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We are now arrived to the end of Joshua's history. This chapter contains the finishing of his sermon, and the finishing of his life together. He dies, as he had lived, in the act of praising God, and most earnestly and affectionately entreating the Israelites to the love and obedience of the Lord. The chapter closes also with an account of the death of Eleazar, and of the removal of Joseph's bones.
Whether this be a continuation of the same sermon, as in the preceding chapter, or whether it be another discourse, is not certain. As the former declared that he was that day going the way of all the earth, it should seem to have been intended as his farewell discourse. But it is possible that this might have been delivered at another time. However this point is not so interesting to determine. The subject of this and the former is one and the same. Both were preached to proclaim God's glory; and this is the leading point which runs through both. It was in Shechem, not in Shiloh, Joshua delivered his farewell sermon; for this was nearer his home. And this is the more remarkable, because this was the memorable spot where the visions of God began with Abraham. Genesis 12:6-7 .
Probably, the place of Joshua's preaching suggested to him the story of Abraham ' s conversion. But, if not, nothing could be more proper than that in the recapitulation of God's covenant love to his people, he should begin with that which magnified the distinguishing mercy of God. Reader! the sweetest views are those which enable us to look back and discover the love of God to us, when we had no love to him, nor to ourselves. To look unto the rock from whence we were hewn, and to the hole of the pit, from whence we were digged, are profitable reviews to the soul. Isaiah 51:1-2 . I cannot pass over the subject, of the call of Abraham, without desiring the Reader to remark with me, the freeness, and fullness, and sovereignty of God's grace in such an instance. What soul can be apparently further from God than he was, when the Lord called him? Reader! do not overlook the sweet encouragement it holds forth to yourself, if haply you are yet in nature's darkness, and to your careless and unawakened friends, or relations. Paul evidently referred to this, when he said that God can be just, and yet the justifier of the ungodly. Romans 4:3-5 .
I include in one view all these verses, for the sake of shortness, and because, as they refer to the history of the Patriarchs, already gone through in the Commentary, it would be unnecessary to swell the page again with the relation. The Reader can, if he pleases, refer to the subjects, in their respective places. But I would have the Reader remark with me, in addition to what was there said of the conjurer Balaam, that here it seems somewhat more plain, that this wretched man would, for the sake of gain, have cursed Israel, though he knew the Lord had promised to bless them, had not the Lord restrained him, and overruled his mind to do the very reverse of what he intended. And Reader! do you not believe that the Lord is doing the same for his people very frequently now? When a man ' s ways please the Lord, he maketh even his enemies to be at peace with him. Proverbs 16:7 . On the subject of putting away the false gods from among them, which is again repeated, verse 23, it should seem that there were some of the people which had images by them, though they might not worship them. But as the Lord is jealous of his honour and glory, even the figure of an idol is an abomination. But Reader! if to our fathers in the old church the very mention of idols, or the keeping any representation of them, became so offensive, in the divine eye, what think you must be the indignation of our God, if we hold in our heart a kind of rivalship with God, in making our prayers and our services a part-Savior with Jesus? Shall I not put away all idols in any supposed goodness and righteousness of my own, and learn here from that Jesus alone is my Savior, in whose righteousness his people are accepted? Ephesians 1:6 .
What a noble resolution Joshua made for himself, and for his household? How worthy of imitation in all families! But could Joshua answer for his servants, or for his family? Certainly he could not compel their consciences: neither did he mean it. Unless led to it by the sweet influences of the Holy Ghost, he could not assure himself that he should serve the Lord; and he well knew that it must be from the same Almighty power his household could do it. But yet, as far as the outward means could be made use of, he resolved to enforce the observance of these upon himself and people. Reader! are you a parent, a master of a family, or placed in any situation of authority? Behold then the beautiful example of Joshua. And think how inexcusable that man, that parent or master must be, in whose house there is no family worship! Tell me, if you can, wherein such households differ from the brutes which perish, when they rise up and lay down as the herds of the stall, and never ask where is God my Maker, who giveth songs in the night, Job 35:10 .
The answer of Israel is just what we might have expected. They have well spoken, said the Lord himself concerning them upon a similar occasion, all that they have spoken. But he who knows what is in the heart, knows what poor, irresolute, weak creatures we are: and, therefore adds, Oh! that there were such an heart in them! Deuteronomy 5:28-29 . Reader! if you know anything of your own heart, you have learnt somewhat of its deceitfulness; and, therefore, will not venture to trust it. I know, says holy Paul, that in me, that is in my flesh, dwelleth no good thing. Romans 7:18 .
If (as some read those words) we read this passage according to the original in the plural number: He is the holy Gods, meaning He, Jehovah existing in a threefold character of persons, the Holy Gods; this is a sweet and precious passage in confirmation of the Holy Trinity. Hear, O Israel, the Lord thy God is one Lord. A thing unnecessary to have been remarked, if at the same time it had not been suggested, that in this one eternal essence of the Godhead, there existed a plurality of persons. And hence, in the opening of the Bible, the phrase is the same plural: so in Solomon: Remember thy Creators; for so it is in the original. Ecclesiastes 12:1 . Joshua's representing the difficulties, was not intended to put them off from their pious resolution; but only to forewarn them of the difficulty. Our dear Lord told his disciples somewhat similar, when he represented his service as taking up a cross, plucking out an eye, and cutting off an arm.
The resolutions founded in divine strength, and under the assurance of divine aid from God's covenant mercy and love, are well founded: so said Paul, Philippians 4:13 ; 1 Corinthians 4:4 .
It is worthy observation, that twice in the life, both of Moses and of Joshua, the renewal of this covenant was made. See Exodus 24:0 ; Deuteronomy 29:0 and Joshua 8:0 and now, Reader, it is always profitable, though not to lay again the foundation from dead works, yet to look over the past solemn transactions between God and the soul.
There is somewhat truly interesting in the ancient custom of setting up tokens of remembrance. Samuel's Ebenezer and Jacob ' s pillar, not to mention many others, are precious evidences of the kind. 1 Samuel 7:12 ; Genesis 28:18 . Reader, have you none of this kind in your life? Have there been no Bethel visits from Jesus to your soul; no marks, no stones of help set up by you to say, Here in this place, and upon such occasions, my God manifested himself to me otherwise than he doeth to the world! John 14:22-23 . Was not the sanctuary the ark of the divine presence? And if so, was it not a sweet type of the presence of the ever blessed Jesus?. Matthew 28:20; Matthew 28:20 .
Perhaps, Joshua took his leave of the people in prayer, as he knew it would be his last interview, so did Moses, partly in blessing and partly in prayer, and in affectionate remembrance. Deuteronomy 28:1 .
Dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return, is the one common lot. And hence the most faithful of God's servants die as well as others, though not as do others. The Reader should remark, that the same title is given to Joshua, as was given to Moses. He is called the servant of Jehovah. Sweet title! It doth not appear at what particular period it was when Joshua died. Some have thought by calculation, it must have been more than twenty years after the children of Israel entered on the possession of Canaan. But this is not certain.
The burial place of Joshua is rendered memorable by the name Gaash, which signifies quaking. The Jews had a tradition that there was a trembling of the hill at his burial, and this to upbraid Israel for not mourning for him as they did for Moses. But whether they did lament his departure or not, certain it is, that no mention is made of their lamentation, as they did for Moses. If we consider this as allegorical, I should say, we are all by nature more wedded to the law than the gospel. Moses is fairer to the eye of the world than Jesus.
An honourable testimony is here given both to Joshua and the elders. Oh! for the influence of our almighty Joshua to be ever upon his people.
The remembrance of the just is blessed. The bones of Joseph had been long kept if, as we may suppose, the funeral of them was only now performed. He had been dead nearly 200 years. Yet such was the affection of Israel to his memory, and obedience to his dying request, that they thought it no trouble to carry his bones about with them in all their journeys. See Genesis 1:25 ; Exodus 13:19 .
Very honourable testimony is given also of Eleazar in his death and funeral, which, as the Holy Ghost hath been pleased to record, we may safely conclude, that precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints. Psalms 116:15 . It is worthy remark, that Moses the great lawgiver, and Aaron the high priest, died in one year. And it should seem, that Joshua ' s death and Eleazar ' s were nearly together. How striking the observation of the Apostle: They truly were many priests, because they were not suffered to continue, by reason of death. But Jesus in his unchangeable priesthood continueth forever. Dearest Lord! how sweet the thought, though our fathers die, and the prophets live not forever, thou art the same, and thy years shall not fail. Hebrews 7:22 , etc.
READER! in closing this sacred book of God, and in reviewing the many precious things contained in it, let us with increasing diligence look up for the teaching of the Holy Ghost, that beside the historical relation in it as the proof of God's faithfulness, we may spiritually discern the great tendency of the whole in pointing out the heavenly Canaan, under the typical representation of an earthly land of promise. Joshua, as the minister of God, hath indeed brought the Lord's people over Jordan, and brought them in, and divided them their inheritance, as was promised. But Joshua and all Israel found that land to be but the land of an earthly inheritance. Though they had the signs and symbols of worship, and the refreshing views of the divine presence, yet these were only suited to a transitory state. Beautiful and conclusive is the apostle ' s reasoning upon it. If Joshua (says he) had given them rest, then would the Lord not afterward have spoken of another day. There remaineth, therefore, a rest to the people of God. And what is that rest but Jesus himself, who is the very sabbath of the soul to his people, and who hath promised to give all them that come to him, to find rest unto their souls. This (saith the prophet) is the rest wherewith ye may pause the weary to rest, and this is the refreshing. Isaiah 28:12 .
But before I take a farewell of Joshua, as the servant of the most high God, and the captain of the Lord's host, I would pause and contemplate some of those precious views thy person and character afford, as a type of my almighty Joshua, the Lord Jesus Christ. Methinks I see in thee the faint outlines of his glorious person and character, who was, and is, indeed, the minister of the sanctuary, and of the true tabernacle, which the Lord pitched, and not man.
In name as well as office, surely, Joshua, thou were a lively representative of our precious Jesus. He, as captain of the Lord's host, hath brought, and is still bringing, many sons unto glory, and to the division of their inheritance in the heavenly Canaan, as thou didst under his command to the possession of an earthly. It was at Jordan thy ministry commenced. And here it was also, in the very spot Jesus entered on his labours, when anointed with the Holy Ghost, and under the baptism of the Spirit without measure. Here Jehovah began to magnify the earthly Joshua in the sight of all the people. And here both the persons of the Father and of the Holy Ghost, glorified the Lord Jesus in their united testimonies to his person and office.
And as the earthly Joshua brought the people over Jordan; circumcised the house of Israel anew; led them on to sure victory and to conquest; and never left them, until the Lord had given them rest from all their enemies round about: so the heavenly, the almighty Joshua, brings all his people through every river of affliction, and all the Jordans of sin and tribulation; takes away the foreskin of their heart, that they may be no more stiffnecked, makes them more than conquerors through his grace helping them, and never gives over until he hath brought them into that everlasting rest, which remaineth for the people of God. Hail thou great, thou Almighty Joshua, thou captain of our salvation. Thou hast indeed proved thyself to thy church, to be the true Joshua, the real Saviour, for thou hast saved thy people from their sins. Thou hast led them on to sure victory, and hast arrayed them with the robes of salvation. It is thine, and thine alone, O blessed Jesus, both to purchase and bestow, both to put into the possession and secure thy people in it, even of an everlasting possession; and not, like Joshua, when the work is wrought, to leave them by reason of death: but thou ever livest to receive the grateful praise from thy people, and to see the work of Jehovah prosper in thine hand. In all that remains until thou shalt take me home to behold thy glory, do thou cause me to rest on thine arm, and to standstill and see the salvation of God. And be it my portion to live in thy faith, and to die in the assurance, that where thou art, there shall I be also to the praise of the glory of his grace, who hath made me accepted in the beloved. Amen.
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Hawker, Robert, D.D. "Commentary on Joshua 24". "Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/
the Third Week after Epiphany