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The Kings Gather Against God
Is the world approaching another world war? Is that war leading toward the final great war of wars? These and similar questions are upon many tongues at this very hour.
We have chosen to consider the things which have to do with "wars and rumours of wars," because our Scripture lesson opens with a confederacy of kings setting themselves against Joshua and the Children of Israel.
1. Is this age the age of the Prince of Peace? Some say it is. What says the more sure Word of Prophecy? Christ will be enthroned Prince of Peace only when He is enthroned as King upon the throne of David. Yes, the time must come and come it will, when the nations will beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will no more war against nation. However, that day is not now.
2. In this age, wars are determined. Did not Christ say, relative to the end of this age, and to the signs of His Coming, "And ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom"?
In the Second Psalm is written an end-time scene. Here are the words: "The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the Lord, and against His Anointed, saying, Let us break their bands asunder, and cast away their cords from us." What then? He that sitteth in the Heavens shall laugh: the Lord shall have them in derision."
3. The whole world as we write (January, 1937) is trembling over a great volcano, as it were, dreading the moment when an erruption may break forth. Feverishly each great world power is trying to outdo other world powers in inventing impregnable protections against an enemy assault, on the one hand, while they stretch every nerve in creating and perfecting instruments of destruction, on the other hand, that will sweep every foe from off the face of the earth.
Many are preaching peace; all are outwardly, at least, striving for peace; while all are preparing for war. The nations of this day know that supremacy on land and sea and air means their only hope of safety.
4. The great war cataclysm may be delayed, but it cannot be stayed for long. God's prophetic Scriptures will be fulfilled to the letter. This age will soon see the red horse of war (Revelation 6:1-66.6.17 ) coming forth to take peace from off the earth. He will be followed by the black horse of famine and the pale horse of pestilence and death.
After all of that, there will be another horse rider. He comes forth at the close of the tribulation, comes riding on a white horse. His Name is King of kings, and Lord of lords. He has another Name, The Word of God. He goes forth to war in righteousness. With the breath of his lips he will destroy the antichrist.
Arise, O Lord, the night is far o'erspent,
The harvest of the earth is ripe in sin;
The wicked hold the reins; the woes begin;
The world on evil sets its heart intent.
The nations gather, and the night grows on:
They set themselves together, Christ to rout;
They cast His cords away, break loose and shout
Against the Lord, and His Anointed One:
The Jews now languish, as they plead for Thee,
Their hearts grow weary; hark, how deep their sigh:
"Come down, O Lord, our foes against us cry;
Come set Thine own, Thy captive people free:
Burst forth and shine, O Sun of Righteousness,
Come down Thy chosen people to redress."
I. THE SUBMISSION OP GIBEON (Joshua 10:1-6.10.2 )
1. The story of Gibeon's Strategy. The 9th chapter of Joshua tells us the full story of how the subtle Gibeonites came down to Joshua and the princes of Israel, attired as wanderers and pilgrims from a far country, suing for peace.
What prompted the Gibeonites to make peace? They had heard of the destruction of Jericho and Ai, and were filled with fear, lest they also should be destroyed. There is a rightful place for fear.
When the unsaved see the ravages of sin around them, and contemplate the wrath of a holy God, should they not fear? He who is under the Blood of Christ, under a true token, need not fear. He is saved, and, being saved, he is safe from wrath.
He who believeth not shall be damned. Surely such an one, with the wrath of God sweeping down upon him, may well fear.
2. The humble, and contrite heart, God does not despise. So it was, that when the Gibeonites came to Joshua prostrating themselves before God, and seeking for peace, they found it. He that humbleth himself and seeks the face of the Lord always finds mercy.
We remember how the poor suppliant, though a great sinner, who would not so much as lift his head, but beat upon his breast, saying, "God be merciful to me a sinner," went down to his house justified, The woman with seven demons who fell down at Jesus' feet, found forgiveness.
The big, little man, who climbed the sycamore tree, that he might see Jesus, although he was a great sinner was accepted of the Lord.
3. God overlooked the Gibeonites' subtlety, and accepted their inner longings for peace and safety. Back of the deception of the men of Gibeon, as they falsely presented themselves as far-traveled pilgrims, was an earnest desire for deliverance that prompted their deception.
The Gibeonites were willing to become hewers of wood, and burden bearers, if only they might be safely sheltered under the shadow of the Almighty.
II. SOME BELIEVE AND SOME BELIEVE NOT (Joshua 10:1 )
1. "Some believed * * and some believed not." Herein is a marvelous thing. The people of Jericho and Ai hardened their hearts in unbelief; another people, the Gibeonites, humble their hearts in suing for peace.
All of this was true in Joshua's day, it was true in Paul's day, it is true in our day.
We cannot philosophically discover why one man will not repent and believe; while another man, equally a sinner, and equally sinful, will repent and believe and go on his way rejoicing.
In the same town, or even in the same home, one is saved and the other is lost. To human eyes there seems to be no difference. Both had the same opportunities, walked in the same light, heard the same sermons, and lived under the same environments: yet, one fell down and cried out his lost estate, while the other refused to believe.
2. Is the reason to be found in the Divine call? If so, there was nothing in God's attitude toward Gibeon which was distinct to His attitude toward Ai, or Jericho. We know that God does hold elective and foreordaining powers.
God is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to the knowledge of the truth. The Divine call is whosoever will may come with emphasis on the whosoever and the may.
Over salvation's door is written, "By Me if any man enter in, he shall be saved." Nevertheless, one believes and another believes not.
Of one thing we are sure, God is not responsible for the rejections of men. There is something in each individual which must bear the blame of his rejection.
Urge upon every man the universal call of God to be saved.
III. THE REBELLION OF THE HUMAN HEART AGAINST GOD (Joshua 10:3-6.10.4 )
1. This rebellion, is in spite of God's glory and grace. The kings who gathered together against God in this study, had abundant proof of the greatness of God. They had heard of His mighty works; of how he had delivered the Children of Israel from Pharaoh, dividing the Red Sea; they had heard of the crossing of the Jordan as by dry land; they had heard of the fall of Jericho and of Ai; yet, withal, they set themselves against God.
The unbeliever, in our time, has known of God's greatness and glory. He is not blinded to the saving grace of the Lord. The Cross, the resurrection, the ascension, the Holy Spirit of God is all known unto men.
The unregenerate are simply against God. They refuse to hear His words, and to obey His voice. They will not come unto Christ that they may have life. They love Him not; they have not His Word abiding in them; they receive Him not.
2. This rebellion against God is manifested in warring against those who know God. The king of Jerusalem said unto the other kings, "Come * * that we may smite Gibeon: for it hath made peace with Joshua and with the Children of Israel." He who is against God will manifest his anger against the people who love God.
Did not Christ say, "If the world hate you, ye know that it hated Me"? We who are of the Lord's Household may expect the same persecutions and hatred that the Master of the house receives.
3. It always costs to follow Christ. Should Gibeon have been despised for no other reason than for making peace with God? Should sinners seek to force others to go with them to the same excess of riot against the Almighty? Divine peace in the heart may break peace with the world. What we gain in the riches of grace, we may lose, so far as the riches of this life are concerned.
IV. A CALL FOR HELP (Joshua 10:6 )
1. A help in the time of need. How much better it was for Gibeon to be fought against by the varied kings, than to have fought with them and against the Lord.
To Gibeon it seemed that they who were against her, were so many more than they who were with her. They could do nothing but cry for help, asking Joshua who had spared them, to come and fight for them. And this Joshua did, and the Lord fought with Gibeon, and with Joshua.
We also may find help in the time of need. Our God will not leave us alone. He will not suffer us to be overthrown. He will commandeer all the forces of Heaven in our behalf, before He will allow the enemy to consume us.
When David was pursued by Absalom and his hosts, he sought the Lord. With exultant voice he echoed the pulsings of his inner soul, when he said: "I will not be afraid of ten thousands of people, that have set themselves against me round about."
Few men of our own dispensation have been beset by foes, as was Paul the great missionary of the first century. Here, however, is what Paul wrote, "Having * * obtained help of God, I continue unto this day."
2. The spirit of comradeship and fellowship. To us it is a delightful picture to see Joshua and Israel fighting side by side with Gibeon, It is a picture of the conquerors helping the conquered; of the strong supporting the weak; of the masters succoring the servants and the slaves.
Should it not be so? It is God's command, "We then that are strong ought to bear the infirmities of the weak." It is written, "Bear ye one another's burdens, and so fulfill the Law of Christ."
Shall the leaders hold themselves aloof from the ones who must be led? Shall the priest be isolated from his people? Shall the great, and the noble, and the highly honored, refuse to fellowship the people' of low estate? Not so did the Lord conduct Himself.
V. THE VOICE OF VICTORY (Joshua 10:8 )
1. Fighting under the banner of the Lord. How blessed it is to know that God is with us in our battles for truth and right. Where is he who can fight against God and stand? Our God, the Creator of the heavens and the earth is a God of omnipotent strength.
2. Fighting under the promise of victory. Here were the words of the Lord to Joshua, "Fear them not: for I have delivered them into thine hand."
When we know that our work is to be crowned with success it is so much easier to work. To fight a losing battle is disheartening; to fight a winning battle is invigorating.
3. Fighting with a conquering arm. The Lord said to Joshua, "There shall not a man of them stand before thee." It is thus that he fights, it is thus that he serves, to whom is revealed the power of the arm of the Lord.
God puts His power upon us. He makes us a Samson in strength, a David in courage, and a Gideon in perseverance. We wear not the armor of Saul, but the armor of God. We go forth clothed in the whole armor.
4. Fighting the harder because of assured victory. Because Joshua had been promised the conquest, he did not, therefore, become a do-nothing. He did not say, "If victory is mine, we will lie on our lees."
(1) He and his army ascended the rugged way from Gilgal toward Gibeon. It was not on paved roads and in autos that they went to war. They went afoot, they went an upward climb. We who are sure of conquest must also be ready to climb.
(2) He and his army went by night. Joshua's men loved sleep, yet they pressed their upward way. They went by night, shrouded by darkness, with the terrors of the uncertain steppings upon them.
True love to Christ never waits for full-orbed day. That love which brought the women to the sepulcher while it was yet dark, is the love that stirs the Christian's heart even unto this hour.
VI. THE LORD WHO GIVETH VICTORY (Joshua 10:10 )
1. Our victories are the Lord's. Our key verse says, "And the Lord discomfited them before Israel." Some may demur, and claim that it was Israel's own arm that was victorious. We grant that Israel had a part; however, it was not Israel apart from God, but the rather, Israel with God; or, the Lord through Israel.
It was true that day, and it is true now. "Power belongeth unto God." The pastor, teacher, or missionary goes forth in another Name and in another power than his own. If we labor alone we labor in vain.
2. The Lord's victories are ours. Here is a blessed fact He works for us. His conquests are ours. We benefit by all He does; in other words, what He does, is done for us.
Has the Lord not said, "All things are yours"? We cannot see with our eyes, nor hear with our ears of any good thing that is not for us. Yes, all things work together for our good, if we are the called according to His purpose.
3. It is each for the other. The Book of Acts is called the Acts of the Apostles; it faithfully recounts their toils. It may be called the Acts of the Holy Ghost; it does record His acts. The Book, in reality, is the Acts of "the Holy Ghost and us."
We may not say of the Holy Ghost, "He did it all," even though we acknowledge that He is the great One in this Divine and human partnership. Nor dare we say of ourselves, we did it all because if there had been no Holy Ghost, we had accomplished nothing.
So, placing the Holy Ghost forever first, and recognizing His eternal preeminence, we yet humbly say, "The Holy Ghost and us." Happy are we that we are called into the fellowship of the One so glorious and so mighty.
VII. THE SUN STOOD STILL (Joshua 10:12-6.10.15 )
1. At Ajalon we come to a place where infidelity and atheism runs riot. When William Jennings Bryan was on the witness stand at Dayton, at the Scopes trial, and Mr. Darrow the noted criminal lawyer and atheist was questioning him, Mr. Darrow said: "The Bible says Joshua commanded the sun to stand still for the purpose of lengthening the day, doesn't it? And you believe it?"
Mr. Bryan said, "Yes," and "I do." All of Mr. Darrow's cross firing could not change Mr. Bryan in his solemn faith in the Word of God.
The Christian may not understand or be able to explain the wonders of God, but he believes it. Some day we will understand how the sun stood still in the valley of Ajalon. Some day we will understand all of the wonderful works of God. Now we see through a glass darkly, then, face to face; now we know in part, then shall we fully know. Now we walk by faith, then faith will be a blessed reality based upon positive knowledge.
2. We have come to a place where we find a counterpart to the sun standing still at Ajalon. It occurred when Christ was passing out of Jericho for the last time. Passing out of Jericho and to Jerusalem, where He was about to die on the Cross, He went along the way. As He went, a poor, blind beggar cried out, "Jesus, Thou Son of David, have mercy on me." And this is what happened, "Jesus stood still." It was less of a marvel for the sun in the heavens to stand still, while Joshua and Israel finished their conquest of old; than it was for Jesus, en route to die, to stand still at the call of a poor blind man. In either case Deity shines forth in a marvelous light.
3. To deny the miracles is to deny God. It is impossible for anyone to accept the Lord and decry His Word, His work, or His will. The whole Bible stands or falls together. If it is not dependable in one place, what assurance have we that it is true in another? The truth is that we are cognizant of inexplicable wonders in nature as well as in grace, every day that passes. Let us have faith in God.
Men fighting against God, fight against themselves, "So they hanged Haman on the gallows that he had prepared for Mordecai" (Esther 7:10 ).
A baker living in a village not far from Quebec bought his butter from a neighboring farmer. One day he became suspicious that the batter was not of the same weight, and therefore decided to satisfy himself about it. For several days he weighed the butter, and found that the rolls of butter which the farmer brought were gradually diminishing in weight. This angered him so that he had the farmer arrested. "I presume you have weights," said the judge. "No, sir," replied the farmer. "How then do you manage to weigh the butter that you sell?" "That's easily explained, your honor," said the farmer. "When the baker commenced buying his butter of me, I thought I'd get my bread of him, and it's the one pound loaf I've been using as a weight for the butter I sell. If the weight of the butter is wrong, he has himself to blame." (Sunday School Times.)
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Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Neighbour, Robert E. "Wells of Living Water Commentary on Joshua 10". "Living Water". https://www.studylight.org/
the First Week of Advent