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This is a very interesting Chapter, and contains several very memorable events. Israel is now entering the frontiers of Canaan. The Canaanites are alarmed. Israel is animated. The Lord, as if to remind them of his covenant engagements, commands the rite of circumcision to be renewed, which had been long omitted. The feast of the Passover also, after eight and thirty years neglect is again celebrated. The Lord victuals the camp with the good things of the land of Canaan. The manna ceaseth. The captain of the Lord's host appeareth to Joshua.
Observe the terror induced in the minds of God's enemies: and no wonder. The mighty stream of Jordan yet more mighty than usual, from the season of the year overflowing its banks, had opened a passage for Israel, and evidently in a miraculous manner. The kings of Canaan recollected the circumstance of the Red Sea also. Who can stand when God opposeth? Reader! do not fail to spiritualize this passage, as the Holy Ghost, it should seem, hath done before you. For when the church of the Lord Jesus, is represented as coming up from the wilderness, leaning upon her beloved; that is, resting on him and his righteousness, the world of carnal men, like these kings of Canaan, is represented as beholding the sight, and exclaiming, Who is this that looketh forth as the morning, fair as the moon, clear as the sun, and terrible as an army with banners? Song of Solomon 6:10 . Such, dear Jesus! is thy church, viewed in thy strength, and complete in thy righteousness!
As circumcision was a sign or seal of the everlasting covenant God made with Abraham, and evidently referred to Him in whom the law was to be completed: it is not very easy to account for the long neglect of this rite, while the church was in the wilderness state. Might it not be omitted, from the frequent unbelief, which so many times broke out in the camp? And, as the Lord had sworn in his wrath, that the generation which came out of Egypt, should not enter the land of promise; which, as a type of the great promise of redemption, was referred to in circumcision; probably the Israelites concluded the rite to be no longer their privilege, when the blessing folded up in it they were no longer entitled to. Be this as it may; the Lord commands the rite to be renewed. The people have now entered upon the promised land. This seal reminds them once more of the covenant. It distinguisheth them from their idolatrous neighbours; takes away the reproach of Egypt, who had said, that for mischief the Lord had brought them out to destroy them in the wilderness. The slander is now done away. They are proved to be God's people, and the Lord their God. But, Reader, let not you and I stop here. Circumcision had an eye to Jesus. In the Old Testament it was appointed with reference to Him, with whom the everlasting covenant is made, and in whom it is completed. And from our Father's entrance into Canaan, until the coming of Jesus in the flesh, it is plain that it was appointed as a standing ordinance. But when the Son of God came in substance of our flesh, and submitted to this Jewish rite, by way of taking upon him the obligation to fulfil the whole law, from that time it ceased to be necessary, or even proper. The substance being come, the shadow is forever done away. Believers in Jesus are included, as the Holy Ghost taught the church by the apostle, in that circumcision made without hands, in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ. Galatians 5:2 ; Colossians 2:11 ; Galatians 6:15 .
What a beautiful instruction doth Joshua and his army hold forth to all the soldiery, and all armies who profess to have the Lord for their God. You observe, that the campaign against Canaan is opened with prayer. And, Reader! never lose sight of this universal maxim, which must hold good in all ages: whatever is begun in prayer will give cause to end in praise. If any one of our soldiers or sailors in our British service should peruse this humble Commentary, I would beg of him to pause in this place; and, while he beholds this General in God's army, with his whole soldiery, bending the knee before the God of their salvation, may he learn from hence, that the most lovely of all sights is here manifested before him. True courage can only arise front this source. While God is our hope and strength, we need not fear what man can do unto us. It is sure confidence and sure victory when, like another of the Lord's warriors, the soldier fights in the, Lord's cause, and can say, as he did, the sword of the Lord and of Gideon. Judges 7:20 . But while I desire the military Reader to make this observation on the passage, I would call upon every real Christian Reader, whether of the soldiery or not, to make a yet more particular remark on the festival, which Joshua and his army observed in this opening of their campaign, and in the face of the enemy. It was the celebration of the passover. And that passover pointed to Christ. Compare Exodus 12:11 , with 1 Corinthians 5:7-8 ; Luke 22:15 . And Reader! do not fail, to connect the services of circumcision and the passover together. When the people had received one sign or seal of the covenant, to testify their acceptance of it, the Lord brought them to the enjoyment of the other. When the Holy Ghost hath circumcised the foreskin of the heart, believers are prepared to feast on the body and blood of Jesus. Hence we find in the first days of the gospel church, after the disciples of Jesus had received the Holy Ghost, and were baptized, the next account is, that they were engaged in breaking of bread and in prayer, that is, celebrating the Lord's supper. Acts 2:41-42 . I only detain the Reader to make one observation more, on this delightful passage in the history: and it is just to remark, how very gracious is our God, that he should feast his people even in the very face of their enemies, and so powerfully restrain those enemies, by his terror put into their hearts, that though all this was done in the plains of Jericho, not a soul ventured to stir, or lift up a sword against them. Reader! depend upon it, so it is now. Jesus will spread his table for his saints, in the presence of their enemies: it is He which anointeth our head, and maketh our cup run over. Psalms 23:5 .
One mercy is followed by another. The people probably found corn upon their entrance on Canaan, in the houses of the inhabitants who dwelt on the coast, and fled at their approach: or as this was the season when the corn of the fields was ripening, their supply might be from thence. Hence they were enabled to follow up the celebration of the passover, with the feast of the unleavened bread, which the supply of corn furnished them with the means of doing. Exodus 12:17 . I desire the Reader particularly to mark with me, the display of divine mercy in the withholding the manna, and giving the people corn. Nothing could be an higher proof of God's care and love for his people, than this supply of food from heaven, while the people were in the wilderness, where there were no fields for corn, and no supply of the common staff of life could be obtained. But when the Lord is pleased to make use of ordinary means, miraculous interpositions are no longer necessary. But let not the Reader overlook the spiritual lesson held forth to us in this sweet scripture, especially, when Jesus hath himself opened its meaning. Jesus himself is the bread of life, which this manna represented. While his church is in a wilderness state, he is, and will be, our unceasing food, conveyed to us in the means of ordinances. But when we have once passed over Jordan, and are come to our heavenly inheritance, we shall have the full enjoyment of Jesus; without the medium of ordinances, - an uninterrupted fruition of our God, in glory forever. John 6:48 , etc.
I bring the whole of these verses into one view because they are connected. And I desire the Reader to attend to the very precious things contained in them. A more interesting portion, perhaps, in reference to the Lord Jesus, cannot be found in the Old Testament. Joshua, we are told, was by Jericho. Perhaps at prayer, or in meditation, seeking suitable grace from the Lord in the critical season now opening before him. He had, at the Lord's command, observed the feast of the Passover, and of unleavened bread; and was now following up those services in humbly waiting on the Lord. See Habakkuk 2:1-2 . The sweetest seasons for expecting divine manifestations are, when we have waited upon our God, in his appointed way of ordinances. Who was this person to whom Joshua paid such reverence? Was it not the same whom Moses saw at the bush, though there appearing in a different form? Compare. Exodus 3:2-6 . If the Reader will look further on to the next chapter (for the close of this is only preparatory to the opening of the next) he will there discover, that this person who appeared to him as a man, is spoken of as Jehovah, see Joshua 6:2 . And if the Reader will connect with this appearance to Joshua the several appearances made to the patriarchs and other followers of the Lord, in the first ages of the church, he will not be at a loss to discover, that it must have been one and the same person which appeared to these holy men of old, according to the different accounts given of him: Genesis 32:24; Genesis 32:24 , etc. And who then could it be, that appeared thus to Joshua, but he who is indeed captain of the Lord's, hosts, and is elsewhere called the Captain of our salvation. Hebrews 2:10 . Who but thee, thou blessed Jesus! hath ever so manifested thy concern and love for thy people, as to come down to deliver them from all their foes? How sweetly do we behold in this, and all the other instances we meet with in thy word, thy gracious longings, for tabernacling in substance of our flesh, when by becoming man for us and for our salvation, thou hast made us sons of God! Oh! thou dear Redeemer! even now as then, do I not know, that all the gracious words which believers hear from God, and all his gracious manifestations, are delivered through thy person, and by thy mouth? John 1:18 . I beg the Reader to remark with me, that as Joshua so readily and so cheerfully surrendered his authority to this person, and fell before him with sacred worship, certainly his faith in Jesus, was strikingly shown by those acts, and his views of salvation by him, was evidently declared. Hebrews 11:32 , etc.
My soul! in the perusal of this chapter, stand still and see the salvation of God! Behold how thy God puts terror in the hearts of his and thy enemies! when thy God, thy Jesus, shall have conducted thee over Jordan, their hearts shall melt away, neither shall they have the spirit anymore to make their attacks upon thee. In the consciousness of this, I would say, Lord! grant me the true circumcision of the Spirit! lead me, blessed Jesus, to the banqueting house of thy love, and may my soul keep the feast of the true passover, testifying to the whole congregated world of angels and of men, that I seek salvation only in thy blood and righteousness. And when the manna of ordinances shall cease: when, O my Saviour, I shall have done with my day and generation here below: bring me to that country, that promised land and city, whose builder and maker is God: and give me to eat of that hidden manna, which thou hast promised to all thy people. Precious Jesus! do thou manifest thyself to me, as thou didst to thy servant Joshua, as the Captain of the Lord's host; and the captain of my salvation. Was it not in these several appearances of thine? Was it not to give Old Testament saints a token of thy favor, and of the good will thou hadst towards our nature? Was it not to convince them that thou wast longing for the time, when as really and properly man, thou wouldest bear our nature, and perform that great work, which for our redemption sake thou hadst engaged to do, in the covenant made between thy Father and thyself? And now thou hast really and truly become man, and finished the work the Father gave thee to do, wilt thou not to me, and to all thy New Testament believers, agreeably to thy promise, manifest thyself to our souls, otherwise than thou doest to the world? Come dear Jesus, come to my soul in ordinance seasons, in the sweet promises of thy word, in the tokens of thy providences; comfort me, strengthen me, cheer my heart, revive my poor languishing frame, brighten up my evidences, warm my whole soul with thy love; and let me see, and my sole happiness be found in this, that thy love is shed abroad, from thine heart to mine, and that thou, and thou alone, art formed there, the only hope of glory!
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Hawker, Robert, D.D. "Commentary on Joshua 5". "Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/
the Fourth Week after Epiphany