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1. The Heavenly warfare supersedes our duty at home. The two and a half tribes had left their homes to go over the Jordan in order to aid their brethren in the great conflict against the seven nations which inhabited the land of Canaan. With the victory fully accomplished, they heard from God words of plaudit, as He said: "Ye have not left your brethren these many days unto this day, but have kept the charge of the commandment of the Lord your God. * * Therefore now return ye, and get you unto your tents, and unto the land of your possession."
There is a tremendous lesson here for each of us if we would become true soldiers of Jesus Christ. Have you not read, "But this I say, brethren, the time is short: it remaineth, that both they that have wives be as though they had none; and they that weep, as though they wept not; and they that rejoice; as though they rejoiced not; and they that buy, as though they posssesed not."
Our Lord does not brook any delay to His commands. The one who said, "Suffer me first to go and bury my father," was rebuked by the Lord. The one who said, "Let me first go bid them farewell, which are at home at my house" was rebuked. Jesus said: "Let the dead bury their dead." He also said, "No man, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the Kingdom of God."
2. After the battle is over cometh rest. We ran across a little poem written by one of the great preachers of Missouri. He wrote:
"My rest is in Heaven, my rest is not here,
Then why should I mourn when trials are near?
Be hushed, my tired spirit, the worst that can come
But shortens thy journey and hastens thee Home.
"The thorn and the thistle around me may grow,
I would not lie down on roses below,
I ask not a portion, I seek not a rest
'Til I find them forever on Jesus' breast."
It does not matter how difficult the task. When the battle is over, we will have our rest in Heaven, where sorrow and trials never come.
3. The obligations of family headship. The men who fought, went home again to take up their rightful position as head of the house, and as instructor to their children. The Lord had taught the fathers in Israel, that they should teach His words diligently unto their children. He said: "When thy son asketh thee in time to come, saying, What mean the testimonies, and the statutes, and the judgments, which the Lord our God hath commanded you? Then thou shalt say unto thy son, We were Pharaoh's bondmen in Egypt; and the Lord brought us out of Egypt with a mighty hand," etc.
4. The duties of children to God and to their parents. If it was the part of the father to instruct the children, it was just as vitally the part of the child to be obedient unto the parent. The child was to hear the words of instruction, and to heed their testimony. It is written, "Children, obey your parents in all things: for this is well pleasing unto the Lord."
In many American homes today these words are utterly ignored. Young America fain would say, "Parents, obey your children, for this is highly pleasing unto disobedient youths and will lead them all to the dogs and the ditch and the devil."
It may be all right for parents to leave home to fight the battles of the Lord, but when they return they must instruct their children in the way they should go. Then shall the children follow on to know the Lord.
I. A TASK WELL DONE (Joshua 22:1-2 )
1. A merited commendation. To the men of the two and a half tribes Joshua said: "Ye have kept all that Moses the servant of the Lord commanded you, and have obeyed my voice in all that I commanded you."
These words of commendation must have meant a great deal to the Reubenites and to the Gadites, and to half the tribe of Manasseh. Similar words will mean everything to us as we stand before the Lord at the judgment seat of Christ.
If we would hear our Lord say unto us: " Well done, thou good and faithful servant; * * enter thou into the joy of thy Lord," we must do well. God is not unfaithful to remember our deeds of love, our word and our work in His behalf, and He will not be slow to commend us up there, if we have obeyed His commands down here.
2. A perfect obedience. Our verse says: "Ye have kept all." They had not done part, and then fallen by the way. We read how our Lord said in the upper room, "I have finished the work which Thou gavest Me to do." There was not one word commanded by the Father which was not fulfilled by the Son. It is just as vital for us to do all we are told to do, What greater joy could any of us have than to know that we have followed the Lord fully? That is far more vital to us than it is for us to be brilliant or brave or great in accomplishments. "To obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams."
3. A satisfied conscience. As the two and a half tribes went homeward they had no accusing conscience. They were satisfied in this, that they had obeyed God and had withal aided their brethren.
II. SERVING OTHERS (Joshua 22:3 )
1. They had lived and fought for their brethren. What greater joy can there be than to serve others? We should certainly begin our testimony for Christ, and our service in His Name in our own homes, and among our own people. We have all read the words: "Piety should begin at home."
If we are not true behind the scene and in the inner circle of our own loved ones, we are neither fit nor worthy to give any testimony outside of our home. He who cannot, with joy and ease, tell of the things of Christ at home is not prepared to mention His Name abroad.
2. They had lived and fought for their Lord. Whatever we do to others we are doing it unto the Lord. You remember how Christ spoke from Heaven and said unto Saul of Tarsus, "Why persecutest thou Me?" You remember also the memorable words, "Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these My brethren, ye have done it unto Me."
We have before us a spiritual law that should never be overlooked. God reckons our deeds of evil or of good toward those about us as unto Him. To the Israelites He said through Joshua: "Ye have kept all that Moses * * commanded," and, "Have obeyed my voice."
3. They had lived and fought in full obedience. Let us emphasize this thought. There is a little song we love, which runs like this:
"I'll go where You want me to go, dear Lord,
Over mountain or plain or sea;
I'll say what You want me to say. dear Lord,
I'll be what You want me to be."
Our part is not to do our own will but the will of our Father who is in Heaven. Young people should never be called upon to give themselves in consecration to any particular field or task. They should give themselves to God, and to any task which He assigns.
III. AFTER THE BATTLE IS OVER (Joshua 22:4 )
1. There was a fulfillment of all that God had said. God had promised certain things to the Children of Israel. These promises had been made at the time that Moses went down to deliver them from the Egyptians. Now that the Children of Israel had come to the end of the battle, they realized that God had kept every promise and fulfilled every pledge.
The Lord had demanded of them, and had obtained from them, a complete obedience to His Word, and in turn He had given unto them a complete fulfillment of all that He had promised.
Joshua had told them that there would not fail one good thing, and then he told them afterward, there hath not failed one good thing of all that the Lord hath spoken. We never need to be afraid to accept every promise and every pledge of God at a one hundred per cent fulfillment.
2. There was a rest from the conflict. We are not called upon to fight the battles of the Lord without the rewards of victory. When God wrote in the Word: "Ye shall have tribulation," He did not mean that there was not another word which promised a cessation of tribulation. There is a City whose Builder and Maker is God. When we enter into that City the former things will have passed away. There will be no more fighting for the faith for all will inherit the faith.
3. There was a meeting of the loved ones at home. How wonderful it will be on the other shore to sit down with all of those who have gone before and together with them, to be forever with the Lord. We may and we do want to see our Saviour first of all, but we will immeasurably rejoice as we see our loved ones and those of earth whom we have loved long since, but lost awhile. How glorious is the prospective! Paul put it this way: "Having a desire to depart and to be with Christ."
IV. A SUSTAINED INTEGRITY (Joshua 22:5 )
1. A renewed and continued obedience to God. To those who had done all that the Lord commanded, Joshua said: "Take diligent heed to do the Commandment and the Law, which Moses the servant of the Lord charged you." It is not enough to run well for a season. We must continue as we began. We read in Matthew 13:1-58 of the seed sown upon the stony ground which, for a while, flourished, but having no depth of soul, it withered away. We read again of the seed sown among the thorns, which sprang up, but was choked. The lesson to us is this: we should take heed lest we endure but for a while. We should beware lest, when tribulation, or persecution, or the cares of this world, or the deceitfulness of riches set themselves against us, we should be offended and become unfaithful.
2. A renewed and continued love for God. Our key text calls not only for a diligent heed in a continued obedience, but a diligent heed to a continued love to the Lord our God.
Our Lord said: "If ye love Me, keep My commandments." He also said: "He that hath My. commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth Me." Thus our Lord saw that the life of obedience was indissolubly linked to the life of love. Love not only delights in doing the will of God but it delights in doing more than the mere law or word of command involves. Love is never so happy as when it passes beyond the pathway of duty into the pathway of delight.
3. A renewed and continued walk with God. We now have before us the daily life how we ought to walk and to cleave unto Him, and to serve Him with all our heart and with all our soul.
There is something very refreshing in all of this. To know Him is to love Him, and to love Him is to serve Him. We who are in love with Christ will want our every word as well as our every deed to glorify His Name.
V. DOES IT PAY TO SERVE GOD? (Joshua 22:8 )
1. Theirs were the spoils of battle. Here is another viewpoint. We have been speaking much of the battle and the conflict; now we come to the spoils obtained through fighting and through conquest. Our key text says: "And he spake unto them, saying, Return with much riches unto your tents, and with very much cattle, with silver, and with gold, and with brass, and with iron, and with very much raiment."
"A man there was, though some did count him mad,
The more he cast away, the more he had."
Herein is a law of God exemplified: "Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom."
They had given their best in service through great sacrifice, now God was giving back to them, in the spoils of battle, abundant riches. There is no man who can outdo God in giving. He that withholdeth tendeth to poverty. He, however, who gives will find God ready to give unto him all sufficiency in all things. If we sow bountifully, we shall reap bountifully.
2. Theirs were the privileges of sharing. Our key text says: "Divide the spoil of your enemies with your brethren." This is all in line with the Word of God. No man liveth unto himself. That which is ours, even by conquest, is ours to share.
"Have you had a kindness shown?
Pass it on,
'Twas not giv'n to thee alone,
Pass it on."
3. Theirs were the blessings of God. These were the things which overlapped the spoils of battle, and lay beyond. There is grace, and there is also grace more abundantly. There is the reward of our own service, and there is in addition, the exceeding riches of those eternal inheritances which lie far beyond Scriptural rewards.
We thank God for everything we win in battle. We doubly thank Him for those excesses of grace which will be ours when we reign with the saints in light.
VI. THE ALTAR OF WITNESS (Joshua 22:10 ; Joshua 22:26-29 )
1. An altar intent as a witness. The 10th verse tells us that there they built "an altar by Jordan, a great altar to see to." Matthew 13:27 tells us that the altar was not for a burnt offering, nor for sacrifice, "But that it may be a witness between us, and you, and our generations after us, that we might do the service of the Lord."
We should always bear testimony to what God hath done. Are we not His witnesses, whom He hath chosen? Did He not say, "Ye shall be witnesses unto Me * * in Jerusalem," etc? We should not care to commemorate, with an altar, what we have done. We should commemorate what He has done. We would not emblazon our own name on the pages of history; we would like to write the praises of Him who gave us the victory, in some "altar of witness" where the world can see it as the years roll by.
2. An altar intent as a memorial. The altar which the Children of Israel built was to remind them of the vows which they had made to serve the Lord. It was erected "Lest we forget"!
It is so easy for us to begin to say that our own hands got us the victory; that the accomplishments were ours, instead of His. Would that some one would give us the gift to remember that victory and power belong to God.
This altar was likewise built that the children of that generation might, in the time to come, keep the tryst which their forefathers had made with the Lord.
3. An altar intent as a vow. The two and a half tribes likewise made this altar as a witness between them and the other tribes of Israel. It seemed to be an altar to tie their hearts together lest they, on the one side Jordan, should ever be led to separate themselves from their brethren, on the other side.
VII. THE DANGER OF FALSE ACCUSATIONS (Joshua 22:11-21 )
1. The injustice of premature condemnations. When the tribes in Israel heard that the tribes over Jordan had builded an altar, they immediately imagined that their brethren had set up for themselves an altar upon which they might offer sacrifices apart from themselves. In this they thought they saw a great deflection. First of all, the two and a half tribes would make themselves a nation, distinct from the other tribes. Secondly, they would begin shortly to worship another god, which was not God. In all of this the ten tribes were in error.
It is so easy for us to judge one another adversely, simply because we do not know one another's mind. We imagine that we see what really is not to be seen.
2. The right way to treat supposed offenders. The Children of Israel showed great wisdom in the method of dealing with their brethren. They sent Phinehas, the son of the priest, and with him ten princes that they might go to the children of Reuben, and of Gad, and of the half tribe of Manasseh. How much better was this than to have sent over an armed force to fight against their brethren. As it was the "committee" which was sent soon discovered that they had judged their brethren entirely wrong. Instead, therefore, of fighting against them they loved them the more.
3. A well pleased committee. Joshua 22:30 says that when Phinehas, the priest, and the princes heard the words of the children of Reuben and of Gad and of Manasseh, it pleased them, and Phinehas said: "This day we perceive that the Lord is among us." Then the Children of Israel, when they heard it, blessed God.
Would that the prayer of our Lord, "That they all may be one" might approach fulfillment in these days of apostasy. Let the true and the tried seek a fellowship that will glorify their Lord and rejoice their own hearts.
As a climax to this wonderful study let us read the following words concerning Caleb's final conquest (Joshua 14:10-11 ), which is in keeping with Joshua's great victories.
This was the heroic testimony of an aged veteran on his eighty-fifth birthday, when ordinary men would be supposed to have long ago retired from active service, and to be waiting for their translation. But Caleb was only just beginning the most serious business of his life. His greatest ambition and his grandest achievement still lay before him, and he asked as a birthday present the opportunity of doing the hardest thing that any of his people had ever attempted. This was nothing less than the capture of Hebron, the stronghold of the sons of Anak. How it is fitted to inspire us with some of that kind of faith of which we read in the 11th chapter of Hebrews, the faith that "subdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness, obtained promises, * * out of weakness were made strong, waxed valiant in fight, turned to flight the armies of the aliens." Is there anyone reading these lines who has begun to count his life work over, and to shirk the hard places, the heavy burdens, and the battles of life? Think of Caleb and Hebron, and do not miss life's crowning victories. The best is yet to come if your faith will only dare to claim it. The conquest of Hebron meant something more than the ordinary achievements of a life of faith. * * Hebron meant an extra heritage, one of the special prizes in the struggle of faith. So God has for all who are willing to be baptized with the baptism of suffering and drink of the cup of trial a special recompense of reward. A. B. Simpson.
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Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Neighbour, Robert E. "Wells of Living Water Commentary on Joshua 22". "Living Water". https://www.studylight.org/
the Third Week after Epiphany