Moses the
servant of the Lord commanded you (12, 13). The reference is to what is
recorded in

Numbers 32. Upon Israel’s conquest of the kingdoms of the.68
Amorites and Bashan (verse 33), the two and a half tribes, who had “a very
great multitude of cattle” (verse 1), came to Moses and asked “let this
portion be given unto thy servants for a possession, and bring us not over
Jordan” (verse 5). At first he was very displeased, regarding their request
as proceeding from unbelief and from an unwillingness to bear their share
in the fighting which lay ahead. But being assured that on permission being
granted them to build sheepfolds for their cattle and dwellings for their
children, their men-folk would accompany the other tribes and fight with
them until Canaan was conquered (verses 16-19), Moses consented to their
proposal (verses 20-24).
If careful attention be paid to Moses’ words on that occasion we see how
that incident supplied a striking illustration of what is dominant in this
book.

Numbers 32:33 says “he gave unto them” that portion of country,
yet it was not an absolute grant but a provisional one, which turned upon
the faithful discharge of their responsibility. If the reader does not like the
sound of that statement, if it clashes with his “belief”, let him pay extra
diligence to what follows, and if needs be correct his “beliefs”.
“Moses said unto them, If ye will do this thing, if ye will go armed
before the Lord to war… until the land be subdued before the Lord,
then afterward ye shall return (to your side of the Jordan) and be
guiltless before the Lord and before Israel; and this land shall be
your possession before the Lord” (verses 20-22).
They agreed: “thy servants will do as my lord commandeth” (verse 25).
Then we are told,
“So concerning them Moses commanded Eleazar the priest and
Joshua the son of Nun” (verse 28).
Accordingly, now that Moses was dead and the Lord’s time had come for
Israel to enter Canaan, Joshua said unto those two and a half tribes
“Remember the word which Moses the servant of the Lord commanded
you”. In so doing he complied with his commission, for Jehovah had
bidden him “observe to do according to all the Law which Moses My
servant commanded thee” (verse 7), and this was one of those things
(

Numbers 32:28)! It was not natural prudence or a spirit of expediency
which actuated Joshua to seek their cooperation, still less was it from fear
that the remaining tribes would be insufficient for the task confronting
them, but obedience to his Master which regulated his action..69
Joshua did not take it for granted that the two and a half tribes would now
carry out their agreement, but definitely reminded them of the same and
held them to it. But note how he did so. He did not beg for their
compliance as a favor unto himself — I hope you will be willing to serve
under me. Nor did he appeal on behalf of their brethren — the other tribes
will be encouraged if you are willing to help them. Nor did he bid them
remember their promise to Moses. No, he pressed upon them the Word of
God! That is another lesson for the servants of God to heed today: if we
would honor Him, we must honor His Word, by enforcing its requirements.
“God now commandeth all men everywhere to repent” should be their
language to the unsaved.
“Remember the word which Moses the servant of the Lord
commanded you, saying, The Lord hath given you rest and hath
given you this land. Your wives, your little ones and your cattle
shall remain in the land… but ye shall pass before your brethren
armed, all the mighty men of valor, and help them. Until the Lord
hath given your brethren rest, as He hath given you, and they also
have possessed the land which the Lord your God giveth them;
then ye shall return unto the land of your possessions and enjoy it”
(verses 13-15).
There are a number of things here on which we can but briefly touch. That
word “remember” signifies heed, and is invariably a call to obedience. The
fact that their portion had already been “given”, placed an additional
obligation on them — gratitude demanded their compliance. As Matthew
Henry reminds us “when God by His providence has given us rest, we
ought to consider how we may honor Him with the advantages of it, and
what service we may do to our brethren”
Once again we would call attention to the truth here exemplified: we
cannot enter into our inheritance without fighting. See how the two aspects
combine: the eastern country of the Jordan had already been allotted and
given to the two and a half tribes, but they must now bear their share in the
conquest of Canaan. Nay, they must take the lead in the fighting: “ye shall
pass before your brethren armed” — they were to form the ‘spearhead’ of
Israel’s army. See the meetness and justice of that arrangement: they had
obtained their inheritance before any of their brethren, and so they must be
in the van. And thus it came to pass: when the Jordan was crossed the two
and a half tribes “passed over armed before the children of Israel, as Moses.70
spake to them” (

Exodus 4:12). Observe it was “the mighty men of
valor” who did so — there were no women in the ‘forces’!
“And they answered Joshua saying, All that thou commandest us
we will do, and whithersoever thou sendest us we will go.
According as we hearkened unto Moses in all things, so will we
hearken unto thee: only the Lord thy God be with thee, as He was
with Moses” (verses 16, 17).
If we wrote a separate article on these verses, we should entitle it
“Joshua’s encouragement” and dwell upon the relation between this
incident and that which precedes. It is ever God’s way to honor those who
honor Him. Joshua had promptly complied with his commission and had
magnified God’s Word, and now He moved those two and a half tribes to
willingly serve under him. In his words “Until the Lord have given your
brethren rest… and they also have possessed the land” (verse 15), he had
spoken in unwavering faith as to the outcome, and now the Lord
graciously inclined these men to fully cooperate with him.
Those two and a half tribes might have pleaded that their agreement had
been made with Moses, and that since death cancels all contracts, his
decease released them from their engagement. But instead, they averred
their unqualified readiness to accept Joshua as their leader and yield to his
authority. Their promise to him went beyond what they had pledged unto
Moses. Joshua had received the assurance
“Be not afraid neither be thou dismayed, for the Lord thy God is
with thee whithersoever thou goest” (verse 9),
and in His mowing those two and a half tribes to loyal subjection unto
Joshua, He gave the initial manifestation and earnest of His fulfillment of
the same. Their promise to Joshua on this occasion was no idle boast, for
as

Joshua 22:1-6 shows, they faithfully kept their word. “Only the Lord
be with thee, as He was with Moses” (verse 17) should be regarded as their
prayer for him.
“Whosoever he be that doth rebel against thy commandment, and
will not hearken unto thy words in all that thou commandest him,
he shall be put to death: only be strong and of a good courage”
(verse 18)..71
They suggested that this military edict should be enacted in order to
prevent cowardice and disloyalty on the part of others in the army,
implying their readiness to cooperate in the enforcing of the same. It is
probable that they had in mind the Lord’s word unto Moses,
“I will raise them up a prophet from among their brethren like unto
thee, and will put My words in his mouth, and he shall speak unto
them all that I shall command him. And it shall come to pass that
whosoever will not hearken unto My words which he shall speak in
My Name, I will require it of him” (

Deuteronomy 18:18,19).
We know that prophecy received its ultimate fulfillment in Christ, but
Joshua was a type of Him. “Only be thou strong and of a good courage”
was tantamount to their declaring “We, for our part, will do nothing to
weaken thy hands, but on the contrary will do all in our power to make thy
lot easier!” Such should ever be the attitude of the Christian unto both
magistrates and the ministers of the Gospel..72
CHAPTER 4
A SCARLET CORD
JOSHUA 2:1-24
THE SPIES
In the second half of chapter 1, the Holy Spirit has recorded the response
made by Joshua unto the great commission he had received from the Lord:
he complied promptly, he conducted himself according to the Divine Rule,
and he acted in faith. The command he issued to his officers (verse 11)
showed he had no doubt whatever that the Jordan would be crossed, and
his words to the two and a half tribes (verse 15) evinced his full confidence
in the Lord’s help for the whole campaign. Such language had been both
honoring to God and encouraging to His people. We have already seen
how the Lord rewarded His servant by constraining the two and a half
tribes to accept Joshua as their leader and yield full obedience unto his
authority. Those things are recorded for our instruction and
encouragement: to show that none are ever the losers by trusting in the
Lord and rendering obedience to His Word. In what is now to engage our
attention we have a further proof of the Lord showing Himself strong on
behalf of the dutiful.
The land which Joshua was called upon to conquer was occupied by a
fierce, powerful and ungodly people. Humanly speaking, there was no
reason to conclude that the Canaanites would render assistance or do
ought to make his task easier: rather to the contrary, as the attitude and
actions of the kings had shown (

Numbers 21:1, 23, 33). When he sent
forth the two spies to obtain information about Jericho, he could not
naturally expect that any of its inhabitants would render them any help in
their difficult task. Yet that is exactly what happened, for those spies
received remarkable favor in the eyes of her in whose house they obtained
lodgment. Not only was she kindly disposed toward them, but she even
hazarded her own life on their behalf. What an illustration was this that.73
“When a man’s ways please the Lord, He maketh even his enemies
to be at peace with him” (

Proverbs 16:7)!
Those two men were in the path of duty, carrying out the orders of God’s
servant, and He undertook for them.
“And Joshua the son of Nun sent out of Shittim two men to spy
secretly, saying, Go view the land, even Jericho. And they went,
and came into a harlot’s house, named Rahab, and lodged there”
(

Joshua 2:1).
For some time past the children of Israel had been encamped in the plains
of Shittim, which bordered on the Jordan and lay opposite Jericho
(

Numbers 33:49). And now Joshua sent forth these two spies to obtain
information about this enemy stronghold which lay in their path of
advance. In so doing, Joshua has been severely criticized by some, who
regarded him as here acting according to a carnal policy, that was dictated
by unbelief. They argue that he should have trusted the Lord wholly, and
that had he done so, he had relied upon Him alone, instead of resorting to
this device. We do not agree with these fault-finders, for we consider their
criticism is entirely unwarranted, arises from their own confusion of mind,
and is a most mischievous one.
In the first place, Joshua had a good precedent for acting as he did, for
Moses had sent forth spies to view Canaan on a former occasion (Numbers
13) and Joshua had been Divinely ordered to regulate his conduct by
“this Book of the Law… to do according to all that is written
therein” (

Joshua 1:7,8),
and that was one of the things recorded therein! But there are those who
say that the suggestion to send forth those first spies proceeded from the
unbelief of those who proffered it, and that Moses failed to detect their evil
motive. That is indeed the view taken by most writers on the subject but
there is nothing whatever in the Word to support it. Moses declared “the
saying pleased me well” (

Deuteronomy 1:23), and he made no apology
later for his action. The exercise of unbelief appeared in the sequel it was
the gloomy report of ten of the spies which expressed unbelief, and the
ready credence of that report by the faithless congregation.
Not only is Scripture silent upon any unbelief prompting the sending forth
of those twelve spies, but

Numbers 13:1, 2 expressly informs us, “And.74
the Lord spake unto Moses saying, Send thou men, that they may search
the land of Canaan”! Nor is there the slightest indication that that was a
concession on the Lord’s part, or His giving up the people unto their
hearts’ lusts. Joshua, then, had a good precedent, and a written example to
guide him in the sending forth of the two spies. Yet, even had there been
neither, so far from his action being reprehensible, it was the exercise of
wise prudence and the use of legitimate means. It was his duty to ‘look
before he leaped” to ascertain the lay-out of Jericho, to discover if there
was a weak spot in its defenses to learn the best point at which to attack,
and make his plans accordingly. In so doing, he was but discharging his
responsibility.
There is much misunderstanding today about the scope of those words
“Trust in the Lord with all thine heart, and lean not unto thine own
understanding” (

Proverbs 3:5),
and only too often fanaticism is confounded with faith. It needs to be
clearly insisted upon that the exercise of faith does not preclude the use of
all legitimate means, though we are not to rest in the means alone, but
rather count upon God’s blessing the same. To decline the locking of my
doors and the fastening of my windows when there is an epidemic of
burglary in the neighborhood, or to retire for the night and leave a roaring
fire in the grate, under the pretext of counting upon God’s protecting my
property, is not trusting but tempting Him should any disagree with that
statement, let him carefully ponder

Matthew 4:6, 7! Faith in God does
not preclude the discharge of my performance of duty, both in taking
precautions against danger or using proper means for success.
Joshua was no more actuated by unbelief in sending forth those spies than
Cromwell was when he bade his men “Trust in God, and keep your powder
dry”. Faith does not release us from our natural obligations. As yet, Joshua
knew not that the Lord had purposed that Jericho would fall without Israel
having to fight for it. It was some time later when He revealed to His
servant that this stronghold of the Canaanites would be overthrown
without Israel’s army making any direct assault upon it. The secret will of
God was in nowise the Rule for Joshua to order his actions by he was to
do according to all that was “written” in the Scriptures; and thus it is for us
our responsibility is measured by the Word, not by God’s decrees, nor the
inward promptings of His Spirit. As Israel’s leader, it was Joshua’s duty to
learn all he could about Jericho and its surroundings before he advanced.75
upon it —

Luke 14:31 illustrates the principle for which we are here
contending.
“And Joshua the son of Nun sent out of Shittim two men to spy secretly,
saying, Go view the land, even Jericho. And they went. In view of his own
earlier experience (Numbers 13), there is good reason to believe that
Joshua made a careful selection on this occasion and chose men of faith,
courage and prudence. We are therefore justified in concluding that ere
those spies set out on their dangerous venture, they first sought unto the
Lord, committed themselves and their cause into His hands, and asked Him
to graciously give them success in the same. If such were the case, and it
would be uncharitable to suppose otherwise, then they received fulfillment
of that promise
“It shall come to pass that before they call I will answer, and while
they are yet speaking I will hear” (

Isaiah 65:24).
Ere those two men set out on their mission, the Lord had gone before
them, preparing their way, by raising up a brave and staunch friend in the
person of her in whose house they took refuge. How often has the writer
— and probably the reader too — met with just such a blessed experience!
“And they went and came into a harlot’s house, named Rahab, and lodged
there”. They were Divinely directed to that particular house, though it is
not likely they were personally conscious of the fact at the first. God’s
providence acts silently and secretly, by working in us “both to will and to
do of His good pleasure” (

Philippians 2:13). Those spies acted quite
freely, by their own volition, yet their steps were “ordered by the Lord”
(

Psalm 37:23). The house in which they sheltered was owned by a
harlot, named Rahab: not that she was still plying her evil trade, but that
formerly she had been a woman of ill fame, the stigma of which still clung
to her. As Matthew Henry pointed out, “Simon the leper (

Matthew
26:5) though cleansed from his leprosy, wore the reproach of it in his name
as long as he lived: so ‘Rahab the harlot’, and she is so called in the New
Testament, where both her faith and her good works are praised”
“And it was told the king of Jericho, saying, Behold, there came
men in hither tonight of the children of Israel to search out the
country” (verse 2).
Since it must have been known unto all in Jericho that the hosts of Israel
had been encamped for some months on the opposite side of the Jordan, a.76
keen watch had doubtless been kept on all their movements, and the entry
of the two spies had therefore been observed. Even when we have
committed ourselves and our cause unto God, and are in the path of duty,
we have no right to expect that we shall be exempted from trials, and that
all will be smooth sailing. So long as Christians are left in a world which
lieth in the Wicked one (

1 John 5:19), and is therefore hostile unto true
godliness, they may look for opposition. Why so? why does God permit
such? that their graces may be tested and developed, evidencing whether
they be real or fancied; and if the former, bringing forth fruit to the glory of
their Author.
Had He so pleased, the Lord could have prevented the discovery of those
spies in Jericho. Had He not done so in the case of the twelve men sent
forth by Moses? From Numbers 13 it appears that they made an extensive
survey of Canaan, and returned to report unto Israel without their enemies
being aware of what had occurred. But God does not act uniformly,
varying His methods as seems best in His sight. That not only exemplifies
His own sovereignty, but keeps us in more complete dependence upon
Him, not knowing whether His interposition on our behalf will come in one
way or in another, from this direction or from that. No, even though those
two men were under His immediate guidance and protection, He permitted
their entry into Jericho to become known. Nor were they the losers by that:
instead, they were granted a manifestation of God’s power to deliver them
from a horrible death.
In more than one respect is it true that “the children of this world are in
their generation wiser than the children of light” (

Luke 16:8): a case in
point is here before us. Does not the wise precaution taken by these
Canaanites put most of us to shame! Are not the wicked much keener in
looking after their interests than the righteous are? Are not unbelievers
much more on the alert against what would be disastrous to their prospects
than the saints are? The Christian ought ever to be on his guard, watching
for the approach of any enemy. But is he? Alas, no; and that is why Satan
so often succeeds in gaining an advantage over him. It was while men slept
that Satan sowed his tares (

Matthew 13:25), and it is when we become
slack and careless that the Devil trips us up. We must “watch” as well as
“pray” if we would not “enter into temptation” (

Matthew 26:41). Let
those who have access to Bunyan’s works read his “Holy War”..77
There is yet another line of truth which is illustrated here, and which we do
well to heed. A careful and constant watch — by “night” as well as by day!
— had evidently been set, yet notwithstanding the same, the two spies
succeeded in obtaining an entrance into Jericho!
“Except the Lord keep the city, the watchmen waketh but in vain”
(

Psalm 127:1)
was strikingly exemplified on this occasion. And what is the spiritual
application of that unto us? — this should ever be what exercises our
hearts as we read and ponder God’s Word. Is not the answer found in the
verse just quoted above: since watchfulness as well as prayer be necessary
if we are to avoid temptation, equally indispensable is prayerfulness as well
as watchfulness. No matter how alert and vigilant we be, unless God’s
assistance be humbly, earnestly, and trustfully sought, all our efforts will be
in vain.
“Commit thy way unto the Lord, trust also in Him, and He shall
bring it to pass”’ (

Psalm 37:5).
Viewing this detail from a higher standpoint may. we not also see here a
demonstration, of that truth
“There are many devices in a man’s heart, nevertheless the counsel
of the Lord that shall stand” (

Proverbs 19:21).
It was so here: the king of Jericho proposed, but God disposed. He
determined to prevent any Israelite from entering his city, but his well-laid
plans came to naught. When the Lord sets before us an open door, none
can shut it. (

Revelation 3:8), and He set before those two spies an open
door into Jericho, and it was utterly futile for any man to endeavor to keep
them out. Equally true is it that when the Lord “shutteth no man openeth”
(

Revelation 3:7), yet God Himself can do so: therefore it is the privilege
and duty of His servant never to accept defeat, but seek the prayers of
God’s people that He would “open to him a door of utterance, to speak the
mystery of Christ “‘(

Colossians 4:3).
“And the king of Jericho spake unto Rahab, saying, Bring forth the
men that are come to thee, which are entered into thine house; for
they be come to search out all the country” (verse 3)..78
If the reader has not already formed the habit of so doing, let him now
begin to read such a passage as the one we are considering with the
specific object of trying to find something in each verse of practical
importance to himself — not that which is “deep” and intricate, but what
lies on the surface and is obvious to a thoughtful reader. Here we may
learn an important and needful “lesson” from the action of the king of
Jericho. When he was informed that Israel’s spies were now in the city, he
did not treat the report with either contemptuous scorn or careless
unconcern, but believed the same and acted promptly upon it. Well for us if
we heed a timely warning and seek to nip a danger while it is still in the
bud. If we do not heed the first alarms of conscience, but instead, trifle
with temptation, a fall is sure to follow; and the allowance of one sin leads
to the formation of an evil habit.
Changing our angle of meditation, let us contemplate the effect upon the
two spies of the demand made upon Rahab by the king’s officers. If she
complied with their peremptory order and delivered her guests into their
hands, then — humanly speaking — they could hope for no other
treatment than what has always been meted out unto captured spies.
Imagine the state of their minds as they listened intently — which doubtless
they did — to that ominous command. Remember they were men of like
passions unto ourselves: would they not, then, be filled with perturbation
and consternation? Up to this point things had gone smoothly for them, but
now all seemed lost. Would they not ask themselves, Did we do the right
thing after all in taking shelter in this house? Ah, have we not too passed
through some similar experience? We entered upon what we believed was
a certain course of duty, committed the same unto God and sought His
blessing. At first all went well, His smile appeared to be upon us, and then
a crisis occurred which seemed to spell sure defeat. Faith must be tested,
patience have her perfect work.
RAHAB’S DEFIANCE
“And the king of Jericho sent unto Rahab, saying, Bring forth the
men that are come to thee, which are entered into thine house: for
they be come to search out all the country. And the woman took
(“had taken”) the two men and hid them, and said thus, There came
men unto me, but I wist not whence they were. And it came to pass
about the time of the shutting of the gate, when it was dark that the.79
men went out: whither the men went, I wot not; pursue after them
quickly, for ye shall overtake them” (

Joshua 2:3-5).
This passage has presented some formidable difficulties to not a few of
those who have carefully pondered it, and perhaps we can best help our
readers by seeking to answer the following questions.
First, did Rahab do right in defying the king’s authority and betraying
her own country?
Second, is she to be exonerated in the untruths she here told?
Third, if not, how is

Hebrews 11:31 to be explained?
“Let every soul be subject unto the powers that be, for there is no
power but of God” (

Romans 13:1).
God requires us to render submission to human government: to be
obedient to its laws, to pay the taxes it appoints, to cooperate in upholding
its authority. Christians especially should set an example as law-abiding
citizens, rendering to Caesar that which he has a right to demand from his
subjects.

Jeremiah 29:7 makes it clear that it is the duty of God’s people
to seek the good of the country in which they reside — see the sermon by
Andrew Fuller on “Christian Patriotism” which appeared in these pages a
year ago. There is but one qualification, namely, when the powers that be
require anything from me which is obviously contrary to the revealed will
of God, or prohibit my doing what His Word enjoins: where such a case
arises, my duty is to render allegiance unto God and not unto any
subordinate authority which repudiates His requirements.
The refusal of the three Hebrew captives to worship Nebuchadnezzar’s
image and Daniel’s defiance of the decree of Darius which forbade him
praying unto God, are cases in point (

Daniel 3:18, 6:10). We must
never render to Caesar that to which God alone is entitled. “Fear God;
honor the king” (

1 Peter 2:17) indicates our relative obligations: God
must be feared at all costs; the king is to be cheerfully and universally
honored so far as that consists with my fearing God. When the religious
powers forbade the apostles to preach in Christ’s name, they replied, “We
ought to obey God rather than man” (

Acts 5:29). It was thus with
Rahab: there was a clash of interests: loyalty to her king and country,
loyalty to God and His servants. In the kind providence of God such a.80
dilemma is rarely presented to a saint today, but if it were, the lower
authority must yield to the higher.
It is indeed the duty of a saint to seek the good of that country which
affords him both shelter and subsistence, nevertheless he is bound to love
God and His people more than his country and fellow-citizens. He owes
fidelity to the Lord first, and then to the place he lives in; and he is to
promote the welfare of the latter so far as it is compatible with the former.
In seeking to estimate the conduct of Rahab, we must carefully weigh

Hebrews 11:31,

James 2:25, and especially

Joshua 2:9-11. From
her language it is manifest that she was fully convinced the Lord had
purposed the destruction of the Canannites, and therefore she must either
side with Him and His people against her country, or enter into a hopeless
contest against the Almighty and perish under His judgments. By her
actions she exemplified what God requires from every truly converted soul;
to renounce allegiance with His enemies — however closely related
(

Luke 14:26) — and refuse to join with them in opposing His people.
As one who had received mercy from the Lord — for

Hebrews 11:31
evidences that sovereign grace had brought her out of darkness into God’s
marvelous light before Joshua sent those men to reconnoiter — and as one
who knew Jehovah had given the land of Canaan unto Israel, it was plainly
the duty of Rahab to do all in her power to protect these Israelish spies,
even at risk to her own safety. That principle is clearly enunciated in the
N.T.: “we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren” (

1 John 3:16).
But now the question arises, in view of that being her duty, was Rahab
warranted in resorting to falsehoods so as to protect the two men she had
given shelter to? Different opinions have been formed of her conduct, and
various arguments employed in the attempt to vindicate her. Some of the
best commentators, even among the Puritans, pleaded she was guiltless in
this matter, and we know of none who plainly stated that she sinned
therein.
One of the most difficult tasks which confronts a Christian writer is that of
commenting on the offenses of God’s dear people: that on the one hand he
may not dip his pen in the pharisaic ink of self-superiority, and that on the
other hand he does not make light of any evil or condone what is
reprehensible. He is himself compassed with infirmity and a daily
transgressor of God’s law, and should be duly affected by a realization of
the same when dealing with the faults of his fellows. Nevertheless, if he be.81
a servant of God, preaching or writing to the saints, then he must
remember that
“it is required in stewards that a man be found faithful” (

1
Corinthians 4:2),
and he is most certainly unfaithful if — even from a desire to be charitable
— he deliberately lowers God’s standard of holiness, minimizes that which
contravenes it, or glosses over anything which is culpable. Much grace and
wisdom is needed if he is to act in both a spirit of meekness and
righteousness, of compassion’ and fidelity.
It is one of the many evidences of the Divine inspiration of the Scriptures
that their Author has painted the conduct of the most eminent characters
portrayed therein in the colors of reality and truth. Unlike human
biographies, which almost always present a one-sided view-setting forth
and extolling the virtues of its subjects and ignoring or toning down their
vices — the Holy Spirit has not concealed the blemishes of the most
distinguished saints: the lapses of Noah, Abram, Moses, David being
faithfully chronicled. It is true that their sins are not mentioned in the N.T.,
for the sufficient and blessed reason they were all under the atoning blood
of the Lamb; nevertheless, the record of them remains on the pages of the
O.T. — left there as a lasting warning unto us. Moreover, it is to be borne
in mind that the sins of N.T. saints are not to be ignored but to guide those
whose task it is to comment thereon.
The prevarications of Rahab unto the king’s officers is appealed to by the
Jesuits in support of their pernicious dogma “The end justifies the means”,
that if we aim at a praiseworthy object it is permissible to use questionable
or even evil means to attain the same — a principle which has regulated
many so-called “Protestants” during the past century, and which is
flagrantly flouted before our eyes today throughout Christendom, as seen
for example, in the carnal and worldly devices used to attract young people
to “religious” services. But “let us do evil that good may come” is a
sentiment entertained by no truly regenerate soul, rather is it detested by
him; and Scripture plainly declares of such as are actuated by it, that their
“damnation is just” (

Romans 3:8). Bellarmine, the infamous champion
of Popery, boldly declared in his work on “The Pontifice” that.82
“If the Pope should err in commending vice or forbidding virtue,
the Church is bound to believe vice to be good and virtue to be
bad” (Book 4, chapter 5).
Some have pointed out the exceptionally trying position in which Rahab
found herself, arguing that considerable latitude should be allowed her
therein. We are aware that appeal is often made to that aphorism
“Circumstances alter cases”, and while we are not sure what its originator
had in mind, this we do know, that no “circumstances” can ever obliterate
the fundamental distinction between good and evil. Let the reader settle it
in his mind and conscience that it is never right to do wrong and since it be
sinful to lie, no circumstances can ever warrant the telling of one. It is
indeed true that all transgressions of the Divine Law are not equally
heinous in themselves nor in the sight of God: that some sins are, by reason
of certain aggravations, greater than others, even of the same species.
Thus, a lie unto God is worse than a lie unto a fellow-creature (

Acts
5:4), a premeditated and presumptuous lie is viler than one uttered upon a
surprise by temptation.
It is also true that attendant circumstances should be taken into account
when seeking to determine the degree of criminality: it would be a far
graver offense for writer or reader to utter falsehoods than it was for
Rahab, for we should be sinning against greater privileges and light than
she enjoyed. She had been reared in heathendom: yet while that mitigated
her offense, it certainly did not excuse her. One preacher who occupied a
prominent pulpit in London asked the question, “Was Rahab justified in
those falsehoods?” and answered in the affirmative, arguing “She must
either utter them or else betray the spies, and their lives would have been
lost”. But that the reasoning of unbelief, for it leaves out God. Had Rahab
remained silent before the king’s officers declining to give any information,
or had she acknowledged that the spies were on her premises, was the
Lord unable to protect them?
We much prefer the brief remarks of Thomas Ridgley’s to those of his
contemporaries. “She would have been much clearer from the guilt of sin
had she refused to give the messengers any answer relating to them, and so
had given them leave to search for them, and left the event hereof to
Providence”. Undoubtedly Rahab was placed in a most trying situation, for
as Ridgley went on to point out, “This, indeed, was a very difficult duty,
for it might have endangered her life; and her choice to secure them and.83
herself by inventing this lie, brought with it a degree of guilt, and was an
instance of the weakness of her faith in this respect” That last clause brings
us to the heart of the matter: she failed to fully trust the Lord, and the fear
of man brought a snare. He whose angels had smitten the men of Sodom
with blindness (

Genesis 19:11) and who had slain the fifty men sent to
lay hands on His prophet (

2 Kings 1:9-12), could have prevented those
officers finding the spies. Some have gone even farther than exonerating
Rahab, insisting that God Himself approved of her lies, appealing to

Hebrews 11:31 and

James 2:25 in support. But there is nothing
whatever in either of those verses which intimates that the Lord sanctioned
her falsehoods.

Hebrews 11:31 says nothing more about this incident
than that “she had received the spies with peace”.
James points out that the faith of Rahab was “justified by works” — not by
her “words” — and then specified which “works”, namely, her receiving of
the messengers and her sending them out another way. But, it may be
asked, Did not the workings of providence in the sequel go to show God
approved of Rahab’s policy? did He not give success to the same? Answer,
His providences are no Rule for us to walk by or reason from: though
water flowed from the rock which Moses smote in his anger, yet that was
no proof God approved of His servant’s display of temper. God indeed
graciously overruled Rahab’s conduct, yet that did not vindicate her.
We frankly acknowledge — though to our shame, that were we placed in a
similar situation to the one which confronted Rahab and God should leave
us to ourself, we would acquit ourselves no better than she did, and
probably far worse. Yet that acknowledgement by no means clears her, for
two wrongs do not make one right. If God’s restraining hand be removed
or His all-sufficient grace be withheld, the strongest of us is as weak as
water. Therefore none is in any position to point the finger of scorn or
throw a stone at her. As Manton tersely summed up the case “Her lie was
an infirmity, pardoned by God, and not to be exaggerated by men”. It
should be remembered that Rahab had only recently been brought to a
saving acquaintance with the Lord. Many young converts have but little
clear knowledge of the Truth and therefore less should be expected from
them than mature saints: they make many mistakes, yet they have a
teachable spirit, and as light increases their walk is more and more
regulated by the same..84
In closing, let us point out one or two lessons which may be learned from
what has been before us.
First, we may see therein the refutation of a popular and widespread error,
namely, that if our motives be right the action is a praise-worthy one. It is
quite true that an unworthy motive will ruin a good deed — as, for
example, contributing to charity in order to obtain a reputation for
benevolence, or in performing religious exercises so as to be seen and
venerated by men; yet a good motive can never render an evil act a
desirable one. Even though Rahab’s design was to protect the lives of two
of God’s people, that did not render commendable the deception which she
practiced on the kings’ messengers. Four things are required to render any
action a good work in the sight of God: it must proceed from a holy
principle, be regulated by the Rule of righteousness, be done in a right
spirit — of faith or love; and be performed with a right end in view — the
glory of God or the good of His people.
Second, it is recorded — as in Holy Writ are all the failings and falls of the
saints — as a solemn warning for us to take to heart. So far from
furnishing examples for us to imitate or refuges for us to hide in, they are
so many danger-signals for us to heed and turn into earnest prayer. We are
men and women of like passions as they were subject to. Native depravity
still remains in us as it did in them, even after regeneration. In ourselves we
are no stronger than they were and no better able to resist the inclinations
of the flesh. What need has each of us then, to pray “hold Thou me up, and
I shall be safe” (

Psalm 119:117). And even when we are preserved
from outward sins, the flesh obtrudes and defiles our best performances. It
was “by faith” that Rahab received the spies with peace, and at risk to
herself concealed them on her roof, yet when the officers appeared on the
scene her faith failed and she resorted to lying. Our godliest deeds would
damn us if they were not cleansed by the atoning blood of Christ.
Third, this incident gives real point to and reveals our deep need of crying
“Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil”. Indeed, that seems
the principal lesson to draw from it: that I may be kept from any such
situation, that, conscious of my weakness, I may be preserved from such a
temptation as confronted Rahab. We deem it more than a coincidence that
in the very midst of preparing this article we heard — the first time in five
years — from an old reader in Holland. During the last half of that time,
while the enemy was occupying that country, our friend and his wife.85
concealed three Jewesses in their home, and the last ten days before
liberation actually had two German billeted with them: yet no discovery
was made of their refugees. I know not what my friend had done if they
had asked him point blank whether he was sheltering any Jews; but I am
thankful not to be placed in such a situation myself.
Had I been in his place, I would have begged the Lord to keep from me
any such interrogators and counted upon His doing so. Perhaps we may be
pardoned for relating an experience — to the praise of the faithfulness of a
prayer-hearing God. Some fifteen years ago when residing in Hollywood,
California, we occupied a furnished bungalow. The owner was a Jewess,
and when we gave notice of leaving she put an advertisement in the local
papers and stuck up a prominent sign “To Let” at the foot of our drive.
Though she knew we kept the Lord’s day holy and held a small service in
our room each Sabbath evening, she insisted it was her right to show over
the house those who answered the advertisement. We protested strongly,
but she would not heed, saying “Sunday” was always her best letting day.
We then told her that our God would keep away all applicants on the
coming Sabbath, which she heard with derisive scorn.
That Saturday evening my wife and I spread the matter before the Lord
and begged Him to cause His angel to encamp round about us, and protect
us by keeping away all intruders. During the Sabbath, which was a
cloudless day, we continued seeking God’s face, confident He would not
put us to confusion before our landlady. Not a single caller came to look
over the house, and that night we held our little meeting as usual,
undisturbed! — one of those present will read these lines, though not until
he does so will he know what has been related. Next day our landlady, who
owned two similar bungalows, stated it was the first time in her ten years’
experience of letting that she had ever failed to let on a “Sunday”. Ah, my
reader, God never fails those who trust Him fully. He will protect you if
you confidently count upon Him. “Lead us not into temptation, but deliver
us from evil”.
A HARLOT’S FAITH
Little as Joshua may have realized it, he was Divinely impelled and directed
to send forth the two spies to “Go view the land, even Jericho” (

Joshua
2:1). Why so? Because there was one of God’s elect residing in that city,
and none of His sheep shall perish. Unto that vessel of mercy were they.86
led, in order that arrangements should be made for her protection, so that
she “perished not with them that believed not” (

Hebrews 11:31). There
was then a needs be why those two spies should visit Jericho and converse
with Rahab, not merely a military needs be but one far more vital and
blessed. It is still another example of what we have, on several occasions,
called attention to, in these pages, namely, that when God works, He
always works at both ends of the line. As it was in the case of the
Ethiopian and Philip the evangelist and of Cornelius and Peter, so it was
here. Before those two men set foot in Jericho the Lord had already
wrought, signally and savingly, in the heart of Rahab, and now opportunity
is afforded for her to confess her faith, to receive a token for good, and to
be made a blessing unto others.
The needs be for those spies entering Jericho reminds one of John 4, and
there are some striking parallels between what is recorded there and the
case of Rahab.
First, we are told of the Lord Jesus that “He must needs go through
Samaria” (verse 4). That “must” was not a geographical but a moral one.
From all eternity it had been ordained that He should go through Samaria
There was one of God’s elect there, and though she was “alienated from
the commonwealth of Israel”, being a Samaritan, yet she could not be
ignored:
“other sheep I have which are not of this fold, them also I must
bring” (

John 10:16)
declared the good Shepherd. There were those in Samaria whom the
Father had given Him from before the foundation of the world, and them
He must save. And, my reader, if you be one of God’s elect, even though
now unregenerate, there is a needs be put on the Lord Jesus to save you.
For years you have been fleeing from Him, but when the appointed time
arrives, He will overtake you.’ You may kick against the pricks, as did Saul
of Tarsus, but He will overcome your rebellion and reluctance and win you
to Himself.
Second, not only was the one whom Christ was constrained to seek and
save in John 4 a woman, and a Gentile, but she was one of loose moral
character. Said He to her, “Thou hast had five husbands, and he whom
thou now hast is not thy husband” (verse 18). Such too had been this
chosen one in Jericho: defiled both in mind and body with idolatry and.87
adultery — “Rahab the harlot”. Many of God’s elect, though by no means
all of them, fall into gross wickedness in their unconverted days:
fornicators, idolaters, thieves, drunkards, extortioners:
“and such were some of you; but ye are washed, but ye are
sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by
the Spirit of our God” (

1 Corinthians 6:9-11).
How illustriously is the sovereign mercy and invincible might of God
displayed in the conforming of such unto His image! “Base things of the
world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen” And why so?
“That no flesh should glory in His presence” (

1 Corinthians 1:26-29),
that His wondrous grace might the more clearly appear.
But grace does not leave its subjects in the condition in which it finds them.
No indeed, it appears
“Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we
should live soberly, righteously, and godly in this present world;
looking for that blessed hope and the glorious appearing of the
great God and our Savior Jesus Christ” (

Titus 2:12,13).
Saving faith is ever accompanied by evangelical repentance, which mourns
over past sins and resolves to avoid a repetition of them in the future.
Saving faith ever produces obedience, being fruitful in good works. Those
who are the recipients of God’s grace are not only grateful for their own
salvation, but are concerned about the salvation of others, especially of
those near and dear to them by nature. When Christ stood revealed to the
Samaritan adulteress, she “went her way into the city and saith to the men,
Come see a man, which told me all things that I ever did: is not this the
Christ?”, and “many believed on Him” (verses 28, 29, 39). So too Rahab
asked for kindness to be shown her father’s house, and her whole family
found deliverance (

Joshua 2:12, 13). But we are anticipating.
The case of Rahab is worthy of our closest attention, for it exemplifies and
magnifies the riches of Divine mercy in many striking respects. Born and
brought up in heathendom, belonging to a race that was to be
exterminated, her salvation was a signal display of God’s dominion, who
not only singles out whom He pleases to be the recipients of His favors,
but is trammeled by nothing in the bestowal of them..88
“She was not only a Gentile, but an Amoritess, of that race and
seed which in general was devoted to destruction. She was
therefore an instance of God’s sovereignty in dispensing with His
positive laws, as it seemed good unto Him, for of His own mere
pleasure He exempted her from the doom announced against all
those of her original and traducion” (John Owen).
Being the supreme Potentate, God is not bound by any law or
consideration other than His own imperial will, and therefore does He have
mercy on whom He will have mercy, and whom He will He hardens”
(

Romans 9:18).
In God’s saving of Rahab and bringing her into the congregation of His
people we may perceive a clear and glorious foreshadowing, of the fuller
scope of His eternal purpose as it is now made more plainly manifest in this
N.T. era. Since Rahab was a Canaanite, she was by nature cut off from the
Abrahamic stock and therefore a “stranger to the covenants of promise”
(

Ephesians 2:12). By her conversion and admission into the
congregation of Israel she was obviously both a type and a pledge of the
calling of the Gentiles and their reception into the mystical Body of Christ.
Thus did coming events cast their shadows before them. In such cases as
Rahab and Ruth God gave an early intimation that His redemptive purpose
was not confined to a single people, but that it reaches out unto favored
individuals in all nations. Their incorporation by marriage among the
Hebrews was a blessed adumbration of the “wild olive tree” being graft in
and made a partaker of “the root and fatness of the (good) olive tree”
(

Romans 11:17). Such we believe is, in part at least, the typical and
dispensational significance of what is here before us.
But the outstanding feature of this remarkable case is the free and
discriminating grace of God toward her. Not only did Rahab belong to a
heathen race, but she was a notorious profligate, and in singling her out to
be the recipient of His distinguishing and saving favor God made it evident
that He is no respecter of persons. By her choice she was given up to the
vilest of sins, but by the Divine choice she was predestinated to be
delivered from the miry pit and washed whiter than snow by the precious
blood of Christ, and given a place in His own family. It is in just such cases
as hers that the unmerited favor of God shines forth the more
resplendently. There was nothing whatever in that poor fallen woman to
commend her to God’s favorable regard, but where sin had abounded.89
grace did much more abound, bestowing upon her His unsolicited and
unearned favors — the gift of eternal life (

Romans 6:23), the gift of
saving faith (

Ephesians 2:8, 9), the gift of evangelical repentance
(

Acts 5:31). He is indeed “the God of all grace” (

1 Peter 5:10), and
as such He is a giving and freely-conferring God, and not one who barters
and sells. His bestowments are “without money and without price”,
imparted to spiritual bankrupts and paupers.
Not only may we behold in Rahab’s case the exercise of Divine sovereignty
and the manifestation of Divine grace, but we may also pause and admire
the wondrous working of God’s power. This is best perceived if we take
into careful consideration the virtually unparalleled element which entered
into it: here the Holy Spirit wrought almost entirely apart from the ordinary
means of grace. There were no Sabbaths observed in Jericho, there were
no Scriptures available for reading, there were no prophets sounding forth
messages from Heaven, nevertheless Rahab was quickened unto newness
of life and brought unto a saving knowledge of the true God. The Lord
Almighty is not restricted to the employing of certain agencies nor hindered
by the lack of instruments: He deigns to use such or dispenses with them
entirely as He pleases. He has but to speak, and it is done, to command,
and it stands fast (

Psalm 33:9). It is to be duly noted that this woman,
who had previously walked in open sin, was regenerated and converted
before the spies came to her house: their visit simply afforded an
opportunity for the avowal and public manifestation of her faith.
It is quite clear from both the Old and N.T. that Rahab was converted
before the two spies first spoke to her. Her language to them was that of a
believer:
“I know that the Lord hath given you the land…the Lord your God
He is God in heaven above and in earth beneath”
(

Joshua 2:9,11)
— yea, such assurance puts many a modern professing believer to shame.
“By faith the harlot Rahab perished not with them that believed not,
when she had received the spies with peace” (

Hebrews 11:31).
Summing up the whole of her conduct on that occasion, Thos. Scott
pointed out, “It cannot therefore be reasonably doubted her faith had,
before this, been accompanied with deep repentance of those sinful
practices from which she derived the name of Rahab the harlot’“; with.90
which we heartily concur. But some, who have been poisoned with the
errors of dispensationalism, and others who are slaves to the mere letter
and sound of the Word, are likely to object, saying that is a gratuitous
assumption, for the word “repentance” is never found in Scripture in
connection with Rahab. For their benefit we will devote another paragraph
or two unto this subject.
“Repent ye and believe the Gospel” (

Mark 1:15);
“Testifying both to the Jews and also to the Greeks repentance
toward God and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ” (

Acts
20:21).
A contrite spirit and a heart acceptance of the Gospel are inseparably
connected, so that wherever the one is mentioned the other is presupposed.
For example, take the passages recording the Gospel commission: in

Mark 16:16 the emphasis is on “believing”, while in

Luke 24:47 it is
on “repentance” — the two together explaining the “make disciples” of

Matthew 28:19. The one cannot exist without the other: it is just as
morally impossible for an impenitent heart to believe, as it is for an
unbeliever to repent. There may indeed be a mental assent to the Truth
unaccompanied by any brokenness of heart, as there may be natural
remorse where no faith exists; but there can be no saving faith where
evangelical repentance is absent. Since the faith of Rahab was a saving one,
as Hebrews 11 clearly shows, it must have been attended with godly
sorrow for sin and reformation of life. There can be no pardon while there
is no repentance (

Isaiah 55:7,

Luke 24:47,

Acts 3:19) i.e.
mourning over and abandoning of our evil ways.
Repentance is a change of mind: one that goes much deeper and includes
far more than a mere change of opinion or creed. It is a changed mind, a
new perception, an altogether different outlook on things as they
previously appeared. It is the necessary effect of a new heart. Repentance
consists of a radical change of mind about God, about sin, about self, about
the world. Previously God was resisted, now He is owned as our rightful
Lord. Previously sin was delighted in, but now it is hated and mourned
over. Previously self was esteemed, but now it is abhorred. Previously we
were of the world and its friendship was sought and prized, now our hearts
have been divorced from the world and we regard it as an enemy.
Everything is viewed with other eyes than formerly, and an entirely
different estimate is formed of them. The impenitent see in Christ no beauty.91
that they should desire Him, but a broken and contrite heart perceives that
He is perfectly suited to him. Thus, while He continues to be despised by
the self-righteous Pharisees, He is welcomed and entertained by publicans
and sinners. Repentance softens the hard soil of the soul and makes it
receptive to the Gospel Seed.
Repentance necessarily leads to a change of conduct, for a change of mind
must produce a change of action: repentance and reformation of life are
inseparable.. It must have been thus with Rahab: she who had been a
harlot, would become chaste, and a life of wanton pleasure would give
place to one of honest work. Some may deem our conclusion a ‘far-fetched’
one, but personally we consider that we are given a plain
intimation of her changed manner of life. In

Joshua 2:6 we are told that
she brought them up to the roof of the house and hid them with the stalks
of flax, which she had laid in order upon the roof”. As there is not a
superfluous nor meaningless word in the Scriptures, why then has the Holy
Spirit specified the particular kind of straw which Rahab used to cover and
conceal the two spies? Now “flax” was laboriously gathered by the
industrious women, laid out on the flat roofs of the houses to dry, and was
then used for spinning and weaving. The presence of a quantity of it “laid
out” on Rahab’s roof was an evidence she was now living a useful life.
But that is not all the presence of the “flax” tells us. If we go to the trouble
of searching our concordance and comparing Scripture with Scripture, we
discover something yet more praiseworthy. In the last chapter of the book
of Proverbs we are supplied with a full-length portrait of “a virtuous
woman”, and one of her features is that “she seeketh wool and flax, and
worketh willingly with her hands”! Such we are assured was now the
character and occupation of this outstanding monument of mercy. Another
mark of repentance is a changed esteem of and attitude toward the people
of God: formerly their presence irritated, for their piety condemned us; but
when the heart be changed by the operations of Divine grace, their
company and communion is desired and valued. It was thus with Rahab
and the two Israelites: she “received the spies with peace” (

Hebrews
11:31) is the Divine testimony. It was not with reluctance and complaint
that she accepted them into her abode, but with a spirit of good will,
welcoming and giving them shelter. Admire then the blessed transformation
which the operations of the Spirit had wrought in her character.
Let us now consider more particularly her faith. First, the ground of it..92
“Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God”
(

Romans 10:17).
This does not mean that faith is originated by hearing the Word of God,
any more than that the shining of the sun imparts sight to the eye. No, faith
is bestowed by a sovereign act of the Spirit, and then it is instructed and
nourished by the Word. As an unimpaired eye receives light from the sun
and is thereby enabled to perceive objects so faith takes in the testimony of
God and is regulated thereby. My acceptance of the Truth does not create
faith, but makes manifest that I have faith, and it becomes the sure ground
on which my faith rests. Unto the spies Rahab said,
“I know that the Lord hath given you the land, and that your terror
is fallen upon us and that all the inhabitants of the land faint because
of you. For we have heard how the Lord dried up the water of the
Red Sea for you when ye came out of Egypt; and what ye did unto
the two kings of the Amorites that were on the other side, Jordan,
Sihon and Og whom ye utterly destroyed. And as soon as we had
heard these things our hearts did melt, neither did there remain any
more courage in any man, because of you” (verses 9-11).
How marked the contrast between Rahab and that generation of Israel
whose carcasses fell in the wilderness! They not only “heard” of but were
the actual eye-witnesses of those wonderful prodigies which Jehovah
wrought on behalf of His people. They personally saw Him cleave a way
for them right through the Red Sea so that they passed through it dry-shod,
and then His causing the waters to come together again to the drowning of
Pharoah and his hosts. They beheld the solemn manifestation of His august
presence on Sinai. They were the daily recipients of a supernatural supply
of food from heaven, and drank of water which was made to gush from a
smitten rock. But their hearts were unaffected and no faith was begotten
within them. They too “heard” God’s voice (

Hebrews 3:5, 6) but
responded not, and therefore were debarred from the promised land: “they
could not enter in because of unbelief” (

Hebrews 3:19). Ah, my reader,
something more than the beholding of miracles or witnessing outward
displays of God’s power is required in order to beget faith in those who are
spiritually dead, as was evidenced again in the days of Christ.
How marked the contrast too between Rahab and the rest of her
compatriots! As her words in

Joshua 2:9-11 clearly indicate, they too
heard the same reports she did of the marvels performed by the Lord’s.93
might, yet they produced no faith in them. They were indeed awestruck
and terrified by the accounts of the same that reached them, so that for a
season there did not remain any more courage in them; but that was all.
Just as under the faithful preaching of God’s servants many have been
temporarily affected by announcements of the Day of Judgment and the
wrath to come, but never surrendered themselves to the Lord. God
declared unto Israel,
“This day will I begin to put the dread of thee and the fear of thee
upon the nations that are under the whole heaven, who shall hear
report of thee, and shall tremble and be in anguish because of thee”
(

Deuteronomy 2:25).
That was literally fulfilled in the case of the inhabitants of Jericho, yet it
wrought no spiritual change in them, for they were children in whom was
no faith, and they had no faith because no miracle of grace was wrought in
their souls. Of itself the soundest preaching effects no spiritual change in
those who hear it.
Mark the contrast:
“By faith the harlot Rahab perished not with them that believed
not” (

Hebrews 11:31).
And why? Because a sovereign God had made her to differ from them
(

1 Corinthians 4:7). She was blessed with “the faith of the operation of
God” (

Colossians 2:12). Consequently, she “heard” of the works of the
Lord not merely with the outward ear, as was the case with all her fellow-citizens,
but with the ear of the heart, and therefore was she affected by
those tidings in a very different manner from what they were who heard but
“believed not”. It is clear from her words “I know that the Lord hath given
you the land” that she had both heard and believed the promises which He
had made to Abraham and his seed, and perceiving He was a gracious and
giving God, hope had been born in her. Behold then the distinguishing
favor of God unto this vessel of mercy and realize that something more
than listening to the Gospel is needed to beget faith in us.
“The hearing ear and the seeing eye, the Lord hath made even both
of them” (

Proverbs 20:12).
Only those “believe the report” to whom “the arm (power) of the Lord is
revealed” (

Isaiah 53:1). As later with Lydia, so Rahab was one.94
“whose heart the Lord opened that she attended unto the things
which were spoken” (

Acts 16:14).
Solemn indeed is the warning pointed by the unbelieving fellows of Rahab.
So far as we are informed, they heard precisely the same report as she did.
Nor did they treat those tidings with either skepticism or contempt:
instead, they were deeply affected by them, being terror-stricken, The news
of God’s judgments upon the Egyptians, and their nearer neighbors, the
Amorites, made their hearts melt as they feared it would be their turn next.
If it be asked, Why did they not immediately and earnestly cry unto God
for mercy, the answer — in part, at least — is supplied by

Ecclesiastes
8:11:
“Because sentence against an evil work is not executed speedily,
therefore the heart of the sons of men is fully set in them to do evil”
Space was given for repentance, but they repented not. A further respite
was granted during the six days that the hosts of Israel marched around
Jericho, but when nothing happened and those hosts returned to their
camp, its inhabitants continued to harden their hearts. Thus it is with the
majority of our fellows today, even of those who are temporarily alarmed
under the faithful ministry of God’s servants.
The workings of natural fear and the stirrings of an uneasy conscience soon
subside; having no spiritual root, they endure not. Only one in all that city
was Divinely impressed by the account which had been received of the
Lord’s work in overthrowing the wicked. Ah, my reader, God’s sheep have
ever been few in number, though usually a great many goats have mingled
with them, so that at a distance and to a superficial survey it seems as
though the flock is of a considerable size. Not only few in number, but
frequently isolated from each other, one here and one there, for the
children of God are “scattered abroad” (

John 11:52). The experience of
David was very far from being a unique one when he. exclaimed
“I am like a pelican of the wilderness, I am like an owl of the
desert. I watch, and am as a sparrow alone upon the housetop”
(

Psalm 102:6, 7).
God’s thoughts and ways are not as ours, being infinitely wiser and better,
though only the anointed eye can perceive that. Not only is His keeping
power more strikingly displayed, and glorified, by preserving a lone sheep.95
in the midst of goats and wolves, but that solitary believer is cast back the
more upon Him.
It is this very loneliness of the saint which serves to make manifest the
genuineness of his faith. There is nothing remarkable in one believing what
all his associates believe, but to have faith when surrounded by skeptics, is
something noteworthy. To stand alone, to be the solitary champion of a
righteous cause when all others are federated unto evil, is a rare sight. Yet
such was Rahab. There were none in Jericho with whom she could have
fellowship, none there to encourage her heart and strengthen her hands by
their godly counsel and example: all the more opportunity for her to prove
the sufficiency of Divine grace! Scan slowly the list presented in Hebrews
11, and then recall the recorded circumstances of each. With whom did
Abel, Enoch, Noah have spiritual communion? From what brethren did
Joseph, Moses, Gideon receive any help along the way? Who were the
ones who encouraged and emboldened Elijah, Daniel, Nehemiah? Then
think it not strange that you are called to walk almost if not entirely alone,
that you meet with scarcely any like-minded or any who are capable of
giving you a lift along the road.
During the past six years this magazine was sent to quite a number in the
different fighting forces, and without a single exception they informed us
that they were circumstanced similarly to Rahab. Some were with the
British, some with the Colonials, some with the Americans; some were in
the navy, others in the army and air force; but one and all reported the
same thing — totally cut off from contact with fellow-Christians. The
“Studies” were sent to anal deeply appreciated by men in both the royal
and the merchant navies, but in each instance they were on different ships,
surrounded by the ungodly. How easily the Lord could have gathered them
together on to one ship! But He did not. And it was for their good that He
did not, otherwise He had ordered things differently (

Romans 8:28).
Faith must be tried, to prove its worth. Nor is it a hot-house plant, which
wilts and withers at the first touch of frost. No, it is hardy and sturdy, and
so far from winds and rain dashing it to pieces, they are but occasions for it
to become more deeply rooted and vigorous.
The isolation of Rahab appears in that utterance of hers: “I know your
terror is fallen upon us”. They were but naturally and temporarily affected,
she spiritually and permanently so. What she heard came to her soul with
Divine power. And again we say, it was God who made her to differ. By.96
nature her heart was no different from that of her companions, but having
been supernaturally quickened into newness of life, she received with
meekness the engrafted Word. “All men have not faith” (

2
Thessalonians 3:2) because all are not born again. Faith is one of the
attributes and activities of that spiritual life (or nature) which is
communicated at regeneration. The firm foundation for faith to rest upon is
the sure Word of God, and Divine testimony: by it alone is faith supported
and established. Frames and feelings have nothing whatever to do with it,
nor is spiritual confidence either begotten or nourished by them. Assurance
comes from implicitly receiving the Word into the heart and relying upon
it. Such was the case with Rahab: “I know that the Lord hath given you the
land… (or we have heard how the Lord” etc. She received those tidings
“not as the word of men, but as it is in truth the Word of God”
(

1 Thessalonians 2:13).
Have you done so, my reader?
Observe well how definite and confident was her language. There was no
“if” or “perhaps”, no dubious “I hope”, but instead, a sure and positive “I
know”. That was the knowledge of a saving faith. It is true that faith and
assurance may be distinguished, yet they can no more be separated than
can faith and obedience. Faith without works is dead, and faith without
assurance is something of which this writer can find no mention in
Scripture. We refer, of course, to a saving faith. What is that faith? It is
taking God at His Word, appropriating it unto myself; personally resting
upon the testimony of Him who cannot lie. Now I either am doing so, or I
am not. If I am, then I must be conscious of so doing, for I cannot possibly
be trusting in God and relying on His promise and yet be unaware that I am
so doing. Read through the N.T. epistles and nowhere is there a single
passage addressed to saints who questioned their acceptance by God, but
everywhere the language is “we know” 2 Corinthians 5:l,

Galatians 4:9,

Ephesians 6:9,

Philippians 1:6,

Colossians 3:24,

1
Thessalonians 1:4,

1 Peter 1:18, 19.
Rahab’s faith was not only accompanied with confidence but it regulated
her actions. The faith of God’s elect is a living, energetic principle, which
“worketh by love” (

Galatians 5:6) and produces fruit to the glory of
God. Therein it differs radically from that nominal and inoperative faith of
frothy professors, which goes no deeper than a mere mental assent to the
Gospel and ends in fair but empty words. That faith which is.97
unaccompanied by an obedient walk and abounds not in good works is
“dead, being alone” (

James 2:17). Different far was the faith of Rahab.
Of her we read, ‘likewise also was not Rahab the harlot justified by works,
when she had received the messengers and had sent them out another way”
(

James 2:25). This does not mean that her good works was the
meritorious ground of her acceptance with God, but that they were the
evidence before men that a spiritual principle had been communicated to
her, the fruits of which vindicated and approved her profession,
demonstrating that she was a member of the household of faith.
“Had she said ‘I believe God is yours and Canaan is yours, but I
dare not show you any kindness, her faith had been dead and
inactive, and would not have justified her… Those only are true
believers that can find in their hearts to venture for God, and take
His people for their people, and cast in their lot among them”
(Matthew Henry).
That is something which needs to be constantly insisted upon in this day of
empty profession. A faith which does not issue in conversion is not a
saving one, and conversion is a radical change of conduct, a right-about
face, a reversal of our former manner of life. Saving faith necessarily
involves the relinquishing of what previously occupied the heart, the
repudiation of what formerly was trusted in, the abandonment of all that is
opposed to the thrice holy God. It therefore involves the denying of self
and the forsaking of old companions. It was thus with Abram, who was
required to leave his old situation in Ur of Chaldea and follow the call of
God. It was thus with Moses, who
“refused to be called (any longer) the son of Pharoah’s daughter.
Choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God than to
enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season, esteeming the reproach of
Christ greater riches than the treasures of Egypt” (

Hebrews
11:24-26).
It was thus with Ruth, who, in sharp contrast from Orphah went “back
unto her people and unto her gods”, refusing to forsake Naomi, averring
“thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God” (

Ruth 1:15, 16).
And it was thus with Rahab. A faith which does not relinquish anything and
produce a break from former associations is worth nothing..98
Yes, Rahab’s faith was a self-denying one, and nothing short of that is
what the Gospel requires from all to whom it is addressed. Said the Lord
Jesus, “Whosoever will come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up
his cross, and follow Me” (

Mark 8:34); and again,
“Whosoever does not bear his cross and come after Me, cannot be
My disciple” (

Luke 14:27).
Ah, dear friend, you may profess to “believe

John 3:16”, but suffer us
to ask, Do you also, do you really, believe

Luke 14:27? Be honest with
yourself: does your daily walk supply proof you do so? The self-denying
faith of Rahab appeared in her preferring the will of God to the safety of
her country and in sheltering those two spies before the pleasing of her
fellow-citizens. Still more conspicuously did it appear in the venturing of
her own life rather than betray the messengers of Joshua, who were the
worshippers of the true God. Her faith in God and love for His people
made her scorn whatever scoffs she might be subject to and the dangers
threatening her. A saving faith is ready, whenever God shall call upon us,
to part with everything which we hold near and dear in this world. Acts of
self-denying obedience are the best and surest evidences of a real spiritual
faith.
From the standpoint of natural and temporal considerations Rahab’s faith
cost her something. It induced her “to renounce all her interests among the
devoted Canaanites (i.e., doomed to destruction), to venture her life and
expose herself to the imminent danger of the most cruel tortures in
expressing her love for the people of God (T. Scott). Such is the wonder-working
power of the Spirit in a human soul, producing that which is
contrary to fallen human nature, causing it to act from new principles and
motives, making it to prefer sufferings for Christ’s sake and to endure
afflictions by throwing in its lot with His people, than to pursue any longer
the vanities of this world. Such was the transformation wrought in Saul of
Tarsus, who not only bore with fortitude the persecutions which faith in
Christ entailed, but rejoiced that he was counted worthy to suffer for His
sake. Such too has been the blessed fruit borne by the faith of many a
converted Jew since then, and many a Gentile too, especially those in
Papish and heathen countries, as the missionary-records abundantly testify.
And such in stone measure is the case with every converted soul.
In “receiving the spies with peace” Rahab made it manifest that she had a
heart for the people of God, and was ready to do everything in her power.99
to assist them… That brief clause summarizes all that is revealed in Joshua
2 of her kindly conduct toward the two Israelites. She welcomed them into
her home, engaged them in spiritual conversation, made provision for their
safety, and refused to betray them.
“Her whole conduct manifested a reverential fear of the Lord, an
entire belief of His Word, a desire and hope of His favor, an
affection for His people, and a disposition to forsake, venture and
suffer anything in His cause” (Scott).
We believe there is a latent reference to her kindness (as well as Abram’s)
in Hebrews 13, for the word translated “messengers” in

James 2:25 is
the one rendered “angels” in

Hebrews 13:2:
“Let brotherly love continue, Be not forgetful to entertain
strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.
Remember them that are in bonds, as bound with them”.
Alas, that so many today instead of so doing, are almost ready to rend each
other to pieces over every difference of opinion.
Yet, as we saw in our last, Rahab’s faith — like ours — was not free from
defect, for her falsehoods proceeded from one who failed to trust God
fully. This illustrates, in a general way, the humbling fact that in our best
performances there is a mingling of frailty and folly. But let it be pointed
out that in this matter her conduct is far from being recorded as an excuse
for us to shelter behind. Rather is it chronicled as a solemn warning, and
also to teach us that faith in its beginnings has many blemishes. God bears
with much weakness, especially in the lambs of His flock. Those who have
faith do not always act faith, but there is often much of the flesh mixed
with that which is of the spirit. Very different is our case and situation from
that of this young convert from heathendom. Rightly did the editor of
Matthew Henry’s O.T. commentary point out, “Her views of the Law must
have been exceedingly dim and contracted: a similar falsehood told by
those who enjoy the light of Revelation, however laudable the motive,
would of course deserve much heavier censure”.
“And she said unto the men, I know that the Lord hath given you
the land…for the Lord your God, He is God in heaven above, and
in earth beneath” (verses 9, 11)..100
Here we find her making an open avowal of that which the Holy Spirit had
secretly wrought in her heart. She acknowledged Jehovah to be the true
God, that Israel was the people whom He had loved and owned, and hoped
for a place among them. Nothing less is required from the believing sinner
today:
“If thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt
believe in thine heart that God hath raised Him from the dead, thou
shalt be saved” (

Romans 10:9).
The Lord will not own any cowardly and secret disciples.
“Whosoever therefore shall confess Me before men, him will I
confess also before My Father which is in heaven. But whosoever
shall deny Me before men, him will I also deny before My Father
which is in heaven” (

Matthew 10:32, 33).
Joseph was not ashamed to confess his God in Egypt, nor Daniel in
Babylon, and when Paul stood forth in the midst of the idolatrous crew and
soldiers on the ship and told of the reassuring message he had received
from the angel of God, he added, “whose I am, and whom I serve”
(

Acts 27:23). Then, no matter where we be, let us not be afraid to show
our colors and make known whose banner we serve under.
“Now therefore, I pray you, sware unto me by the Lord, since I
have showed you kindness, that ye will also show kindness unto my
father’s house, and give me a true token. And that ye will save alive
my father, and my mother, and my brethren, and my sisters, and all
that they have, and deliver our lives from death” (verses 12, 13).
Some contracted hearts, in which the very milk of human kindness appears
to have congealed, would regard this request of Rahab’s as highly
presumptuous. Personally, we believe that her soul was so overflowing
with gratitude unto the Lord for having saved such an abandoned wretch,
that her faith now perceived something of the infinitude of the Divine
mercy, and believed that such a God would be willing to show grace to the
whole of her family. Nor was she disappointed. Moreover, as Matthew
Henry rightly pointed out, “those who show mercy may expect to receive
mercy”. Thus God promised Ebedmelech, in recompense for his kindness
to the prophet, that in the worst of times he should “have his life for a
prey” (

Jeremiah 39:18)..101
That this request of Rahab’s was something more than an expression of the
tenderness of nature is evident from the whole of its tenor: that it was the
language of faith appears from her assurance that without any doubt
Canaan was going to fall before Israel. Her “sware unto me by the Lord”
indicates the intelligence of her faith — a solemn oath would clinch the
matter. In asking for a “true token”, she made request for some pledge of
deliverance — the word occurs first in Genesis 9, where God announced
that the rainbow would be “the token of the covenant”, in supplicating for
the deliverance of her whole family, she left us an example which we may
well follow. It is right that we should desire God to show mercy unto those
who are near and dear unto us: not to do so would show we were lacking
in natural affection. It only becomes wrong, when we ignore God’s
sovereignty, and dictate instead of supplicate. It is blessed to observe that
He who has said “according unto your faith be it unto you”, responded to
Rahab’s faith (

Joshua 6:22)!
THE SCARLET CORD
Rahab’s request of the two spies that they should enter into a solemn
covenant with her, guaranteeing the preservation of her family from the
impending destruction of Jericho (

Joshua 2:12, 13), placed them in a
very awkward predicament, or it is more accurate to say, presents an acute
problem which we fear some of our moderns would fail to solve aright.
Only a short time before, Israel had received the following commandment
concerning their treatment of the Canaanites:
“When the Lord thy God shall deliver them before thee, thou shalt
smite them and utterly destroy them: thou shalt make no covenant
with them, nor show mercy unto them.” (

Deuteronomy 7:2).
In the light of that express prohibition, what ought the spies to do? The
correct answer to that question turns upon the proper application of a real
and necessary distinction between the Divine commands — a distinction
which has been drawn by well-instructed scribes in all ages — namely,
between moral and positive laws: the one being grounded in essential
rectitude, the other in sovereignty. The moral nature with which God has
endowed us teaches that parents should cherish and care for their children,
and that children should revere and obey their parents; but it would not
prompt Christians to practice baptism or observe the Lord’s supper —
those are positive institutions, ad extra..102
The things enjoined by God’s positive laws depend solely on His sovereign
pleasure, there being no other reason for them. But the things enjoined by
His moral precepts are required not only by the authority of His will, but
also by that nature and order of things which He has placed in the creation.
The former are alterable at His pleasure, being appointed by mere.
prerogative’ the other are perpetual, enforcing as they do the necessary
distinctions of good and evil. All the ceremonial laws given unto Israel
were of the former order thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thine
heart and thy neighbor as thyself — the sum of the Ten Words —
belonging unto the latter. The former are only of local application unto
those who receive them by Divine revelation, the latter are universally
binding on all who are possessed of moral accountability. Whenever
obedience to a positive law would involve a plain violation of the principles
of the moral law, then the inferior must necessarily yield to the superior
though God requires us to believe and do many things which are contrary
to our depraved inclinations, yet He never demands from us that which is
opposed to the moral nature He has given us.
An illustration of the distinction pointed out above is supplied by the case
of David and his men when they were a hungered, and he requested five
loaves of the show bread (1 Samuel 21). Ahimelech the priest pointed out
that that bread was not for common use, but had been “sanctified unto the
Lord”, yet after being assured the men were free from defilement, gave the
loaves unto David. None other than our Lord tells us that though it “was
not lawful” for them to eat the sacred bread, yet they were “blameless”
(

Matthew 12:3-6). Thus the positive law which prohibited the priest
from giving the hallowed bread for food unto David and his men, yielded
to the pressing need of the situation.
“The Son of David approves of it, and shows from it that mercy is
to be preferred to sacrifice, that ritual observances must give way
to moral duties, and that that may be done in a case of urgent
providential necessity which may not otherwise be done”
(Matthew Henry).
The law laid down in

Deuteronomy 7:2 was, then, a positive one, and
neither absolute in its force nor binding in all cases, for justice itself
requires that we must ever show mercy unto the merciful and never return
evil for good. Now Rahab had shown mercy unto the two spies, and at
great risk to herself. The instincts of humanity would fill them with kindly.103
feeling toward their benefactress. Gratitude is a law of nature, and the law
of nature takes precedence over positive precepts. Thus those two godly
Israelites had sufficient moral sensibility and spiritual discernment to
perceive that

Deuteronomy 7:2 could not debar them from acting justly
and kindly toward her who had ensured their safety. Yet, though their duty
was quite clear, that did not warrant them acting hurriedly and rashly. No
arrangement should be entered into thoughtlessly, on tire impulse of the
moment. No definite promise should be made until we have carefully
weighed what we are committing ourselves unto, for our word must be our
bond. Still less should we enter into any solemn compact without first
prayerfully and thoroughly pondering all that is involved in it.
“And the men answered her, Our life for yours, if ye (better “thou”, as in
verse 20) utter not this our business. And it shall be, when the Lord hath
given us the land, that we will deal kindly and truly with thee”. (

Joshua
2:14). Let it be noted that the fulfillment of Rahab’s request was suspended
upon an “if”! Necessarily so, for those men were entering into a covenant
with her — as her “sware unto me by the Lord” intimated’ compare

1
Samuel 20:16,17:

Psalm 89:3 — and a covenant is a mutual compact in
which each party agrees to do or grant certain things in return for the other
fulfilling certain conditions. That which they agreed upon was qualified by
three provisos, the first of which was that she must continue loyal to their
interests. Thus we see their circumspection in binding Rahab to this
condition.
“They that will be conscientious in keeping their promises, will be
cautious in making them, and perhaps may insert certain conditions
which may otherwise seem frivolous (Matthew Henry).
The Christian should always qualify his promises with “the Lord willing” or
“the Lord enabling me”.
They solemnly bound themselves for her preservation in the common
destruction of Jericho. Their “our life instead of you to die” (margin) not
only affirmed that they would be as much concerned about her safety as
their own, but signified a definite imprecation of God’s judgment on them
if they failed in their part of the agreement. “We will deal kindly with thee”
was an assurance that their words would prove no empty ones, but that
there should be an actual performance of what was promised. Observe too
how they employed the language of faith: “it shall be when the Lord hath
given us the land”.104
There was no doubt in their minds about the issue: instead, they were fully
convinced that Canaan was going to be conquered — yet “by the Lord”
and as His “gift”! We too should wage the fight of faith with full assurance
of the outcome, that the Lord will grant ultimate success, so that each
exclaims, “I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever” (

Psalm 23:6).
In their “we will deal kindly” they gave proof they were imbrued with no
ferocious spirit, and were far from being the blood-thirsty creatures which
infidels charge the conquerors of Canaan with being.
“Then she let them down by a cord through the window, for her
house was upon the town wall, and she dwelt upon the wall”
(verse 15).
As soon as she received promise from the spies, Rahab set about assisting
them in their escape. It was most convenient for them that her house was
so situated, for had it been in the center of the town there was much more
likelihood of their being recognized and arrested; but being on the outer
wall, they could be let down by night unseen by unfriendly eyes. Yet let it
be pointed out that the convenience was no mere happy coincidence but
ordered by the Lord, for of all men He hath appointed “the bounds of their
habitation” (

Acts 17:26) — a sovereign God ordained where each of us
should be born and reside. But not only was the particular location of
Rahab’s house of assistance to the spies, it also served to display more
evidently the power of God, for it was the wall of the city which “fell down
flat” (

Joshua 6:20) and the preservation of her lone house amid the
universal devastation, stood forth as a monument both of His might and of
His mercy.
“And she said unto them, Get you to the mountain, lest the
pursuers meet you, and hide your elves three days until the pursuers
be returned, and afterward may ye go your way” (verse 16).
It is striking to behold the blending together of Divine power and human
precaution all through, this incident. The grand truth of Divine preservation
is typically illustrated, yet that preservation was accomplished by the use of
means at every point: Rahab’s by obeying the orders she received, her
house because of the cord in her window, the spies by concealing
themselves in the mountain. Let those who teach the “eternal security of
the saints” see to it that they present it with the safeguards by which God
has hedged it about. True, the accomplishment of His eternal purpose of
grace is not left contingent upon the acts of the creature, nevertheless He.105
who has ordained the end has also appointed the means by which that end
is reached. God has not promised to conduct any one to Heaven without
the exercise of his faculties and the discharge of his responsibility. He deals
with us throughout as moral agents, and requires us to heed His warnings
and avoid that which would destroy us (

1 Corinthians 9:27).
Committing my soul and its eternal interests into the hand of the Lord by
no means releases me of obligation. “He who has fixed the limits of our
life, has also entrusted us with the care of it; has furnished us with means
and supports for its preservation, has also made us provident of dangers,
and that they may not oppress us unawares has furnished us with cautions
and remedies. Thus it is evident what is our duty”. That, my reader, is a
quotation not from the Arminian, John Wesley, but from the Reformer,
John Calvin! — alas that so many who claim to be Calvinists lack his
wisdom and balance of doctrine. The truth of Divine preservation is not
designed as a shelter for either laziness or licentiousness. God’s promises
are made to those who honestly strive against sin and mourn when tripped
up by it, and not to those who take their fill thereof and delight therein; for
He undertakes to keep His saints in holiness and not in wickedness. If God
has turned our feet into that way which leadeth unto life, we must continue
therein, otherwise we shall never reach our desired destination. Only those
who press forward to that which is before reach the Goal.
Saving faith is far more than an isolated act: it is a spiritual principle which
continues to operate in those to whom it is communicated. Divine
preservation works through Christian perseverance, for grace is given us
not to render our efforts needless, but to make them effectual. God does
not carry His children to glory in a state of passivity, but works in them
both to will and to do of His good pleasure — to hate and fear sin, to
desire and strive after holiness; to heed His warnings, to shun the things
which would destroy, to keep His commandments. The Christian must
continue as he began, for Christian perseverance is the maintaining of godly
affections and practices. We are indeed “kept by the power of God”, yet
“through faith” (

1 Peter 1:5), and therefore so long as the flesh is left in
us and we in the world, we are required to attend unto that exhortation
“Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of
unbelief, in departing from the living God” (

Hebrews 3:13),.106
for the verses which follow solemnly remind us that many of those who
came out of Egypt never entered Canaan! — “they could not enter in
because of unbelief” (verse l9).
“And she said unto them, Get you to the mountain, lest the pursuers meet
you, and hide yourselves three days until the pursuers be returned, and
afterward may ye go your way”. Observe how this illustrates and enforces
what we have just said above. The spies were under the immediate care of
God, they had trustfully committed themselves into His hands, and He
would certainly bring them safely back unto Joshua. Nevertheless, they
were required to exercise care and caution, and they did so, for verse 22
shows they acted in exact accordance with Rahab’s counsels. They might
have argued, We cannot afford to waste three days in the mountain, rather
does it behoove us to make all possible speed to Joshua and make our
report unto him. But that had been only the feverish energy of the flesh:
“he that believeth shall net make haste” (

Isaiah 28:16) — alas that that
wise old proverb “Slow but sure, is sure to do well” is now despised. Nor
did those spies, under the plea of trusting God, recklessly disregard the
peril of being captured by the pursuers — that had keen tempting Him,
acting presumptuously rather than believingly. God requires us to conduct
ourselves circumspectly, to exercise good judgment
“And the men said unto her, We will be blameless of this thine oath,
which thou hast made us to sware. Behold, when we come into this
land, thou shalt bind this line of scarlet thread (or “rope”) in the
window which thou didst let us down by; and thou shalt bring thy
father, and thy mother, and thy brethren, and all thy father’s
household home unto thee” (verses 17,18).
If the spies must need take due precautions for their personal safety,
equally indispensable was it that Rahab should act in obedience with their
orders, otherwise they would be released from their promise and the oath
would no longer be binding upon them. Their oath, as pointed out above,
was for the confirmation of the covenant they had entered into with Rahab,
and a covenant is a mutual compact between two parties, which is rendered
null and void if either of them fails to keep his part of the agreement. Now
the Gospel itself is a covenant, for in it God offers and promises certain
blessings upon our acceptance of His offer and compliance with His terms
(

Psalm 50:5,

Jeremiah 50:5) and we are required to be “mindful
always of His covenant” (

1 Chronicles 16:15) and to “keep His.107
covenant” (

Psalm 25:10) — for a fuller discussion of this see the March
and April articles on “Reconciliation”.
The binding of the scarlet cord in her window was for the purpose of
identifications, so that when Israel made their attack upon Jericho they
might know which was her house, and spare it. It must be borne in mind
that when the spies gave her those instructions they knew not that the Lord
was going to work a miracle, and cause the walls of the city to fall down
without any assault upon them by Israel. That was not revealed unto
Joshua until later (

Joshua 6:5), illustrating the fact that God’s will is
made known unto us only a step at a time — He sees the end from the
beginning (

Acts 15:18), but He does not permit us to do so (

John
13:7). That cord was the “token” for which she had asked (verse 12), and
it enabled the army of Israel to ascertain which was her house — just as the
sprinkled blood on the door-posts of the Hebrews in Egypt caused the
angel of death to recognize their houses and pass over them, when He
went forth to slay the firstborn (

Exodus 12:13); and just as the 144,000
who are exempted from judgment are “sealed in their foreheads”
(

Revelation 7:3), their identifying mark being that of obedience to the
Lord (

Revelation 14:1-5), for it is obedience which manifestatively
distinguishes the children of God from the children of the devil.
“And it shall be that whosoever shall go out of the doors of thy
house into the streets, his blood shall be upon his head, and we will
be guiltless; and whosoever shall be with thee in the house, his
blood shall be on our head if any hand be laid upon him” (verse 19).
Thus the terms of the covenant or agreement were precisely stated and
carefully explained to her before they parted. Those of Rahab’s family who
were to be preserved from the common destruction must be inside her
house, separated from the wicked; if they forsook that shelter and mingled
with the heathen inhabitants of Jericho, they would perish with them — as
Noah and his family had in the flood, unless they had separated from the
ungodly and taken refuge in the ark. Typically this teaches the imperative
necessity of separation from the world if we would escape from its
impending doom, The case of Rahab’s family remaining secluded in her
house as the condition of their preservation is parallel with Acts 27, where
we find that though the angel of God assured Paul “there shall be no loss of
life” (verse 21, yet when the sailors were about to abandon it, he cried,
“except these abide in the ship, ye cannot be saved” (verse 31), and except.108
Christians maintain separation from this evil world they cannot escape
destruction with it.
“And if thou utter this our business, then we will be quit of thine
oath which thou hast made us sware” (verse 20).
Let those who proclaim the grand truth of “the eternal security of the
saints” fail not to give due place unto that “if” — the if not of uncertainly
from the Divine side, but of enforcing responsibility from the human. Let
them carefully ponder the “if” in

Romans 8:13 and 11:22;

1
Corinthians 15:2;

Colossians 1:23;

Hebrews 3:6, 14. Scripture does
not teach a mechanical security, but one which is obtained through our use
of means and avoidance of dangers. The preservation of Rahab from
destruction was conditioned upon her obedience to the instructions of
God’s messengers and her use of the means they specified.
First, she must mention not their business or betray them to their
enemies: she must be loyal to them and promote their interests — a
figure of love for the brethren.
Second, she must place the scarlet cord in the window so that her
house might be recognized: we must bear the identifying mark of God’s
children.
Third, she must abide in her house: we must maintain separation from
the world.
“And she said, According unto your words, so be it”: there was no
resentment, no offering of objections. “And she bound the scarlet
line in window” (verse 21),
manifesting by her obedience that she was an elect and regenerate soul.
Unless you, my reader, are walking in obedience to God, you have no
scriptural warrant to conclude you are “eternally secure”. The reward of
her faith and obedience is revealed in other passages.
First, she “perished not with them that believed not” (

Hebrews
11:31).
Second, she “dwelt in Israel” (

Joshua 6:25): from being a citizen of
heathen Jericho, she was given place in the congregation of the Lord..109
Third, she became the honored wife of a prince in Judah, the mother of
Boaz and one of the grandmothers of David (

Matthew 1:5).
Fourth, she was one of the favored ancestresses of the Savior
(Matthew 1). Thus did God do for her exceeding abundantly above all
that she-asked or thought: delivered from awful depths of sin and
shame, elevated heights of honor and dignity..110
CHAPTER 5
STANDING AT THE JORDAN
JOSHUA 3:1-6
THE JORDAN
The long season of preparation had reached its close, and the arduous task
confronting Israel must now be tackled. The forty years they had spent in
the wilderness requires to be viewed from a twofold standpoint. First, it
was a Divine judgment on the adult generation which, after being so
graciously brought out of Egypt and so gloriously delivered at the Red
Sea, gave way to an evil heart of unbelief, baulking at the prospect of
conquering Canaan (

Numbers 13:28-33) and resolving to “return into
Egypt” (

Numbers 14:1-4) — whose carcasses fell in the wilderness
(

1 Corinthians 10:5,10;

Hebrews 3:8-17). Second, it was a training
for the younger generation who were to occupy the land of promise. This
has not been sufficiently recognized. During that forty years many sons and
daughters had been born, and they were given to behold the wonders of the
Lord in a manner and to an extent which no other generation ever has. Not
only was there a visible display of Jehovah’s faithfulness and power before
their eyes in sustaining such a vast number by a daily supply of food from
heaven, but at the close Moses could say
“your clothes are not waxed old upon you and thy shoe is not
waxed old upon thy foot” (

Deuteronomy 29:5).
And is not this ever the Lord’s way with His people. He does not bid them
to trust in Him with all their hearts and lean not unto their own
understandings until He has given them clear proof that He is fully worthy
of their confidence. He does not call upon them to overcome the world,
mortify their lusts and resist the devil, until He has strengthened them with
might by His Spirit in the inner man. He does not exhort them to tread that
path of “much tribulation” which alone conducts to Glory, without first
weaning their hearts from this world, giving a death wound to their love of
sin, and vouchsafing them a ravishing earnest of that glory. How gracious.111
is the Lord, and how tender are His ways! He does not quench the smoking
flax, but feeds the spark of grace with the oil of His Spirit. He carries the
lambs in His bosom (

Isaiah 40:11) until they be able to walk. Only a
personal and experimental knowledge of Him with whom they have to do
will sustain the heart of a saint under the testings and trails to which he
must be submitted.
In the same way the Lord deals with and furnishes His servants. It was thus
with Joshua’s predecessor. When Jehovah first appeared unto him and
made known it was His purpose to employ him in leading the Hebrews out
of Egypt, he was fearful, and though the Lord declared He would stretch
forth His hand smiting Egypt with all His wonders and giving His people
favor in the sight of their oppressors, poor Moses continued to raise
objections that Israel would not believe him nor hearken to his voice. Then
the Lord bade him cast his rod on the ground, and it became a serpent; told
him to take it by the tail, and it became a rod in his hand. Ordered him to
thrust his hand into his bosom, and he drew it forth leprous as snow;
repeating the action and it was made whole (

Exodus 4:1-4). Thus
assured Moses went forth on his mission. So it was with the Eleven: before
they entered upon their life work and went forth to “make disciples of all
nations”, they spent three years with Christ (

Mark 3:14) — witnessing
His miracles and being instructed by Him.
We have already seen how such was the case with Joshua. First, the Lord
had spoken to him after the death of Moses, giving him the most definite
and heartening promises for his faith to rest upon (

Joshua 1:1-6). Then
his hands had been strengthened by the ready cooperation of the two and a
half tribes whose portion lay on the eastern side of Jordan, vowing
“According as we hearkened unto Moses in all things, so will we
hearken unto thee” (

Joshua 1:12-18).
Next he had sent forth the two spies to reconnoiter the land and they,
having received a most unlooked-for welcome and assistance from Rahab,
had returned and said unto Joshua,
“Truly the Lord hath delivered into our hands all the land, for all
the inhabitants of the country do faint because of us” (

Joshua
2:24).
“What more could Israel and their leader want! The Lord had gone before
them preparing their way, causing His “terror” to fall upon the inhabitants.112
(

Joshua 2:9). With what confidence then might Joshua and all the
people go forward into their inheritance! And should it not be the same
with Christians now?
“When He putteth forth His sheep He goeth before them, and the
sheep follow Him” (

John 10:4).
If our eyes be fixed on Him and our ears respond to His voice there is
nothing to be afraid of.
But we must now turn to the sequel: and what does the reader suppose is
the nature of it? A severe testing of faith? Doubtless that is what many
would term it: personally we would prefer to say, A glorious opportunity
for exercising faith in the living God. Do not, dear reader, look so much
upon painful circumstances and difficult situations as unpleasant trials of
faith which have to be endured, but rather thankfully regard them as golden
occasions for you to prove afresh the sufficiency of Him who never fails
those who fully trust Him. God gives His people grace not only for the
comfort of their hearts, but to use for Him. He has placed His sure
promises in the Word not merely for us to wonder at, but to turn unto
good account. He grants encouragements along the way and strengthens us
that we may press forward and do further exploits in His name. He imparts
faith unto His people that they may employ it in a manner honoring to Him.
Such it appears to us is, in part, the relation between Joshua 1 and 2 and
what is now to be before us. Israel was faced with a most formidable
obstacle, but in view of what God had wrought for them, there was no
ground for dismay.
Above we have said, Such it appears to us is, in part, the relation between
Joshua 1 and 2 and what is now to be before us. But there is something
else, and if we deliberately disregarded it, we should be guilty of handling
the Word of God deceitfully and seriously misleading His people. That
‘something else’ is either blankly repudiated today — by those who turn
the grace of God into lasciviousness in failing to insist that grace reigns
through righteousness (

Romans 5:21), teaching us to deny ungodliness
and worldly lusts, that we should live soberly, righteously and godly
(

Titus 2:11, 12); or is ignored by those who studiously omit everything
which would be unpalatable to empty professors, well knowing that if they
are to receive their support, such must be Bolstered up in their worldliness
and carnality. These hirelings harp continually on God’s grace, His
promises, and naught but faith being required by Him; and woefully fail to.113
lay stress upon God’s holiness, His precepts, and obedience being
indispensably necessary. Joshua 1 and 2, my reader, contains something
more than precious promises and gracious encouragements. Joshua 1 and 2
also make prominent the claims of God and strongly enforces human
responsibility. Let us refresh the reader’s memory. First, the Lord had
bidden Joshua “Only be thou strong and very courageous, that thou mayest
observe to do according to all the law which Moses My servant
commanded thee. This Book of the Law shall not depart out of thy mouth;
but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to
do according to all that is written therein; for then thou shalt make thy way
prosperous” Thus was the leader himself required to render the most
complete subjection unto the revealed will of the Lord, and informed that
success would hinge thereon. Joshua, in turn, “Commanded the officers of
the people” what orders to give unto them. Then he pressed upon the two
and a half tribes their obligations, bidding them
“Remember the word which Moses the servant of the Lord
commanded you” (

Joshua 1:7-13).
It was only in the behalf of a people whose hearts were right with Him and
who walked in the way of His precepts, that the Lord would show Himself
strong. Faith in Him was to be evidenced by obedience unto His
commands; no other faith would He own.
It is to be carefully noted that Joshua 3, like Joshua 2, opens with the word
“And”, which not only shows the three chapters are closely connected, but
also tells us we must carry in our minds what has previously engaged our
attention. Joshua and the people, as they started forward on their new
venture, must be regulated entirely by the instructions which they had
already received. So must we be! And if we are to make a right application
of this memorable incident unto ourselves, if we are to draw from it the
spiritual lessons which it is designed to teach us, then we need to heed
what was before us in the previous sections. A most formidable obstacle
lay in Israel’s path: the river Jordan barred their entrance into Canaan, and
we are now to behold how that obstacle was surmounted. If we are to
make a personal and practical use of this portion of Scripture, that river
which intercepted Israel’s progress should be regarded as illustrative of any
problem or obstruction which confronts the minister of the Gospel or the
ordinary Christian, and then ascertain from this passage what he must do if
he is to overcome his difficulty and be enabled to go forward..114
“And Joshua rose early in the morning’ (

Joshua 3:1). Observe well that
the Holy Spirit has taken due notice of this! Not only so, but He has
recorded the same thing again in

Joshua 6:12; 7:16; 8:20! In his early
rising, as in so many other respects, he foreshadowed the antitypical
Joshua, our Savior: see

Mark 1:35,

Luke 4:42, etc. Joshua’s “early”
rising shows that he was not slothful, a lover of his own ease, but one
whose heart was in his work and who diligently applied himself unto the
same. Therein he has left an example for each servant of Christ to follow.
The minister of the Gospel is to be no slacker and shirker, but rather “a
workman that needeth not to be ashamed” (

2 Timothy 2:15). Whether
he rises early or (as this writer) finds it more expedient to burn the
midnight oil, he is in honor and duty bound to spend at least as many hours
in his study each day as does the farmer in his field, the clerk in his office,
or the labored in the factory. He has no warrant to expect God to use him
unless he be industrious and denies himself.
“And they removed from Shittim and came to Jordan, he and all the
people of Israel, and lodged there before they passed over”
(

Joshua 3:1).
Moses had conducted Israel as far as Shittim (

Numbers 25:1), and after
his death it was from there that Joshua had sent out the two spies
(

Joshua 2:1). They had returned to him with their favorable report, and
now we behold the sequel. In his “rising early” Joshua gave proof that he
did not shirk the difficult task before him, but was anxious to come to grips
with it. The Lord rewarded his diligence by inclining the people to
cooperate with him. They might have demurred, saying “What is the use of
leaving this place where we have so long been en-camped, and moving
forward to Jordan itself, where there are neither bridges nor boats for us to
cross over it? Instead, they laid hold of the promise “within three days ye
shall pass over this Jordan (

Joshua 1:11), and went forward in faith and
obedience. They knew not how the obstacle was to be overcome, and for
the moment that was none of their business. Their responsibility was to
proceed along the path of duty so far as they were able, and count upon
God’s continuing to keep that path open for them!
“And it came to pass after three days that the officers went through
the host” (verse 2).
At first thought it seems strange that such a multitude should be left
encamped there for this length of time ere a further word was spoken to.115
them, but a little reflection should indicate the Lord’s design therein, and
then show us the important lesson we should learn there-from. Ponder this
incident; visualize the scene before your mind’s eye. It was not an army of
men only, but a vast congregation of men, women and children, to say
nothing of their baggage and herds of animals, and further advance was
blocked by the river. Whatever the breadth and depth of the Jordan in
recent centuries or today, it is evident that it presented an impassable
obstruction in Joshua’s time — moreover, it was in flood at that particular
season (

Joshua 3:15): and yet they were left to gaze upon it for three
days, faced with the fact that they had no means of their own for crossing
it! Why? What was the Lord’s object in this? Was it not to impress Israel
more deeply with a realization of their own utter helplessness? Was it not
to shut them up more completely unto Himself?
And is not that, very often, the chief design of God’s providential dealings
with us? To bring us to the end of our own resources, to make us
conscious of our own insufficiency, by bringing us into a situation from
which we cannot extricate ourselves, confronting us with some obstacle
which to human wit and might is insurmountable? By nature we are proud
and self-reliant, ignorant of the fact that the arm of flesh is frail. And even
when faced with difficulties, we seek to solve them by our own wisdom, or
get out of a tight corner by our own efforts. But the Lord is graciously
resolved to humble us, and therefore the difficulties are increased and the
corner becomes tighter, and for a season we are left to ourselves — as
Israel was before the Jordan. It is not until we have duly weighed the
difficulty and then discovered we have nothing of our own to place in the
opposite scale, that we are really brought to realize our impotency, and
turn unto Him who alone can undertake for us and free us from our
dilemma. But such dull scholars are we that, the lesson must be taught us
again and yet again before we actually put it into practice.
Those three days before that unfordable river was the necessary
preparation for what followed — the background from which the following
miracle might be the more evident to and the more appreciated by Israel.
Man’s extremity furnishes the most suitable opportunity for God to display
His power. And it is not until man is made painfully aware of his extremity
that he turns unto the Lord and seeks His intervention. That truth is writ
large across the 107th Psalm, which forcible illustrates and exemplifies
what we have been seeking to express. “Hungry and thirsty their souls
fainted in them. Then they cried unto the Lord in their trouble” (verses.116
5,6). “There was none to help: then they cried unto the Lord in their
trouble, and He saved them” (verses 12,13). “They draw near unto the
gates of death: then they cry unto the Lord” (verses 18,19). They “are at
their wits’ end: then they cry unto the Lord” (verses 27,28). They are
brought into a desperate situation, to the end of their own resources, and
then it is that they — not merely utter a few cold and formal petitions, but
— “cry unto the Lord”, and such a cry is ever responded to by His
deliverance.
Ah, my reader, do not close your eyes to the Jordan — the problem, the
difficulty, the obstacle — that confronts you, but face it. Do not attempt to
minimize it, but take its full measure. Continue contemplating it until you
plainly realize your own helplessness to cope with the same, and then
trustfully turn unto Him who is capable of dealing with it. Suppose you be
a minister of the Gospel, and you yearn for your hearers to be saved is
there not an insuperable obstacle standing in the way of the realization of
your desire? Indeed there is’ the stolid indifference and unresponsiveness
of your hearers. That is the “Jordan” which confronts you the spiritual
insensibility of your congregation — and “Jordan” is the symbol of death!
Do you fully realize that’ that your hearers have no more spiritual life in
them than the waters of that river had? That you can no more open their
hearts to the reception of the Gospel than Israel could open a path through
the Jordan? Are you acting accordingly? Few ministers, few churches
today are! When they would have a “revival” they hire an outside
evangelist and count on special singing, instead of crying unto the Lord.
“And it came to pass after three days that the officers went through
the host. And they commanded the people, saying, When ye see the
ark of the covenant of the Lord your God, and the priests the
Levites bearing it, then ye shall remove from your place and go
after it” (

Joshua 3:2,3),
For three days the congregation of Israel had been encamped before that
river which barred their entrance into the land of promise, thus being
obliged to take full stock of that formidable barrier and made fully
conscious of their own helplessness. The Jordan is the symbol of death, and
it is not until the saint appropriates the solemn truth or has learned from
painful experience that death is written upon all his natural powers that he
is likely to make any real spiritual progress or enter practically into his fair
heritage. That was the great lesson which had to be learned by the father of.117
them that believe, before his longing could be realized and fruit borne.
Because Sarah was barren he thought to obtain the desired son by Hagar,
only to bring trouble upon his household. Not until he truly recognized the
natural impotency of himself and his wife did he count upon Him who
quickeneth the dead’

Romans 4:17-21.
Thus it was too with the chief of the apostles. “For we would not,
brethren, have you ignorant of our trouble which came to us in Asia, that
we were pressed out of measure, above strength, insomuch that we
despaired even of life. But we had the sentence of death in ourselves that
we should not trust in ourselves, but in God who raiseth the dead. Who
delivered us from so great a death (

Acts 19:22-41), and doth deliver
(from those who then sought his life), in whom we trust that He will yet
deliver us” (

2 Corinthians 1:8-10). It is God’s way with His people to
so order His providences that they are “pressed out of measure, above
strength”, until they are brought to despair of deliverance by their own
efforts. Then it is they discover that death is stamped upon all their
members and powers and are brought to acknowledge
“we have no might… neither know we what to do”
(

2 Chronicles 20:12).
Ah, but note they at once added, “but our eyes are upon Thee”! It was for
that very reason Paul and his companions had “the sentence of death” in
themselves — that they “should not trust in themselves, but in God which
raiseth the dead”
By nature we are self-confident and by practice to a considerable extent
self-reliant. But those qualities have no scope or place in the spiritual life,
having to be completely renounced. Just as we must repudiate our own
righteousness before the righteousness of Christ is imputed to us, so we are
required to disown our own wisdom and strength ere the power of Christ
works in us and for us.
“Whosoever will come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up
his cross, and follow Me” (

Mark 8:34)
is Christ’s own unchanging demand. To “deny himself” is for a man to
abandon all trust in himself, to disclaim any capability of his own, to be
emptied of self. In order thereto God often brings him into situations where
he discovers it is utterly vain to look to himself for relief. Until he has
found out that all attempts to extricate himself are futile, he has not learned.118
his utter helplessness, and until he does so he will not really look outside
himself unto the Lord. Israel then were made to feel their powerlessness
during the three days they were encamped before the overflowing Jordan,
and that, in order to prepare them to count upon the Almighty.
But let it is also be duly observed that to “deny himself” is not only for a
man to disown his own righteousness, wisdom and strength, but also to
renounce all self-will and self-pleasing. The whole of “self” is to be set
aside and “the cross” taken up: that is, the principle of self-sacrifice, is to
dominate and regulate him, and that, in order to “follow Christ” The
former are negative — means to an end’ they are preparatives unto a life of
obedience or a practical owning of the Lordship of Christ. We turn to God
“from idols” — the chief of which is self — that we should “serve the
living and true God” (

1 Thessalonians 1:9) i.e., that we should be
subject to Him, governed by Him. And that is the important truth set forth
here. Israel were now commanded to turn their gaze away from the Jordan
and fix their eyes steadily on “the ark”
And of what or of whom does the ark speak? Of Christ, says the reader.
True, yet such an answer is far too general to be of any elucidation. Of
Christ in what relation? Of His person, His work, or His official character?
If of His office, which particular aspect thereof?
It should be evident to any attentive student that the spiritual interpretation
of our passage — both doctrinally and practically — turns upon our
answers to those questions. The ark is the central object in this miraculous
event, being mentioned by name in chapters 3 and 4 no less than sixteen
times and alluded to as “it “five times, or a total of twenty-one times, or
7×3, which in the language of Scripture numerics signifies, a complete
manifestation of God. What, then, was the ark, and for what purpose was it
made? The ark was a coffer or chest, made of shittim wood, overlaid both
within and without with pure gold (

Exodus 25:10,11). It was to be a
depository for the two tables of stone (

Exodus 25:16), and accordingly,
when all its sacred furniture was made and the tabernacle was set up, we
are told that Moses “took and put the testimony into the ark” (

Exodus
40:20), where it still abode in the days of Solomon (

1 Kings 8:9). It is
most essential that this fact be carefully noted, if we are to perceive aright
the spiritual meaning of this holy vessel: the ark was made for the Law, and
not the Law for the ark, as is abundantly clearly from

Deuteronomy
10:1-5..119
It was for the above-mentioned reason that the ark was called “the ark of
the testimony” (

Exodus 26:33, 34, etc.). The tables of stone on which
the finger of God had written the ten Commandments were termed “the
tables of testimony” (

Exodus 31:18), and from their being deposited in
it the ark received its principal designation, and since the ark was the most
important object in the tabernacle, it was called “the tabernacle of
testimony” (

Numbers 1:51, 53, etc.). The tables of stone were
designated “the testimony”, the ark “the ark of the testimony”, and the
tabernacle “the tabernacle of testimony” because they one and all declared
what God is and made known the terms on which He would hold
fellowship with His people. The Law was a revelation of the righteousness
of Jehovah, with its demands upon the faith, love and obedience of His
saints. It witnessed immediately to the Divine holiness, yet by necessary
implication to the sinfulness of Israel. The tabernacle was the place of
God’s habitation where Israel was to meet with Him: not only to receive a
knowledge of His will and hold fellowship with Him (

Exodus 25:21,22)
but also having a prominent respect to their sins against which the Law
was ever testifying, and to use the appointed means of their restoration to
His favor and blessing.
It has not been sufficiently recognized by more recent writers that in that
Tabernacle of Testimony not only was witness plainly borne unto the
ineffable holiness and majesty of the Lord, but also to His gracious
condescension and abounding mercy. It testified to the wondrous
provisions He had made whereby transgressors of the Law could receive
pardon and the defiled be cleansed. In its outer court stood the brazen
altar, where sacrifices of atonement were offered. There too was the laver
of water for the washing of the hands and feet (

Exodus 30:18-20). Still
more significant and blessed, the very ark which enshrined the Law was
covered with the mercy-seat (

Exodus 25:21)! That mercy-seat formed
Jehovah’s throne in Israel, for it was there between the cherubim that He
“dwelt” (

Psalm 80:1 etc.), ruling over His people. Thus the ark and its
lid, the mercy-seat, testified unto His being “a just God and a Savior’!”
(

Isaiah 45:21): the Law, proclaiming His inexorable justice, the mercy-seat
testifying to the provision of His grace for the transgressions of His
people — a covering of mercy that they might draw near unto Him and
live.
We turn now to take particular note of the fact that in

Joshua 3:3 etc.
the ark is called “the ark of the covenant”, the reference being to that.120
compact into which Jehovah entered with Israel at Sinai and which they
solemnly bound themselves to keep (

Exodus 19:1-6; 24:1-8). By the
establishment of the Sinaitic Covenant the relation between God and Israel
was brought into a state of formal completeness. Under the Abrahamic
covenant (

Genesis 17:7, 8 etc.) the Lord had pledged Himself to
faithfully bestow upon Abraham’s seed every needful blessing, and now
that covenant of promise was supplemented by the covenant of Law, which
bound that seed to render the dutiful return of obedience which their
gracious God justly required from them. The foundation was thus
outwardly laid for a near and lasting relationship, resulting in a blessed
intercourse between the God of Abraham on the one hand and the dutiful
descendants of Abraham on the other. And it was primarily with the design
of furthering and securing that end that the ratification of the covenant at
Sinai was so immediately followed by instructions for the making and
erection of the tabernacle.
The Ten Commandments were the terms of the covenant entered into at
Sinai (

Exodus 34:28):
“He declared unto you His covenant which He commanded you to
perform, even ten commandments” (

Deuteronomy 4:13),
and it was on the basis of their compliance therewith that God undertook
to deal with Israel and make good His promises to Abraham. His readiness
to show Himself strong in their behalf was at once evidenced:
“and they departed from the mount of the Lord three days’ journey;
and the ark of the covenant of the Lord went before them in the
three days’ journey, to search out a resting-place for them”
(

Numbers 10:33).
But alas, the very next thing recorded is “the people complained” and “it
displeased the Lord”’ and His chastening hand fell heavily upon them
(

Numbers 11:1). Then we learn of the opposition made against Moses
by his own brother and sister, and the Lord’s smiting Miriam with leprosy
(Numbers 12). That is at once followed by an account of the sending forth
of the twelve men to spy out the land of Canaan, the mixed report which
they made upon their return, the unbelief and rebellion of the people, with
their repudiation of Moses as their leader and determination to return unto
Egypt (

Numbers 13:1; 14:5)..121
The evil conduct of Israel is summed up by the Psalmist in those solemn
words
“They kept not the covenant of God and refused to walk in His
Law (

Psalm 78:10).
Their breaking of the covenant at once released the Lord from making
good unto that perverse generation His declarations unto Abraham, and
therefore He told them
“your carcasses they shall fall in this wilderness. And your children
shall wander in the wilderness… after the number of the days in
which ye searched the land, forty days, each day for a year, shall ye
bear your iniquities, forty years, and ye shall know My breach of
promise” (

Numbers 14:32-34).
They should know to their lasting misery what had produced that “breach
of promise” (compare the “if” of

Exodus 19:5!) and the protracted and
woeful consequences thereof. The promises Jehovah made unto Abraham
and unto Moses would not be fulfilled unto that particular generation
because of their unbelief and disobedience; but unto their descendants they
should be made fully good. As Joshua himself testified at a later date, “the
Lord delivered all their enemies into their hands. There failed not aught of
any good thing which the Lord had spoken unto the house of Israel: all
came to pass” (

Joshua 21:44, 45).
The forty years’ wandering in the wilderness expired with the death of
Moses, and all whose sins occasioned that punishment had also died. It was
the new and younger generation over which Joshua was placed, and now a
fresh chapter opened in the history of Israel What has been pointed out
above explains not only the prominent position occupied by the ark in the
crossing of Jordan and in the subsequent events, but why it is there
designated “the ark of the covenant”. Israel’s success, or rather the Lord’s
showing Himself strong in their behalf, would turn upon their keeping of
the covenant established at Sinai and their walking in implicit obedience
unto God. Israel’s crossing of the Jordan with their eyes fixed on the ark
signified that they marched into Canaan led by the Law!
What has just been emphasized is of something more than mere historical
importance: it is recorded for the instruction of God’s people in all
generations, and needs to be turned by them into earnest prayer for Divine
enablement. It reveals to us the principal thing which the Holy One requires.122
from us if He is to undertake for us and make a way through whatever
“Jordan” may confront us. It makes known the basic principle of God’s
governmental dealings with His people in every age: the exercise of His
power on our behalf is regulated by our submission to Him. God cannot be
the Patron of sin, and therefore He will not show Himself strong in the
behalf of rebellious subjects. As said before, we must deny self and take up
our cross in order to “follow” Christ, and what that signifies is made clear
to us here in Israel’s “following” the ark of the covenant.
“He that saith he abideth in Him ought himself also so to walk even
as He walked” (

1 John 2:6),
and He walked in perfect subjection to the Law of God!
THE ARK
“And they commanded the people, saying, When ye see the ark of
the covenant of the Lord your God, and the priests the Levites
bearing it, then ye shall remove from your place, and go after it.
Yet there shall be a space between you and it, about two thousand
cubits by measure: come not near unto it, that ye may know the
way by which ye must go; for ye have not passed this way
heretofore” (

Joshua 3:3,4).
Keeping in mind the principal things which have already been before us:
that this was a new generation of Israel which was about to enter into their
heritage; that that heritage prefigured the portion and privileges which
should — in this life — be enjoyed by the Christian; that the ark was an
outstanding type of the person of Christ; that the particular name by which
it is here designated intimates the special character in which Christ is to be
viewed and followed by the believer; that Israel’s crossing of the Jordan
and entrance into Canaan is fraught with the most important practical
instruction for us today; let us proceed.
The ark was the sacred chest in which the two tables of stone were
deposited, and thus it pointed to Christ as our Lawgiver (

Psalm 40:8;

John 14:15). The ten commandments were the terms of the covenant
which was mutually entered into between Jehovah and Israel at Sinai
(

Exodus 34:28), and it was on the basis of their compliance, or non-compliance
with that solemn pact that the Lord agreed to deal with Israel
and make good His promises to Abraham. Hence the name by which the.123
ark is called throughout Joshua 3 and 4. Thus the ark here prefigured
Christ as the believer’s Covenant-head, the meaning of which, though of
the first moment, is alas little understood today. It is in the Gospel that
Christ is tendered unto u: as such, and it is by our complying with its terms
that the soul enters into a covenant with Him. “Incline your ear, and come
unto Me: Hear, and your soul shall live; and I will make an everlasting
covenant with you, even the sure mercies of David” or” the Beloved”
(

Isaiah 55:3). That is the Gospel offer or proposal, and our acceptance
thereof is a “joining ourselves to the Lord, to serve Him and to love the
name of the Lord” and is a “taking hold of His covenant” (

Isaiah 56:6).
That which will best enable us to grasp the basic truth which we are here
concerned with is the marriage contract, for marriage is a covenant
voluntarily, lovingly, and solemnly entered into between two parties,
wherein each gives himself or herself unto the other, disowning all rivals,
pledging unending fidelity, vowing to make the interests and welfare of the
other his or her own. Nothing less than is what the Lord requires from
man. The evangelist calls upon his hearers to throw down the weapons of
their enmity against Him, forsake all illicit lovers, and unite themselves with
those who declare,
“Come and let us join ourselves to the Lord in a perpetual covenant
that shall not be forgotten” (

Jeremiah 1:5).
Thus it was in that wondrous and blessed foreshadowment in Genesis 24,
where Abraham (figure of the Father) sent forth his servant Eliezer (figure
first of the Holy Spirit, yet principally of the evangelist through whom He
works) to seek and woo a wife (emblem of the Church collectively and of
the believer individually) for his son Isaac — Christ; the whole of which
sets before us a most instructive picture of the preaching of the Gospel,
both from the standpoint of God’s sovereign grace and the enforcing of
human responsibility — though, as usual, the latter is ignored by most
Calvinistic writers thereon.
As the figure of the evangelist we may note how Eliezer received most
specific instructions from Abraham concerning his mission and how that
servant obediently complied therewith (

Genesis 24:10). Then we
observe how Eliezer betook himself unto prayer, asking the Lord to grant
him “good speed” and success on his errand (verse 12) — an unmistakable
plain intimation that Eliezer is not to be regarded solely as a type of the
Holy Spirit. When Abraham’s servant encountered the object of his quest.124
he presented her with tokens of his good will (verse 22), and extolled the
excellency of his master (verse 35). Then we behold how she was required
to make a personal decision “Wilt thou go with this man?” (verse 58): she
had to choose for herself, freely and deliberately. Such a decision, personal
and definite, is required from the sinner as the terms of the Gospel are
presented unto him, for they are addressed to him as a moral agent, testing
and enforcing his responsibility. “And she said, I will go.” She was willing
and ready to turn her back upon the old life, and forsake her family to
become the wife of Isaac. “And she became his wife” (verse 67), and never
regretted her decision. And that is the grand type and picture of a soul
entering into an everlasting covenant with the Lord Jesus, the eternal Lover
of His people — made willing in the day of His power.
In full accord with the striking type of Genesis 24 we find our Lord
Himself speaking of the Gospel-order thus:
“The kingdom of heaven is like unto a certain King which made a
marriage for His Son” (

Matthew 22:2),
upon which Matthew Henry rightly averred. “The Gospel covenant is a
marriage covenant betwixt Christ and the believer, and it is a marriage of
God’s making. This branch of the similitude is only mentioned, and not
prosecuted here”; by which he meant that the wedding feast and its guests
is what is mainly dwelt upon in the sequel. Concerning the force of the
“marriage” figure itself. Thomas Scott aptly said,
“The union of the Son of God with man by assuming human nature;
the endeared relationship into which He receives His Church and
every member of it; the spiritual honors, riches and blessings to
which they are advanced by this sacred relation; the comforts they
receive from His condescending and faithful love, and from
communion with Him; and the reciprocal duties of their relation to
Him are all intimated by the metaphor.”
True, yet, with their accustomed partiality and lack of balance, most
preachers have dwelt considerably upon the first four of these analogies,
but have been criminally silent upon the “reciprocal duties” which that
relation involves, and which we are here insisting upon.
The same lopsidedness is seen again in the explanations given of

Matthew 22:11:.125
“When the King came in to see the guests, He saw there a man
which had not on a wedding garment.”
Thomas Scott is right in saying,
“This denotes that some who are not true believers appear as
willing and welcome guests at the Gospel feast and intrude into its
most sacred ordinances,”
but it seems to us he quite missed the point when he added, “It is not
material whether we understand the wedding garment to mean the imputed
righteousness of Christ, or the sanctification of the Spirit; for both are alike
necessary and they always go together.” This parable is not treating so
much of the Divine side of things, but rather the testing of human
responsibility and the disclosing of its failures. Verses 3,5 and 6 exhibit
man’s obstinacy and enmity, while verse 11 depicts the exposure of an
empty profession.
“If the Gospel be the wedding feast, then the wedding garment is a
frame of heart and a course of life agreeable to the Gospel and our
profession of it” (Matthew Henry).
Many take up a profession of the Gospel and claim to be united to Christ
without any newness of heart and life. They lack a disposition and conduct
suited to Christ and His precepts: they are devoid of habitual and practical
holiness. They have no marriage “certificate”!
Now none can enter into and enjoy the heritage which God has provided
for His people save those who have personally and experimentally passed
from death unto life, who have entered into definite and solemn covenant
with Him, and who cleave unto and conduct themselves by the
commandments of Christ — the anti-typical Joshua. That is the great and
grand truth portrayed here in Joshua 3 and 4, and it is because it is such a
momentous one, and yet so little apprehended today, that we are laboring it
so much in our comments upon this passage. It is at regeneration that me
soul passes from death unto life, when by a sovereign act of God’s power
— wherein we are entirely passive — we are spiritually quickened and
thereby capacitated to turn unto Him. This miracle of grace is made
manifest by the understanding of its subject being enlightened to perceive
his awful enmity against God, by his conscience being convicted of his
guilty and lost condition, by his affections being turned against sin so that
he now loathes it, by his will being inclined God-wards; all of which issues.126
in a genuine conversion or right-about-face — a forsaking of his wicked
ways, an abandoning of his idols, a turning away from the world, and a
taking of Christ to be his absolute Lord, all-sufficient Savior, and
everlasting Portion.
Such a conversion — and none other is a saving one is an entering into
covenant with God in Christ, and a being married or united unto Him.
Hence we find the conversion of the Corinthians described thus: they
“first gave their own selves to the Lord and unto us, by the will of
God” (

2 Corinthians 8:5):
that is, they willingly yielded and gladly dedicated themselves unto the
Lord — acknowledging the just requirements of His proprietorship and
authority, and responding to the claims of His redeeming love as the only
suitable acknowledgment of that debt which can never be repaid; and gave
up themselves unto His servants to be directed by them; which is ratified in
baptism, when we openly give up ourselves to be His people. Hence, under
a slightly varied figure Paul reminded those who had been thus converted
under his preaching,
“I have espoused you to one Husband, that I may present you as a
chaste virgin to Christ” (

2 Corinthians 11:2).
The apostle had been the instrument in forming a connection between them
and Christ like that of the marriage union, the obligations of which are
devotedness, fidelity, loving obedience; and unto the preservation and
promotion thereof the apostle labored with a godly jealousy for them.
At regeneration the Spirit vitally unites us to Christ; at conversion we
personally and practically give up ourselves unto Him. Conversion is when
we accept Christ to be our Husband and Lord, to be cherished and ruled by
Him. It is an entering into a covenant-engagement with Him, for Him to be
our only God, and for us to be His faithful people. That the covenant
relationship is a marriage union is clear from

Jeremiah 31:32,

Hosea
2:18, 19 (and cf.

Jeremiah 2:2;

Ezekiel 16:60); and that is why
Israel’s idolatry was commonly spoken of as (spiritual) adultery —
unfaithfulness to Jehovah, going after other gods. Since conversion be our
entering into covenant with God in Christ, the great business of the
Christian life is to “keep His covenant” (

Psalm 25:10): that is, to be
regulated at all times by its terms. Or, since conversion be a marriage union
with Christ, the w, hole aim of the Christian life is to be as a loving and.127
dutiful wife should unto her husband. All of which is summed up in that
comprehensive word.
“As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in
Him” (

Colossians 2:6):
continue as you began, be actuated by the same motives and principles now
as when you first surrendered to Him, let your Christian life be a
perpetuation of your conversion, be wholly devoted to Him.
What we have endeavored to set before the reader above as a definition
and description of the true and normal Christian life is that which is
typically portrayed in Joshua 3 and 4. The ark was a figure of Christ; the
“ark of the covenant of the Lord your God” pointed to Him as our
Covenant-head, the One with whom we entered into a solemn compact and
engagement at our conversion, to be henceforth and for ever only His.
Israel’s following of that ark pictured our keeping of the covenant, our
being in practical subjection to Christ as our Lord and Lawgiver, our being
faithful to the marriage relationship, ever seeking to please and promote
the interests of the eternal Lover of our souls. Just in proportion as we
conduct ourselves thus will Israel’s experiences become ours. As they
submitted unto Joshua’s orders, as they obediently followed the ark of the
covenant, God put forth His mighty power on their behalf, they entered
into a present “rest” (

Hebrews 4:3), He subdued their enemies, and a
land flowing with milk and honey became their actual portion. And if such
experiences be not those of the writer, or the reader, it is just because he is
failing to conduct himself as Israel did here.
Having entered so fully into an attempt to explain the fundamental
principles underlying this incident and the main lessons to be learned from
it, there will be the less need to spend much time on its details. “There shall
be a space between you and it about two thousand cubits by measure:
come not near unto it” (verse 4). That was parallel with the solemn
prohibition given unto Israel when the Lord was about to enter into
covenant with their fathers, and make known unto them the terms of that
covenant:
“the third day the Lord will come down in the sight of all the
people upon mount Sinai. And thou shalt set bounds unto the
people round about, saying, Take heed to yourselves that ye go not.128
up into the mount or touch the bound of it. Whosoever toucheth
the mount shall be surely put to death” (

Exodus 19:12).
The spiritual application of both unto us is set forth in that word,
“God is greatly to be feared in the assembly of the saints and to be
had in reverence of all them that are round about Him”
(

Psalm 89:7).
Or, to express the same in New Testament language,
“Let us have grace whereby we may serve God acceptably with
reverence and godly fear: for our God is a consuming fire”
(

Hebrews 12:28, 29).
The natural and local reason why the ark of the covenant should proceed
so far in advance was that it could readily be seen by all the vast multitude:
had there been no space between it and them, those who followed closely
behind it would obscure the view of the others — only those in the first
few ranks had been able to behold it. But being borne by the priests half a
mile in the van, the ark would be visible to the whole multitude. But
typically and spiritually the lessons inculcated were:
First, we should ever bear in mind that by nature we are sinners, and as
such far removed from the Holy One.
Second, that as sinners we are to look off unto Christ as our Sin-bearer, of
which the mercy seat or propitiatory (which formed the lid of the ark)
spoke. As the uplifted serpent on the pole (emblem of Christ bearing the
curse for His people) was visible to all the congregation, so the ark in the
foreground.
Third, that as saints we need to keep our eyes steadfastly fixed upon Him,
“looking off unto Jesus the Author and Finisher of faith”
(

Hebrews 12:2),
for it is a life of faith unto which He has called us, strength for which is to
be found in Him alone.
Fourth, Christ’s leaving His people an example that they should “follow
His steps,” for “when He puteth forth His sheep, He goeth before them and
the sheep follow Him” (

John 10:4): our duty is to “follow the Lamb
whithersoever He goeth” (

Revelation 14:4)..129
Fifth, the immeasurable superiority of Christ above His people — “that in
all things He should have the preeminence” (

Colossians 1:18), He being
the Head we but members of His body. This must ever be borne in mind by
them, for though He be their Kinsman-Redeemer and is not ashamed to call
them “brethren,” nevertheless He is their Lord and their God, and to be
owned and worshiped as such — “that all should honor the Son even as
they honor the Father” (

John 5:23).
Sixth, that we must conduct ourselves toward the Lord our God with
proper decorum and not with unholy familiarity.
Seventh, that He entered the and-typical Canaan in advance, to take
possession of heaven on our behalf: “whither the Forerunner is for us
entered “(

Hebrews 6:20) — there is both a present and future, an initial
and a perfect occupying of our heritage.
“Yet there shall be a space between you and it, about two thousand
cubits by measure: come not near unto it, that ye may know the
way by which ye must go; for ye have not passed this way
heretofore” (

Joshua 3:4).
Having pointed out some of the probable reasons why the ark was to
proceed so far in advance of the people, we must now turn to consider the
meaning of the last clause of this verse. Personally, we consider the
commentators and sermonizers have quite missed the force of the “for ye
have not passed this way heretofore” when they explain it is signifying “For
ye are about to march over unfamiliar ground.” Admittedly the Hebrew,
and at first glance this English rendering, appears to decidedly favor such a
view, yet a careful weighing of this clause in the light of its whole setting
seem to require a different interpretation of it, understanding it to mean
“for ye have not marched in this manner hitherto.” Nor is that by any
means a wresting of the text, for though the Hebrew word “derek” be
translated “way” in the vast majority of instances, yet it is rendered
“manner” eight times — as, for example, in

Genesis 19:31;

Isaiah
10:24, 26).
To give as the reason why the children of Israel should follow the ark on
this occasion as “because ye are about to tread new and strange ground”
seems to possess little or no point, for had not that been equally true on
most of their journeying across the wilderness! But, it will be asked, to
what else is the reference? We answer something entirely different from.130
what had marked their marches previously, as the “heretofore” indicates.
The immediate context is concerned with the informing of Israel as to
when they were to advance: “when ye see the ark of the covenant of the
Lord your God, and the priests the Levites bearing it, then ye shall remove
from your place and go after it” (verse 3). Hitherto, it was only when the
cloud moved that they did so too (see

Exodus 3:21, 22, 49, 38);
“whether it was by day or by night that the cloud was taken up, they
journeyed” (

Numbers 9:21, and cf. 14:14). During the whole of the
preceding forty years Israel had been led by that supernatural “pillar of
cloud,” but now and henceforth that cloud was no longer to be with them.
It was a visible token of Jehovah’s presence, especially granted unto.
‘Moses, and with his death it disappeared.
A different arrangement was now made, a new means for recognizing
God’s will concerning their journeyings was now revealed unto Israel,
another symbol of Jehovah’s presence should henceforth strike terror into.
the hearts of His enemies. The ark of the covenant now took, in an
important sense, a new position. Formerly, when journeying the ark had
been carried in the midst of the host. It had indeed gone before Israel on
one previous occasion “to search out a resting place for them”
(

Numbers 10:33), yet the very next verse informs us “and the cloud of
the Lord was upon them by day, when they went out of the camp”; and, as
we have seen, the immediate sequel was the fatal apostasy of that
generation. The cloud had moved above the ark (cf.

Leviticus 16:2),
where all the people could see it easily and follow the ark without
inconvenience; but now the cloud was no longer with them — the ark
becoming their visible guide. Another indication of this new arrangement
appears in the ones who bore the ark. A specific command had been given
that the ark should be carried by the sons of Kohath (

Numbers 3:30, 31;
4:15), but here “the priests” were appointed as its bearers.
Thus, in keeping with this new venture by the new generation, a different
order of procedure was appointed — “ye have not traveled in this manner
before.” The first generation of Israel had been a lamentable and utter
failure, but there can never be any failure with the Lord God, nor in the
accomplishment of His eternal counsels. God always takes care of His own
glory and of the full and final blessing of His people according to His
purpose; yea, He never suffers them to be divorced or pass out of His own
hands. In His wondrous wisdom and amazing grace God has inseparably
united the two, and therefore does He make all things, work together for.131
the accomplishment of each alike, for He has made His people and their
blessing a constituent part of His glory — “Israel My glory” (

Isaiah
46:13). Thus we see how fitting it was that the ark of the covenant went in
advance of the twelve tribes on their entrance into Canaan, which the Lord
had chosen to be the place where He would make a full display of Himself
in the midst of His people. As the Lord had magnified Himself before
Pharaoh and his hosts in Egypt and at the Red Sea in connection with
Israel’s exodus, so now He would magnify Himself in the sight of the
Canaanites as He bared His arm on behalf of His people.
This is indeed a marvelous and blessed truth that God has bound up the
good of His people with His own manifestative glory, that at the same time
that He furthers the one He promotes the other also. It is a truth which
ought to exercise a powerful influence upon our hearts and lives, both in
strengthening holy confidence and in preventing unholy conduct. It
furnishes us with an invincible plea when praying for the prosperity of
God’s cause on earth or for our own individual fruitfulness: “grant it, O
Lord, for the honor of Thy great name.” It was on that ground Moses, in a
sore crisis, presented his petition (

Numbers 14:15-17), so Joshua
(

Joshua 7:9), Hezekiah (

2 Kings 19:19), Joel (

Joel 2:17). But
One far greater than any of those prayed
“Father, the hour is come, glorify Thy Son, that Thy Son also may
glorify Thee” (

John 17:1).
And should not each Christian say, “Father undertake for me, that Thy
child may — in his measure — glorify Thee”! Yet this wondrous truth has
a bearing on duty as well as privilege. Since my good and God’s glory be
inseparably united, how careful I should be in avoiding everything which
would bring reproach upon His name! How diligent in seeking to tread that
path where communion with Him is alone to be had! How zealous in
“doing all things to the glory of God” (

1 Corinthians 10:31.
“And Joshua said unto the people, Sanctify yourselves, for
tomorrow the Lord will do wonders among you” (

Joshua 3:5).
The word “sanctify” is one of the most difficult terms to define that is used
in Scripture: partly because of the great variety of objects to which it is
applied; partly because it has so many different shades of meaning; partly
because doctrinally and experimentally considered there is both a Divine
and a human side to sanctification, and few find it easy to adjust those two.132
sides in their minds. With their customary partiality Calvinistic writers and
preachers confine themselves almost entirely to the Church’s sanctification
by the Father (setting her apart from the non-elect by His eternal decree),
by the Son (who cleansed her from her sins and adorned her by His merits),
and by the Holy Spirit (by her regeneration and daily renewing), and say
little or nothing upon the necessity and duty of the Christian’s sanctifying
himself. Whereas Arminian writers and preachers dwell almost exclusively
on the human side of things, as the believer’s dedication of himself unto
God and His service, and his daily cleansing of himself by the Word: Since
the days of the Puritans few indeed have made a full-orbed, presentation of
this important truth.
The first time the term occurs in Holy Writ is

Genesis 2:3, and, as is
invariably the case, this initial mention at once indicates its essential
meaning and content: “And God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it,”
which obviously means that He separated it from the other six days and set
it apart for His own particular use — such is the underlying and root idea
in all its subsequent occurrences where God Himself is the Agent or Actor.
The next reference is

Exodus 13:2:
“Sanctify unto Me all the firstborn: whatsoever openeth the womb
among the children of Israel, of man or beast: it is Mine”:
that was something which the Lord required from them, namely, to
dedicate and devote the firstborn entirely unto Him. The third occurrence
is in Exodus 19:
“And the Lord said unto Moses, Go unto the people and sanctify
them today and tomorrow, and let them wash their clothes. And be
ready against the third day, for the third day the Lord will come
down in the sight of all the people upon mount Sinai” (verses

10, 11, and see verse 15).
There the word “sanctify” manifestly has reference unto a personal
cleansing by the Israelites themselves, to fit them for the approach (of the
thrice Holy One.
Now it is quite clear that the injunction which Joshua gave unto Israel in
verse 5 was of precisely the same import as that which Moses received for
the people in Exodus 19. The Lord Was about to appear on their behalf,
and they were required to be in a meet condition. When God bade Jacob.133
go to Bethel and make there an altar unto Him, we are told that the
patriarch said unto his household,
“Put away the strange gods that are among you and be clean, and
change your garments” (

Genesis 35:1, 2)
— idols and the worship of the Lord do not accord. Unto the elders of
Bethlehem the prophet said,
“I am come to sacrifice unto the Lord: sanctify yourselves, and
come with me to the sacrifice” (

1 Samuel 15:5).
In each case the reference was first unto the removal of ceremonial
defilement, the putting away of all outward pollution, and then to bringing
their hearts into a suitable frame towards the One with whom they had to
do, for God has never been satisfied with mere external purification and
punctiliousness of formal worship (

Isaiah 29:13, 14). Sacred duties call
for diligent preparation on the part of those who would discharge them.
Holy things are not to be touched with unholy hands nor approached with
hearts filled by the world (

Psalm 26:6;

1 Timothy 2:8).
Christians are bidden to draw near unto God, “having their hearts sprinkled
from an evil conscience [i.e. all known sin forsaken and confessed] and
their bodies washed with pure water” — their daily walk regulated and
purified by the Word (

Hebrews 10:22), for we must not insult Him by
carelessness and moral unfitness. In order thereto we need to give constant
heed to that precept, “Let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the
flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God” (2 Corinthians 7:l).
And be it carefully noted that “cleanse ourselves” is as much a part of the
inspired Word of God as is “the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanseth us
from all sin,” and that that latter statement is qualified by (though scarcely
ever quoted!) “If we walk in the light as He is in the light.” The Holy One
requires us to sanctify ourselves both internally and externally, and if we do
not, our worship is unacceptable.
“If a man purge himself from these [the things which “dishonor”]
he shall be a vessel unto honor, sanctified; and meet for the
Master’s use, prepared unto every good work” (

2 Timothy
2:21).
“Every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself even as He
is pure” (

1 John 3:3)..134
How? By mortifying his lusts and cultivating his graces, by daily repentings
and renewings of his consecration.
“Sanctify yourselves,” then, has been an imperative requirement of God
upon His people in all generations. The only difference which the change of
covenant has made is that, under the old, their sanctification of themselves
consisted chiefly in a ceremonial and external purification, while that of the
new is principally a moral and internal one, and where that obtains the
outward life will be adjusted ‘to our Rule. No servant of Christ declares
“all the counsel of God” who fails to press that imperative requirement of
God’s upon His people, and if he be silent thereon he “withholds” that
which is “profitable for them.” We must “draw nigh to God” if we would
have Him draw nigh unto us (

James 4:8), and, as that verse goes on to
tell the careless and those with unexercised consciences, in order to draw
near unto Him aright we must “cleanse our hands and purify our hearts”!
“Who shall ascend into the hill of the Lord? or who shall stand in His holy
place?” which in New Testament language means, Who shall be received
by God as an acceptable worshipper? The inspired answer is.
“He that hath clean hands and a pure heart, who hath not lifted up
his soul unto vanity, nor sworn deceitfully” (

Psalm 24:3, 4).
Alas that so little heed is now given to such verses.
“And Joshua said unto the people, Sanctify yourselves, for tomorrow the
Lord will do wonders among you.” That was an enforcing of their moral
responsibility. It was a call for them to cleanse themselves and dedicate
themselves unto the Lord their God. It was a bidding of them to prepare
themselves by prayer and meditation, to recall God’s gracious interventions
in the past, to ponder His ineffable holiness, awful majesty, mighty power
and abundant mercy, and thereby bring their hearts into a fit frame, so that
with faith, reverence and admiration they might behold the great work
which Jehovah was about to do for them. They must be in a suitable
condition in order to witness such a manifestation of His glory: their hearts
must be “perfect toward Him “ — sincere and upright, honest and holy —
if He was to “show Himself strong in their behalf” (

2 Chronicles 16:9).
Have we not here the explanation why God is not now performing marvels
in the churches? — they are too carnal and worldly! And is not this the
reason why a way is not being made through our personal “jordans”? And
why we receive not wondrous and blessed discoveries of His glory — we.135
are not “sanctified” in a practical way nor sufficiently separated from the
world.
“And Joshua said unto the people, Sanctify yourselves, for tomorrow the
Lord will do wonders among you.” Observe the positive and confident
language of Joshua: there was no doubt whatever in his mind that their
covenant God would perform a miracle on their behalf, and therefore he
assured them accordingly. What an example for Christ’s servant to follow!
He has no right to expect that his flock will wax valiant in fight if their
shepherd be full of unbelief and fear. And, too, when urging upon them the
duty of self-sanctification, he should fail not to add the encouragement,
“the Lord will do wonders,” for sure it is that the more we shun that which
defiles, and devote ourselves unto God’s service and glory, the more will
He work mightily in us, for us and through us. It is quite possible that on
this occasion Joshua had in mind that word,
“And it came to pass when the ark set forward that Moses said,
Rise up, O Lord, and let Thine enemies be scattered” (

Numbers
10:35),
for certain Joshua was that when. the ark should now advance the waters
of the Jordan would recede.
“And Joshua spake unto the priests, saying, Take up the ark of the
covenant and pass over before the people. And they took up the ark
of the covenant and went before the people” (verse 6).
Having directed the people what to do, Joshua now gives instruction unto
the priests. Thereby he acted in strict accord with his own personal
commission (“do according to all that is written in this book of the Law”
(

Joshua 1:8) — i.e. the Pentateuch), for in preparation of Jehovah’s
descent upon Sinai Moses had given express charge to the priests as well
as to the people (

Exodus 19:22). In the charge here given to the priests
we see how their subjection to the revealed will of God was put to the
proof, how their faith and courage were tested, and how their reverence for
the symbol of the Lord’s presence was to be manifested. Corresponding
unto them today are the ministers of the Gospel, concerning whom T.
Scott well said,
“They are especially required to set before the people an example
of obedience, patience, and unshakable confidence in God, by
abiding in their perilous position or difficult stations which He has.136
assigned them, when others fear to pass that way; and in so doing
they may expect peculiar support and protection.”
The people were commanded to follow the priests as far as they carried the
ark, but no farther, and God’s children today are responsible to heed and
obey His servants (

Hebrews 13:7, 17) only while they set forth and
honor Him of whom the ark was a figure. Namely, Christ; yet not simply as
a Savior, but in the fullness of His threefold office: as our Prophet or
Teacher (the Law within the ark), our Priest (the propitiatory upon it), our
King and Lord’ (“the ark of the covenant”). But the minister of the Gospel
is required to do more than faithfully preach Christ, namely live Him:
“Be thou an example of the believers in word, in conversation, in
love, in spirit, in faith, in purity’” (

1 Timothy 4:12);
“In all things showing thyself a pattern of good works” (

Titus 2:7; and
cf.

1 Thessalonians 2:10;

1 Peter 5:3). The minister is to set before
his people a godly example. Unless he takes the lead in enduring hardships
and facing dangers (not showing more concern for his own ease and
safety), then his exhortations unto self-denial and courageous action will
have no power upon his hearers..137
CHAPTER 6
CROSSING THE JORDAN
JOSHUA 3:7-17
THE MIRACLE
“And the Lord said unto Joshua, This day will I begin to magnify thee in
the sight of all Israel, that they may know that as I was with Moses so I
will be with thee. And thou shalt command the priests that bear the ark of
the covenant, saying, When ye are come to the brink of the water of Jordan
ye shall stand still in Jordan (

Joshua 3:7, 8). Before his death it had
been revealed to Moses by the Lord that Joshua should be his successor as
the leader of His people, and unto that office he had been solemnly set
apart (

Numbers 27:18-23). Moses had also announced unto Israel that
Joshua “should cause them to inherit the Land” (

Deuteronomy 1:38),
and
“the children of Israel hearkened unto him, and did as the Lord
commanded Moses” (

Deuteronomy 34:9).
After the death of Moses the people had avowed their willingness to do
whatever Joshua commanded them and to go whither he should send them,
and expressed the desire that Divine assistance would be granted him: “the
Lord thy God be with thee, as He was with Moses” (

Joshua 1:16, 17).
In the interval the two spies had reconnoitered Jericho at his orders, the
people had followed him from Shittim to the Jordan (

Joshua 3:1), and
had remained there three days. Now the time had come for the Lord to
more fully authenticate His servant.
Joshua had duly discharged his duty and now he was to be rewarded. He
had set before the people a noble example by acting faith on God’s word,
had confidently expressed his assurance that God would make good His
promise (

Joshua 1:11, 15), and now the Lord would honor the one who
had honored Him. Joshua had been faithful in a few things and he should be
made ruler over many. Devotedness unto God never passes unrecognized.138
by Him. The Lord would now put signal honor upon Joshua in the sight of
Israel as He had done upon Moses at the Red Sea and at Sinai.
“The Lord said unto Moses, Lo, I come unto thee in a thick cloud
that the people may hear when I speak unto thee, and believe thee
for ever” (

Exodus 19:9):
thus did He honor and authenticate Moses. And here at the Jordan he
magnified Joshua by the authority which He conferred upon him, and
attested him as His appointed leader of Israel. The result of this is stated in

Joshua 4:15, “on that day the Lord magnified Joshua in the sight of all
Israel, and they feared [revered and obeyed] him as they feared Moses, all
the days of his [Joshua’s] life.”
But we must be careful lest we overlook something far more glorious than
what has just been pointed out. Surely those words, “This day will I begin
to magnify thee in the sight of all Israel,” should at once turn our thoughts
to One infinitely superior to Joshua: that what God did here for His servant
was a foreshadowment of what later He did to His Son at this same Jordan.
No sooner was our blessed Lord baptized in that river than,
“Lo, the heavens were opened unto Him and he saw the Spirit of
God descending like a dove, and lighting upon Him: And, lo, a
voice from heaven, saying, This is My beloved Son, in whom I am
well pleased” (

Matthew 3:16, 17).
Then was He “made manifest to Israel” (

John 1:31). Then was He
authenticated for His great mission. Then did God “begin to magnify Him.”
Still more wonderful is the type when we observe at what part of the
Jordan this occurred: “These things were done in Beth-abara” (

John
1:28), which signified “the place of passage” (

John 1:28), so that Christ
was attested by the Father at the very place where Israel passed through
the river and where Joshua was magnified!
Solemn indeed was the contrast. By what took place at the Jordan Israel
knew that Joshua was their Divinely appointed leader and governor, and
therefore they “feared him… all the days of his life” (

Joshua 4:15),
rendering implicit and undeviating obedience unto his orders: “And Israel
served the Lord all the days of Joshua” (

Joshua 24:31). But after the
and-typical Joshua had been far more illustriously magnified at the Jordan.
identified as the Son of God incarnate, and owned by the Father as the One
in whom He delighted, what was Israel’s response? Did they love and.139
worship Him? Did they fear and obey Him? Very far otherwise: “He came
unto His own, and His own received Him not” (

John 1:11). Their hearts
were alienated and their ears closed against Him. Though He spake as
never man spake, though He went about doing good, though He wrought
miracles of power and mercy, they “despised and rejected Him,” and after a
brief season cried “Away with Him, crucify Him.” Marvel, dear Christian
reader, that the Lord of glory endured such humiliation “for us men and
our salvation.” Wonder and adore that He so loved us as not only to be
willing to be hated of men but smitten of God that our sins might be put
away.
“And thou shalt command the priests that bear the ark of the
covenant, saying, When ye are come to the brink of the water of
Jordan, ye shall stand still in Jordan” (verse 8).
What anointed eye can fail to see here again a shadowing forth of a greater
than Joshua! Next after this mention of God’s beginning to magnify Joshua
in the sight of the people, we find him exercising high authority and giving
orders to the priests; and almost the first public act of Christ’s after the
Father had attested and honored Him at the Jordan is what is recorded in
Matthew 5-7. In that sermon on the mount we behold our Savior doing the
very same thing: exercising high authority, as He evinced by His frequently
repeated “I say unto you,” and issuing, orders to His disciples, who, under
the new covenant, correspond to the priests under the old; and it is very
striking to see how the twofold application of that term and the type
appear in that sermon. As we pointed out in our last, the “priests,” when
bearing the ark of the covenant, were figures of the ministers of the Gospel
in their official character, but looked at as those privileged to draw near
unto God. The “priests” were types of all the redeemed of Christ (

1
Peter 2:5, 9).
Now in the opening verses of

Matthew 5, it was His servants whom
“Christ taught” (verses 1, 2, 13-16), and to whom He issued
commandments, for “His disciples” there are to be understood as
“apostles” — as in

Matthew 10:1, 2, and 28:16-20. Yet as we continue
reading that wondrous discourse we soon perceive that it cannot be
restricted unto ministers of the Gospel, but is addressed to the whole
company of His people. Therein we learn what is required from the
redeemed by the One who is their Lord, possessed of Divine authority:
namely, entire subjection unto Him, unreserved conformity to His revealed.140
will. As the priests of Israel must order their actions by the instructions
which they received from Joshua, so must the ministers of the Gospel take
their orders from their Divine Master, and so also must the whole company
of His redeemed be regulated wholly by the injunctions of the Captain of
their salvation. Nothing less is due unto Him who endured such shame and
suffering on their behalf; nothing else becomes those who owe their all
unto Him who died for them. It is in this way that their gratitude and
devotion is to be manifested: “If ye love Me, keep My commandments”
(

John 14:13).
“And thou shalt command the priests that bear the ark of the covenant,
saying, When ye are come to the brink of the water of Jordan, ye shall
stand still in Jordan.” What a testing of their faith and obedience was that!
The swollen and unfordable river before them, and they ordered to advance
unto the very edge thereof, yea, to stand still in it! How senseless such a
procedure unto carnal reason! Such too appears the policy and means
appointed by God in the Gospel:
“For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew
not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save
them that believe” (

1 Corinthians 1:21).
And the preaching of Christ crucified, my ministerial friends, is entirely a
matter of faith and obedience, for to our natural intellect and perceptions it
appears to be utterly inadequate to produce eternal fruits. And even when
we have preached Christ to the best of our poor powers, it often seems
that our efforts are unavailing, and we are perhaps sorely tempted to act
contrary unto that word, “the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but
spiritual.” Seek grace, then, to heed the lesson pointed by the above verse:
discharge your responsibility to the utmost extent and trustfully leave the
issue with God, as did the priests.
But there is not only a much-needed message contained in verse 8 for the
discouraged servants of Christ, but there is one too for the rank and the of
God’s people, especially those of them who may be sorely tried by present
circumstances. Their faith and obedience must be tested — that its reality
may appear. Some of the Lord’s commandments present less difficulty, for
they are embodied in the laws of our land and respected by all decent
people. But there are others of His precepts which are most trying to flesh
and blood and which are scoffed at by the unregenerate. Nevertheless, our
course is clear: there can be no picking and choosing — “whatsoever He.141
saith unto you, do” (

John 2:5). Yes, but when I have sought to obey to
the best of my ability I find circumstances all against me, a situation beyond
my powers to cope with, a “jordan” too deep and wide for me to pass
through. Very well, here is the word exactly suited to your case: come to
“the brink of the water” and then “stand still in it”: proceed to your utmost
limits in the path of duty and then count upon the omnipotent One to
undertake for you.
“And Joshua said unto the children of Israel, Come hither, and hear
the words of the Lord your God” (verse 9).
Once more our minds are carried beyond the type to Antitype, who said
unto Israel, “My doctrine is not Mine, but His that sent Me” (

John
7:16), and again,
“the Father which sent Me, He gave Me a commandment what I
should say and what I should speak” (

John 12:49).
And therefore the most diligent heed is to be given and the most
unquestioning obedience rendered unto Him. “And Joshua said, Hereby ye
shall know that the living God is among you, and that He will without fail
drive out from before you the Canaanites, and the Hittites, and the Hivites,
and the Perizzites, and the Girgashites, and the Amorites, and the
Jebusites” (verse 10). That title, “the living God,” is used in the Scriptures
to point a contrast with the inanimate idols of the heathen (

2 Kings
19:4;

1 Thessalonians 1:9), and doubtless was employed by Joshua on
this occasion for the purpose of accentuating the impotency and
worthlessness of all false gods, who were utterly incapable of rendering
aid, still less of performing prodigies, for their deluded votaries; a warning
also to Israel against the sin of idolatry to which they ever were so prone.
As Joshua owned Jehovah as “the living God” so also Christ acknowledged
the One who had sent Him as the “living Father” (

John 6:57).
“And Joshua said, Hereby ye shall know that the living God is
among you” (verse 10).
Note carefully the statement which immediately follows: “and that He will
without fail drive out from before you the Canaanites,” etc. We had
naturally expected Joshua to say in this connection, God will open a way
for you to pass through this Jordan, but instead he gives assurance of the
conquest of the “seven nations in the land of Canaan” (

Acts 13:19).
And why? To assure Israel that the miracle of the Jordan was a Divine.142
earnest, a certain guarantee, that the Lord would continue to show Himself
strong in their behalf. And similarly He assures His people today.
“Being confident of this very thing: that He which hath begun a
good work in you, will finish it” (

Philippians 1:6).
Israel’s supernatural journey through Jordan was a figure of our
regeneration, when we pass from death unto life, and that experience
ensures that the living God will perfect that which concerneth us”
(

Psalm 138:8). In a word, regeneration is an infallible earnest of our
ultimate glorification. But as Israel concurred with God, and were
themselves active in driving out the Canaanites, so we have to mortify our
lusts and overcome the world in order to possess our inheritance.
Yes, replies the reader, but that is much easier said than done. True, yet,
not only is it indispensable that we should do so, but if due attention be
paid to the passage before us and its spiritual application unto ourselves,
valuable instruction will be found herein as to the secrets of success. Not to
anticipate too much what yet remains to be considered in detail, let us
summarize the leading points so far as they bear upon what was just said
above.
First, Israel was required to act with implicit confidence in God: so must
we, if we are to be successful in our warfare, for it is “the good fight of
faith” which we are called upon to wage.
Second, Israel must render the most exact obedience to God’s revealed
will: so we can only prevail over our lusts and possess our possessions by
walking in the path of His precepts.
Third, Israel had to fix their eyes upon “the ark of the covenant”: so we
are to be subject unto Christ in all things, and make daily use of His
cleansing blood — the propitiatory which formed the lid of the ark.
Fourth, “The Lord of all the earth” — God in His unlimited dominion —
was the particular character in which Israel here viewed God: so we must
rely upon His all-mighty power and count upon Him making us more than
conquerors.
“Behold, the ark of the covenant of the Lord of all the earth passeth
over before you into Jordan. Now therefore take you twelve men
out of the tribes of Israel, out of every man a tribe. And it shall.143
come to pass, as soon as the soles of the feet of the priests that bear
the ark of the Lord, the Lord of all the earth, shall rest in the waters
of Jordan, that the waters of Jordan shall be cut off from the waters
that come down from above; and they shall stand upon a heap”
(verses 11-13).
In those words Joshua now specifically announced and described one of
the most remarkable of the miracles recorded in Holy Writ. The priests
were to proceed unto the edge of the water and then stop — that it might
be the more evident that the Jordan was driven back at the presence of the
Lord. As Matthew Henry wrote, “God could have divided the river
without the priests, but they could not without Him. The priests must
herein set a good example and teach the people to do their utmost in the
service of God, and trust Him for help in time of need.” Note how the
opening’ word of verse 11 emphasized yet again that attention was to be
concentrated upon the ark, which, as we have previously pointed out, was
made for the Law and not the Law for it — typifying. Christ, “made under
the Law” (

Galatians 4:4), magnifying and making it honorable
(

Isaiah 42:21).
Remember too that the propitiatory formed the lid of the ark: it was not
only a cover for the sacred coffer, but a shield between the Law and the
people of God. The central thing within it was the Law (

1 Kings 8:9),
and between the cherubim on its mercy seat Jehovah had His throne
(

Psalm 99:1). That is why all through

Joshua 3 and 4 it is termed
“the ark of the covenant,” for when Moses went up upon Sinai the second
time we are told that
“he wrote upon the tables the words of the covenant, the ten
commandments” (

Exodus 34:28).
It should be carefully borne in mind that even under the old covenant the
promise preceded the giving of the Law (

Exodus 3:17; 12:25), yet the
fulfillment thereof was not to be without the enforcing of their
accountability. In like manner the ten commandments themselves were
prefaced by “I am the Lord thy God which have brought thee out of the
land of Egypt,” manifesting His “goodness” to them and His “severity”
upon their enemies — that was the testimony of His character who entered
into covenant with them..144
It is to be duly noted that the particular designation given to Jehovah in
connection with the ark of the covenant in verse 11 is repeated in verse 13,
which at once intimates it is one of special weight and significance. This
title, “the Lord of all the earth,” is not found in the Pentateuch, occurring
here in

Joshua 3 for the first time, its force being more or less indicated
by what is said in verse 10 and the nature and time of the miracle then
wrought. The reference here is unto God the Father, and signifies His
absolute sovereignty and universal dominion — the Proprietor and
Governor of the earth which He created, the One whom none can
successfully resist. This title occurs in the Scriptures seven times! Twice in

Joshua 3, then in

Psalm 97:5,

Micah 4:15,

Zechariah 6:5. In

Zechariah 4:14, we behold the three Persons of the Godhead in their
covenant characters: “these are the two Anointed Ones [Christ and the
Holy Spirit] that stand before the Lord of all the earth.” But in

Isaiah
54:5, we see the incarnate Son, “the Lord of hosts is His name, and thy
Redeemer the Holy One of Israel, the God of all the earth shall He be
called” — a prophetic intimation of the taking down of the “middle wall of
partition,” when Jew and Gentile alike should own Him as their God.
As a reward for Joshua’s past faithfulness and in order to equip him more
thoroughly for the great task before him, the Lord determined to put signal
honor upon His servant so that Israel might assuredly know that as the
mighty God had been with Moses so He would be with his successor
(

Joshua 3:7). That at once turns our thoughts back to

Exodus 14:
and it is both interesting and instructive to trace out the many points of
contrast and comparison between what occurred at the Red Sea and here
at Jordan. Let us consider first those respects in which they differed.
First, the one terminated Israel’s exodus from the house of bondage, while
the other initiated their entrance into the land of promise.
Second, the former miracle was wrought in order that Israel might escape
from the Egyptians, the latter to enable them to approach and conquer the
Canaanites.
Third, in connection with that, the Lord caused the sea to go back by a
strong east wind (

Exodus 14:21); but with reference to this no means
whatever were employed — to demonstrate that He is not tied unto such,
but employs or dispenses with them as He pleases..145
Fourth, the earlier miracle was performed at nighttime (

Exodus 14:21),
the latter in broad daylight.
Fifth, at the Red Sea multitudes were slain, for the Lord
“made the waters to return upon the Egyptians, so that it covered
the chariots and the horsemen: all the host of Pharaoh that came
into the sea after them, there remained not so much as one of them”
(

Exodus 14:28);
whereas at the Jordan not a single soul perished.
Sixth, the one was wrought for a people who just previously had been full
of unbelief and murmuring, saying unto Moses:
“Because there were no graves in Egypt, hast thou taken us away
to die in the wilderness? wherefore hast thou dealt thus with us?”
(

Exodus 14:11);
the other for a people who were believing and obedient (

Joshua 2:24;
in. 1).
Seventh, with the sole exception of Caleb and Joshua all the adults who
benefited by the former miracle perished in the wilderness because of their
unbelief, while not a single one of those who were favored to share in the
latter failed to “possess their possessions.”
Eighth, at the Red Sea the waters were divided” (

Exodus 14:21), but
here at the Jordan they were not so — rather they were made to “stand
upon a heap” (

Joshua 3:13).
Ninth, in the former the believer’s judicial death unto sin was typed out; in
the latter, his legal oneness with Christ in His resurrection, to be followed
by a practical entrance into his inheritance.
Tenth, consequently, whereas there was no “sanctify yourselves” before
the former, such a call was an imperative requirement for the latter (Joshua
in. 5).
Eleventh, the response made by Israel’s enemies to the Lord’s intervention
for Israel at the Red Sea was,
“I will pursue, I will overtake, I will divide the spoil, my lust shall
be satisfied upon them” (

Exodus 15:9);.146
but in the latter,
“It came to pass when all the people of the Amorites, which were
on the other side of Jordan westward, and all the kings of the
Canaanites… heard that the Lord had dried up the waters of
Jordan… that their heart melted, neither was there spirit in them any
more” (

Joshua 5:1).
Twelfth, after the working of the former “Israel saw the Egyptians dead
upon the sea shore” (

Exodus 14:31); after the latter a cairn of twelve
stones memorialized the event (

Joshua 4:20-24).
It is surely remarkable that there are as many analogies between the two
miracles as dissimilarities. Yet that illustrates a principle which the attentive
observer will find exemplified all through Scripture, and which the young
student is advised to make careful note of. “Two” is the number of witness
— as the Lord sent forth the apostles in pairs to testify of Him. It was the
minimum number for such under the Law (

John 8:17), for if the sworn
testimony of two different men agreed, this was considered conclusive.
Thus two is also the number of comparison and contrast. Hence it will be
found that when there are only two of a kind, such as the miracles of the
Red Sea and the Jordan, there is always a number of marked resemblances
and divergencies between them. Some may like to work out for themselves
the parallels and oppositions between the Old and New Testaments, Sinai
and Sion, the first and second advents of Christ, the respective careers of
Moses and Joshua, the ministries of Elijah and Elisha, and so on. The same
principle is exemplified where a Greek word occurs but twice: as
“apopnigo” (

Luke 8:7, 23), “apokueo” (

James 1:15, 18), “panoplia”
(

Luke 11:22;

Ephesians 6:11). So too when two parables, miracles,
incidents, are placed in juxtaposition.
The following are some of the points of resemblance between these two.
(1) In each case the miracle was connected with water.
(2) Neither was done in a corner or beheld by only a few, but was
witnessed by the whole nation of Israel.
(3) Each was preceded by an act required of God’s servant — Moses,
in the stretching forth of his hand (

Exodus 14:21); Joshua, in giving
command to the people..147
(4) Each was the removal of a formidable barrier in Israel’s path.
(5) Each had the design of authenticating Israel’s leader (

Exodus
14:31;

Joshua 4:14).
(6) Each presented a severe test unto Israel’s faith and obedience
(

Exodus 14:15;

Joshua 3:3).
(7) In each case they passed over dry-shod.
(8) Both miracles were wrought in silence: neither was accompanied by
shouts of triumph, nor was there any sounding of the rams’ horns —
as, later, in the case of the miraculous fall of Jericho’s walls (

Joshua
6:9, 20).
(9) Afterward both the Red Sea and the waters of the Jordan returned
again to their normal state.
(10) Each inaugurated a new period in Israel’s history.
(11) In both there was a prodigious display of Jehovah’s power to the
consternation of His enemies.
(12) Both miracles were celebrated by songs of praise.
Some of our readers may think that we made a slip in the last point: they
will recall the songs of Israel in

Exodus 15 and ask, But where is there
any song of praise celebrating what occurred at the Jordan? Separate
celebration there is none, but the two miracles are conjoined and made the
special subject of sacred ode, namely in

Psalm 114, to which we would
now direct attention. Many of those who are best qualified to express a
considered opinion on the merits of poetry have freely testified that in this
psalm the art of sacred minstrelsy has reached its climax: that no human
mind has ever been able to equal, much less to excel, the grandeur of its
contents. In it we have most vividly depicted the greatest of inanimate
things rendering obeisance unto their Maker. As one beautifully
summarized it, “The God of Jacob is exalted as having command over
river, sea and mountain, and causing all nature to pay homage and tribute
before His majesty.”

Psalm 114 is a remarkable one in several respects. First, it is written
without any preface. It is as though the soul of its author was so elevated
and filled with a sense of the Divine glory that he could not pause to.148
compose an introduction, but rather burst forth at once into the midst of
his theme, namely, the wondrous works which were wrought for Israel of
old, of which they were the actual eye-witnesses and beneficiaries. Second,
in it the rules of grammar are ignored, for in verse two we find the
possessive pronoun used without a preceding substantive. The presence of
God is concealed in the first verse, for, as Isaac Watts pointed out, “If God
had appeared before, there could be no wonder when the mountains should
leap and the sea retire — therefore, that these convulsions of nature may
be brought in with due surprise, His name is not mentioned till afterwards.”
Third, this psalm was fittingly made a part of “the Hallelujah” which the
Jews of all later generations were wont to sing at their Passover supper.
Fourth, all that is portrayed in this psalm was typical of the still greater
wonders wrought by the redemptive work of Christ.
That psalm celebrates the marvels performed by Jehovah on behalf of His
people of old, particularly their exodus from Egypt and His conducting
them through the Red Sea and the Jordan. Such glorious acts of God’s
power and grace must never be forgotten, but owned in gladsome praise.
“When Israel went out of Egypt, the house of Jacob from a people of
strange language, Judah was His sanctuary, Israel His dominion” (verses 1
and 2). The Lord delivered His people from the house of bondage that they
might serve Him and show forth His praises, in the duties of worship and in
obedience to His Law. In order thereto, He set up His “sanctuary among
them — first in the tabernacle, then in the temple, finally in Christ His
incarnate Son — in which He gave special tokens of His presence. Further,
He set up His “dominion” or throne among them, being Himself their Lord,
King and Judge. Observe well how that here, as everywhere, privilege and
duty, Divine favor and human responsibility, are united. God acted
graciously. God maintained the rights of His righteousness. As His
“sanctuary” Israel was separated unto God as a peculiar people, a nation of
priests, holy unto the Lord. As His “dominion” they were a theocracy,
governed directly by Him.
So we have been redeemed that we should “serve Him… in holiness and
righteousness… all the days of our life” (

Luke 1:74, 75). If we enjoy the
favors of His “sanctuary” we must also submit to His “dominion.”
“The sea saw, and fled; Jordan was driven back. The mountains
skipped like rams, the little hills like lambs” (verses 3, 4)..149
In those words the inspired poet depicts inanimate creation trembling
before its Maker. It was because Jehovah was Israel’s “sanctuary” and
“dominion” that the Red Sea fled before them. Sinai quivered and the
waters of Jordan were effectually dammed. The Almighty was at the head
of His people, and nothing could stand before Him, or withstand them. The
sea saw”: it now beheld what it never had previously, namely, “the pillar of
cloud” (

Exodus 14:19) — symbol of Jehovah’s presence; and, unable to
endure such a sight, fled to the right and to the left, opening a clear
passage for the Hebrews• Jordan, too, as the ark of the covenant entered its
brim, was driven back, so that its rapid torrent was stayed, yea, fled uphill.
Graphic figures were those of that invincible operation of Divine grace in
the hearts of God’s elect, when the mighty power of God is so put forth
that turbulent rebels are tamed, fierce lusts subdued, proud imaginations
cast down, and self-sufficient wiseacres are brought to enter the kingdom
of Christ as “little children”!
“What ailed thee, O thou sea, that thou fleddest? thou Jordan, that
thou wast driven back? Ye mountains that ye skipped like rams, ye
little hills like lambs?” (verses 5, 6).
That is the language of holy irony, the Spirit of God pouring contempt
upon the unbelieving thoughts of men who foolishly imagine that the
Almighty can be withstood, yea, thwarted by the creatures of His own
hands. “What ailed thee, O thou sea?”: the poet apostrophizes it in the
terms of mockery. Wast thou so terribly afraid? Did thy proud strength
then utterly fail thee? Did thy very heart dry up, so that no resistance wast
left in thee?” Such an interrogation also teaches us that it behooves us to
inquire after the reason of things when we behold the marvels of nature,
and not merely gaze upon them as senseless spectators. We have here also
a foreshadowing and sure prophecy of the utter impotency of the wicked in
the last great day: if the granite cliffs of Sinai were shaken to their base
when Jehovah descended upon it, what consternation and trembling will
seize the stoutest hearts when they stand before their awful Judge! See
verse 7.

Psalm 114 is by no means the only place where we find celebration
made of the miracles witnessed at the Red Sea and Jordan and the other
marvels wrought about the same time. The prophet Habakkuk also links
together those two wonders, and in language which serves to cast further
light upon the Lord’s design therein — teaching us the importance and.150
necessity of carefully comparing Scripture with Scripture, if we would
obtain a full view of any event or subject, for each passage makes its own
distinct contribution unto the whole. In Joshua we behold the Lord acting
more in His sovereign grace and covenant faithfulness on behalf of the seed
of Abraham, but Habakkuk informs us He was exercising righteous
indignation against His enemies, who had devoted themselves unto the
most horrible idolatry and unspeakable immorality. It was in holy wrath
against both the Egyptians and the Canaanites that God put forth His
mighty power, when the iniquity of the Amorites” had come to the “full”
(

Genesis 15:16). The whole of

Habakkuk 3 is exceedingly graphic
and solemn, though we must do no more here than make a bare quotation
of portions of it.
The Holy One is vividly pictured as manifesting Himself in the whole of
that district which lay to the south of Judah, including Sinai, when “His
glory covered the heavens and the earth was full of His praise” (verse 3).
“He stood and measured the earth” (verse 6) or “caused the earth to
tremble,” as the Jewish Targum renders it, and as appears to be required by
the parallelism of the next clause: “He beheld [merely “looked upon”!], and
drave asunder the nations.” That sixth verse may be regarded as the “text”
which is illustrated by God’s control over the forces of nature. “Was the
Lord displeased against the rivers? was Thine anger against the rivers?
[when He made the lower waters of the Jordan to flee away, and the higher
ones to “stand on a heap”]; was Thy wrath against the sea, that Thou didst
ride upon Thine horses and Thy chariots of salvation?” (verse 8), when, as
an invincible Conqueror, Thou didst carry all before Thee! “The mountains
[of Sinai] saw Thee and trembled: the overflowing of the water [

Joshua
3:15] passed by: the deep uttered his voice and lifted up his hands on high”
(verse 10) — see

Joshua 3:16 — as though in token of submission to
and adoration of their Maker. “The sun and moon stood still in their
habitation” (verse 11) — see

Joshua 10:12, 13. “Thou didst march
through the land in indignation, Thou didst thresh the heathen in anger”
(verse 12).
Returning to

Joshua 3.
“Behold the ark of the covenant of the Lord of all the earth passeth
over before you into Jordan… And it shall come to pass, as soon as
the soles of the feet of the priests that bear the ark of the Lord, the
Lord of all the earth, shall rest in the waters of Jordan, that the.151
waters of Jordan shall be cut off from the waters that come down
from above; and they shall stand upon a heap” (verses 11, 13).
“He who is your covenant God with you, has both the right and
power to command, control, use and dispose of all nations and all
creatures. He is ‘the Lord of all the earth’ and therefore He needs
not you, nor can He be benefited by you: therefore it is your honor
and happiness to have Him in covenant with you; all the creatures
are at your service, when He pleases all shall be employed for you.
When we are praising and worshipping God as Israel’s God, and
ours through Christ, we must remember that He is the Lord of the
whole earth, and reverence and trust in Him accordingly… While
we make God’s precepts our rule, His promises our stay, and His
providence our guide, we need not dread the greatest difficulties
we may meet with in the way of duty” (Matthew Henry).
Here we may see yet another reason — beyond those we have previously
pointed out — why the sacred ark was carried so far in advance of the
people (verse 4), namely, that the whole congregation might have a better
and clearer view of the miracle which God was about to perform for them.
The host of Israel standing so far in the rear would have a much plainer
opportunity of witnessing and adoring the glorious power of their God.
LESSONS FROM THE CROSSING
Before mentioning some of the different aspects of Truth which are
illustrated in

Joshua 3, let us look at the miracle there recorded.
“And it came to pass, when the people removed from their tents to
pass over Jordan, and the priests bearing the ark of the covenant
before the people; and as they that bare the ark were come unto
Jordan, and the feet of the priests that bare the ark were dipped in
the brim of the water, for Jordan overfloweth all his banks all the
time of harvest” (verses 14, 15).
First, observe well the time when this wonder was wrought. It was in the
spring of the year, when the river was in spate. At that season the snows on
Mount Lebanon (near which Jordan had its rise) melted, when there was an
annual inundation of the valley. God selected a month when conditions
were such as to form the most suitable background for an illustrious
display of His power. He did not defer the crossing of the river until the.152
end of summer, when it had been at its lowest, but chose the month when it
was at its broadest and deepest, that His hand might be the more plainly
seen.

1 Chronicles 12:15, tells us Jordan continued to “overflow” in the
days of David.
Next, we would take note of a little detail here which brings out the minute
accuracy of Scripture and attests its historical verity, and that in a most
artless manner.

Joshua 3:15, tells us it was “the time of harvest.” Now
the “barley harvest” came first (

Ruth 1:22), and after an interval of a
month or so the “wheat harvest” (

Ruth 2:21, 23). Now the Jordan was
crossed on the tenth day of the fourth month (

Joshua 4:19), or four
days before the Passover, which fell in with the barley harvest. From

Exodus 9:31, we learn that the barley ripened at that season, for the
plague of hail was only a day or two before the Passover. From that verse
we learn that the “flax” crop ripened at the same time, and, since the
climate of Palestine differed little from that of Egypt, this, no doubt, was
the case in Canaan too. Thus, by a comparison of

Joshua 3:13, and
4:19, with

Exodus 9:31, we see that Israel crossed the Jordan when
both the barley and the flax were ripe. What a silent but convincing
confirmation does that furnish of the incidental statement that Rahab hid
the spies “with the stalks of flax” (

Joshua 2:6)! This is one out of scores
of similar instances adduced by J.J. Blunt in his remarkable book (out of
print) Undesigned Coincidences to manifest the veracity of the Word.
“That the waters which came down from above stood and rose up
upon a heap very far from the city Adam, that is beside Zaretan,
and those that came down toward the sea of the plain, the salt sea,
failed and were cut off; and the people passed over right against
Jericho” (verse 16).
First, the waters were cleft asunder so that those which came down from
above — i.e. from the mountains — were invincibly dammed, so that the
down-flowing torrent was supernaturally stayed. It was as though an
enormous but invisible sluice had suddenly shut off the stream at its source.
Second, the huge volume which had already descended was made to turn
backward and stand on a heap in a congealed mass — which in our
judgment was more remarkable than what occurred at the Red Sea. That
solid wall of water must have appeared like some mammoth buttress, yet
without any apparent support. Third, the waters which were already in the
Jordan valley rapidly drained away into the Dead Sea, leaving the whole of.153
the river’s bed dry — “as far downward, it is likely, as it swelled upward”
(Matthew Henry). Most vividly did R. Gosse depict this prodigy.
“At any time the passage of the river by such a multitude, with their wives
and children, their flocks and herds, and all their baggage, would have
presented formidable difficulties; but now the channel was filled with a
deep and impetuous torrent, which overflowed its banks and spread widely
on either side, probably extending nearly a mile in width; while in the very
sight of the scene were the Canaanitish hosts, who might be expected to
pour out from their fortress and exterminate the invading multitude before
they could reach the shore. Yet these difficulties were nothing to Almighty
power, and only serve to heighten the effect of the stupendous miracle
about to be wrought. No sooner had the feet of the priests touched the
brim of the overflowing river than the swollen waters receded from them;
and not only the broad lower valley but the deep bed of the stream was
presently emptied of water, and its pebbly bottom became dry. The waters
which had been in the channel speedily ran off, while those which would
naturally have replaced them from above were miraculously suspended,
and accumulated in a glassy heap, far above the city Adam… nearly the
whole channel of the Lower Jordan from a little below the Lake of Tiberias
to the Dead Sea was dry.”
“And the priests that bare the ark of the covenant of the Lord stood
firm on dry ground in the midst of Jordan, and all the Israelites
passed over on dry ground until all the people were passed clean
over Jordan” (verse 17).
What a test of the priests’ faith and obedience was that! — a much more
severe one than that required of them in verse 8. There they were only
bidden to step into the brink of the water, which at most occasioned but a
temporary inconvenience, though since they had to do so before any
miracle was wrought, it called for unquestioning, submission to the Divine
will. But here they were required to remain stationary in the center of the
river bed, which to sight was a most perilous situation — with the great
mass of the higher waters liable to suddenly rush down and engulf them.
But there they patiently abode, for it must have taken many hours for such
a huge multitude to pass over on foot. God’s servants are not only called
upon to set His people an example of implicit confidence in and full
obedience to Him, but to take the lead when dangers threaten and acquit
themselves courageously and perseveringly. The Lord fully vindicated the.154
priests’ obedience, holding back the mighty torrent until after they too
crossed to the farther side; thereby denoting that the same power which
divided the waters kept them suspended.
Consider now some of the lessons taught us here.
(1) We are shown the fundamental things which God requires from His
people. First, they must “sanctify themselves” (verse 5), the essential
elements of which are separation from sin and the world, entire
consecration of ourselves unto God. Thereby we evince that He has won
our hearts. Second, they must obediently follow the ark of the covenant,
ordering their actions by it. In the ark was the Divine Law — the articles of
the covenant. They must, in resolve and earnest endeavor, be regulated by
the will of God in all things, doing whatsover He commanded them. Third,
they must steadily and thankfully view the propitiatory which formed the
lid of the ark. Here we behold the blessed balance. The ark spoke of the
righteous demands of God upon us, the mercy-seat of His gracious
provisions for us. Humbly confess your sins to God, and thankfully plead
the cleansing blood of Christ. If we conduct ourselves by those three basic
rules all will be well.
(2) What a glorious God do we serve! He is possessed of all-mighty power
and infinite wisdom. All the powers and elements of nature are subject to
Him and make way for His presence. When He so pleases He can alter all
the properties of those elements and change the course of nature. Nothing
is too hard for that One who has turned liquid floods into solid walls, who
has caused the sun to stand still (yea, to go backward:

2 Kings 20:11),
who has made flinty rocks to pour out fountains of water, ravens to feed
Elijah, iron to swim, fire not to burn.
“He turneth rivers into a wilderness and the water-springs into dry
ground…. He turneth the wilderness into a standing water and dry
ground into water-springs. And there He maketh the hungry to
dwell” (

Psalm 107:32-35).
And if such a God be for us, who can be against us?
(3) Man’s extremity is God’s opportunity. The Lord waits to be gracious.
Often He suffers our circumstances to become critical, yea, desperate,
before He appears on our behalf. Here was Israel ready to enter Canaan,
and there was the Jordan “overflowing his banks” — a season which to.155
carnal reason seemed the most unfavorable of all. Ah, but it afforded the
Lord a most fitting occasion to display His sufficiency.
“Though that opposition made to the salvation of God’s people
have all imaginable advantage, yet God can and will conquer it. Let
the banks of Jordan be filled to the brim, filled till they rush over it,
it is as easy to Omnipotence to divide them and dry them up, as if
they were never so narrow, never so shallow: it is all one unto the
Lord” (Matthew Henry).
Then let not the Christian reader give way to despair because the
conditions in which he finds himself are altogether beyond his power to
overcome. Your troubles may have already reached the high-water mark,
but when they “overflow” and all appears to be lost, then you may expect
the Lord to show Himself strong in your behalf.
(4) We have here an illustration of the grand truth expressed in

Romans
8:28, “For we know that all things work together for good to them that
love God.” Alas, there are times when many a Christian has unbelievingly
said with Jacob “all these things are against me” (

Genesis 42:36), and
even though some may not have gone that far, yet few could plead guiltless
to having feared that some things were against them. Did not the flooded
valley appear to be directly against Israel, working for their ill? Yet, in
reality, the very overflowing of the Jordan was among the all things
contributing to their good, for it furnished an occasion for their God to the
more manifestly display His power for them, so that instead of hindering,
that inundation actually promoted their good — strengthening, their faith
in the Lord. How that should reassure the hard-pressed saint today! The
very thing or things which are inclining you to give way to despair will yet
prove a blessing in disguise, and you will have reason to acknowledge with
David “it is good for me that I have been afflicted” (

Psalm 119:71). The
dark dispensations of Divine providence, the tribulations you experience,
are for the trying and development of your graces.
(5) We have here an exemplification of what is stated in

Genesis 1:6-9,
where we are told that on the second day “God made the firmament, and
divided the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which
were above the firmament.” By the latter “waters” we understand the
reference to be unto something other than the ordinary moisture suspended
in the atmosphere, namely, to those “floods” of

Genesis 7:11, 12..156
“By the dividing of the waters from the waters [at the Jordan] and
the making of the dry land [there] to appear, God would remind
them of that which Moses by Divine revelation had instructed them
in concerning the work of creation. That, by what they now saw,
their belief of that which they there read might be assisted, and they
might know that the God whom they worshipped was the same
God that made the world and that it was the same power which
was engaged and employed for them” (Matthew Henry).
Thus this miracle of

Joshua 3 serves to illustrate the verity of

Genesis 1:6-9.
(6) We also behold a striking but solemn type of Christ effecting the work
of our redemption. The ark adumbrated Him as the Covenant-head of His
people: borne by the priests, signifying that His work was wrought in His
official character. The Divine appointment that the ark must go so far in
advance of the people (

Joshua 3:4) foreshadowed the blessed but awe-inspiring
fact that Christ was alone in performing the work of redemption:
“there is none to help” (

Psalm 22:11) was His plaintive cry. Peter
declared that he was ready to accompany his Master unto death, but He
answered, “whither I go, thou canst not follow Me now” (

John 13:36).
And why? Because Christ was about to endure the wrath of God and
experience the awful curse of the Law in the stead of His people. The
“Jordan” was not only an emblem of death, but of judgment — “dan”
meaning “judging” (

Genesis 30:6). Observe well that in Joshua in. 15,
we are most significantly told that the river fled back to the place of Adam,
to intimate that Christ bore the judgment of all our sills, even “original sin”
— the condemnation which the first man’s transgression brought upon us,
as well as the additional guilt of all our own iniquities.
(7) How to act when confronted by difficulty or danger. Though we dwelt
upon this at some length in a previous article, yet because we deem it the
most important practical lesson inculcated, we make further reference to it
now. Perplexing problems, baffling situations, being faced with formidable
obstacles are, from time to time, the experience of each Christian: how
then is he to conduct himself? Without again enlarging upon the necessity
of his taking full stock of the obstacle and of his own inability to remove it,
of his refusing to lean unto his own understanding or resort to any carnal
expediency, of his being regulated only by the Word of God and walking
“in newness of life,” we will stress but one feature, the central one: his.157
looking trustfully, expectantly, and perseveringly unto the Lord to make a
passage for him through his “Jordan.” In a word, to keep the eye of faith
steadfastly fixed on the Anti-typical Ark, to grasp firmly His promise,
“When thou passeth through the waters, I will be with thee; and
through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee… for I am the Lord
thy God: the Holy One of Israel, thy Savior” or “Deliverer”
(

Isaiah 43:2).
(8) For the Christian there is nothing whatever to fear in death, is another
truth writ large across

Joshua 3. Yet the fact remains that, excepting
sin, there is nothing so much dreaded by not a few of God’s children: with
them a horror of sin proceeds from a spiritual principle, of death from their
natural constitution. But death can no more harm a saint than the Jordan
did any of the children of Israel, and that for the very same reasons. Christ
has vanquished death, as in a figure the ark of the covenant vanquished the
Jordan. It was as that sacred vessel entered the brim that its waters fled
before it, and in consequence all who followed it passed through dry shod.
So it was Christ’s going before His people into death which has rendered it
impotent to hurt them, and therefore they exultantly cry,
“O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? The
sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the Law, but thanks
be to God which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus
Christ” (

1 Corinthians 15:55-57),
for He endured the Law’s penalty upon our behalf and extracted the fatal
sting from death. For the believer death is the portal into the heavenly
Canaan.
ACTIVITY OF THE PRIESTHOOD
Before we turn to consider the contents of Joshua 4 and contemplate the
memorials that God ordered to mark the Jordan miracle, we should look
more definitely at a prominent detail in chapter three which did not receive
due attention in the preceding articles, and which supplies an important link
between the two chapters, namely, the prominent part played by the priests
in bearing the ark of the covenant, the “ark of the Lord, the Lord of all the
earth,” before which the lower waters of the Jordan fled and the upper
water “stood upon a heap.” Therein we behold the nation of Israel in its
primary relations to God. In the books, of Exodus, Leviticus and Numbers.158
we are shown the establishment of God’s way with them and the
declaration of His will and purpose through Moses, who was both their
Divinely appointed commander and mediator, while Aaron was their great
high priest. That relationship was reaffirmed in the opening verses of
Joshua:
“As I was with Moses, so I will be with thee. I will not fail thee,
nor forsake thee” (

Joshua 1:4).
Besides that assurance to Joshua personally, as the successor of Moses,
there was the necessary continuation of the high priest and the Levitical
priesthood in Israel’s midst.
The priesthood in their service had charge of the ark and the order of the
tabernacle which was erected at Shiloh (

Joshua 18:1), neither of which
Joshua nor his armed men were suffered to touch. Each of those great
functionaries held their respective appointments directly from the Lord, and
the two in their combined action — whether in the sanctuary of God or in
the camp of Israel — executed the will of Jehovah concerning both His
majesty and holiness, which was thus the glory of His people. The
priesthood and the tabernacle were indispensable as their way of approach
unto God as worshippers, while outwardly the relations of God with Israel,
by the ark of the covenant, were manifested in the sight of all their
enemies. That was equally true during the ministration of Aaron in the
wilderness, or the Levites with Joshua when the waters of Jordan fled, or
while marching around the city of Jericho and its walls fell down flat. Just
as Moses and Aaron were inseparable in their varied ministrations from the
exodus of Egypt and onward, so were the priest and the captain of Israel’s
hosts at the door of the tabernacle in Shiloh when the land was divided
among Israel’s tribes (

Joshua 18:10).
Not only were those two distinctive orders and services established by God
at the beginning (adumbrated as early as

Exodus 4:14, 15!), but when
Aaron died on mount Hor, we are told that “Moses stripped Aaron of his
garments and put them on Eleazar his son,” and this he did
“as the Lord commanded in the sight of all the congregation”
(

Numbers 20:27, 28).
In like manner, when the death of Moses drew nigh on mount Abarim (the
“mountain” is ever the symbol of government), he besought the Lord “to.159
set a man over the congregation” (

Numbers 27:16), and the Lord bade
him,
“Take thee Joshua the son of Nun, a man in whom is the Spirit, and
lay thine hand upon him [the figure of identification] and set him
before Eleazar the priest and before all the congregation, and give
him a charge in their sight” (verses 18, 19).
The connection, and yet the contrast between them, was intimated thus:
“And he shall stand before Eleazar the priest, who shall ask counsel
for him, at the judgment of Urim before the Lord: at his [Joshua’s]
word shall they go out and at his word shall they come in; both he
and all the children of Israel with him” (

Numbers 27:21).
What has just been pointed out serves to explain the fact that in the book
which bears his name, Joshua (though the commander-in-chief of Israel) is
seen to be subservient unto Eleazar the priest — four times the two are
mentioned together, and in each instance Eleazar is given the precedence.
This order and those Divine appointments were the basis of the history of
Israel under Joshua and the anointed priesthood, with “the ark of the
covenant of the Lord your God” which they bore along, for that ark (as
was pointed out in an earlier article) was not only the witness of Joshua’s
presence in the midst of His people, but also the symbol of His relations
with them. God ever takes care of His own glory and yet at the same time
promotes the full blessing of His people according to His eternal purpose.
He never allows those two things to be separated, or to pass from His own
immediate control but works them out together, for He has made their
felicity an integral part of His glory. How fitting then that the ark of the
covenant should be in advance of the twelve tribes as they went forward
into their inheritance and unto the mount (Zion) of God’s holiness.
But let us pause for a moment and point out the practical bearing of this
upon ourselves. It is indeed a most wonderful and blessed thing that the
great God has inseparably connected His own manifestative glory and the
good of His own people, yet it is one which should have a moving and
melting effect upon our hearts, and cause us to see diligently to it that our
lives are duly ordered and made suitable thereto. Without entering into
details, let us summarize in two brief statements the obligations which that
grand truth devolve upon us..160
First, we should ever be on our guard against separating our present
communion with God from the revealed pathway of His glory. Communion
with God can only be had and maintained while we tread “the way of
holiness” (

Isaiah 35:10), for we cannot glorify Him unless we walk in
obedience to Him.
Second, Christ Himself must be the Object of our eye (

Hebrews 12:2)
and heart (

Song of Solomon 8:6): upon Him our affections are to be set
(

Colossians 3:1, 2), to Him we are to live (

Philippians 1:21), for it is
in Him the glory of God and the present and eternal blessedness of His
people meet.
In

Psalm 78:61, the ark is designated “His glory,” and when (in token of
His displeasure with Israel and of the severance of their communion with
Him) God suffered the ark to be captured by the Philistines, the daughter-in-
law of the high priest cried, “The glory is departed from Israel” (

1
Samuel 4:22). But here in

Joshua 3 that “glory” advanced at the head of
Israel and opened a way for them into Canaan. But every eye was to be
upon “the ark of the covenant of the Lord your God,” who went before
them to find a “resting place” worthy of Himself, in which to keep His
appointed service and share His delights with His people. Accordingly we
find, in the heyday of Israel’s prosperity, that Solomon prayed at the
dedication of the temple on Mount Zion,
“Now therefore arise, O Lord God, into Thy resting place, Thou,
and the ark of Thy strength: let Thy priests, O Lord God, be
clothed with salvation, and let Thy saints rejoice in Thy goodness”
(

2 Chronicles 6:41, 42)
— which will receive its final and complete fulfillment when the prayer of
Christ in

John 17:24, receives its answer.
Now it was “the priests, the Levites” who were appointed to bear the ark,
which, when Israel saw in motion, was their signal for advance — “then ye
shall remove from your place and go after it” (

Joshua 3:3). As the
congregation did so, the first thing which they beheld was the manner in
which God gets glory to Himself, namely, by driving back that which
intercepted their way, putting forth His mighty power on their behalf as
“the Lord your God.” That which we are particularly concerned with now
is the fact that it was when.161
“the feet of the priests that bare the ark were dipped in the brim of
the water… that the waters which came down from above stood
and rose up upon a heap very far from the city of Adam, that is
beside Zaretan; and those that came down toward the sea of the
plain, the salt sea, failed, and were cut off; and the people passed
over right against Jericho” (

Joshua 3:15, 16).
Thereby the priesthood are given a distinguished position on this occasion,
and are placed in the forefront in this book because of their consecration
and appointment to the service of the sanctuary. Yet their prominence did
not derogate from the honor of Joshua as the leader of the people, for he is
the one who gave direction unto the priests (

Joshua 3:6)!
That is very remarkable, and should be duly pondered. When the Lord said
unto Joshua, “This day will I begin to magnify thee in the sight of all Israel,
that they may know that, as I was, with Moses, so I will be with thee,” the
very next thing was,
“And thou shalt command the priests that bear the ark of the
covenant” (

Joshua 3:8).
Even when Eleazar, the high priest, comes more distinctively into the
forefront in connection with the assigning of the inheritance of the tribes,
he does not interfere with the place which God had given Joshua. One of
the principal values of these inspired records is the conjoint action of
Eleazar and Joshua when they could act together. The same feature of the
honorable and prominent place accorded the priesthood, and yet Joshua’s
authority over them, is seen again in chapter six, in connection with the
taking of Jericho, for not only did the ark of the covenant go before all the
men of war, but that in turn was preceded by “seven priests bearing the
seven trumpets of rams’ horns,” before whose blast the walls fell down; yet
it was Joshua who issued orders to these priests (

Joshua 6:6).
We have dwelt the longer upon this prominent feature of the book of
Joshua (about which we shall have more to say, D.V., as we pass on to the
later chapters) not only because it has been largely ignored by those who
have written thereon, but also and chiefly, because of the deep importance
of the same when considered, first, in connection with the Lord Jesus
Christ; and, second, in connection with His people. It has indeed been
widely recognized that Joshua is one of the outstanding characters of the
Old Testament, who foreshadowed our Savior, and if we are spared to.162
complete this series we hope to show that he did so in no less than fifty
details. But it has been perceived by very few indeed that Eleazar was
equally a type of Christ, and that the two must be viewed in conjunction in
order to behold the completeness of their joint adumbrations. That should
be apparent at once from their immediate predecessors, for we need to join
together Moses and Aaron in order to obtain the Divinely designed
prefiguration of the One who was both “The Apostle and High Priest of
our profession, Christ Jesus” (

Hebrews 3:1). Thus it was also with
Joshua and Eleazar.
That the history of the children of Israel was a typical one and that it
adumbrated the experiences, the provisions made for, and the salvation of
the whole election of grace, is too plain for any anointed eye to miss. Their
oppression by Pharaoh and their groaning amid the brick kilns of Egypt
present an unmistakable picture of our servitude to Satan and bondage
under sin, our condition by nature as the consequence of our fall in Adam.
Their utter inability to free themselves from the cruel yoke of the Egyptians
forcibly portrayed our own native impotency to better our condition. The
sovereign grace of God in raising up a deliverer in the person of Moses,
was a prophecy in action of the future coming forth of the Divine Deliverer
to emancipate His people. The provision of the lamb and the efficacy of its
blood to provide shelter from the angel of death on the night of the
Passover, yet more clearly revealed what is now fully proclaimed by the
Gospel. While the overthrow of Pharaoh and his hosts at the Red Sea and
Israel’s sight of the “Egyptians dead upon the seashore” (

Exodus
14:30) told of the completeness of our redemption and the putting away of
our sins from before the face of God.
The subsequent history of Israel in the wilderness, their testings and trials
there, their failures and successes, the gracious and full provision which the
Lord made for them, have rightly been contemplated as shadowing forth
the varied experiences of the saints as they journey unto their eternal
Inheritance. But the typical value of the second half of Exodus and much of
the book of Leviticus has been far less generally discerned. The delivering
of His people from their enemies was but a means to a far grander end,
namely, that they should be brought into a place of favor and nearness unto
God; and

Exodus 25-40 and most of Leviticus make known the
provisions which God has made for the maintenance of their communion
with Him, and this in such a way that the requirements of His ineffable
holiness were duly maintained and the obligations of their moral agency.163
and their duties as a redeemed people should be fitly discharged. Their
relations with Jehovah were maintained on the one hand, through the
Divinely appointed priesthood; and on the other, by their obedience to the
Divine commandments. Only thereby could they draw nigh unto the Holy
One as acceptable worshippers, and only thereby could they receive from
Him the necessary instructions for their guidance.
The typical significance of the book of Joshua, while maintaining and
enforcing the truth made known in the foregoing books, supplements and
complements the earlier history. Here it is Israel, under God, possessing
their possessions, brought into that rest which had been promised their
fathers. In regard to this, we prefer to speak in the language of one whom
we consider was better qualified to treat upon this subject. “The earthly
Canaan was neither designed by God, nor from the first was it understood
by His people to be, the ultimate and proper inheritance which they were to
occupy; things having been spoken and hoped for concerning it which
plainly could not be realized within the bounds of Canaan. The inheritance
was one which could be enjoyed only by those who had become the
children of the resurrection, themselves fully redeemed in soul and body
from all the effects and consequences of sin — made more glorious and
blessed, indeed, than if they had never sinned, because constituted after the
image of the heavenly Adam. And as the inheritance must correspond with
the inheritor, it can only be man’s original possession restored — the earth
redeemed from the curse which sin brought on it, and, like man himself, be
the fit abode of a Church made like, in all its members, to the Son of God.
“The occupation of the earthly Canaan by the natural seed of
Abraham was a type, and no more than a type, of this occupation
by a redeemed Church of her destined inheritance of glory; and
consequently everything concerning the entrance of the former on
their temporary possession was ordered so as to represent and
foreshadow the things which belong to the Church’s establishment
in her permanent possession. Hence, between the giving of the
promise, which, though it did not terminate in the land of Canaan,
yet included that, and through it prospectively exhibited the better
inheritance, a series of important events intervened, which are
capable of being fully and properly examined in no other way than
by means of their typical bearing of the things hereafter to be
disclosed respecting that better inheritance..164
“If we ask, why did the heirs of promise wander about so long as
pilgrims, and withdraw to a foreign region before they were
allowed to possess the land, and not rather, like a modern colony,
quietly spread, without strife or bloodshed, over its surface, till the
whole was possessed? Or, why were they suffered to fall under the
dominion of a foreign power from whose cruel oppression they
needed to be redeemed, with terrible executions of judgment on the
oppressor, before the possession could be theirs? Or why, before
that event, also, should they have been put under the discipline of
law, having the covenant of Sinai. with its strict requirements and
manifold obligations of service, superadded to the covenant of
grace and promise? Or why, again, should their right to the
inheritance itself have to be vindicated from a race of occupants
who had been allowed for a time to keep possession of it, and
whose multiplied abominations had so polluted it that nothing short
of their extermination could render it a fitting abode for the heirs of
promise? The full and satisfactory answer to all such questions can
only be given by viewing the whole in connection with the better
things of a higher dispensation — as the first part of a plan which
was to have its counterpart and issue in the glories of a redeemed
creation, and for the final results of which the Church needed to be
prepared, by standing in similar relations and passing through like
experiences in regard to an earthly inheritance.
“The whole series of transactions which took place between the
confirmation of the covenant of promise with Jacob, and the actual
possession of the land promised, and especially of course the things
which concerned that greatest of all the transactions, the revelation
of the Law from Sinai is to be regarded as a delineation in the type,
of the way and manner in which the heirs of God are to obtain the
inheritance of the purchased possession. Meanwhile, there are two
important lessons which the Church may clearly gather and which
she ought never to lose sight of: First, that the inheritance, come
when and how it may, is the free gift of God, bestowed by Him as
sovereign Lord and Proprietor on those whom He calls to the
fellowship of His grace. Second, that the hope of the inheritance
must exist as an animating principle in their hearts, influencing all
their procedure. Their spirit and character must be such as become
those who are the expectants as well as heirs of that better country,.165
which is an heavenly; nor can Christ ever be truly formed in the
heart, until He be formed as ‘the hope of glory’” (P. Fairbairn,
Volume 1 of his The Typology of Scripture, 1865)..166
CHAPTER 7
THE TWO MEMORIALS
JOSHUA 4:1-24
TYPICAL APPLICATION
That which is recorded in the book of Joshua fully maintains the Truth
presented in the Pentateuch, yet its typical teaching carries us considerably
beyond what is there set forth. This is to be expected, especially when we
bear in mind (as we must do continually while pondering its contents) that
it was the new generation of Israel which is here in view. The lesson taught
at the supernatural crossing of the Jordan conducts us farther in the
unfolding of the Gospel than what was signified at the Red Sea. There, it
was the might of God put forth on behalf of His covenant people in the
total destruction of that antagonistic power which had held them captive so
long and had refused to let them go. Here, it was His vanquishing of that
obstacle which barred the way into their inheritance. When Satan’s
captives are freed at the miracle of regeneration, he does not henceforth
ignore them and leave them in peace: though he cannot prevent their
entrance into the “purchased possession,” yet he is ever assailing them in
one form or other as he seeks to keep them from a present enjoyment of
the same. What is required from us in order to thwart those designs of our
Enemy, we are seeking to show in the course of this series of articles.
But it was the Divine side of things, the provisions God made for Israel’s
entrance into and occupation of the land of Canaan with which we were
more concerned in our last. Those provisions were, first, the appointing
and qualifying of Joshua to be the leader of Israel, the typical captain of
their salvation.” Second, the ark of the covenant, which (we repeat) was
both the witness of Jehovah’s presence in Israel’s midst and the symbol of
His relations to them. And third, the priesthood, culminating in their
service in “the tabernacle which was pitched in Shiloh.” Thus, as we hope
to yet show, not only are we required to turn unto the epistles of Paul to
the Romans, the Ephesians and the Colossians, in order to find the
antitypical truths of what was spiritually adumbrated of us by Israel in the.167
book of Joshua, but also to his epistle to the Hebrews. We know of only
one other writer who has called attention to that fact, in an article written
before we were born, and which appeared in a magazine (The Bible
Treasury) under the title of “The Book of Joshua and the Epistle to the
Hebrews,” unto which we gladly acknowledge our indebtedness and of
which we made flee use.
We are now to take notice of the Divine command which Joshua received,
to take twelve stones from the bed of the Jordan, “out of the place where
the priests’ feet stood firm” (

Joshua 4:3), which were made a
“memorial” unto future generations, and in addition, the setting up of
“twelve stones in the midst of Jordan” (

Joshua 5:9). At the Red Sea
Israel neither left twelve stones in its bed, nor took twelve with them unto
the other side. Instead, Pharaoh and his chosen captains, his chariots and
his host, God drowned therein, so that Israel sang
“The depths have covered them: they sank into the bottom as a
stone” (

Exodus 15:4, 5).
“But the children of Israel walked upon dry land in the midst of the
sea, and the waters were a wall unto them on their right hand and
on their left. Thus the Lord saved Israel that day out of the hand of
the Egyptians” (

Exodus 14:29, 30),
and put the song of redemption into their mouths, saying, “The Lord hath
triumphed gloriously” (

Exodus 15:1, 13). At the Red Sea Jehovah
showed Himself strong on the behalf of that people who had previously
found shelter under “the blood of the lamb,” and whom He now brought
nigh unto Himself — “unto Thy holy habitation” (

Exodus 15:13, 17).
But at the Jordan a further and grander lesson was taught Israel, something
which went beyond the truth of redemption by blood and by power, even
that of resurrection. Fundamental and blessed as is the truth taught us by
the cross of Christ, there is something further which is even more vital and
glorious, and that is our Lord’s victory over the grave. When the apostle
throws out that irrefutable challenge, “Who shall lay anything to the charge
of God’s elect?” his triumphant answer is,
“It is God that justifieth, who is he that condemneth? It is Christ
that died, yea rather, that is risen again” (

Romans 8:33, 34)..168
It is abundantly clear in

1 Corinthians 15 (see especially verses 3 and 4,
14, 17) that the resurrection of Christ is not only an integral part of the
Gospel but its distinctive and outstanding feature; and those evangelists
who go no farther than the cross are preaching only half of the Gospel. But
more, the saints themselves are greatly the losers if their faith and spiritual
apprehensions stop short at the atoning death of Christ, for unspeakably
precious as it is to recognize our death unto sin in the death of the Surety,
still more blessed is it to perceive our federal union with Him and our title
to the inheritance in His triumph over death.
At the Jordan the redeemed of God were shown their own passage through
death and resurrection by the figure of the twelve stones placed in the
Jordan and the twelve stones taken out of it. It was at this point that Israel
entered upon a new stage in their history, yet perpetuating all the essential
features which had previously marked them as the peculiar people of the
Lord — as will be seen when we examine (D.V.) into the new circumcising
at Gilgal, the celebration of the Passover, and the appearing of the Captain
of the Lord’s host with drawn sword (chapter 5). Nevertheless, as said
above, that which characterized the crossing of the Jordan is in sharp
contrast with what took place at the Red Sea. There, instead of the priests
bearing the ark of the covenant being seen, it was Israel’s enemies which
lay there, consumed as stubble by the wrath of the Lord. On the other
hand, no Canaanites were in Jordan, not a single foe was overthrown there;
yet it was sanctified to the Lord and to Israel by the priests and the ark of
the covenant for glory and victory as truly as were the waters of the Red
Sea when they returned and engulfed the host of Pharaoh in terrible
judgment — that glory and victory quickly appears in the sequel.
As previously pointed out, the river Jordan was not only the emblem of
death, but of judgment also, as the word itself signifies — “jor,” literally,
“spread,” and “dan” which means “judging” (

Genesis 30:6). The use
made of this river in New Testament times supplies clear confirmation, for
the Jordan was where the Lord’s forerunner exercised his ministry, of
whom it was foretold “prepare ye the way of the Lord.” And how did he
do so? By preparing a people to receive Him. In what manner? By
preaching “Repent ye,” i.e., judge yourselves; and those who did so were
(most appropriately) baptized of him in the Jordan confessing their sins”
(

Matthew 3:8); and by that “baptism of repentance unto the remission
of sins” (

Mark 1:4) they acknowledged that death was their due, and
therefore were they (symbolically) placed in a watery grave. There too, the.169
Lord Jesus as the Surety and Sin-bearer of His people identified Himself
with them by being placed beneath its waters, thereby pledging Himself
unto that “baptism” of death (

Luke 12:50) wherein He met the needs of
all who truly repent or adjudge themselves worthy of death, when all “the
waves and billows” of God’s wrath (

Psalm 42:6) passed over Him.
The good Shepherd entered the river of judgment on behalf of His sheep,
making for them a new covenant by His atoning death, delivering thereby
from judgment all who follow Him:
“this is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many for
the remission of sins” (

Matthew 26:28)
He declared only a few hours before the crucifixion, when He instituted the
memorial of His death. That was typified by the entrance into Jordan of the
ark of the covenant “borne by the priests” and at once the flow of its
waters was stayed, so that the people who followed it passed over dry-shod,
though the ark itself did not come out of the Jordan until it had
secured a passage for all the people (

Joshua 3:17). Profoundly
suggestive and significant are those words
For the priests which bare the ark stood in the midst of Jordan until every
thing was finished that the Lord commanded Joshua to speak unto the
people, according to all that Moses commanded Joshua (

Joshua 4:10).
How that reminds us of
“Jesus, knowing that all things were now accomplished, that the
Scripture might be fulfilled, saith, I thirst… when Jesus therefore
had received the vinegar He said, It is finished, and He bowed His
head and gave up the spirit” (

John 19:28, 30).
All that the justice of God demanded, all that the Law required (“ Moses
commanded”) had been rendered by the antitypical Joshua.
“And it came to pass, when all the people were clean passed over
Jordan, that the Lord spake unto Joshua, saying, Take ye twelve
men out of the people, out of every tribe a man, and command ye
them, saying, Take you hence out of the midst of Jordan, out of the
place where the priests’ feet stood firm, twelve stones, and ye shall
carry them over with you, and leave them there in the lodging place
where ye shall lodge this night” (

Joshua 4:1-3),.170
i.e., in Gilgal (verse 19). That those stones were large ones is evident from
the fact that they were to be carried upon the “shoulder.” The men who
carried them had been selected beforehand (

Joshua 3:13), ready for this
task, that there might be no delay in connection with what lay immediately
before the nation — the encamping of that vast multitude for the night in a
suitable place, namely, at one which was afterwards called Gilgal, and
which some inform us was about mid-way between the river Jordan and the
city of Jericho. In the light of

Joshua 4:4, “then Joshua called the twelve
men whom he had prepared of the children of Israel,” we personally regard
that as a foreshadowing of the antitypical Joshua, who at an early stage of
His ministry “called unto Him the twelve” (

Mark 6:7).
“And Joshua said unto them, Pass over before the ark of the Lord
your God into the midst of Jordan, and take you up every man of
you a stone upon his shoulder, according unto the number of the
tribes of Israel: That they may be a sign among you, that when your
children ask their fathers in time to come, saying, What mean ye by
these stones? Then ye shall answer them, That the waters of Jordan
were cut off before the ark of the covenant of the Lord: when it
passed over Jordan, the waters of Jordan were cut off; and these
stones shall be for a memorial unto the children of Israel for ever”
(verses 5-7).
The two words we have italicized call attention to the double design which
those stones were intended to serve, which will be more intelligible to the
reader when he bears in mind that those twelve stones “did Joshua pitch in
Gilgal” (verse 20). They were not left flat on the ground but orderly
formed into a cairn or monument. The Hebrew word for “pitch” there,
Young’s Concordance defines as “To cause to stand, raise.” Twenty times
this verb is rendered “set up” in the Authorized Version. It is the same
word which is used in connection with the erection of the Tabernacle when
it was complete (

Exodus 40:2, etc.). Thus, those large stones were
arranged in such a manner, possibly placed one on top of another monolith-like,
so as to attract the attention and invoke the inquiry of those who
should afterwards behold them.
That monument of stones was designed first as a “sign” unto Israel. It was
a message for their hearts via their eyes rather than ears. It was an enduring
sermon in stone. It spoke of the goodness and power of God exercised on
their behalf at the Jordan. That word “sign” is a very full one — our Lord’s.171
miracles are termed “signs” (

John 20:30;

Acts 2:22). The two
wonders which Moses was empowered to work before his brethren were
called “signs” (

Exodus 4:1-9), they authenticated him as their Divinely-appointed
leader and signified that the power of the Almighty was with
him. In

Deuteronomy 11:18, and

Judges 6:17, “sign” has the force
of token or representation — of Israel’s being regulated by God’s Word,
and of the Lord’s granting success to the commission He had committed to
Gideon. In other passages a “sign” was a portent or pledge of something
concerning the future —

1 Samuel 10:1-9;

2 Kings 19:29. In each of
those senses may “sign” be understood in

Joshua 4:6. That cairn of
stones was to signify that Israel had not crossed the Jordan by their own
ability, but because of the miracle-working power of God. It was a
representation unto them that they had passed through the river’s bed dry-shod.
More especially, it was an earnest and pledge of what God would yet
do for them.
Second, that monument was designed as a “memorial” that Israel had
passed through the river of death, that they were now (typically) on
resurrection ground, that judgment lay behind them. Israel upon the
Canaan side of Jordan adumbrated that blessed truth expressed by our
Redeemer in

John 5:24, where He so definitely assures His people that
each soul who hears His word and believes on the One who sent Him “hath
everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation, but is passed from
death unto life.” The reason why he shall not “come into condemnation” is
because in the person of his Surety he has already been condemned and
suffered the full judgment of God upon all his sins, and therefore, judicially,
as federally united to Christ, he “is passed from death [that death which is
the wages of sin] unto life” — that “life” which is the award of the Law, as
it was “magnified” by the Savior and “made honorable” (

Isaiah 42:21).
As the ark of the covenant entered the river of death and judgment the flow
of its waters was stopped until the ark had secured a safe passage for all
who followed it; so Christ endured the unsparing wrath of God that by His
atoning death those who were legally one with Him, and who are made
voluntary followers of Him, shall be delivered from all future judgment.
In addition to the monument erected on the Canaan side of the river we are
told that.172
“Joshua set up twelve stones in the midst of Jordan, in the place
where the priests which bare the ark of the covenant stood; and
they are there unto this day” (

Joshua 4:9).
Thus there was a double monument to perpetually commemorate Israel’s
passing through the place of judgment: the one in the midst of the Jordan,
the other in their new camping-ground at Gilgal. What anointed eye can fail
to see in them the two signs and memorials which Christ has instituted to
symbolize that, as the result of their faith in His atoning death, His people
have not only passed through death and judgment, but are now united to a
risen Christ and are “alive unto God”! The meaning of the two ordinances
appointed by Christ dearly confirms this, for each of them speaks of both
death and resurrection. “Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized
into Jesus Christ were baptized into His death? Therefore we were buried
with Him by baptism into death, that like as Christ was raised from the
dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of
life” (

Romans 6:4, 5; and cf.

Colossians 2:12). Christian baptism is
designed to symbolize the believer’s union with Christ in His death, burial,
and resurrection, as well as being his personal profession that he is dead to
the world and has resolved to walk in newness of life.
The Lord’s Supper also, while it celebrates our passage with Christ
through death, yet it is with the added blessedness and triumph of being
now on the resurrection side of judgment. Just as the twelve stones which
had been in Jordan were formed into a single cairn in the camp at Gilgal —
type of “the Israel of God” (

Galatians 6:16) in its entirety, made into
“one body” — was a testimony that the twelve tribes had passed through
the unfordable river; so the Lord’s supper, partaken of by those who were
once lost sinners under condemnation, is a testimony that they have passed
over, and being on resurrection ground can look forward not to judgment
but to the consummation of their hope and bliss. This is clear from

1
Corinthians 11:26, “For as often as ye eat this bread and drink this cup, ye
do show the Lord’s death till He come.” The Lord’s supper not only looks
back to the cross but forward to Christ’s return in glory, and therefore is it
designated a “feast” (

1 Corinthians 5:8) and not a fast, and instead of
“bitter herbs” (

Exodus 12:8) being eaten, the “wine” of gladness is
drunk..173
PRACTICAL APPLICATION
The very fact that God saw fit to devote two whole chapters of His Word
unto a description of Israel’s crossing of the Jordan is more than a hint that
the narration of that memorable incident embodies teaching of much
importance and value for His people in succeeding generations. Christians
are greatly the losers if they concentrate their attention chiefly upon the
New Testament and regard the Old Testament as containing little of vital
moment for their souls. If on the one hand the New Testament often
illuminates and explains the Old, yet on the other hand there is not a little in
the New Testament which cannot be properly understood apart from the
Old. In the last two or three articles we sought to indicate the typical and
spiritual significance of Israel’s passage through the river of death and
judgment; on this occasion we propose to point out some of the practical
lessons to be learned from the things there recorded. We shall not give a
complete exposition of chapter 4: but single out various details for
comment, and intimate the many useful truths inculcated by the memorial
erected in Gilgal.
“For the priests which bare the ark stood in the midst of Jordan,
until everything was finished that the Lord commanded Joshua to
speak unto the people, according to all that Moses commanded
Joshua: and the people hasted and passed over” (verse 10).
There are three things here which are worthy of our observation and
admiration.
First, the implicit obedience and patient fortitude of the priests. They were
the ones who occupied the place both of honor and of danger. They were
the ones who bore the ark, before whose presence the waters had “rose up
like a heap,” held by an invisible Hand. Advancing to “the midst of
Jordan,” they remained stationary for many hours, until all the vast host of
Israel had crossed to the far shore. It was a severe test both of their
courage and patience. Therein an example is left the ministers of the
Gospel to continue steadfast in their duty, to be a model unto their people
of uncompromising fidelity, of undaunted courage, of patient endurance.
Second, we see again how that Joshua closely followed the orders he had
received from Moses, doing nothing without a Divine command; while the
priests, in turn, were required to be regulated by Joshua’s orders — the
ministers of the Gospel are to be governed solely by Christ..174
Third, the deportment of “the people” on this occasion exemplified that
which should ever characterize the rank and file of the saints in connection
with those who minister unto them in spiritual things. We are told that they
“hasted and passed over.” That denoted their thoughtful consideration of
the priests, so that they would not be put to unnecessary delay and strain
through their dilatoriness — the slower their movement, the longer the
priests would have to stand bearing the ark! The practical lesson is that
God’s people should do everything in their power to make the spiritual lot
of God’s servants easier. That can be done by promptly responding to their
instructions, by supporting them through earnest prayer, and by being
thoughtful of their comfort. That is something which particularly needs to
be laid to heart in this day of selfishness and lack of concern for the
comfort of others. It is both solemn and blessed to note how God took
note of this detail, that the Holy Spirit has specifically recorded this
thoughtful “haste” of the people. The Lord not only marks what we do, but
how we do it: as in “his princes gave willingly” (

2 Chronicles 35:8),
“their nobles put their necks to the work of the Lord… Zabbi earnestly
repaired the other piece” (

Nehemiah 3:5, 20).
“And the children of Reuben and the children of Gad, and half the
tribe of Manasseh, passed over armed before the children of Israel,
as Moses spake unto them: About forty thousand prepared for war
passed over before the Lord unto battle, to the plains of Jericho”
(verses 12, 13).
Here is a case in point how that one part of Scripture is dependent upon
another for its explanation and interpretation. We have to go back to
Numbers to discover why these particular ones constituted the fighting
force of the nation. Those two and a half tribes, who were rich in cattle,
desired to have for their portion the fertile lands of Jazer and Gilead, rather
than any part of Canaan (verses 1-5). When Moses demurred, they agreed
to build sheepfolds for their cattle and fenced cities for their little ones, and
then they would go armed before the children of Israel until the remaining
tribes had secured their inheritance (verses 16, 17). Moses agreed to their
proposal, and they ratified that arrangement; and Moses then gave
command to Eleazar and Joshua to see that their promise was made good.
Here in Joshua 4 we are shown the fulfillment of the same. Those two and
a half tribes were the only ones unencumbered with their families and
flocks, and thus we see how suited they were to be the fighting force, and.175
how graciously God made all things work together for good unto His
people.
“On that day the Lord magnified Joshua in the sight of all Israel; and they
feared him, as they feared Moses, all the days of his life” (verse 14).
Therein we may see how the Lord made good unto Joshua the word He
gave him in

Joshua 3:7. “Faithful is He that calleth you, who also will
do it” (

1 Thessalonians 5:24). That detail has been placed upon
imperishable record for the encouragement of every servant of the Lord.
Ministers of the Gospel may prosecute their labors with absolute
confidence in the promises of their Master: not one of them shall fail. He
has said of His Word,
“it shall not return unto Me void, but it shall accomplish that which
I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it”
(

Isaiah 55:11);
then he need not entertain the slightest doubt about the same. He has
declared “all that the Father giveth Me shall come to Me,” that they “shall
believe on Me through their [His ministers’] word” (

John 6:37; 17:20);
then neither the perversity of the opposition of Satan can prevent it. He has
promised human nature nor His servants, “Lo, I am with you always, even
unto the end of the world (

Matthew 28:20), then let them conduct
themselves accordingly. Let them also learn from

Joshua 4:14, and its
context that the surest way. for them to gain the respect and observation of
their people is to be diligent in personally honoring and obeying God, and
caring for their welfare.
“And the Lord spake unto Joshua, saying, Command the priests
that bear the ark of the testimony, that they come up out of Jordan.
Joshua therefore commanded the priests, saying, Come ye up out of
Jordan” (verses 15-17).
That is indeed striking: the priests did not take a step until they were
Divinely authorized. There they stood hour after hour, and there they still
remained after the vast concourse had passed through and reached the
other side in safety! Patiently they waited until leave was given them to
move. They did not act on their own impulse or initiative, but meekly
waited God’s time. “The priests did not quit their station till Joshua, who
had commanded them hitherto, ordered them from thence: nor did he thus
order them till the Lord commanded him: so obedient were all parties to.176
the Word of God, and so entirely confident of His protection” (Matthew
Henry). It is ours to render unquestioning obedience to God, and leave the
consequences with Him; nor need we have the least fear or hesitation in so
doing — we shall not be the losers, but the gainers. “Them that honor Me,
I will honor” (

1 Samuel 2:30) is more certain than that night shall
follow day, as the writer has often proved.
“And it came to pass, when the priests that bare the ark of the
covenant of the Lord were come up out of the midst of Jordan, and
the soles of the priests’ feet were lifted up unto the dry land, that
the waters of Jordan returned unto their place, and flowed over all
his banks, as they did before” (verse 18).
No sooner did the priests with the ark step upon the shore of Canaan than
the Jordan resumed its normal flow, or rather its abnormal condition, for it
was then in flood. That at once accentuated the miracle which had just
been wrought, making it the more apparent that the stopping of its flow
was not from any abnormal natural cause, but that it was the will of their
Creator which had temporarily suspended the laws of nature, for the
display of His glory and the fulfillment of His promise unto His people. As
Israel beheld the upper waters which had been invisibly dammed and the
lower ones that had stood up in a heap now suddenly acting as formerly,
how apparent it would be unto them that it was the presence and power of
their covenant God which had wrought so gloriously for them!
Bearing in mind the meaning of “Jordan,” the spiritual application of verse
18 is apparent. It was the presence in its midst of the priests who bore the
ark which stayed its course: and it is the godly example and faithful
ministry of God’s servants which, under the Divine blessing to His people,
and through their moral influence upon others, which hold back His
judgments upon the world. They are the salt of the earth, which prevents
the carcass of the unregenerate mass turning into complete putrefaction.
But that “salt” has steadily diminished during the last two centuries. As the
population of the world has increased, the proportion of the righteous —
despite a widespread “profession” — has decreased, and therefore sin has
abounded more and more; and so too have the judgments of God. As the
entrance of righteous Noah and his family into the ark was the signal for
the flood to commence, as the removal of just Lot from Sodom was at
once followed lay the fire and brimstone from heaven, so the removal of
God’s eminent servants and saints from the earth (the places of few being.177
filled) has been followed by the Divine judgments which we have witnessed
and are still witnessing. Dispensationally,

Joshua 4:18, foreshadowed
the awful fact that when the Day of grace is concluded, the world will be
completely inundated by the storm of God’s wrath.
“And the people came up out of Jordan on the tenth day of the first
month, and encamped in Gilgal, in the east border of Jericho”
(verse 19).
There is nothing meaningless or valueless in the Scriptures. and we are the
losers if we ignore or pass hurriedly over its time marks. The carnal critic
would say, what interest is it unto me which particular day of the month
this event occurred; but different far should be the spirit of the believer.
But how is he to ascertain the significance of this detail? By looking up the
marginal references, and if they do not furnish what he needs, by consulting
his concordance, where he will find that the first reference to “the tenth
day” of the first month (

Exodus 12:2, 3) supplies the key. It was the
day when the paschal lamb was selected ! — to be slain on the fourteenth
(

Exodus 12:6, and see

Joshua 5:10). How wonderfully God times
everything for His people! “He so ordered things here that Israel entered
Canaan four days before the annual solenmity of the Passover, and on the
very day when the preparation for it was begun, for He would have them
enter into Canaan graced and sanctified with that religious feast, and would
have them to be reminded of their deliverance from Egypt that, combining
the two together, God might be glorified as the Alpha and Omega of their
blessing” (Matthew Henry).
“And those twelve stones, which they took out of Jordan, did
Joshua pitch [i.e. “erect”] in Gilgal” (verse 20).
Probably those large stones were placed on some eminence where there
was none other, for they were to be “a monument unto the children of
Israel forever” (verse 7). Some surmise, and we think with considerable
probability; that when the Pharisees and Sadducees came to John’s baptism
and he said unto them
“Think not to say within yourselves we have Abraham to our
father: for I say unto you, that God is able of these stones to raise
up children unto Abraham” (

Matthew 3:9)
he pointed to the very cairn erected by Joshua. Confirmation of this
appears to be furnished by

John 1:28, which informs us that he baptized.178
in “Bethabara beyond Jordan,” for “Bethabara” means “the house of
passage.” i.e., the place where Israel passed over the river.
“And he spake unto the children of Israel, saying, When your
children shall ask their fathers, in time to come, saying, What
meaneth these stones? Then ye shall let your children know, saying,
Israel came over this Jordan on dry land. For the Lord your God
dried up the waters of Jordan from before you, until ye were passed
over, as the Lord your God did to the Red Sea, which He dried up
from before us, until we were gone over” (verses 21-23).
Normal children have inquiring minds and ought not to be snubbed or even
discouraged when they ask their parents questions. Rather should parents
seek to improve their curiosity as an opening for instruction, directing the
same into profitable channels. The very inquisitiveness of little ones affords
their elders an opportunity to make known unto them the wonderful works
of God, that their minds may be informed and their hearts awed by His
perfections. But note well, it is the father (the “head” of the home) upon
whom the main responsibility devolves, to see to it that his children are
taught by him the things of God (

Ephesians 6:4). Let him not pass on
this task to his wife, still less to “Sunday-school teachers.”
“That all the people of the earth might know the hand of the Lord
that it is mighty: that ye might fear the Lord your God for ever”
(verse 24).
God’s miraculous deliverances of His own people have a message for all
the world, and when He is pleased to sanctify the same unto the
unregenerate, they are deeply impressed thereby (

Daniel 3:29; 6:25-27).
The effects produced by the Jordan miracle are recorded in verse 1, which
properly ends chapter iv: “Anal it came to pass, when all the kings of the
Amorites which were on the side of Jordan westward, and all the kings of
the Canaanites which were by the sea, heard that the Lord had dried up the
waters of Jordan from before the children of Israel until we were passed
over, that their heart melted, neither was there spirit in them any more,
because of the children of Israel.” The Canaanites were completely
dispirited and cowed, realizing their utter incompetence to successfully
oppose a people who had the Almighty for their Friend and Benefactor.
But we must now seek to formulate the various lessons which we should
learn from the memorial erected at Gilgal to mark the miraculous passage
of the Jordan..179
First, the wonderful works of God are worthy of treasuring in our
memories, and He requires that pains be taken by us to see that they are so.
It should be carefully noted that Joshua, even in the midst of a most
exacting business, was not permitted to neglect the promotion of the
Lord’s honor. While superintending the passage through the river’s bed of
that vast concourse of people, with all their baggage (tents, etc.) and cattle,
God bade him see to it that he took a man from each tribe and bid them
select the twelve stones which were to be carried to Gilgal (

Joshua 4:2,
3). Nor did he demur or ask for a more convenient season.
Second, God’s ordering of this memorial is a solemn reminder of how
prone our hearts are to forget His past interpositions on our behalf. Of
Israel we are told they “forgat His works and His wonders that He showed
them “; and again, that “they soon forgat His works” (

Psalm 78:11;
106: 13). Alas, is not the same true of us? Even of the apostles Christ
asked,
“Do ye not yet understand, neither remember the five loaves ye
took up?” (

Matthew 16:9).
Third, because of our proneness to forget, suitable means are to be used in
assisting us. We are to make conscience of the fact that God has bidden us
to “remember all the way which the Lord thy God led thee”
(

Deuteronomy 8:2), and that precept should be turned into earnest
prayer that we may not be negligent therein. We should frequently call to
mind our previous experiences of God’s faithfulness and tender care of us.
This will strengthen the spirit of thanksgiving and cause us to praise God
anew. It will deepen our confidence in Him to count upon Him in present
emergencies and trust Him for future deliverances. The more we do so, the
less shall we fear the experience of death, assured that God will undertake
for us as we are called upon to pass through the valley of the shadows, as
certainly as He conducted Israel safely through the Jordan (see

2
Corinthians 1:10)!
Fourth, not only God’s past deliverances of us are to be treasured up in
our memories, but also His mercies unto His people in times gone by. Faith
is to look back to what the arm of the Lord hath done “in the ancient days,
in the generations of old,” and say, “Art not Thou He which hath dried the
sea… that made the depths of the sea, a way for the ransomed to pass
over.” And what will be the consequence of such exercise of believing
memories? This:.180
“Therefore the redeemed of the Lord shall return, and come with
singing unto Zion” (

Isaiah 51:9-11).
Why has God recorded the deliverance of Noah from the flood and of Lot
from Sodom but to assure us that
“the Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptation”
(

2 Peter 2:5-9).
Not only is
“what was written aforetime written for our learning and comfort”
(

Romans 15:4),
but what God did aforetime is to teach us what He can and will now do for
His own.
“I remembered Thy judgments of old, O Lord, and have comforted
myself” (

Psalm 119:52).
Fifth, the monument erected at Gilgal teaches us that we should take
thought of and seek to make provision for the rising generation. That cairn
of stones was erected with the express desire of evoking inquiry from those
who should later behold it. God would have the wonders of His power and
mercy preserved for posterity. There was to be a permanent witness of
what God had wrought for His people; that no impotency or weakness of
theirs prevented them reaching the shores of Canaan. It was meant as a
sure pledge that God would continue to show Himself strong in Israel’s
behalf and would overthrow those then in occupation of the land. Thus, we
rejoice when readers of this magazine purchase the bound volumes with
this design before them. At least one is now thankfully reading those
volumes which his mother (now in heaven) purchased from us twenty years
ago, when he was unconverted. We cherish the hope that the bound
volumes will be read by many long after we are called Home.
Sixth, in the nature or character of the two monuments which Joshua was
instructed to set up, we see how different are the thoughts and ways of the
Lord from those of men. No costly shrine, with useless ornamentations and
affected splendor, was to mark the event, but only that which, though
impressive, was simple and plain. “Never did triumphant column or arch,
with all the magnificence of architecture, form so proper a monument of
some celebrated victory as the twelve rude stones from Jordan’s channel.181
recorded the miraculous passage of Israel into Canaan under the conduct
of the ark of the Lord.” Equally true is this of the two signs and memorials
which God has appointed for this dispensation. When divested of all
priestly and parsonic trappings, how plain and simple, yet how significant
and impressive, are the ordinances of baptism and the Lord’s supper. The
same principle was exemplified by Christ in the choice of His ambassadors
— for the most part unlettered fishermen.
Seventh, that monument teaches us that we should recognize and own the
corporate unity of God’s people. It was comprised of twelve stones, taken
up by one man from out of each tribe (

Joshua 4:2) and erected in
Gilgal. That is the more noticeable since two and a half of the tribes had
received their inheritance on the eastward side of the Jordan. Yet this cairn
on the western shore must have in it not nine or ten, but twelve stones, to
signify the oneness of Israel. We behold the same thing again in

1 Kings
18: when, centuries later, the division between the northern and southern
kingdoms of Israel obtained, and Elijah
“took twelve stones according to the number of the sons of Jacob,
unto whom the word of the Lord came, saying, Israel shall be thy
name, and built with them an altar on Mount Carmel” (verses 31,
32),
resting by faith on God’s Word when what was visible to sight clashed
with the same. They were all the elect of God and brethren. So we should
view God’s children, separated as they now are by party partitions and
denominational walls, as members of the same Family, and sharing, a
common interest. Let our hearts embrace and our prayers include the entire
household of faith..182
CHAPTER 8
SYMBOLS OF COMMITTAL
JOSHUA 5:1-15
CIRCUMCISION
That which is to engage our attention on this occasion, as in the article
following, is still concerned with what was preparatory to the real task
awaiting Israel, and is found in what, strictly speaking, belongs unto the
introductory portion of Joshua, rather than to the body of the book, where
Israel’s conquest and occupation of Canaan is the distinctive subject. Yet it
is in these opening chapters that the Holy Spirit has (in typical form)
revealed the fundamental secrets of success in the Christian warfare and
their present enjoyment of the heritage which Christ has procured for them.
It is therefore all the more needful for us to proceed slowly and seek to
thoroughly assimilate these initial truths if we are to obtain the richest
benefit from them. The first thing absolutely indispensable to Israel’s
possession of Canaan was their crossing of the Jordan. That, as we have
shown, was a figure of the Christian passing through death and judgment in
the person of his Surety and then his entrance into “life.” It is only one who
is on resurrection ground that is qualified to overcome the foes which
would prevent him possessing his possessions. Equally essential is it for the
Christian to experience in a spiritual and practical way that which marked
Israel’s history at Gilgal.
“At that time the Lord said unto Joshua, Make thee sharp knives,
and circumcise the children of Israel the second time” (

Joshua
5:2).
With those words chapter 5 ought to begin, for verse 1 in our Bibles
obviously concludes the preceding one. Here in verses 2-9 the Holy Spirit
has recorded what took place in Gilgal, namely, the circumcising of Israel.
The narration of that important event is introduced by informing us when it
occurred — a detail which must not be overlooked when seeking the
spiritual application unto ourselves. “At that time,” i.e., first when the Lord.183
their God had so signally shown Himself strong in their behalf by
performing a miracle of mercy for them. Second, when they had just passed
through the river which spake of death and judgment. Third, as soon as
they had set foot within the borders of their promised inheritance. Fourth,
four days before the Passover, as a necessary pre-requisite and qualification
for them to participate in that feast. Fifth, ere they began the real task of
possessing their possessions — by vanquishing those who would seek to
prevent their enjoyment of the same. We shall ponder first the literal or
historical meaning of this for the natural Israel, and then its application
unto and significance as it respects the spiritual Israel, the Church of
Christ.
The “circumcise the children of Israel the second time” requires a word of
explanation. It should be apparent at once that the reference is not unto a
repetition of a painful operation upon those who had previously been
circumcised, but rather in contrast from a general circumcising of Israel on
an earlier occasion. In the light of

Joshua 24:14,

Ezekiel 20:7, 8 and
23:3 it is clear that during their lengthy sojourn in Egypt the children of
Israel departed grievously from the revelation which God had made unto
their fathers, and the statutes (

Genesis 26:5) He had given them; and
judging from the case of Moses’ own son (

Exodus 4:24, 25), there is
little doubt that the ordinance of circumcision had been generally, if not
universally, neglected and omitted by them. The words
“God remembered His covenant with Abraham, with Isaac, and
with Jacob” (

Exodus 2:24, and 6:5)
imply that Israel had forgotten it. The express prohibition that none should
partake of the Passover, save those who were circumcised (

Exodus
12:48, 49), and the added statement. “Thus did all the children of Israel: as
the Lord commanded Moses and Aaron, so did they,” denotes that
circumcision had at last been administered — probably at the beginning of
the “thick darkness which was upon all Egypt” for the “three days”
(

Exodus 10:21) that preceded the Passover night.
Verses 4 to 7 (of

Joshua 5) tell us what it was that required such a
wholesale circumcising of the male Israelites — adults as well as children
— on this occasion: “Now all the people that came out were circumcised,
but all the people that were born in the wilderness by the way as they came
forth out of Egypt, them they had not circumcised (verse 5), which in view
of

Genesis 17:9-11, was a startling omission. There has been.184
considerable conjecture as to why Israel had failed to administer this
essential rite for so many years. Thos. Scott says, “The reason for this
omission is not so manifest.” John Gill, “because of their frequent
journeying, and the inconvenience of performing it being always uncertain
when they pitched their tents how long they should remain and when they
should remove… it was not safe to administer it.” But the most popular
explanation is that of sinful neglect. Yet even though that were the case
with the great majority, would not the pious among them have complied? If
rank disobedience was the cause, why is there no record of Moses
rebuking them for such a grave sin? And why had not Joshua insisted upon
it while they tarried in the plains of Moab, instead of waiting till the Jordan
was crossed.
Matthew Henry came very much nearer the true explanation, though he
states it rather vaguely and with some measure of uncertainty. The real
reason, we submit, was what occurred at Kadesh-barnea. It was there the
murmuring and unbelief of Israel reached its awful and fatal climax. when
they hearkened to the evil report of the ten spies and refused to go forward
into the land of Canaan, saying “Let us make us a captain, and let us return
to Egypt”; and when Joshua and Caleb expostulated with them “all the
congregation bade stone them with stones” (

Numbers 14:1-10). It was
then that Jehovah swore in His wrath that they should not enter into His
rest (

Psalm 95:11). It was then that He declared
“But as for you, your carcasses, they shall fall in this wilderness.
And your children shall wander in the wilderness forty years, and
bear your whoredoms, until your carcasses be wasted in the
wilderness. All the number of the days in which ye searched the
land, forty days, each day for a year, shall ye bear your iniquities
forty years, and ye shall know My breach of promise” (

Numbers
14:32-34)
— their apostasy and breaking of the covenant releasing Him from His
engagement to bring them into Canaan. There is the key to

Joshua 5:5!
When Israel, after repeated provocations, at length consummated their
rebellion by despising the promised land and refused to advance beyond
Kadesh-barnea, God swore that only two of that generation should enter it,
the remainder being condemned to perish in the wilderness. Thus for thirty-eight
years (

Deuteronomy 2:14) Israel was in a state of apostasy, and
during that time their children bore the reproach of the same by being.185
denied the “token” or “sign of the covenant” (

Genesis 17:11) —
wrongly termed by men “the seal of the covenant,” for circumcision never
“sealed” anything to anyone saving only to Abraham (

Romans 4:11).
While the awful sentence of

Numbers 14:32-34, lasted, Israel was a
rejected people, and therefore their children were not entitled to bear the
mark of covenant-relationship to God. But for the sake of their children,
He did not withdraw every token of mercy from that generation, but
provided sustenance and guidance throughout their journeys: the daily
supply of manna, the pillar of cloud and fire, the erection of the tabernacle,
etc., were so many intimations that God’s favor would yet return unto
Israel, though He had cast off their fathers.
The miraculous passage of the Jordan gave clear proof that Israel was once
more restored unto the Divine favor, that Jehovah had resumed His
covenant relationship with them, that in emerging from the river of death,
judgment was behind them; that His sentence upon their fathers had been
completed. That miracle showed unmistakably that Jehovah now owned
Israel as His people, and therefore were they fit subjects again to receive
the sign of the covenant upon their bodies. Circumcision was the token of
the Abrahamic covenant (

Genesis 17:11). That ordinance was the mark
by which the natural seed of Abraham was distinguished from all other
nations as a people in covenant with Jehovah, and which bound them by a
special obligation to obey Him. It was the sign of the promissory part of
the covenant which secured to Abraham’s seed the land of promise
(

Genesis 17:8). Thus it was fitting that this second generation should
now be circumcised. Moreover, the restoration of circumcision was to be
accompanied by a revival of other institutions which had lapsed in the
wilderness — such as the Passover feast, for which circumcision was a
prerequisite. Upon Israel’s entrance into Canaan they came under a stricter
discipline than hitherto (

Deuteronomy 6:1; 12:1, 8).
“At that time the Lord said unto Joshua, Make thee sharp knives and
circumcise again the children of Israel the second time.” At the very time
when Israel had entered that land whose inhabitants their unbelieving
fathers had reported to be “strong” and “the cities are walled, and very
great,” yea. “all the people we saw in it are men of a great stature”
(

Numbers 13:28, 32). What a testing of Joshua’s faith was this: that all
the males of Israel should now, for several days, be thoroughly
incapacitated for fighting (

Genesis 34:25)! But God intended it should.186
be made manifest that the camp of Israel was governed by Himself, and not
by any worldly policy.
“What general ever opened a campaign in an enemy’s country in
the manner that Joshua did? On such occasions, all attention paid to
the exercises of religion is too generally considered as a needless
waste of time. Yet if indeed the help of God be the best security for
success, and if His anger is more to be feared than the sword of any
enemy, it will be found true policy to begin every expedition with
repentance of sin, and attendance on the solemn worship of the
Lord, and with using every method of securing His protection,
though to a carnal eye it may appear unfavorable to success” (T.
Scott).
“And Joshua made him sharp knives and circumcised the children
of Israel” (verse 3).
Severe as was this testing of his faith to thus handicap his fighting forces,
yet counting upon the Lord’s protection, his confidence in Him triumphed
over it. We need hardly say that such a vast undertaking was not
performed by him in person, but is attributed unto Joshua because the
operation was carried out under his order and observation — just as we
read that
“Jesus made and baptized more disciples than John. Though Jesus
Himself baptized not, but His disciples” (

John 4:1, 2).
Not only was this command of God’s a severe test of Joshua’s faith, but of
the people’s too: their submission would evidence whether they owned the
verity of that Divine promise (

Numbers 14:7, 8) which their fathers had
disbelieved. Moreover, their submitting unto circumcision was designed as
a test of their obedience, for their conquest of Canaan was conditioned
upon their punctilious compliance with all that God had commanded
through Moses (

Joshua 1:8). Their willing compliance was a fulfillment
of the promise which they had made unto Joshua, in

Joshua 1:17, 18,
and afforded a further demonstration that the? were the best of all the
generations of Israel — in answer to the prayer of Moses (

Psalm 90:13-
17).
“And it came to pass, when they had done circumcising all the
people, that they abode in their places in the camp till they were
whole. And the Lord said unto Joshua, This day have I rolled away.187
the reproach of Egypt from off you. Wherefore the name of the
place is called Gilgal [or “rolling “] unto this day” (verses 8, 9).
The commentators are strangely “at sea” concerning the significance of
that expression “the reproach of Egypt,” most of them regarding it as a
reference to the stigma incurred by Israel when they were the slaves of the
Egyptians. But surely that reproach was for ever rolled away when
Jehovah delivered His people from Egypt by a high arm, brought them
safely through the Red Sea and there destroyed Pharaoh and his hosts. No,
rather is it an allusion to Egypt’s taunt of

Exodus 32:12. During the
thirty-eight years when Israel was rejected by God there appeared ground
for Egypt’s sneer that they would perish in the wilderness; but all occasion
for such a reproach had now been removed by the Lord’s return unto
Israel, and by restoring the token of the covenant He gave intimation that
He had resumed His mighty works on their behalf, that they were His
people and He their God.
But we must turn now and consider the application of this unto ourselves,
for like all the ceremonial rites and institutions of the Old Testament times,
circumcision is, anti-typically, a real and substantial thing unto New
Testament saints. Stating it first in a brief sentence, circumcision respected
the mortification of sin, the putting off of the filth of the flesh. But that
statement calls for explanation and amplification, for the great majority of
Christians have very low and defective thoughts on this subject — inherited
as they have been from the errors of Rome. Far too many of God’s children
today suppose that “mortification” signifies a dying to some specific acts of
sin, the overcoming of this or that particular corruption. But that is a
serious mistake. Watching against, offering stern resistance unto, and
obtaining the victory over some particular acts of sin, falls far short of real
mortification. That is evident from the fact that none of that is beyond what
persons in a state of nature may do, and not a few have actually done. Men
and women whose hearts know nothing whatever of the power of Divine
grace have, nevertheless, succeeded in gaining the mastery over an unruly
temper, and of denying their craving for strong drink.
Again, let it be granted that, as the result of a course of strict self-discipline,
a Christian has overcome some besetting sin; or, putting it on a
higher ground, that by Divine enablement in answer to prayer, he has
become dead to some particular lust; nevertheless, the evil nature, the root,
the filthy fountain from which such foul streams proceed, the whole body.188
of sin, still remains within! No, Christian mortification consists of
something much better, something far greater and grander than anything
poor Papists are acquainted with. To be mortified unto sin is a higher and
holier mystery than to be delivered from any mere acts of sin. It consists of
having union and communion with Christ in His death unto sin (

Romans
6:10, 11). It is the effect and fruit of Christ’s death for us, and of Christ’s
death in us by the vower of the Holy Spirit, whereby we live upon and
enjoy fellowship with Him in His death, and are made partakers of “the
power of His resurrection.” As faith is exercised upon Him as our Head,
we experience the virtue and efficacy of His death and resurrection in our
hearts and lives.
That which was shadowed forth by circumcision, namely the putting off of
the filth of the flesh, all believers find the substance of in Christ, and the
same is made good in their souls — in measure here, but perfectly, so at
death. In order to obtain a complete view of the Christian’s circumcision,
we need to consider it federally and judicially, then spiritually and
experimentally, and then practically and manifestatively. First, then, all
believers are legally circumcised in Christ. That which circumcision
prefigured was the removal of the pollution of sin, and that was
accomplished for believers judicially in the death of their Head.
Circumcision symbolized the entire mortification of sin, and that is the
effect and fruit of Christ’s death for His people.
“Ye are complete in Him [Christ], which is the Head of all
principality and power. In whom ye are circumcised with the
circumcision made without hands, in putting off the body of the sins
of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ” (

Colossians 2:10, 11).
There we have the blessed fact stated, that in Christ their federal Head His
redeemed are already, truly legally circumcised. It is said to be “without
hands to distinguish it from the physical circumcision of the type, and to
show that it is the result of no attainment of ours.

Colossians 2:11, is a
statement which is addressed to our faith, for it refers to something outside
of our actual experience, to something which we have in Christ.
The apostle was moved by the Holy Spirit to employ quite a variety of
terms to express the same fact. In

Romans 6:2, he said of all believers
“we died unto sin.” In

1 Corinthians 6:9,.189
“but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the
name of the Lord Jesus.”
In

Galatians 2:20, he declared — as the representative of all saints — “I
am crucified with Christ.” Here in

Colossians 2:11, he affirms,
“In whom also ye are circumcised,” which signifies that in the sight
of God’s Law and justice the total pollution and defilement of sin
(as well as its guilt and criminality) has been for ever removed. I
have blotted out as a thick cloud thy transgressions” (

Isaiah
44:22).
“Thou art all fair My love, there is no spot in thee” (

Song of
Solomon 4:7).
“And you that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind
by wicked works, yet now hath He reconciled in the body of His
flesh, to present you holy and unblameable and unreprovable in His
sight” (

Colossians 1:21, 22).
These scriptures bear witness that Christ and the Church are federally and
legally one: that God the Father accepts them and views them in the
Beloved as both righteous and holy; that He now sees them as without spot
or wrinkle or any such thing; that He pronounces them eternally cleansed
and blessed.
The faith of many of God’s people apprehends the blessed fact that the
guilt and condemnation of their actual transgressions was perfectly atoned
for by Christ, but the faith of very few apprehends that their evil nature
itself and all their corruptions have been made a legal end of by the
sacrifice of Christ. They recognize by faith that God views them as
cleansed from the curse of the Law, that there is “no condemnation”
resting upon them; but they fail to perceive that the justice of God regards
them as purged from the very presence and defilement of sin in their
natures, that there is no filth within them. Yet the latter is just as true of
them as is the former. Their “old man was crucified with Christ”
(

Romans 6:6). They were circumcised in Christ, which is described as a
“putting off the body. of the sins of the flesh.” Indwelling sin is called a
“body” because it consists of various parts and members, and that “body of
sin” has been “put off,” yea, “destroyed” or “annulled” as the word used in

Romans 6:6 signifies. Not only so, but the holiness of Christ has been
imputed or placed to the account of their souls, so that God Himself.190
declares, “the King’s daughter is all glorious within” (

Psalm 45:13), and
not merely “without “ — as covered with the robe of Christ’s
righteousness.
We say again that

Colossians 2:11, is a Divine declaration (as is

Song of Solomon 4:7, and

Psalm 45:13, quoted above) which is
addressed to faith. and is not a description of Christian experience; though
in proportion as faith really appropriates it, we experience the comfort and
joy of it. Alas that some of our readers are likely to refuse that comfort and
joy through suspicion and fear that a belief of the same might lead to
carelessness and low views of sin. When God bids His children to “reckon
ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin” (

Romans 6:11) — which
means exactly the same as “Reckon ye also yourselves to be circumcised
indeed in Christ, in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh” — He
certainly is not bidding them do anything which has a dangerous tendency.
He exhorts them to so regard themselves because they have good and solid
ground for doing so. They had a representative being and existence in their
Head when He suffered and died to remove both the guilt and the
defilement of their sins. Unless we were one with Christ in His death, there
could be no pardon or cleansing for us. The saints then are to regard their
state before God to be what Christ’s is: delivered from sin’s dominion,
accepted in the Father’s unclouded favor.
In our last we pointed out that the circumcising of all the male Israelites at
Gilgal was a type of the circumcision of the Church. First, that all believers
were legally circumcised in Christ: that at the cross the “body [or totality]
of the sins of the flesh” was put off, completely and forever removed from
the sight of God’s law and justice; for such is the blessed, meaning and
teaching of

Colossians 2:11. God’s elect had a federal being, a
representative existence in their Head, so that when He died unto sin, they
died unto sin; and it is both the duty and privilege of faith to appropriate
that truth, and rest upon that fact. Therein we have revealed the Gospel
method of mortifying sin — in blessed contrast from the fleshly devices of
the Papists. It must flow from our union and communion with the Lord
Jesus in His death, and faith’s receiving of the virtue and efficacy of it. The
fountain of all true and spiritual mortification was opened at the Cross and
God is very jealous of the honor of the person and work of His beloved
Son, and every departure from Him and it, every attempt of the carnal
mind to devise some other remedy for any of the wounds which sin has
inflicted upon and within us, is doomed to certain failure. Christ alone must.191
be looked to for deliverance, not only from the guilt of sin but from its
power and pollution; yes, and from its presence too.
But it must now be pointed out that as Christ is the federal Head of His
people, so also is He their vital or life-giving Head. As the natural head of
the physical body influences all its members, imparting life and motion to
them (for when one side of the brain becomes paralyzed, one whole side of
the body does too), so Christ imparts life unto and influences the members
of His mystical body, the Church. This He does by sending down His Spirit
into their hearts, who communicates to them what Christ did and
purchased for them. Thereby they are circumcised spiritually and
experimentally. That brings us to the second branch of our subject.
“For he is not a Jew who is one outwardly, neither is that
circumcision which is outward in the flesh. But he is a Jew who is
one inwardly, and circumcision is that of the heart; in the spirit, and
not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God”
(

Romans 2:28, 29).
There is much of deep importance in those two verses yet they are little
understood today, especially by Dispensationalists and writers on
“Prophecy”; but it would be outside our present scope to give an
exposition of them, or even show the apostle’s line of argument in that
passage; rather we must confine ourselves to that in them which bears
directly upon our present theme.
“Circumcision is that of the heart: in the spirit, and not in the flesh.” There
we are plainly taught that real “circumcision,” the circumcision which God
most approves, is an internal one. Even that is little understood by our
moderns, and has no real place in their teaching. We wonder how many of
our own readers have any definite and clear-cut conception of what is
meant by spiritual “circumcision.” Very few, we fear. All the more need
then for us to take up this subject here, instead of seeing how swiftly we
can get through the book of Joshua by merely offering generalizations
upon its contents. It should be apparent to all who have read the Scriptures
with any degree of attention and care that He who “desires Truth in the
inward parts” (

Psalm 51:6) required very much more from Israel even
in Old Testament times than obedience to the outward ordinance of
circumcision. The call.192
“Circumcise therefore the foreskin of your heart, and be no more
stiff-necked” (

Deuteronomy 10:16)
is too plain for misunderstanding. It is quite clear from

Leviticus 26:41
and the last clause of

Jeremiah 9:26 that the Lord punished Israel
because they were “uncircumcised in heart.” The same fault Stephen
charged upon the Jews of his day (

Acts 7:51).
“Circumcise yourselves to the Lord and take away the foreskins of
your heart” (

Jeremiah 4:4)
was His just demand. John Gill acknowledged that “men are exhorted to
this” (alas that so many of his admirers refuse to do so), though he rightly
added “yet elsewhere He promises to do this for them.” God has ever
required reality and not simply outward profession, inward and moral
purity and not merely external and ceremonial. “O Jerusalem, wash thine
heart from wickedness” (

Jeremiah 4:14). This spiritual circumcision, or
cleansing of the heart, is the negative side of regeneration, or as the older
writers more aptly expressed it “the privative” side. Strictly speaking there
is no English word which accurately defines it, but “privative” is the
nearest — that which results in a privation through the absence of
something, the withholding or taking of it away. This is one aspect or part
of “the great change” which takes place in a person when he is made the
subject of a miracle of grace. Since we recently dealt with that in
considerable detail, there is the less need to be lengthy on this occasion; but
as spiritual circumcision is included in the general term “regeneration,” we
must not altogether ignore it.
As we emphasized in our articles upon “The Great Change,” far too many
writers when treating of regeneration confine their attention unto but a
single aspect of the same — the communication of a new life or “nature.”
But that contemplates only one angle of it even from the positive side.
There is a negative or privative side too. There is travail and pain in
connection with a birth. Perhaps the reader will find it easier to grasp what
we are saying and the better understand our terms when we remind him
that justification has two parts to it: a privative and a positive — something
removed and something bestowed. The cancellation or removal of the guilt
and penalty of all sins is the privative side of justification, for remission
(forgiveness) means “sending away.” The imputation of the meritorious
obedience of Christ to the account of the believing sinner is the positive
side, for “justify” signifies to declare a person (not merely innocent, but).193
righteous. The two things are brought together in that lovely type in

Zechariah 3:4, “Behold I have caused thine iniquity to pass from thee”
— that is the privative side; “and I will clothe thee with change of raiment”
(the “best robe” of

Luke 15) is the positive.
Now at regeneration something is removed, as well as something imparted:
“I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give
you a heart of flesh” (

Ezekiel 36:26).
Though that be metaphorical language, yet is the figure easily understood.
The affections are divorced from evil and united to that which is good. By
the miracle of grace, God takes away the love of sin and implants a love of
holiness. And how is fallen man’s radical and inveterate love of sin
removed from him? By the Holy Spirit’s illumination, revealing to him the
exceeding sinfulness of sin; by His convicting him of the enormity and
heinousness of sin, striking his conscience with terror and horror at having
waged war against the Almighty; by bringing him to realize that it was his
sins which caused the Lord of glory to bleed and die. Then it is that the
love of sin receives its death-wound in his soul. Then it is he is “pricked in
his heart” and cries out in anguish and despair “what shall I do?” (

Acts
2:37). Which is only another way of saying, Then it is that his soul is
spiritually and experimentally circumcised; when so far as his love of it is
concerned, he puts off “the body of the sins of the flesh” (

Colossians
2:11).
The work of the Holy Spirit within the saint is many-sided, but its grand
design and accomplishment is to make good unto him what Christ did for
him: or to state it in other words, the Spirit imparts to the soul an actual
acquaintance and effects with it a spiritual experience of what he has in
Christ federally and legally. Christ died unto sin, for He was “made sin
[judicially] for us,” and His death was the penal death of our sin.
Consequently, when the Holy Spirit is given to us He first works death in
our hearts: that is, He both slays our self-righteousness, and gives a death-wound
to sin in our affections. As the apostle tells us when relating one
aspect of his own conversion, “when the commandment came, sin revived,
and I died” (

Romans 7:9). That is, when those words “thou shalt not
covet,” thou shalt not even lust after or desire any unlawful object, was
applied in Divine power to his soul, the awful nature and extent of his sin
became a living reality in his conscience, and he died to all good opinions
of himself. By the spiritual slaying of our self-righteousness and making us.194
loathe sin, the soul is experimentally “made conformable unto Christ’s
death” (

Philippians 3:10).
“The Lord thy God will circumcise thine heart, and the heart of thy seed
[which is to be taken generally as “all” and “the world” in the New
Testament] to love the Lord thy God with all thine heart”
(

Deuteronomy 30:6). There we have the two principal aspects of
regeneration or the miracle of grace brought together: the privative side,
the circumcising of the heart, when it is made willing to part with its
cherished sins, when its affections are severed from all evil. That is in order
to the positive side, namely, the heart’s being brought to love the Lord
with all its faculties and strength. That love to God, John Gill rightly
pointed out is “the duty of every man,” and thus of the unregenerate: so,
contrary to his followers, Gill not only taught “duty faith,” but “duty love”!
Nevertheless, none performs this duty until God Himself circumcises the
heart. Then it is that the soul of the elect is transformed from a natural man
into “a new creature” (

Galatians 6:15). That moral change of “putting
off the old man with his deeds” (

Colossians 3:9) was prefigured by the
fact that literal circumcision was required to be performed on the “eighth
day” (

Leviticus 12:3) — the numeral which always signifies a new
beginning, and thus of “the new creature.”
There is yet another aspect of this subject which calls for careful attention,
namely, that circumcision of the Christian which is practical and
manifestative. What Christ accomplished for His people, His Spirit effects
within them, and they are required to make the same apparent in their daily
lives and actions. Our federal and legal circumcision in Christ was in order
to our vital and experimental circumcision, for by His meritorious work on
their behalf the Lord Jesus procured the gift and grace of the Spirit unto
His people (

Galatians 3:13, 14). Our inward circumcision by the
operations of the Spirit unto His people was in order to the better
qualifying us for the discharge of our responsibility and the glorifying of
our God. While at regeneration the Spirit gives a death-wound unto sin in
the affection of its favored subject, and while at the same time He implants
in his heart an imperishable love of and longing for holiness, yet He does
not then remove from him the evil principle — “the flesh” remains in his
soul unto the end of his earthly pilgrimage. Consequently, there is now a
ceaseless conflict within him (

Galatians 5:17), and therefore he is
henceforth called upon to fight the good fight of faith”: to swim against the.195
stream of his corruptions, deny self, mortify his members which are upon
the earth.
The foes against which the Christian is called to wage conflict are mighty
and powerful. That evil trinity, the flesh, the world, and the Devil, are
relentlessly determined to destroy him. How then is he to successfully
engage them in mortal contest? A great variety of answers have been
returned to that question, all sort of rules and regulations prescribed; but
most of them proceeded from “physicians of no value.” It is too generally
overlooked that this is “the fight of faith.” The Devil can only be
successfully resisted as we remain “steadfast in the faith” (

1 Peter 5:9).
“This is the victory, that over-cometh the world — our faith”
(

1 John 5:4).
And there can be no victory over indwelling sin except by the actings of
faith. And faith, my reader, always has to do with Christ: He is its grand
Object (

Hebrews 12:2), its Sustainer (

Philippians 1:21), its
Strengthener (

Philippians 4:13). That is according to the appointment of
the Father, who has determined that His people should be beholden to His
beloved Son for everything, that they may ascribe their all unto Him, that
they may place the crown of honor and glory upon His Head. Christ is the
alone Savior not only from the guilt and pollution of sin, but likewise from
its power and ragings within us.
In this matter of practical circumcision, our mortifying of sin, man’s
thoughts and ways are as far below God’s as in everything else — as far as
the earth is below the heavens. Man supposes he must do this in order to
obtain that, avoid this in order to enjoy that, abstain from evil so as to enter
into good. But he knows not where to obtain strength for the doing!
Contrastively, God’s way is to furnish that which equips for the
performance of duty: to bestow freely, that gratitude will respond gladly;
to lavish love upon us, that we cannot but love Him in return; to make
known what He has made Christ to be unto us, and then bids us walk
worthily of such a Savior. He first makes us “light in the Lord,” and then
bids us “walk as children of light” (

Ephesians 5:8). He first makes us
saints, then bids us act “as becometh saints” (

Ephesians 5:3). He makes
us holy, then calls us “to be in behavior as becometh holiness” (

Titus
2:3)..196
Immediately after Christians are bidden to likewise reckon ye also to have
died indeed unto sin, but live unto God in Christ our Lord, they are
exhorted
“Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should
obey it in the lusts thereof” (

Romans 6:11, 12).
Though they have died unto sin legally, sin is far from being dead within
them. Though they are no longer “in the flesh” (

Romans 8:9) so far as
their standing before God is concerned, yet “the flesh” is still in them.
Though Christ has put away the whole of the guilt and pollution of their
sins, He has not yet fully delivered them from its power — that they might
prove the sufficiency of His grace, the marvels of His forbearance, and the
reality of His keeping power; and that there might be opportunity for the
trial, exercise, and development of their graces. But though the evil
principle (or “nature”) be not eradicated, the Christian is exhorted “Let not
sin therefore reign in your mortal body.” In that “therefore” we have an
example of the apostle’s evangelical method when urging Christians to
perform their duty: not in order to obtain some further blessing, but
because of what they already have in Christ.
That “therefore” looks back generally over the whole preceding section
(from

Joshua 5:1), but has a more particular reference to

Joshua
6:10, 11. The “Let not therefore sin reign” is far more than an appeal for us
to exercise our wills: it is a call for faith to make one’s own all that
standing and state which is ours by virtue of our legal and vital union with
Christ. Faith is urged to apprehend and appropriate our sinlessness in
Christ by our death and resurrection in Him. That is the only right way of
approach unto gaining the victory over sin in our daily lives. God will set
no premium upon unbelief, but He will honor faith. Faith is called upon to
recognize and reckon that sin was vanquished by Christ, and therefore it
has no right to lord it over us. We are to refuse obedience to its desires and
behests. We are to yield no subserviency unto the dethroned adversary of
Christ, but strive constantly against every effort it makes to gain the
ascendancy over us. And in order unto strength for such striving, we are to
draw motives and encouragement from the love of Christ, who suffered
and died for us. Strength to resist sin comes from faith’s eyeing Christ and
love’s drawing from Him incentives to mortify that which slew Him.
It is “the love of Christ” which is ever to constrain the Christian in all
things. But I must first be assured of His love for me, before my affections.197
will flow out to Him in grateful submission and service. Any service which
issues from fear or is prompted by reward, is either legal or mercenary, and
unacceptable to Him. Without a realization of pardoning mercy in the soul,
we can gain no victory over indwelling sin. In Christ we are not only dead
to sin legally, but victors over it. As faith beholds sin perfectly conquered
by Christ judicially, it seeks to have fellowship with Him therein in a
practical way. To repudiate long cherished sins, relinquish beloved idols, is
a cutting and painful experience to nature, and therefore is it designated a
circumcision and mortifying of our members; yea, so distressing is such
work, our Lord likened it unto plucking out a right eye and cutting off a
right hand (

Matthew 5:29, 30). Yet such is not only a needful and
profitable duty, but it becomes a desirable and longed-for one by those
who truly love the Lord. The more their minds be spiritually occupied with
Christ’s love, the more are their affections drawn forth unto Him, and the
more are their hearts brought to hate sin; and the more we hate sin, the
more are we dying to it in our affections!
In our last, we pointed out the importance of observing the opening words
of verse 2 when seeking the spiritual and practical application unto
ourselves of what God required from Israel at Gilgal. “At that time”: as
soon as they had passed through that river which spoke of death and
judgment they were required to be circumcised. Likewise it is immediately
after the Christian is assured of his union with Christ in death and
resurrection that he is enjoined “Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal
body.” It is by faith’s realization of that union we draw motives to resist
sin’s solicitations and derive strength against it. And as stated in our last
we cannot serve God trustfully and joyously unless we are assured we are
forever beyond condemnation (

Romans 8:1), so it must now be added,
there can be no progress in the Christian life unless we heed

Romans
6:12. That is amplified in the next verse’ “Neither yield ye your members as
instruments of unrighteousness unto sin; but (1) yield yourselves unto God
as those that are alive from the dead and (2) your members as instruments
of righteousness unto God.” Because you have been “made alive,” put
away all the trappings of death, put off the old man, mortify the lusts of the
flesh. Give up yourselves to God without any reserve.
Yet we repeat, obedience unto

Romans 6:12, 13, is possible only as we
maintain the assurance of our perfect standing in Christ (verse 11), drawing
motives and strength thereform for practical holiness, and by constantly.198
seeking help from Christ by drawing upon His fullness (

John 1:16).
That is ever the evangelical order,
“Be ye kindly affectioned one to another, tender-hearted, forgiving
one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you”
(

Ephesians 4:32).
“Set your affection on things above, and not on things on the earth.” Why?
“For ye died, and your life is hid with Christ in God… mortify
therefore your members which are upon the earth” (

Colossians
3:1-5).
“Put off all these: anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy communications
out of your mouth; lie not one to another.” Why?
“Seeing that ye have put off the old man with his deeds”
(

Colossians 3:8, 9).
“Behold! what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us that we
should be called the sons of God… when He shall appear we shall be like
Him; for we shall see Him as He is.” And what is the effect of faith’s
appropriation thereof? This,
“And every one that hath this hope in him purifieth himself [not
merely ought to do] even as He is pure” (

1 John 3:1-3).
But, says the Christian reader, notwithstanding my best efforts to keep my
heart occupied with Christ and my faith fixed steadfastly on Him, sin daily
gets the better of me. And what is the effect upon you? Are you pleased
thereby? No, the very reverse; you are cut to the quick. That too is an
integral part of practical “circumcision.” Not only is every denying of self,
every striving against sin, an element of mortification or practical
circumcision, but equally so is all godly sorrow, all evangelical repentance,
all contrite confession of sin. Blessed are they that “mourn” over their
backslidings and falls, for it evidences they belong to those
“whose circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit and not in the
letter” (

Romans 2:29)
— real and effectual, in contrast from the formal and ceremonial..199
THE PASSOVER
It is most blessed to observe how Israel conducted themselves upon their
first entrance into the promised land, for therein is manifested not the
workings of nature but the fruits of Divine grace. After God had wrought
so signally for them at the Jordan, they did not rush ahead and seek to
immediately possess their inheritance. The miraculous dividing of its waters
so that they passed through dry-shod, must have greatly disspirited the
Canaanites and thus have prepared the way for an easy triumph for the
invaders. It had been natural, yea, what all military men would call “good
policy” for Israel to have made the most of this terror by striking a heavy
blow at once, pressing on with might and main before the enemy could
recover himself, and so carry all before them in one swift campaign. But
God’s people follow not the ways nor employ the devices of the world.
They are a “peculiar people”: distinct and separate from the unregenerate,
acting, not by carnal wisdom and expediency, but regulated by spiritual
considerations. “He that believeth shall not make haste” (

Isaiah 28:16)
is one of the principles by which they are required to act, for
“the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong”
(

Ecclesiastes 9:11).
Instead of immediately assaulting Jericho, the children of Israel pitched
their tents at Gilgal and tarried there for a season. Exemplary restraint was
that, and one which we do well to take to heart in this feverish age of mad
speed. This tarrying in the camp at Gilgal was the more noteworthy when
we bear in mind the very lengthy interval which had elapsed since their
exodus from Egypt, during which they were prevented from reaching their
goal and realizing their eager expectation. Yet there was something far
more praiseworthy than self-discipline which marked their conduct on this
occasion: they had the glory of God before them. They eyed His authority,
had respect for His institutions, and acted in faith and obedience to His
appointments. That should ever be what marks God’s people, collectively
or singly. It is neither the first business of the Church to “win the world for
Christ” nor of the individual Christian to seek the salvation of his relatives
and companions: rather is it to
“show forth the praises of Him who hath called us out of darkness
into His marvelous light” (

1 Peter 2:9).200
by our entire subjection to His Word. God has nowhere promised to use
those who make not conscience of obeying Him in all things.
The appointments of God and not the attaining of their own desires were
given the pre-eminence.
First, Joshua had, in submission to the Lord’s requirement, circumcised all
those male Israelites who had been born in the wilderness. We have
previously shown that the non-observing of that rite during those thirty-eight
years was due to no sinful neglect, but was owing to the apostasy of
their fathers at Kadesh-barnea, in consequence of which Jehovah declared
“ye shall know My breach of promise” (

Numbers 14:32-34), and
therefore were their children denied the token or “sign of the covenant”
(

Genesis 17:11). But the miraculous passage of the Jordan
demonstrated that Israel was once more restored to the Divine favor, that
He had resumed His covenant relationship with them that in emerging from
the river of death judgment was behind them; and therefore it was fitting
that this second generation should now be given that mark winch
distinguished them from all other nations as bound by special obligation to
serve their God. It was also observed how that the Lord’s commanding
Joshua to then circumcise the people presented a real test to his faith and
obedience, severely handicapping for a few days his fighting forces; but
counting upon God’s protection, he confided in Him and triumphed over
the trial.
Second, we are told,
“And the children of Israel encamped in Gilgal and kept the
Passover” (verse 10).
Appropriately did Matthew Henry point out,
“We may well imagine that the people of Canaan were astonished
and that, when they observed the motions of the enemy they could
not but think them very strange. When soldiers take the field, they
are apt to think themselves excused from religious ceremonies (they
have not time or thought to attend to them), yet Joshua opens the
campaign with one act of devotion after another. What was
afterwards said to another Joshua might truly be said to this: ‘Hear
now, O Joshua, thou and thy fellows that sit before thee are men
wondered at’ (

Zechariah 3:8); and yet indeed he took the right
method.”.201
And, my reader, if we be actuated and regulated by a concern to the glory
of God worldlings will wonder at us. It cannot be otherwise, for the natural
man acts only from a spirit of self-love and self-will, and his end is self-pleasing
and self-advancement. Thus, if he beholds any denying self,
subordinating their interests to the honoring of God, he marvels at such
conduct. Unless, then, we be “wondered at,” yea, sneered at and regarded
as crazy, it is because we have “left our first love” and become conformed
to this world.
Israel’s keeping of the Passover was, like the circumcising of the people,
an act of obedience unto the Lord: in fact the one could not be without the
other, for it had been expressly laid down that “no uncircumcised person
shall eat thereof” (

Exodus 12:48). For that very reason this ordinance
had not been observed while the Nation lay under the wrath of God. They
had kept it on the first anniversary of the event which it commemorated
(

Numbers 9:5), but not during the next thirty-eight years. God had said
“I hate, I despise your feast days, and I will not smell in your
solemn assemblies. Though ye offer Me burnt offerings and your
meat offerings, I will not accept them” (

Amos 5:21, 22)
— language which not only applied to the prophet’s own day but also bad
special reference to their sojourn in the wilderness as verse 25 evinces. But
now the Lord had resumed His covenant relations with Israel and they had
attended to the matter of circumcision; it was in order, yea, requisite, for
them to do so. They had been strictly enjoined
“Ye shall observe this thing for an ordinance to thee and to thy sons
for ever. And it shall come to pass, when ye be come to the land
which the Lord will give you, according as He hath promised, that
ye shall keep this service.” (

Exodus 12:24, 25).
In previous articles we have noted that this particular generation under
Joshua was not only vastly better than the one which preceded but also far
more spiritual than any that followed it. This was exemplified in the
willingness of their adults to be circumcised without any demur. It appears
again in what is now before us. The Lord had particularly said unto Moses
almost a year after their leaving Egypt,
“Let the children of Israel also keep the Passover at his appointed
season” (

Numbers 9:5),.202
as though to intimate, otherwise His command in

Exodus 12:24, had
not been complied with. But on this occasion no mention is made of God’s
reminding them of their duty. We are told “the children of Israel kept the
Passover” (verse 10). And that is not all which is stated: “on the fourteenth
day of the month,” which is something more than a mere narration of a
historical fact — it tells us that they kept the Passover “at his appointed
season.” Nor is that all: it is added “at even,” which was as the Lord
required. How the Spirit delights to notice and record the details of
obedience! The Israelites did not tamper with this
Divine ordinance and change it to a morning observance to suit their own
convenience, as a compromising Christendom has done with “the Lord’s
supper.” Unless we conform strictly to the letter of the Divine precept, it is
not “obedience” but “will worship.”
Israel’s act of keeping the Passover was not only one of obedience but also
of commemoration. “And this day shall be unto you for a memorial, and ye
shall keep it a feast to the Lord throughout your generations…. And it shall
come to pass when your children shall say unto you, What mean ye by this
service? That ye shall say, It is the sacrifice of the Lord’s Passover, who
passed over the houses of the children of Israel in Egypt when He smote
the Egyptians, and delivered our houses
It is a night to be much observed unto the Lord” (

Exodus 12:14, 26,
27, 42). This feast, then, was appointed to celebrate the great goodness of
the Lord unto His people and their deliverance both from death and from
the house of bondage. It was designed to keep before their minds the
blessed provision He had made for them in the night of their deepest need,
a provision all sufficient. It was to express anew their gratitude unto God
for His distinguishing favor: the original “sacrifice” was expiatory, but the
memorial of it was eucharistic.
It was intended to signalize those perfections of God which had been
exemplified on that never-to-be-forgotten night.
The Passover had demonstrated in unmistakable manner the sovereignty of
God, when He had “put a difference between the Egyptians and Israel”
(

Exodus 11:7), that is, between the reprobate and His own elect — no
lamb was provided for the former! It had manifested the grace of God. By
nature the children of Israel were no better than the Egyptians, nor in
conduct, as is clear from

Ezekiel 20:7, 8; 23:3. It was out of His mere.203
good pleasure and unmerited favor that the Lord exempted Israel from the
destroyer (

Exodus 12:23). It displayed the righteousness of God, which
announced that He “will by no means clear the guilty” (

Exodus 34:7).
They were flagrant sinners and “the wages of sin is death”: death must do
and did its work in their households too when the sacrificial lamb was slain.
It revealed the amazing mercy of God in providing that substitute. It
placated the wrath of God: He said to the avenging angel concerning
Israel’s firstborn “deliver him from going down to the pit: I have found a
ransom” (

Job 33:24), illustrating that basic principle “without shedding
of blood is no remission.”
It testified the faithfulness of God: “When I see the blood I will pass over
you,” and He did. It made known His love, which had chosen Israel to be
His favored people (

Deuteronomy 10:15).
Again, the Passover was not only commemorative, but anticipative: it
memorialized what was past and also foreshadowed what was to come.
The institution and ritual of the Passover furnished one of the most striking
representations of the person and work of Christ to be met with anywhere
in the Old Testament. That it was a type thereof is clear from

1
Corinthians 5:7.
“Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us.” Here then is our authority for
regarding the contents of

Exodus 12 as shadowing forth the cross-work
of the Savior, and it is this which invests that chapter with such deep
interest. The Passover was the first of those annual “feasts” which God
appointed unto Israel, for it sets forth the grand truth of redemption, which
is the foundation blessing of believers, the fountain from which all others
flow; and the Passover was kept upon Israel’s entrance into Canaan to
signify that their possession of the Inheritance, no less than their
deliverance from Egypt, was owing to the merits of the blood of the Lamb.
Christ Himself observed it, saying to His apostles
“With desire have I desired to eat this Passover with you before I
suffer” (

Luke 22:15).
In the light of these facts it becomes us to give our best attention to the
teaching of Scripture thereon.
Observe first, the occasion of its institution. It was at the close of God’s
judgments upon Egypt. He had declared,.204
“About midnight will I go out into the midst of Egypt, and all the
firstborn in the land of Egypt shall die, from the firstborn of
Pharaoh that sitteth upon his throne, even unto the firstborn of the
maidservant that is behind the mill, and all the firstborn of beasts.
And there shall be a great cry throughout all the land of Egypt,
such as there was none like it, nor shall be like it any more. But
against any of the children of Israel shall not a dog move his
tongue, against man or beast: that ye may know how that the Lord
doth put a difference between the Egyptians and Israel” (

Exodus
11:4-7).
Note carefully the exact wording of verse 5: it was not “all the firstborn of
the land of Egypt shall die,” but “all the firstborn in the land of Egypt,” and
that necessarily included Israel’s equally with Egypt’s. Yet in verse 7 the
Lord said, He would “put a difference between the Egyptians and Israel”
so that the latter should be wholly exempt from judgment. That is what
infidels would term “a flat contradiction,” but the Christian knows there is
none in the Word of Truth. What, then, is the explanation?
Each of those Divine declarations was literally accomplished: all the
firstborn in the land of Egypt died, nevertheless the firstborn of Israel were
delivered from the angel of death. But how could that be? Surely both
could not take place! Yet they did, and therein we have a blessed
illustration of the contents of the Gospel. It was the question of sin which
was here raised and dealt with by God, consequently both parties were
equally involved in His righteous judgment. The Israelites were not only
sinners by nature, but practice; not only sins of infirmity, but high-handed
sins of idolatry (

Leviticus 17:7;

Joshua 24:14). Divine holiness can
never ignore sin no matter where it be found: when the angels sinned God
“spared them not” (

2 Peter 2:4). Justice must be satisfied; sin must pay
its wages. A reprieve is out of the question. Then must guilty Israel perish?
It would seem so. Human wisdom could devise no way of escape. But
Divine wisdom did, and without compromising righteousness. How? By
means of a substitute: sentence of death was executed on an innocent
victim, because guilt had been legally transferred unto it. A lamb was
provided for Israel, and it died in their stead.
Observe next, the nature of this transaction: “it is the Lord’s Passover
(

Exodus 12:11). Those words bring before us a fundamental aspect of
Truth which is much neglected in evangelical preaching. Gospellers have.205
much to say upon what Christ’s death accomplished for those who believe
on Him, but far less upon what it effected God-wards. Yet that is clearly
brought out in the first direct mention of the “lamb” in Scripture: “God will
provide Himself a lamb for a burnt offering” (

Genesis 22:8). It was not
simply that God would provide a lamb,” but that He would provide
Himself one! The antitypical Lamb was appointed and supplied to glorify
God, to vindicate His throne, magnify His law, satisfy His justice and
holiness. The life and death of Christ brought infinite glory to God though
not a sinner had been saved thereby. The two leading aspects of Christ’s
atonement — God-ward and us-ward — were shadowed again in the ritual
for the day of atonement:
“Aaron shall cast lots upon the two goats: one lot for the Lord, and
the other for the scapegoat” (

Leviticus 16:7, 8)
— Israel’s substitute, which bore away their sins into a place uninhabited.
Christ must first be “the Lord’s Passover,” accepted by Him, before Fie
could be “our Passover” (

1 Corinthians 5:7) — received by us.
Consider now the substance of God’s gracious provision for Israel, namely,
“the lamb.” Though we cannot dwell upon details, we will furnish a broad
outline for the benefit of young preachers. How well fitted was a lamb to
be an emblem of the Savior is at once apparent: so gentle and innocent, so
mild and harmless, neither hurting others, nor seeming to have the capacity
to resent an injury; useful in life (its fleece), valuable for food when killed.
(1) The Passover lamb was taken “out from the sheep” (

Exodus 12:5).
“I will raise them up a Prophet from among their brethren.”
(

Deuteronomy 18:18).
Christ, according to His humanity, was made of the seed of David.”
“Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood,
He also Himself likewise took part of the same” (

Hebrews
2:14).
(2) It was taken from the flock (not on the first, but) “the tenth day of the
month” (verse 3). The Son of God did not become incarnate as soon as sin
entered the world, but when “the fullness of time was come” (

Galatians
4:4), after forty centuries of human history had passed: after man had been.206
fully tested (10 is the number of his responsibility) and his probation (which
40 signifies) was completed — 10 x 10 x 40.
(3) “Your lamb shall be without blemish” (

Exodus 12:5, and cf.

Leviticus 22:21, 22). Nothing but a perfect sacrifice could satisfy an
infinitely perfect God. One who had any sin in him could not make
atonement for sinners. But where was such a one to be found? Nowhere
among the fallen sons of men. That lamb “without blemish” pointed to the
immaculate purity of Christ (

Hebrews 7:26, 27;

1 Peter 1:19). (4)
“A male of the first year” (verse 5): it was not to be too young or too old,
but was to die in the fullness of its strength. So Christ died neither in
childhood nor in old age. but in the prime of manhood — He was cut off
“in the midst of His days” (

Psalm 101:24).
(5) “And ye shall keep it up until the fourteenth day of the month” (verse
6). For four days the lamb, separated unto sacrifice, was kept tethered,
apart from all others, during which time it could be fully inspected to
perceive its flawlessness. Anti-typically that may be taken two ways: on the
principle of “a day for a year” (

Numbers 14:34;

Ezekiel 4:6) —
before His public ministry began (which lasted between three and four
years) the Father bore testimony to the perfection of the Lamb
(

Matthew 3:17); taking it literally, during His last four days Christ was
under the closest scrutiny of men, and even His judge confessed “I find no
fault in Him.”
(6) The lamb must be slain: “The whole congregation of Israel shall kill it
in the evening” (verse 6). That is very striking. It was not Moses and
Aaron, or the Levites, who slew it, but the entire people as represented by
the heads of every household. Nor was it only the chief priests and elders
who were responsible for the slaying of Christ, for when Pilate decided the
issue as to whether Barabbas or Christ should be released, he did so on the
popular vote of the common people, who all cried “crucify Him” (

Mark
15:6-15). In like manner it was the sins of each believer individually
(

Galatians 2:20) and of the Church corporeally (

Ephesians 5:25)
which necessitated the death of Christ. It is also very remarkable to
observe that though many thousands of lambs were slain that night, it was
said “Israel shall kill it,” not “them”! “There was only one before God’s
mind — the Lamb of Calvary” (Urquhart).
(7) Its blood must be applied:.207
“Thou shall take the blood and sprinkle it on the two side-posts,”
etc. (verse 7).
Mental assent to the Gospel without a personal receiving of Christ avails
not to deliver from judgment: there must be an appropriation of Christ,
“faith in His blood” (

Romans 3:25). A Savior accepted, not a Savior
provided, actually saves.
(8) The sprinkled blood gave security.
“When He seeth the blood… the Lord will pass over the door, and
will not suffer the destroyer to come in” (verse 23).
And why? Because death had already done its work there! God’s eye was
not on the house or its inmates, but on the atoning blood.
(9) “And the blood shall be to you for a token” (verse 13), i.e., “a token for
good (

Psalm 86:17). It was to assure their hearts, as the “token” given
to Rahab (

Joshua 2:12) was a guarantee of her preservation. God
would have the hearts of His people in perfect peace, even while hearing
the cries of the stricken Egyptians. No harm should befall them, and no fear
distress while they rested on His sure promise! It is most important for the
believer to distinguish between the foundation of his security and the basis
of his peace: that which provided safe refuge from judgment was the slain
lamb and its sprinkled blood; that which afforded a sure stay for the heart
was the Word of One who cannot lie.
(10) “Ye shall eat the flesh in that night” (verse 8). This was God’s
gracious provision for those within the house. Eating speaks of fellowship.
It is Christ as the Food of His people, feeding by faith upon Him for
strength and sustenance of soul.
(11) It must be “roast with fire” (verse 8). “Fire” here, as throughout,
speaks of the wrath of a sin-hating God. The “roasting” of the lamb was a
solemn figure of Christ suffering what was due to His people when He
passed under and endured the awful wrath of God as He was “made a
curse” (

Galatians 3:13). It is that which explains the deeper meaning of
His cry “I thirst”: it was the effect of agony of soul as He endured the
fierce heat of God’s wrath. “Not sodden [boiled] at all with water” tells us
nothing was allowed to hinder the direct action of “fire” on the Sin-bearer:
God “spared not His own Son” (

Romans 8:32)..208
(12) “With bitter herbs” (verse 8) or remorse of conscience. The Christian
cannot have “fellowship with His sufferings” without remembering it was
his sins which made them needful.
(13) “And thus shall ye eat it: with loins girded… and staff in your hand”
(verse 11). Fellowship with Christ can only be had as we maintain our
pilgrim character.
(14) “Not a bone of it shall be broken” (verse 46 and see

John 19:33-
36) All the leading features of redemption were more or less shadowed
forth by the Passover, and therein God would keep those things in the
minds and before the eyes of Israel by their annual memorial of the same.
But not only did the Passover furnish a vivid portrayal of the Gospel, it
was also a means for Israel’s good, a gracious provision for their bodily
needs. Before another day dawned they were to leave Egypt and start out
for the promised land, and by feeding on the lamb strength was supplied for
the journey which lay before them. Thus it is with the Christian: he must
feed on Christ in order for strength as he passes through this wilderness,
for the world supplies no nourishment for the soul. So it was at Gilgal
(

Joshua 5:10): as the Passover had been the prelude to Israel’s
deliverance from Egypt and the commencement of their wilderness history,
so it was made introductory to their new experience in Canaan: it was a
blessed reminder that while they walked according to the Divine precepts,
they might count upon God’s mighty power. As their feeding on the lamb
in Egypt supplied energy for their wilderness journey, equally needful was
its strength for the warfare in which they were about to engage.
“And they did eat of the old corn of the land on the morrow after
the Passover, unleavened cakes and parched corn in the selfsame
day” (

Joshua 5:11).
Once more we would observe how the Holy Spirit delights to take notice
of and place on record the details of the saints’ obedience. It had been
expressly commanded that the Pascal lamb must be eaten with “unleavened
bread” (

Exodus 12:8), and strict compliance was here made with that
order. They did not say, as long as it is bread, what else matters? but
subjected their wills to God’s. Throughout the Scriptures “leaven” is
emblematical of corruption and evil, and therefore it had been a horrible
incongruity and most unsuited to use leavened bread at a feast wherein the
immaculate purity of Christ was set forth in the lamb “without blemish.”
The least tampering with the Divine ordinances alters their significance,.209
mars their beauty, and is an act of presumption on man’s part. If they be
not kept in the letter of them, they certainly are not in their spirit, for true
love seeks to please its object in all things.
“In the first month, on the fourteenth day of the month at even ye
shall cat unleavened bread, until the first and twentieth day of the
month at even. Seven days shall there be no leaven found in your
houses: for whosoever eateth that which is leavened, even that soul
shall be cut off from the congregation of Israel” (

Exodus
12:19).
Thus, when it is said in

Joshua 5:10, that when the children of Israel
encamped in Gilgal they “kept the Passover” we are to understand that for
a whole week they observed the same. As Matthew Henry pointed out,
“They kept the Passover in the plains of Jericho as it were in defiance of
the Canaanites that were round about them and enraged against them, and
yet could not give them any disturbance. Thus God gave them an early
instance of the performance of that promise, that when they went up to
keep the feasts, their land should be taken under the special protection of
Divine Providence:

Exodus 34:24, ‘Neither shall any man desire the
land.’ He now ‘prepared a fable before them in the presence of their
enemies’ (

Psalm 23:5).”
“And they did eat of the old corn of the land on the morrow after
the Passover, unleavened cakes, and parched corn in the self-same
day” (verse 11).
A supply of food was already to hand when they entered Canaan: probably
in granaries abandoned by its inhabitants as they took refuge in the walled
city of Jericho. The Lord is no Egyptian taskmaster, requiring His people
to make bricks without supplying them with straw. Now that “the feast of
unleavened bread unto the Lord” was to be eaten seven days (

Leviticus
23:6), an abundant quantity of grain was available for them. It is blessed to
observe that before they used any of it for their own comfort, it was made
into unleavened cakes in their worship of Jehovah. Thus did they act on the
basis of that essential precept,
“Honor the Lord with thy substance, and with the first fruits of all
thine increase” (

Proverbs 3:9).
And as the Lord Jesus has taught us,.210
“seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness”
(

Matthew 6:33).
He is to be given the pre-eminence by us in all things, and accordingly as
we honor Him, so will He honor us.
This supply of corn upon Israel’s first entrance into Canaan was an earnest
of that promise which God had made through Moses:
“It shall be when the Lord thy God shall have brought thee into the
land which He sware unto thy fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac and to
Jacob, to give thee great and goodly cities which thou buildest not,
and houses full of good things, which thou filledst not, and wells
digged, which thou diggedst not, vineyards and olive trees, which
thou plantedst not” (

Deuteronomy 6:10, 11),
the complete fulfillment whereof is recorded in

Joshua 24:13. Typically,
the “old corn of the land,” equally with the manna, spoke of Christ
(

John 12:24), yet in a very different character. The manna — “a small
round thing” (

Exodus 16:14), which lay on the ground and was Israel’s
wilderness food — was an emblem of Christ in His humiliation; but the old
corn of Canaan pointed to Christ in His exaltation. The Christian needs to
meditate and act faith on Christ not only as he is presented to us in all His
moral perfections in the four Gospels, but also upon His official glories as
they are set forth in the Epistles, particularly does he need to be occupied
with Him as portrayed in Hebrews as our great High Priest and Intercessor.
In the earlier articles of this series we laid considerable emphasis on the
fact that the spiritual value and the practical use which we should make of
the book of Joshua is, that we should see unfolded therein the principles by
which the Christian is to enter into a present possession and enjoyment of
his inheritance, and the secrets of successfully fighting the good fight of
faith and the spiritual warfare to which he is called. We sought to make
plain what are some of those basic principles and essential secrets as they
are illustrated and exemplified by the historical incidents recorded in the
first four chapters of this book, and before turning from the first two
sections of chapter 5: let us stress the truth that two more of them are here
intimated as foreshadowed in the circumcising of the Israelites and their
keeping of the Passover The Christian must be diligent in mortifying his
lusts if he would walk in newness of life, and equally necessary is it that he
feed daily on Christ — considered both as the sacrificial Lamb and as the.211
great High Priest — in order to obtain strength to overcome the flesh, the
world and the Devil. Practically, the corn of Canaan is a portion of our
Inheritance which faith is to now appropriate.
“And the manna ceased on the morrow after they had eaten of the
old corn of the land; neither had the children of Israel manna any
more; but they did eat of the fruit of the land of Canaan that year”
(verse 12).
“To show that it did not come by chance, or by common
providence as snow or hail does, but by the special designation of
Divine wisdom and goodness; for as it came just when they needed
it, so it continued as long as they had occasion for it, and no
longer” (Matthew Henry).
The practical lesson which we are to draw therefrom is, that we are not to
expect extraordinary supplies when they can be had in an ordinary way:
God works no unnecessary miracles. It is blessed to remember that the
Lord had not discontinued the manna when the people despised it
(

Numbers 11:6), nor even when He severed His covenant-relation with
that evil generation; but had mercifully continued to give it for the sake of
their children, who had now grown up and entered Canaan. Here ends the
first main Division of the book:

Joshua 1:1-9 is the Introduction;

Joshua 1:10 to 5:12, concerns the passage of the Jordan;

Joshua
5:13 to chapter 12: the conquest of Canaan.
“And it came to pass, when Joshua was by Jericho, that he lifted up
his eyes and looked, and behold, a Man over against him with His
sword drawn in His hand: and Joshua went unto Him and said to
Him, Art Thou for us, or for our adversaries?” (verse 12).
Though this verse begins a new section of the book yet it opens with the
word “And” — not simply to preserve the continuity of the narrative, but
especially to link this incident with what immediately precedes. God has
promised to honor those who honor Him, and Joshua had done so in the
circumcising of the people and in the strict observance of the Passover and
the feast of unleavened bread; and now the Lord bestows a signal favor
upon His servant. How much we lose by failing to render unto our God
that full and implicit obedience which is His due!.212
“He that hath My commandments and keepeth them. he it is that
loveth Me; and he that loveth Me shall be loved of My Father, and I
will love him, and will manifest Myself to him” (

John 14:21)
declares the Savior. That is exactly what He was here doing unto obedient
Joshua! It is of His spiritual manifestations to the soul we deprive ourselves
by disobedience.
“And it came to pass, when Joshua was by Jericho, that he lifted up his
eyes and looked.” Probably he was here engaged in reconnoitering the
walled city with a view to determining his best plan of campaign against it,
for as Israel’s leader that was his obvious duty; nor would the firm
expectation that the Lord should show Himself strong on behalf of His
people discharge him from the performing of it. Even when we are fully
assured that God is for us and will undertake for us, it is required that we
act as rational creatures, use all proper means and precautions, and put
forth our best efforts. To refuse doing so on the pretext of relying wholly
on God to do all for us is not faith but presumption. Though Christ was
about to supply a miraculous draught of fishes, yet He bade Peter “Launch
out into the deep and let down your nets” (

Luke 5:4). True, we must
not lean unto our own understanding nor rely on our own strength, vet
both the one and the other are to be exercised by us. It was, then, while
Joshua was in the path of duty discharging his responsibility, that the Lord
met with him! Only while similarly engaged are we warranted in expecting
His help.
“And it came to pass, that when Joshua was by Jericho, that he lifted up his
eyes and looked.” The doubling of the verb seems to intimate a twofold
significance about Joshua’s action — a natural and a spiritual: that after
viewing the enemy’s citadel, he supplicated the Lord. The usage of the
verbs confirms this. The “lifted up” his eyes in a natural way, taking a
comprehensive survey of things, occurs in

Genesis 13:10, 14; while it is
found in a spiritual sense in “unto Thee, O Lord, do I lift up my soul”
(

Psalm 25:1); for “looked” see

Genesis 8:13 and

Exodus 2:25.
“And behold, a Man over against him, with His sword drawn in His
hand.” This represented a real test to Joshua’s valor. God had
bidden him “Be strong and of a good courage” (

Joshua 1:6),
and now he is put to the proof. There is nothing whatever here to intimate
that Joshua beheld this Man in a vision, but rather that He appeared before.213
him objectively and tangibly. Even though He had a “drawn sword in His
hand,” Israel’s leader did not panic and flee, but boldly advanced “unto
Him.” We should harbor no fear while in the path of duty, but count upon
the Divine promise “The Angel of the Lord encampeth round about them
that fear Him, and delivereth them.”
On the other hand Joshua did not rashly draw his own sword and engage
this Man in conflict. Instead, he inquired, “Art Thou for us, or for our
adversaries?” which challenge intimates Joshua recognized that this
Stranger was no Israelite. A moment later he was to discover this Person
was more than “a Man.” Previously the Lord had spoken unto Joshua
(

Joshua 1:1; 3:7; 4:1, 15), but had made no visible manifestation of
Himself unto His servant until now. Observe well how God suits the
revelation of Himself unto His saints according to their circumstances and
needs: to Abraham in his tent He appeared as a Traveler (

Genesis 18:1,
2, 13), to Moses at the backside of the desert in a bush (

Exodus 3:1, 2),
to Joshua at the beginning of his campaign as “a Man of war” (cf.

Exodus 15:3). In the celebrating of the Passover Christ had been
prefigured as the Lamb, slain (verse 11); here in verse 13, with drawn
sword in hand, He appeared as “the Lion of the tribe of Judah”
(

Revelation 5:5). It was one of the pre-incarnate appearings of the Son
of God in human form, which brings before us a most blessed yet
profoundly-mysterious subject, concerning which the reader will probably
welcome a few details.
In respect to Their Godhead, each of the three Divine Persons is equally
invisible: the Triune God is seen alone in Christ. The invisibility of the
Divine Being to mortal eyes is clearly taught in Old and New Testament
alike. “There shall no man see Me, and live” (

Exodus 33:20), “no man
hath seen God at any time” (

John 1:18),
“dwelling in the light which no man can approach unto: whom no
man hath seen nor can see” (

1 Timothy 6:16).
That raises the question, How are we to understand those passages in the
Old Testament where it is said
“Jacob called the place Peniel [the face of God]: for I have seen
God face to face, and my life is preserved” (

Genesis 32:20),
“and they saw the God of Israel” (

Exodus 24:10). In many passages it
was not only that God was seen in vision or symbol, but corporately and.214
actually. As, for example, by Moses: “If there be a prophet among you, I
the Lord will make Myself known unto him in a vision and will speak unto
him in a dream. My servant Moses is not so, who is faithful in all Mine
house. With him will I speak mouth to mouth, even apparently, and not in
dark speeches; and the similitude [“form” or “likeness”] of the Lord shall
he behold” (

Numbers 12:6-8). Those are what infidels term
“contradictions.”
The New Testament makes it known that another Person of the same
essence as the Father has had for His office the making known of God unto
His people:
“the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, He
hath declared Him” (

John 1:18),
“he that hath seen Me,” said Christ, “hath seen the Father” (

John 14:9),
“Who is the Image of the invisible God” (

Colossians 1:15 and cf.

Hebrews 1:3). The intimate communion between the two Persons
appears in

Exodus 23:20, 21:
“Behold I send an Angel before thee, to keep thee in thy way, and
to bring thee into the place which I have prepared. Beware of Him
and obey Him, provoke Him not; for He will not pardon your
transgressions: for My name is in Him.”
Observe how such language is used there by one Person about another
Person as precludes our identifying Him as a single Person; yet both are
certainly Divine. Thus, we must not exclude Jehovah the Father wholly
from these communications to the Old Testament saints and attribute all
the messages unto the Son immediately. We are to admit the presence of
the first Person per se (by Himself), as well as the second: two Persons
with Divine attributes, employing the name of Jehovah in common, the one
the Sender, the other the Sent — the latter communicating directly with
men.
In each instance the theophanic manifestation was made by God the Son,
sometimes in the form of an angel, at others in the form of man. It is the
same person, whether called “the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob,” “the
God of Israel” or “the Angel of the covenant.” Those mysterious
appearances were so many intimations that the Son even then personated
the character of the Mediator, under which He would yet reveal Himself
openly. It was God the Son who thus appeared to Hagar (

Genesis.215
16:7), Abraham (

Genesis 18:1), Jacob (

Genesis 32:24-30), Israel
(

Judges 2:1), Gideon (

Judges 6:12-18), Manoah (

Judges 13:21).
In

Malachi 3:1, “the Messenger” or “Angel of the covenant” is called
“The Lord of His temple.” Those theophanies not only disclosed a personal
distinction in the Godhead, but show the pre-existence and Deity of our
Redeemer. That the Jehovah who manifested Himself again and again unto
Israel in the wilderness was none other than the Mediator, is unequivocally
established by

1 Corinthians 10: “for they drank of that spiritual Rock
that followed them and that Rock was Christ…. Neither let us tempt Christ,
as some of them also tempted, and were destroyed of serpents” (verses 4,
9). See also

Hebrews 11:26.
The appearing of the Son of God to men in human form — sometimes in
vision (

Ezekiel 1:26;

Daniel 10:5, 6), sometimes in prophecy
(

Psalm 89:17;

Daniel 7:13), sometimes tangibly (

Genesis 32:24;

Joshua 5:13) — were so many anticipations of the Word becoming
flesh, and were in order to acquaint the Church with the Person of her
Head by providing a blessed intercourse between them. They were
endearing manifestations of Christ to His saints (and to none other!) of His
love, that “His delights [even then] were with the sons of men”
(

Proverbs 8:31). It is most blessed to observe how many and varied
ways the Lord Jesus took to display His personal love unto His people by
vision and open revelation, by type and tangible similitude, in the early ages
of the world, until the time that He became incarnate and tabernacled
among men. They were all designed to prepare the minds of His people for
His becoming the Son of man and furnishing the supreme proof of His love
for them in New Testament times. He graciously adopted such methods to
indicate how much He longed for the fullness of time when He should put
away their sins and bring in an everlasting righteousness for them.
“And He said, Nay, but as Captain of the host of the Lord am I
now come. And Joshua fell on his face to the earth and did worship
and said unto Him, What saith my Lord unto His servant?” (verse
14).
Joshua now discovered it was far more than “a Man” who stood before
him, and therefore did he prostrate himself before Him and humbly sought
His will. Had this Visitor been only an angel, he had rebuked Joshua for
worshipping him (

Revelation 19:10; 22:8, 9); but this Person accepted
it, thereby evincing His Deity! This faithful servant of His now had a.216
special visit from his Lord to inaugurate the great enterprise on which he
was about to engage, namely, the putting of the inhabitants of Canaan to
the sword. It was the sign and token that complete victory should be
Israel’s, a guarantee that success should be granted their warfare. This
“Man over against him, with drawn sword in His hand” had come as no
idle Spectator of the conflict, but to command and direct every movement
of their battles. “As Captain of the host of the Lord am I now come”: at
the head of the angelic hierarchy stands the Angel of the Lord, “the
Captain of our salvation” (

Hebrews 2:10).
“And the Captain of the Lord’s host said unto Joshua, Loose thy
shoe from off thy foot, for the place whereon thou standest is holy.
And Joshua did so” (verse 13).
Here was further proof that the One speaking to Joshua was infinitely
above the highest celestial creature, for the arch-angel’s presence had not
rendered the very ground whereon he stood sacred. It was in fact none
other than the august Person before whom the seraphim veil their faces and
cry, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of Hosts” (

Isaiah 6:3 and cf.,

John
12:41). It will be noted that the token of reverence required from Joshua
was identical with that demanded of Moses by “the God of Abraham, the
God of Isaac and the God of Jacob” at the burning bush (

Exodus 3:5,
6). That order for the removing of his shoes not only linked together the
two incidents, but supplied a further assurance of God’s promise to His
servant “as I was with Moses, so I will be with thee: I will not fail thee, nor
forsake thee” (

Joshua 1:5). What an encouragement for faith was that!
Who could stand before the Captain of the Lord’s host? What was there
for Israel to fear under such a Leader! Note how the Spirit again registers
Joshua’s obedience to the command to remove his shoes: “And Joshua did
so.” Nothing is too small for God’s notice. Our every act is recorded by
Him — how solemn! how blessed!.217
CHAPTER 9
VICTORY AT JERICHO
JOSHUA 6:1-27
A CLOSED CITY
We have now arrived at what is perhaps the most interesting and
instructive incident recorded in this book, namely, the fall of Jericho, which
appears to have been the principal stronghold of the Canaanites. Up to this
point everything had been more or less preliminary and preparatory: now
the real task before them must be faced and tackled: the Canaanites must
be dispossessed if Israel were to occupy their goodly heritage. They had
already received very great encouragement in connection with the Jordan,
where the Lord had so signally undertaken for them by the might of His
power. Having attended to the important duty of circumcision and having
kept the feast of the Passover, they were now fitted and furnished to go
forward. What a parable was that of the beginning of the Christian life!
Having been made the subject of the miracle of regeneration, plucked as a
brand from the burning, the sinner saved by Divine grace now enters upon
a new life — one as radically different in character as Israel’s after they left
the wilderness behind. Having obediently submitted to the ordinance of
baptism and fed on the antitypical Lamb, the believer is not to settle upon
his oars, but is called upon to engage in spiritual warfare and glorify God
as “a soldier of Jesus Christ” (

2 Timothy 2:3), serving under His banner
and doing exploits, overcoming his foes and entering into a present
possession of his inheritance.
Jericho was a frontier town and key city. It was a powerful fortress barring
Israel’s ingress. Its capture was indispensable before any progress could be
made by Israel in conquering and occupying the land of Canaan. It was the
enemy’s leading fastness, which doubtless they considered to be quite
impregnable, and the destruction of it would not only be a great
encouragement unto Israel, but must still further dismay the remaining
Canaanites. In its overthrow we perceive how different are the ways of
God from man’s, and with what ease He accomplishes His purposes. Here.218
we behold how futile are the efforts of those who oppose Him, and how
worthless the refuges in which they vainly seek shelter. In this memorable
episode we are taught how the people of God are to act if they would have
Him show Himself strong in their behalf: how that carnal scheming and
worldly methods are given no place; but instead, faith, obedience, courage,
patience, must be exercised, if they would obtain the victory over their
foes. In what is here to be before us we see not Israel acting on the
defensive, seeking to protect themselves from the attacks of others, but
rather, under Divine orders, taking the initiative and assuming the
offensive, which tells us there is an active side to the Christian warfare as
well as a passive one — something which is too often forgotten by many of
us.
We must not lose sight of the close connection between what is now to be
before us and that which engaged our attention in the preceding article.
There we beheld Joshua alone by Jericho, verse apparently reconnoitering
that fortress and noting its formidable strength — compare our remarks on
chapter 3, verses 1 and 2, where Israel was required to take full stock of
the flooded river which barred their entrance into Canaan. While so
engaged, Israel’s leader was suddenly confronted with a mysterious
Personage “with His sword drawn in His hand” who, upon being asked,
“Art thou for us, or for our adversaries?” replied, “Nay, but as
Captain of the host of the Lord am I now come” (verse 14).
Just as Jehovah had appeared to Moses at the burning bush before he
entered upon his great task of leading the children of Israel out of the
house of bondage and Moses received assurance that God had
“come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians and
to bring them out of that land, unto a land flowing with milk and
honey” (

Exodus 3:8),
so Joshua was then given promise that an all-sufficient Leader would take
charge of Israel’s host and conduct them to complete victory. That we
should link together

Exodus 3:1-10, and

Joshua 5:13-15, is
intimated by the fact that on each occasion the appearing of the Lord was
marked by the command, “loose thy shoe.”
As stated in our last article, the second main division of the book of Joshua
commences at chapter 5, verse 13 (that section which has for its theme The.219
Conquest of the Land), and therefore it behooves us to pay extra close
attention to its opening verses. The incident described therein is not only
introductory to what follows in the next six chapters, but it furnishes the
key to their right interpretation. The appearing of the Angel of the Lord
unto Moses at the burning bush had a deeper design than the strengthening
of his heart, being a symbolical representation of the people of God then in
“the iron furnace” (

Deuteronomy 4:20), the “furnace of affliction”
(

Isaiah 48:10), and that the Lord Himself was present with them in it:
“in all their affliction He was afflicted, and the Angel of His presence saved
them” (

Isaiah 63:9, and cf.

Matthew 25:36;

Acts 9:11). But in
Joshua verse 13-15, the Lord is viewed as no longer suffering in and with
His people, but stands forth as their Captain, to command and lead them in
battle. It was plain intimation that this was not Israel’s quarrel, in which
they should seek Divine assistance; but Jehovah’s own quarrel, and Israel
was but a division of His “host.” The wars of Israel are expressly called
“the wars of the Lord” (

Numbers 21:54). Israel’s destruction of the
Canaanites was no private vengeance, but Divine, because their iniquities
were now “come to the full” (

Genesis 15:26;

Leviticus 18:25-28).
Far more was involved here than appears on the surface, and it is only by
carefully comparing Scripture with Scripture that we can discover what
was really taking place behind the scenes. The dispossession of the
Canaanites from their native land should cause us no uneasiness, for it was
no unrighteous act on Israel’s part: rather were they made the instrument
of God’s holy judgment upon those who had persisted so long in their
abominations that naught remained but their extermination. We need to
look above the human side of things here, and contemplate them in the
light of that expression, “the wars of the Lord,” for that is what they were.
It was more than human forces which were involved on both sides, namely,
Divine and infernal. Jehovah Himself was now waging war upon Satan and
his hosts. The Canaanites were devoted to idolatry and necromancy, using
divination, being enchanters, witches, charmers, consulters with familiar
spirits; and as Moses had announced,
“because of these abominations the Lord thy God doth drive them
out before thee” (

Deuteronomy 18:9-14)!
As the apostle also informs us,
“the things which the Gentiles sacrifice, they sacrifice to demons,
and not to God” (

1 Corinthians 10:20)..220
God, then, was here waging war upon the powers of darkness, and, as was
evident at the Red Sea, none could withstand Him.
The subject is admittedly mysterious, yet sufficient light is cast upon it by
the Word of God to enable us to perceive something of its real character.
When man apostatized from God, he became the captive of the Devil; and
when Christ came here to effect the redemption of His enslaved people, He
had first to conquer their Captor. The Gospels make it clear that Christ’s
conflict was far more than one with men who hated Him, namely, against
the Prince of this world — it was Satan who “entered into Judas” and
moved him to perform his dastardly work. The “strong man armed” kept
his palace, and his goods were in peace. But when “a Stronger than he
came upon him,” He overcame him and took from him all his armor in
which he trusted, and “divideth his spoils” (

Luke 11:21, 22, and cf.

Isaiah 53:12);
“that through death He might destroy him that had the power of
death” (

Hebrews 2:14);
“having spoiled principalities and powers, He made a show of them
openly, triumphing over them in Himself” (

Colossians 2:14).
Likewise His soldiers are bidden to “Put on the whole armor of God, that
ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the Devil”; the reason given
being,
“For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against
principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of
this world, against wicked spirits in the heavenlies” (

Ephesians
6:10, 11)!
How little is this realized!
“Now Jericho was straitly shut up, because of the children of Israel:
none went out, and none came in” (

Joshua 6:1).
This at once arrests our attention. They were not willing to issue forth and
fight against Israel in the open. The fear of the Lord was upon them. What
Jehovah wrought for His obedient people at the Jordan had struck terror
into their souls. They were made to realize that One was with them who
could not be withstood..221
“And it came to pass, when all the kings of the Amorites which
were on the side of Jordan westward, and all the kings of the
Canaanites which were by the sea, heard that the Lord had dried up
the waters of Jordan from before the children of Israel, until we
were passed over, that their heart melted, neither was there spirit in
them any more because of the children of Israel” (verse 1).
Consequently, their hope now lay in the height and strength of the walls of
Jericho. There they sheltered, yet in a spirit of uneasiness. When there is an
ungrieved Spirit in the midst of God’s people, not only are they made the
subjects of His quickening, fructifying and comforting influences, but those
that are without are awed by His power! It is the absence of His restraint
which explains the present lawlessness of society.
“Now Jericho was straitly shut up.” The attentive reader will observe that
the margin has it, “did shut up and was shut up.” It is an expressive
emphasis in the Hebrew like “dying thou shalt die” (

Genesis 2:17) and
“in blessing I will bless thee” (

Genesis 22:17). All the passages of
ingress and egress were closed: the heavy gates barred, the inhabitants shut
in by the massive walls. But what could such measures avail them? What
are bolts and bars unto Him who can make the iron gate of a city “open of
his own accord” (

Acts 12:10), and cause “all the doors” of a prison to
be opened when He pleases (

Acts 16:26)? Verily, “except the Lord
keep the city, the watchman waketh but in vain (

Psalm 127:1). How
little is that apprehended by this materialistic generation, who give little or
no thought at all unto the agency of God in human affairs! What a rude
awakening awaits them at the moment of death, and in the Day to come,
when it shall be made to appear before an assembled universe that any
other refuge than Christ Himself in which sinners sought shelter, stood
them in no better stead in the hour of trial than Jericho did the Canaanites!
Jericho was one of those well-secured cities of Canaan of which it is said,
“The cities were walled and very great” (

Numbers 13:28) and which to
the carnal spies appeared utterly unassailable (

Deuteronomy 1:28). It
was therefore a challenge to faith — just as was Jordan. God did not work
that first miracle before Israel’s faith was put to the proof, but afterward.
The priests bearing the ark were required, at the Divine command,
“When ye are come to the brink of the water of Jordan ye shall
stand still in Jordan” (

Joshua 3:8),.222
and it was not until they had complied with that order that the Lord
wrought so wondrously for them:
“And as they that bare the ark were come unto Jordan, and the feet
of the priests that bare the ark were dipped in the brink of the
water… that the water which came down from above stood and
rose up in a heap” (verses 15 and 16).
So it was at Jericho. The Captain of the Lord’s host had declared He
would undertake for Israel, yet here was this citadel barred against them!
Its gates were not opened by Divine hand, nor was its king panic-stricken
so that he surrendered to them. No; “Jericho was straitly shut up.” That
was what confronted outward sight! So it is in our experiences today.
“According unto your faith be it unto you”: it is in response to that, God
works.
“And the Lord said unto Joshua, See, I have given into thine hand
Jericho, and the king thereof, and the mighty men of valor”
(

Joshua 6:2).
Very blessed is that. The Lord graciously made free with His servant, and
before the campaign opened assured him of the complete success of the
same. But let us not fail to call to mind that which had immediately
preceded this favor, for there is an inseparable moral connection between
them, which it behooves us to note. Joshua himself, the priests, and the
whole nation had exercised an exemplary obedience to the Divine will and
had manifested a real concern for the Divine glory — in circumcising the
men and in celebrating the Passover feast. It is ever God’s way to make
free with us when everything is right between Him and our souls. Thus we
have illustrated and exemplified here yet another effect that always follows
when there is an ungrieved Spirit in the midst of a company of saints. Not
only does He awe those who are without, but Divine communications are
freely vouchsafed unto those who are within! That ought to be a normal
and regular experience, and not an occasional and extraordinary one. As
the Lord Jesus declared,
“He that hath My commandments and keepeth them, he it is that
loveth Me; and he that loveth Me shall be loved of My Father, and I
will love him and will manifest Myself to him” (

John 14:21).
Above, we have said that this confronting of Jericho “straitly shut up” was
a challenge to faith, and that God acts “according to” our faith. But faith.223
must ever have a foundation to rest upon, and here one was afforded the
same. That word “See, I have given unto thine hand Jericho,” was
instructive and emphatic. “See” was a definite call to view things with the
eye of the spirit rather than that of the body: contemplate this obstacle by
faith and not by carnal reason. Just as at the Red Sea the word was,
“Stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord, which He will show
you today… the Lord shall fight for you” (

Exodus 14:13, 14).
Yet they saw not that “salvation” or deliverance outwardly until they had,
in faith and obedience, complied with the Divine order, “speak unto the
children of Israel that they go forward” (verse 15). They were required to
“see” God’s promised deliverance by faith before it was accomplished unto
outward sight! It was the same thing here: “See, I have given into thine
hand Jericho.” Have you, my reader, thus “seen” that blessed One of whom
previously you had only “heard” (

Job 42:5)? Have you thus “seen Him
who is invisible” (

Hebrews 11:27)? Have you thus “seen your final and
complete victory over sin and death? Have you thus seen that place which
your Redeemer has gone to prepare for you? That is what faith is:
“the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen”
(

Hebrews 11:1)!
INSTRUCTIONS FOR CONQUEST
“And the Lord said unto Joshua, See, I have given into thine hand
Jericho, and the king thereof, and the mighty men of valor”
(

Joshua 6:2).
That gracious declaration was not only a challenge unto the exercise of
faith, and an evidence of God’s bounty, but it was also designed to subdue
all the workings of self-sufficiency. The proud flesh remains in all God’s
people, and the best of them are prone to take unto themselves that credit
and praise which belong alone unto God. But that “See [take note of, keep
steadily in mind, that] I have given into thine hand Jericho” was meant to
exclude all boasting. It was not only a word to encourage and animate, but
also one to humble, signifying that the success of this venture must be
ascribed unto the Lord Himself, apart from whom “we can do nothing”
(

John 15:5). Victory over our enemies must never be ascribed to our
own prowess: rather are we to aver,.224
“Not unto us, O Lord, not unto us, but unto Thy name give glory,
for Thy mercy, for Thy truth’s sake” (

Psalm 115:1).
Jericho was Israel’s by Divine donation, and therefore its capture was to be
attributed wholly unto the God of all grace.
“What hast thou that thou didst not receive? Now if thou didst
receive, why dost thou glory, as if thou hadst not received it?”
(

1 Corinthians 4:7).
What need there is for that truth to be pressed today upon a boastful and
vainglorious Christendom!
When the people of Lystra saw the healing of the cripple, they sought to
render Divine homage unto Barnabas and Paul, which, when they beheld,
“rent their clothes and ran in among the people crying and saying,
Sirs why do ye this thing? we also are men of like passions with
you” (

Acts 14:14, 15).
O for more of that self-effacing spirit. How dishonoring it is unto God to
have so many professing Christians eulogizing worms of the dust and using
such expressions as “He is a great man,” “a remarkable preacher,” “a
wonderful Bible teacher.” What glory doth the Lord get therefrom? None.
No wonder the unction of the Spirit is now so generally withheld!
Moreover, nothing is so apt to destroy a preacher’s usefulness as to puff
him up with flattery; certainly nothing is so insulting to the Spirit and more
calculated to cause Him to withdraw His blessing than such idolatrous
man-worship. How much better to say, “Such a preacher is highly favored
of the Lord in being so gifted by Him.” “The pastor was much helped by
God in his sermon this morning.”
“Every good and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh
down from the Father of lights” (

James 1:17),
and therefore it behooves us to thankfully acknowledge the Giver and
freely render unto Him undivided praise for every blessing which He
vouchsafes us through His servants, whether it comes in an oral or written
form..225
“And the Lord said unto Joshua, See, I have given into thine hand Jericho,
and the king thereof, and the mighty men of valor.” Taking that verse as a
whole, we may perceive the Lord’s concern for His own honor.
He is very jealous of the same, saying “My glory will I not give unto
another” (

Isaiah 42:8). Let us not forget that Herod was eaten up of
worms “because he gave not glory to God” (

Acts 12:23)! It was to
prevent Israel’s committing this sin the Lord here made this affirmation
unto their leader. It was in order that His people might freely own,
“He hath done marvelous things: His right hand and His holy arm
hath gotten Him the victory” (

Psalm 80:1).
How often the Scriptures record such statements as these:
“today the Lord hath wrought salvation [deliverance] in Israel”
(

1 Samuel 11:14);
“So the Lord saved Israel that day” (

1 Samuel 14:23);
“The Lord wrought a great salvation for Israel”
(

1 Samuel 19:5);
“The Lord wrought a great victory that day” (

2 Samuel 23:10);
“By him [Naaman] the Lord had given deliverance unto Syria”
(

2 Kings 5:1).
Alas, how little is such language now heard! David had been taught this
God-honoring and self-abasing truth, as is shown by his words
“Blessed he the Lord my strength, who teacheth my hands to war,
my fingers to fight” (

Psalm 144:1).
Such should be the acknowledgment made by us in connection with our
spiritual warfare and every success granted us in the Christian life.
“And ye shall compass the city: all ye men of war, and go round
about the city once. Thus shalt thou do six days. And seven priests
shall bear before the ark seven trumpets of rams’ horns: and the
seventh day ye shall compass the city seven times, and the priests
shall blow with the trumpets. And it shall come to pass, that when
they have made a long blast with the rams’ horns, when ye hear the
sound of the trumpet, all the people shall shout with a great shout;.226
and the wall of the city shall fall down flat, and the people shall
ascend up every man straight before him” (verses 3-5).
In view of the preceding verse, that may strike some of our readers as a
very strange requirement. If the Lord had definitely given Jericho into the
hands of Joshua, why were such elaborate preparations as these necessary
for its overthrow? Let those who feel the force of any such difficulty weigh
attentively what we are about to say. In reality, those verses exemplify and
illustrate a principle which it is most important for us to apprehend. That
principle may be stated thus: the disclosure of God’s gracious purpose and
the absolute certainty of its accomplishment in no wise renders needless the
discharge of our responsibilities. God’s assuring us of the sureness of the
end does not set aside the indispensability of the use of means. Thus, here
again, as everywhere, we see preserved the balance of Truth.
So far from the Divine promises being designed to promote inactivity on
our part, they are given as a spur unto the same, to assure us that if our
efforts square with the Divine Rule, they will not be in vain. The gracious
declaration that God had given Jericho into the hand of Israel did not
discharge them from the performance of their duty, but was to assure them
of certain success in the same. That principle operates throughout in the
accomplishment of the Divine purpose. The truth of election is not revealed
in order to license a spirit of fatalism, but to rejoice our hearts by the
knowledge that the whole of Adam’s race is not doomed to destruction.
Nor are the elect mechanically delivered from destruction apart from any
action of theirs, for though they be “chosen to salvation,” yet it is “through
sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the Truth” (

2 Thessalonians
2:13) — unless the Truth be embraced by them no salvation would be
theirs, for “he that believeth not shall be damned.” Likewise the revealed
truth that Christ will yet “see of the travail of His soul and be satisfied”
(Isaiah 53), that “all that the Father giveth Him shall come to Him”
(

John 6:37), does not render needless the preaching of the Gospel to
every creature, for that preaching is the very means which God has
appointed and which the Holy Spirit makes effectual in drawing unto Christ
those for whom He died. We must not divide what God has joined
together.
It is the sundering of those things which God has connected — wherein He
has made the one dependent upon another — which has wrought so much
evil and caused so many useless divisions among His people. For example,.227
in the twin truths of Divine preservation and Christian perseverance. Our
assurance of glorification in no wise sets aside the need for care and
caution, self-denial and striving against sin on our part. There is a narrow
way to be trodden if Life is to be reached (

Matthew 7:14), a race to be
run if the prize is to be secured (

Hebrews 12:1;

Philippians 3:14).
We are indeed “kept by the power of God,’ yet “through faith” (

1 Peter
1:5) and not irrespective of its exercise; and faith eyes and makes use of the
Divine precepts equally with the Divine promises, and heeds God’s
admonitions and warnings as well as appropriates His comforts and
encouragements. God has nowhere declared that He will preserve the
reckless and presumptuous. He preserves in faith and holiness, and not in
carnality and worldliness. Christ has guaranteed, the eternal security of a
certain company, but He was careful to first describe the marks of those
who belong to it:
“My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me,
and they shall never perish” (

John 10:27, 28),
but no such assurance is given unto any who disregard His voice and
follow a course of self-will and self-pleasing. God’s promise of Heaven to
the believer is far from signifying that he will not have to fight his way
there.
The appointed means must never be separated from the appointed end.
Strength for the body is obtained through the mouth, and health is not
maintained without observing the rules of hygiene. Crops will not be
produced unless the ground be prepared and sown. Yet in connection with
spiritual matters we need to be particularly careful that we employ only
those methods and use none but those means which God has appointed.
“If a man also strive for masteries, yet is he not crowned except he
strive lawfully” (

2 Timothy 2:5).
For us to determine the methods and select those means which appeal most
to us when engaged in the service of God is presumptuous, a species of
self-will, laying us open to the charge of “Who hath required this at your
hand?” (

Isaiah 1:12); and for us to ask God’s blessing upon the same is
only seeking to make Him of our mind. Let us not forget the solemn
warning Pointed by the death of Uzzah, when the Lord God made a breach
in Israel because they “sought Him not after the due order” (

1
Chronicles 15:13). We must keep closely to God’s “due order” if we are to.228
have His approbation. That was one of the outstanding lessons here taught
Joshua.
He was not left free to follow his own devices, but must adhere strictly to
the plan God gave him, following out His instructions to the very letter if
Jericho was to fall before Israel.
How passing strange those instructions must have appeared! How utterly
inadequate such means for such an enterprise! How futile would such a
procedure seem unto carnal reason!
“No trenches were to be opened. no batteries erected, no battering-rams
drawn up, nor any military preparations made” (Matthew
Henry).
Who ever heard of a mighty fortress being completely demolished in
response to a company of people walking around it? Ah, God’s ways are
not only very different from man’s, but they are designed to stain his pride
and secure the glory unto Himself. The leader and lawgiver of Israel was
preserved in a frail ark of bulrushes. The mighty giant of the Philistines was
overcome by a sling and a stone. The prophet Elijah was sustained by a
widow’s handful of meal. The forerunner of Christ dwelt in the wilderness,
had his raiment of camel’s hair and a leathern girdle, and fed upon locusts
and wild honey. The Savior Himself was born in a stable and laid in a
manger. The ones whom He selected to be His ambassadors were for the
most part unlettered fishermen. What striking illustrations are these that
“that which is highly, esteemed among men is abomination in the
sight of God” (

Luke 16:15)!
Yet how needful it is to keep this principle before us!
Had Joshua called a council of war and consulted with the heads of the
tribes as to what they deemed the best policy to adopt, what conflicting
advice he had most probably received, what various methods of assault had
been advocated. One would have reasoned that the only way to subdue
Jericho was by the starving out of its inhabitants through a protracted siege
Another would have counseled the use of ladders to scale its walls by men
heavily mailed and armed. A third would have argued that heavy battering-rams
would be more effective and less costly in lives to the attackers.
While a fourth would have suggested a surprise attack by secretly tunneling
under the walls. Each would have leaned unto his own understanding, and.229
deemed his plan the best. But Joshua conferred not with flesh and blood,
but received his commission direct from the Lord, and therein he has left an
example for all His servants to follow. The minister of the Gospel is
responsible to Christ: he is His servant, called and commissioned by Him,
and from Him alone must he take his orders. He has no authority except
what Christ has given him, and he needs no more. Joshua did not refer the
instructions he had received from God to the judgment of the priests and
elders and ask their opinion on the same, but instead acted promptly upon
them, counting upon the Divine blessing, however his fellows might regard
them.
“When the Lord effects HIS purposes by such means and
instruments as we deem adequate, our views are apt to terminate
upon them, and to overlook Him ‘who worketh all things after the
counsel of His own will.’ To obviate this propensity, the Lord
sometimes deviates from the common track and works by methods
or instruments which in themselves appear not at all suited to
produce the intended effect; nay, sometimes have no real
connection with it (

Numbers 20:6-9;

Ezekiel 37:1-10;

John 9:4-7). But it is our duty to use only those means which
the Lord appoints or allows, to submit to His will, and depend upon
His blessing; and with patient waiting and self-denying diligence, to
expect the event: and we shall thus succeed as far as is conducive
to our real good. He takes peculiar pleasure in leading men’s
attention to His own truths and ordinances, in exercising their faith
and patience, in inuring them to submit their understandings
implicitly to His teaching and their wills to His authority, and in
securing to Himself their praises and thankful acknowledgements.
In promoting true religion, especially, He works by means and
instruments which the proud, the learned, and the wealthy of this
world generally despise. The doctrine of a crucified Savior, God
manifested in the flesh, as the only foundation of a sinner’s hope of
acceptance, and the only source of sanctifying grace; preached by
ministers, frequently, of obscure birth and moderate abilities, and
destitute of the advantages of eminent learning or eloquence;
sometimes even homely in their appearance and address” (Thomas
Scott).
Looking more closely now at the instructions which Joshua received from
the Lord on this occasion, we see that once more “the ark” was given the.230
place of honor, being made central in the order of the procession. First
were to proceed the “men of war,” then came the ark with seven priests in
front of it with “trumpets of rams’ horns,” and behind it came all the body
of the people. The ark was the recognized symbol of Jehovah’s presence,
and its being carried before the congregation was to intimate the victory
was from Him. Very much indeed turns upon our realization of the Divine
presence — both as a restraint upon the flesh, and a stimulant to the spirit.
When assured that the Lord is not only for us but with us, fear gives place
to holy confidence. Deeply important is it for the servant of Christ not only
to adhere strictly to the terms of His commission, but also to rest upon His
blessed promise,
“Lo, I am with you always, even unto the end”
(

Matthew 28:19, 20).
Equally necessary for the rank and the of God’s people to lay hold of that
word, “I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.” Joshua had received
personal assurance of this by the appearing to him of the “Captain of the
Lord’s host” (

Joshua 5:13-15), and by the prominence accorded the
ark: the whole congregation were given a visible reminder of the same fact.
All were to move with their eyes fixed upon the Captain of their salvation,
for none could stand before Him.
But the ark was also the repository of the tables of stone, on which were
inscribed the ten commandments. It therefore denoted that Israel now
marched as subject to the Divine Law, for only as they acted in obedience
to its terms could success be expected. As was pointed out in our articles
on the crossing of the Jordan, Israel marched into Canaan led by the Law:
so here we are shown their conquest of the land depended upon their
compliance with its requirements. But more: the presence of the ark here
intimated that the Law was the minister of vengeance to the Canaanites:
their cup of iniquity was now full and they must suffer the due reward of
the same. Here the Law was “the minister of death” as the sequel
demonstrated: see verse 21.
SEVEN DAYS OF MARCH
In our last we considered the instructions which Joshua received from the
Lord concerning Jericho; now we are to observe how the same were
carried out..231
“And Joshua the son of Nun called the priests, and said unto them,
Take up the ark of the covenant, and let seven priests bear seven
trumpets of rams’ horns before the ark of the Lord. And he said
unto the people, Pass on, and compass the city, and let him that is
armed pass on before the ark of the Lord” (

Joshua 6:6, 7).
It is therefore quite evident from these verses that Joshua understood
God’s promise
“I have given into thine hand Jericho, and the king thereof, and the
mighty men of valor” (verse 2)
as meaning that, if His directions were faithfully and exactly executed, but
only in that case, would the city be supernaturally overthrown. That
promise was to assure Joshua that the Canaanites would be unable to
successfully defend their city, and that the Lord would make it manifest
that He had delivered it up to Israel; nevertheless they must act in full
subjection to His revealed will.
This incident of the capture of Jericho is one which should be carefully
pondered and taken to heart by all the people of God today, especially so
by His servants, for if it be so it will supply a grand tonic to faith, and
effectually counteract that spirit of gloom which now so widely obtains.
Alas, the majority of professing Christians are far more occupied with what
are called “the signs of the times” than they are with the One in whose
hand all “times and seasons” are (

Acts 1:7). They are walking by sight,
rather than by faith; engaged with the things seen, rather than with those
which are unseen. The consequence is that many of them are cast down
and dispirited over present conditions, and only too often the preacher is
apt to regard the situation as hopeless. But that is to be of the same temper
as the unbelieving spies, who said
“We be not able to go up against the people: for they are stronger
than we” (

Numbers 13:31),
magnifying the difficulties which confronted them and yielding to a spirit of
defeatism.
If the minister of the Gospel be occupied with the smallness of his
congregation, and their unresponsiveness to his preaching; if he dwell
unduly upon the lack of interest on the part of the young people, and
listens to the prophets of gloom, who ever give the darkest possible.232
interpretation to things, then he may well be dejected. But if his thoughts
be formed by and his own soul fed upon the Word of God, then he will
discover that there is no cause whatever for dismay. Scripture nowhere
teaches that God is seeking to convert the world, rather does it declare that
He is visiting the Gentiles “to take out of them a people for His name”
(

Acts 15:14). When giving instructions to His servants, Christ bade
them “take no anxious thought,” for He would have their hearts at rest,
trusting, in the living God to supply their every need; and also said
“Fear not little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give
you the kingdom” (

Luke 12:22, 32).
He ever sought to strengthen their confidence in the invincibility of God’s
purpose, declaring “all that the Father giveth Me, shall come unto Me”
(

John 6:37).
Instead of perplexing his mind with useless speculations about the ten toes
of Daniel’s colossus, the business of the minister of the Gospel is to
faithfully carry out the commission which he has received from his Master
(

Matthew 38:19, 20). Instead of wasting time upon the newspapers and
listening in to the wireless in order to ascertain the latest threats of the
Kremlin or menaces of the Vatican, let him give more earnest heed to that
injunction
“Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that
needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the Word of truth”
(

2 Timothy 2:15).
Instead of being so absorbed with the activities of Satan’s emissaries, let
him mix faith with that heartening assurance of the Most High,
“For as the rain cometh down, and the snow from heaven, and
returneth not thither, but watereth the earth and maketh it bring
forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower, and bread to the
eater: so shall My Word be that goeth forth out of My mouth: it
shall not return unto Me void, but it shall accomplish that which I
please, and it shall prosper whereto I sent it” (

Isaiah 55:10, 11).
The Word of God is not outdated:
“heaven and earth shall pass away but My words shall not pass
away” (

Matthew 24:35)..233
Then preach that Word in its purity, in its fullness, with implicit confidence
in its sufficiency. The Gospel of Christ is not obsolete, but is still
“the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth”
(

Romans 1:16).
Then proclaim it, realizing that the curse of God rests on all who preach
any other (

Galatians 1:8). Do you reply, I have, in my poor way, sought
to preach the Gospel as faithfully and earnestly as I know how: but so far
as I can see, it has been fruitless, and I am thoroughly discouraged. Then
take heed, we beg you, to the incident which is here before us. Get down
on your knees right now and beg God to bless this article unto you.
Fervently implore Him to open your heart to receive the same. Ponder
afresh those words
“by faith the walls of Jericho fell down, after they were compassed
about seven days” (

Hebrews 11:30).
Surely then “all things are possible to him that believeth” (

Mark 9:23)!
It requires no forced or fanciful effort of ours to show that Israel’s
conquest of Jericho adumbrated the victories won by the Gospel, when it is
faithfully preached and the blessing of God attends the same. As was
pointed out in our last, Jericho was one of the leading strongholds of the
enemy: “the cities are walled and very great” (

Numbers 13:28).
Probably Jericho was the most powerfully fortified of any of them, and as
such it presented a formidable obstacle unto Joshua and his fellows.
Nevertheless, it fell before them in response to the punctual observance of
the orders which they had received from the Lord. It was in manifest
reference to this that the apostle declared,
“For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through
God to the pulling down of strongholds” (

1 Corinthians 10:4).
How blessedly and unmistakably was that demonstrated under his own
ministry! How gloriously was the same made evident in the days of Luther!
How frequently has the same truth been made to appear in various parts of
the earth since then. And you, my brethren in the ministry, have the same
glorious Gospel to preach, and the same mighty God to look unto to bless
your labors!.234
Do you reply, But I am no Joshua, no Paul, no Luther? Then we remind
you of the apostle’s self-abasing and God-honoring words to those who
were glorying in the flesh.
“Who then is Paul, and who is Apollos, but ministers by whom ye
believed, even as the Lord gave to every man. I have planted,
Apollos watered, but God gave the increase. So then neither is he
that planteth any thing, neither he that watereth; but God that
giveth the increase” (

1 Corinthians 3:5-7).
The men whom God has most used throughout the ages were those who
rated themselves as nobodies! But you say, I feel so weak and ill-equipped
— God grant that such is your sincere language, for if the contrary were
the case, if you deemed yourself an able and well-qualified man, you are no
servant of Christ’s. Listen again to Paul, who with all his gifts and graces
contemplated the tasks before him in this spirit and attitude’ “who is
sufficient for these things?” (

2 Corinthians 2:16.)
Writing to those same saints and looking back to the days of his
evangelistic labors among them, the apostle declared
“I came to you not with excellency of speech or of wisdom,
declaring unto you the testimony of God. For I determined not to
know anything among you save Jesus Christ and Him crucified.
And I was with you in weakness, and in fear, and in much
trembling” (

1 Corinthians 2:13).
Self-diffidence is no disqualification for Christ’s service. It was not Paul
that was “great,” but rather that the weapons he used when engaging the
forces of evil were “mighty through God”! And what were those
“weapons”? Prayer, “the Sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God”
(

Ephesians 6:17), and faith in the One who had commissioned him.
Note that we put prayer first. Does not the example of the supreme
Preacher (

Mark 1:35;

Luke 6:12, 13) require us to do so? Did not
the Twelve declare, “We will give ourselves continually to [1] prayer and
[2] to the ministry of the Word” (

Acts 6:4)? Then do thou the same.
Concerning faith, we refer the reader again to

Hebrews 11:30. Now
fellow preachers, the same three “weapons” are available to us, and we
need no others for the glorifying of Christ and the execution of His
commission..235
Note well, ye preachers, our last sentence. We did not say that no other
weapons are needed in order for you to be eminently “successful” in your
work, or that your use of the same will ensure prompt “visible results.”
That must not be made your chief concern nor immediate end: and if you
make it such, a jealous God is most likely to blow upon rather than bless
your efforts. Your paramount care and principal design must be the
glorifying of God (

1 Corinthians 10:31): to make known His excellency,
to enforce His just claims upon the creatures of His hands, to bid men
throw down the weapons of their warfare against Him, and be reconciled
to Him. If you be a real servant of God’s He has sent you forth to magnify
Christ: the salvation of sinners is but secondary and subordinate thereto.
God would have a universal testimony borne unto the matchless worth of
the person and work of Christ — the Gospel is a “witness” (

Matthew
24:14) to His perfections. God would have proclaimed far and wide the
amazing fact that His own beloved Son
“became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross”
(

Philippians 2:8),
being wholly devoted unto the will of His Father.
It is of first importance that we should be quite clear upon the nature of the
Gospel: it is
“the Gospel of God… concerning His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord”
(

Romans 1:1, 3).
In the Gospel is made known the Savior’s personal dignities: that He is the
Lord of glory, the Prince of life, the King of kings, the Creator and
Upholder of the universe. In the Gospel is revealed His amazing
condescension and humiliation: how that in obedience to the Father’s word
He voluntarily and gladly, took upon Him the form of a servant and was
made in the likeness of sin’s flesh, tabernacling for a season in this scene.
In the Gospel is exhibited His holy and unique life: performing the work
which the Father had given Him to do. In the Gospel is displayed His
official glories, as Prophet, Priest and Potentate. In it is told forth His grace
unto sinners: dying the just for the unjust. In it is declared how that He
magnified the Divine Law and made it honorable, superlatively glorifying
the Father thereby. In it we are informed how that God rewarded His
incarnate Son by raising Him from the dead, and seating Him at His own
right hand on high. Our business, fellow preachers, is to proclaim that.236
Gospel in its purity and fullness, that God may be glorified, and His Son
magnified.
Our commission is crystal clear. It is no other than this:
“Speak unto them, and tell them: whether they will hear, or
whether they will forbear” (

Ezekiel 3:11).
Our business is to declare “all the counsel of God” and keep back nothing
that is profitable unto souls (

Acts 20:20, 27). Our marching orders are
the same as Jonah’s (

Jonah 3:2) and of

Deuteronomy 4:2: “Preach
unto it [the city] the preaching that I bid thee.” “Ye shall not add unto the
Word which I command you, neither shall ye diminish ought from it.” Only
by so doing will God be glorified and our souls cleared from the awful
charge of infidelity. But if we do so — and only by Divine grace, earnestly
and constantly sought, can we — we may safely leave “results” with the
Lord of the harvest. Nay more, we may rest in full confidence on the
promise “them that honor Me, I will honor” (

1 Samuel 2:30). But it
must be left with Him as to when and how He “honors.” In the Day to
come He will say “Well done, good and faithful servant.” Even now
“we are unto God a sweet savor of Christ, in them that are saved
and in them that perish” (

2 Corinthians 2):
But let us now take a more definite look at the instructions given to
Israel’s priests in

Joshua 6:6. Observe carefully a significant omission
therein, which silently but decidedly confirms what has been said above.
Joshua did not announce to them the promise which he had received from
the Lord in verses 2 and 5, but simply gave them their marching orders,
without any assurance that success would certainly attend their efforts! In
this, as in almost all things, Joshua was a type of Christ, who, although
receiving promise from His Father (in the everlasting covenant) of the sure
success of His undertaking (cf.

Isaiah 53:10-12), yet when
commissioning His servants, gave them specific commandments but said
not a word about their labors being fruitful! — see Matthew 28, 29, 30;

Mark 16:15, 16;

Luke 24:46-49;

John 20:21-23;

Acts 1:7, 8.
So here: the priests were told what to do, and that was all. Unquestioning
and unreserved obedience to their orders was what was required from
them: nothing more, nothing less. They were, first, to “take up the ark of
the covenant”; second, to “bear seven trumpets of rams’ horns”; and third,.237
to go “before the ark of the Lord.” Let us now point out the typical
significance of the same.
The ark of the covenant was the symbol of the Lord’s presence with them,
as their “Leader and Commander” (

Isaiah 55:4). In like manner, Christ
has assured His servants
“Lo! I am with you always, even unto the end of the world”
(

Matthew 28:20).
That is to be realized by faith, and not by sense. The minister of the Gospel
is to go forward to the fight in the blessed consciousness that he is not
alone: he is to act with full assurance that the Captain of his salvation is
with him. What a difference it will make if he steadily bear the same in
mind! Let him act accordingly. Let the known presence of Christ serve
both as a bridle upon the flesh, and as a spur to his zeal. The priests
“bearing the trumpets” at once identifies them as adumbrating ministers of
the Gospel sounding forth their imperative message.
“Cry aloud, spare not, lift up thy voice like a trumpet, and show My
people their transgressions” (

Isaiah 58:1).
“I set watchmen over you, saying, Hearken to the sound of the
trumpet” (

Jeremiah 6:17).
“Blow ye the trumpet in Zion, and sound an alarm in My holy
mountain” (

Joel 2:10).
The apostle made use of this figure when he said
“If the trumpet give an uncertain sound, who shall prepare himself
to the battle” (

1 Corinthians 14:8).
The sounding of the trumpets by the priests on this occasion had a twofold
design: to strike terror into the hearts of the Canaanites: to inspire with
courage and confidence the people of God. And that is the twofold work
of Christ’s servants.
First, to solemnly declare the revealed wrath of God against all
ungodliness and unrighteousness of men (

Romans 1:18): to announce
His war against those who continue in sin: to boldly declare “he that
believeth not shall be damned.” Thus did the supreme Gospeler:

Matthew 11:23, 24;

John 3:18, 36!.238
Second, to strengthen the hearts of God’s people:
“And if ye go to war in your land against the enemy that oppresseth
you, then ye shall blow an alarm with the trumpets, and ye shall be
remembered before the Lord your God, and ye shall be saved from
your enemies” (

Numbers 10:9).
“And it shall be when ye are come nigh to the battle, that the priest
shall approach and speak unto the people, and shall say unto them,
Hear, O Israel, ye approach this day unto battle against your
enemies: let not your hearts faint, fear not, and do not tremble,
neither be ye terrified because of them; for the Lord your God is He
that goeth with you, to fight for you against your enemies, to save
you” (

Deuteronomy 20:2, 4).
hus is the preacher to encourage the saints in their conflict with the flesh,
the world, and the devil.
“And Joshua the son of Nun called the priests and said unto them,
Take up the ark of the covenant, and let seven priests bear seven
trumpets of rams’ horns before the ark of the Lord. And he said
unto the people, Pass on and compass the city, and let him that is
armed pass on before the ark of the Lord” (

Joshua 6:6, 7).
Lack of space prevented the completion of our remarks upon these two
verses in our last. There we dwelt at length upon the former one, and
sought to show that Israel’s priests, on this occasion, shadowed forth the
ministers of the Gospel, and how that the appointed (spiritual) weapons of
their “warfare are made mighty through God to the pulling down of
strongholds” (

2 Corinthians 10:4). Care needs to be taken against
carnalizing that expression and interpreting it in a manner unwarranted by
the Analogy of Faith. It is not the Gospel converting people en masse (in a
body) — “Glasgow for Christ,” “Chicago for Christ,” as Arminian slogans
express it — but the delivering of individual souls from that powerful
“refuge of lies” in which the natural man is entrenched. The meaning of

2 Corinthians 10:4, is explained in the next verse:
“Casting down imaginations [or “reasongings”] and every high
thing that exalteth itself against God, and bringing into captivity
every thought to the obedience of Christ” (

2 Corinthians 10:5)..239
The heart of the natural man is stoutly opposed to God, being filled with
enmity against Him. It is fortified by the love of sin against every appeal
unto holiness. The unregenerate are so inured and hardened by habit and
practice that the Holy Spirit declares “Can the Ethiopian change his skin or
the leopard his spots? then may ye also do good, that are accustomed to do
evil’ (

Jeremiah 13:23). Their wills are enslaved, so that they “will not
come to Christ” (

John 5:40). They are steeled against both the terrors
of the Law and the attractions of the Gospel. Furthermore they are the
captives of the devil (

Luke 11:21;

2 Timothy 2:26), and are unable
to emancipate themselves. Naught but a miracle of grace can free them,
and the means used by the Spirit in accomplishing that miracle is the
preached Word, effectually applied to the heart by His power. Then is the
proud rebel humbled into the dust before God, delivered from the
dominion of sin and Satan, transformed into a loving and loyal subject of
Christ.
In the seventh verse of Joshua 6, instructions were given to the people. On
this occasion they were to accompany the priests! When crossing the
Jordan the priests went “before the people” (

Joshua 3:6), and stood
alone “in the midst of Jordan” until “all the people had passed over”
(

Joshua 4:20). There they foreshadowed our great High Priest, who “by
Himself” opened a way through death for His people (see Chapter Six).
But here the priests typified the servants of Christ, as engaged on their
evangelistic labors. Consequently the hosts of Israel must now accompany
them. What a word is that for the rank and the of the people of God today!
Only too often has the minister of the Gospel to go forth alone. He does
not receive that moral and spiritual support to which he is entitled, and
which he so much needs. No wonder so many faithful preachers are
discouraged when the prayer-meetings are so thinly attended, and when so
few are holding up their hands at the throne of grace! O that it may please
God to use this paragraph in stirring up professing Christians to be more
definite and fervent in praying for all godly ministers. Only a preacher
knows what difference it makes to have the assurance that the hearts of his
people are with him!
“And it came to pass, when Joshua had spoken unto the people,
that the seven priests bearing the seven trumpets of rams’ horns
passed on before the Lord, and blew with the trumpets: and the ark
of the covenant of the Lord followed them” (verse 8)..240
Observe, first, how precise is the time-mark here of the priests’ action: they
did not move forward until the people had taken their allotted position
according to the instructions they had received from their leader. There
was to be conjoint action: the priests accompanied by the people —
exemplifying what we have said in the above paragraph. Second, since
there is nothing meaningless or superfluous in Holy Writ, note how the
Spirit has again emphasized the rude nature of the priests’ “trumpets.” No
less than five times in this chapter are we told that those employed on this
occasion were made of “rams’ horns” — a cruder or meaner material could
scarcely be imagined. They were in designed and striking contrast with the
“trumpets of silver” which were normally used in the camp of Israel
(

Numbers 10:1-10). It was God pouring contempt on the means used
— those which were despicable in the eyes of men — that Israel’s pride
might be stained and Himself glorified, for His strength is ever made
perfect through weakness.
Bearing in mind that Israel’s priests here foreshadowed the true servants of
Christ, their using trumpets of rams’ horns is deeply significant, albeit, very
distasteful to that pride of heart which glories in the flesh. It not only
emphasized the feebleness of the means used by God in accomplishing His
purpose of grace, namely, that it hath pleased Him
“by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe” (

1
Corinthians 1:21),
but also indicated the type of men God deigns to employ as His
mouthpieces. When our Lord chose the men who were to be His apostles
and ambassadors, He selected not those who occupied eminent stations in
the world, nor those who had passed through the schools of learning, but
unlettered fishermen and a despised tax-gatherer — that was the antitype
of “the rams’ horns” in contrast with “the trumpets of silver” — men of
lowly origin, despised by those who are great and wise in their own eyes!
To effect the mightiest of all works, God employs what is to the mind of
the natural man the most inadequate means, in order that His wisdom and
power may be the more apparent. The Gospel does not depend for its
success on human wisdom — a fact lost sight of by the churches today.
That same flesh-withering truth is dearly expressed in

1 Corinthians
1:26-31, though few have perceived it. The immediate design of the
apostle in

1 Corinthians 1 and 2 was to show that the great and grand
change wrought in the hearts of believers is not to be ascribed to any.241
wisdom or power possessed by the preacher (who is hut a channel through
which God condescends to work), but is to be attributed wholly to the
Divine grace in making his message effectual. The Corinthians were
glorying in human instruments, setting up one against another (see

Joshua 1:12), and the apostle shows how utterly baseless and foolish
was such glorying. He pointed out that it was not the learning of Paul nor
the eloquence of Apollos which could convert a soul, but that God must,
from beginning to end, accomplish the same. This he demonstrates by
describing the type of instruments which He makes to be vehicles of
blessing unto sinners. “For ye see your calling, brethren [i.e. ye perceive
from your own calling out of darkness into God’s marvelous light], that
not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble” —
“are employed” (by God) is a far better and more pertinent supplement
than “are called.”
“But God hath chosen [for His servants] the foolish things of the world to
confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to
confound the things which are mighty; and base things of the world, and
things which are despised, hath God chosen; and things which are not
[nonentities, nobodies] to bring to naught the things that are.” Thus, verses
26-28 are to be connected with the whole context, and not simply with
verses 24, 25. In them we behold again “the trumpets of rams’ horns” —
God employing instruments which appear utterly inadequate to carnal
reason. That interpretation is clearly confirmed by “that no flesh should
glory in His presence,” for the Corinthians were not glorying in themselves,
but in their ministers (

Joshua 1:12; 3:4)! It is clinched by the next
words: “But of Him [and not by Paul, or Apollos, or any worm of the
earth] are ye in Christ Jesus” (verse 30). Thus, Paul was showing that it
was not through learned philosophers nor highly trained rabbins that the
Corinthians had heard the Gospel of their salvation, but rather through
those whom both the one and the other regarded with contempt. If further
corroboration be needed, verse 31 supplies it!
God is jealous of His honor and will not share it with another. It pleases
Him, as a general rule, to select for His instruments those who have no
glittering accomplishments: rather, plain, simple, homely men. It is not
silver-tongued orators through whom He most shows forth His praises, but
by those who have nothing more, naturally, to commend them unto their
hearers than that which resembles the “rams’ horns”! His most eminent
servants have not been those of royal blood, noble birth, or high station,.242
but taken from the lower walks of life. Luther, the principal agent used by
God in the mighty Reformation, was the son of a miner. Bunyan was but a
tinker, yet his book Pilgrim’s Progress has been translated into more
languages, had a much wider circulation, and been used in blessing to a far
greater number of souls, than all the writings put together of the learned
Owen and Goodwin! Spurgeon had neither university nor college training,
nor was he a graduate of any seminary! Though after God’s call to the
ministry, each of them studied hard and long to improve himself! In
proportion as the churches have made an idol of education and theological
learning in their ministers, has their spirituality waned: that is a fact,
however unpalatable it may be.
There is a third thing in verse 8 which claims our notice, namely, that the
seven priests bearing the seven trumpets of rams’ horns “passed on before
the Lord.” This is generally understood to mean that they preceded the ark,
but that can scarcely be its significance, unless we are ready to conclude
there is needless tautology here, for the same verse ends by declaring “and
the ark of the covenant of the Lord followed them.” What then is imported
by they “passed on before the Lord”? It is very much more than a bare
historical detail, which has no relation unto us today — alas that so few
search for the present application to themselves of all in the Bible. There is
that here which the servants of Christ need to observe and take to heart:
something of vital importance and blessedness. That brief statement reveals
to us the inward condition of the priests. It expressed their attitude unto
Jehovah, and the Spirit of Truth delighted to record the same. Man looketh
on the outward appearance but God looketh on the heart; and the hearts of
Israel’s priests were engaged with Him, and they comported themselves
accordingly. By carefully comparing Scripture with Scripture we may
ascertain the meaning of this clause.
In

Genesis 5:24, we are told that “Enoch walked with God.” In

1
Samuel 2:21, that “the child Samuel grew before the Lord.” In

Deuteronomy 13:4, that Israel were bidden to “walk after the Lord their
God.” While in’

Colossians 2:6, Christians are exhorted “As ye have
therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in Him.” In those four
prepositions we have an outline of the whole privilege and duty of the saint
in his relation to God. To “walk with God” is only possible unto one who
has been reconciled to Him, for “Can two walk together except they be
agreed?” (

Amos 3:2). Thus it is expressive of holy communion with.243
God. To go or walk “before the Lord” is to conduct ourselves in the
realization that all our actions are being scrutinized by Him:
“For the ways of man are before the eyes of the Lord, and He
pondereth all his goings” (

Proverbs 5:21).
Thus it is expressive of holy fear. To walk “after the Lord” is to live in
complete subjection to His revealed will:
“And the king stood in his place and made a covenant before the
Lord, to walk after the Lord, and to keep His commandments, and
His testimonies, and His statutes, with all his heart and with all his
soul” (

2 Chronicles 34:31).
There it is expressive of unreserved obedience. To “walk in Christ” is
expressive of union, like a branch in the vine, and signifies to live by His
enablement, strengthened by Him, “rooted and built up in Him” as

Colossians 2:27, explains it.
But the one passage which more expressly explains these words of the
priests passing on “before the Lord” is

Genesis 17:1, when He said unto
Abraham “I am the Almighty God: walk before Me, and be thou upright.”
That was said, first, by way of rebuke, right after his impatient and carnal
conduct with Hagar. Second, that was said for his instruction and
encouragement: to show him that there was no occasion for taking matters
into his own hands. The Lord now made known Himself to Abraham as
“The Almighty” — El Shaddai — the fully competent One, able to supply
all his need, without the patriarch resorting to any fleshly devices. In view
of which Abraham was bidden to “walk before Me and be thou upright”:
that is, count upon My infinite resources. Thus, when it is said that Israel’s
priests “passed on before the Lord,” the meaning is that they acted in
complete dependence upon God’s all-sufficiency, confidently counting
upon His undertaking for them. In the light of

Proverbs 5:21, it signifies
too that they moved forward in God’s fear, conscious that His eye was
upon them, and therefore they dared not depart from the orders which He
had given them.
Let every preacher who reads this article endeavor to recognize that this
too has been recorded for his learning, his guidance, his encouragement.
Let him seek to realize, first, that he is beneath the all-seeing eye of his
Master: that his actions are “before the eyes of the Lord, and He pondereth
all his ways.” Let him bear that in mind while he is out of the pulpit: that.244
the One to whom he must yet render an account of his stewardship takes
note whether he is an idler and slacker, or one who faithfully devotes his
time to prayer and study, and not only to “sermon preparation.” And,
second, let him view by faith the all-sufficiency of the One before whom he
walks, refusing to depart from His instructions, confidently counting upon
Him fulfilling His purpose by and through him. Let him constantly call to
mind that He is none other than “the Almighty,” the self-sufficient Jehovah.
No other provider, no other protector is needed. It was because Abraham
forgot that that he stooped to fleshly devices; and when we forget it, we
are very apt to depart from His rule and resort to carnal methods. It is
distrust of God which lies behind the fleshly and worldly devices now so
commonly employed in the churches.
“And the armed men went before the priests that blew with the
trumpets, and the rearward came after the ark, the priests going on,
and blowing with the trumpets” (verse 9).
Here our attention is directed away from the priests unto the remainder of
the children of Israel, and they are divided into two companies — those
who went before, and those who followed behind the ark of the covenant.
The ones taking the lead consisted of the fighting force, who were to
advance when the walls of Jericho fell down and slay those within the city
This arrangement originated not in the mind of Joshua, for at no point was
he required to lean unto his own understanding. The Lord had previously
given orders through Moses that the fighting men of the tribes of Reuben
and Gad should
“go armed before the Lord to war… until He had driven out His
enemies from before Him” (

Numbers 32:20, 21).
It was in obedience thereto that Joshua here acted. As the margin more
correctly renders, it was the “gathering host” of Israel who made up the
rearward. In that twofold division we may find a hint that only a few of the
Lord’s people are possessed of a courageous spirit and prepared to show a
bold front to the enemy.
“And Joshua had commanded the people, saying, Ye shall not
shout, nor make your voice to be heard, neither shall any word
proceed out of your mouth until the day I bid you shout; then shall
ye shout” (

Joshua 6:10)..245
Here is the third item in the instructions which Joshua gave to “the
people.” First, they had been bidden to “compass the city”; and second, the
armed men among them to “pass on before the ark of the Lord” (verse 7);
now they are enjoined to maintain strict silence as the long procession
wended its way around Jericho. Very precisely and emphatically was this
order worded: its threefold prohibition reminding us of the repeated
interdiction of

Proverbs 4:14, 15, “Enter not into the path of the
wicked, and go not in the way of evil men. Avoid it, pass not by it, turn
from it, and pass away.” There is no excuse for ignorance of the Divine
will: the things which God forbids us doing are as plainly stated in His
Word as those which He requires of us.
No explanation was given the people, but simply the bare command:
sufficient for them that so God required. Pondering it in the light of
Scripture, several reasons for it and significations of it may be suggested.
First and more generally, this injunction for the people to preserve
complete silence constituted a test of their obedience — made the more
real by their not being told why such an imposition was necessary. For the
mouths of such a vast multitude to be sealed during the entire march
around the city was no small test of their subjection unto the revealed will
of Jehovah. Second and more specifically, such decorous silence well
became them on this occasion. Why so? Because God was in their midst,
and He is
“greatly to be feared in the assembly of His saints, and to be had in
reverence of all them that are about Him” (

Psalm 89:7)
— a verse which many preachers today need to press upon their
congregations, among whom much irreverence obtains in the house of
prayer. If the seraphim veil their faces before the Lord, how reverent
should be our worship!
The “ark of the covenant” was the symbol of the Lord’s presence, and its
being in Israel’s midst on this occasion required that they conduct
themselves with the utmost propriety. God was about to speak loudly to
the Canaanites in judgment, and it was therefore fitting that every human
voice should be stilled. There is “a time to keep silence, and a time to
speak” (

Ecclesiastes 3:7). When Pharaoh and his hosts were pursuing
the children of Israel, and they were confronted by the Red Sea, they were
told,.246
“The Lord shall fight for you, and ye shall hold your peace”
(

Exodus 14:14).
The case was a parallel one here: Jehovah was about to lay bare His mighty
arm and show Himself strong on behalf of His people, and it was meet that
they should be still before Him, in reverent expectation of the event. It was
a case of
“hold thy peace at the presence of the Lord God, for the day of the
Lord [when He acts in an extraordinary manner] is at hand”
(

Zephaniah 1:7);
“Be silent, O all flesh, before the Lord; for He is raised up out of
His holy habitation” (

Zechariah 2:13).
The profound silence observed by Israel’s hosts added impressively to the
gravity and solemnity of their procession.
Again; Israel’s being forbidden to open their mouths on this occasion
supplied another illustration and exemplification of the difference which
marks the ways of God from man’s. We are aware that some are likely to
regard that statement as a trite platitude, yet they are probably the very
ones who most need to be reminded of it here, for they are the least
affected and influenced by it. God’s work is to be done in His appointed
way: but instead of that, much of what now pretends to be “His work” is
being done in the world’s way. God works silently, whether it be in
creation, providence, or grace. Vegetation makes no noise in the process of
its growth. God’s government, both of individuals and nations, is wrought
secretly. The miracle of regeneration is not perceptible to our senses,
though its effects and fruits soon become apparent. So it is in His dealings
with our souls’ the Lord is not in the wind, nor in the earthquake, nor in
the fire, but in the “still small voice” (

1 Kings 19:11, 12). We too
should go about our appointed tasks in the same calmness’ “a meek and
quiet spirit” is of “great price” in His sight (

1 Peter 3:4).
Third, the silence required of “the people” on this occasion supplied
another important line in the typical picture furnished by this incident -though
one which certainly will not appeal to many in present-day
Christendom. Israel’s capture of Jericho unmistakably pre-figured the
victories achieved, under God, by the Gospel. The priests blowing with the
trumpets of rams’ horns pictured the servants of God preaching His Word.
The forbidding of “the people” to open their mouths signified that the rank.247
and the of Christians are to have no part in the oral proclamation of the
Truth — they are neither qualified for nor called to the ministration of the
Word. Nowhere in the Epistles is there a single exhortation for the saints as
such to engage in public evangelism, nor even to do “personal work” and
seek to be “soul winners.” Rather are they required to “witness for Christ”
by their daily conduct in business and in the home. They are to “show
forth” God’s praises, rather than tell them forth. They are to let their light
shine. The testimony of the life is far more effectual than glib utterances of
the lips. Actions speak louder than words.
How vastly different was the typical scene presented here in Joshua 6 from
that which is now beheld in the so-called “evangelism” of our day! Here
everything was orderly, decorous and reverent. “The people” in the rear’
“the ark of the covenant” — symbol of the Lord’s presence — in the
midst: the “seven priests” blowing with their trumpets: the “armed men in
front. The absolute silence of all the hosts of Israel — so utterly different
from the war cries to which they were accustomed — must have deeply
impressed the citizens of Jericho. But not only is there the marked absence
of that dignified silence, gravity, solemnity, and reverence, which befits all
gatherings that are professedly engaged in Divine worship, but modern
“evangelism” is characterized by that which is noisy, vulgar, and carnally
exciting. How different the self-advertised “evangelists” of this decadent
age from the supreme Evangelist, who “suffered not the demons to speak,
because they knew Him,” and who said to the cleansed leper “See thou say
nothing to any man” (

Mark 1:34, 42)!
“So the ark of the Lord compassed the city, going about it once”
(verse 11).
And what follows? Therefore its walls at once fell down? No; “and they
came into the camp and lodged in the camp.” Then they had all their
trouble for nothing! No indeed. But nothing happened: they were no
forwarder, but just where they were previously! That is estimating things
by sight, and is an erroneous conclusion. Much had happened. That which
is of supreme importance had been accomplished. God had been honored
and glorified! How so? By the implicit obedience of Joshua, of the priests,
of the congregation of Israel. O that both ministers and laymen were more
thoroughly convinced that nothing honors God so much as our obedience.
“To obey is better than sacrifice” (

1 Samuel 15:22) — the most lavish
offering is unacceptable to God unless it be made by one whose will is.248
subject to His. Attending meetings, contributing generously to His cause,
busying ourselves in what is wrongly termed ‘Christian service,” is
worthless — yea, a species of hypocrisy — if we be not walking in the path
of the Divine precepts.
Unless what has just been said be laid to heart by both the public servants
of God and private Christians, the most important lessons of this incident
will be missed. As was pointed out in our last, the preacher who most
honors Christ is not the one who produces the largest “visible results,” but
he who sticks the closest to His commission and preaches the Word most
faithfully. So with the saints. The Christian housewife who discharges her
God-given duties in the home and the domestic in the kitchen who
conscientiously performs her menial tasks are as pleasing and glorifying to
Christ as the most self-denying missionary in the foreign field. What is the
one outstanding excellence in the Savior’s life and work which the Holy
Spirit has emphasized more than any other? Is it not that His meat and
drink was to do the will of Him that sent Him (

John 4:34)! That there
was no limit in His subjection to the Father’s authority, that He
“became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross”
(

Philippians 2:8)!
Say not that nothing was accomplished by Israel here, but admire their
God-honoring obedience, and seek to emulate them.
“And Joshua rose early in the morning, and the priests took up the
ark of the Lord” (verse 12).
Nothing escapes the all-seeing eye of the One with whom we have to do.
In human estimation this may appear a very trivial detail, nevertheless it is
one which the Holy Spirit delighted to notice and place upon imperishable
record. Why so? Because it marked the diligence, fidelity and zeal of those
servants of the Lord. Why so? Because they also inculcated yet another
lesson which ministers of the Gospel need to heed. They are expressly
bidden to study and show themselves
“approved unto God, workmen who needeth not to be ashamed”
(

2 Timothy 2:15).
Slackness and slothfulness ill become those who claim to be the
ambassadors of Him who rose up “a great while before day” (

Mark
1:35) and “early in the morning He came again into the temple” to teach.249
the people (

John 8:2). That searching question of His, “what do ye
more than others?” (

Matthew 5:47), is capable of many legitimate
applications — not least to the preacher. Does he spend fewer or more
hours per day in his study than do those who work for their daily bread!
“And seven priests bearing seven trumpets of rams’ horns before
the ark of the Lord went on continually, and blew with the
trumpets; and the armed men went before them, but the rearward
came after the ark of the Lord, the priests going on and blowing
with the trumpets” (verse 13).
The Hebrew word for “trumpet” (shophar) has its first occurrence in

Exodus 19:16, 19, where its loud blast was used to awe the nation at
Sinai: highly significant is the fact that it is mentioned just fourteen times
here in Joshua 6: 7X2, or the number of perfect witness. The word for
“rams’ horns” (yobel) is the one used throughout Leviticus 25, where
twenty times it is rendered “jubilee,” so that as an alternative to “trumpets
of rams’ horns” it would be equally permissible to say “trumpets of
jubilee.” In the year of jubilee all slaves were released and given their
freedom, and all alienated estates were restored to their original owners. In
view of the oft-repeated “ye shall return every man unto his possession”
(

Leviticus 25:11, 13, 27, 28) and “the land of your possession” (verse
27) we perceive the significance and appropriateness of the sounding of
“trumpets of jubilee” as Israel now began to possess their inheritance.
In that double meaning and purpose of the priests’ “trumpets of rams’
horns” we have clearly intimated the nature of that twofold work to which
God has appointed His servants. Those trumpets had a mission and a
ministry both unto the Canaanites and to Israel: the one were to be awed
and affrighted, the other to be cheered and comforted. By faithfully
preaching the holiness of God, the demands of His Law, the sinfulness of
sin, and the reality of its awful wages, the minister of the Gospel is to strike
terror into the hearts of the ungodly (

2 Corinthians 5:10), urging them
to “flee from the wrath to come.” Unto those who give evidence that they
have forsaken their wicked ways and believed the Gospel, it is his privilege
and duty to strengthen their faith and gladden their hearts by announcing to
them the liberty which they have in Christ and the nature of that glorious
inheritance which He purchased for them. In other words, to proclaim the
grand jubilee tidings, so that assurance and joy may be the present portion.250
of the redeemed. It is in the Epistles that the blessed contents of the Gospel
are most fully unfolded to the saints.
“And the second day they compassed the city once, and returned
into the camp” (verse 14).
A careful reading of the context shows that while Divine assurance had
been made unto Joshua himself that the Lord had given Jericho into his
hand, yet he made no mention of this when giving orders to either the
priests, the people, or the armed men: all were to act in what the world
terms “blind obedience” — without any promise of reward. It is also to be
duly noted that while Joshua had been informed by God how many days
and times the enemy’s stronghold must be encircled before its walls should
supernaturally collapse (verses 3-5), he kept this knowledge to himself,
leaving all under him in ignorance of how long this strange method of
procedure was to be continued. The absence of such information made an
additional demand upon the faith and obedience of Israel on this occasion.
After making one complete circuit of the city, the holy ark of Jehovah
being carried aloft in their midst, and all the host had returned to their
camp without any tangible result, it is much to their credit that they
repeated the whole performance a second time. Yet still there was not the
slightest sign of God’s appearing on their behalf!
How striking then are the closing words of verse 14: “so they did six
days”! After a second and third encompassing of Jericho, without any
apparent success, little wonder had the people complained and said, What
is the use of prolonging this business? Admire then their persistency. How
different was this generation from their forefathers in the wilderness, who
so quickly became discouraged and murmured against their leader! — and
never possessed their heritage! In contrast, their sons vowed unto Joshua,
“All that thou commandest us we will do, and whithersoever thou
sendest us we will go” (

Joshua 1:16),
and faithfully did they keep their word. This too has been recorded for our
instruction and for our encouragement. Was there not a time, fellow-minister,
when Christ made Himself known and you asked “Lord, what
wouldest Thou have me do?” Did He not in His condescending grace
answer “Son, go work today in My vineyard”? When you received His call
to devote the whole of your time and talents to His service, did you not.251
promise to spend and be spent in the same? Then be not weary in well
doing, for in due season ye shall reap, if ye faint not.
However impetuous be our spirit, the Lord is never in a hurry, and we are
required to wait His leisure. Every dispensation of God has its prefixed
period: as the mercy itself, equally so the timing of the mercy, is wholly in
God’s hand. “The vision is yet for an appointed time, but at the end it shall
speak, and not lie: though it tarry, wait for it; because it will surely come, it
will not tarry ‘ (

Habakkuk 2:3). It is not at our beck and call: we can
neither hasten nor retard the Almighty. “He that believeth shall not make
haste” (

Isaiah 28:16), but continue steadfast in the performance of duty.
We must neither fail through discouragement, nor adopt means of our own
in order to speed the issue. Two things are required of us: adhering strictly
to the directions which God has given us, trustfully and hopefully waiting
His blessing on the same. Patience must have her perfect work. Thus it was
with Israel here. They fainted not because the walls of Jericho fell not the
first or second, nor even the fifth or sixth day; nor did they take matters
into their own hands and resort to another method. Rather did they “Wait
on the Lord, and keep His way” (

Psalm 37:34).
“Rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for Him” (

Psalm 37:7)
was the grand lesson inculcated by this incident. Confide in the Lord’s
goodness, count upon His power, submit fully to His authority, or there
will be no waiting for Him. Israel must have implicit trust in the One who
had given them their instructions through Joshua. And so must we. We are
to wait in obedience as servants, and in expectation as believers. A desirous
expectation concerning the future must be subordinated to a meek
submission to God’s will in the present.
“Wait on the Lord, and keep His way, and He shall exalt thee to
inhabit the land” (

Psalm 37:34).
It is failure to “wait on the Lord” — through giving way to the feverish
flesh — which causes us to depart from “His way”! Those who are in too
great a hurry to acquire things take “short cuts” which God has not
appointed; but such who act in unholy haste are sure to repent at leisure.
But if we patiently tarry for God’s time, then we shall confine ourselves to
those means which He has assigned. Let preacher and layman alike lay hold
of that promise, “they shall not be ashamed [or “confounded”] that wait for
Me” (

Isaiah 49:23)..252
“And it came to pass on the seventh day, that they rose early about
the dawning of the day, and compassed the city after the same
manner seven times: only on that day they compassed the city seven
times” (verse 15).
What a demand upon their faith, obedience, and patience was this! After
their apparently fruitless effort of marching around Jericho once a day for
no less than six days, now they were required not only to do the same on
the seventh day, but to then repeat the performance no less than seven
times more! And note well those words “after the same manner.” There
was to be no change of procedure: seeming failure did not warrant them in
adopting other measures: they must adhere strictly to the Divine directions
unto the end. What a needful lesson is there pointed for us! Not only was
their testing protracted, but it became increasingly severe. Once a day for
six days had been unavailing; and six times more on the seventh day passed
without any Divine intervention; yet still they persevered! What cause for
shame that we become discouraged so easily and faint so quickly!
A brief word needs to be said about the repeated occurrence of the number
seven here: the seven priests, the seven trumpets, the seven days, and the
seven encirclements of Jericho on the seventh day cannot be without some
design and significance. The best comment we have seen thereon is John
Owen’s: “The compassing of the city once every day for six days, and the
entrance into it on the seventh, had respect unto the work of the creation.
For God was now entering into His rest with respect unto. His worship, in
a new way of settlement and solemnity, such as He had not erected or
made use of from the beginning of the world. Hence He frequently calls it
‘His rest’ (

Psalm 95:11; 132:8, 14;

Hebrews 3:11; 4:3, 11). And it
was a type of the new creation, with the rest of Christ thereon, and of
believers in Him. Therefore would God give here a resemblance of the first
work of the labor of the six days, and the reward they received on the
seventh.”
THE OBEDIENCE OF FAITH
“And it came to pass on the seventh day that they rose up about the
dawning of the day, and compassed the city after the same manner
seven times: only on that day they compassed the city seven times”
(

Joshua 6:15)..253
Israel was now put to a more exacting test than hitherto: once a day they
had marched around Jericho for six consecutive days, but on the seventh
they must do so no less than seven times. That illustrates a principle in the
ways of God. In His dealings with His people the Lord develops their
graces by submitting them to a variety of trials, which are harder and
harder to bear. Was it not thus with “the father of all them that believe”
(

Romans 4:11)? First, Abraham was called upon to leave his native
land, and go forth not knowing whither. Then, after receiving promise from
God of a son, his wife for many years remained barren. Finally, when the
son was given and grown, the patriarch was bidden to offer him for a burnt
offering. Do not expect your path to become easier, but rather that trials
will be more severe. Why so? That the sufficiency of God’s grace may be
known.
Seek to visualize the course followed by Israel on this occasion: project
yourself in spirit among them: remember they were “men of like passions
with you. For six days they had apparently made fools of themselves before
the eyes of the Canaanites, and they did so unmurmuringly. Six times more
they repeated the process, yet without any Divine intervention or the
slightest outward sign of success! The powerful walls of Jericho stood as
firm as ever! What was the use of making still another journey around them
when twelve had produced no tangible results? But they made no demur,
nor declined such a seemingly senseless waste of time and energy. Instead,
they carried out their orders. That is the most remarkable example of
united obedience recorded in the Scriptures — emphasized here by the
Spirit’s telling us twice in this verse that “they compassed the city seven
times.” Admire then the grace of God which wrought so gloriously in and
through them. He it was who subdued their corruptions and made them
willing in the day of His power. Though trials increase in severity, so
increased grace is given to bear them!
Here, as ever in Scripture, we should discern a blessed conjunction of the
Divine and the human, and the latter concurring with the former. God
wrought secretly by imparting to them the inclination and the impulse; they
exercising the same by obedient action. Though a much more severe test
was made of them on this seventh day, it is expressly recorded that “they
rose early about the dawning of the day.” That is the spirit in which to
approach our tasks and perform our duties: with earnestness and
enthusiasm, and not reluctantly and tardily. The more unpleasant the task,.254
the sooner should it be tackled and disposed of. The harder be the duty, the
more energetically should it be discharged.
“Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might”
(

Ecclesiastes 9:10).
This is not the time for the Christian to take his ease: he must “labor”
before he enters into his rest (

Hebrews 4:11). He is not called to picnic,
but to “fight the good fight of faith,” and that implies strong opposition,
and calls for the putting forth of all that is within us, if victory is to be ours.
“And it came to pass at the seventh time, when the priests blew
with the trumpets, Joshua said unto the people, Shout, for the Lord
hath given you the city” (verse 16).
Note well when that promise was made to Israel. Not until they had fully
discharged their duty, not until their obedience and patience had been
severely tested, only after they had completed twelve circuits of the city,
were they assured that God would deliver it into their hands. Does not that
fact suggest that we make too much of the promises, or rather too little of
the precepts to which they are attached? There has been a deplorable lack
of balance at this point on the part of many preachers and writers.
Comforting passages have been taken from their setting, and promises
severed from the conditions by which they are qualified. The consoling of
saints rather than the honoring of God is too often the aim of the pulpit.
The manifestation of “good works” (

Matthew 5:16) and the bearing of
“much fruit” in our lives (

John 15:8) are what most glorifies the Father.
“And it came to pass at the seventh time, when the priests blew with the
trumpets, Joshua said unto the people, Shout.” Previously they had been
enjoined to preserve strict silence (verse 10). They were not to shout at
their own caprice or pleasure, but only as and when their leader bade them
— they must be completely subservient to his orders. Now the time had
come for them to give one loud concerted shout. Why so? To indicate the
victory was sure. But this latter command was a harder one than the
former. The injunction to maintain a decorous silence was but a test of
their morale; but this order for them to give a grand and general shout
made a very real demand upon their faith and obedience, for it was to be
made while the fortress still stood intact before them! Easy enough to
shout after the victory; but this was to be given in assured anticipation of.255
the same. It was faith’s shout of conquest. It had been prophetically
announced by Balaam, when he was moved to say of Israel,
“the Lord his God is with him, and the shout of a king is among
them” (

Numbers 23:21).
“And the city shall be accursed devoted [“devoted” — margin]
even it and all that are therein to the Lord: only Rahab the harlot
shall live, she and all that are with her in the house, because she hid
the messengers that we sent” (verse 17).
This brings before us the dark side of the picture with the sole exception of
Rahab and her family all within Jericho were doomed. They were accursed,
being idolaters and flagrantly wicked. As such they were “devoted to the
Lord,” that is, set apart unto destruction, to the praise of the glory of His
justice.
“The Lord hath made all things for Himself: yea, even the wicked
for the day of evil” (

Proverbs 16:4).
True, God hath made a difference between them according to His purpose
of election, yet, whether this one was “chosen to salvation” (

2
Thessalonians 2:13) or that one was “before of old ordained to this
condemnation” (

Jude 1:4), both alike were created for the Divine glory.
In the former, God makes manifest the riches of His mercy; in the latter,
He displays the purity of His holiness and the verity of His righteousness.
God’s burning hatred against sin and His power to execute vengeance on
all accursed to Him were solemnly demonstrated here at Jericho.
“And ye, in any wise keep yourselves from the accursed thing, lest
ye make yourselves accursed when ye take of the accursed thing,
and make the camp of Israel a curse and trouble it. But all the silver
and gold, and vessels of brass and iron, are consecrated unto the
Lord: they shall come into the treasury of the Lord” (verses 18,
19).
Their being forbidden to enrich themselves by any of the spoils of war was
a further testing of Israel’s obedience. Thereby they were taught not to set
their hearts upon worldly wealth, nor heap up an abundance of it for
themselves. As Matthew Henry pointed out, God had promised them a
land flowing with milk and honey, not a land abounding with silver and
gold, for He would have them live comfortably in it that they might serve.256
Him cheerfully, but not covet either to trade with distant countries, or to
hoard for after time.” There was a special reason for this prohibition being
laid upon Israel here (for we do not find it repeated subsequently) namely,
that Jericho was the first fruits of Canaan, and therefore it was most fitting
that it should be entirely devoted unto the Lord, and its treasures
consecrated unto Him.
It is to be duly noted that Joshua was not acting on his own initiative nor
was he prompted by his own understanding when he proscribed the
possessions of the Canaanites, for Moses had given express orders,
“The graven images of their gods shall ye burn with fire: thou shalt
not desire the silver and gold that is on them, nor take it unto thee,
lest thou be snared therein: for it is an abomination to the Lord thy
God. Neither shalt thou bring an abomination into thine house, lest
thou be a cursed thing like it; but thou shalt utterly detest it, and
thou shalt utterly abhor it” (

Deuteronomy 7:25, 26).
There we see once again how Joshua was in all things, like his Antitype,
regulated by Divine Law. Let us also point out how that this prohibition
supplied yet another line in the typical picture which the capture of Jericho
presents to us: when success attends the efforts of Christ’s servants, they
must be particularly on their guard against taking any credit unto
themselves: all the glory must be ascribed to God alone!
“So the people shouted when the priests blew with the trumpets.
And it came to pass when the people heard the sound of the
trumpet, and the people shouted with a great shout, that the walls
of Jericho fell down flat, so that the people went up into the city,
every man straight before him, and they took the city” (verse 20).
Here was the grand reward of Israel’s courage, obedience and patience.
Looking at it from one viewpoint, it must be said that the walls of Jericho
fell down by the alone act of God, for no human hand or power
contributed to it in the least. Yet from another viewpoint, the miracle may
be justly attributed unto Israel:
“By faith the walls of Jericho fell down after they were compassed
about seven days” (

Hebrews 11:30).
From yet another angle it is equally permissible and correct to say that
Jericho fell in response to their implicit obedience. Nor is there the slightest.257
inconsistency in those three statements: far from being contradictory, they
are complementary if preserved in the above order. Though He certainly is
not restricted thereto, yet God is pleased, generally, to work in response to
the faith and obedience of His people.
It is a very serious mistake to suppose that faith is restricted to a resting
upon God’s promises: it is equally to be exercised in complying with His
precepts. Trusting God is only one part of faith’s work. It is far too little
recognized that conforming to God’s revealed will is also required of faith.
Faith always has to do with God: He is its Object and His Word is its Rule
and Regulator. It was by faith that Noah and his family were delivered
from the flood, yet it was because he took to heart the warning God gave
him, and being moved with fear complied with His directions and
“prepared an ark to the saving of his house” (

Hebrews 11:7). It was by
faith that Abraham received the land of Canaan for an inheritance, yet in
order thereto, when. he was called to leave his home he “obeyed and went
out not knowing whither he went” (

Hebrews 11:8). The man after
God’s own heart did something more than confide in Him: “I have believed
Thy commandments” (

Psalm 119:66) he declared. The Divine
commandments, equally with the Divine promises, were the objects of his
faith. Are they of your faith, my reader?
“By faith the walls of Jericho fell down, after they were compassed
about seven days” (

Hebrews 11:30).
For the benefit of the many young preachers who take this magazine we
propose to sermonize that verse, and at the same time summarize what has
been before us in Joshua 6. Let us consider the daring of their faith. When
Israel crossed the Jordan, they, as it were, burned all their bridges and
boats behind them. It was not only the “armed men,” but the whole
congregation which was involved. Flight was impossible, and there was no
fortress in which to shelter, nor even houses to which they could retire.
They were now in the enemy’s territory, completely exposed to him. To
advance unto Jericho and to march quietly around its walls (within which
were “men of valor” — verse l) seemed a perilous undertaking, for what
was to hinder the Canaanites from shooting at them, or casting down rocks
upon them? It was truly an adventure of faith, and it is adventuresome faith
which God delights to honor. Unbelief is hesitant and timorous, but daring
faith is confident and courageous..258
“The wicked flee when no man pursueth: but the righteous are bold
as a lion” (

Proverbs 28:1).
O to be strong in the Lord, and in the power of His might.
There are three degrees of faith. There is a faith which reposes on the truth
of the Gospel, when the weary and heavy-laden sinner comes to Christ and
rests his soul upon His atoning sacrifice. There is a faith which reckons,
counting upon the veracity and fidelity of God to fulfill His promises and
undertake for us (

Romans 4:21;

2 Timothy 1:12). There is also a
faith which risks, which dares something for the Lord. That kind of faith
was exemplified by Moses when he ventured to confront the king of Egypt,
and make known to him Jehovah’s demands. This daring faith was
manifested by David, when with naught but a sling and some pebbles he
went forth and engaged the mighty Goliath. It was demonstrated by Elijah,
when single-handed he contested with the hosts of Jezebel’s false prophets
on Mount Carmel. We see it again in Daniel, when he dared to be cast into
the den of lions rather than comply with the idolatrous edict of Babylon’s
king; and when his three fellows refused to be intimidated by the fiery
furnace. We behold it again and again in the ministry and journeys of the
apostle Paul, who shrank not from perils of every conceivable kind, that he
might preach the unsearchable riches of Christ.
In the sequel to each of the above cases, we behold how God honored
those trusting and brave hearts. God may indeed severely try, but in the
end it will be seen that He never confounds or puts to shame those whose
eyes are fixed steadfastly upon Himself, seeking His glory. It is
venturesome faith which He ever delights to reward. When those who
carried the man sick of the palsy were unable to get near Christ because of
the press, and therefore broke through the roof and lowered the sufferer,
so far from charging them with impudence or presumption “when Jesus
saw their faith” He owned the same by healing the sick man (

Mark 2:5).
When Peter essayed to walk unto Him upon the sea, Christ rebuked him
not for his rashness, but because his faith wavered. Luther would not be
deterred by his friends from going to Worms, saying he would do so
though every the on its houses were a devil. George Muller feared not to
count upon God to feed and clothe his two thousand orphans, refusing to
make an appeal (direct or indirect) for funds. How such examples shame
the churches today! How few are prepared to risk anything in the Lord’s
service!.259
Consider next the obedience of Israel’s faith — here the most prominent
feature of all. Joshua himself, the priests, the armed men, the body of the
people, carried out all their directions to the letter. The method prescribed
and the means appointed not only appeared to be utterly inadequate to
reason, but senseless; nevertheless they were strictly complied with. To do
nothing more than walk around the powerful walls of Jericho and for the
priests to blow upon their trumpets of rams’ horns, seemed a childish and
ridiculous performance, yet that was what they had been bidden to do.
Unquestioning submission to God’s revealed will, an exact carrying out of
His instructions. employing none other than those means which He has
assigned, is what God requires from us, both in the performance of our
daily duties and in that which pertains more especially to His worship and
service. We are forbidden to lean unto our own understandings or resort
unto our own devices. God has plainly declared His mind unto us in the
Holy Scriptures, and they are to be the alone Rule and Regulator of all our
actions. Implicit obedience unto the Lord is absolutely essential if we are to
have His blessing upon our efforts.
Reader, the Divine commandments and precepts often appear strange unto
fleshly wisdom. How absurd did God’s order appear to the great Naaman
when he was bidden to bathe his leprous body in the Jordan; yet there was
no healing for him until he complied with the same. How contrary was it to
all human ideas for God to send His prophet to be fed for many months by
a widow who had naught but a handful of meal and a little oil; yet under
Him, it proved amply sufficient. What a testing of Simon’s submission
when Christ told him to let down the nets for a draught: they had toiled all
night and taken nothing, yet said the apostle “nevertheless at Thy word I
will let down the net” (

Luke 5:5). How unreasonable it must have
seemed to the Twelve when Christ bade them tell the vast multitude to sit
down and only five loaves and two little fishes were in sight! And how
unreasonable does it now appear unto the majority of preachers and
members to heed the call to cast away all the fleshly and worldly devices
which have been brought into the churches, substituting fasting and prayer,
and counting upon God to bless the preaching of His own Word.
“The obedience of faith” (

Romans 16:26). Weigh well those words.
Too often has it been affirmed that obedience is an effect or fruit of faith.
Obedience is an essential element of faith: the one can no more be
separated from the other than can the light and heat of the sun. Where
there is no true obedience, there is no real faith God-wards. The Gospel.260
requires obedience as truly as it does reliance, for it bids the rebel sinner
throw down the weapons of his warfare against God, to repent of his
wickedness, and to surrender to the Lordship and yoke of Christ. In

2
Peter 2:21, the Gospel is designated “the Holy Commandment,” and in

2 Thessalonians 1:8, we are told that Christ will yet take vengeance
upon them “that obey not the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ” which goes
on to give the solemn answer to that searching question
“What shall the end be of them that obey not the Gospel of God?”
(

1 Peter 4:17),
namely, they “shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the
presence of the Lord.” The Gospel does far more than issue an invitation to
“receive Christ as a personal Savior” or offer pardon to all who do so; it
first makes known the holy requirements of God for us to forsake our evil
ways and submit ourselves to the just claims of Christ.
Christ “became the Author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey
Him” (

Hebrews 5:9): not simply those who trust in Him. In like
manner, the Holy Spirit is by God “given to them that obey Him” (

Acts
5:22). As we began, so must we continue, and be able to say with David
“Teach me good judgment and knowledge, for I have believed Thy
commandments” (

Psalm 119:66).
The commandments neither sway the conscience nor incline the affections
until they be received as from God. “As the promises are not believed with
a lively faith unless they draw off the heart from carnal vanities to seek that
happiness which they offer to us; so the precepts are not believed rightly
unless we be fully resolved to acquiesce in them as the only rule to guide us
in the obtaining of that happiness, and to adhere to them, and to do them”
(Manton). To “believe God’s commandments” is to hear His voice in them,
to submit to His authority, to have our hearts and actions governed by His
revealed will in them. If we heed not God concerning our present duties,
we do but deceive ourselves when we imagine we are trusting Him with
respect to future privileges. We must consent to the commandments as
good and blessed in themselves, and love them as issuing from our Father.
THE DISCIPLINE OF FAITH
“By faith the walls of Jericho fell down, after they were compassed
about seven days” (

Hebrews 11:30)..261
In our last we contemplated the daring and obedience of Israel’s faith on
this memorable occasion, and now we turn to observe the discipline of it.
We have reference to

Joshua 6:10, where we learn that the people were
commanded,
“Ye shall not shout, nor make any noise with your voice, neither
shall any word proceed out of your mouth, until the day I bid you
shout.”
That injunction constituted a very real test of their morale. For all that host
of Israel to preserve strict silence as they journeyed around Jericho’s walls
was a severe restraint upon their natural inclinations — the more so that no
explanation for the same was furnished them. There are times when to
preserve silence is far harder than for us to express, what is on our minds.
The tongue is an unruly member, yet God requires us to control the
exercise of it, and there are occasions when to be mute is a manifestation
of grace which is honoring to Him. Such was the case when fire from the
Lord devoured the presumptuous sons of Aaron, and their father “held his
peace” (

Leviticus 10:3), and when David was sorely chastised by God
and he was dumb, and opened not his mouth” (

Psalm 39:9)!
How often are the sinews of faith cut by the injudicious and unfriendly
criticisms of those who pose as our Christian friends, who so far from
encouraging us to adhere strictly to our Rule, would have us conform to
this world! How often is the servant of Christ hindered by the God-dishonoring
counsels and carnal suggestions of church members when he
seeks to employ none but spiritual weapons! How much mischief is
wrought by those who are perpetually talking about the difficulties
confronting us! The soldiers of Christ must be trained: faith must be
disciplined: each one in the ranks of the Lord’s hosts must learn there is “a
time to keep silent and a time to speak” (

Ecclesiastes 3:7). The children
of Israel must neither make any sally upon this garrison of the Canaanites,
nor employ the customary war-cries of assailants, but, instead, preserve a
solemn silence as in sacred procession they encompassed the city. That
might have conveyed the impression that they were lacking in spirit and
zeal, thereby rendering them increasingly despicable in the sight of their
enemies, yet that was the manner in which they were required to conduct
themselves. God delights to make use of contemptible instruments and
means, that the glory may be His alone..262
We turn next to consider the patience of their faith, which was
conspicuously evidenced here. The walls of Jericho did not fall down the
first day nor the sixth that Israel marched around them, but only “after they
had been compassed about seven days.” Nor did they fall the first time they
were encompassed on the seventh day, but not until after seven circuits had
been made on that day. No less than thirteen journeys around them were
completed before the power of God was displayed. Why so? To test their
patience as well as their courage and obedience. They must be kept waiting
on the Lord.
“As promised deliverances must be expected in God’s way so they
must be expected in God’s time” (Matthew Henry).
Israel were required to carry out the orders they had received, to persevere
in the performance of duty, and leave the issue with the Lord. The race is
not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, but to those who are steadfast
and persistent.
“It is good [though we may not think so at the time] that a man
should both hope and quietly wait for the salvation [deliverance] of
the Lord” (

Lamentations 3:26).
Observe how one Scripture throws light upon another:

Hebrews 11:30,
does not tell us that Israel encompassed Jericho seven times on the seventh
day, nor does Joshua 6 inform us that they did so “by faith.” As pointed
out previously, neither the priests nor the people received any assurance
from Joshua that success would attend their efforts: they are seen there
simply complying strictly and patiently with the instructions they had been
given. But in

Hebrews 11 the Holy Spirit discloses to us that they acted
in faith. But how could that be, seeing they had no promise to rest upon?
We wonder if that question presents any difficulty to the reader. We hope
not, for it is a mistake to suppose there can be no faith in God unless we
have some definite word from Him to warrant it. So far as Scripture
acquaints us, when Abraham was told to sacrifice Isaac upon the altar, he
received no promise that he would be restored to him again; nevertheless,
it was “by faith” he offered Isaac “accounting that God was able to raise
him up, even from the dead” (

Hebrews 11:19). David had no promise
that he would slay Goliath, yet he had full confidence that God would
enable him to do so. Daniel had no guarantee of deliverance from the lions,
yet he “believed in his God” for protection from them (

Joshua 6:23)..263
Faith has to do with a known God, with One who is a living reality to the
soul, with One who can be counted upon to undertake for us. It is God in
His revealed character, as made known to us in His Word, God in Christ in
covenant relation to us, who is the Object of faith. True, a definite promise
makes it easier to act faith, yet is not the Promiser greater than the
promises, as the Giver is to all His gifts! And when we are unable to locate
a promise which precisely meets our particular case, that should not deter
us from having implicit confidence in God Himself. When David was guilty
of the terrible sins of adultery and murder, there was no sacrifice under the
law available for such crimes, but he had recourse to the known mercy of
God (

Psalm 51:1) — the infinite mercy of an infinite God; nor was he
confounded. So with Israel before Jericho. They had for years been
supernaturally fed in the wilderness, and unfailingly guided by the pillar of
cloud and fire. They had witnessed the miracle-working power of Jehovah
acting on their behalf in opening a way for them through the Jordan. And
now they confidently counted upon His showing Himself strong in their
behalf in overthrowing this mighty citadel.
Yes, it was “by faith,” in the daring and obedience of faith, they acted,
trusting God to work for them. But He was pleased to put their faith to a
severe proof: they were required to exercise “the patience of hope” (

1
Thessalonians 1:3), to persevere in the course God had appointed,
expecting Him to honor the same. Yea, to repeat their performance again
and again, and still without the least sign of their efforts being rewarded.
Why so? To make it the more evident that the conquest of Canaan was of
the Lord and not of them. Each fruitless journey around the city made it
increasingly apparent that their enemies were to be overcome not by their
power but by God’s. What a lesson is there here for each of us.
“My soul, wait thou only upon God, for my expectation is from
Him” (

Psalm 62:5).
“Therefore will the Lord wait, that He may be gracious unto you…
blessed are they that wait for Him” (

Isaiah 30:18).
But is it not at that very point most of us fail the worst? How easily we
become discouraged if our efforts do not meet with prompt success, or if
our prayers be not speedily answered! How impatient is the flesh!
“For ye have need of patience, that, after ye have done the will of
God, ye might receive the promise” (

Hebrews 10:36)..264
Indeed we have, for each of us is very prone to say of the Lord, as his
mother said of Sisera,
“Why is His chariot so long in coming, why tarry the wheels of His
chariot” (

Judges 5:28).
Speaking to His disciples, the Lord Jesus declared, “Men ought always to
pray, and not to faint” (

Luke 18:1). How much we need to take that
word to heart! How often have we “fainted” when victory was almost in
sight! We become discouraged when our “Jericho” does not fall the first or
second time it is encompassed. Most of us find it much harder to wait than
to believe, yet we prove by painful experience that our fretful impatience
accomplishes no good nor speeds the desired event a single moment. Let
us be more definite and earnest in begging the Holy Spirit to work this
grace of patience in us, and to be “watching thereunto with all
perseverance” (

Ephesians 6:18), assured that “in due season we shall
reap, if we faint not.”
Consider for a moment the assurance of their faith — a striking proof of
which was given by them in what is recorded in

Joshua 6:20. There we
are told,
“So the people shouted when the priests blew with the trumpets,
and it came to pass, when the people heard the sound of the
trumpet, and the people shouted with a great shout, that the wall
fell down flat.”
Twice over in that verse does the Holy Spirit record that which was so
honoring to the Lord. During all their circuits of the city, they had been
bidden to maintain a complete silence, but when their obedience and
patience had been fully tested, they were ordered to “shout,” for said their
leader “the Lord hath given you the city” (verse 26). But mark it well, that
shout must be made while the powerful walls still stood intact! It was
therefore a shout of faith, of confidence in God, of full assurance that He
would appear in their behalf and recompense their “patient continuance in
well doing.” That shout signified their strong persuasion that victory was
certain. That is what assurance consists of: an unshakable belief that God
will make good His Word, a steadfast reliance that He will reward those
that seek Him diligently (

Hebrews 11:6).
That concerted and loud shout of Israel before the actual event was one of
confident expectation. By such assurance God is greatly glorified. Though.265
Abraham was about a hundred years old and his wife’s womb dead, when
he received promise of a son he was
“fully persuaded that what God had promised He was able also to
perform” (

Romans 4:21).
When the son of the woman of Shunem died, so strong was her faith that,
though none had previously been restored to life, she confidently expected
her son to be revived (

2 Kings 4) — her actions in verse 21 and her
words in verse 23 evince the same. Of our Lord’s mother it is said,
“Blessed is she which believed that there shall be a performance of
those things which were told her from the Lord” (

Luke 1:45).
To the distressed mariners Paul said,
“Be of good cheer, for I believe God, that it shall be even as it was
told me” (

Acts 27:25).
What examples are these of the heart’s full reliance upon God while
outward appearances were quite unpromising! When Moffatt, the
missionary who had labored for years among the Bechuanas without seeing
a single seal to his ministry, received a letter from friends in England who
wished to make him a present, asking him to specify what it should be, he
answered, “A communion set”! Months after, when it arrived, more than a
dozen converted natives sat down with him to remember the Lord’s death.
Say not “How wonderful” but “How deplorable I do not trust Him more
fully.”
Take note of the renunciation of their faith. Israel’s being forbidden to
seize the spoils of war, and being told that the silver and gold must be
“consecrated unto the Lord” (verses 18, 19), teaches us that real faith takes
no credit unto its subject, but ascribes all the honor of its performances
unto the Giver. Faith precludes all boasting and self-congratulation
(

Ephesians 2:8, 9). Faith belongs to those who are “poor in spirit.” So
far from promoting Laodicean self-esteem, it humbles us unto the dust,
causing us to look away from self unto God. It is a self-emptying grace,
moving us to stretch forth the beggar’s hand. Consequently, it takes no
praise to itself, but gives the whole unto its Bestower. Its language is
“Not unto us, O Lord, not unto us, but unto Thy name give glory,
for Thy mercy, for Thy truth’s sake” (

Psalm 115:1)..266
Blessedly was this exemplified by Abraham. When the Lord gave him the
victory over Chedorlaomer, and the king of Sodom invited him to take the
spoils unto himself, Abraham answered,
“I have lifted up my hand unto the Lord, that I will not take from a
thread to a shoe-latchet… lest thou shouldest say, I have made
Abraham rich” (

Genesis 14:22, 23)!
Finally, behold the triumph of faith. “And it came to pass, when the people
heard the sound of the trumpet, and the people shouted with a great shout,
that the wall fell down flat, so that the people went up into the city, every
man straight before him, and they took the city” (verse 20). Nothing can
stand before faith: the most formidable obstacles give way to it. “All things
are possible to him that believeth” (

Mark 9:23) as the whole of Hebrew
11 clearly shows. The language of an expectant faith is,
“Through God we shall do valiantly, for He it is that shall tread
down our enemies” (

Psalm 50:12),
because faith looks away from self, with all its infirmities and limitations,
unto the Almighty. “This is the victory that overcometh the world: our
faith” (

1 John 5:4): when it is in exercise, the world can neither enthrall
nor intimidate, for it elevates the heart above the creature. Israel’s capture
of Jericho is recorded for the encouragement of the saints of all
generations, and our lengthy consideration of the same will have been in
vain unless it has put new life into us as it has demonstrated afresh the
invincibility of God’s purpose, the sufficiency of His power, and His
readiness to put it forth on the behalf of those who render implicit
obedience to His revealed will and count upon His rewarding the same.
“And they utterly destroyed all that was in the city, both man and
woman, young and old, and ox and sheep and ass, with the edge of
the sword” (verse 21).
For several centuries the long-suffering of God had waited because “the
iniquity of the Amorites was not yet full” (

Genesis 15:16). Forty years
previously, in the first year of the Exodus, the Lord had solemnly
threatened them, bringing the sword of Israel to the borders of Canaan, and
then withdrawing His hand for a time, giving them a further respite. But
the period of waiting was now over. That united shout from Israel was the
sign that the Lord would tarry no longer, that the day of His wrath was
come. All the guilty inhabitants of Jericho were made a solemn and awful.267
sacrifice to the Divine justice. “The Canaanites were ripe for destruction,
and the Lord was pleased, instead of destroying them by a pestilence, a
famine, an earthquake, a devastating fire from heaven, to employ the
Israelites as the executioners of His vengeance, both for their warning and
instruction, and for that of all who read these records. Had an angel been
commissioned to slay them (as one did Sennacherib’s army:

2 Kings
19:35), who would have charged Him with iniquity or cruelty? In all public
calamities infants are involved and tens of thousands die with great agony
every year.
“Now either God is not the agent in these calamities, which opinion
— though often implied in man’s reasonings on these subjects — is
not far from atheism; or they must consist with the most perfect
justice and goodness. What injustice then could there be in ordering
the destruction of a guilty race by the sword of His people? Or
what injustice can be charged on them while executing His express
commission, as ratified by undeniable miracles? It is evident that the
hand of God would be far more noticed in these uncommon events
than if He had destroyed His enemies by the ordinary course of
second causes. The malignity of sin, with the indignation of Goal
against sinners, and His power and determination to inflict condign
punishment on them, would be far more conspicuous and
impressive. In short, every man who by reading the account of
these awful judgments, in any age or place, has been led to a deeper
sense of the evil of sin, and warned to repent and seek mercy from
the Lord, will to eternal ages glorify the Divine wisdom and
goodness, in the very dispensations which embolden the
blasphemies of the impenitent and unbelieving” (Thomas Scott).
“Behold therefore the goodness and severity of God” (

Romans 11:22):
the latter is as truly a Divine perfection as is the former.
In verses 22-25 we see how the promise given to Rahab in

Joshua 2:14,
19, was made good:
“By faith the harlot Rahab perished not with them that believed not,
when she had received the spies with peace” (

Hebrews 11:31).
Therein we behold the mercy of God unto those who really turn to and
believe in Him. The inhabitants of Canaan had heard of Jehovah’s drying
up the waters of the Red Sea, and of Israel’s destroying of Sihon and Og,.268
but Rahab alone believed “that the Lord hath given you the land”
(

Joshua 2:9, 10). She evidenced her faith by receiving the two spies
with good will, and sheltering those servants of God from their foes at the
hazard of her own life (illustrating the principle that faith ever requires self-denial),
and by a strict compliance with their instructions. The blessed
consequence and sequel was that she “perished not with them that believed
not.” The preservation of her house, which was “upon the town wall”
(

Joshua 2:15), was as manifest a miracle as was the falling down of all
other parts of it, and typified the eternal security of those who trust in the
Lord.
Let us now briefly epitomize some of the many important lessons
inculcated and illustrated by the contents of

Joshua 6:1. Closed doors
and high walls are no insuperable obstacle when God be for us and with us:

Acts 12:10 (verse 1).
2. Faith is to behold that which is invisible to sight and reason:

John
8:56;

Hebrews 11:1 (verse 2).
3. Divine promises do not render needless the discharge of responsibility
(verse 3).
4. God pours contempt on human pride by appointing means which are
contemptible in the eyes of the world (verse 4).
5. Encouragements (verse 5) are not to be bandied about promiscuously,
but given to the diligent and faithful (verse 16).
6. The “ark,” in which was the Law and the “trumpets of jubilee” which
announced the Gospel, tells, of the preacher’s twofold work (verse 6).
7. The rank and the of God’s people are required to support and hearten
His ministers (verse 7).
8. The Lord’s presence with them (

Matthew 28:20) is what is to
animate and regulate His ministers (verse 7).
9. The position of honor is reserved for the ark and the priests:

Hebrews 13:7, 17;

1 Thessalonians 5:12, 13 (verse 9).
10. Muffle not the Gospel trumpet and let it give forth no uncertain sound:

1 Corinthians 14:8 (verse 9)..269
11. We must be “swift to hear, slow to speak”:

James 1:19;

1 Peter
3:15 (verse 10).
12. All murmuring against God and unwarrantable criticisms of His
servants must be suppressed (verse 10).
13. God takes note of and appreciates thoroughness, the completing of
each task assigned (verse 11).
14. Punctuality, diligence, whole-heartedness, must ever characterize the
servant of Christ (verse 12).
15. Though no visible results appear, the priests must blow their trumpets
“continually” (verse 13).
16. Patience and perseverance are called for in the discharge of all our
God-given duties (verse 14).
17. The more trying and difficult the task, the more earnestly should we set
ourselves to it (verse 15).
18. When success is delayed, our efforts are to be increased and not
diminished (verse 15).
19. We must not be discouraged over the lack of early success, but let
patience have her perfect work (verse 15).
20. God’s promise is to be faithfully relied upon during the time when there
is no indication of its fulfillment (verse 16).
21. Though saints as such have no commission to speak in public, yet their
mouths are to utter the Lord’s praise (verse 16).
22. It is implicit confidence in Himself which the Lord ever delights to
honor — “when” (verse 16).
23. The whole world lieth in the Wicked One and is under the wrath of
God (verse 17).
24. We bring trouble upon ourselves when we set our affection on earthly
things (verse 18).
25. God never confounds those who trust and obey Him (verse 18)..270
26. The most unlikely means are used by God in the doing of great things
(verse 20).
27. Eternal destruction is the portion of all out of Christ (verse 21), eternal
security of those who trust Him (verses 22, 23).
28. Build not again the things you have destroyed or renounced:

Galatians 2:18 (verse 26; cf.

Psalm 85:8)..271
CHAPTER 10
SIN, DEFEAT, JUDGMENT
JOSHUA 7:1-26
HUMILIATION AT AI
The seventh chapter of Joshua presents to us a drastically different scene
from those which have engaged our attention in the previous chapters, yea,
so startling is the contrast that we are reminded of that old adage, “Truth is
stranger than fiction.” Up to this point everything had gone smoothly and
blessedly for Israel, but now their progress is suddenly halted. Hitherto we
have witnessed them, under God, going from strength to strength and glory
to glory. Strict obedience to the Divine commands had marked their every
movement; here, the very reverse obtained. They had duly attended to the
essential matter of circumcision and had kept the appointed Passover feast.
On His part, the Lord had wrought wondrously for them, bringing them
through the Jordan dry-shod and overthrowing the principal fortress of the
enemy without a blow having to be struck by Israel. But a startling contrast
now confronts us: immediately following the memorable victory at the
formidable Jericho, Israel suffer humiliating defeat at the much weaker
town of Ai. A member of the tribe of Judah had committed a grievous
crime, and the whole nation suffer in consequence. As there was a serpent
in Eden and a Judas among the apostles, so there was an Achan in the
midst of an obedient Israel.
A series of sad failures are set before us in the passage we are about to
consider. The whole nation is thus depicted, “The hearts of the people
melted and became as water” (

Joshua 7:5). That dejection of God’s
people was occasioned by the cowardice shown by three thousand of their
armed men, who had “fled before the men of Ai,” thirty-six of them being
slain as the enemy chased them (verse 5). That had been preceded by the
remiss conduct of Joshua himself, who, instead of seeking counsel from the
Lord, had acted upon the carnal advice of his spies (verse 4). The men
whom Joshua had sent out to reconnoiter Ai so far forgot their place that,
upon their return, instead of making a simple report, they presumed to.272
inform their commander-in-chief of the policy which they deemed it best
for Israel to follow on this occasion (verse 3). But before all this, the anger
of the Lord had been kindled against Israel by the sin of Achan at Jericho
(verse 1). That was what explained all which followed: the cause of which
they were the consequences. One decayed apple will soon infect a whole
box of sound ones; or, to change the figure for a more Scriptural one,” A
little leaven leaveneth the whole lump.” (

1 Corinthians 5:6).
In the light of history there is nothing at all unusual in the sad failures
mentioned above, for poor human nature is “as unstable as water”
(

Genesis 49:4). Yet in view of the fact that this generation was far and
away the best which Israel ever had, and that Jehovah Himself was their
Captain (

Joshua 5:15) in the conquest of Canaan, it does seem strange
that such a deplorable lapse now occurred. How are we to account for the
Divine permission, yea, fore-ordination of the same? From the general
teaching of Scripture, may we not say that the Lord suffered this grievous
defection for such reasons as these? First, to teach all succeeding
generations of His people that they are never in greater danger of yielding
to the pride of their hearts than when the Lord’s power has been most
signally displayed on their behalf. Second, to exemplify the basic truth that,
if we are to enjoy a continuation of God’s governmental blessing, we must
remain steadfast in our subjection to His holy will. Third, to set before His
saints a lasting warning that the Holy One is jealous of His glory, and will
not condone sin in His own people. Fourth, to emphasize that nothing can
be concealed from Him: that the most secret actions of an individual fall
beneath His observation (

Proverbs 15:3).
How ominous is the initial “But” of

Joshua 7:1 — the first chapter of
our book opening thus: sad intimater of what follows, and well suited to
point the contrast with the closing verse of chapter 6. There we read, “So
the Lord was with Joshua and his fame was noised throughout all the
country”; now we are told, “But the children of Israel committed a
trespass… for Achan… took of the accursed thing, and the anger of the
Lord was kindled against the children of Israel.” The contrast is a double
one: the Lord was with Joshua, but here His anger was kindled against
Israel. The consequence of the former was that Joshua’s fame was
proclaimed abroad; the sequel of the latter is that he was humiliated and
lies on his face before the ark (

Joshua 7:5). How often are the brightest
prospects dimmed and the most promising projects hindered by sin! It was
so with king Saul, and later with Solomon. Thus with Israel’s progress in.273
the conquest of Canaan: victory at Jericho gives place to defeat before Ai.
How this shows us that a time of success is when we most need to be on
our guard, and “rejoice with trembling” (

Psalm 2:11). The moon never
suffers an eclipse except at a time when it is at the full! Grace is needed by
us to use the grace God gives us and to save us from turning His blessings
into curses.
Here, then, is another most important practical lesson for us to lay to heart
in connection with the possessing of our possessions and the present
enjoyment of our spiritual heritage. When God has vouchsafed light from
His Word and opened up to us some passage, beware lest we become
conceited and attribute the same to our own perspecuity. When victory is
granted over some lust or deliverance from a powerful temptation, boast
not, but rather endeavor to become more watchful. When God gives the
pastor souls for his hire and prospers his labors, humbling grace must be
diligently sought that he may not cherish the spirit of Nebuchadnezzar and
say,
“Is not this great Babylon that I have built for the house of the
kingdom by the might of my power!” (

Daniel 4:30).
Remember that solemn warning,
“But Jeshurun [Israel] waxed fat and wicked: thou art waxed fat,
thou art grown thick, thou art covered with fatness: then he
forsook God” (

Deuteronomy 32:15).
We need to be much on our guard and fight against the Laodicean self-sufficiency
and self-glorying of this evil day. Unless we be kept “little in
our own sight” (

1 Samuel 15:17) and “poor in spirit,” the overthrow of
some Jericho in our experience will be followed by an ignominious defeat
before an Ai!
“But the children of Israel committed a trespass in the accursed thing: for
Achan, the son of Carmi, the son of Zabdi, the son of Zerah, of the tribe of
Judah, took of the accursed thing.” This awful trespass was committed
within the very environs of Jericho, immediately after GOd had
miraculously caused its walls to fall down flat. In connection with the
destruction and sacking of that city, specific instructions had been given to
Israel that they must neither spare any lives nor take any of the spoils unto
themselves (

Joshua 6:17-19). The spiritual lesson for us therein is that
“the good fight of faith” in which the Christian is called to engage consists.274
of a mortifying of the flesh, the denying of self, and the renouncing of this
world in our affections. It was far more than a bare theft of which Achan
was guilty, namely, the heinous act of sacrilege, a taking of that which was
“consecrated to the Lord”! It is to be carefully noted that the Holy Spirit
has furnished us with the genealogy of the offender, and since there is
nothing meaningless or unimportant in the Word of Truth, it behooves us
to attend to this detail. Achan was the immediate descendant of “Zerah,”
and he was the son of Judah’s whoredom (

Genesis 38:15-30). What a
solemn example of the sins of the fathers being visited upon the children I
Significant indeed is the name of this disturber of the nation’s peace and
prosperity, for Achan means “Trouble.” It is both solemn and striking to
note how the Holy Spirit has phrased His allusion to Achan’s sin: He does
not say “one of,” but rather “the children of Israel committed a trespass in
the accursed thing.” God regarded them as a unit, and hence what one
individual is considered the sin of the nation. This is borne out by what
follows, for the whole congregation was affected thereby; “and the anger
of the Lord was kindled against [not simply “Achan” but] the children of
Israel.” We have a parallel in the local church of the New Testament:
“whether one member suffer, all the members suffer with it (

1
Corinthians 12:26), an example of which is furnished in

Joshua 5:17, of
the same epistle. Israel had been plainly warned that if any one of them
took of the accursed thing, they would “make the camp of Israel a curse,
and trouble it” (

Joshua 6:18), yet that solemn warning deterred not the
selfish and rebellious Achan. Until the walls of Jericho fell, all kept strictly,
to rank, but upon their fall they went “every man straight before him
(

Joshua 6:20). Thus the moment discipline was relaxed this reprobate
cared only for himself.
“And Joshua sent men from Jericho to Ai, which is beside Beth-aven
on the east side of Bethel, and spake unto them saying, Go up
and view the country” (verse 4).
Joshua did not rest on his oars, but proceeded to the task which lay before
him, sending out scouts to examine the next place to be captured. After
such a notable victory, he did not deem himself entitled to sit down and
take things easy, or give himself to feasting; but believed in the policy of
striking while the iron is hot. The best time to hoist sail is when the wind is
blowing, so that advantage may be taken of the same. Thus it is spiritually.
When favored with a breeze from Heaven (

John 3:8), it is a propitious.275
season for religious enterprise. Yet observe that the zeal of Joshua was
tempered with prudence: he did not rush blindly ahead, but wisely took a
preview of what was next to be done. It is the feverish energy of the flesh
which impels professing Christians to act hurriedly and rashly, instead of
“sitting down first and “consulting” whether they be sufficiently equipped
for the task which they assay (

Luke 14:31). There is a happy mean
between recklessness and a caution which degenerates into apathy.
Ai was a place of sacred memories, for in

Genesis 12:8, we are told of
Abraham that he removed “unto a mountain on the east of Bethel and
pitched his tent [emblem of being a “stranger and pilgrim” there], having
Bethel on the west and Hai [same as “Ai” in Joshua 7] on the east; and
there he built an altar to the Lord [symbol of his being a worshipper] and
called upon the name of the Lord.” But now this territory was occupied by
the wicked and marked out for destruction. It was because of their
abominable idolatry and immorality that the Lord used Israel as His
instrument of judgment upon the Canaanites (

Leviticus 18:24, 25;

Deuteronomy 18:10-l2). Evidence of this is found in the names
mentioned in

Joshua 7:2, for “Beth-aven” signifies “House of vanity” or
“iniquity.” Incidentally we may note an example of the minute accuracy of
Scripture in the topographical reference there: “Go up and view the
country,” said Joshua, while the Holy Spirit informs us in

Genesis 12:8,
that Abraham “removed unto a mountain on the east of Bethel” — which
means “The House of God.” Ah, my reader, there are no “contradictions”
in Holy Writ, but, instead, the most perfect harmony ‘throughout; but only
the reverent and diligent student perceives that.
“But the children of Israel committed a trespass in the accursed thing, for
Achan… took of the accursed thing, and the anger of the Lord was kindled
against Israel. And Joshua sent men from Jericho to Ai… saying, Go up and
view the country. The two verses are linked together, and thereby a solemn
lesson is pointed. It is evident that Joshua was ignorant of the perfidy of
Achan, and therefore was quite unaware that the anger of Jehovah was
kindled against Israel. It is a very serious thing to provoke the Lord, and
thereby forfeit His providential smile. Yet how few of the “churches” today
are conscious that the anger of the Lord is kindled against them! Kindled
against them for the self-same reason that it was here against Israel,
namely, for having trafficked in “the accursed thing.” Dispensationalists
may deny it, and say that occurred under the Dispensation of Law, but
there is no parallel in this “Dispensation of Grace.” Therein they betray.276
their crass ignorance, and, it is much to be feared, their unregeneracy —
hearts which know not the Holy One. The case of Ananias and Sapphira
(Acts 5;

Revelation 2:14-16 and 20-23) and a quenched Spirit in our
midst clearly give the lie to their assertions.
“And the men went up and viewed Ai. And they returned unto Joshua, and
said unto him, Let not all the people go out, but let about two or three
thousand men go up and smite Ai; make not all the people to, labor thither,
for they are but few (verse 3). In carrying out Joshua orders those men
acted commendably, but in taking it upon them to advise their general,
their conduct was most reprehensible. It was nothing but downright
impudence for those subordinates to tell Joshua what he should do. Had he
asked for their suggestions it had been a different matter, but to proffer
them unsought was a piece of impertinence. It appeared to be the language
of kindness, prompted by consideration of others — to save the great bulk
of the nation from a needless waste of energy. Yet, plausible as were their
words, it was carnal counsel they gave: as much so as Peter’s “Pity
Thyself, Lord,” which seemed to emanate from deep solicitude for Him,
when in reality it issued from Satan (

Matthew 16:22, 23). The same
answer which, the Redeemer returned unto the apostle was due these spies:
“thou savorest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men.”
They were leaning on the arm of flesh, filled with a sense of self-sufficiency.
These men who returned from their reconnoitering were inflated with
pride. Their language was that of presumption, engendered by previous
success. They began to entertain the idea that they belonged to a great
nation, and none could stand before them. They contemptuously regarded
Ai as an easy prey, as their “for they are few” indicated. What need for the
whole of the army to journey thither: a small company of our men will
suffice. There was no dependency upon the One who had wrought
wonders for them. Instead, they felt that a couple of battalions could do
wonders, and that there was no need for Israel to put forth all their
strength. Alas, how like unto them God’s servants and people often are
today. When the Lord is pleased to exercise His power in the saving of
souls, preaching appears to be an easy matter, and the minister is tempted
to spend less time and labor in the preparation of his sermons. And when
God grants a saint victory over some powerful lust, he is apt to feel there is
less need to pray so earnestly. But such a spirit is disastrous. Only as we
continue sensible of our weakness shall we seek strength from Above..277
Take warning from this incident and strive against pride and presumption,
especially when God has granted some success.
“Let not all the people go up: but let about two or three thousand
go up and smite Ai; make not all the people to labor thither, for
they are few” (verse 3).
How different was that conceited boast from me language or the first spies:
“Truly the Lord hath delivered into our hands all the land”
(

Joshua 2:24)!
Let not victory lead to negligence. We have no right to count upon the
Lord’s doing all for us unless we make full use of the means that He has
appointed. All of Israel were required to assemble at Jericho: none was left
behind in his tent, none suffered to remain at a distance as a mere
spectator. It might appear to them as a needless waste of “man-power,”
but God required it; and gave success to their obedience. There was the
precedent for them to follow. But the dictate of carnal wisdom intervened.
Ai appeared to be an inconsiderable place and no great force required to
reduce it. Self-confidence promised an easy conquest, so the greater part of
the army might be spared. Instead of regarding it as a blessed privilege for
the whole nation to behold the Lord showing Himself strong in their behalf,
these men said, “make not all the people to labor thither” or to be a
“weariness,” as the word is eight times rendered elsewhere — just as at the
close of the Old Testament a degenerate Israel said of God’s worship
“what a weariness is it!” (

Malachi 1:13).
“So there went up thither of the people about three thousand men”
(verse 4).
Very solemn indeed is that, for it shows us what the most honored of
God’s servants are when left to themselves. We say riot “the most
eminent,” for that savors far too much of the flesh; but rather the “most
favored.” Whatever privileges we have enjoyed, or nearness to God has
been granted us, we are still entirely dependent upon Him for a
continuance of preserving grace. If that be withheld from any one of us for
a single hour, we shall miserably fail and sin. The upholding Spirit was now
withdrawn from Joshua for a season (why so, will be pointed out later),
and therefore he acted as a natural man would and followed the carnal
policy advanced by his underlings. Instead of rebuking their pride with.278
“Let not him that girdeth on his harness boast himself as he that
putteth it off” (

1 Kings 20:11),
he adopted their fleshly policy, This was the more lamentable and
excuseless because express instructions had been given him,
“he shall stand before Eleazer the priest, who shall ask counsel for
him after the judgment of Urim before the Lord: at His word shall
they go out and at his word shall they come in” (

Numbers
27:18-21).
Alas, the evil leaven of Achan’s trespass was at work “leavening the whole
lump,” secretly yet surely defiling all his fellows. Failing to ask counsel of
the Lord, Joshua was now deprived of spiritual perception, and so
discerned not the carnality and evil of the plan set before him. He should
have realized at once that it was at direct variance with the Divine pattern
given him at Jericho. There everything was done in complete obedience to
the revealed will of God, in full dependence upon Him, and yet without the
slightest neglect of means or human instrumentality — the entire
congregation took their assigned places and parts. But here there was no
inquiring of God’s mind, no reliance on His intervention, and a small part
only of the “armed men” were deemed sufficient to perform the work of
the whole. Thus the greater part would be idle and the congregation itself
deprived of the grand privilege of witnessing the mighty works of their
God. When Jericho fell, the whole nation saw by whose Hand its powerful
walls were demolished, and could give Him the glory. Thus, the plan
adopted now by Joshua was a breaking in upon the Divine design.
How solemnly does that point the injunction
“Cease ye from man whose breath is in his nostrils, for wherein is
he to be accounted of?” (

Isaiah 2:22).
What a warning is there here for the pastor to give no heed to the carnal
advice of his church officers, and to say with David “My soul, wait thou
only upon God” (

Psalm 62:5). Emulate the apostle who “conferred not
with flesh and blood” (

Galatians 1:16). It matters nothing what others
think and say of you so long as you have the Divine approbation. No
matter how plausible may be the suggestions proffered, take orders from
none save your Master. At the beginning of the campaign Joshua had given
commandment that the Reubenites, Gadites, and half the tribe of Manassah
should “remain in the land” and not enter into possession of their.279
inheritance on the other side of Jordan “until the Lord have given your
brethren rest” (

Joshua 1:12-15), thereby insisting that the whole of the
twelve tribes should present a united front before the enemy until victory
was complete. But the plan now followed introduced disunity. It is the
following of fleshly methods which generally brings divisions among the
people of God. Later, the Lord said to Joshua “Take all the people of war
with thee” (

Joshua 8:1). He had to return to the Divine plan before
there could be any success!
The sad failure of Israel before Ai is one which calls for the most careful
and prayerful study. Not only because it points, in a general way, a warning
which needs to be taken to heart by all of God’s people, especially so by
His servants, but more particularly because of the book in which it is
recorded and the grand truth which is there illustrated. As we proceed from
chapter to chapter it needs to be definitely borne in mind that the theme of
Joshua is Israel’s entry into and conquest of Canaan, and that this typified
the Christian’s occupation by faith of his heavenly heritage. In the earlier
articles of this series we emphasized that fact considerably, frequently
pointing out the principles which must regulate the saints if they are to
actually “possess their possessions” (Obadiah 17) in this life. Alas that so
few of them do enjoy their inheritance — because of their failure to act by
the same. We need not now enumerate and describe these principles suffice
it to say that they are all summed up in, unremitting submission to the
revealed will of God. While Israel followed that course, all went well for
them; but as soon as they departed therefrom, disastrous was the
consequence. And that is written for our learning (

Romans 15:4). O
that a teachable spirit may be granted both writer and reader.
“The upright shall have good things in possession”
(

Proverbs 28:10).
The upright are they who walk with their eyes fixed on God, in subjection
to His authority, and in dependence on His grace. While they maintain that
character they have the “good things” purchased by Christ not merely in
promise and prospect, but in present “possession,” enjoying real and
blessed foretastes of their eternal portion. But when self-will and self-pleasing
obtrude, they are made to eat the bitter fruits of their folly. And
hence it is that in the book we are now studying we are shown, both in the
crossing of the Jordan and the capture of Jericho, the blessed effects of
Israel’s obedience unto the Lord; and on the other hand, we have faithfully.280
set before us — in the shameful defeat at Ai — the evil results which
inevitably followed Israel’s disobedience. In the one we are taught some of
the secrets of success, or the things which must be attended to by us if we
are to have the mighty power of God working in our behalf; while in the
other is made known what are the certain precursors of the Lord’s
displeasure and of our being overcome by our enemies. The one is as
necessary for our instruction as is the other.
It would be stating the same thing in a slightly different form and from
another angle if we said, The principal subject developed in the book of
Joshua is a showing unto God’s people how their enemies are to be
conquered, for Israel had to vanquish and dispossess the Canaanites before
they could occupy their land. In like manner the Christian must overcome
the Devil, the world, and the flesh before he can experimentally enjoy his
heavenly heritage. Israel’s warfare against the seven nations of the land
was a figure of the believer’s conflict with his spiritual foes. The grand
lesson which is set before us in the type is that our foes can be subdued by
none but the Lord, and that He will fight for us only so long as we are in
complete subjection to Him and maintain entire dependence upon Him.
“For if ye shall diligently keep all these commandments which I
command you to do them, to love the Lord your God, to walk in all
His ways, and to cleave unto Him. Then will the Lord drive out all
these nations from before thee” (

Deuteronomy 11:22, 23).
Blessedly was that exemplified at Jericho; but the converse was
demonstrated at Ai: the former is chronicled for our encouragement; the
latter is narrated as a solemn warning for us to take to heart.
The first thing for us to heed — as we observe that the defeat of Ai
followed immediately after the victory at Jericho — is the startling fact that
the people of God are never in greater danger of giving place to pride and
presumption than when God has signally blessed and prospered them.
Never does a believer need to act more warily and in full dependence upon
the Lord than when his graces are in lively exercise and his heart in an
exhilarated frame. Unless he does so, self-confidence will creep in, and
more reliance will be placed upon inherent grace than upon the One from
whose fullness we need to be continually receiving grace for grace. No
matter how strong be our faith, joyful our heart, energetic our grace, we
must still look up for fresh supplies and renewings in the inner man, for
without such our graces will no longer act, no, not for a single hour. Only.281
as we remain in the place of conscious weakness are we really strong. Only
as the empty hand of a beggar continues to be extended, shall we receive
“the supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ” (

Philippians 1:19). Alas, how
often do we give the Lord occasion to complain,
“I spoke unto thee in thy prosperity, but thou sadist [by thy self-sufficient
attitude] I will not hear” (

Jeremiah 22:21).
The hidden cause of Israel’s defeat at Ai was the sin of Achan, who had
secretly committed a grievous trespass against the Lord (

Joshua 7:1),
and as the sequel shows, it is a very solemn and serious matter to provoke
Him. In this case His displeasure was evinced by his leaving Israel to act in
their own wisdom and strength, and that could issue in naught but disaster.
Here we have illustrated the important truth that so long as there be an
ungrieved Spirit in the midst of an assembly, He directs its counsels and
moves its officers and members to work in a wise and becoming manner;
but when He is slighted, then His gracious operations are suspended, and
they are left to act in the energy of the flesh — to the dishonor of the Lord,
and to their own undoing and sorrow. Thus it was here. Out of the hidden
root of Achan’s offense grew the more obvious causes of the Ai defeat.
Pride and presumption were at work. Ai was regarded with contempt, as
an easy prey (verse 3); but to their own overthrow. Learn from this, my
reader, that it is a fatal mistake to underestimate the strength of our
enemies! It is only as we truly realize that our spiritual foes are too
powerful for us to vanquish that we shall really seek help and strength from
the Lord.
Alas, Joshua accepted the counsel of those who belittled Ai:
“So there went up thither of the people about three thousand men”
(

Joshua 7:4).
And what was the inevitable outcome of such carnal self-confidence? This:
“they fled before the men of Ai.” What a spectacle! Behold attentively the
consequence of leaving the place of humble dependency! Mark well what
happens when we follow our own devices. Left to themselves, the courage
of these men of war wholly deserted them. It is only as we take unto us
“the whole armor of God” that we are “able to withstand in the evil
day, and having done all to stand” (

Ephesians 6:13)..282
If instead we lean upon the arm of flesh, it is certain to fail us. Sad it is to
see those three thousand Israelites panic-stricken before the heathen,
especially as the record of the same follows right after the final statement
of chapter 6: “So the Lord was with Joshua and his fame was noised
throughout all the country.” How the ignominious defeat of his soldiers
would reflect upon the name and fame of Israel’s commander! Sadder still
is it to know that our sinful failures not only injure ourselves and those
people of God with whom we are connected, but that they also bring
dishonor upon our Redeemer. Should not the realization of that make us
work out our salvation “with fear and trembling”?
“And the men of Ai smote of them about thirty and six men, for
they chased them from before the gate even unto Shebarim, and
smote them in the going down” (verse 5).
How forcibly does this incident illustrate what was repeatedly pointed out
in the earlier articles. Israel’s success in conquering Canaan depended
entirely upon the Lord’s showing Himself strong in their behalf, and that
turned upon their unqualified obedience to Him. As Matthew Henry rightly
pointed out, the check which they here received “served to let them know
they were still upon their good behavior.” Success was to come from God
and not their own valor, yet that success was bestowed only so long as
they adhered to the pattern which He had given them. One essential feature
in that pattern was that the unity of Israel must be preserved — a united
front was to be presented to the enemy; consequently “all the men of war”
and “all the people” of Israel were bidden to march against Jericho
(

Joshua 6:3, 5). But in connection with Ai the spies counseled Joshua,
quite otherwise: make not all to labor thither” (

Joshua 7:3). He
acceded: “there went up thither about three thousand”; and now we see
them in flight, some of them slain, and the remainder chased to
“Shebarim,” which most significantly means “breaches”!
Next we are shown the effects which this disgrace had upon the
congregation. When they learned of the retreat and heard that some of their
brethren had been slain, “the hearts of the people melted and became as
water.” And well they might. Had not Joshua previously assured the
nation,
“Hereby ye shall know that the living God is among you, and that
He will without fail drive out from before you the Canaanites”
(

Joshua 3:10)?.283
Now that He was no longer leading them to victory, but suffering them to
be overcome by their foes, they had reason to be thoroughly dejected. As
Matthew Henry well remarked, “True Israelites tremble when God is
angry.” Here again we may note yet another striking contrast. When
Jehovah had put forth His mighty power on Israel’s behalf in the drying up
of the Jordan, we are told that “all the kings of Canaan,” when they heard
of it, “their heart melted, neither was there spirit in them any more” (verse
1). But here the hearts of Israel melted and became as water (

Joshua
7:5)! Nevertheless, even then, God was working in mercy unto Israel. By
that painful and humiliating providence He was about to bring to light the
hidden things of darkness, give His people an opportunity to dissociate
themselves from the trespass of Achan and punish the culprit.
“And Joshua rent his clothes and fell to the earth upon his face
before the ark of the Lord until the eventide, he and the elders of
Israel, and put dust upon their heads” (verse 6).
It is to be duly noted that nothing is here said of Joshua berating the
soldiers for their cowardice, or of his expostulating with the people for
their faint-heartedness. He did not prate about “the fortunes of war” and
tell them there was no need to be dismayed, nor did he make any effort to
raise their spirits. Rather did he realize the exceeding gravity of the
situation and refuse to say “Peace, peace” when he knew that something
was radically wrong. The “elders” — the responsible heads of the nation
— also recognized that the defeat was owing to the Lord’s being
provoked, and they too abased themselves before Him. The rending of
their clothes was a symbol of perturbation and lamentation (

Genesis
37:24;

2 Samuel 1:11), the putting of dust on their heads betokened
distress and grief (

1 Samuel 4:12;

Job 2:12). How very different was
their conduct from the foolish and fatal “optimism” that is now so rife, and
which is nothing else than a declining to face realities, a refusing to
recognize the fact that the Lord is displeased and is withholding His
blessing.
When things go seriously wrong, either with the individual Christian or
with the local church, diligent and solemn examination is called for. When
the providential frown of God be upon us, and we ignore the same or “seek
to make the best of a bad job,” we are only inviting still heavier
chastisements. We are bidden to “hear the rod” (

Micah 6:9, and not to
disregard or steel our hearts against it; and the first thing required of us in.284
order to ascertain its message is to humble ourselves before the One who
wields it, for
“the meek will He guide in judgment, and the meek will He teach
His way” (

Psalm 25:9).
When God afflicts us we ought to afflict ourselves.
“The day of the Lord [any season when He displays His displeasure
and acts in judgment] is great and terrible, and who can abide it?
Wherefore also now saith the Lord, turn ye even to Me with all you
heart, and with fasting and with weeping… for He is merciful and
gracious” (

Joel 2:12, 13).
For thirty years past that is what God has been saying — by His
providences — to the whole of Christendom, and particularly to our
nation. But alas, it has to be said of us, as of Israel of old,
“Thou hast stricken them, but they have not grieved… they have
refused to receive correction: they have made their faces harder
than rock” (

Jeremiah 5:3).
“And Joshua rent his clothes and fell to the earth upon his face before the
ark of the Lord.” It is to be carefully observed that not only did he now
humbly take his place in the dust, but he did so before that sacred coffer
which was the symbol of the Lord’s throne and presence in Israel. Most
suitably was that posture and position selected, for the holy ark had been
grievously slighted! Both in the crossing of the Jordan and the march
around Jericho, the ark had, by Divine orders, been accorded the place of
honor, as it was borne aloft by the priests, signifying unto Israel thereby
that victory for them depended upon their covenant God being duly
magnified and counted upon. His glory shone forth unmistakably as, by His
almighty power, He had made a way for Himself and His people. It was
Joshua’s sad failure in not giving the ark its proper place, which was the
immediate cause of Israel’s humiliation at Ai. Not only had Israel’s unity
been broken by his heeding the boastful suggestion of the spies, but the
guidance and help of the ark was dispensed with, and thereby Jehovah had
been affronted! It was, we believe, in the conscious realization of this, that
Joshua now lay on his face before it.
Once before, and only once, had Israel suffered defeat at the hands of the
heathen, and it is by comparing the two together, that fuller light is.285
obtained upon the incident now before us. Both that reverse in the
wilderness and this one in the land issued from the same cause: the pride of
self-confidence. The earlier defeat occurred just after the crisis at Kadeh-barnea,
when the nation succumbed to unbelief, refusing to follow the
counsel of Caleb and Joshua, and listening to the God-dishonoring report
of the ten spies. After hearing the Divine sentence that all of them should
perish in the wilderness, mourning and confessing their sin, they went to
the opposite extreme, and in blatant self-sufficiency declared “We will go
up unto the place which the Lord hath promised.” Moses at once rebuked
them:
“Wherefore do ye now transgress the commandment of the Lord;
but it shall not prosper. Go not up, for the Lord is not among you,
that ye be not smitten before your enemies. But they presumed to
go up to the hill-top; nevertheless the ark’ of the covenant of the
Lord, and Moses, departed not out of the camp. Then the
Amalekites came down… and smote them” (

Numbers 14:44-
45).
Thus history repeated itself: in their mad assurance, the three thousand
went to Ai without the ark and suffered defeat.
“And Joshua rent his clothes and fell to the earth upon his face before the
ark of the Lord.” That act and attitude of his not only expressed an
humbling of himself beneath the mighty hand of God, an unsparing self-judgment
for his failure, but it also betokened a spirit of hope. Does the
reader ask, How so? Because that which formed the lid of the ark was the
“mercy-seat,” where forgiveness could be obtained on the ground of
propitiation. Nor do we regard it as a straining of the verse to introduce
this idea here: rather does it appear to us to be required by the Spirit’s
having informed us that Joshua continued thus “until the eventide.” Very
blessed indeed is that if it be remembered that the God of Israel had
appointed,
“thou shalt offer upon the altar two lambs of the first year, day by
day continually: the one lamb thou shalt offer in the morning, and
the other lamb thou shalt offer at even” (

Exodus 29:38, 39).
Then does not Joshua’s remaining before the ark until the time of the
evening sacrifice confirm the thought that he did so in the expectation of.286
receiving an answer of peace,” of obtaining mercy through the Lamb! Let
the reader compare

1 Kings 18:36;

Ezra 9:4, 5;

Daniel 9:21!
Ere passing from this verse its central figure needs to be contemplated
from yet another angle. Does not Joshua’s “falling to the earth upon his
face” foreshadow once more the Divine Savior! When we remember that
the root cause of the Ai calamity, which Joshua was here lamenting, was
the trespass of Achan in “the accursed thing,” must we not recognize in
Joshua’s humiliation thereat a striking and solemn prefiguration of the
Redeemer’s anguish in Gethsemane? When entering upon the climax of His
sufferings and the Surety of His people was about to be “made a curse” for
them before God, we are told that He “fell on His face, and prayed”
(

Matthew 26:39).
And the very next thing which Joshua here did was to pray (verse 7). If it
be objected that Joshua was acknowledging his own sad failure, we
answer, That only brings out more pointedly the type, for in Gethsemane
the Holy One is seen as the Sin-bearer, the iniquities of His people being
laid upon Him. Yet in all things He has the pre-eminence: very different
indeed was His prayer in the Garden from that of Joshua’s on this
occasion, for the types instruct us not only by comparison but also by way
of contrast — as in Israel’s eating of the manna, and later dying; not so
with those who eat the Bread of Life (

John 6:49, 50).
“And Joshua said, Alas, O Lord God, wherefore hast Thou at all
brought this people over Jordan, to deliver us into the hand of the
Amorites to destroy us?” (verse 7).
Here begins one of the prayers of the Old Testament, which, like those
contained in the New, vary considerably both in tenor and tone. It is
therefore well for us to inquire, What is prayer? That question may be
answered in many ways, according as it be considered from various angles.
Thus, prayer is a communing with God, an adoring of Him. Prayer is
offering praise to Him, a thanking Him for all His mercies. Prayer is also
the making known of our needs unto God, and a looking to Him for the
supply of the same. Likewise it is an acknowledging of our sins before
Him, and seeking His forgiveness and restoration. Further, it is a taking on
our spirits the burdens of others and making intercession on their behalf.
But here in Joshua 7 we have something quite different from any of those
aspects of prayer which, though an humbling one, is nevertheless one
which all saints at some time or other in their lives need to avail themselves.287
of. On this occasion we behold Joshua overwhelmed, heavily burdened,
deeply perturbed, and we hear him pouring out his heart before God
without restraint. It is our privilege and duty to do so in similar seasons,
though endeavoring to avoid his faults. It will bring relief to an oppressed
spirit!
There was no eloquent phrasing, no pleading of the Divine promises, no
expressing of any definite petition in Joshua’s prayer; but instead an
unstudied and spontaneous unburdening of himself before the Lord. If it be
examined in a critical and carping spirit, it will be easy to detect its faults
and condemn it for its incoherency and inconsistency. But whatever defects
this prayer possessed, it must not be overlooked that it obtained a hearing
from God! It will therefore be well for each of us to ponder

Joshua 7:7-
9, in the light of the title of Psalm 102: “A prayer of the afflicted when he is
overwhelmed and poureth out his complaint before the Lord.” Upon these
words an exceptionally favored and honored servant of God wrote: “You
and I may be in various cases of affliction: we may at times be
overwhelmed with the same: it will be well with us if we act as the Psalmist
here doth. I never in the whole of my life got any good by carrying my
affliction, or speaking when overwhelmed with sorrow to anyone else; no,
let it be with a saint of ever so great a degree in the school of Christ. When
I have poured out my complaint before the Lord, I have. Blessed be His
name for it.”
A PENITENT LEADER’S PRAYER
In our last we contemplated Joshua, after Israel’s humiliating defeat at Ai,
on his face before the ark of the Lord. There he lay, with rent garments and
dust upon his head, in a posture of self-judgment and abasement. Not until
the hour of the evening sacrifice did he open his mouth to God, and then he
might have said,
“I poured out my complaint before Him, I showed Him my trouble”
(

Psalm 142:2).
Those words present to us an aspect of prayer all too little dwelt upon by
preachers and writers. It is wrong to think that we should approach God
only when our hearts are composed and in a spiritual frame. It is our
privilege to come to the throne of grace for “mercy” and to sob out our
griefs when deeply distressed. David tells us he did so “When my spirit was
overwhelmed within me” (

Psalm 142:3). It is for our relief that we tell.288
out our woes to One who is “touched with the feeling of our infirmities.”
When none other can enter into our case or assuage our grief, we should
present ourselves before the Divine footstool as objects of compassion,
remembering that “the Lord is very pitiful and of tender mercy” (

James
5:11), and therefore He will not break the bruised reed or quench the
smoking flax.
“When it lies in his line of duty for an expositor to comment upon a
recorded instance of an outpouring of heart by a troubled soul, his task is
neither an easy nor a pleasant one; for not a little scum rises to the surface
when the spirit reaches boiling point. The Hebrew word for “complaint” in

Psalm 142:2, does not mean fault-finding, but signifies, rather, that
which causes pain and anguish, as in

Job 7:13, and

9:27. We may
indeed complain to God and unburden ourselves before Him, yet we ought
never to complain of Him or murmur at any of His dealings. But where
shall we find one clothed with flesh and blood who is guiltless in this
respect? Where indeed! Only in Him who, amid “strong crying and tears,”
said, “Nevertheless, not My will, but Thine be done.” If one of our
“complaints” be examined in a captious spirit it will not be difficult for
another to find in it expressions which are inadvisable. Let us not then
scrutinize this prayer of Joshua’s in a pharisaic spirit, but rather let us
approach it with that word before us, “He that is without sin among you,
let him first cast a stone” (

John 8:7). On the other hand, we must not
gloss over the faults nor deliberately condone what is reprehensible in it.
Not a little of human infirmity was discovered by Joshua’s language on this
occasion, and though that be easily accounted for, yet it must not be
rendered an excuse for justifying our failures. As is so often the case with
us, especially when deeply perturbed, there was a strange mingling of the
flesh and the spirit seen in the prayer which is now to engage our attention.
While some of its expressions cannot be approved, yet it should be borne in
mind that Joshua was not here murmuring against any direct dealing of the
Lord with himself, but was venting his sore distress over what had just
befallen his nation, and, was deeply grieved at the reproach which the same
must bring upon the name of the Lord. While those considerations might
modify his fault, yet they by no means absolve him. The truth is that Joshua
too was a sinner saved by sovereign and amazing grace, and that fact was
made to appear clearly in this incident. Let us then admire once more the
impartiality and fidelity of the sacred historians in narrating this blemish in
Joshua’s conduct, and behold therein another proof of the Divine.289
inspiration of the Scriptures, which painted each character in the colors of
truth and reality, concealing not the defects of its greatest heroes.
The temporary breakdown of Joshua in heeding the presumptuous counsel
of the spies, instead of seeking guidance from the Lord through the high
priest (

Numbers 27:21), and in slighting the ark instead of according it
the place of honor, was now further betrayed by his mouth and the hard
thoughts which he entertained against God.
“And Joshua said, Alas, O Lord God, wherefore hast Thou at all
brought this people over Jordan, to deliver us into the hand of the
Amorites, to destroy us? would to God we had been content, and
dwelt on the other side Jordan!” (

Joshua 7:7).
In this failure of so honored a character as Joshua let both writer and
reader see his own deep need of walking humbly before God and clinging
to Him in conscious weakness. An object lesson is here set before us of
how quickly faith fails its possessor when it be not sustained by its Author
and Giver. The trouble was that Joshua’s heart was no longer occupied
with the plain and sure promises he had received from God. And why?
Because he was walking by sight, viewing things with the eyes of carnal
reason. He rashly concluded from the setback at Ai that it was the
harbinger of total defeat. Unbelief is unable to see things in their proper
perspective and proportions: thirty-six men and not the whole of the three
thousand had been slain! It was not without good reason that the apostle
was moved by the Spirit to say to those who were partakers of the
heavenly calling,
“Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of
unbelief” (

Hebrews 3:13).
There is a very real danger of our doing so, and we need to be ever on our
guard against it, walking circumspectly. Even the faith of. him who is
designated “the father of all them that believe” (

Romans 4:11) failed,
for when there arose a famine in the land, instead of trusting God to supply
all his need (as Elijah did), he “went down into Egypt to sojourn there”
(

Genesis 12:10).
That breakdown in Abraham’s faith was due to the same cause as that of
Joshua’s! He was out of communion with God. First, he had left Bethel
(“the house of God”), where he had built an altar to the Lord, and then he
journeyed “toward the south” (

Genesis 12:8), i.e. Egyptwards. And.290
thus, as we have seen with Joshua, instead of inquiring of the Lord, he had
hastily adopted the carnal policy of his underlings. Disaster followed, and
now a spirit of unbelief possessed him. Learn, then, dear reader, that faith
will only be preserved in a healthy condition as we maintain close
communion with God through those means of grace which He has
appointed.
“Alas, O Lord God, wherefore hast Thou at all brought this people over
Jordan to deliver us into the hand of the Amorites, to destroy us?” Very
sad indeed is it to hear Joshua now using the very language which had been
employed forty years previously by that generation of Israel whose
carcasses fell in the wilderness. Of them it is recorded that they “murmured
in their tents and said, Because the Lord hated us He hath brought us forth
out of the land of Egypt, to deliver us into the hand of the Amorites, to
destroy us”; the explanation of such despondency being, as Moses charged
them, “in this thing ye did not believe the Lord” (

Deuteronomy 1:27,
32). And now Joshua is guilty of expressing the same unbelief. This is the
more lamentable since he (together with Caleb) had rebuked the skepticism
of the congregation, saying,
“Rebel not ye against the Lord, neither fear ye the people of the
land, for they are bread for us their defense is departed from them,
and the Lord is with us; fear them not” (

Numbers 14:9)
— that was the language of confidence in God. But as faith in Him will
make the weak and timid strong and courageous, so will unbelief fill the
stoutest heart with terror.
Observe how inconsistent and incoherent is the language of unbelief.
Joshua acknowledged that it was the Lord who had brought Israel over
Jordan, and then asked if He had done so only for them to be destroyed at
the hands of the heathen. It is ever thus. Though the wise of this world
look upon the children of faith as a company of credulous simpletons, yet
really “the shoe is on the other foot.” Nothing is so reasonable as to believe
the Bible, for it is the Word of Him who cannot lie. But none so imposed
upon and irrational as those who reject a revelation from heaven that is
attested by “many infallible proofs”: to scorn what is authenticated by
unimpeachable evidence is a mark of madness and not intelligence. And
when a child of God gives way to unbelief his spiritual understanding
becomes deranged, and the conclusions he then draws are faulty and
absurd. Behold another example of this in the case of David, when he “said.291
in his heart, I shall now perish one day by the hand of Saul (

1 Samuel
27:1). How could he possibly do so, when God Himself had assured him of
the throne? He, too, had failed to ask counsel of the Lord, and now that he
talks with his own deceitful heart he utters the language of a fool.
What need is there for the Christian to cry, “Lord, I believe, help Thou
mine unbelief.” And if that prayer be sincere, so far from his excusing
unbelief, he will mourn over it; so far from regarding it as an innocent
infirmity for which he is to be more sympathized with than blamed, he will
strive against its evil workings. We have no patience with those who well-nigh
exalt the carnal fears and doubts of God’s people into spiritual graces
and evidences of humility and “deep experience.” Any teaching which
makes light of the distrust of God, or which causes His children to pity
themselves for their failures and falls, is to be condemned and shunned. To
call into question the Divine promises is to make God a liar, and that is a
heinous offense by whomsoever committed. As faith honors God, so does
unbelief dishonor Him. Faith is said to glorify God (

Romans 4:20), and
therefore unbelief is a failing to render to Him the glory which is His due.
Unbelief in His people is the sin against which God has most proclaimed
His displeasure. Moses and Aaron were excluded from Canaan because of
their unbelief (

Numbers 20:12). The father of John the Baptist was
stricken dumb for not believing what God had revealed (

Luke 1:20).
Christ chided His disciples for nothing so much as He did for their unbelief
(

Matthew 8:26;

Luke 24:25). “Lord, increase our faith” must be our
daily request.
“Would to God we had been content, and dwelt on the other side Jordan!
“Surely this cannot be the language of one who was on his face before the
ark of the Lord! Ah, my reader, no fictitious history had contained such an
unthinkable anomaly as that. Nevertheless it is true to life, as many a saint
discovers by sad experience. Just previously “the Lord was with Joshua,
and his fame was noised throughout all the coast (

Joshua 6:27); here
disgracing himself, by complaining of the Lord’s dealings with Israel. Then
in the posture of self-abasement, and now uttering the language of self-will.
For how many of God’s own people do those words of Jacob’s concerning
Reuben apply: “Unstable as water” (

Genesis 49:2). Humbly seeking for
light from the Word, and puffed up with conceit when it be granted.
Praying for more patience, and fretful when the Divine providences are
working it in us (

James 1:2). Intrepidly contending, single-handed,
against eight hundred and fifty false prophets (1 Kings 18), and.292
immediately after fleeing in terror from the threats of a woman (

1 Kings
19:2, 3). Ephraim was not the only one like “a cake not turned” (

Hosea
7:8) — baked on one side, dough on the other. Oh, what a compound of
inconsistencies and contradictions is the Christian as the flesh lusteth
against the spirit and the spirit against the flesh! Oh, the long-suffering of
the Lord!
The best of God’s children (if there be any best!) are frequently affected
with fits of unbelief and chillings of love. Today they find themselves
earnestly proposing and resolving to do those things which are good, but
tomorrow they may discover their zeal has somewhat abated, so uncertain
and inconstant are their affections. Now hopeful, anon despondent; now
singing God’s praises, anon their harps upon the willows; now walking
obediently in the path of the Divine precepts, anon straying off into bypath
meadow. None differ so much from them as they often differ from
themselves! Nay, in the very graces for which they are eminent, how have
they failed! Moses was the meekest man upon the earth, yet in what a
froward passion was he when he struck the rock twice and “spake
unadvisedly with his lips”! Peter was the most zealous and courageous of
the apostles, yet he yielded to sinful fear in the presence of a maid. Some
will glorify God in one condition, but dishonor Him in another. They may
conduct themselves becomingly while God keeps them low, and then
become fretful against Him when they are exalted. On the contrary, others
who tread softly in a time of prosperity are filled with murmuring when the
cold winds of adversity smite them.
“Would to God we had been content, and dwelt on the other side Jordan!”
Alas, what is man? What is a saint when left to himself? What will not his
inbred corruptions produce unless Divine grace suppress them! How
the,evil leaven was working! How horribly Joshua himself was affected by
Achan’s sin! Yet that in no wise excused his own unseemly language,
JOSHUA was here taking direct issue with the Most High, openly
quarrelling with His dispensations, complaining at His providential
dealings. And has the writer and the reader, even after becoming a
Christian, never been guilty of the same black offense? Ah, have we not
cause to hang our heads in shame? And should not the remembrance of
past risings up of a rebellious spirit cause us to beg God to subdue our
iniquities and bring our will into fuller subjection to His? Instead of
marvelling at the sad language of Joshua, see in it a portrayal of our own.293
wayward hearts and our deep need of crying “Hold Thou me up”
(

Psalm 119:117).
“Would to God we had been content, and dwelt on the other side Jordan!
“Most assuredly that was not the utterance of “a sound mind,” least of all
as now issuing from one who had recently passed through such an
experience as Joshua’s: he had just witnessed a whole generation of his
nation discontented with the wilderness, repeatedly lusting after the
fleshpots of Egypt. It was the height of folly to express such a wish.
Moreover, it was not at all a matter of “contentment”: they had left the
wilderness at the command of God, and not because they were dissatisfied
with it. Mark well the sad process which preceded that frenzy. First, a
severance of communion with God, then giving way to an evil heart of
unbelief, then quarrelling with God’s providential dealings, and now bereft
of spiritual sanity, for surely it was nothing less to prefer the wilderness to
Canaan! But is it not ever thus when fellowship with the Lord is broken
and unbelief actuates us? The barren wilderness is a figure of this perishing
world, and when a Christian is out of touch with Christ and a spirit of
distrust possesses him he is infatuated with the things of earth and, unless
Divine grace restores him to his senses, becomes more attached to them
than the things which are above.
“O Lord, what shall I say!” It seems to us that these words mark a return
to sanity. The wild outburst of the preceding verse is checked. It is almost
as though he now felt ashamed of his rash utterances as he began to realize
to whom he was speaking. Yet he is still quite disturbed and scarcely
knows how to express himself. “O Lord, what shall I say, when Israel
turneth their backs before their enemies!” (verse 8). Israel was beloved of
him, yet he could think of nothing to say on their behalf which excused
their cowardly defeat. Nevertheless he should have known how to answer
his question. The Lord does not act capriciously, nor does He “afflict
willingly nor grieve the children of men” (

Lamentations 3:33), but only
as they give Him occasion; and therefore Joshua ought to have humbly
begged the Lord to make known to him the reason for His afflicting
judgment. Should he not have asked, “O Lord: why doth Thine anger burn
against Thy people? wherein have we provoked Thee?” When they were
defeated in battle by the Philistines, the elders of Israel inquired,
“Wherefore hath the Lord smitten us today?” (

1 Samuel 4:3). When
there was a famine in the land for three years, “David inquired of the Lord”
(

2 Samuel 21:1), and He at once made known the cause of the same..294
What has just been pointed out presents a lesson which we do well to heed.
As I live, saith the Lord, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked; but
[rather] that the wicked turn from his way and live” (

Ezekiel 32:11).
Much less has the Lord any pleasure in smiting His own people. Yet He
must maintain His own honor, and deal with them according to His
holiness as well as His grace. And they must “hear the rod” if they would
profit from it and “be partakers of His holiness” (

Hebrews 12:10, 11).
Closing our eyes to the providential signs God gives us of His displeasure
will not improve matters; nor will wringing our hands in despair when
things go wrong get us anywhere. While on the one hand God has said,
“My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord,” yet on the other He
bids us nor faint when thou art rebuked by Him” (

Hebrews 12:5). What
then should we do and say? Humble ourselves beneath His mighty hand
and pray
“give me to understand wherein I have erred… show me wherefore
Thou contendest with me” (

Job 6:24; 10:2)
that I may put right what is wrong, and once more have Thy smile upon
me. Such an inquiry, if it be sincere and humble, will not be in vain.
“O Lord, what shall I say when Israel turneth their backs before their
enemies! “Let us apply those words to ourselves. What should be the
believer’s reaction to the sad state which the religious world is now in? As
he beholds the awful declension of the outward cause of Christ on earth,
and realizes that the Spirit has been quenched, what ought he to do and
say? First, solemnly examine himself and his ways, and seek to ascertain
how far his own sins have contributed to the present absence of the Lord’s
blessing from the churches. During “the desolations of Jerusalem” Daniel
sought the Lord, and he tells us
“I made my confession and said… we have sinned and committed
iniquity” (

Joshua 9:2-5, etc.).
Let each of us do likewise. Second, we should be deeply affected by the
present situation and mourn before God because of the reproach which
prevailing conditions in Christendom cast upon His name: see

Psalm
119:53, 136;

Jeremiah 9:1. Third, we should turn the exhortation of

Revelation 3:2, into earnest prayer, and beg the Lord to “strengthen the
things which remain that are ready to die,” and revive His work in the
midst of the years. Fourth, we should plead before Him the promise.295
“When the enemy shall come in like a flood, the Spirit of the Lord
shall lift up a standard against him” (

Isaiah 59:19).
“Who can tell if God will not turn and repent, and turn away from
His fierce anger that we perish not?” (

Jonah 3:9).
“For the Canaanites and all the inhabitants of the land shall hear,
and shall environ us round, and cut off our name from the earth:
and what wilt Thou do unto Thy great name?” (verse 9).
Here the supplicant becomes more intelligible, for the first half of this verse
is to be regarded as a plea, being tantamount to asking the Lord to
remember that Israel were the sheep of His pasture, and therefore to spare
them from falling a prey to the wolves. Then Joshua pointed out the danger
Israel were now in, thereby taking the place of weakness; next, he looked
to the love and pity of the Lord: Israel’s name, which is dear to Thee, will
be blotted out if the heathen completely destroy them — which was an
indirect appeal to the promises God had made to the fathers (

Genesis
15:18, etc.). Finally, he points out the reproach which would be cast upon
God were the Canaanites to triumph completely. Thus when we penetrate
beneath the surface agitations of Joshua, we see that at heart it was
concern for the Divine glory which had prompted this prayer!
He could not endure a prospect which reflected upon the fidelity and
power of their covenant God. Herein he foreshadowed the antitypical
Joshua. He, too, when in deep trouble of soul, had asked “What shall I say?
Father, save Me from this hour?” No, rather, “Father glorify Thy name”
(

John 12:27, 28)! Let that be our plea, and it will prove a prevailing
one.
DIVINE INQUISITION
Joshua 7 presents to our notice that which is very different from what is
found in the preceding chapters. It opens with the ominous word “But,”
which solemnly prepares for what follows. First, the heinous sin of Achan,
which, though the nation knew it not at that time, caused the Lord to burn
in “the fierceness of his anger” against Israel (verse 26). The evil effects of
Achan’s offense and the consequences of Jehovah’s displeasure soon
appeared. The spies whom Joshua sent out to reconnoiter Ai were left to
the exercise of their carnal reason. The result was that when making their
report they presumptuously took it upon them to advise their leader how to.296
act. Regarding Ai as an easy prey, they intimated there was no need for the
whole nation of Israel to journey thither, that a single battalion of their men
would suffice. Thereby they suggested a departure from the pattern which
the Lord had given His people both at the Jordan and at Jericho, and
introduced disunity. Instead of seeking counsel from the Lord, Joshua
adopted their foolish plan. The ark of the covenant was left behind in the
camp, and three thousand only were sent against Ai. The outcome was
disastrous. A spirit of cowardice possessed them, and they fled from the
Canaanites, thirty-six of them being slain.
The whole congregation was thoroughly dismayed: “the hearts of the
people melted, and became as water.” Quite unaware of the root cause of
Israel’s ignominious setback, Joshua and the elders of the nation rent their
clothes, put dust upon their heads, and fell to the earth on their faces
before the slighted ark of the Lord. There they remained “until the
eventide,” when the second of the daily sacrifices was presented. At that
hour Joshua addressed himself unto the Lord, pouring out his distressed
heart before Him. In view of the circumstances, it is not to be wondered at
that the infirmities of this honored servant of the Lord were made manifest
on this occasion. As is usually the case with us at such times, there was a
strange mingling of the flesh and spirit, in the supplication of Joshua. While
some of his utterances are not to be condoned, still less echoed, yet it
should be borne in mind that he was not complaining at any of the Lord’s
dealings with him personally, but was deeply perturbed at what had
befallen God’s people. Though his opening expressions were unseemly, his
closing ones evidenced that his heart beat true to Jehovah and that it was
the honor of His name which so greatly concerned him. We shall now
consider the response which his prayer met with from God.
“And the Lord said unto Joshua, Get thee up; wherefore liest thou
thus upon thy face?” (

Joshua 7:10).
Before considering those somewhat puzzling words, let it be attentively
observed that God did not refuse His servant a hearing, even though
considerably infirmity had marred it. Blessed be His name,
“He knoweth our frame, He remembereth that we are dust”
(

Psalm 103:14),
and in His tender mercy.297
“A bruised reed shall He not break, and smoking flax shall He not
quench” (

Matthew 12:20).
Joshua had exclaimed,
“O Lord, what shall I say, when Israel turneth their backs before
their enemies? For the Canaanites and all the inhabitants of the land
shall hear, and shall environ us round, and cut off our name from
the earth; and what wilt Thou do unto Thy great name?” (verse 9).
In those words he had virtually confessed his own failure. used the
language of godly sorrow, and had evinced a deep concern for the glory of
God. Well for us if such elements be present in our lispings before the
throne of grace. The holy but gracious One never repulses those in whom
such a spirit is found. On the ground of the evening sacrifice (the slain
lamb!) Jehovah met with this soul who manifested a “broken and contrite
heart” (

Psalm 51:17). How that should encourage failing yet penitent
believers today!
“And the Lord said unto Joshua, Get thee up; wherefore liest thou thus
upon thy face?” Care needs to be taken in the interpreting of this verse. If it
be detached from its context we are almost certain to err and jump to a
wrong conclusion, regarding it as an expression of the Lord’s displeasure.
But if due attention be paid unto its opening “And,” and note carefully both
what precedes and what immediately follows, we should have no difficulty
in arriving at its general tenor. It is not God’s way to condemn those who
take their place in the dust before Him: rather is His controversy with them
who refuse to do so. Nevertheless, though He pardons, He does not gloss
over our faults: see

Psalm 85:8;

John 5:14. As the prayer of Joshua
had been a mixed one, so with the Divine response. God did not turn a deaf
ear to it, nor did He ignore His servant’s petulance, but gently reproved
him. It was both a mild rebuke and a word of instruction. “Wherefore liest
thou thus upon thy face?” Why so distressed and dejected? There is other
work for thee to do. But before performing it, he must be directed by his
Master. Up to now Joshua was in complete ignorance of Achan’s offense
— the root cause of the disaster.
“Israel hath sinned, and they have also transgressed My covenant
which I commanded them: for they have taken of the accursed
thing, and have also stolen, and dissembled also, and they have put
it even among their own stuff” (verse 11)..298
That too needs to be pondered, first, in the light of its setting. As we do so,
it will be seen that an important and blessed practical truth receives
exemplification: “the secret of the Lord is with them that fear Him”
(

Psalm 25:10). If we really seek God’s honor and glory, we shall not be
left long in ignorance of the best way to recognize and promote it. So it
was here: the Lord now informed Joshua what it was which lay behind
Israel’s defeat at Ai. In like manner, if our seeking unto Him be sincere and
earnest — whether it be an individual or an assembly — God will soon
reveal to us what it is that has been withholding His blessing upon our
efforts. “Israel hath sinned”’ there has been no failure on My part. I have
not changed, but am just as willing and ready as ever to undertake for My
people; but they have choked the channel of blessing. Thus it ever is. We
speak of God’s hiding Himself, when in fact we have departed from Him. It
is always man that does the turning away, thereby depriving himself of the
Divine strength, protection and prosperity.
In the above words of Jehovah unto Joshua it is most noticeable how He
set forth and stressed the enormity of Achan’s crime: one detail being
added to another until no less than six items are specified in the terrible
indictment.
First, the general charge is made “Israel hath sinned,” followed by the
fearful accusation “they have also transgressed My covenant which I
commanded them,” which greatly aggravated their sin. Observe that the
charge is preferred against the whole nation, and not simply against a single
individual’ “Israel,” “they,” for in the sight of God they were a corporate
and federal unit: as the local church of this Christian era is a moral unit
before Christ: see

1 Corinthians 12:20, 26; 5:6. This feature received
additional emphasis in the reference to “the Covenant,” for that had been
made with and solemnly entered into by the whole congregation (Exodus
24). Next we behold how the Divine Law was brought to the fore: “They
have taken of the accursed thing,” which was a definite violation of the
explicit prohibition of

Deuteronomy 13:17 — “there shall cleave naught
of the cursed thing to thine hand.” Yet more: “and have also stolen,”
thereby adding considerably to the heinousness of the offense, for it was a
direct breach of the eighth commandment in the Decalogue.
“And have also stolen” emphasized another reprehensible feature of the
crime — it had been committed surreptitiously and with previous design. It
was not that Achan had been suddenly overcome by an unexpected.299
temptation, but that he acted with deliberation, stealthily and secretly, his
deceitful and wicked heart persuading him that he would thereby escape
the cognizance of the Most High. Horrible impiety is it when we entertain
the idea that we can impose upon Omniscience. The more secret our
wickedness be, the more does it evince the heart’s depravity and industry
therein, planning and scheming how to bring the sin to pass with the least
danger and shame to ourselves. It was thus with David when he plotted the
death of Uriah (

2 Samuel 11:14, 15). So too had Ananias and Sapphira
arranged in private to impose a fraud upon the Holy Spirit (

Acts 5:27).
How we should pray to be preserved from secret sins! They are particularly
heinous because of the premeditation and dissimulation which is used in
their commission. “And dissembled also,” which made his case that much
blacker. When Israel met with shameful defeat at Ai, and the whole nation
was plunged into grief, Achan played the part of a hypocrite, pretending to
be innocent of causing the same — instead of confessing his iniquity.
Finally, “And they have put it even among their own stuff,” instead of
bringing it into the “treasury of the Lord” (

Joshua 6:19).
“Therefore the children of Israel could not stand before their
enemies, but turned their backs before their enemies, because they
were accursed; neither will I be with you any more, except ye
destroy the accursed thing from among you (verse 12).
Weigh attentively that statement my reader, for it casts a flood of light
upon the reason why the visible cause of Christ is in its present lamentable
condition. What took place at Ai has been and is being duplicated in
thousands of churches and assemblies the world over. Instead of enjoying
the Lord’s blessing, His frown is upon them; instead of overcoming the
Enemy, they are humiliated before him. How many a minister of the Gospel
has to the best of his ability faithfully preached the Word, yet to no effect,
unless it be to considerably reduce the size of his congregation! How many
a one fearing that he was a “misfit,” has resigned his charge and has
accepted a call to another part of the Lord’s vineyard, only to discover
after a short time there that conditions are just as heartbreaking as those in
his previous sphere! A spirit of deadness rests upon his church: the prayer
meeting is cold, and thinly attended, preaching is burdensome. His most
earnest appeals seem to hit the wall and return upon him. The power of the
Spirit is markedly absent: souls are not converted, nor even convicted..300
The above verses makes known one of “the ways of the Lord” or one of
the principles which regulate His governmental dealings in time. When a
company who profess to be in covenant relationship with Him violate its
terms and flagrantly transgress His commandments, then His blessing is
withheld from them. No matter how zealous and active they may be, God
prospers not their efforts. They may go out as of yore against the foe, but
the Lord fights not for them. They are left to themselves, and soon their
nakedness and shame is made manifest. God will not be trifled with. To the
church in Pergamos the Son of God declared “I have a few things against
thee,” and after specifying what they were, added, “Repent, or else I will
come on thee quickly, and will fight against thee with the sword of My
mouth (

Revelation 2:14-16). Likewise did He threaten the church in
Thyatira,
“I will kill thy children with death, and all the churches shall know
that I am He who searcheth the reins and hearts, and I will give
unto every one of you according to your works” (

Revelation
2:23).
Alas that the majority of the churches today know nothing of that solemn
fact. Alas that they have received so little instruction upon the holiness
which must obtain in the assembly if the presence of Christ is to be enjoyed
there. Alas that “the accursed thing” has not only been suffered a place, but
“they have put it even among their own stuff.” Alas that they know not the
Holy One has a controversy with them over this very thing. Alas that they
are ignorant of the fact that their spiritual poverty and powerlessness, their
being humiliated before the world, is due to the Divine judgment upon their
sins. Alas that they are completely unaware of the Divine sentence “neither
will I be with you any more, except ye destroy the accursed thing from
among you.” Paul had to rebuke the Corinthian assembly because they
tolerated moral evil in their midst, and bade them
“Purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump”
(

1 Corinthians 5:17).
“Except ye destroy” was the enforcing of Israel’s responsibility.
How unmistakably the defeat at Ai and God’s solemn words to Joshua
make it evident that such a promise as that given in Deuteronomy 20 was
not an absolute one. There God had given instruction,.301
“And it shall be, when ye are come nigh unto the battle, that the
priests shall approach and speak unto the people, and shall say unto
them, Hear, O Israel, ye approach this day unto battle against your
enemies: let not your hearts faint, fear not, and do not tremble,
neither be ye terrified because of them; For the Lord your God is
He that goeth with you to fight for you against your enemies, to
save you” (verses 2-4).
Neither in those words, nor in anything preceding or following, was there
any proviso. It has the appearance of an absolute promise, without any
qualification. Taken by itself, it was so; but taken in conjunction with other
passages in Deuteronomy, it was not so — as the event at Ai, and the later
experiences of Israel demonstrated. Scripture needs always to be compared
with Scripture in order to arrive at the full meaning of any single verse. If
we are too lazy to do the necessary searching in order to locate other
qualifying or amplifying passages, then the fault is entirely our own if we
be left in ignorance of the signification of any statement of Holy Writ. The
whole book of Deuteronomy needs to be read through if we are to rightly
understand such a passage as the one in the twentieth chapter.
Our purpose in calling attention to

Deuteronomy 20:2-4, in connection
with our study of Joshua 7, is to show how easy it is to wrest God’s Word,
and to utter a warning and protest against the careless and dishonest
manner in which it is now so often handled. Such passages as

Deuteronomy 6:16-18 and 11:8, 9, require to be kept steadily in mind
when reading Joshua and the books which follow, for they supply the key
to much that is recorded in them. And in connection with the promise in

Deuteronomy 20:2-4, particularly do we need to set side by side with it
such statements as
“For if ye shall diligently keep all these commandments which I
command you to do this day, to love the Lord your God, to walk in
all His ways, to cleave unto Him, Then will the Lord drive out all
these nations from before you” (

Joshua 11:22, 23)
and
“It shall come to pass if thou shalt hearken diligently to the voice of
the Lord your God, to observe to do all His commandments which
I command thee this day… that the Lord thy God will set thee on
high above all nations of the earth” (

Joshua 28:1);.302
but if they obeyed not, His curse would certainly fall upon them (

Joshua
28:15). It is handling God’s Word deceitfully to stress its promises and
ignore their qualifying conditions: to quote

John 8:32, and omit verse
31, to cite

John 10:28, and be silent upon verse 27.

Hebrews 3:6,
14, are just as necessary for us as

Joshua 8:10-12. God has indeed
promised to show Himself strong in the behalf of those whose hearts are
perfect towards Him; but nowhere has He declared that He will fight for
the self-willed and disobedient.
“Up, sanctify the people, and say, Sanctify yourselves against tomorrow
for thus saith the Lord God of Israel. There is an accursed thing in the
midst of thee, O Israel. Thou canst not stand before thine enemies, until ye
take away the accursed thing from among you” (verse 13). This was the
sequel to the “wherefore liest thou thus upon thy face?” (verse 10); this
was the duty concerning which the Lord was now instructing His servant.
It was not simply “Arise! “but “Up” — bestir thyself now unto the duty
which I enjoin thee. “Sanctify the people”: this was ever the order when
the nation was about to witness some outstandingly solemn or glorious
transaction. Thus it was immediately before God gave the Law at Sinai
(

Exodus 19:10). Thus it was following the murmuring at Taberah, when
the Lord “came down” and talked with Moses (

Numbers 11:18). Thus
it was on the eve of Jehovah’s wondrous intervention for them at the
Jordan (

Joshua 3:5). In each case the call was for the people to be
sanctified, that is, for them to be formally and reverently assembled before
the Lord. Joshua was also to bid them sanctify yourselves against
tomorrow,” which signified, duly prepare yourselves for the solemn and
searching ordeal which the Lord has appointed: spare no pains in seeing to
it that you are in a meet condition for the approach of the Holy One.
Continuing the Lord’s response to Joshua’s prayer subsequent to the
humiliating repulse at Ai. After informing him that Israel had sinned
grievously, and therefore His blessing had been withheld from their efforts,
the Lord bade His servant, “Up, sanctify the people” (verse 13). Before we
consider the immediate and historical application of those words, let us
observe how they supplied yet another line to the typical picture of the
Savior which is set forth in this book. As we have passed from chapter to
chapter the readers’ attention has been directed to quite a number of things
in which Joshua foreshadowed the Lord Jesus. A further detail now
appears in this injunction for him to sanctify the people, for it prefigured
Christ as the Sanctifier of His Church:.303
“Wherefore Jesus also, that He might sanctify the people with His
own blood, suffered without the gate” (

Hebrews 13:12).
And what was the moral condition of His people when He did so? Precisely
the same as Israel’s was here: defiled under the curse of the Law, “the
fierceness of God’s anger” being upon them (

Joshua 7:26 and cf.

Ephesians 2:3). To deliver them therefrom, the antitypical Joshua
suffered the full penalty of their sins, and set them apart unto God in all the
acceptableness of His meritorious sacrifice. Mark also the time when this
occurred: as it was immediately following upon Joshua’s “falling to the
earth upon his face” (

Joshua 7:6) that he was bidden to “sanctify the
people,” so it was a few hours after His prostration on the ground in
Gethsemane that Christ sanctified His people at the cross!
Turning from the spiritual and mystical signification of the order Joshua
received to its literal and historical meaning, we understand by God’s
“sanctify the people” that he was to formally and reverently convene the
nation in orderly array before the Lord. That injunction was probably the
exact equivalent of one received by Israel’s prophet at a later date,
“Sanctify a fast, call a solemn assembly, gather the people, sanctify
the congregation, assemble the elders, gather the children” (

Joel
2:15, 16),
for it is clear from what follows here that all Israel were required to take
their place before the Divine tribunal.
“Sanctify the people, and say unto them, Sanctify yourselves
against tomorrow, for thus saith the Lord God of Israel. There is an
accursed thing in the midst of thee, O Israel, thou canst not stand
before thine enemies until ye put away the accursed thing from
among you” (

Joshua 7:13).
It is striking and interesting to note how that the Lord here repeated what
He had just said in the previous verse, both in charging them with their
being an accursed thing in Israel’s midst and that because of it they could
not stand before their enemies. Such reiteration not only evinced how
heinous was their crime in the eyes of the Holy One, but also gave point
unto the call for the people to “sanctify yourselves” — not “for the
morrow” but against it. They were to duly anticipate in their consciences
the Divine inquisition which would then be held, when the guilty would be.304
unerringly identified and severely punished. Thus, “Sanctify yourselves”
was tantamount unto “Prepare to meet thy God, O Israel” (

Amos 4:12).
“Sanctify the people, and say unto them sanctify yourselves against
tomorrow.” The same demand had been made at Sinai, and what is
recorded of it casts light upon the import of it here: they were to wash their
bodies and clothes, and abstain from their wives” (

Exodus 19:14, 15).
Thus, “sanctify” here has the force of purify:
“For if the blood of bulls and goats and the ashes of a heifer
sprinkling the unclean, sanctifieth to the purifying of the flesh”
(

Hebrews 9:13 and cf.

2 Timothy 2:21).
Under the law “sanctification” or “separation and consecration to the Lord,
was secured by a process of cleansing. By a comparison with

Joel 2:15,
16, and its context (verses 13, 17) it is clear that, in addition to ceremonial
purification, Israel were here enjoined to cleanse themselves morally.
“Sanctify yourselves” would therefore imply and include a solemn call to
self-examination, humiliation, and supplication; and that in turn would
necessitate a separating of their minds from all other cares and concerns,
that they might give themselves undistractedly and earnestly unto those
solemn duties. Such acts of devotion can only be suitably performed as the
thoughts and affections are detached from the daily business and worries of
this world. As they had been required to sanctify themselves before they
received the Law, so now they were ordered to do so when about to
witness a most fearful enforcing of its penalty.
Possibly some will be inclined to ask, Since a single individual only had
committed this offense, or at most with the connivance of his family
(

Joshua 7:21), what reason or propriety was there in calling upon all the
people to employ themselves in solemn self-examination? How could those
who knew they were innocent of perpetrating a serious crime, sincerely
engage in such a task? Those who are truly jealous of the glory of God and
who are painfully conscious of the fact that “in many things we all offend:’
(

James 3:2) will have no difficulty in meeting such an objection. The
name of the Lord had been grievously sullied by the enemy’s triumph at Ai,
and His saints could not but bitterly mourn over it. Furthermore, the whole
nation had been put to shame when their soldiers had fled before the
Canaanites; yea, the nation was vet in imminent danger while exposed to
“the fierceness of God’s anger” (verse 26), and therefore it was most
fitting that there should be an humbling of the entire congregation before.305
the Lord — as the example of Joshua and their elders (verse 6) had
intimated. Moreover, as Matthew Henry pointed out, “The sins of others
may be improved by us, as furtherances of our sanctification, as the scandal
of the incestuous Corinthian occasioned a blessed reformation in the
church:

2 Corinthians 7:11.” Every time a saint is overtaken in a fault, it
should give point unto his fellows of that warning
“let him that thinketh he standeth, take heed lest he fall”
(

1 Corinthians 10:12).
Ere passing on, one other question needs to be noticed: if the “sanctify the
people” unto Joshua foreshadowed Christ’s sanctification of His Church,
then what was spiritually connoted by his bidding the people “sanctify
yourselves”? There was a double sanctification: one by Joshua and one by
themselves! That two-foldness of Truth appears again and again in
connection with God’s people. As believers on the Lord Jesus Christ they
are saved (

Acts 16:31), yet they are bidden to work out their own
salvation (

Philippians 2:12) and cf. (

1 Timothy 4:16). They are new
creatures in Christ, yet exhorted to put on the new man (

Ephesians
4:24). They are now clean, and yet need to have their feet washed. They
are complete in Christ (

Colossians 2:10), yet are bidden to grow in
grace and add to their faith virtue, and to virtue knowledge, etc. (

2
Peter 1:5). Every believer has been “perfected forever” (

Hebrews
10:14), yet confesses that he is not already perfect (

Philippians 3:11).
The one refers to what they are in Christ, the other to what they are in
themselves. Unless the Christian reader learns to draw that distinction,
much in the epistles will seem almost a meaningless jumble; if not a series
of contradictions. There is a tremendous difference between how the
believer appears in the sight of God, and how he looks in his own eyes and
those of his fellows. He stands before God in the infinite value of Christ’s
righteousness, while in his actual experience he is warring against the
world, the flesh and the devil, and is often worsted by them.
“Sanctification” is still more complex, for a threefold distinction is
necessary in order to bring into view its leading features, namely, our
federal, personal, and practical holiness. By our fall in Adam we lost not
only the favor of God but the purity of our nature, and therefore we need
to be both reconciled to Him and sanctified in our inner man. The former is
secured by the work of Christ; the latter is effected by the operation of the
Holy Spirit. The former is judicial; the latter is vital. Christ is the covenant.306
Head of His people, and since He is the Holy One, all in Him are
representatively holy. He is their holiness as truly as He is their
righteousness:
“But of Him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us
wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption”
(

1 Corinthians 1:30).
He is “made unto them” sanctification in precisely the same way as God
“made Him to be sin for us” (

2 Corinthians 5:21), namely, by legal
reckoning, by imputation. But that is not all: believers are not only
sanctified federally and legally, but personally and vitally in themselves. In
consequence of their covenant union with Christ, the Holy Spirit is sent to
quicken them into newness of life, to indwell them. to abide with them
forever. This is their “sanctification of the Spirit” (

2 Thessalonians
2:13).
The fruit of the believer’s sanctification in Christ and of the Spirit’s
indwelling are, in various ways and degrees, made manifest in their daily
lives, which is what we term practical sanctification. A principle of holiness
is imparted at regeneration, and the workings and effects of the same soon
appear in the conduct. Sanctification of the Spirit produces a real and
radical change in its favored subject, and so transforms his behavior “as
becometh the Gospel of Christ.” That which has been wrought within
every believer is manifested without, by an obedient walk in the paths of
holiness as marked out in the Word. Thereby evidence is given that they
have been created “by God in righteousness and true holiness”
(

Ephesians 4:24). It is on the basis of their federal and vital oneness
with Christ that exhortations unto practical holiness are addressed to them:
“he that saith he abideth in Christ ought himself also so to walk
even as He walked” (

1 John 2:6).
And it is by virtue of the Spirit’s sanctification that such exhortations are
exactly suited to the new nature He has wrought in them:
“Let it not be once named among you as becometh saints”
(

Ephesians 5:3).
Those whom the Spirit has made “saints” (i.e. “sanctified ones”) are to
conduct themselves as such (

Romans 16:2). The nation of Israel had
been set apart unto the Lord, and that call, “sanctify yourselves,” was the.307
equivalent of saying, Act accordingly. To us the word is, “Let us cleanse
ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the
fear of God” (

2 Corinthians 7:1; and cf.

1 Peter 1:15).
“Sanctify yourselves against tomorrow, for thus saith the Lord God
of Israel, There is an accursed thing in the midst of thee, O Israel:
thou canst not stand before thine enemies until ye take away the
accursed thing frown among you.” “The Lord did not point out the
criminal immediately, but He left the matter in ambiguity for some
time, and at last brought it to light gradually: that both magistrates
and people might learn to do their duty, and to keep a vigilant eye
over one another; and that the delay and process might make the
transaction more solemn, and excite the more careful self-examination
and sanctification of themselves by every method
appointed under the law” (T. Scott).
Similarly did the Savior say unto His apostles, “Have not I chosen you
twelve, and one of you is a devil?” (

John 6:70). Later He informed them
that one of them would betray Him, though still without actually naming
the one who would be guilty of such horrible perfidy; which resulted in
each of the eleven asking: “Lord is it I?” Such ought to be the first concern
of each of us, once it becomes evident that the light of God’s countenance
is no longer shining upon the company of saints with whom we are in
fellowship: bowing before a heart-searching God and asking, Am I
responsible for the withdrawal of Thy favor? Where such a spirit obtains
among the members it will not belong ere the One who is jealous of the
honor of His house makes known the cause of His displeasure.
“In the morning therefore ye shall be brought according to your
tribes: and it shall be that the tribe which the Lord taketh shall
come according to the families thereof; and the family which the
Lord shall take come by households; and the household which the
Lord shall take shall come man by man” (verse 13).
First, the opening words of this verse teach us that once an evil be known
there must be no delay in dealing with it — true alike whether it respects
an assembly or where only a single individual be concerned. The honor of
God and our own welfare alike demand prompt action when any “accursed
thing” be involved. To procrastinate in such a case is like playing with fire.
Delay in such a matter is a sure sign our hearts are not right with God. By
all means investigate thoroughly and make sure that God has been publicly.308
slighted, and then be not tardy in dealing with the offender. Next, we
should note the Lord’s insistence upon what Joshua had previously
disregarded, namely, the unity of Israel. In heeding the counsel of the spies
and detaching three thousand from the body of the nation (verse 3), he
acted contrary to the pattern God gave him in the crossing of Jordan and
taking of Jericho. “Israel hath sinned,” God declared, and now He required
that the whole of the tribes should share in the shame of Achan’s offense
— as later He gave orders “Take all the people of war” against Ai
(

Joshua 8:1).
“In the morning therefore ye shall be brought according to your tribes, and
it shall be that the tribe which the Lord taketh shall come according to the
families thereof.” The culprit had not been named, and before he was
identified there must be a searching investigation. Very solemn indeed was
the procedure followed. Most probably the whole congregation was
assembled before the tabernacle. The word “brought” is the one generally
used in connection with offering of the sacrifices (

Leviticus 1:2, 10) —
“bring,” therefore, has the force here of the people being presented for the
Lord’s inspection. Doubtless it was the “princes” or heads of each tribe
which came, respectively, before Joshua and Eleazar. Three times over in
this verse we have the expression “which the Lord shall take.” We naturally
inquire, what is signified thereby? In what way or by what process did He
do so? If Scripture be compared with Scripture it seems clear that the Lord
here distinguished between the innocent and the guilty by means of the
Urim and Thummim in the high priest’s breastplate. When Joshua was first
set apart unto his office, orders were given that “he shall stand before
Eleazar the priest, who shall ask counsel for him after the judgment
[decision or verdict] of the Urim before the Lord” (

Numbers 27:21).
Under certain circumstances the will of God was made known via the urim
and thummim, and evidently Eleazar “asked counsel” for Joshua by them
on this occasion.
Of Saul it is said that
“when he inquired of the Lord, the Lord answered him not, neither
by dreams, nor by urim, nor by prophet” (

1 Samuel 28:6)
— proof of His having abandoned the apostate king. Thence we gather
that by means of the urim and thummim, prophetic guidance was at certain
times obtained from God. This is further borne out by

Ezra 2:63, when
Nehemiah forbade the rejected children of the priests eating of the most.309
holy things, he added “till there stand up a priest with urim and thummim”
— through which the Divine mind will again be revealed. From these
passages the late Dr. Bullinger drew the following deductions: “The Urim
and Thummim were probably two precious stones, which were drawn out
as a lot to give Jehovah’s judgment. ‘The lot is cast into the lap [Hebrew
“bosom”] but the whole judgment thereof is of the Lord’ (

Proverbs
16:33) — bosom is here put for the clothing or covering over it: of

Exodus 4:6, 7;

Ruth 4:16… Thus, those two placed in the ‘bag’ and
one drawn out would give the judicial decision which would be ‘of the
Lord.’ Hence, the breastplate itself was known as ‘the breastplate of
judgment’ (

Exodus 28:15), because by that Jehovah’s judgment was
obtained when it was needed. Hence, when the land was divided ‘by lot’
(

Numbers 26:55) Eleazar the high priest must be present. (

Numbers
34:17;

Joshua 17:14).”
Both words are in the plural number, though (as is often the case in the
Hebrew) probably it is what is known as the plural of majesty” — used for
the purpose of emphasizing the importance of a thing or the dignity of an
object. It is likely that the “urim” was a single stone or object and the
“thummim” another, though we cannot be certain. The English equivalent
for those words is “light” or “lights” and “perfections”; in the Septuagint
they are rendered by “delosis” and “aletheim,” meaning “manifestation and
truth.” As the high priest thrust his hand into the bag of his breastplate
(note “doubled” in

Exodus 27:16), possibly the bringing forth of the
“urim” indicated the Lord’s yes and the “thummim” His no, or vice-versa.
In the instance we are now considering, most likely the appearing of the
urim signified the bringing to light of the guilty; whereas the issuing of the
thummim announced the “perfection” or sincerity of the innocent. Thus, as
the head or heads of each tribe stood before Eleazar he would draw out the
thummim until the turn of Judah arrived, as indicated by the urim. The
same process was followed after the guilty tribe had been identified: the
heads of its leading “families” standing before the Lord’s representative,
and when the particular family was identified, the same with its
“households,” until the culprit himself stood unmasked before all.
“And it shall be, that he that is taken with the accursed thing shall be burnt
with fire, he and all that he hath: because he hath transgressed the covenant
of the Lord, and because he hath wrought folly in Israel” (verse 15).
Solemn indeed was the transaction which we have endeavored to picture.310
above, fearful the trial of all who took part in it. A threefold reason may be
suggested for the leisurely nature of this inquisition.
First, it manifested the calmness and thoroughness of the Judge of all the
earth: He is ever a God of order, departing not therefrom when sitting in
judgment.
Second, the terribleness of their ordeal would impress upon Israel the
reality of the holy covenant which God had made with them, and
demonstrate before they again the majesty of the Divine Law — seen in
arresting the waters of Jordan, overthrowing the walls of Jericho, and now
equally so in taking vengeance on the transgressor. Third, in affording the
guilty one further space for repentance: but alas, his heart was hardened
and he refused to come forward and own that he was the cause of the
whole trouble. The dreadful sentence that he should be “burnt with fire”
does not necessarily signify he was to be roasted alive —

Joshua 7:25
seems to clearly show otherwise. If it be asked, Why burn them and their
possessions if they were already dead from stoning? To express still more
vividly the Divine detestation, and that nothing whatever of the accursed
thing should remain.
JUDGMENT
“So Joshua rose up early in the morning, and brought Israel by their
tribes” (

Joshua 7:16).
Here we behold his willingness and readiness in obeying the command he
had received (verse 14). However painful the task, there was no delay. In

Joshua 3:1, we saw God’s servant rising early to engage in a pleasant
duty; here, there was equal alacrity when a distressing one was to be
performed. Though a sore trial to flesh and blood, yet Joshua’s heart was
in this work; for he yearned to have the Lord’s honor vindicated, and for
the nation to be restored to His favor. Therein we have a further
adumbration of the antitypical Joshua, of whom we read that after
announcing “behold, the hour is at hand, and the Son of man is betrayed
into the hands of sinners,” at once added “Rise, let us be going”
(

Matthew 26:45, 46). Yet here, as everywhere, the Savior had the pre-eminence.
There was no “rising early in the morning,” for there was no
retiring to rest for Him that night! Through all the hours of darkness He
was hounded from pillar to post: from Gethsemane to appear before
Annas, then sent from him to Caiaphas, from him to Pilate, from him to.311
Herod, from him back to Pilate, from him to the cross: all the while on
foot, His body a mass of bleeding wounds, without His eyes closing in
slumber! Nevertheless, He advanced unto those who thirsted for His blood
(

John 18:4), ready to be led as a lamb to the slaughter.
“So Joshua rose up early, in the morning, and brought Israel by their tribes,
and the tribe of Judah was taken.” This must have come as a most painful
shock to that tribe as a whole, as well as to Joshua himself. Wondrous
things had been foretold of Judah. It was to be the royal and ruling tribe
(

Genesis 49:10). The Lord had laid honor on it by supernaturally
endowing one of its men for special skilled work in connection with the
furnishing of the tabernacle (

Exodus 31:3-5). Of it sprang the illustrious
Caleb (

Numbers 13:8). Judah was the tribe which took the lead when
the nation was on march across the wilderness (

Numbers 10:14). His
was to be the largest portion of Canaan (

Deuteronomy 34:2). And here
their name was disgraced! Nor was this the first time, as a reference to

Genesis 38:2, 15 and 16 will show — Achan being a direct descendant
of the Zarah or Zerah of

Genesis 38:30, in

Joshua 7:18.
“This was an allay to their dignity and might serve as a check to
their pride. Many there were who were its glories, but here was one
that was its reproach. Let not the best families think it strange if
there be those found in them and descended from them that prove
their grief and shame. Since Judah was to have the largest lot in
Canaan, the more inexcusable is one of that tribe if, not content to
wait for his own share, he break in upon God’s property” (Matthew
Henry).
Achan remained obdurate even now that it was made known that the guilty
one belonged to the tribe of Judah. As he had not confessed his offense
when Israel was repulsed at Ai and the hearts of the people melted and
became as water (verse 5), so now he maintained silence, yea, continued
doing so when his own “family” was singled out (verse 17) and when his
particular “household” was identified (verse 18), But in a few more
moments he was to receive proof of that Divine declaration “Be sure your
sin will find you out” (

Numbers 32:29). He was also on the point of
learning “he that covereth his sins shall not prosper” (

Proverbs 28:13).
To “cover sin” is a keeping of it within our own bosom, a refusing to bring
it out into the light by a frank confession of the same unto God. Pride
restrains many therefrom: they have such a high esteem of themselves that.312
even though guilty they are too self-opinionated to own their sins. With
others, unbelief is what hinders: they who have no faith to be assured that
God will cover repented sins, vainly attempt to do so themselves even
while remaining impenitent. Fear and shame are what cause the majority to
hide their sins. Sin is such a hideous monster that they will not own it as
theirs. But whatever be the cause, they “shall not prosper.”
“And he brought the family of Judah: and he took the family of the
Zarhites, and he brought the family of the Zarhites man by man; and
Zabdi was taken; he brought his household man by man: and
Achan, the son of Carmi, the son of Zabdi, the son of Zerah, of the
tribe of Judah was taken” (verses 17, 18).
It should be borne in mind that all of the innocent were under a cloud of
suspicion until the culprit himself was definitely recognized. Moreover, it
was expedient for the benefit of future generations that no stigma should
rest upon the guiltless.
“The tribe, family, parentage of the offender were specified with
exactness, that the infamy might not rest on the reputation of any
other of the same name” (T. Scott).
Achan “was taken” means that he was now identified by the “urim,”
singled out by the unerring judgment given through the high priest. It was
now made manifest before the whole congregation that the Divine justice
had seized him. When the secret sins of men are brought to light God
should be owned in it, and the perpetrator should acknowledge with the
brethren of Joseph:
“God hath found out the iniquity of thy servants”
(

Genesis 44:16).
“For there is nothing covered that shall not be revealed; neither hid,
that shall not be known” (

Luke 12:2).
“And Joshua said unto Achan, My son give, I pray thee, glory to
the Lord God of Israel, and make confession unto Him, and tell me
now what thou hast done, hide it not from me” (verse 19).
Here again we must look beyond Joshua unto the One spoken of in

Acts 17:31,.313
“Because He hath appointed a day in which He will judge the world
in righteousness by that Man whom He hath ordained.”
God Himself will judge, yet not immediately, but mediately through Christ.
So here Achan was bidden to give glory to the Lord God, but Joshua at
once added, “tell me what thou hast done, hide it not from me”! The
expression “my son” was not here a term of tenderness or kindness (as it
usually is with us), but a form of address used by one of eminence or
authority unto an inferior, as Saul termed David “my son” (

1 Samuel
24:16) and Joab designated Ahimaaz, the son of Zadok, “my son” (

2
Samuel 18:22); conversely, a superior was owned as “father” (

2 Kings
5:13; 6:21). Nevertheless, it is striking to note how mildly Joshua
addressed Achan:
“This is an example to all not to insult over those who are in
misery, though they have brought themselves into it by their own
wickedness, but to treat even offenders with the spirit of meekness,
not knowing what ourselves should have been and done if God had
put us into the hands of our own counsels” (Matthew Henry).
“And Joshua said unto Achan, My son, give I pray thee, glory to the Lord
God of Israel and make confession unto him.” Very striking and blessed is
that’ the honor of Jehovah was what was uppermost in His servant’s heart
and mind — as it ever was with the anti-typical Joshua (

John 8:50;
12:23). But how could Achan’s confession give glory to God? In many
ways. It testified to the Divine omniscience in detecting and exposing his
profane and stealthy conduct, picking him out from that vast multitude as
the guilty one. It acknowledged God’s holiness in abhorring his
wickedness, thereby setting to his seal that
“He is of purer eyes than to behold evil, and canst not look on
iniquity” (

Habakkuk 1:13).
It witnessed to His justice, that God was righteous in being so displeased
with him. It owned His veracity that “the soul that sinneth it shall die”
(

Ezekiel 18:4). What is the glory of God but the sum of His
perfections? It is by those perfections that He is made known to us both in
the written and personal Word. And therefore to glorify Him is for us to
recognize, acknowledge and be suitably affected by the Divine attributes;
as conversely we are guilty of slighting Him when denying, either in word
or act, His perfections. When we trample upon His Law we repudiate His.314
authority. When we defy Him, we disdain His power. When we think to
conceal sin from Him, we disown His omniscience.
“My son, give, I pray thee glory to the Lord God of Israel, and make
confession unto Him.” It is all too little realized by any of us that this is one
of the ways appointed by God in which we glorify Him. In connection with
the confessing of sin we are too apt to confine our thoughts unto the
clearing of our conscience and being restored to fellowship. In other
words, we are too much wrapped up in ourselves and too little occupied
with the excellencies of the One we approach. A truly contrite soul will eye
the dominion of God, acknowledging His right to rule over us and our duty
to live in entire subjection to Him, and will bemoan his insubordination. He
will eye God’s righteousness and own that
“His law is holy, and the commandment holy and just and good”
(

Romans 7:12),
and therefore that he is without excuse in breaking it. He will eye His long
suffering, which has granted him space to repent, instead of cutting him off
in the commission of sin. He will eye the abundant mercy of God, which
has opened a way. for his pardon without compromising His holiness,
laying hold of the promise:
“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins,
and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (

1 John 1:9).
Failure to confess sin is not only to deprive ourselves of comfort, but is to
withhold from God that which is His due.
Acceptable confession is very much more than an exercise of our lips
unless it issues from groanings within, our words are worthless and
ineffectual. And there will be no inward groaning until we realize the
sinfulness of our sins and are duly affected thereby. We shall never confess
sin with a true sense of its infinite evil until we consider its contrariety to
the nature and will of God, and perceive how it reflects dishonor upon the
Divine perfection, particularly as it is a contempt of His authority and a
direct opposition to His purity. Nor shall we ever confess our sins with
brokenness of heart and confusion of face, until we are sensible of the vile
ingratitude of them, as they are committed by those who are under the
strongest obligations to the contrary. There will be no confession of sin
with self-abhorrence until we recognize that it is aggravated by the light
and privileges, the goodness and mercy, the exhortations and warnings,.315
against which we have transgressed, for they greatly heighten our iniquities
(

Ezra 9:10-15). To affect our minds and consciences with the
heinousness of sin, so as to be kept humble and filled with self-abasement,
we need to meditate frequently upon what it cost Christ to make
atonement for the same. The sincerity and fervor of our confession evince
the depth of our hatred of sin.
“And Joshua said unto Achan… tell me now what thou hast done, hide it
not from me.” That “now” was a word of reproof and reproach because
the offender had remained silent so long. Achan had delayed until it was
impossible any longer to conceal his guilt — his confession being wrung
from him by the preceding process. The earlier confession be made, the
more God is honored, and the sooner will peace be restored to the
conscience; but, better late than never. It is the fool who procrastinates; the
apostate who defiantly refuses to do so. Fearfully solemn is that warning:
“Give glory to the Lord your God before He cause darkness and
before your feet stumble upon the dark mountains, and while ye
look for light. He turn it into the shadow of death and make it gross
darkness” (

Jeremiah 13:16).
Note that to “make confession” and “hide it not” are equivalent terms, and
that not to confess is tantamount to a denial (

John 1:20). Joshua’s “tell
me now what thou hast done, hide it not from me” makes known unto us
what confession of sin is to consist of, namely, a frank and full
acknowledgment of the offense, without any attempt at concealment or
self-extenuation, however humiliating it may be. By so doing we bear
witness that God’s prohibition was a righteous one and that His
punishment (or chastisement) is just.
“And Achan answered Joshua and said, Indeed I have sinned
against the Lord God of Israel, and thus and thus have I done”
(verse 20),
which was no more a proof of his genuine contrition than was King Saul’s
acknowledgment,
“I have sinned and transgressed the commandment of the Lord”
(

1 Samuel 15:24),
or the remorseful avowal of Judas,.316
“I have sinned in that I have betrayed the innocent blood”
(

Matthew 27:4).
In what follows we are shown that confession of sin must be in detail.
“When I saw among the spoils a goodly Babylonish garment, and
two hundred shekels of silver, and a wedge of gold of fifty shekels
weight, then I coveted them, and took them; and behold, they are
hid in the earth in the midst of thy tent, and the silver under it”
(verse 21).
The temptation entered through the eye, and that excited the
concupiscence of his corrupt heart: as the prophet said in a different
connection, “mine eye affecteth my heart” (

Lamentations 3:51). How
needful it is that we emulate the holy example of Job, who declared: “I
have made a covenant with mine eyes” (

Job 31:1). How earnestly
should we cry unto God daily
“Turn away mine eyes from beholding vanity: quicken Thou me in
Thy way” (

Psalm 119:37)
— make me to view things as Thou dost, and to esteem or disesteem them
according to the teaching of Thy Word. Had Achan regarded those objects
with the eyes of faith, he had looked upon them as “accursed things,” for
so had God pronounced them!
“I saw… then I coveted them.” Having viewed them with the eyes of
unbelief, he lusted after them. What a solemn warning for each of us to
heed! Covetousness has in it a far greater degree of malignity and is more
highly provoking to God than is commonly thought.

Colossians 3:5,
declares that covetousness “is idolatry,” for it is a bestowing upon the
creature that respect and love which is due alone unto the Creator. When
we mortify not our inordinate desire, we cherish a viper within our own
bosom, for it gnaws at the very roots of contentment and gratitude
(

Hebrews 13:5). When our desire exceeds the present portion God has
allotted us, we are no longer satisfied with the same and are unable to
enjoy and give thanks for it. “I coveted… them, I took them”: thus he
followed precisely the same order as did Eve (

Genesis 3:6, and cf.

James 1:14, 15). “And behold they are hid in the earth in the midst of
the tent.” There we behold both the “deceitfulness of sin” and the anxiety it
brings..317
“No sooner had he got possession of his plunder than it became his
burden!… so differently do the objects of temptation appear at a
distance to what they do when apprehended and when the
infatuation ceases” (T. Scott).
They who yield to a spirit of covetousness “pierce themselves through with
many sorrows” (

1 Timothy 6:8-10).
“So Joshua sent messengers, and they ran unto the tent.” The
members of the congregation were as desirous and zealous to have
Jehovah’s honor vindicated as was their leader. “And behold it was
hid in his tent and the silver under it. And they took them out of the
midst of the tent, and brought them unto Joshua and unto all the
children of Israel” (verses 22, 25).
This was done in order that conclusive evidence of Achan’s guilt should be
laid before the eyes of the whole nation, and thereby was brought to light
the hidden things of darkness. By that procedure a solemn warning was
given the people (and us) of the utter futility of any attempt to conceal
anything from the eyes of Him which are “in every place, beholding the evil
and the good” (

Proverbs 15:4). “And poured it out before the Lord”
(verse 23): that is, either at the feet of His representative, the high priest,
or more probably immediately before the ark of the covenant. The accursed
things were not poured out “unto the Lord” for His acceptance, but before
Him for His destruction — they were never brought into His treasury for
use in His service, but totally destroyed, as the sequel shows.
“And Joshua and all Israel took Achan, the son of Zerah, and the
silver, and the garment, and the wedge of gold, and his sons and his
daughters, and his oxen and asses and his sheep, and all that he had,
and they brought them into the valley of Achor” (verse 24).
Here was unity of action. The whole nation was required to dissociate itself
from the trespass and take part in punishing the culprit. For any not to
concur therein would be to condone the sin — just as when any church
members refuse to take part in a similar action. Achan and all pertaining to
him were taken outside the camp — compare “take away from among
yourselves” (

1 Corinthians 5:2)! Note how what followed gave force
to, and shows an additional reason for, the “sanctify ourselves” of verse 13.
For those who are themselves erring creatures to sit in judgment upon one
of their fellows calls for unsparing self-judgment. Ere a church is in a meet.318
condition to enforce a holy discipline it is required that its officers and
members humble themselves before God and clear their own consciences,
by confessing every known sin and pleading the cleansing blood of Christ.
Only then can they act in godly fear and trembling. Only then will “he that
is without sin among you let him first cast a stone no longer prevent them
performing a necessary but painful duty.
“And Joshua said, Why hast thou troubled us? the Lord shall
trouble thee this day. And all Israel stoned him with stones, and
burned them with fire. after they had stoned them with stones”
(verse 25).
“By this severity against Achan the honor of Joshua’s government
— now in the infancy of it — was maintained; and Israel, at their
entrance upon the promised Canaan, were minded at their peril, the
provisos, and limitations of the grant by which they held it”
(Matthew Henry).
It is worthy of note that at the opening of the tabernacle worship we
behold an instance of the severity of Divine judgment upon the two sons of
Aaron (

Leviticus 10:1, 2), so here upon their entry into Canaan, and
similarly at the dawn of Christianity in connection with the death of
Ananias and Sapphira (Acts 5) we have examples of the same thing:
designed no doubt to increase godly fear, promote dutiful circumspection,
and prevent general wickedness. Such solemn demonstrations before the
eyes of the people would render it the less easy for them to forget that their
God was “a consuming fire” unto those who provoked Him
“The severity of the punishment must be estimated by the relation of
Achan’s crime to the whole plan of the conquest of Canaan. If the
destruction of Canaan was indeed the execution of Divine vengeance, it
must be kept entirely clear of all human motives, lest men should say that
Jehovah had given His people license to deal with the Canaanites as
seemed best for themselves. The punishment of Saul, (

1 Samuel 15:21-
23) and the repeated statement in

Esther 9:10, 15, 16 (notwithstanding
the king’s permission in

Esther 8:11), ‘but on the spoil laid they not
their hand” are illustrations of the same principle” (Ellicott). In addition, it
is to be borne in mind that Achan deliberately transgressed the plain
commandment of

Deuteronomy 13:17, that he acted in contempt of the
awful curse which Joshua had just previously denounced (

Joshua 6:17-
19), that he defied Jehovah at a time when His presence was so.319
conspicuously manifest among His people, that his crime was not only one
of theft but sacrilege (converting to his own use what was devoted to the
Lord), and that his offense resulted in the people of God being put to
shame in the sight of the heathen.
Our remaining space permits us to do no more than briefly point out that
the above incident shadows forth most of the principal features of the Last
Assize.
(1) It is then there will be a full and final display of God’s perfections
and the Divine glory will shine forth conspicuously.
(2) As “all Israel” here, so all mankind there, will stand before the
antitypical Joshua.
(3) As the tribe of Judah was marked off from the others, so will the
goats then be separated from the sheep.
(4) The hidden things of darkness shall then be brought to light. \
(5) As the innocent were cleared before the guilt were charged, so the
righteous will be vindicated before the unrighteous are condemned.
(6) As Achan made no attempt to deny his guilt or demur at his
punishment, so the damned will concur with the justice of their
sentence.
(7) As all Israel united in the stoning of Achan’s family, so the saints
“will judge the world” (

1 Corinthians 16:2).
(8) As the guilty were “burned with fire” after their death, so
everlasting fire will be the portion of the lost.
(9) As there was a permanent “memorial” unto the grace of God
(

Joshua 4:9), so unto His holiness (

Joshua 7:26): the redeemed
will for ever exemplify God’s love, the reprobate His wrath.
Lack of space prevented our adding a word at the close of our last on the
concluding verse of Joshua 7, so to it we now turn. “And they raised over
him a great heap of stones unto this day. So the Lord turned from the
fierceness of His anger. Wherefore the name of that place was called the
valley of Achor [Trouble], unto this day.” Three things are to be noted: the
memorial to solemnly remind Israel of Achan’s sin, the Lord’s
reconciliation, and the name given to the place of execution and.320
appeasement. As the twelve stones taken out of Jordan were permanently
pitched in Gilgal (

Joshua 4:20-23) to perpetuate the memory of the
miracle which the Lord had so graciously wrought there, so a great heap of
stones was raised to mark the spot where the vengeance of the Holy One
fell upon the one who had so grievously offended Him. That heap of stones
was designed to serve as a terrible warning, against the crime of sacrilege,
to rebuke those who imagine themselves secure in secret sins, and to
furnish a witness of what an awful thing it is to be a troubler of God’s
people.
There is an instructive emphasis in the “so the Lord turned from the
fierceness of His anger,” teaching us that the assemblies of His people must
exercise a strict and holy discipline (for the honor of His name) if they are
to escape His governmental judgments and chastenings. Cast into its
positive form that statement would read, when Israel had put away “the
accursed thing” and dealt faithfully with the disturber of their peace, they
were restored again to God’s favor. Two further references are made in the
Scriptures to this place, and very significant and blessed they are. Unto
backsliding Israel the Lord declared His purpose to recover and restore
her, saying,
“I will give her her vineyards from thence, and the valley of Achor
for a door of hope” (

Hosea 2:15):
our putting away of the offensive thing — by repentance and reformation
— affords ground for hoping that God will renew His favors unto us.
“And Sharon shall be a fold of flocks, and the valley of Achor
[where things are put right with God] a place for the herds to lie
down in, for My people that have sought Me” (

Isaiah 65:10)
— a promise which should be spiritualized and pleaded by each wayward
but contrite saint..321
CHAPTER 11
THE CONQUEST OF AI
Joshua 8:1-35
ENCOURAGEMENT AND DIRECTION
“And the Lord said unto Joshua, Fear not, neither be thou
dismayed: take all the people of war with thee, and arise, go up to
Ai: see! I have given into thy hand the king of Ai, and his people,
and his city, and his land” (

Joshua 8:1).
In the preceding verse we are told “the Lord turned from the fierceness of
His anger,” and while there can be little or no doubt that Joshua would —
after the matter of Achan had been dealt with — infer the same, yet he had
not been given any token from Him that such was the case; but now he
received from God a word of cheer, a word of instruction, and a word of
promise for faith to lay hold of. “When we have faithfully put away sin,
that accursed thing which separates between our God, then, and not till
then, we may expect to hear from God for our comfort; and God’s
directing us how to go on in our Christian walk and warfare is a good
evidence of His being reconciled to us (Matthew Henry): that is, fellowship
with Him is now restored. Note well that commentator’s “and not till
then”: no purveyors of “smooth things” were the faithful and practical
Puritans, nor did they entertain their hearers and readers with matters of no
spiritual profit.
The Lord’s word “arise” intimates that, following the stoning of Achan and
his family, Joshua again took his place on his face, or at least on his knees,
before the Lord, seeking consolation and counsel from Him. Israel’s
progress in their conquest and occupation of Canaan had been rudely
interrupted, and though the hindering cause had been put away, yet Joshua
dare not attempt any further advance until His Master gave fresh indication
of His will. This teaches us that, after a sin has been unsparingly judged by
us — be it the case of an individual Christian, or that of an assembly —
there must be a humble and definite waiting upon God for guidance as to.322
what He would have us do next. His “fear not, neither be thou dismayed”
shows that the offense of Achan and its disastrous consequences had been
a sore and unexpected blow to Joshua, making him almost ready to faint.
“Corruptions within the church weaken the hands and dampen the
spirits of her guides and helpers, more than opposition from
without; treacherous Israelites are to be dreaded more than
malicious Canaanites” (Matthew Henry).
That word, “fear not, neither be thou dismayed,” was designed not only for
Joshua personally, but for the whole of the congregation. Israel had failed
lamentably at their first assault upon Ai, had been deeply humiliated, and in
consequence “the hearts of the people melted and became as water”
(

Joshua 7:5), and though they had obeyed the Divine command of

Joshua 7:15 in utterly destroying the culprit and all that he had, yet they
were in real need of an intimation that they had been restored to God’s
favor, and could count upon His leading them again to victory. Equally
requisite is it that the penitent and humbled Christian should lay hold of this
or some similar reassuring word.
When iniquities have prevailed against him (

Psalm 65:3) and the enemy
has humiliated him, he is prone to be “swallowed up with over-much
sorrow” (

2 Corinthians 2:7) and suffer Satan to keep him in the slough
of despond, which is not only needless and foolish, but dishonoring to God
if he has sincerely and contritely forsaken his sins, then he should
confidently reckon upon God’s mercy (

Proverbs 28:13) and appropriate
His promise
“He is faithful and just [to Christ’s atoning sacrifice] to forgive us
our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness”
(

1 John 1:9).
The word of comfort or reassurance was followed by one of instruction:
“take all the people of war with thee, and arise, go up to Ai.” Therein
Joshua and the people under him received definite directions from the Lord
what they must next do. Joshua was now to turn from the throne of grace
and make for the field of battle, as the believer has to leave the place of
secret prayer and go forth to conflict in the world. Linking the two words
together, the Lord was bidding His servant not to be dismayed by the
previous repulse at Ai, but to be strong and courageous. In like manner, He
calls upon the restored backslider to renew the contest with his enemies. If.323
at first you don’t succeed, try, try again. Quit not the fight because you
have been worsted, nor even if you were wounded. Though you were
blameable for the failure, having confessed the same to God, resume the
struggle. That is a part of what is included in perseverance in grace” or
“the final perseverance of the saints.” “Rejoice not against me, O mine
enemy; when I fall, I shall arise” (

Micah 7:8). In its application to us
individually the “take all the people of war with thee” means, See to it that
all your powers and graces are exerted in a concerted effort.
“See, I have given into thy hand the king of Ai, and his people, and his city,
and his land,” That was spoken from the Divine purpose: it was not “I
will,” but “I have given.” It was God “calling those things which be not as
though they were” (

Romans 4:17), as when He told the aged patriarch
with barren wife, “I have made thee a father of many nations.” And as that
word to Abraham was addressed unto his faith, so was this one here to
Joshua. “See, I have given into thy hand the king of Ai” signified, Regard it
as an accomplished fact, behold the victory with the eye of your spirit as
one already achieved. It is thus that the soldiers of Christ are to wage their
spiritual warfare fully persuaded of the happy outcome. As the beloved, yet
often hard-pressed, apostle expressed it.
“I therefore so run, not as uncertainly; so fight I, not as one that
beateth the air” (

1 Corinthians 9:26)
— having no doubt whatever of reaching the goal, nor of vanquishing his
enemy. It is “the good fight of faith” to which we are called, but if we be
regulated by our reason or feelings it soon becomes a fight of unbelief. This
“see” (by faith) of

Joshua 8:1, was similar to that of

Exodus 14:13
and

Joshua 6:2.
Ere passing on to the next verse let it be pointed out that the one we have
just been pondering contains a timely message for the pastor, especially if
he be discouraged and disheartened by the absence of any apparent success
or fruit for his labors. First, he should search himself before God and test
both his message and method by the Word, to see if he has in any way
grieved the Holy Spirit and thereby prevented His blessing upon his
ministry. Should such prove to be the case, his sin must be unsparingly
judged and abandoned. If after diligent self-examination no hindering cause
is revealed, then let him take these words of the Lord as spoken
immediately to himself: “Fear not, neither be thou dismayed” — it is fear
which causes dejection and dismay! Then let him say, “What time I am.324
afraid, I will trust in Thee” (

Psalm 61:3), or better, “I will trust and not
be afraid” (

Isaiah 12:2). “Take all the people of war with thee”:
earnestly solicit the prayerful cooperation of the saints, and, whether you
have that or no, be sure to take unto thee “all the armor of God.” Further,
eye by faith such promises as

Isaiah 55:11;

Matthew 28:20, for only
thus will your fears be quietened.
“And thou shalt do to Ai and her king as thou didst unto Jericho
and her king: only the spoil thereof and the cattle thereof shall ye
take for a prey unto yourselves: lay thee an ambush for the city
behind it” (

Joshua 8:2).
No mercy was to be shown the enemy, no truce made with him, but all the
inhabitants were to be “utterly destroyed” as in the former instance
(

Joshua 7:21). This teaches us that the Christian must adopt an
uncompromising attitude toward every form of evil, even abstaining from
the very appearance of it (

1 Thessalonians 5:22). On this occasion
Divine permission was given Israel to appropriate the spoil and the cattle
unto themselves. The cattle upon a thousand hills are the Lord’s (

Psalm
50:10), and He disposes of them as He pleases. In connection with Jericho
Israel were forbidden to take anything unto themselves, the whole being
“consecrated unto the Lord” (

Joshua 7:18), thereby intimating that He
has a special claim upon “the first-fruits” (

Exodus 23:19;

Proverbs
3:9), for that initial restriction was not again enforced. The grant here
made may be regarded as a gracious reward for their obedience in

Joshua 7:25, thereby exhibiting the folly of covetous Achan — we
never lose by waiting God’s time, and only bring trouble upon ourselves if
we attempt to anticipate it.
The method by which Ai was to be taken was quite different from the one
used against the first stronghold of the Canaanites, which shows us, among
other things, that God does not work uniformly. Thomas Scott pointed out
that “Jericho had been taken by a miracle… in order to teach the people to
depend on God, and give Him the glory of all their successes. But they
seemed to have inferred that they might despise their enemies and indulge
themselves. They were therefore, in the next instance, instructed that
diligence, self-denial and the exercise of all their powers, both of body and
mind, were required in order to secure success.” While fully agreeing with
those remarks, yet they do not, we think, fully explain the case. Though
God be absolute sovereign, so that He ever acts freely, yet His ways with.325
men are not capricious, but generally accord with their own behavior.
Because of their rash conduct in the first attack on Ai, Israel had missed
God’s best, and must now be content with His second best, is how we
prefer to express it. The root cause of their failure was the flagrant offense
of Achan, but more immediately it was due to the conceit of the spies and
the folly of Joshua in acceding to their carnal suggestion.
“So Joshua arose, and all the people of war, to go up against Ai;
and Joshua chose out thirty thousand men of valor, and sent them
away by night. And he commanded them, saying, Behold, ye shall
lie in wait against the city, even behind the city: go not very far
from the city, but be ye all ready” (verses 3, 4).
To how much trouble had Israel now put themselves in order to overthrow
Ai! Ah, my reader, it requires no little pains in order to return to the path
of blessing once we have departed from the same! In various ways God
makes us feel the folly of leaning unto our own understanding or acting in
self-will, and shows us something of what we bring upon ourselves by
missing His best. Observe too how precisely the Lord corrected Israel’s
failures, making them reverse their former policy. When the spies returned
from the reconnoitering of Ai, they said unto Joshua, “Let not all the
people go up, but let about two or three thousand men go up and smite
Ai.” That was in direct variance with the pattern which God gave to Israel
in

Joshua 6:3, and to which He now required them to return — “take all
the people of war with thee” (

Joshua 8:1). The closing words of the
spies “for they be few” in

Joshua 7:3 showed they regarded Ai with
contempt, as an easy prey, and the proposal that a single battalion of their
fighting men would suffice was manifestly the language of conceit.
The Lord countered their pride by appointing a much more humbling
method for capturing Ai than the one used in the overthrow of Jericho.
There, Israel’s army had marched openly around the walls of that fortress;
here, where a smaller and weaker city was involved, the humiliating
strategy of a secret ambush was assigned in order for an attack from the
rear. In the latter case, Joshua had failed to spread before the Lord the
suggestion of the spies and seek counsel of Him, and disastrous was the
consequence. The result was that he had to spend many hours “on his face”
before the ark ere an explanation of Israel’s repulse was vouchsafed him;
and later, he had to bow again before the Lord ere instructions were given
for the new plan of campaign (

Joshua 8:1). The servant of God must.326
not follow his own devices, but rather act according to the Word of his
Master, for only then is he justified in counting upon His blessing. It is
blessed to observe that however humbling the means which God now
required to be used, both Joshua and those under him complied with the
instructions God gave them. Having received an answer of peace from the
Lord and an intimation of His will for them, they acted promptly in
carrying out of the same.
“So Joshua arose, and all the people of war, to go up against Ai.” That was
not only an act of obedience, but, we doubt not, should also be regarded as
one of faith — in response to Jehovah’s “See! I have given into thy hand
the King of Ai.” Should any one be disposed to ask, “But since the Lord
had made such an announcement, why was it necessary for Joshua and the
whole of his army to go to so much trouble?” he would betray his
ignorance both of God’s sovereignty and of man’s accountability. God’s
predestination of the end does not render needless our use of means: rather
does the former include the latter, and is realized by the same. When the
Lord informed Hezekiah through one of His prophets that He would “add
unto his days fifteen years” (

Isaiah 38:5), that certainly did not imply
that the king might henceforth dispense with food, drink and sleep; any
more than God’s assurance to Paul that there should be “no loss of life” of
the ship’s contingent rendered it the less imperative to abstain from
recklessness and to use means for their preservation (

Acts 27:22-24,
31). God’s gracious assurances unto His people are not designed to
promote indolence, but instead to stimulate and to encourage diligence,
knowing that “our labor is not in vain in the Lord” (

1 Corinthians
15:58).
While it be true that unless God gives the victory no efforts of ours can
possibly achieve it nevertheless it is our bounden duty to make every effort.
Though the fall of Ai was certain, yet Israel were called upon to discharge
their responsibility. God’s promises to us are not given to induce
slothfulness, but to be a spur unto obedience to His precepts. Faith is no
substitute for diligent and zealous work, but is to act as the director of the
same. Hope is not to absolve us from the discharge of our obligations, but
is to inspire unto the performing of the same. It is because victory is sure in
the end that the soldiers of Christ are called upon to fight: that assurance is
to be their incentive, from which they are to draw their energy. The
genuine exercise of faith has a powerful influence both upon the Christian’s
efforts to mortify the old man and to vivify the new. This is clear from.327

Romans 6:11, and what follows: we must by the reckoning of faith
account ourselves legally one with the Lord Jesus Christ in His death and
resurrection before we can expect any success in subduing our lusts or
developing our graces (

Joshua 5:13). Faith is indeed the victory “that
overcometh the world” (

1 John 5:4), yet as the previous verse clearly
shows, it is a faith which is operative in the keeping of God’s
commandments.
Thus, while Israel were called upon to exercise faith in the Divine
assurance of success, yet they were also required to adhere strictly to the
strategy which God appointed. Very definite were the orders Joshua gave
unto the thirty thousand men who were to fall upon the city from the rear:
“Ye shall lie in wait against the city, behind the city: go not very far
from the city, but be ye all ready” (

Joshua 5:4):
they were told where to go, what to do, and how to comport themselves.
Equally explicit are the instructions of the Christian in connection with the
waging of his spiritual warfare, and the measure of his success will very
largely be determined by how closely he sticks to them. Thus, after bidding
believers “Be strong in the Lord, and in the power of His might” (which
can only be by the exercise of faith upon Him), the apostle bade them
“Put on the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to stand
against the wiles of the Devil” (

Ephesians 6:10, 11),
which plainly imports that unless they heeded his injunction they would fall
before the enemy’s artifices. This is the more noticeable, because after
enforcing his exhortation by informing us of the formidable forces which
are under Satan’s control (

Joshua 5:12), he repeats,
“Wherefore take unto you the whole armor of God, that ye may be
able to withstand in the evil day, and having overcome all [margin]
to stand” (

Joshua 5:13).
God has provided the armor, but we have to “take unto us and “put on”
the same; and not merely a part of it, but “the whole.”
In our last we pointed out that in

Joshua 8:1, the Lord gave unto His
servant a word of cheer, a word of instruction, and a word of promise. His
“fear not, neither be thou dismayed” was to graciously reassure Joshua’s
heart after the dishonorable repulse Israel had met with upon their first.328
assault on Ai — the reasons for their defeat having been shown. In its
wider application, it was a message of comfort to the whole nation, after
their elders had duly humbled themselves before the Lord, that they must
not be unduly cast down nor suffer Satan to induce them to give way to a
spirit of despair. The word of instruction was an intimation of the Divine
will of what was now required from Joshua and those under his command:
“take all the people of war with thee, and arise, go up to Ai.” Therein their
presumptuous conduct in

Joshua 7:3 was denounced, and an order was
given for them to return to the Divine pattern which they had received in

Joshua 6:3. The word of promise was addressed unto their faith: “See! I
have given into thy hand the king of Ai, and his people, and his city, and his
land.” That was spoken from the standpoint of the certainty of the Divine
counsels, and faith was to receive it without question.
The word of instruction received amplification in the second verse: Ai and
its inhabitants were to be utterly destroyed. In this instance Israel were
given permission to take the cattle as a spoil unto themselves. Finally, the
strategy to be followed was made known: an “ambush” was to be laid for
the city from its rear. Next we are told,
“So Joshua arose, and all the people of war, to go up against Ai;
and Joshua chose out thirty thousand men of valor, and sent them
away by night” (

Joshua 8:3).
That is to be regarded as an act not only of obedience but of faith too, or
rather as “the obedience of faith” (

Romans 1:5, margin). It is a great
mistake to suppose that faith in God renders needless our discharge of duty
or the use of all lawful means: instead, it is to energize unto the one and to
look unto God for His blessing upon the other. Confidence in God does
not produce passivity, nor will the diligence which it evokes issue in self-confidence.
True faith ever produces good works, yet those works are
performed in a spirit of dependence upon the Lord. It is written: “The way
of man is not in himself” (

Jeremiah 10:23), but it is written again: “This
is the way, walk ye in it” (

Isaiah 30:21). Thus does Scripture always
guard Scripture!
“And he commanded them, saying, Behold, ye shall lie in wait
against the city behind the city: go not very far from the city, but be
ye all ready” (

Joshua 8:4)..329
Though victory was Divinely guaranteed, that did not preclude the
discharge of their responsibilities. Faith in God was to operate in the
performing of His commandments. Accordingly, Joshua issued very
definite orders to those thirty thousand of his soldiers, telling them where
to go and how to conduct themselves. As we said at the close of our last
article, equally explicit are the instructions given to the Christian in
connection with his spiritual warfare, and the measure of his success
therein will very largely be determined by how closely he adheres to the
same. It is to be noted that the force which was to lie in wait behind the
city was “sent away by night” (verse 3), and thus its members were
deprived of their rest, calling for self-denial on their part. That is the first
and chief task appointed the believer: as Israel had to overcome and
dispossess the Canaanites ere they could enter into their inheritance, so we
have to get the victory over the flesh, the world and the Devil before there
can be any present possessing of our possessions and enjoyment of the
same. Before Christ can be followed, self has to be “denied,” and the cross
(self-sacrifice) accepted as the regulating principle of our lives
(

Matthew 16:24).
That to which we have just called attention receives confirmation in

1
Corinthians 9:24-27, where Paul says, first, “Know ye not that they which
run in a race run all, but only one receiveth the prize? So run that ye may
obtain,” likening the Christian life unto the running of a race — which calls
for rigorous training, vigorous exertion, and patient endurance. Then he
informs them what is required, and is essential, in order to succeed therein’
“And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things”:
that is, he puts a bridle upon his appetites, is abstemious in the use of
comforts, and exercises a strict self-control at every point. Next, the
apostle made mention of his own life, which exemplified what he had just
said, and which sets before us an example to follow: “I therefore so run,
not as uncertainly” — I myself practice such self-discipline as being
absolutely necessary in order to ensure success. I conduct myself in such a
manner and order my life in such a way that the outcome is not left in any
doubt. I run within the lines marked out — keeping to the prescribed path
of duty; pressing on till the goal is reached, exerting myself to the utmost
unto the end.
Then, slightly varying his figure, and coming closer to what Joshua 8 has in
view, the apostle added: “So fight I, not as one that beateth the air” — I
conduct myself, and so observe the rules of the contest, that there can be.330
no uncertainty that I shall be “more than conqueror through Him that loved
us.” Paul daily denied himself, mortified his lusts, and consequently he
knew that the crown of life was thereby ensured. He did not waste his
energies or spend his strength for naught. All his efforts were directed to
the grand purpose of subjugating the desires of the flesh and bringing all his
members into subjection to God. Alas, how many professing Christians
today are wasting their energies upon tasks which God has never assigned
them! Then in verse 27 he frankly stated the awful alternative: if I fail to
make my body the servant of my soul, by yielding its members unto God
(

Romans 6:19) and fighting against the lusts of the flesh and
temptations of Satan, then eternal disgrace will be my portion. Finally, let it
be carefully noted that the apostle continues his exhortation to self-denial
and caution in the tenth chapter (as its opening word indicates) from the
case of Israel, who doubtless felt as they stood on the other side of the Red
Sea, that all danger was past and their entrance into Canaan was certain;
yet, because of yielding to evil lusts, they were destroyed in the wilderness
(verses 1-15).
Thus we see how that the principles which were to regulate Joshua and his
men were the same as those which are to govern Christians in connection
with their spiritual warfare. “The two Testaments, like our two eyes,
mutually enlighten and assist each other” (A. Searle). They were to
proceed with the utmost confidence in God, yet with entire submission to
Him. They were to act faith in His sure promise, and at the same time
render implicit obedience to His precept. They were to go forward fully
assured that Jehovah had given Ai into their hands, nevertheless they must
adhere strictly to the strategy He had specified. So, though told
“the God of peace shall bruise Satan under your feet shortly”
(

Romans 16:20),
we are definitely bidden to resist him steadfast in the faith (

1 Peter 5:9).
Our confidence is “that He which hath begun a good work in us will finish
it” (

Philippians 1:6) nevertheless, in the very next chapter we are
exhorted “work out your own salvation with fear and trembling” (verse
12). Mighty foes and powerful forces are arrayed in the fight, but the
ultimate issue is not in doubt:
“forasmuch as ye know that your labor is not in vain in the Lord”
(

1 Corinthians 15:58)..331
Unto the thirty thousand who were to lie in ambush behind the city Joshua
had said, “go not very far from the city, but be ye all ready” — awake,
alert, prepared promptly to make the most of any favorable opportunity
which should be presented to them. Such must be the demeanor and spirit
of the soldiers of Jesus Christ: “be sober, be vigilant” precedes the call to
resist our adversary “steadfast in the faith” (

1 Peter 5:8, 9). Then
Joshua added,
“And I, and all the people that are with me, will approach unto the
city: and it shall come to pass when they come out against us, as at
the first, that we will flee before them” (verse 5).
How different was this policy from their boldly walking around the walls of
Jericho! How humiliating, to proud flesh to have to turn their backs upon
the Canaanites! Surely it is obvious from such a course of procedure that
Israel had missed God’s best! True, the enemy was routed and utterly
destroyed, and his city reduced to ashes, yet the method which the Lord
here called upon Israel to adopt made it but too plain that they only entered
into His second best for them.
“For they will come out after us till we have drawn them from the
city; for they will say, They flee before us, as at the first: therefore
we will flee before them” (verse 6).
Those words expressed a deduction which Joshua drew from what the
Lord had said to him in verse 1, for since His announcement that He had
given the king of Ai and his people and his city into Israel’s hand was
accompanied by instructions for them to lay an ambush for the city from
the rear (verse 2), it logically followed that the success of such strategy
depended upon the army of Ai being lured out of it. Yet in the light of the
whole context it is clear that we have here something more than a mental
inference, namely faith’s conclusion. Joshua was warranted in having the
utmost confidence in the successful outcome of this plan, because he was
employing the means which the Lord had appointed, and was resting on
His promise in verse 1, and there-tore counted upon His blessing the same
by drawing forth the forces of the enemy and thus leaving their city
unprotected. This has been placed upon record for our learning and
encouragement, particularly for ministers of the Gospel: if they adhere
strictly to the methods and means God has appointed, and they look to
Him for His blessing on the same, then whatsoever He has purposed shall
assuredly be accomplished thereby..332
From the above we see how that we should profit from past experiences,
especially those wherein disaster overtook us. Note how in the fifth verse
Joshua had declared, “they will come out against us as at the first.” That
knowledge was now put to good use, and by availing himself of the same
Joshua turned a previous defeat into a success. As Joshua perceived what
course the king of Ai would follow, so Christians are told concerning their
great adversary, “we are not ignorant of his devices” (

2 Corinthians
2:11) — nor are we of the various allurements and snares of the world, and
least of all of the treachery and wickedness of our own hearts. Great care
needs to be taken and honesty exercised upon this point, for while on the
one hand the Word makes it very plain that Satan tempts and assaults the
saints, on the other hand we are all too prone to father upon him our own
sinful brats. It may not always be easy to decide whether a solicitation unto
evil originated with our own lusts or the Devil, yet this is sure, that he can
gain no advantage over us without our own consent, and therefore
whenever we yield to his seductions the fault and guilt are ours, and
instead of blaming Satan we must unsparingly condemn ourselves and
confess the same to God.
This is obviously the principal practical lesson for us to draw from this
detail of verse 6: that our knowledge of the enemy’s policy and tactics
should be turned to good account, or otherwise we fail to profit from
God’s exposure of the same in the Word of Truth. “For we are not
ignorant of his devices”: from what is revealed in Holy Writ, from what we
observe by carefully noticing the falls of our fellows, and from what we
learn from our personal experience, we are cognizant of his favorite
methods, baits, subtleties, and lines of approach; and such knowledge
increases our responsibility to be ever on our guard, to take measures to
counteract the same, and, as Joshua here did, turn them to our advantage.
To be forewarned is to be forearmed and when we know beforehand from
which direction the attack upon us is most likely to take place, we can not
only forestall the same, but turn it to good account. The favorite devices of
Satan are to prejudice unbelievers against the Truth and so engulf them in
the pleasures of the world that they lose sight of the interests of their souls
and the inestimable importance of the world to come, to mar the believer’s
testimony for Christ, and to destroy the peace of Christian assemblies by
fomenting a spirit of strife and jealousy.
Ere passing on from this point, let us remind the young preacher that he
may gather a wealth of suitable material from the Scriptures themselves.333
should he desire to make a sermon on “Satan’s devices.” In such case he
should, of course, concentrate mainly on those which were employed upon
Eve in

Genesis in. and those upon our Lord in

Matthew 4 Without
furnishing a complete list, he may supplement them from the following.
Satan seeks to puff up (

1 Chronicles 21:1), to stir up to rebellion
against the Divine providences and encourage hard thoughts of God
(

Job 1:11; 2:7-9), to produce a spirit of cowardice and induce us to
betray Christ, as in the case of Peter (

Luke 22:31), to consort and
bargain with the open enemies of Christ and lead us to betray Him
(

John 13:2), to drive to despair and self-destruction (

Matthew 27:5),
to foster the spirit of covetousness and attempt to impose upon the Holy
Spirit (

Acts 5:3), to tempt to marital infidelity (

1 Corinthians 7:5), to
undue severity (

2 Corinthians 2:6-11), to corrupt our minds from the
simplicity which is in Christ (

2 Corinthians 11:2), to pose as an angel of
light and transform his ministers as the ministers of righteousness (

2
Corinthians 11:14, 15), to deny the Truth (

2 Timothy 2:25, 26), to
intimidate (

1 Peter 5:8), to slander God’s servants and saints
(

Revelation 12:10).
“Then ye shall rise up from the ambush, and seize upon the city: for
the Lord your God will deliver it into your hand” (verse 7).
Joshua was still addressing the thirty thousand of his men who were to lie
in wait behind Ai until the opportune moment arrived for them to fall upon
it. That would be when the main force of Israel had made a frontal
approach in order to tempt its defenders to come out against them, and on
their being thus drawn out into the open Israel would pretend to flee,
inducing them to pursue and leave their homes defenseless. “Then ye shall
rise up,” seizing the favorable opportunity without delay. The success of
the plan required the full cooperation of Joshua’s men. Not all of them
were appointed to the same stations or allotted the same tasks, but each
was required to play his part faithfully. Had those who were to accompany
Joshua refused to turn tail when the men of Ai advanced upon them, those
who formed the ambush had their long wait in vain; and unless they acted
promptly in occupying the soldier-less city, then Joshua’s plan had failed.
Hence it was that Joshua had bidden them, “be ye all ready,” that they
might immediately avail themselves of the great advantage which his ruse
offered them..334
The spiritual application to its of the above is obvious. The Lord’s people
are called upon to act together in their spiritual warfare. Not all are
assigned positions of equal honor, nor are they given the same tasks to
perform, yet they must supplement one another and act in conjunction if
the interests of their Master’s cause are to be furthered, and if they are not
to be humiliated before the common enemy. Unless the pastor has the full
cooperation of his church officers, he is placed at a most serious
disadvantage, and unless the rank and file of the members cooperate with
both, little success will crown their efforts. Nor is it sufficient for one local
church to fulfill its spiritual functions: there must be mutual accord and
concerted action on the part of the several battalions of Christ’s soldiers if
the enemy is to be defeated. Is it not the deplorable absence of such united
effort on the part of God’s people that explains the comparative impotency
of modern Christianity? While a spirit of jealousy and discord prevails, and
factions and schisms so largely obtain, corporate fellowship is impossible,
and where there is no fellowship there can be no united front presented
before the powers of darkness, and therefore no Ais captured to the glory
of God.
Let us now observe and admire the blessed balance of Truth as exemplified
in the passage which is now before us. In the last three or four verses
which have engaged our attention, it is the human-responsibility side of
things which is manifestly in view, the several duties which the different
parts of Israel’s army were called upon to perform, and perform them they
must if success was to attend their efforts. Nevertheless, Joshua was most
particular in guarding the Lord’s glory, and in letting his men know that it
was the Divine blessing upon their efforts which would make them
prosperous. This is clear from his words: “Then ye shall rise up from the
ambush, and seize upon the city, for the Lord God will deliver it into your
hands.” There was the Divine-grace side of things! The two things are not
contradictory but complementary, as in “the hand of the diligent maketh
rich” and “the blessing of the Lord it maketh rich” (

Proverbs 10:4, 22).
Both are consistent: the one reveals the primary cause, the other the
subordinate and instrumental one. Neither will be effectual without the
other. The sluggard looks for prosperity without diligence; the self-sufficient
or practical atheist, from diligence alone: but the balanced
Christian, from the blessing of God in the exercise of diligence. That wise
combination keeps him both active and humble, energetic, vet dependent
on God..335
“Except the Lord build the house, they labor in vain that build it”
(

Psalm 127:1),
yet if they build not there will be no “house”!
AMBUSH
“And it shall be, when ye have taken the city, that ye shall set the
city on fire: according to the commandment of the Lord shall ye do.
See I have commanded you” (

Joshua 8:8).
In those words Joshua completed the orders given to thirty thousand of his
men who were to lie in ambush behind Ai. He had already assigned the
position they were to occupy. He had bidden them to be all of them ready
to strike the blow while the iron was hot. He had explained the part which
the major portion of his army would play, making their own task much
easier. He had assured them the Lord God would deliver the city into their
hands. And now he informed them how they must make a thorough job of
and complete the task allotted them. Only half of it was accomplished when
the city was captured: it must be reduced to ashes. This teaches us that
there is to be no relaxing in the performance of duty when God has granted
our efforts a measure of success, but a continuing to render full obedience
unto all His commandments. Much easier said than done, declares the
reader. True, we reply, but enabling grace is available if we seek it
wholeheartedly. When the Lord is pleased to prosper our labors, instead of
a complacent slackening on our part, it should serve as a spur and
encouragement to attempt yet greater things in His name.
Observe the time-mark again: “when ye have taken the city, that ye shall
set the city on fire.” There was to be no tardiness in executing the orders
given them. Each of us should be able, by Divine grace, to aver,
“I made haste, and delayed not to keep Thy commandments”
(

Psalm 119:60).
When our duty is clear it should be performed with alacrity. The more
unpleasant it be, the sooner it is done the better. Least of all can we afford
to trifle with sin or indulge our evil lusts: no quarter must be shown our
enemies — Ai must be completely destroyed! The revealed will of God is
to be complied with without any reservation on our part. As full obedience
was here required from Joshua’s men, not only to take the city, but to
destroy it, nothing less is required from the soldiers of the Lord Jesus..336
There was a needs be for these men to carry out their part of the plan
promptly, for the sight of the smoking houses would not only dismay and
panic the king of Ai and his forces (verse 20), but was to serve as a signal
to Joshua that his “ambush” had made themselves masters of the city, and
therefore that he and his company might turn round and fall upon their
pursuers. Thus we see that tardiness on our part acts as a hindrance to our
brethren!
“Joshua therefore sent them forth; and they went to lie in ambush,
and abode between Bethel and Ai, on the west side of Ai”
(

Joshua 8:9).
It speaks well for the spirit and loyalty of these men that they made no
objection to their leader’s orders: that in view of the disaster which
overtook their brethren on a former occasion (

Joshua 7:4, 5), they
raised no demur. Nor did they complain at being deprived of their rest
through being sent away “by night” (verse 3). It is also to be recognized
that the position assigned unto them was the real post of danger, for,
isolated as they would be from the main body of Israel’s army, they ran the
imminent hazard (humanly speaking) of being discovered by the enemy,
and cut off and annihilated by them. It therefore says much for their
courage, too, that they promptly complied with Joshua’s orders. From the
Divine side of things we may perceive again that when God works He
always works at both ends of the line: having assured Joshua of the
certainty of victory, the Lord also wrought in these men, “both to will and
to do of His good pleasure,” by inclining them to fulfill their mission
faithfully. Incidentally, we may observe the minute accuracy of Scripture,
as seen in the topographical harmony between this verse and

Genesis
12:8, Bethel and Ai being in close proximity.
“But Joshua lodged that night among the people” (verse 9).
He did not accompany the thirty thousand, for there was other important
work to engage his attention. It was his evident duty to be with the
principal body of his force, that he might maintain their morale, for only a
day or two previously their hearts “had melted and become as water” when
tidings of the initial failure reached them (

Joshua 7:4, 5). He would
therefore seek to inspire them with confidence and courage, and turn their
minds from the defeat unto the Lord’s promise. Not only must discipline be
enforced, but there were duties to be discharged which he could not
suitably delegate to others, for he had to supervise all the arrangements.337
which needed to be made for the morrow. Yet there is something more
here. There is no reason to believe that Joshua had ever done otherwise:
nowhere else is such a statement made. Why, then, this particular
emphasis: “Joshua lodged that night among the people”? We believe it is
because the Holy Spirit looked forward to the Antitype. The Lord Jesus
was the homeless Stranger here, and “had not where to lay His head,”
spending His nights upon the mountain-side (

John 7:53, and 8:1). So far
as we are aware, the Gospels record but one exception: the last night but
one before His crucifixion Christ lodged with His friends at Bethany
(

Mark 14:3, and cf. 14:10 with

John 13:3)!
“And Joshua rose up early in the morning, and numbered the
people, and went up, he and the elders of Israel, before the people
to Ai” (verse 10).
As there was to be no slackness on the part of those whom he had sent
away to ambush Ai, so there was no lazing or giving way to self-indulgence
by their commander, but the setting before his men a pattern of
alacrity and intenseness.
“Those who would maintain their spiritual conflicts must not love
their ease” (Matthew Henry).
The pastor should set his members an example of earnestness, diligence,
and zeal. There was no neglecting of his duty on Joshua’s part, no treating
casually the approaching engagement. All was done decently and in order,
in preparation for the forthcoming march. By his “numbering of the
people” we understand his marshalling of the host in their proper ranks,
seeing to it that each man was in his correct place under his own tribal
standard. Then he and the tribal heads took the positions of command.
Pastors must have the co-operation and support of their church officers,
and they in turn inspire the rank and file with courage and unselfishness. It
is to be observed that the “elders” were here accorded a position of honor,
for those who humble themselves before God (

Joshua 7:6) are in due
time exalted by Him.
“And all the people, even the people of war that were with him,
went up and drew nigh, and came before the city, and pitched on
the west side of Ai: now there was a valley between them and Ai”
(verse 11)..338
The whole fighting force of Israel, having been duly mustered, left the
camp at Gilgal, where the women, children, and other non-combatants
would remain until the return of the army. Once again we mark the
geographical accord of the statement that they “went up” with

Genesis
12:8, where, quite incidentally, we are told that Bethel and Ai were situate
in a mountainous region. They “drew nigh and came before the city,”
which was in fulfillment of the agreement Joshua had entered into with the
thirty thousand (verse 5) — foreshadowing the fidelity of the Captain of
our salvation to fulfill His engagements and make good His promises. It is
blessed to see how the Lord overcame the fears of Joshua’s followers
(

Joshua 7:5) and wrought in them a willingness to accompany their
leader — which is to be regarded as a part of His gracious answer to the
prayer of

Joshua 7:7-12! The statement that “there was a valley
between them and Ai” is not without spiritual significance — they lined up
their forces on high ground, and Christians must regard themselves as
“partakers of the heavenly calling” (Hebrews in. 1) and conduct themselves
accordingly if they would be successful in the good fight of faith.
“And he took about five thousand men and set them to lie in wait
between Bethel and Ai on the west side of the city” (verse 12).
No hurried assault was made upon the enemy by Joshua, but first an
orderly disposition of his forces was arranged. It seems strange that some
of the commentators should boggle over this verse and be in doubt as to
whether or not the five thousand men here spoken of were drawn from the
thirty thousand, or were another company, for to us the narrative makes it
quite plain that they were a separate force which was now assigned to
another position. Joshua’s design therein was evident, for his project
served a twofold purpose: it cut off Bethel sending any reinforcements to
Ai, and it prevented the forces of Ai escaping in that direction when Joshua
turned round and fell upon them. It was what strategists would term a
flanking movement. Therein we behold the thoroughness of Joshua’s
preparations, notwithstanding the Divine promise which he had received —
“I have given into thine hand the king of Ai,” etc. (verse 1) — he took
every possible precaution and spared no effort on his part to ensure
victory. In other words he made the fullest possible use of all the means at
his disposal. And we are required to do likewise..339
“And when they had set the people, even all the host that was on
the north side of the city, and their liers in wait on the west of the
city, Joshua went that night into the midst of the valley” (verse 13).
After their uphill march from Gilgal, Joshua decided that his forces should
remain stationary until the morning — another illustration of the important
principle. “he that believeth shall not make haste.” But though he had risen
up early that morning there was no taking of his ease by Joshua that night.
No furloughs are granted the soldiers of Jesus Christ, for their enemies
take none. Our spiritual warfare calls for incessant alertness. How Joshua
spent that night we are not told. Some think it was to make a
reconnaissance — to ascertain the lay of the land, its roads, etc. — but that
was hardly likely by night. Others suppose he spent the time in prayer,
asking God’s blessing on the forthcoming fight, yet advance no reason why
he should leave the camp in order to do so. In any case it was a bold act on
his part to venture alone so near unto Ai — an act in accord with the
Lord’s words to him in

Joshua 1:9. Turning from the type to the
Antitype, we have here what confirms our remarks on verse 9. Our Lord’s
last night before the great conflict was spent alone in “the valley” of
humiliation — from Gethsemane to Pilate’s judgment hall!
“And it came to pass, when the king of Ai saw it. that they hasted
and rose up early, and the men of the city went our against Israel to
battle, he and all his people, at a time appointed, before the plain;
but he wist not that there were liers in ambush against him behind
the city” (verse 14).
From the opening words of this verse it seems dear that whatever Joshua
had done that night in the valley it was now visible to those in Ai as soon
as day broke, and that it at once attracted their attention: something which
appears to have constituted a challenge to them — reminding us again of
our Lord, who so far from hiding from His enemies boldly “went forth” to
meet those who had come to apprehend Him (

John 18:4). Their “rising
up early” indicates their bloodthirstiness and eagerness for the fray,
doubting not that an easy conquest would be theirs; possibly they thought
to spring a surprise upon Israel by a dawn attack. Alas, how often are we
surprised and overcome through failure to be constantly upon our guard. It
is while Christ’s servants “sleep” that the enemy sows his tares
(

Matthew 13:25). There is some difficulty in determining the meaning
of “went out against Israel to battle at a time appointed”: possibly it.340
signifies the same hour as when they were successful against Israel on a
former occasion (

Joshua 7:5), deeming it a “lucky” one.
“But he wist not that there were liers in ambush against him behind the
city.” That appears quite a commonplace statement, yet in reality it is far
otherwise. The success of Israel’s strategy depended upon their men in
ambush being undetected, and that in turn depended upon the secret
operations of God upon and within the king of Ai. It seems well-nigh
impossible that no less than thirty thousand should remain concealed within
so short a distance of the city, and not merely for a few minutes, but for
forty-eight hours. It was a miracle, as truly so as the sun’s remaining
stationary at the command of Joshua — the tenth chapter. It was due to
the power of Jehovah, who prevented the king of Ai from sending out
scouts and discovering the hostile force in his rear.
“The king’s heart is in the hand of the Lord as the rivers of water:
He turneth it whithersoever He will” (

Proverbs 21:1)
— sometimes to act wisely, at others foolishly; sometimes to deal kindly
with His people (

Ezra 6:22), at others to hate them, as in the case of
Pharaoh. What is before us in our present passage supplies a striking
illustration of the dominion of God over all and His full control of the
wicked, preventing this heathen monarch from taking the most elementary
precautions for the safeguarding of his city and people.
What has just been pointed out is far too little attended unto today even by
the people of God, that the almighty Governor of the world exerts a
restraining influence upon the wicked, and that for the good of His people.
Yet Scripture records many specific examples of the same. Thus when
Abraham sojourned in Gerah, and from fear denied that Sarah was his wife,
her honor was (humanly speaking) placed in the utmost jeopardy, for the
king of that place sent and “took her,” yet “had not come near her,” for, as
God said to him,
“for I also withheld thee from sinning against Me: therefore
suffered I thee not to touch her” (

Genesis 20:1-6).
Had not the Lord, secretly but effectually, interposed, Abimelech had
grievously wronged Sarah. Ah, my reader, how often hath thy gracious
God withheld the wicked from touching thee — burglars from breaking
into thy house, etc. Again we say, the restraining operations of the Most
High are all too little perceived by us. Another notable instance is that of.341
Balaam. He was hired by the king of Moab to curse Israel, and it is clear
from the Divine narrative that he was anxious to do so, that he might earn
“the wages of unrighteousness.” But the Lord prevented him, so that he
had to acknowledge,
“How shall I curse whom the Lord hath not cursed… He hath
blessed, and I cannot reverse it” (

Numbers 23:8, 20).
When Jacob was recounting the wrongs he had suffered at the hands of
Laban, his father-in-law, who had deceived him and changed his wages ten
times, he added. “But God suffered him not to touch me” (

Genesis
31:7), and received a further proof thereof in the immediate sequel (verse
29), when the Lord again held Laban back from venting his anger upon
him. The brethren of Joseph hated him, and “conspired against him to slay
him” (

Genesis 37:18), but Jehovah interposed and thwarted their
designs. Nor is this restraining power of God limited to individuals, but is
exerted upon whole communities and nations. Thus we are told:
“The terror of God was upon the cities that were round about
them, and they did not pursue after the sons of Jacob” (

Genesis
35:5).
Centuries later the Psalmist was moved to make reference to that
phenomenon,
“When they were but a few men in number; yea, very few, and
strangers in it. When they went from one nation to another, from
one kingdom to another people, He suffered no man to do them
wrong” (

Psalm 105:12-14),
bridling their lusts and causing the wolf to dwell with the lamb and the
leopard to lie down with the kid.
“Neither shall any man desire thy land when thou shalt go up to
appear before the Lord thy God thrice in the year”
(

Exodus 34:24).
When the men-folk were no longer present to defend their farms, God
restrained the covetous desires and designs of the surrounding heathen.
We consider that what has been alluded to in the last two paragraphs casts
much light upon the incident which is here before us, that it was due to the
restraining operations of God that the king of Ai failed to send out scouts.342
in all directions ere he led forth the whole of his army from the city, and
left it defenseless. Instead, “they hasted and rose up early, and the men of
the city went out against Israel to battle” (verse 14). Infatuated by his
previous success, filled with self-confidence, he rushed forward to
complete disaster. Thus it was with Pharaoh and his hosts when they
pursued the Israelites through the Red Sea and perished therein. Before
God destroys the wicked, He first gives them up to a spirit of madness.
Should these lines be read by a Christ-less soul who is yet in his sins, we
beg him to pause and heed the solemn warning which is here presented to
him. Let not his previous immunity from Divine judgment fill him with a
false sense of security: “they are most in danger who are least aware of it”
(Matthew Henry). ‘The king of Ai was blind to his own interests — are not
you the same? He failed to take the most obvious precautions — are not
you guilty of similar folly: hastening unto eternity and utterly unprepared to
meet your God? O
“seek ye the Lord while He may be found, call ye upon Him while
He is near” (

Isaiah 55:6).
“Today if ye will hear His voice, harden not your heart”
(

Psalm 95:7, 8).
“And it came to pass, when the king of Ai saw it, that they hasted
and rose up early, and the men of the city went out against Israel to
battle, he and all his people, at a time appointed, before the plain;
but he wist not that there were liers in ambush against him behind
the city” (

Joshua 8:14).
In Scripture those words, “it came to pass,” are something more than a
formal manner of prefacing a narrative or introducing an incident,
signifying the accomplishment of the Divine foreordination, that it occurred
precisely as God had decreed, for He has predestined the actions of the
wicked equally with those of the godly. Exactly what it was that they
“saw” we know not, but they failed to investigate it, and, being regulated
by their senses rather than by reason, precipitately rushed forward to death.
Infatuated by his previous success (

Joshua 7:5), unconscious that he
was fighting against the Almighty and flinging himself upon the thick
bosses of His bucklers (

Job 15:26), the king issued forth to what he
confidently believed would be an easy victory, yet only to fulfill God’s
purpose (

Ecclesiastes 3:1). Upon further reflection, we are now
satisfied that that is the meaning of the clause which has puzzled the.343
commentators — “at a time appointed,” i.e. of God, for He has fixed the
hour of every man’s death (

Job 7:1).
“And Joshua and all Israel made as if they were beaten before them,
and fled by the way of the wilderness” (

Joshua 8:15).
They pretended to be filled with terror, and instead of making a firm stand
against these Canaanites they gave ground, and probably fled in some
disorder toward the wilderness. Yet however distasteful and degrading it
was for the main body of Israel to feign themselves cowards, it was
necessary for them to do so if their plan was to succeed. In like manner,
there are times when some Christians are required to act a humble part,
perhaps a humiliating one, if the task which is assigned others of their
brethren is to be duly accomplished. All cannot occupy positions of equal
honor in the church, any more than can all the servants of a king’s
household be equal — scullery maids are as essential as lords in waiting. In
the days of David there were some who girded on their swords and
accompanied him to the battlefield, while there were others who were
required to remain behind and guard the provender; but it is blessed to
observe that when the spoil was to be divided he gave orders,
“as his part is that goeth down to the battle, so shall his part be that
tarrieth by the stuff: they shall [take] part alike” (

1 Samuel
30:24).
“God hath set the members every one of them in the body, as it
hath pleased Him — And the eye cannot say to the hand, I have no
need of thee; nor again the head to the feet, I have no need of you.
Nay, much more those members of the body which seem to be
more feeble, are necessary…. Now ye are the body of Christ, and
members in particular” (

1 Corinthians 12:18, 21, 22, 27).
In our remarks upon

Joshua 8:9, we pointed out how admirable was the
self-sacrificing, obedient, and courageous spirit displayed by the thirty
thousand: how that they murmured not at being deprived of their rest
through being sent away “by night,” or at the dangerous post assigned
them. Equally praiseworthy was the conduct of this force which
accompanied Joshua. They might have asked, Is it for this that thou hast
brought us from Gilgal? Have we had a long uphill march only to turn tail
as soon as the enemy advance toward us? Or, Since the Lord has delivered
Ai into our hands [verse 1], what need is there for us to play so.344
ignominious a part and cut so sorry a figure before the heathen? Instead,
they meekly complied with their orders and loyally supported their leader.
But in that to which we have just called attention we should recognize the
secret power of God at work, overcoming their natural scruples and
inclining them to co-operate fully with their brethren, and thus fulfill His
will. This too should be regarded as a part of His gracious answer to the
prayer of

Joshua 7:6-9. How wondrously He acts when we truly humble
ourselves before Him and are concerned for the honor of His name! He
makes things work smoothly, yea, work together, when He shows Himself
strong in our behalf. Yet how often we miss perceiving the same through
failing to observe closely His providences and connect the same with our
previous cries unto Him for help. For the sake of our more hyper-Calvinistic
readers it may be well for us to point out here that there is
nothing more “inconsistent in admiring the virtues of these men of Israel
while ascribing the same unto the gracious operations of God than there
was in the apostle’s telling the Colossians that he “rejoiced” in their
orderliness and the “steadfastness of their faith” (

Joshua 2:5), when he
knew full well that God was the Author of those spiritual fruits. Because
there are no official powers or authorities “but of God,” that does not
preclude our rendering “honor to whom honor is due” (

Romans 13:1,
7)!
“And Joshua and all Israel made as if they were beaten before them, and
fled by the way of the wilderness.” Once again there is something more
here than that which is of historical interest, or even of practical instruction
for our hearts. Little as it may appear at first glance, yea, utterly
incongruous as it may sound, Joshua’s conduct on this occasion — when
considered in the light of the immediate sequel — plainly and strikingly
foreshadowed Him who though He was rich vet for our sakes became
poor, that we through His poverty, humiliation and suffering might be rich.
“What Joshua did in this strategem is applicable to our Lord Jesus,
of whom he was a type. Joshua conquered by yielding, as if he had
himself been conquered: so our Lord Jesus. when He bowed His
head and gave up the spirit, seemed as if death had triumphed over
Him, and as if He and all His interests had been routed and ruined;
but in His resurrection He rallied again, and gave the powers of
death a total defeat; He broke the serpent’s head by suffering him
to bruise His heel. A glorious strategem”! (Matthew Henry)..345
How wonderful are the ways of God, who not only set the sun in the
heavens, gave to the lamb its characteristics, appointed the fruit-bearing
vine to be a figure of Christ but also shaped Old Testament events so as to
prefigure His person and work!
“And all the people that were in Ai were called together to pursue
after them: and they pursued after Joshua, and were drawn away
from the city” (verse 16).
This too was “of the Lord,” and it should be marvelous in our eyes.
Therein we behold the success which God gave to Joshua’s ruse, when his
men made a feint as though they were beaten; or rather to his obedient
compliance with the orders he had received from the Lord. Not only had
the king of Ai gone out with the whole of his military force — sallying
forth with the exultant cry: “They flee before us, as at the first” (verse 6)
— but when Israel was seen in flight the non-combatant citizens were
summoned to join in their pursuit; thereby rendering still easier the task
assigned the thirty thousand. It is obvious that Without the Divine blessing
on this plan such a considerable body of men could no more have remained
concealed than could Jacob’s device in

Genesis 30:37-43, have
prospered.
“See how the prosperity of fools destroys them and hardens their
hearts to their ruin” (Matthew Henry).
Because God had used the king of Ai on a former occasion to chastise
Israel, he and his people were puffed up with conceit.
Note carefully the precise expression used here by the Holy Spirit: the
inhabitants of Ai were “drawn away from the city.” Those words set forth
another of the secret operations of the Most High in His government of
this world. In our last, we called attention to the restraining influence
which He exerts upon men; here His impelling vower is seen. To His
people He says,
“I have loved thee with an everlasting love, therefore with loving-kindness
have I drawn thee” (

Jeremiah 31:3),
yet not with physical force, but a moral suasion which overcomes their
native enmity and frees the will from the dominion of sin. “I drew them
with cords of a man, with bands of love” (

Hosea 11:4): not by external
force, such as is used on brute beasts, but by cogent arguments, tender.346
inducements, constraining motives and obligations, such as are suited to
work on the understandings, affections and wills of rational creatures; the
same being rendered effectual by the supernatural power and application of
the Spirit. Such Divine drawing is absolutely essential in order to the
saving of sin’s slaves and the freeing of Satan’s captives, for as the Lord
Jesus so plainly declared,
“No man can come to Me except the Father which hath sent Me
draw him” (

John 6:44)
— a truth so repugnant to the proud heart of the natural man, that when
Christ uttered it,
“From that time many of His disciples went back and walked no
more with Him” (

John 6:65, 66).
Not only does the Word of Truth make known this drawing power of God
upon His elect, but it reveals Him putting forth the same upon the non-elect,
though in their case He presents a very different set of reasons and
inducements before their minds.
“I will harden Pharaoh’s heart that he shall follow after thee”
(

Exodus 14:4)
— impelling Egypt’s king to pursue His people unto the Red Sea. So too
with the other kings of Canaan:
“For it was of the Lord to harden their hearts that they should come
against Israel to battle, that He might destroy them utterly”
(

Joshua 11:20).
Unto Barak Deborah announced that the Lord God of Israel had declared:
“I will draw unto thee to the river Kishon Sisera, the captain of
Jabin’s army, with his chariots and his multitude: and I will deliver
him into thine hand” (

Judges 4:7).
“I will bring them against My land, that the heathen may know Me”
(

Ezekiel 38:16)
in the power of My fury (verse 18).
“I will also gather all nations, and will bring them down into the
valley of Jehoshaphat” (

Joel 3:2)..347
So it was with the Aites: the Hebrew word rendered “draw away” in

Joshua 8:16, is translated “pluck” in

Jeremiah 32:24, “pull out” in

Jeremiah 12:13, “be rooted out” in

Job 18:14.
“And there was not a man left in Ai or Bethel that went not out
after Israel: and they left the city open, and pursued after Israel”
(verse 17).
Further proof was this that the king of Ai had been given up to a spirit of
madness, employing every male at his disposal to pursue Israel, leaving
none to guard the city or secure his own retreat in case of emergency. It is
hard to conceive a greater piece of folly unless it be that of Pharaoh, who,
after witnessing such manifest demonstrations of the power and wrath of
Jehovah upon Egypt, should, immediately after the death of all the
firstborn, pursue Israel, and then attempt to march through the Red Sea.
The one equally with the other was blinded by pride and obstinacy. Yet
observe well that those in verses 17 “went out” of their own volition! Thus
does Scripture uniformly present together the two sides of man’s free
agency and God’s invincible operations, without any philosophical
explanation of the “consistency” of the two things. God “draws”
irresistibly, yet without the slightest violation upon man’s will or the least
impairment of his accountability. If we deny either the one or the other,
then we flatly repudiate what is clearly revealed in Holy Writ.
What has just been alluded to is certainly profoundly mysterious, vet that is
no valid reason why we should reject it, for if we believe only that which
we can fully understand our creed will be a very small one. Even our
consciousness bears witness that we act voluntarily, and the ungodly will
themselves, at times, admit that a “higher power” constrained them to
follow such and such a course; nor do they feel that they were reduced to
“mere machines” in so being. Viewing the contents of verse 17 in
connection with the warfare of the saint, we are there shown that the hand
of every man of this world is, spiritually speaking, against him. Many of
them are indeed kind-hearted, generous, and benevolent unto a Christian in
temporal things; but (all unconscious to themselves) they are antagonistic
to his eternal interests. Their influence is entirely earthly, and never
heavenly. What was the attitude of the world toward Christ? Without a
single exception, hostile. Pharisees and Sadducees, priests and scribes,
politicians and the common people, the Roman soldiers, and even the
crucified malefactors, reviled Him, until a miracle of grace transformed one.348
of them into a worshipper. If we were more like Christ we should
experience more of the world’s enmity and persecution.
“And the Lord said unto Joshua, Stretch out the spear that is in thy
hand toward Ai; for I will give it into thine hand. And Joshua
stretched out the spear that he had in his hand toward the city”
(verse 18).
He had waited for a further word from Jehovah before taking this action.
As it was at Jericho, so here at Ai: each stage of the process in the
capturing and destroying of the city must be ordered by the Lord. Thus it
was with Moses in every project in which he engaged. So also with the
apostles, teaching us that the servant of Christ must not do anything
without His authorization. It is indeed blessed to observe here that
Joshua’s hand was the first one to be outstretched against Ai. Is not the
lesson for us therein plain? It is when the antitypical Joshua stretches forth
His hand on our behalf that the best time has come for us to act. The need
for the Lord to inform Joshua when to stretch forth his hand is obvious, for
it served as a signal to those in ambush, and that required to be precisely
timed — when the men of Ai had left the city — so that they might swiftly
seize their opportunity.
The Lord did not fail His servant, but at the crucial moment gave him the
word of command: “Stretch out the spear that is in thy hand.” That action
was not only designed as a signal to his men in ambush, but, as verse 26
makes clear, by the same He directed the whole engagement, until
complete victory was achieved. Now was drawing near the hour of
Joshua’s triumph, for he was on the point of leading Israel to conquest, of
which his outstretched spear was the symbol. That too was a
foreshadowing of our blessed Savior. It seems evident from verses 22 and
24 that throughout the contest Joshua must have occupied some position
of eminence, from which he gave orders to his troops, and therein he was a
figure of Christ on high. The last night but one before the fight, lodging
among the people (verse 9), as did Christ with His friends at Bethany. The
next night alone in “the midst of the valley” (verse 13) — the symbol of
deep, humiliation (

Isaiah 40:4:

Luke 1:52). as our Lord spent His in
Gethsemane and the judgment halls of the Jews and Romans. Then fleeing
before the foe as if beaten (verse 15). as Christ, in apparent defeat, was out
to death by His enemies. Now assured by God of victory (verse 18), as He
has promised to make Christ’s foes His footstool..349
In concluding this article we propose to consider more closely the lines of
typical teaching in

Joshua 8. In the course of our comments we have
indicated some of the practical applications to be made of its contents, and
have pointed out the several respects in which Joshua again foreshadowed
our Lord. But now we must inquire. What contribution to the particular
theme of this book is made by the capturing and destroying of Ai: what are
the principal lessons there for us concerning the Christian’s warfare? That
question is more easily asked than answered, late must acknowledge we
have experienced more difficulty here than when pondering what was
before us in

Joshua 3 and 4. But that is to be expected.
First, because Israel here was only enjoying God’s second best, and where
that be the case His showing Himself strong on our behalf is curtailed, and
acts of folly on our part raise, as it were, a cloud of dust, which prevents
our perceiving so clearly the workings of God.
Second, because the human side of things is more prominent. At first the
babe is carried, but the time arrives when it must learn to use its own feet:
so with the saint, who has to develop his graces and subdue his lusts.
Both in the crossing of the Jordan and the capturing of Jericho, the Lord
did all for Israel, working miracles on their behalf; but in connection with
Ai much more was required from them. Thus it is in the spiritual life.
Regeneration is a miracle of grace, wherein we were entirely passive; but in
order to our growth in grace and spiritual progress, all our faculties have to
be called into action. The “lambs” Christ carries in His bosom (

Isaiah
40:11), but the “sheep” are required to follow Him (

John 10:27).
Immediately after conversion the power of God is so put forth that usually
the believer experiences a season of peace from the assaults of Satan and
the stirrings of his inward corruptions. But soon he becomes conscious of
the serpent’s enmity and is made painfully aware of the powerful enemies
within his own heart; and the fight of faith gradually becomes fiercer, and
he meets with some humiliating falls in the contest. Yet we can discern the
wisdom of God therein, promoting our good. If He continued to do all for
us without our active concurrence, and if nothing but victory was our
uniform experience, we should quickly become proud and self-sufficient —
as was the case with Israel after Jericho! But under Divine chastenings, and
through His instructions, we are taught how to turn former defeats into
successes — by using the means appointed and counting upon God’s
blessing the same..350
WORSHIP IN VICTORY
“And the king of Ai he hanged on a tree until eventide. And as soon
as the sun was down, Joshua commanded that they should take his
carcass down from the tree, and cast it at the entering of the gate of
the city, and raise there a great heap of stones, that remaineth unto
this day. Then Joshua built an altar unto the Lord God of Israel in
mount Ebal… an altar of whole stones” (

Joshua 8:29-31).
It can scarcely be doubted that there is a designed contrast between those
two events. In the former we see the ignominy of Ai’s king, here we behold
the worship of the King of kings. The one marked the grave of a
malefactor, the other recognized the claims of the Holy One. Great indeed
is the contrast between the dead body under the stones and the accepted
sacrifice upon the altar of stones. That bore witness to the carrying out of
the curse of the Law, on this was inscribed its precepts. The former was at
“the gate” of Ai (the place of judgment —

Amos 5:10), the latter was in
a mount. That was intended as a solemn warning unto evil-doers, this was
for the instruction of those who desired to do well.
“Then Joshua built an altar unto the Lord God of Israel in mount Ebal.”
Everything connected with the incident prefaced by that statement is of
deep importance and interest, calling for our closest attention. A further
word upon the Spirit’s time-mark. This act of worship followed
immediately upon the destruction of Ai and all its inhabitants. We should
naturally expect that after Israel’s capturing of Jericho and Ai they had
continued to advance, proceeding to the further occupying of Canaan.
Now that they had made themselves masters of its frontier towns, it would
appear the only sound policy to forge ahead while their terror was upon the
foe, and penetrate into the very heart of his country. Instead, a long and
difficult journey was taken unto mount Ebal, that a solemn religious
ordinance might be observed. In the midst of their military campaign a
lengthy pause was made in order that Jehovah might be honored.
“The camp of Israel was drawn out into the land not to engage the
enemy but to offer sacrifice, to hear the Law read, and to say Amen
to the blessings and curses. It is a remarkable instance of the zeal of
Israel for the service of God and for His glory” (Matthew Henry).
The offering of burnt offerings and peace offerings to Jehovah upon this
occasion was an acknowledgment of His blessing upon their arms, and a.351
rejoicing before Him in the successes which His power and goodness had
vouchsafed them. At Rephidim Israel had been taught that victory over
Amalek was obtained by the hands of Moses being lifted up toward the
throne of heaven, and as a monument thereto he erected an altar, naming it
“Jehovah-nissi.” which signifies “the Lord my banner” (

Exodus 17:15).
So here, as the captain of their salvation, Joshua had not only “stretched
out the spear that he had in his hand” (

Joshua 8:18), but had kept it
raised and extended until victory was complete (verse 26), and now he
expressed his gratitude by erecting this altar to mark the same. That is
clearly, evident from the opening “then” of verse 30. Yet his act on this
occasion imported something more.
As yet Israel had conquered but a very small section of Canaan, and here
they journeyed upwards of another hundred miles, and upon reaching
mount Ebal Joshua built this altar. It was therefore a remarkable act of
faith, a claiming of the whole land for the Lord — men only build on land
which is their own! Thus, instead of waiting until Israel’s victory was
complete, Joshua anticipated the same in a sure and certain hope! This is
the first time that any “altar” is mentioned in the book of Joshua, and there
are some very striking parallels between it and the one mentioned in

Exodus 20:24. Both were erected upon a mount; both of them at the
express command of the Lord, and not merely by the spiritual impulses and
promptings of Moses and Joshua. Both of them were designed to magnify
the Divine Law, and to exemplify the grand fact that grace reigns through
righteousness. On both of them were sacrificed burnt offerings and peace
offerings (

Exodus 24:5). The one was shortly after Israel’s supernatural
exodus from the house of bondage and crossing of the Red Sea, the other
soon after their miraculous crossing of the Jordan and entrance into the
promised land. In the course of these articles we have frequently
emphasized the fact that in his actions Joshua (as one of the outstanding
types of Christ) was constantly regulated by the written Word of God.
That had again received illustration in

Joshua 8:29, for the taking down
of the carcass of the king of Ai was required in

Deuteronomy 21:23.
Equally so was that principle exemplified here in

Joshua 8:30, for the
building of this altar was in compliance with the injunctions given through
Moses.
In the book of Deuteronomy many instructions were given the children of
Israel near the close of their sojourn in the wilderness as to how they must
conduct themselves upon their entrance into the land of promise. Therein.352
we find that which explains the incident recorded in the closing verses of

Joshua 8.It had been said unto them, “Therefore it shall be when ye be
gone over Jordan, that ye shall set up these stones, which I command you
this day, in mount Ebal; and thou shalt plaister them with plaister. And
there shalt thou build an altar unto the Lord thy God, an altar of stones:
thou shalt not lift up any iron tool upon them. Thou shalt build the altar of
the Lord thy God of whole stones: and thou shalt offer burnt offerings
thereon unto the Lord thy God; and thou shalt offer peace offerings, and
shalt eat there, and rejoice before the Lord thy God
“These shall stand upon mount Gerizim to bless the people… and
these shall stand upon mount Ebal to curse” (

Deuteronomy
27:4-7, 12, 13).
The “altar” was the meeting-place between God and men. In its
construction it was of the most simple and unpretending character, no
place being allowed for the exercise of human art. This may appear strange
when we remember that both rich materials and elaborate skill were
expended upon the tabernacle and its internal furnishings — the outer-court
vessels alone excepted. But when we call to mind the purpose of the
altar and its leading object, the difficulty vanishes, and the propriety of its
extreme plainness at once appears. It was there the Holy One and the fallen
creature transacted concerning sin and salvation: that the alien might be
reconciled, the guilty pardoned, the cleansed one have fellowship with the
Lord. Therefore did He appoint that man should there be reminded of his
utter unworthiness and impotency as he came before the One who deigned
to meet with him. His curse rested on the ground for man’s sake
(

Genesis 3:15), and by no effort of his can man remove it. For the altar
to be made of ornamented plates of costly metal would have
misrepresented the object for which it was designed, and disposed man to
forget his vile condition. So, in the general direction for the formation of
altars, God ordained it should be a rude mound of earth, or of unpolished
stones (

Exodus 20:24, 25; and cf.

1 Kings 18:31, 32).
The altar, then, must be of God’s workmanship, unbeautified by man’s
skill, so that he could not glory in his own production. That chosen
meeting place of God with man as a sinner must be such as would convey
the impression of a direct contact between the God of heaven and the earth
which He had made — on a “mount,” but the altar naked, simple,
unadorned; thereby emphasizing His own condescension and the poverty of.353
the sinner. The leading idea designed to be set forth by the materials of the
altar was confirmed by its name. Departing from the common usage of
antiquity, Scripture employs a term which vividly enunciates both the
humbling element on man’s side and the grace on God’s. That name is
misbeach, which means place of slaughter, for it was thither the victim was
brought and slain. And thus, from the beginning, God taught His people
the solemn fact that there could be no communion between Himself and
fallen creatures save by the shedding of blood; that the sentence of death
must be executed upon the guilty. Later, when a stationary altar was
appointed for the sanctuary, it was ordered to be made not of gold and
silver, but of wood overlaid with brass.
“Then Joshua built an altar unto the Lord God of Israel in mount
Ebal, as Moses the servant of the Lord commanded the children of
Israel. As it is written in the book of the Law of Moses: an altar of
whole stones over which no man hath lifted any iron. And they
offered thereon burnt offerings unto the Lord and sacrificed peace
offerings” (

Joshua 8:30, 31):
In addition to what has been said above, it should be pointed out that the
“altar” prefigured our Lord Jesus Christ. He is the sole meeting place
between the thrice holy God and guilty sinners.
“Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other
name given among men whereby we must be saved”
(

Acts 4:12).
None comes unto the Father but by Him. They who look to the merits of
the apostles or the mediation of Mary to give them access to God, and
their prayers and works acceptance before Him, are miserably deluded; and
it is but charity to tell them so. Christ Himself is at once the antitypical
Altar, Sacrifice for sin, and acceptable Offerer. While those three things
may be distinguished, both in shadow and substance, they must not be
separated, for they all meet in Him. As it is “the altar that sanctifieth the
gift” (

Matthew 23:19), so the dignity of Christ’s person gives infinite
value to His offering. Furthermore, He is our “Altar” (

Hebrews 13:10)
to whom we bring our sacrifices of praise (

Hebrews 13:15), and
presents the same, perfumed by His merits, unto God (

Revelation 8:3,
4)..354
The pile of stones on mount Ebal was not gathered to be thrown in
judgment at sinners, but for an altar on which was to be offered a sacrifice
for sinners. Very express was the prohibition concerning the stones of the
altar: “Thou shalt not lift up any iron tool upon them. Thou shalt build the
altar of the Lord thy God of whole stones.” Those unpolished but whole
stones set forth both the humiliation and perfection of the Savior, as He
appeared respectively to men and to God. To the natural eyes of Israel He
possessed “no form nor comeliness,” and when they saw Him, they
perceived no beauty in Him that they should desire Him. But in the sight of
the Father He was “a precious corner-stone,” and in Him He delighted.
Nothing was to be hewn off the life of Christ, for it was perfect. None of
His actions needed any modification. Yea, as

Exodus 20:25, declared,
“If thou lift up thy tool upon it, thou hast polluted it.” Not a single deed of
Christ’s could be bettered, and if one had been missing from His entire life
the whole had been spoilt. Much the same thing was borne witness to here
as was symbolically shadowed forth in our Lord’s coat, which was
“without seam, woven from the top throughout” (

John 19:23).
More noteworthy than either the time when the altar was erected or the
materials of which it was composed was the place where it was set up,
namely mount Ebal. There were two mountains to which Israel were now
brought — Gerizim and Ebal — and we should naturally have expected to
find the altar on the former, for it was there the blessings of the Law upon
the obedient were pronounced (

Deuteronomy 11:29), whereas it was on
the latter that its curses were published. But “as for God, His way is
perfect” (

2 Samuel 22:31), and everything was ordered here so as to
foreshadow the most terrible yet most blessed event of all history. The
vicarious offering sacrificed on Ebal prefigured the Head of the Church
entering the place of the curse, yea, being made a curse for His members.
So that what we have here is very similar to — and equally unexpected and
precious as — the altar on mount Sinai (

Exodus 24:4) (see our
“Glorious Sinai” article in the April issue). A reference to

Deuteronomy
27:4-7, shows the analogy between the two is yet more complete: the Lord
gave orders that after the offering of sacrifice they should “eat there [of the
peace offering] and rejoice before the Lord thy God,” as their fathers
before them had done on Sinai (

Exodus 24:11). How remarkably did
Divine grace shine forth there! Who had thought of rejoicing on the mount
of the curse!.355
“And he wrote there upon the stones a copy of the law of Moses,
which he wrote in the presence of the children of Israel” (verse 32).
That also was in obedience to

Deuteronomy 27:8, and was equally
remarkable. That altar was built as a monument of the Divine mercy to
Israel’s victories, yet it was not an account of their triumphs but a copy of
the Ten Commandments that was inscribed upon it! The grand practical
lesson for us therein is that the best way to remember God’s mercies is not
to forget His Law. As Gurnall well said,
“God counts those mercies forgotten which are not written in
legible characters in our lives.”
For Israel, that writing of the Decalogue upon the stones of the altar was a
reminder to them that they were taking possession of Canaan not only on
the ground of the promise to Abraham but also according to the terms of
that Law which they solemnly covenanted themselves to keep
(

Deuteronomy 11:29-32). The two things must not be separated: in
presenting their offerings upon the altar, they spoke to God; in the writing
of the Law upon its stones, He spoke to them, enforcing His holy claims
upon them. Christ died to deliver His people from the penalty of the Law,
but not from obedience to its precepts.
On

Deuteronomy 27:8, John Gill rightly said,
“The Law being written on stones denotes the duration of it, which
continued not only during the times of the Old Testament
dispensation, and to the times of John, and had its fulfillment in
Christ, but stilt continues; for though Christ has redeemed His
people from the curse and condemnation of it, yet it is in His hands
as a rule of direction to them, as to their walk and conversation.
Nor is it made void by any doctrine of the Gospel, and nothing
more strongly enforces obedience to it than the Gospel. The moral
law is immutable, invariable, and eternal in its nature, and it is in the
matter of it.”
Alas, that so many of Mr. Gill’s admirers have departed so far from his
teaching thereon. Thomas Scott also said, “We must rest our hope on the
atonement of the great Redeemer, and keep the holy Law of God
continually before us as the rule of our grateful obedience. We only deceive
ourselves if we suppose that our praise unto God is sincere for the gift of
His Son, unless we also delight in His Law and serve the same (

Romans.356
7:22, 25). God will not be bribed by the worship of rebels (see

1
Samuel 15:22;

Psalm 106:12, 13).
Ere giving a brief exposition of the verses that follow, let us further admire
the striking and blessed prefiguration of Christ in what has been before us.
No less than three times has the Holy Spirit recorded the Divine prohibition
that the altar must be built of unhewn and unadorned stones — in

Exodus 20:25;

Deuteronomy 27:5;

Joshua 8:31 — so carefully
did He guard the glory of Christ. In sharp contrast with us, who, though
“living stones,” yet need much shaping, there were no rough or sharp
edges in the character of
Christ; no polishing of His life was required to render it well pleasing to the
Father, So much did He resent anything which marred a type that when the
sons of Aaron offered “strange fire” upon the altar they were immediately
consumed by fire from heaven (

Leviticus 10), and when the ark was set
upon a cart instead of on the shoulders of the priests, judgment fell upon
Uzzah (

2 Samuel 6). God was exceedingly jealous of the honor of His
beloved Son, bidding Moses, again and again, to make all things in the
tabernacle according to “the pattern” which He showed him (

Exodus
25:9, etc.), for everything therein pointed to and set forth the person and
perfections of the Mediator. The writing of the Law on the stones of the
altar tells of Christ’s sustaining the honor of the Law, that in Him alone is
it “established” (

Romans 3:31).
“And all Israel, and their elders, and officers, and their judges,
stood on this side of the ark and on that side before the priests the
Levites, which bare the ark of the covenant of the Lord; as well the
stranger, as he that was born among them: half of them over against
mount Ebal; as Moses the servant of the Lord had commanded
before, that they should bless the people of Israel” (verse 33).
A most solemn and auspicious assembly was this, when the whole nation,
with their responsible heads, were gathered before the Lord. The “ark of
the covenant” — mentioned here for the last time in Joshua — was
brought out of the tabernacle on this momentous occasion. The original
tables of the Law were preserved therein, and now its statutes had been
written on the stones of the altar. That which here took place is to be
regarded as a solemn ratification by the new generation of Israel of the
covenant entered into by their fathers at Sinai. The sanctions of the Law
were now proclaimed in the hearing of the whole congregation, and by.357
their repeated “Amen (

Deuteronomy 22:15, 16, etc.) all Israel
consented to the terms of the covenant. The mention of “the stranger” here
anticipated the gathering of the Gentiles into the Church.
It must have been an exceedingly impressive sight as the entire
congregation of Israel assembled in the valley between those two
mountains. There had been nothing like it since their solemn gathering on
Sinai forty years previously: in fact what took place here was virtually a
repetition of what had occurred there — Israel solemnly covenanting to
keep God’s Law. As the former had been preceded by wondrous displays
of God’s grace and power on their behalf, so it had been here; and thus, in
each instance, submission and obedience to Him was to be an expression of
their love to Him and gratitude for His favors. Such is precisely the place
which the Law is to have with the Christian. Because the Lord Jesus has
borne his sins and reconciled him to God, he is to express his thankfulness
by receiving God’s Law at His hand (

1 Corinthians 9:21) and thereby
respond to His injunction: If ye love Me, keep My commandments”
(

John 14:15).
The scene which is set before us in the closing verses of Joshua 8 is
equaled only by that which is exhibited in Exodus 24: The events described
therein are parallel in every way, the latter being explained by the former.
In each there is a public assembling of the whole congregation of Israel
before the Lord. In each a federal engagement is solemnly entered into.
Each was transacted upon a mount, where an altar was erected, the Divine
Law prominently honored, and the people ate before Jehovah. The
difference between them is that in the former it was the first generation of
Israel which had recently emerged from Egypt that was concerned; while in
the latter it was the first generation of those who had shortly before
entered Canaan. The claims of Jehovah were now made known unto this
new generation in a striking and impressive manner, and they were required
to aver their recognition of those claims and affirm subjection to the same.
First an altar had been erected and sacrifices offered thereon. Most
appropriately had “the peace offering” a place, for a portion of it was for
the Lord and a portion of it was eaten by the offerer (

Leviticus 7:32,
34), for a covenant is a mutual engagement between two parties, and thus
the Lord and His people here communed together.
Upon the stones of that altar the Decalogue was written. Typically, that set
forth the fact that the Law had been magnified by Christ (

Isaiah 42:21)..358
In His teaching He had fully maintained its authority (

Matthew 5:17), in
His life He rendered perfect obedience to it, and in His death He endured
its awful penalty. Practically, we are there taught that the redeemed are to
receive the Law from the Redeemer. Christ did not keep the Law for His
people in order that they might be freed from its holy requirements, but to
honor God therein and leave them an example that they should follow His
steps. In order thereto, He has not only brought them under the deepest
possible obligations of gratitude unto Himself, bidding them to express
their love unto Him by keeping His commandments, but has also procured
for them the priceless gift of the Holy Spirit, who puts His laws into their
hearts and writes them upon their minds (

Hebrews 10:16): that is,
implanting a love for them, and impressing them with their importance,
authority, and spirituality. And therefore it is that the truly regenerate
delight in the Law of God after the inward man, and with their minds serve
the same (

Romans 7:22, 25).
It is to be duly noted that in the Holy Spirit’s description of the company
convened on that auspicious occasion express mention is made of “as well
the stranger as he that was born among them” (

Joshua 8:33), which, as
previously pointed out, anticipated the time when the Gentiles would also
be brought into the congregation of the Lord. The various references made
to “the stranger” in the law of Moses have not received anything like the
attention they should by Christian commentators. Provision was made for
“the stranger,” upon his circumcision, to partake of the Passover feast; yea,
it was enacted: “One law shall be to him that is home-born, and unto the
stranger that sojourneth among you” (

Exodus 12:48, 49); yea, even the
cities of refuge were available to him equally with the Israelite (

Joshua
20:9)! Commandment was given unto Israel that
“the stranger that dwelleth with you shall be unto you as one born
among you, and thou shalt love him as thyself” (

Leviticus
19:34).
As he shared Israel’s privileges. so he had to share their obligations also,
by entering into covenant with God (

Deuteronomy 29:11, 12), and
therefore if he blasphemed the name of the Lord the same penalty was
inflicted upon him as upon a guilty Hebrew (

Leviticus 24:16).
“And afterwards he read all the words of the Law: the blessings and
cursings, according to all that is written in the book of the Law.
There was not a word of all that Moses commanded, which Joshua.359
read not before all the congregation of Israel, with the women, and
the little ones, and the strangers that were conversant among them”
(

Joshua 8:34, 35).
Thus the entire assembly came under the sound of the just requirements of
their Benefactor and Governor. As

Deuteronomy 27 informs us, as each
of the solemn curses of the Law was uttered by the Levites “with a loud
voice” (not an apologetic whisper!), it was required that “all the people
should answer and say, Amen (verses 14, 15), thereby solemnly concurring
therewith. As Matthew Henry pointed out,
“It was
(1) a profession of their faith in the truth of them.
(2) An acknowledgment of the equity of them.
(3) An imprecation upon themselves as strongly obliged them to have
nothing to do with those evil practices upon which the curse was here
entailed.”
What an example was this occasion of the importance of the public reading
of lengthy sections of God’s Word, and that its most unpalatable portions
must not be omitted! The reading of the Law to “the strangers” again
intimates that the Gentiles are under it. No further mention of “the ark” is
found in Joshua, for the covenant had now been ratified by the second
generation of Israel.
Israel had marched into Canaan led by the written Law of God (

Joshua
3:11-17), for the ark of the covenant was the Divinely appointed chest in
which were deposited and preserved the tables on which the Lord’s own
finger had inscribed that Law which Israel had covenanted to keep. The
same Law had been borne around the walls of Jericho (

Joshua 6:4),
being the minister of vengeance unto the idolatrous Canaanites. That same
Law had now been written on the stones of the altar on Ebal (

Joshua
8:32), thus becoming the Law of the Land. Was not this God’s very object,
in enabling Israel to conquer Canaan: that He should have not only a
people in obedience to Him, but a country in which the blessedness of their
obedience should be exhibited before the surrounding nations? Beyond
question, for Moses declared, “I have taught you statutes and judgments,
even as the Lord my God commanded me, that ye should do so in the land
whither ye go to possess it. Keep therefore and do them; for this is your.360
wisdom and your understanding in the sight of the nations, which shall hear
all these statutes, and say, Surely this great nation is a wise and
understanding people” (

Deuteronomy 4:5, 6; and cf.

1 Kings 10:8,
9). As Jehovah reminded their descendants centuries later, “Ye are My
witnesses” (

Isaiah 43:10; and cf.

Malachi 3:12)..361
CHAPTER 12
HONOR AMIDST DECEPTION
Joshua 9:1-27
ENEMY REACTIONS
“And it came to pass, when all the kings which were on this side
Jordan, in the hills, and in the valleys, and in all the coasts of the
great sea over against Lebanon, the Hittite, and the Amorite, the
Canaanite, the Perizzite, the Hivite, and the Jebasite. heard thereof;
that they gathered themselves together to fight with Joshua and
with Israel with one accord” (

Joshua 9:1, 2).
At first glance there appears little pertinency or propriety in mentioning this
detail immediately after what was described in the closing verses of

Joshua 8: But careful readers will observe that this passage begins with
the word “and,” and those who have followed us through the previous
articles of this series should know by now what use to make of it. It calls
for thoughtful attention to what immediately precedes, so that the force of
the connection may be the better perceived by us. And that not merely so
as to fix in our minds the order of events, but more especially that we may
ascertain the spiritual lessons which are pointed thereby. The book of
Joshua contains very much more than a mere historical record of Israel’s
conquest and occupation of the land of Canaan, namely a shadowing forth
of that spiritual warfare unto which Christians are called.
Believers in Christ are not only “witnesses” unto Him (

Acts 1:8) —
showing forth His praises, reflecting the moral perfections of His character,
disciples, “they which follow the Lamb whithersoever He goeth”
(

Revelation 14:4) — but they are also soldiers of Jesus Christ (

2
Timothy 2:3), and as such it is especially to the book of Joshua that they
should turn for instruction, inspiration, warning, and encouragement. What
then are the lessons we should draw from that which is recorded in

Joshua 9:1, 2? Two, according as we recognize the twofold link
between those verses and their context — with that which immediately.362
precedes and with what is rather more remote. In other words, this coming
together of the kings of Canaan, and their agreeing, to join forces in
making a mass attack upon Israel, is to be regarded first as it is related to
that which has just been before us in the closing verses of

Joshua
8:namely the magnification of the Decalogue on mount Ebal and the
covenant which was made by the new generation of Israel with Jehovah;
and then with the whole of

Joshua 6-8 where the overthrow of Jericho
and Ai is narrated. The force of the opening “and” is borne out by the
“heard thereof” at the close of verse 1. It is the enemy’s reaction to those
events which is here in view.
Brief though their record be, those two verses present to our notice that
which is of deep importance, and something which should be particularly
heeded by ministers who desire to be faithful to their calling. The Holy
Spirit’s mention of this federating of Canaan’s kings to fight against Joshua
and Israel, immediately after describing what had taken place on the
mountains of Ebal and Gerizim, is obviously designed to supply us with a
typical illustration and solemn exemplification of man’s hostility to the Law
of God. No sooner did it reach the ears of these kings that Joshua had built
an altar on Ebal and had inscribed on its stones the Divine Decalogue —
which was henceforth to be the Law of the Land — than they made
common cause against God’s people and determined to use force, as the
“heard thereof” (verse 1) plainly intimates. To acknowledge the rights and
authority of the Most High, and submit themselves unto His revealed will,
is something which the unregenerate both resent and oppose. They desire
to be lords of themselves and are resolved to go their own way. The
language expressed by the actions of all of them, and by the mouths of
many, is that of the self-willed and arrogant Pharaoh: “Who is the Lord
that I should obey His voice?” (

Exodus 5:2). They are determined to
please themselves.
Here is the very essence of human depravity. Sin is a revolt against God, a
refusing to be in subjection to Him. Sin is not only a determining to follow
our own inclinations, but it is a fighting against our Maker and Governor.
The carnal mind is enmity against God. Unspeakably solemn is that
declaration, and one which is most repugnant to human susceptibilities.
Nevertheless, it is a fact which cannot be gainsaid. Proof thereof is
furnished in the clause immediately following:.363
“for it [the mind of the natural man] is not subject to the Law of
God; neither indeed can be” (

Romans 8:7).
Nothing more plainly evinces the inveterate hostility of the unregenerate
unto God than their insubordination and opposition against the Divine
Law. Few indeed will openly admit that they hate God, and fewer still are
aware of that awful fact, for sin is very deceitful (

Hebrews 3:13), and
blinds the judgment (

Ephesians 4:18). Nowhere is that more clearly
demonstrated than throughout the entire realm of idolatry. If men were
pleased with the true God, they would not have manufactured so many
false ones. They desire a God and a system of religion which are suited to
their depraved inclinations. Millions who bow not before an image of wood
or stone nevertheless believe in a God which their own sentiments and
imaginations have devised, and against him (or it) they have no enmity!
But let the true and living God be apprehended as His character is set forth
in the Scriptures, and that enmity will soon be more evident. Let Him be
known as the Divine Potentate who shapes one vessel unto honor and
another unto dishonor, entirely as He pleases; as the ineffably Holy One
who cannot look on evil, and hates all workers of iniquity; and as the
righteous Judge of all, who will by no means clear the guilty; and the fallen
creature’s hatred of such a One will appear in its true colors. Let Him give
to such creatures His Law, and require unqualified obedience thereto, and
they at once rebel. If God would forgo His sovereign rights, their
opposition would be subdued; if He would lay aside His scepter men would
cease fighting against Him. But because He declines to do so, the will of
the creature is opposed to the will of the Creator, and he refuses subjection
to His throne. Conclusive proof that the sinner’s nature is diametrically the
opposite of God’s is seen in his deadly opposition to the Divine
government. The moral law is both a revelation of its Author’s character
and an expression of His will, and man’s repudiation of it exhibits the
contrariety of sin to holiness.
What has just been pointed out was unmistakably and most solemnly
demonstrated when the Lawgiver became incarnate and dwelt here upon
earth, for the ill will of religious and irreligious alike was active against
Him. Not only was He despised and rejected by men, but as He plainly
declared “they hated Me without a cause” (

John 15:25). Nor did they
make any attempt to cloak their malice. While He healed the sick and
provided the multitude with loaves and fishes, their hostility was held in.364
abeyance; but when He pressed upon them the claims of His lordship,
defined the terms of discipleship, and made known the character and
requirements of His kingdom, their resentment soon flared up. Not only did
He come unto His own and “His own received Him not,” but “His citizens
hated Him and sent a message after Him saying, “We will not have this
One to reign over us” (

Luke 19:14). Let it not be forgotten that it was
as “the King of the Jews” Christ was crucified! “The kings of the earth set
themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against Jehovah and
against His Christ, saying, Let us break their bands asunder and cast away
their cords from us” (

Psalm 2:2, 3; and cf.

Acts 4:25-27) — chafing
at the Divine Law, refusing subjection to the Divine authority.
Thus, in the gathering of the kings of Canaan “to fight with Joshua and
with Israel” immediately after the promulgation of the Divine Law upon
the mountains of Ebal and Gerizim, we have both a solemn adumbration of
what took place in the hours immediately preceding our Lord’s crucifixion,
and an illustration of man’s opposition to the Law. Up to this point the
Canaanites had been on the defensive, but in

Joshua 9:1, 2, we see them
preparing to take the offensive, and make a united attack on God’s people.
The kings there mentioned were of varied nationalities and interests, and
occupied widely scattered territories, but here we behold them sinking their
differences and federating together “with one accord”! Just as the priests
and scribes, the Pharisees and Sadducees united in opposing the incarnate
Lawgiver. And just as it is today, for both “dispensational” Arminians and
“antinomian” Calvinists make common cause in repudiating the Decalogue
as the Christian’s rule of life. So will every true servant of Christ discover.
Let him give to the Law that place in his ministry which it has in the
Scriptures, let him be faithful in discharging his Divine commission (and
remember “all the counsel of God” includes very much more than what are
termed “the doctrines of grace”!), and press upon unbelievers and believers
the claims of Christ’s Kingship, and the strictness and spirituality of the
Decalogue, and he too will be despised and reviled.
In our last we pointed out that the word “And” at the beginning of Joshua
9 has a double force: intimating that what now follows is to be linked with,
first, what is recorded in the closing verses of

Joshua 8, namely the
magnification of the Divine Decalogue on mount Ebal and the renewing of
the Mosaic covenant by this new generation of Israel; and second, with the
whole of

Joshua 6-8 which narrate their conquests, under God, of
Jericho and Ai. In other words, the contents of Joshua 9 make known to us.365
the enemy’s reactions to those incidents. As the events were twofold, so
were his reactions. First, we are informed that as soon as the kings of
Canaan “heard thereof” they “with one accord” agreed to unite themselves
together “to fight with Joshua and with Israel” Up to this point they had
acted on the defensive, but now they saw that their own interests were
threatened, they determined to make a mass attack upon Israel.
“The varied expressions here used [in

Joshua 9:1] include the
inhabitants of the land to the utmost western and northern borders”
(T. Scott).
It was not an immediate attack that was planned, but a consulting together
how best to put a stop to Israel’s progress and secure their own territories.
Verily, “there is nothing new under the sun.” A “League of Nations” or
federating together of different peoples to “pool” their resources is no
modern invention, but as old as human history. Here was a banding
together of rival kings to make common cause in opposing the people of
God. They entered into an agreement “at top level” to support and assist
each other, and ultimately to assail Israel — which they did, as

Joshua
11:1-5 shows. For the time being they were willing to sink their individual
differences and combine together. Nor was this the first time that such a
thing had happened. As far back as Abraham we are told that
“It came to pass in the days of Amraphel king of Shinar, Arioch
king of Ellasar, Chedorlaomer king of Elam, and Tidal king of
nations; that these made war with Bera king of Sodom and with
Birsha king of Gomorrah, Shinab king of Admah, and Shemeber
king of Zeboiim, and the king of Bela, which is Zoar. All these
were joined together in the vale of Siddim, which is the salt sea”
(

Genesis 14:1-3).
which may well be designated “the Western bloc of nations” against the
“Eastern power and its satellites.” At a later date we find still another
“consulting together with one consent” of a number of nations, and a
federating of themselves against Israel (see

Psalm 83:4-8).
That which is recorded in

Joshua 9:1, 2, should be of real practical
value unto those who are engaged in fighting the good fight of faith. There
is real wisdom in that old adage. “To be forewarned is to be forearmed.” It
is often a very real help to have reliable information of what effects a
certain action produces upon the foe. Here we are shown the nature of.366
such immediately upon Israel’s solemn renewal of their covenant with
Jehovah. The lesson in plain: it is when God’s people are most conscious
of their obligations, when most determined by grace to discharge the same,
when most zealous in fully consecrating themselves unto the Lord, that the
ire of Satan breaks out the fiercest. As we have pointed out, up to this
point these Canaanitish kings had remained quiescent, but now they
planned aggression. Naturally speaking, it seems strange that they were not
actually hostile from the beginning, opposing Israel’s crossing of the
Jordan, for they had received notice of their approach (

Joshua 2:9, 10).
Nor had these kings made any attempt to go to the relief of Jericho when
that city was seriously threatened by those under Joshua’s command. But
notice what these kings did not do. They did not surrender themselves unto
Israel. They did not consider themselves outnumbered, and cast themselves
on Joshua’s mercy. Even alter they learned of the miraculous crossing of
the Jordan and the falling of Jericho’s walls, they did not capitulate. Nor do
the enemies of the Christian. No matter how marked or extensive the
victory God grants us, we must not conclude that the worst of the fight is
now over. Satan in his activities is the nearest approach to “perpetual
motion” found in any creature. He never accepts defeat or quits the field.
One had thought he must recognize the utter futility of assailing Immanuel
but he did not. And though completely worsted and routed in his attempt,
it was only “for a season” (

Luke 4:13) he left Him. Why then should
any of His followers expect to be exempted! The same is true of “the
flesh,” with all its evil lusts. Indwelling sin never surrenders to the new
nature, nor ceases its attacks upon it. Nay, the farther a Christian advances
into an experiential entrance into and enjoyment of his spiritual heritage,
the fiercer the conflict becomes, and the more determined and concentrated
the efforts of his enemies to thwart him.
It is striking to see how the Holy Spirit has particularized the diversity of
the kings described in

Joshua 9:1: some were from the mountains, some
from the valleys, and yet others from the sea coasts; yet though so widely
scattered they federated together against Israel. That illustrates the fact
that the spiritual enemies of God’s people are of many kinds and types, that
every form of worldliness — its most refined and elevated as well as its
coarsest and lowest — is a menace to them. Equally so are their own evil
lusts varied and numerous: self-will, pride, unbelief, slothfulness,
cowardice, impatience, discontent, and a host of others, have to be resisted
and mortified. How the unanimity of those heathen tribes should shame.367
Christians because of their divisions! And how their banding together
against Israel ought to arouse the believer to the realization that all his
graces must work actively together — faith strengthening hope, love
animating both — in waging the fight to which he is called. If it appears
strange that these kings had been quiet so long, to carnal reason it seems
the more so that they should now plan an offensive after God had so
signally shown Himself strong on the behalf of His people. But behind the
scenes the Lord was saying,
“Assemble yourselves, O ye people, and ye shall be broken in
pieces” (

Isaiah 8:9).
Thus will it yet be with the enemies of His Church.
But we must now turn to and consider the second reaction of the
Caananites unto the recent conquests of Israel. This is quite different from
the former one, and is described in

Joshua 9:3-7. Here we are informed,
“And when the inhabitants of Gibeon heard what Joshua had done
unto Jericho and to Ai, they did work wilily, and went and made as
if they had been ambassadors, and took old sacks upon their asses,
and wine-bottles old and rent, and bound up; and old shoes and
clouted upon their feet, and old garments upon them; and all the
bread of their provision was dry and moldy. And they went up to
Joshua unto the camp at Gilgal, and said unto him and to the men
of Israel, We be come from a far country: now therefore make ye a
league with us.”
In

Joshua 10:2, we are told that
“Gibeon was a great city, as one of the royal cities… greater than
Ai, and all the men thereof were mighty”;
nevertheless, they were afraid of Israel. Herein we behold the sovereignty
of God: His “terror” (

Genesis 35:5) fell not upon the kings mentioned
in the preceding verses, yet it did upon the Gibeonites! Yet God was not
acting arbitrarily or capriciously: He had His own wise reasons for making
the Gibeonites an exception.
“And when the inhabitants of Gibeon heard what Joshua had done
unto Jericho and Ai” (verse 3)..368
This is all of a piece with what is recorded in

Joshua 2:9, 10, where
Rahab had said to the spies, “I know that the Lord hath given you the land,
and that your terror is fallen upon us… For we have heard how the Lord
dried up, the water of the Red Sea for you when ye came out of Egypt; and
what ye did unto the two kings of the Amorites that were on the other side
Jordan, Sihon and Og, whom ye utterly destroyed.” Here is a further
example of the same thing, which serves to demonstrate the consistency
and truthfulness of this history. Spiritually considered, it illustrates this
principle: that the unbelieving world do not remain in ignorance of the
mighty works of God, which renders their unbelief the more inexcusable
and adds to their guilt. The miracles of Christ were not wrought in a
corner, but openly and publicly, so that even His enemies were obliged to
acknowledge the reality of them (

John 11:47), and Herod, too. was
informed of the same (

Luke 23:8). The same is true today, both of the
providential interpositions of the Most High in the affairs of nations, and
the supernatural operations of the Holy Spirit in His elect. Whenever there
is a definite and striking display of the Holy Spirit’s power, some of the
unregenerate are impressed and attracted thereby, and seek to join
themselves unto the objects of the same. We behold an instance of that in
connection with Abraham. He experienced an effectual call from God,
which produced a supernatural effect, for it was against nature that he
should leave his home, abandon the land of his fathers, and go forth “not
knowing whither he went.” It was a peculiarly distinctive work of God of
which he was made the subject, for the Lord Himself tells us, “I called him
alone” (

Isaiah 51:2). Nevertheless, we find that both his father and his
nephew were so impressed by the change wrought in Abraham and his
determination to make a complete break from his old manner of life, that
they accompanied him as he left Chaldea (

Genesis 11:31) — though the
former died before Canaan was reached, and the latter was far from happy
therein. Likewise when the children of Israel left Egypt, in order to go unto
their inheritance, “a mixed multitude went up also with them” (

Exodus
12:38), and had an evil influence upon the people of God (

Numbers
11:4). It was the same again when those in captivity availed themselves of
the edict of Cyrus that they might return to Palestine, for after they did so,
and the Law of Moses was restored, we read that they separated from
Israel all the mixed multitude” (

Nehemiah 13:3)!
In this dual reaction of the Canaanites unto the mighty works which
Jehovah had wrought in their land — their determining to use force against.369
Israel, and under the pretense of friendship to seek union with them — we
have exemplified the two principal characters assumed by the arch-enemy
of God and His people and the methods employed under them. The Devil is
depicted in the Scriptures both as the roaring lion and the subtle serpent.
As the lion, he uses force and seeks to terrorize; as the serpent, he employs
cunning and endeavors to poison and corrupt. In the former character he
acts more openly, and assaults from without; in the latter, he works more
secretly, aiming to defile from within. Against our first parents he appeared
as the lying and beguiling serpent but in employing Cain to murder
righteous Abel, we behold the power and cruelty of the lion (

1 John
3:12). Thus it was in connection with what we have here. In stirring up the
kings of Canaan to fight with Joshua, Satan was relying upon the use of
arms; but in moving the Gibeonites to cloak their character and pose to be
what they were not, so that Israel might be deceived into making a league
with them, we behold his craftiness, purposing to introduce his leaven into
the meal.
We often point out in these pages that God does not work according to a
stereotyped plan, but that infinite variety marks His operations. The same is
true, in a lesser degree, of the Devil — who is ever a marked imitator. He
too acts not uniformly. If one plan or method fails he always has another in
reserve, as the whole history of Christendom has repeatedly demonstrated.
He altered his tactics with Christ: first seeking to slay Him while a babe,
then almost posing as an angel of light when tempting Him, and then as the
dragon of darkness (

Luke 22:53) he bruised His heel. So too with the
followers of the Lord Jesus: first openly and directly persecuting, then
flattering and fawning upon, and then corrupting by unholy alliances. The
opposition and cruelty of Nero and other Roman emperors failing, the
patronage of Constantine and the making of Christianity the state religion
succeeded in accomplishing Satan’s design; just as centuries later the
spirituality and power of the great Reformation under Luther was curtailed
when the German princes gave support to it because of the political liberty
which it promised them. No wonder the apostle declares that — with the
Word of Truth in our hands — “we are not ignorant of Satan’s devices”
(

2 Corinthians 2:11), and with the records of the last nineteen centuries
before us there is still less excuse for our being unacquainted with his
strategy.
That which is narrated in

Joshua 9:3-6, of the dishonest Gibeonites
gives us a typical picture of graceless professors seeking to “join’ the.370
people of God. They knew there was no likelihood of their desire being
realized if they presented themselves before Israel in their true character, so
they resorted to guile in order to deceive them. “They did work wilily, and
went and made as if they had been ambassadors” (verse 4). It must not be
overlooked that while Satan is very subtle the flesh also is exceedingly
artful, fully capable of playing many parts in order to gain its own ends.
Behold how it moved Jacob to cover himself with a hairy skin and
masquerade as Esau, king Saul to disguise himself when he went to the
witch of Endor (

1 Samuel 28:8), the wife of Jeroboam feigning herself
to be another when she visited the prophet Ahijah, whose eyes were set by
reason of age (

1 Kings 14:1-6), and the wolves in sheeps’ clothing of
Christ’s day. In his second epistle Paul warned the Corinthians against
“false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the
apostles of Christ” (

2 Corinthians 11:13),
and Jude complained that ungodly men had “crept in unawares” into the
assemblies of the saints (

Jude 1:4). The churches are full of such today.
Those Gibeonites posed as “ambassadors,” men not only of peaceful design
but of importance, fitted to enter into an official engagement with Israel
and make a covenant with them. Such is the character assumed by
thousands of hypocrites who apply for church membership. They pretend
to be fully qualified to be taken into fellowship among the Lord’s people,
claiming that the peace of God is in their hearts. These Gibeonites
pretended to have journeyed from a far country and attired themselves
accordingly. They “took old sacks upon their asses, and wine bottles old
and rent, and bound up; and old shoes and clouted upon their feet, and old
garments upon them; and all the bread of their provision was dry and
moldy.” Very thorough were they in this work of imposture, well made up
for the part they were playing — even in conforming to Israel’s peculiar
ways by using “asses” rather than horses. In like manner, empty professors
will often go to considerable trouble in their efforts to impose upon the
people of God, affecting an outward change in their conduct and laying
claim to inward graces which they possess not. They pose as being “poor
in spirit,” convicted of sin, and hungry for the bread of life, and prate about
their unworthiness.
Not only does this incident point a solemn and urgent warning for the
churches of Christ to be much on their prayerful guard against taking
hypocrites into their membership, but it also intimates how the individual.371
Christian needs to be aware of his danger in being imposed upon by his
inward enemies, for his lusts not only assume a great variety of forms, but
often pretend to be his friends. He knows, both from Scripture and his own
experience, that “the flesh lusteth against the spirit,” but often he fails to
realize that even his corruptions are capable of posing as virtues, and
would fain persuade him that they are kindly disposed and have good
designs toward him. It is not merely that his evil lusts become less active
for a season, and even appear to be asleep, but that they seem to have
undergone a change for the better, and now assume the garb of piety. For
example, it is easy for a Christian — if he fails to weigh everything in the
balances of the Sanctuary and rigidly test his motives by Holy Writ — to
persuade himself that his natural self-will is now a holy zeal for God, or
that his impatience is really spiritual earnestness, or that his slothfulness is a
holy caution.
The “flesh” or sinful nature takes upon itself many plausible guises, and
those carnal enemies which are actually very near to us — yea, a part of
our very selves — often pretend to have come from “a far country”
(

Luke 19:12), that is, from heaven itself, just as the Gibeonites
presented themselves before Israel as having come from a great distance. In
other words, what we sometimes regard as heavenly graces are nothing but
our native corruptions dressed up to deceive us. Particularly is this the case
with mock humility and lowliness. The Gibeonites appeared not in the
attractive apparel of purple and fine linen, but in rags and tatters! Likewise
will our very pride take on a deceptively modest appearance and pose. One
may, from the teaching of God’s Word, be intellectually convinced of the
total depravity of man, yea, be thoroughly persuaded of his own sinfulness
and unworthiness, without his heart being in the least affected and bowed
in contrition before God. He may even imagine that he has made
considerable progress in the work of mortification, and become complacent
in the belief that he is increasingly “denying ungodly and worldly lusts,”
and perceive not that such complacence is a sure sign that pride is at work.
Oh, how powerful and terrible is the “deceitfulness of sin” (

Hebrews
3:13). If Joshua himself was imposed upon by these hypocritical
Canaanites, how carefully and cautiously do we need to carry ourselves,
and seek to profit from this incident. Make no mistake here, my reader: the
real Christian has many “Gibeonites” within his own breast to contend
with! In addition to what has been pointed out above, let us add that one
may be not only absorbed with his good works, but even well pleased with.372
the knowledge and sense which he has of his own corruptions. Truly. “the
heart is deceitful above all things.” Who can know it? Yet if we be sincere
and diligent in examining ourselves, in comparing the workings of our
hearts with the searching and holy teachings of God’s Word, daily viewing
ourselves in its mirror, we shall perceive more of its “wiliness.” True
humility is never engaged with itself, still less is it pleased therewith; but
rather mourns over its paucity and the constant opposition produced by the
workings of pride. True humility delivers from self-importance and self-exaltation,
and keeps us from posing as “ambassadors” — wanting to have
the pre-eminence.
THE GIBEONITES
In our last we dwelt upon the twofold reaction of the Canaanites to the
notable victories which the Lord gave Israel at Jericho and Ai, namely the
determination of the kings to employ massed force (

Joshua 9:1, 2), and
the deception which the Gibeonites practiced upon them (

Joshua 9:3-6),
which illustrates the dual character in which Satan opposes the people of
God and the methods he employs therein — as the roaring lion seeking to
devour, as the subtle serpent using guile. Both Scriptural and ecclesiastical
history demonstrate that the latter is far more dangerous and successful
than the former. When open persecution fails either to exterminate or
intimidate the faithful, Satan resorts to his secret wiles, which only too
often corrupt their testimony. Nor is the reason for this hard to discover.
Not only is the former method much more easily detected, but fierce
opposition casts believers upon the Lord for enabling strength and
fortitude, and thus proves a blessing in disguise to them, whereas they are
very apt to be less on their guard against Satan’s sly artifices, and if pride
persuades them that they are too well established in the Truth to be misled
by error or taken in by hypocrites, they more easily fall victims of his
snares.
What has just been pointed out receives forceful exemplification in the
incident we are pondering. By God’s enablement Joshua and his men made
short work of the combined efforts of the kings and their vast armies
(

Joshua 11:1-12), but, as

2 Samuel 21:1, shows, the descendants of
these Gibeonites were long a thorn in Israel’s side. But the fault was
entirely their own: due (as we shall see) to their unwatchfulness and self-sufficiency.
It was a solemn example of that which our Lord had in mind
when He said,.373
“The kingdom of heaven is likened unto a man which sowed good
seed in his field, but while men slept, his enemy came and sowed
tares among the wheat” (

Matthew 13:24, 25).
In His interpretation, Christ stated that
“the good seed are the children of the kingdom, but the tares are
the children of the wicked one” (verse 38).
That is precisely what happened here. Let it be carefully noted that the
enemy did not introduce among the wheat darnel or thistles, but “tares,”
which are a spurious imitation of the wheat, and so closely alike in
appearance that the one cannot be distinguished from the other until the
time of harvest. So these Gibeonites came not in their true characters, but
posed as those who had come from a far country.
As stated in our last, a threefold view may be taken of these Gibeonites.
First, as the world extending its patronage to corporate Christianity,
seeking to destroy its distinctive testimony and heavenly character by an
amalgamation with the state. In the light of that severe indictment,
“Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of
the world is enmity with God?” (

James 4:4),
we see that the proposal for such an unholy alliance and glaring infidelity
unto God must be promptly refused Second, as hypocrites applying for
membership in the local church. In view of the Divine prohibition,
“Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what
fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what
communion hath light with darkness? and what concord hath Christ
with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel?”
(

2 Corinthians 6:14, 15),
how it behooves each Christian assembly to examine prayerfully and
carefully the qualifications of each one seeking fellowship therewith! Third
as our evil lusts pretending to be what they are not, to have undergone a
change for the better, so that they would fain persuade the unguarded that
they are to be numbered among his graces. That which we are now to
consider shows how inexcusable is our being imposed upon..374
“And they went to Joshua unto the camp at Gilgal, and said unto
him, and to the men of Israel, We be come from a far country: now
therefore make yea league with us” (

Joshua 9:6).
Incidentally, this reference to Gilgal makes it clear that Israel had made the
long journey unto Ebal (

Joshua 8:30) for the express purpose of
obeying the Lord’s injunction in

Deuteronomy 27:4, 5, etc., that they
remained there but a short time, and then returned to their original camp.
But there is far more in it than that: the fact that Israel succumbed to this
temptation at this particular place rendered their failure the more
inexcusable. That will be evident from the sequel. “Gilgal” is mentioned for
the first time in our book at

Joshua 5:9, and there we learn that it was
the place where “the reproach of Egypt” was rolled away, when the male
members of that new generation were circumcised. In other words, it was
there that they received the outward mark and sign that they were
separated from all other nations in covenant relation with Jehovah
(

Genesis 17:9, 10), set apart to His service. It was also the place where
they “kept the Passover” (

Joshua 5:10), for it is only those who submit
to God’s ordinances and walk according to His precepts who can really
enjoy communion with Him.
What has just been pointed out shows the need for looking up the marginal
references of each passage, and seeking to ascertain the meaning of the
proper nouns in Scripture — if we are too dilatory or in too much of a
hurry to do so, we are sure to be the losers. It also supplies the key to the
more specific typical signification of this incident. Circumcision connoted
dedication unto God and was the Old Testament’s figure of mortifying the
lusts of the flesh (

Jeremiah 4:4;

Deuteronomy 10:16) — the two
things which Satan hates in the Lord’s people above everything else and
which he opposes at every turn, for they are what distinguish them from
the world, and promote God’s glory. That which the Devil is most anxious
to destroy is the testimony of the saints as a peculiar people, devoted unto
God, walking with Him in separation from the ungodly (

Romans 12:1,
2). They are to conduct themselves as “strangers and pilgrims” (

1 Peter
2:11) in this scene. Through Balaam Jehovah had declared “the people
shall dwell alone, and shall not be reckoned among the nations”
(

Numbers 23:9, and cf.

Deuteronomy 33:28). Through these
Gibeonites — for it is ever his way to use human instruments (his
“ministers —

2 Corinthians 11:14, 15) — the enemy was making an.375
attack upon Israel’s consecration, inducing them to ignore God’s
injunction of separation by a union with the heathen.
Thus, in the light of the special theme of Joshua, the outstanding lesson for
us here is that a vital aspect of the believer’s spiritual warfare consists of
the imperative need for maintaining his consecration to God and
persevering with the work of mortification, ever being on the alert against
the wiles of the Devil to hinder him therein. But more: he must be on his
most diligent guard against the workings of pride while engaged in this
very work. That also is clearly implied in this incident. After their arduous
journey to Ebal and full obedience to God there, they had returned to
Gilgal, yet it was here they suffered themselves to be deceived by the craft
of Satan! Alas, how deceitful are our hearts! How prone we are to be
elated with the very things Divine grace works in and through us. If we are
gratified with o or consecration, pleased with our self-denial, puffed up
with our obedience, or proud of our prayerfulness and increasing
dependence upon God, we are headed for disaster.
“Pride goeth before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall”
(

Proverbs 16:18),
and pride was certainly at work in Israel at this time. Oh, how much we
need to heed these injunctions. “Be not high minded, but fear” (

Romans
11:20) and “rejoice with trembling” (

Psalm 2:11)!
It is true that God had said unto Israel,
“When thou comest nigh unto a city to fight against it, then
proclaim peace unto it. And it shall be, if it make thee answer of
peace, and open unto thee, then it shall be that all the people that is
found therein shall be tributaries unto thee, and they shall serve
thee” (

Deuteronomy 20:10, 11)
— a passage which must be kept in mind when reading

Deuteronomy
20:16, 17, and one which shows that even here, in holy wrath, God
“remembered mercy.” But that was an entirely different matter from what
is now before us. There was nothing whatever in the case of these
Gibeonites which justified Joshua in ignoring the plain injunction,
“Take heed to thyself lest thou make a covenant with the
inhabitants of the land whither thou goest, lest it be for a snare in
the midst of thee” (

Exodus 34:13)..376
There is nothing that the Lord abominates more than unholy mixtures.
“Thou shalt not sow thy vineyard with divers seeds… thou shalt not
plough with an ox and an ass together… thou shalt not wear a
garment of divers sorts, as of woolen and linen together”
(

Deuteronomy 22:9-11)
plainly states the principle, and

Revelation 3:15, 16, demonstrates His
abhorrence of our repudiation of the same, for “Laodiceanism” is a union
between the world and the professing Church.
“And the men of Israel said unto the Hivites, Peradventure ye dwell
among us, and how shall we make a league with you?” (verse 7).
No doubt it was the responsible heads of the congregation who took the
lead in making answer to these disguised Canaanites, who had come with
the express purpose of telling lies, to tempt the people of God and lead
them into sin. Three things are evident from their words.
First, they were well instructed in the Law, for they realized it would be
wrong to accede to this suggestion.
Second, they were then occupying the ground of faith: “dwell among us
was as though the whole of Canaan was already in their possession!
Third, they did not immediately and impulsively grant their request, but
voiced the language of distrust. It is those very things which made the
sequel graver. It pays to be wary, yea, suspicious of impostors, if we are
not to be deceived by glib tongues. “Put not your trust in princes”
(

Psalm 146:3), and in a day like ours,
“Take ye heed every one of his neighbor, and trust ye not in any
brother” (

Jeremiah 9:4).
We are sure to suffer if we disregard such warnings.
The careful reader will have observed that these “inhabitants of Gibeon”
(verse 3) are designated “Hivites” in verse 7, and, assured that there is
nothing superfluous in Holy Writ, he will endeavor to ascertain why this
detail has been placed on record. It cannot be without reason and
significance that the Spirit has here told us that these deceivers belong to
the Hivites, and therefore it is our duty to discover His design therein. That
may require a little trouble on our part (for the meaning of much in the.377
Word is withheld from those who fail to search it diligently), but if it serves
to cast light on this incident, it is worth it. The only way to discover the
Spirit’s design is to use the concordance and look up other passages,
particularly in the earlier books, where “the Hivites” are mentioned. Nor
have we far to seek. In

Genesis 34: we learn how the sons of Jacob
answered Shechem and his father (who was a “Hivite” — verse 2)
“deceitfully” verse 13), and by a treacherous ruse succeeded in slaying
them and spoiling their city (verses 14-29). Here then was the biter bit: the
descendants of those who had so wickedly deceived the Hivites were now
in turn deceived by them!
In the preceding article we called attention to the fact that while the terror
of the Lord had not fallen upon the kings of

Joshua 9:1, yet it had upon
the Gibeonites, and that while we may behold therein an illustration of His
sovereignty, who makes one to differ from another as He pleases, yet He
acts not capriciously therein. Let us now amplify that statement. There was
nothing arbitrary in the Lord’s dealing with these Hivites, rather was He
treating with them according to the principles of His government. Though
at times His mills grind slowly, yet none the less surely. Centuries
previously the sons of Jacob had wickedly tricked the Gibeonites, and now
God suffered their descendants to reap the consequences of such
deception. Thus what is here before us is a clear case of what is termed
“poetic justice.” But though God was righteous in permitting Israel to be
imposed upon, that in no wise interfered with their accountability or
excused their slackness. Joshua and the princes of the congregation acted
quite freely, and, as verse 14 clearly intimates, were to blame because they
sought not directions from the Lord. God’s Word, and not His secret will,
is the rule of our responsibility.
“And they said unto Joshua, We are thy servants” (verse 8). This was the
language of deference, signifying inferiority and expressing their
willingness to perform any tasks assigned them. That was the bait to entrap
Israel: We can be useful and do the rough work for you. But Joshua was
not satisfied with their indefinite statement. He was on his guard, but not
sufficiently so. “And Joshua said unto them, Who are ye? and front whence
come ye?” It was at this very point that he failed. Instead of conferring
with them he should have gone apart and sought counsel from the Lord
(verse 14). He was evidently in doubt, and “whatsoever is not of faith, is
sin” (

Romans 14:23). Even the wisdom of this world warns us, “When.378
in doubt, do nothing.” But the Word of God proffers the believer far better
advice than that:
“If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth liberally
to all” (

James 1:5).
It is always the height of folly for us to parley with the enemy. Moreover,
in thus interrogating them Joshua was but tempting these Gibeonites to tell
further lies! Remember that, my reader, and go very slow in asking souls,
“Are you saved?” or “How did you like the magazine I loaned you?” lest
you be guilty of giving occasion to your friend (in order to “save his face”)
to utter a falsehood.
“And they said unto him, From a very far country thy servants are
come, because of the name of the Lord thy God, for we have heard
the fame of Him and all that He did in Egypt, and all that He did to
the two kings of the Amorites that were beyond Jordan, to Sihon
king of Heshbon and to Og king of Bashan, which was at
Ashtaroth” (verses 9, 10).
The Gibeonites had already lied unto the princes of Israel (verse 6 and cf.
15), and now that the further questioning of Joshua had given them an
opportunity to declare their true characters, they only used it for an
occasion to add to their guilt. Originally they had stated, “We be come
from a far country” (verse 6), now they said, “From a very far country,”
illustrating the solemn fact that one lie generally leads to another and still
worse one. How earnestly we need to pray, Remove from me the way of
lying” (

Psalm 119:29)! It is very humiliating but salutary to note that
the Lord deemed it requisite to enjoin His own children,
“Wherefore putting away lying, speak every man truth with his
neighbor” (

Ephesians 4:25).
Exaggerating is lying, so also is the making of promises which we have no
real intention of keeping. Do you really mean it when you say to certain
ones, “I am so glad to meet you”? We may act a lie as well as utter one.
A careful examination of the tale told to Joshua by these Gibeonites reveals
how everything in it was designed to appeal unto Israel’s pride.
First, they claimed to have come from a very far country, which was to
flatter Joshua that he was now being courted by those from so great a.379
distance. That very feature was part of the temptation which fanned the
egotism of Hezekiah and led to his undoing, for he was “glad” when the
king of Babylon made friendly overtures unto him, and showed his
messengers all his treasures, for when God’s servant took him to task, he
said: “They are come from a far country unto me” (

Isaiah 39:3).
Beware, my reader, of all those who fawn upon you, and remember that
“the Lord shall cut off all flattering lips” (

Psalm 12:3).
Second, their repeated “thy servants” emphasized their readiness to take an
inferior and subordinate place, and be subservient to Israel.
Third, they intimated that so great was the fame of Joshua’s God that,
even so remotely situate, they had “heard” of His wondrous works. This
too was said for the purpose of ingratiating themselves with Joshua, as
though they too desired to come under Jehovah’s protection.
One Hebrew scholar tells us that their words “From a very far country are
thy servants come because of the name of the Lord thy God” may be
translated “unto the name of the Lord thy God”: that is, willing to be
proselytes to Judaism, desirous of embracing Israel’s religion — the added
“for we have heard the fame of Him” seems to confirm that rendering, and
thus a strong appeal was thereby made to Israel’s piety. They appeared to
be deeply impressed by the wonders which God had wrought, and
therefore sought friendship with Israel. For this purpose they had
undertaken a very fatiguing journey, which evidenced their willingness to
be tributary unto them. Their story had been carefully thought out and was
“all of a piece,” for while they made reference to their knowledge of what
Jehovah had done in Egypt and to the kings of the Amorites, they were
careful to make no mention, of the supernatural crossing of the Jordan, nor
of Israel’s recent victories at Jericho and Ai — for tidings of them would
not yet have reached “a very far country”! Thus we are shown how far
hypocrites will go in order to gain the friendship of God’s people.
JOSHUA’S FAILURE
In our last article (upon the early verses of

Joshua 9) we saw how that
Israel’s supernatural crossing of the Jordan and the victories which the
Lord gave them at Jericho and Ai had struck terror into the hearts of the
Gibeonites. Consequently, those Canaanites who resided in that part of the
land which Israel must very soon reach determined, by means of a piece of
trickery, to outwit the hosts of God, and thereby preserve their own lives..380
They decided to pose as those who dwelt in “a far country” — that is,
beyond the bounds of Canaan itself — and who wished to enter into a
league of peace with the Hebrews. Accordingly, they attired themselves in
tattered garments and came to Israel’s camp at Gilgal. They told a plausible
tale, saying that the fame of Jehovah had reached their ears — thereby
intimating their desire to come under His protection and become proselytes
to His religion. They apologized for their sorry appearance, explaining that
it was due to the long and fatiguing journey they had come. It was a subtle
appeal to Israel’s pride that tidings of the wonder-working power of their
God had gone so far abroad that even these remote strangers were
acquainted with the same, and therefore sought union with His favored
people. In reality it was a tempting of Israel to act at direct variance with
an injunction from Jehovah which expressly forbade their doing any such
thing.
These Gibeonites belonged to the tribe of the Hivites (

Joshua 9:7). and
the renowned Hebraist, John Gill, tells us that “The name Hivites signifies
serpents”! They certainly acted here in complete accord therewith,
conducting themselves “wilily” (

Joshua 9:4), telling downright lies, and
succeeding in thoroughly deceiving Joshua and his princes. Yet Israel
ought not to have been imposed upon by them. Even from a natural
standpoint their conduct was excuseless. Only recently they had themselves
resorted to a subtle strategy in the taking of Ai, and therefore it now
behooved them to be doubly on the alert lest they be paid back in their own
coin. ‘I he men of Israel were indeed suspicious, for they said,
“Peradventure ye dwell among us, and how shall we make a league
with you?” (

Joshua 9:7).
Evidently they remembered those words,
“When the Lord thy God shall deliver them before thee, thou shalt
smite them and utterly destroy them: thou shalt make no covenant
with them, nor show mercy unto them” (

Deuteronomy 7:2).
Nor was Joshua himself satisfied with the first account they gave of
themselves, as his “Who are ye? and from whence come ye?” (verse 8)
evidenced. Yet the suspicions of both the one and the other were soon
lulled to sleep.
“And they said, From a very far country thy servants are come,
because of the name of the Lord thy God” (

Joshua 9:9)..381
It is to be noted that though Joshua had specifically asked them, “Who are
ye? and from whence come ye?” in their reply they neither declared their
nationality nor named the place of their birth. Thus, typically considered,
their credentials were unsatisfactory at the vital point, for it is the spiritual
birth of those applying for fellowship that the churches need to inquire
most closely into.
“We have heard… all that He did in Egypt… and to the two kings of
the Amorites that were beyond Jordan” (verse 10),
intimating that a deep impression had been made upon them thereby.
“Wherefore our elders and all the inhabitants of our country spake
to us, saying, Take victuals with you for the journey, and go to
meet them, and say unto them, We are your servants, and therefore
now make ye a league with us” (verse 11).
Thus they pretended that their senate had been formally convened and had
unanimously appointed their ambassadors to enter into this covenant with
Israel — i.e. they were vouched for by reliable authorities, so that Joshua
need have no fear of being imposed upon by charlatans.
If the tale told by these Gibeonites was really true, and they had come from
“a very far country,” then the extreme measures which Jehovah had
commanded His people to take with the inhabitants of the land
(

Deuteronomy 7:1, 2) would not have to be executed against them.
This is clear from

Deuteronomy 20:15, 16, where a very definite
distinction was drawn between the two cases: “Thus shalt thou do [offer
“peace” unto it (verses 10, 11)] unto all the cities which are very far off
from thee, which are not of the cities of these nations. But of the cities of
those, people which the Lord thy God hath given thee for an inheritance,
thou shalt save alive nothing that breatheth. But thou shalt utterly destroy
them: the Hivites, and the Amorites,” etc. Yet these Gibeonites were not
the inhabitants of another country, but belonged to the tribe of the Hivites
(

Joshua 9:7), and as

Genesis 10:15, 17, makes known, “the Hivite”
was an immediate descendant of the accursed Canaan (

Genesis 9:25).
“This our bread we took hot for our provision out of our houses on
the day we came forth to go unto you; but now, behold, it is dry,
and it is mouldy. And these bottles of wine, which we filled, were
new; and, behold, they be tent; and these our garments and our.382
shoes are become old by reason of the very long journey” (verses
12, 13).
Their repeated “behold” or “see” was an appeal to Israel’s senses. The
present condition of the food and clothing of these Gibeonites was
appealed to in corroboration of the account which they had given of
themselves. But there was no more reason why Israel should be deceived
through their eyes than their ears. Had they walked by faith instead of
sight, it would have been impossible. For faith always has to with God and
is regulated by His Word. Faith is the expression of a spirit of dependence
upon Him, and that, in turn, issues from the realization of our own
insufficiency. It was doubly inexcusable that Israel were imposed upon
here, for they were in “the camp at Gilgal” (

Joshua 9:6), where the
tabernacle of the priesthood resided, and therefore the place where the
mind of the Lord could be obtained if they sought Him in the way of His
appointment. That way had been plainly made known unto Joshua, for
through Moses God gave orders to him,
“He shall stand before Eleazar the priest, who shall ask counsel for
him after the judgment of Urim before the Lord: at his word shall
they go out, and at his word they shall come in, both he, and all the
children of Israel with him” (

Numbers 27:21).
It was the failure of Israel, and especially of Joshua on this occasion: to
avail themselves of God’s gracious provision that rendered their conduct
so blameable.
In like manner, there is no excuse for a Christian’s being deceived by
appearances, or left in ignorance concerning God’s will as to his path of
duty. The Lord has made ample provision for his instruction. It is our holy
privilege to go unto the antitypical Eleazar and ask counsel of Him, and the
great High Priest of the spiritual Israel will, through the Urim and
Thummim (which signify “lights and perfections “) of His Word, lead us in
a plain path. “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart, and lean not unto thine
own understanding; in all thy ways acknowledge Him” are His
requirements, and if we meet them — by His grace, which He is ever ready
to give unto those who humbly seek it (

James 4:6) — then His sure
promise is, “and He shall direct thy paths (

Proverbs 3:5, 6). As another
has aptly expressed it, “This is the polar-star of a child of God — faith in
his Father’s providences, promises, and grace. Let the eye look upward,
and all will be light (

Matthew 6:22; cf.

Psalm 32:8; 34:5). To “trust.383
in the Lord with all our heart” is to make Him our entire and exclusive
confidence• To “lean not unto our own understanding” is to renounce our
own wit and wisdom and refuse to rely upon the proud dictates of reason.
To “acknowledge God in all our ways” is to own His proprietorship and
supremacy, to ask counsel of Him, to seek His glory, and to be conformed
unto His will. Comply with those conditions and Divine guidance is
guaranteed — His Spirit will bring to our mind the verse which is exactly
suited to our case, and cause us to be regulated by the same. But alas,
instead of trusting in the Lord with all our hearts we are prone to put our
confidence in anyone or anything else. How lamentably we fail in looking
alone unto God in each fresh trial and emergency, and counting upon His
supplying our every need. It is just because we are so slow in casting all
our care upon Him and so reluctant to draw strength from Him day by day,
and hour by hour, that we stand in need of this very exhortation. Equally so
with the one which immediately follows. The understanding has indeed
been given us by God, and it is our duty not only to exercise the same, but
diligently to cultivate it. Nor will anything else so sharpen and refine it as
will the study of and meditation upon the Scriptures. Nevertheless, it must
not be depended upon, for the mind has been degraded by the fall and
darkened by indwelling sin, and therefore is, at best, an unsafe guide. Even
in a regenerated man, a prophet of God, it proved a mistaken counselor
(

2 Samuel 7:2-5).
As a fallen creature, it is still the tendency of a believer to lean unto his
own understanding — to his foolish notions and false fancies; to make a
god of reason. Just in proportion as we yield to that tendency are we
remiss in acknowledging God in all our ways. If we be regulated by natural
prudence much trouble shall we make for ourselves, for God will justly
suffer us to reap the consequences of our folly. It was at these very points
Israel failed in the incident we are now considering.
“And the men took of their victuals, and asked not counsel at the
mouth of the Lord” (

Joshua 9:14).
Here was the crux of the whole matter. Israel failed sadly: failed to give the
Lord His proper place; failed to avail themselves of His gracious provision
to make known His will via the high priest. And the cause of their failure is
here plainly revealed, for the two halves of this verse are inseparably
connected. By “the men took of their victuals” we are not to understand
that they sampled the same by eating thereof, for obviously there was no.384
need to do that with moldy bread. No, it signifies that they took it into their
hands for a closer inspection in order to confirm what the Gibeonites had
told them. In other words, they walked by sight and relied upon the
testimony of their senses. They acted naturally and not spiritually. Instead
of seeking guidance from the Lord through His servant, as they were in
duty bound to do by His Word, they confided in their own wisdom, relied
upon their own judgment, and thus a looking unto God was precluded.
They “asked not counsel at the mouth of the Lord”: had they done so there
had been no need for them to test the food of these Gibeonites! Had they
clone so they had not been deceived by them! The whole blame rested
upon themselves.
This was Israel’s second failure after their entrance into Canaan, and in
neither of them was Joshua guiltless. The previous one occurred in
connection with their first assault on Ai. Those who had reconnoitered the
place had said unto Joshua,
“Let not all the people go up, but let about two or three thousand
men go up and smite Ai; make not all the people to labor thither,
for they are but few” (

Joshua 7:3).
Flushed by their victory at Jericho, possessed by a spirit of self-confidence,
they too much lost sight of the fact that the capture of Jericho was due not
to the brilliance of their strategy or the valor of their arms, but to the
miracle-working power of Jehovah. They now deemed themselves to be
invincible and were assured that the taking of the remainder of Canaan
would be a simple task. They therefore felt that a single battalion of their
soldiers would be sufficient to capture that town — even though there
were “twelve thousand men” in it (

Joshua 8:25). And their leader,
instead of seeking counsel from the Lord, foolishly adopted their
suggestion. As may well be anticipated, God blew upon their carnal policy
and suffered their proud hearts to be humiliated. They were put to shame
before their enemies, fled in panic, and the whole congregation of Israel
was thoroughly dismayed (

Joshua 7:4-6).
We would naturally think that if there were another failure on the part of
Joshua and Israel it would be quite dissimilar from the former one, arising
from a different cause. Surely, after having had their eyes opened to see the
reason for their first defeat, they would now be doubly on their guard
against a repetition of the same. Alas, human nature is slow to learn and
profit from its failures. Even the father of the faithful repeated his initial.385
fault, for though he did wrong in going down into Egypt to sojourn there,
and committed a yet worse offense in denying his relationship to Sarah, and
though he was there put to shame by Pharaoh for his deception
(

Genesis 12:10-20), yet he was guilty of the selfsame thing when he
went and sojourned in Gerah (

Genesis 20:1, 2)! The same was true of
poor Peter: as it was a sprat of cowardice which led to his denial of Christ,
so he yielded to the same weakness at Antioch, separating from the Gentile
believers when certain ones came from Jerusalem, “fearing them which
were of the circumcision” (

Galatians 2:12). In each case it was “the fear
of man” that ensnared him (

Proverbs 20:25), and as that verse clearly
intimates, such ensnaring is the consequence of our not “trusting in the
Lord.” Thus it was too in the incident we are now pondering: Joshua
relapsed into his former fault.
In the very next test presented to Israel and their leader, they failed in the
same way its they did in connection with Ai. Instead of consulting the
Lord, they used their “common sense.” As the result, Israel and Joshua too
were deceived by the plausible story told by the Gibeonites, and misled by
their appearance and the condition of their victuals. And this too has been
recorded for our instruction:
“For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our
learning” (

Romans 15:4).
Yet it is not the mere reading of them that is required: if we are really to
profit therefrom, we must examine each incident closely, pondering each
detail carefully, and taking it home unto ourselves. The failures of eminent
saints have not been chronicled either to encourage slackness on our part
or to discourage us, but rather to illustrate and demonstrate that though the
spirit be willing yet the flesh is weak, and especially to give point to that
exhortation,
“Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall”
(

1 Corinthians 10:12).
If after some painful disillusionment we say, “I believe I have learned my
lesson this time,” it is a sure sign we have not done so if we now proudly
assure ourselves, “I shall not be deceived again in that way.”
That which supplies such solemn warning to us in the cases alluded to
above is that in each instance the failure was not committed by a young and
inexperienced disciple, but was the lapse of a mature saint; for Abraham,.386
Peter and Joshua had long walked with God. He that hath ears to hear, let
him hear — heed! But, more particularly, that which is now engaging our
attention is to be viewed in the light of the book in which it is found, and
the special theme which is developed therein. As we have so often stated,
the book of Joshua sets forth in both a typical and practical manner the
spiritual warfare of the saints, and their present entrance into and
enjoyment of their spiritual heritage. And in it the Holy Spirit has described
not only Israel’s victories but their defeats also, and a prayerful study of
the same makes known to us both the secrets of success and the causes of
failure in fighting the good light of faith. It is only as we keep these facts
steadily, in mind as we pass from chapter to chapter and from one episode
to another, and faithfully make a personal application of the same unto our
own hearts and lives, that we shall really be advantaged by the same. Let us
then observe carefully the nature of Joshua’s failure on this occasion.
It was more of a negative than a positive one. In nowise was it an act of
deliberate disobedience or defiant pitting of his own will against the Lord’s.
Where those elements exist, the offense is very much graver, and the
resulting chastisement from God will be much sorer. What Joshua did here
was not by studied premeditation, but was more of a case of being
“overtaken in a fault” (

Galatians 6:1). That in nowise excused him, yet
we must not regard him as being guilty of something worse than what he
actually did. Both in

Joshua 7:3, 4 and here (

Joshua 9:14, 15) he
acted too impulsively and precipitately. Instead of waiting upon the Lord
and seeking direction from Hint, in each instance he acted “on the spur of
the moment,” and on the ground of mere nature, walking by sight instead
of by faith. What point this gives to the Divine injunction, “He that
believeth shall not make haste” (

Isaiah 28:16)! If we act in too big a
hurry to pray over anything and work in the energy of the flesh, we
displease the Lord, hinder His cause, and bring trouble upon ourselves. The
principal lesson taught us in this incident is that, in order to light the good
fight of faith successfully, we must maintain the place of dependence upon
God and be constantly seeking wisdom from above.
“And asked not counsel at the mouth of the Lord” (verse 14), and
therefore acted in independence of Him — possibly because he regarded
this as too trivial a matter to take unto God. But there also we must not
lean unto our own understanding:.387
“In everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let
your requests be made known unto God” (

Philippians 4:4)
— big as well as little, the least matters as well as the greatest. What a holy
privilege! But “prayer and supplication” is very much more than
perfunctorily offering up a petition unto heaven: it is a definite waiting
upon God, a diligent seeking from Him. It involved time and trouble for
Joshua to ask counsel of the Lord: for it required him to go unto the high
priest and inquire His mind through him. As we read in

Judges 20:27,
28, The children of Israel inquired of the Lord [for the ark of the covenant
of God was there in those days and Phinehas the son of Eleazar, the son of
Aaron, stood before it in those days] saying, Shall I yet again go out to
battle against the children of Benjamin my brother, or shall I cease? And
the Lord said, Go up, for tomorrow I will deliver them into thine hand” —
and cf.

1 Samuel 23:9, 12. Observe how frequently “the man after
God’s own heart” inquired of Him:

1 Samuel 22:10; 23:2, 4; 30:8;

2
Samuel 2:1, 5, 19. Beautiful too is the picture set forth in

Ezra 8:21.
“And Joshua made peace with them, and made a covenant with them, to let
them live, and the princes of the congregation sware unto them” (verse
15). This is not recorded to Joshua’s honor, but it manifests the inflexible
fidelity of the Divine historian. Scripture is impartial in relating the
blemishes of its most famous characters. Joshua ought to have said to these
Gibeonites what a loyal servant of God said to the adversaries of Judah and
Benjamin: “Ye have nothing to do with us” (

Ezra 4:3). In order to
maintain a testimony unto the holiness of God, His people are required to
walk in separation from the world; but here we behold Joshua entering into
an alliance with those who were under the Divine curse. That is the grand
aim of Satan: to destroy the witness of the saints as those who are called to
walk apart from the ungodly. Alas, that they so often permit him to
succeed! What communion has light with darkness? What concord is there
between a people in covenant relation with the Holy One and those who
are idolaters? None whatever. Therefore let the former be much on their
guard at this point, conduct themselves accordingly, strenuously resist
every temptation from Satan to compromise. Finally, let us remember that
the Christian is never to “make peace” with his inward enemies, but must
ceaselessly fight against them.
It was said by James Durham, the Puritan, “It is hard to know, in spiritual
exercises, whether it be more difficult to attain some gracious frame or to.388
maintain it when it is attained, whether more seriousness is required for
making peace with God, or for keeping it when made.” That observation is
confirmed both in the teaching of God’s Word and the experience of His
children: as it is easier in natural things to squander than acquire, so
spiritually to retain is as hard a task as to obtain. In

Psalm 85:8, we
read, “I will hear what God the Lord will speak: for He will speak peace
unto His people, but let them not turn again to folly.” Alas that we should
need such an injunction as that. When a child has burned his fingers he is
afraid of the fire, and when a believer has dishonored the Lord. and
brought trouble upon himself by foolish conduct, he ought to be doubly on
his guard against a repetition thereof. Yet only too often, instead of
decreasing self-confidence and walking softly before the Lord, he relaxes
his efforts to mortify pride, becomes careless in the use of God’s appointed
means for maintaining fellowship with Himself in the paths of
righteousness, and therefore falls again into the same sin.
The very fact that believers are here dehorted “let them not turn again to
folly” intimates their proneness to do so. Yet that is so far from making any
allowance for the same, it expressly forbids it. Moreover, what immediately
precedes renders a repetition of the fault the more excuseless. When the
Lord has so graciously “spoken peace to His people,” that is, has pardoned
their transgressions and allayed their consciences, a spirit of gratitude
should cause them to be more careful in avoiding everything which would
displease and grieve Him. As Matthew Henry rightly pointed out, “The
remission of sins past is not a permission for sins to come, but a great
bridle and restraint to it.” Peace is spoken by God unto those who turn
from sin, and therefore we have a clearly implied warning here that if we
return thereto peace will depart from us. Just so far as we really valve
God’s peace will we diligently endeavor to avoid whatever destroys it. Sin
is a breach of the Law (

1 John 3:4), God-ward it is an “offense”
(

Romans 5:17) or affront, self-ward it is folly or acting contrary to our
interests, “forsaking our own mercies” (

Jonah 2:8).
All sin is foolish, but backsliding is doubly so, and it is because of our
corrupt tendency unto it that such a caution as the above requires to be
taken to heart by all of us. The more so because of sin’s insidiousness —
ever ready to trip us up if we are the least bit off our guard. As pointed out
at the close of our last, sin is by no means always premeditated. Joshua’s
failure in the making of a covenant with the Gibeonites was no deliberate
act of disobedience, but was more a case of being “overtaken in a fault”.389
(

Galatians 6:1) — through hurried action, instead of seeking counsel
from the Lord. To be “overtaken in a fault” is a very different thing from
resolving and contriving the same: the one is inadvertent, the other
planned. It is ever to be borne in mind that the Christian has no inherent
strength of his own: he stands by faith (

Romans 11:20), and faith is
directly opposed to self-confidence. Therefore it is that, unless he maintains
a constant prayerful vigilance and self-discipline, he is ever in danger of a
sudden surprisal from the force of temptation, or being overborne by the
heat of his passions.
Joshua had not only failed in a similar way previously, but he had been
rebuked for it by the Lord, and convicted of his folly (

Joshua 7:10, 11).
The repetition of such failure has been recorded by the Holy Spirit to bring
home to us our weakness and fickleness. If one so highly favored of God
as he who had so signally honored Him by. the general tenor of his
character and conduct was capable of these momentary lapses, then how
much do both writer and reader need to heed that exhortation “Be not high
minded, but fear.” The sad fact is that a believer may not only fall into sin,
but — unless he preserves a spirit of entire dependence upon the Lord —
he may, through the infirmity of the flesh, fall into the same sin. Samson
(who was a believer —

Hebrews 11:32) did so, first by marrying a
Philistine woman (

Judges 14), which was expressly forbidden by the
Divine Law, and later by consorting with a Philistine harlot (

Judges
16.), for which he paid dearly. Jehoshaphat committed a great sin in joining
affinity with the wicked Ahab (

2 Chronicles 18:1-3) and was reproved
for the same (

Joshua 19:2); yet in

Joshua 20:35, we find him
relapsing into the same sin. When we are guilty of similar folly, it should
lead us to deeper repentance, though not to despair.
“And Joshua made peace with them, and made a league with them,
to let them live: and the princes of the congregation sware unto
them. And it came to pass at the end of three days after they had
made a league with them that they heard that they were their
neighbors, and that they dwelt among them” (

Joshua 9:15, 16).
As Gill pointed out,
“The league seems to have been made the same day they came. The
Gibeonites were no doubt in haste to have it confirmed, lest they
should be discovered; and Joshua and the princes of Israel took no.390
pains and gave themselves no great trouble to inquire about them,
but made peace with them at once.”
And now the deception of the one and the folly of the hasty action of the
other were discovered. With rare exceptions, lies are quickly exposed.
Only truth wears and lasts. Impostures are speedily found out, as Jacob’s
by his father Isaac, Jeroboam’s wife’s by the prophet (

1 Kings 14:1-6),
that of Ananias and Sapphira (

Acts 5). Then how utterly vain must be
every attempt to impose upon Him unto whom “all things are naked and
opened”! It is impossible to deceive Omniscience by masquerading before
Hint in the garb of a hypocritical profession, nor will His people be
deceived thereby if they carefully weigh them in the balances of the
Scriptures.
The terrible times in which we are living call for a further word on this
practical subject.
“The lip of truth shall be established for ever; but a lying tongue is
but for a moment” (

Proverbs 12:19).
Then how important it is to eye eternity in all our words — doubly so in
the case of preachers! The profession of the Truth may indeed occasion
present inconvenience and trouble from men, but it shall receive an eternal
reward from God. On the other hand, the preacher who, for momentary
gain and popularity, represses the Truth and is a purveyor of lies shall reap
a harvest of everlasting shame and woe. But that verse applies to all of us.
As Matthew Henry tersely expressed it, “Those that make a lie their refuge,
will find it a refuge of lies.” Falsehoods and deceits are not only evil in
themselves, but a foolish expedient, for they expose the perpetrator to
speedy detection, which renders him suspect and distrusted in everything.
Even though his fellows should fail to disprove him unless he sincerely
repents, “He that speaketh lies shall perish.” (

Proverbs 19:9). Nothing
makes us more like the Devil than this, for he was a liar from the beginning
(

John 8:44). How earnestly we should pray, “Remove from me the way
of lying” (

Psalm 119:29)!
“And it came to pass at the end of three days after they had made a
league with them, that they heard that they were their neighbors,
and that they dwelt among them” (verse 16).
That may well be viewed from another angle. Not only is it a fact that, as a
general rule, deceptions are quickly discovered, but it is equally true that,.391
where the heart beats true to Him, God will not long suffer His people to
be imposed upon. They are children of the day and not of the night, and
therefore there is no reason why they should stumble over any obstacles in
their path. As their Master declares,
“I am the light of the world: he that followeth Me shall not walk in
darkness, but shall have the light of life” (

John 8:12).
But to follow Christ means very much more than “believing” in Him: it
signifies to commit ourselves unreservedly to His government, to walk in
His precepts, to emulate the example which he has left us. And in the main,
and with few deviations, that is exactly what Joshua and Israel had done
since their entrance into Canaan. They had been obedient to Jehovah,
complying with His revealed will in all things. And though they had
temporarily failed to seek counsel from Him, and in consequence had been
beguiled by the Gibeonites, yet because the main course of their lives was
pleasing to God, He soon allowed them to learn their mistake. How gently
the Lord deals with us!
“And the children of Israel journeyed, and came unto their cities on
the third day. Now their cities were Gibeon,” etc. (verse 17).
This is explanatory of the foregoing verse and, by implication, shows us
how unnecessary was Israel’s precipitate action — had they withheld their
judgment and decision but a very short time, they would have learned that
these Gibeonites had by no means come from a very far country. By the
children of Israel” here, we are not to understand the entire congregation
— for the camp still remained at Gilgal (

Joshua 10:17) — but rather
their fighting-men with the responsible heads of the tribes. Most probably
they had advanced this distance in order to investigate the report they had
received. It should be pointed out that this was not the “third day” from
setting out on their journey — for it was but a night’s march from Gilgal to
their cities (

Joshua 10:9) — but from the time when they first “heard”
that the Gibeonites were their neighbors. Definite confirmation of this was
now before them, for here were “their cities.” The Holy Spirit’s emphasis
here by the repetition of “the third day” intimates that this is a detail which
the reader should duly ponder. A further word thereon.
It should be carefully noted that in

John 8:12, Christ did not simply say
that the one who followed Him should have light, but “the light of life,”
and this is exactly what is typically portrayed here in verses 16 and 17, for.392
at the end of three days” brings us (symbolically speaking) on to
resurrection ground. Joshua and his fellows had acted by sight instead of
faith, and here the Spirit supplies demonstration of that fact. They had
conducted themselves on the ground of mere nature, being regulated by
their senses, and not as quickened souls whose privilege it was to enjoy
unbroken communion with God and be guided by Him. They had, for the
moment, relapsed into carnality, but now “on the third day” they were back
on resurrection ground and given to see things in a true light. So the
Christian has, by God’s grace and power, been brought from death unto
life, and is