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Now after the death of Moses. The form of the Hebrew is the usual historical one for the continuation of a narrative before commenced. The Book of Joshua is thus shown to be, and to be intended to be, a continuation of the Book of Deuteronomy, which ends with the death of Moses (see Speaker's Commentary in loc). This link of connection is lost in the English version. The question forces itself upon the critic, At what time was this consecutive narrative written, as is admitted, in various styles, in the language of obviously distinct periods—first composed and palmed off upon the Jews as the genuine work of a writer contemporary, or nearly contemporary, with the events he describes? The servant of the Lord. This term (Keil) is applied to the heavens and the earth (Psalms 119:91), to the angels (Job 4:18), to the prophets (Jeremiah 7:25, etc), to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, to the Jewish people (Exodus 19:5), to Zerubbabel (Haggai 2:23), and even to Nebuchadnezzar (Jeremiah 25:9, etc), as the appointed minister of God's wrath, and to pious men in general (Gesenius; see Psa. 34:23, etc). It is also applied to the Messiah (Zechariah 3:8; comp. the word παῖς similarly applied in Acts 4:27). It originally implies the position of a slave, whether born in the house or bought with money (see Leviticus 25:39; and Genesis 9:25; Exodus 13:3, Exodus 13:14). In all cases it expresses a closer and more familiar relation than the term minister below. Keil says that it is applied so frequently to Moses that it has become almost his "official title" (see Deuteronomy 34:5, and the Book of Joshua passim, and cf. Hebrews 3:5). It is, however, still more frequently applied to David. But it suits well with the special and peculiar mission which Moses had above the rest of mankind. He was, as it were, the household servant of the Most High, His steward and representative, ruling over the family of God in His name, and giving to them the directions of which they stood in need. That the Lord spake unto Joshua. Either by Urim and Thummin, which seems at least probable (see Numbers 27:21, and Joshua 9:14). But the great majority of commentators prefer the idea of an inward revelation, since the words are frequently used in this Book of God's revelations to Joshua (Joshua 3:7; Joshua 4:1, Joshua 4:15; Joshua 5:2, Joshua 5:9; Joshua 6:2, etc). The manner of these inward revelations is also a matter on which much difference of opinion exists. They, no doubt, were frequently made through a vision or dream, as to Abraham at Sodom (Genesis 18:1), Jacob at Bethel, and Joshua him. self (Joshua 5:13). But it is by no means clear that they were always so. The voice of God in answer to prayer is recognised by Christians in a strong inward persuasion of the desirability or necessity of a particular course. Of this kind would seem to be the answer to St. Paul's prayer in 2 Corinthians 12:9. And it is quite possible that in passages such as Genesis 12:1, Genesis 22:1, Genesis 22:2, nothing more is meant than that the persuasion, by God's permission or inspiration, was strongly felt within. And so it is possible that one so specially and divinely commissioned as Joshua discerned in a strong and apparently irresistible conviction, the voice of God (cf. Acts 16:7; 2 Corinthians 1:17). Joshua's name was originally Hoshea (like the prophet and the Israelitish king of that name). The name originally meant salvation, or deliverance, but it was changed, either when he entered into Moses' service, or when he was about to fight the Amalekites (Numbers 13:8, Numbers 13:16; Deuteronomy 32:44), into Jehoshua, or Joshua (either "God shall save," or "God's salvation"). It is not stated in Holy Writ when the name Joshua was given. In Exodus 17:9, where Joshua is named for the first time, he is called by the name Moses gave him, and is mentioned incidentally as a person well known to the writer dud his readers. The reader need hardly be reminded that in the form Jeshua (Gr. Ἰησοῦς) it was the name of our Blessed Lord Himself, and that the Name which is now above all other names is used of Joshua in two places in the New Testament, in Acts 7:45, in Hebrews 4:8. It was a common name in later times, as Colossians 4:11 and Acts 13:6 will serve to show. In later Hebrew, as in Nehemiah 8:17, Joshua is called Jeshua, and the names of Joshua and Jeshua are given indiscriminately to the high priest, the son of Josedeeh, who was contemporary with the building of the second temple. For Joshua as a type of Christ the reader may consult a deep passage in 'Pearson on the Creed,' Art. II; from which some of the most striking parts are here quoted:—"First, it was he alone, of all which passed out of Egypt, who was designed to lead the children of Israel into Canaan, which land, as it is a type of heaven, so is the person which brought the Israelites into that place of rest a type of Him who only can bring us into the presence of God, and there prepare our mansions for us. Besides, it is further observable, not only what Joshua did, but what Moses could not do. The hand of Moses and Aaron brought them out of Egypt, but left them in the wilderness. Joshua, the successor, only could effect that in which Moses failed. Moses must die that Joshua may succeed (Romans 3:20-45.3.22). The command of circumcision was not given to Moses, but to Joshua; nor were the Israelites circumcised in the wilderness under the conduct of Moses and Aaron, but in the land of Canaan under their successor. Which speaketh Jesus to be the true circumciser, the author of another circumcision than that of the flesh (Romans 2:29; Colossians 2:11). If we look on Joshua as the 'minister of Moses,' he is even in that a type of Christ, 'the minister of the circumcision for the truth of God.' If we look on him as the successor of Moses, in that he represented Jesus, inasmuch as 'the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.' If we look on him as judge and ruler of Israel, there is scarce an action which is not predictive of our Saviour. He begins his office at the banks of Jordan, where Christ was baptized and enters upon the public exercise of His prophetical office; he chooseth there twelve men out of the people to carry twelve stones over with them, as our Jesus thence began to choose His twelve apostles, those foundation stones in the Church of God (Revelation 21:14). Joshua smote the Amalekites and subdued the Canaanites, By the first making way to enter the land, by the second giving possession of it. And Jesus in like manner goeth in and out before us against our spiritual enemies, subduing sin and Satan, and so opening and clearing our way to heaven; destroying the last enemy, death, and so giving us possession of eternal life." Pearson quotes Justin Martyr, Tertullian, Theodoret, and others as justifying his view of the history. Theodoret, moreover, in his 'Questions on Joshua,' remarks on the coincidence between Joshua 1:17 and John 5:46. And Origen, in his first 'Homily on Joshua,' remarks on the fact that the first time the sacred name meets us in the Book of God, it is as the leader of an army (Exodus 17:9). Another way in which Joshua was a type of Christ is this. Under Moses there are constant murmurings and disputings, for "the law made nothing perfect" (Hebrews 7:19). Under Joshua all is confidence and triumph, for "by one offering Jesus hath perfected forever them that are sanctified" (Hebrews 10:14). Moses' minister. This word is principally used of service in the house of God. Thus it is used of Aaron and his sons, Exodus 28:43; Exodus 39:41, etc.: of Samuel, 1 Samuel 2:11; 1 Samuel 3:1, etc.: of the priests and Levites, 1 Chronicles 6:32; 1 Chronicles 16:4; Ezekiel 14:5; Joel 1:9, etc. In these places it seems to be equivalent to the LXX. λειτουργός. But it is by no means confined to such service. In Exodus 33:11, where it is applied to Joshua, it is rendered in the LXX. by θεράπων, and it is quite clear that Joshua's service to Moses was not exclusively of a religious character. Some commentators have suggested the word aide de camp, but this would be equally incorrect in the opposite direction, since Joshua's services (see Exodus 24:13; Exodus 33:11) were clearly not rendered only in time of war. The word is used of Abishag the Shunamite, 1 Kings 1:4, 1 Kings 1:15; and of Elisha, 1 Kings 19:21.
Moses my servant is dead. "When you see Jerusalem overthrown, the altar forsaken, no sacrifices, no holocausts, no drink offerings, no priests, no Levitical ministry, when you see all these things cease, say it is because Moses the servant of God is dead, and Jesus the Sou of God obtains the leadership" (Origen, Hom. 2 on Joshua). This Jordan. Called "this" because it was now close to them, just as we have "this people, … this Lebanon" (see note on Joshua 1:4), etc. The name Jordan signifies "Descender," from the verb יָרַד to descend. The word fitly describes the headlong current of the river, which, according to Mr. Macgregor, has a fall of fifteen feet per mile, and if we subtract the Lake of Gennesareth and the lake and attendant marshes of Huleh, of thirty feet. Between the Sea of Galilee and the Dead Sea, however, the average fall is much less. Just after leaving the Sea of Galilee its fall is over forty feet.. It may be interesting to compare with this the average inclination of some of our own English rivers. The swiftest is the Dee, in Aberdeenshire, which has a fall of 16.5 ft. per mile. The Tweed and Clyde have a fall of 16 ft. and 14 ft. respectively, while the Severn has but 26.5 in; the Thames 18 in; and the Shannon 9 in. per mile. This comparative table will give the best idea of the rapidity of the Jordan. The various explorers bear testimony to the swiftness of its current. Thus Robinson, in his 'Biblical Researches,' says, "The current was so strong that even Komeh, a stout swimmer of the Nile, was carried down several yards in crossing." "It was so swift," says Dr. Bartlett, "that a gentleman of another company, who went to bathe, was not suffered by his friends to do so without a rope most un-romantically attached to his person." This was in March, at the time of the overflowing (see Joshua 3:1-6.3.17), and he adds, "the turbid stream rushed along like a mill ace." Canon Tristram, visiting it in April, describes it as "rushing with tremendous force." It rises among the snows of Hermon, dashes down headlong into the lake Huleh, the Merom of the Book of Joshua, and thence, with a descent of 60 ft. per mile, into the Sea of Galilee. Thence it shapes its course, as we have seen, with greatly diminished velocity into that strange depression where the Dead Sea lies, at a level of 1,290 ft. beneath the level of the Mediterranean. I do give, literally, I am giving; i.e; at this moment, when you are preparing to enter it.
Every place that the sole of your foot doth tread upon. These words are a quotation, almost word for word, from Deuteronomy 11:24, bat the original promise is to be found in Genesis 12:1-1.12.7, with which we may compare Genesis 13:14-1.13.17; Genesis 15:18; Genesis 17:8. Comp. also Joshua 14:9; Exodus 23:30, Exodus 23:31, etc. It was God's purpose that the whole land should belong to the children of Israel; a purpose which, as usual in Hebrew prophecy, is signified by the use of the perfect tense here. The conquest was intended to be complete. Not a foot's breadth was to rest in the hands of its former owners. But here, as elsewhere in Holy Writ, we may mark the way in which man's sin and want of faith has marred the purposes of God. In the Book of Judges we read that the Canaanites were not only not driven out, but that the children of Israel made marriages with them, worshipped their gods, and practised their abominations. Jerusalem remained in the hands of the Jebusites until the time of David, while the Philistines remained in possession of their portion of Palestine until it was reduced under the power of the king of Babylon. We may observe that, according to all the ordinary laws of criticism, this citation of Deuteronomy is a proof that that Book existed when the Book of Joshua was written. For the cumbrous scheme of Elohists, Jehovists, Deuteronomists, and the like, by which this natural conclusion is overruled, see Introduction. Have I given it. The preterite here denotes God's purpose (cf. Genesis 1:29).
From the wilderness and this Lebanon. The words suppose a line to be drawn from the desert of Arabia on the south and the range of Lebanon on the north, to the River Euphrates on the one hand and the Mediterranean Sea on the other, including the land of the Hittites (see 1 Kings 4:24; 2 Chronicles 9:26). Tiphsah, the later Thapsacus, was far north of the utmost limits of Palestine, and almost in the latitude of Antioch. Azzah is generally termed Gaza in our version. See note on Joshua 11:22. The land of the Hittites here (Keil) seems to be taken for the land of Canaan in general (see 1 Kings 10:29; 2 Kings 7:6; Ezekiel 16:3), but extending far beyond their border, and including Syria, Moab, Ammon, the land of Bashan, and part of Arabia. This was never actually in the hand of the Israelites save during the reigns of David and Solomon, when these regions were either tributary to them, or had been actually reduced under their immediate sway. "The promise," says Theodoret, "was not undefined, but if ye shall keep my commandments and ordinances" (Deuteronomy 11:22, Deuteronomy 11:23). But they, inasmuch as they immediately transgressed the law, did not obtain the perfect promises. The Divine Apostles, on the contrary, not only conquered those places on which they set their foot, but even those in which their all wise writings were read; and the land that was before a desert they displayed as a Divine Paradise." This Lebanon. This expression is no doubt used because Lebanon was visible from the spot where Joshua was standing. There is nothing surprising in this. We learn from travellers that its range, which there is no doubt included that of Anti-Lebanon, with its lofty peak Hermon, the highest point in Palestine, is visible from all parts of the Holy Land, even from the depths of the Jordan valley near the Dead Sea. Dr. Thomson ('Land and the Book,' p, 2) says that it is visible from Cyprus. Canon Tristram tells how he had seen Hermon from Type, Sidon, Carmel, Gerizim, from the neighbourhood of Jerusalem, from Gilead, from Nebo, and from the Dead Sea. The name Lebanon, derived from לָבָן to be white, like the Arabic lebanon, milk, is supposed by Robinson to have been given from the whitish colour of the chalk or limestone rock. But it is at least equally probable that it derives its name, like Mont Blanc in Savoy, from its snowy peaks. Hermon is still called by the Arabs Jebel-el-Thelj, or "the snowy peak." The Jordan, the river of Palestine par excellence, derived its copious and ever-flowing streams, so essential in that "thirsty land," from the Anti-Lebanon range. "Abana and Pharpar, rivers of Damascus," as well as the Orontes, and the Litany or Leontes, derive their waters from the same source. We have a vivid description of the region of Lebanon and the adjacent range of Anti-Lebanon and Hermon, in the spring, at the time of the melting of the snows, in the 42nd Psalm. There David, recalling to mind his sojourn in the "land of the Jordan," and of Hermon, speaks of the "deep calling unto deep," of the noise of the cataracts as they dashed from rock to rock and foamed along the mountain sides; and he describes his sorrows as overwhelming him by their number and magnitude, just as the multitudinous torrents that rose in that snowy region threatened to engulf the unwary traveller in their onward sweep. The far-famed cedars of Lebanon are indigenous to this region, and to it alone, but the climatic changes which Palestine has undergone have reduced their number largely, and comparatively few specimens now remain, in a wild condition, of that noble tree, once the pride of the dwellers in the land. "We cannot study all the passages in the Old Testament which refer to the cedar, without feeling certain that in ancient times it was a far more conspicuous feature in the landscape than it is now". The great river, the river Euphrates. Das grosse Wasser Phrath (Luther). The Hebrew name is as Luther gives it. The Greeks added the euphonic syllable at the commencement, according to those who assign to the word a Semitic derivation. Others, however, derive it from an Aryan source, and regard it as equivalent to "the flowing river." This mighty stream, especially after its junction with the Tigris, far transcended in size any other with which the Israelites were acquainted. The plains of Mesopotamia, even as far as Nineveh and Babylon, were destined to have been occupied by the Jewish race, had not their impiety and rebellion prevented; and the world empire obtained by Nineveh and Babylon might, and had they been obedient would, have been theirs. All the land of the Hittites. The Hittites, or Chittites, seem to have been the most considerable of the tribes which inhabited Canaan. We find them in possession of Hebron in the time of Abraham (Genesis 23:1-1.23.20), but their more usual dwelling place was in the valley. They appear from the narrative above quoted to have been a peaceable people. We have records of them in Egyptian and Assyrian inscriptions. Thus we hear of the Khita in the inscriptions of Rameses II; who reigned between 1383 and 1322, B.C.; that is, about the time of Deborah and Barak ('Records of the Past,' 2.67-78; 4.25-32). They were the inhabitants, however, of a region further to the northward, beyond the borders of the Holy Land, on the banks of the Orontes. So a Mohar, or scribe, of Rameses II; in an account of a tour in Palestine, in which he mentions Kirjath Anab, Achsaph, Megiddo, and the land of Hamath, describes Khita as to the north, bordering on this latter territory ('Records of the Past,' 2.106). The various translators of the Assyrian inscriptions of Assur-bani-pal, Tiglath Pileser, Shalmaneser, and Sennacherib recognise the Hittites in the people mentioned as dwelling to the north of Palestine (ibid. 3.52; 5.21, 32, 33; 7.61), though Ewald thinks that the Khatta there mentioned must be sought still further north. Prof. Sayce, in a recent lecture, regards the Hittites as having occupied a large portion of Asia Minor, and as having had great influence upon early Greek art, and adds, "'Till within the last few years the Bible alone has preserved the name of a people who must have had almost as great an influence on human history as Assyria or Egypt." Shahnaneser mentions the kings of the Hittites, just as they are mentioned in the later narratives of Kings and Chronicles (see note on Joshua 3:10). Unto the great sea. As the Euphrates was the greatest river, the Mediterranean was the greatest sea, known to the Jews. Unlike the race they displaced, the Canaanites—or, to call them by a title by which they are better known to profane history, the Phoenicians—the Jews were no sailors. It may have been even before the conquest of Canaan under Joshua that the Phoenician fleets sailed out beyond the pillars of Hercules, and brought back tin from the British isles. For Canaan, or Phoenicia, was a powerful and civilised country when conquered by the Jews. But whether it were before this period that Britain was discovered, or whether the fleets of Tyre and Sidon first sailed thither at a later period, to the Jews the Mediterranean still remained the great sea. They knew nothing of the vaster ocean into which it flowed. It seems strange that, with the example of Tyre and Sidon before them, the Israelites should have been so indifferent to navigation. Even in the time of David, it was Hiram's ships that brought him his treasures and building materials. The later navies of Solomon and Jehoshaphat did but coast along the Red Sea and the Persian Gulf to Ophir, which has been identified with India, or more probably with Arabia.
This passage may be viewed under two main aspects:
(1) regarding Moses as the type of Christ and Joshua of His ministers; and
(2) regarding Joshua as himself the type of Christ.
As these points of view suggest two perfectly distinct and independent lines of thought, it is obvious that they are better fitted for two separate discourses than for being combined in one.
I. JOSHUA AS THE TYPE OF GOD'S MINISTERS.
1. After the death of Moses, the task devolves upon his minister. So after the death of Christ, the task of conquering the world devolved upon His apostles, His "ministers." They who waited on Christ during His human life, who were with Him in His temptations, were the men appointed to carry on His work when He had gone hence.
2. By the express command of God. So the apostles not only had Christ's commission, "Go ye into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature" (Mark 16:15; 28:19), and "As my Father hath sent me, even so send I you" (John 20:21), but they were bidden to wait till the time was fixed (Acts 1:4), and the Spirit poured out upon them from on high (Acts 2:4). Hence we learn that no work, however high and holy, should be undertaken without the express intimation that it is God's pleasure we should attempt it; that no motives, however pure, will justify us in putting our hand to the ark (2 Samuel 6:6, 2 Samuel 6:7) unless we are ordained by God to touch it. And if we ask how we are to know when we are so ordained, the answer—is
(a) by seeking counsel of God;
(b) by scrutinising carefully the purity of our own motives, lest we may have mistaken pride or self interest for the voice of God.
That intimation will be given in various ways. We know not how (see note on Joshua 5:1) Joshua was stirred up by God. But men are marked out for special tasks in three ways:
(1) by circumstances. Thus Joshua, as the minister of Moses, most closely acquainted with his modes of thought and course of action, became naturally his successor. So Timothy takes the place of St. Paul (2 Timothy 3:10).
(2) By external authority; that of those who have a right to exercise it, like the high priest when he sought counsel of God by Urim and Thummim.
(3) By inward intimations of God's Spirit, which cannot be mistaken, save by those who have blinded their own eyes by self seeking and self conceit.
3. The command is based upon Moses' death. So all the work of God's ministers derives its energy from the death of Christ. It was the one all sufficient sacrifice and satisfaction for the sins of the whole world that was the salt of the Apostles' mission. It is that same atonement which gives power to their successors now.
4. The work is of God, but the ministers are human. God might have performed His work without the intervention of means. But He has chosen to act through human instrumentality. Thus he magnifies His greatness even more than if He had done the work Himself. For human infirmities sorely mar the work of God. And yet that work goes on, and even human infirmity is overruled to God's glory (1Co 2:4, 1 Corinthians 2:5; 2 Corinthians 4:7; 2 Corinthians 12:9). So it was with Joshua's error in judgment regarding the Gibeonites (Joshua 9:14), and so it often is with our own.
5. Difficulties often present themselves, insuperable but by the hand of God. "Go over this Jordan." But how? The river was full to overflowing, the passage dangerous; in fact, for the whole multitude, in the face of the enemy, impossible. Yet the hand of God was stretched out, the river dried up, and what would have been a task of the greatest peril to themselves was instead a source of terror to their adversaries. So at the outset of great spiritual undertakings we are often confronted with difficulties far beyond our power to overcome. But "God showeth his voice," and they "melt away."
6. The result, possession of the promised land. The land promised to the Israelites was a limited space, but the spiritual Israel has the promise of the whole earth (see Genesis 12:3; Psalms 2:8; Isaiah 11:9; Daniel 2:35, etc).
II. JOSHUA AS THE TYPE OF CHRIST.
1. After the death of Moses. The law could never give us our inheritance (Hebrews 7:19); therefore Moses must die and Joshua arise. Again: the law was crucified together with Christ (Romans 6:6, Romans 6:10; Romans 7:4; Galatians 2:19; Galatians 5:24; Ephesians 2:15, Ephesians 2:16; Colossians 2:14; also 2 Corinthians 3:14 in the Greek). As long as the law existed, man could only dwell in the wilderness, be dead in trespasses and sins, wander about without power to enter the promised land. He was continually confronted with a standard of holiness utterly beyond his strength to reach. But when Moses—i.e; the law—is dead, the true Jesus arises and leads His people into their inheritance, giving them the power to fulfil a law which He has written within.
2. Joshua was Moses' minister. So Christ was "made under the law" (Galatians 4:4), and was bound, by His Father's will, to keep it. By His obedience alone was His sacrifice made acceptable to His Father. The law could but condemn us for being "weak through the flesh" (Romans 8:3); we could not fulfil its precepts. But Christ condemned sin
(1) by His perfect fulfilment of God's law, and
(2) by submitting to death, as the "wages" of that sin which mankind, whom He represented, had so fully deserved. Thus did He gain the right to be our leader into the inheritance God had promised us.
3. Jordan must be crossed; i.e; Jesus must die. As our representative, He dies once for all to sin, and His death translates us into a new life. Henceforth, by virtue of His atonement, "sin has no more dominion over us," and we are, under His leadership, to destroy its empire forever. And we must follow Him through Jordan; that is, we too must die to sin and rise again unto righteousness. The river which divides our old condition from the new, which separates the wilderness from the promised land, is an eternal boundary between our condition by nature and our condition by grace. The waters of Jordan are likened by some to the waters of baptism, whereby we are "baptized into Christ's death;" and by others to the moment of conversion, when, by the power of God alone, we are changed from wanderers and outcasts into the covenant people of God.
4. The land must be conquered. It was a wicked land; a land the sins of whose inhabitants contaminated it by their example; a land which called for condign chastisement from on high. The land with which Christians have to do is either
(1) the whole world, or
(2) the human heart.
In the first case it is the duty of the Church, in the second of the individual, in each case under Christ as a leader, to wage unceasing warfare against evil, in whatever forms it may be found. The character of that warfare will be indicated later. At present it will be sufficient to remark that the nature of the warfare itself is not changed, though its conditions are. The servants of God are eternally pledged to root out evil without compromise, and without mercy.
5. It was a land flowing with milk and honey. Every blessing was to be obtained there. Not only food, but delights. It is called emphatically "the good land" (Deuteronomy 3:25; Deuteronomy 4:22). It contained every good thing man could desire (Deuteronomy 8:7-5.8.9). So the steadfast determination to follow Christ, to him who is resolved to do so, insures us every blessing we need—the supply of our wants, means of defence against our enemies, and the means, moreover, of happiness and enjoyment—provided always that we do not cease the combat until all our enemies be destroyed.
HOMILIES BY E. DE PRESSENSE
Joshua 1:1, Joshua 1:2
Consolation for bereaved workers.
In these words, addressed to Joshua, we have the most effectual consolation that can be offered to believers, when one has been taken away from their midst whose life seemed indispensable to the work and service of God. They are words applicable to the family no less than to the Church. Moses had just been taken from the people, from his friends, from Joshua his faithful servant. The great leader of Israel through the wilderness journey, the captain who had gone forth with their hosts to battle, the medium of the highest revelations of God to the nation, had vanished from among them. Israel would look no more on that noble face which had caught and kept the brightness of the glory of God revealed upon Sinai. The prophetic voice of him who had talked with God as a man talketh with his friend was hushed in lasting silence, he had been struck down on the very borders of the land of promise, to which he had safely led the sons of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. There was a peculiar sadness in the death of Moses just at this time. Have we not often felt the same when we have seen the strong man fall at the very moment when he was about to reap the fruit of his patient labours, and to win the hard-fought fight? The words spoken by God Himself for the consolation of Israel may suggest thoughts helpful to us under similar circumstances.
I. GOD'S WORK DOES NOT DEPEND ON ANY ONE WORKER, EVEN THE GREATEST. It goes on, uninterrupted by the strokes of death. "Go over this Jordan, thou and all this people, unto the land which I do give to them, even to the children of Israel." Thus the cause still advances. Moses may die; his work cannot. Nay, it is extended, and assumes new developments. Moses has led the people to the verge of Jordan. Joshua will carry them over. Both Moses and Joshua are only instruments which may be broken and laid aside; but He who uses them will never be stopped in His work of love. "My Father," says Jesus Christ, "worketh hitherto" (John 5:17).
II. AS GOD ONLY WORKS BY HIS SERVANTS, THESE MUST NEVER REST IN AN IDLE RELIANCE ON His POWER; THEY MUST TAKE UP THE WORK JUST WHERE IT IS HANDED OVER TO THEM, EVEN THOUGH THEIR HEARTS MAY BE BROKEN BY SORROW. Thus the Lord says to Joshua: "Arise, go over this Jordan." We may not sit still mourning even over our beloved dead; we are to arise and take up their work. To carry it on is a sweet consolation; we feel ourselves still linked with the departed as we trace their blessed footsteps, and deepen the furrows they have already made. It brings us into closer fellowship with them. Joshua, as he took up the charge laid down by Moses, was more than ever brought into oneness of spirit with him.
III. GOD, IN SPEAKING OF MOSES AS HIS SERVANT, GIVES TO THE SURVIVORS THE SWEET ASSURANCE THAT HE HAS TAKEN HIM TO REST IN HIS OWN PRESENCE. The recognition of his faithful service implies that of his sure reward. Undoubtedly he, like all the sons of men, was an unprofitable servant, but he nevertheless received from God that grand word of commendation, "Well done, good and faithful servant;" and this is the word which sets before him who receives it an open heaven. Thus to know that God never leaves His work incomplete, that He gives it to us to carry on, and that those who have gone before us have entered into His rest, while we take up their unfinished task—this is the threefold solace of the sorrows alike of the Church and of the Christian family. Thus both "he that soweth and they who reap rejoice together" (Joh 4:1-54 :86).—E. DE P.
HOMILIES BY S.R. ALDRIDGE
Joshua 1:2, Joshua 1:3
God's gift to the Church.
The loss of a privilege teaches us how inadequately we have appreciated its womb. The removal of art honored servant of God often awakens a deeper sense of the blessing that has been in our midst. And sometimes a tendency is thus created to dwell unduly on the past, to become morbid, and to neglect the present, undervaluing what still remains to us. Mourning has its proper limits. In the text God impresses on the people the duty of recognising facts. "Moses is dead." True, you will never look upon his like again; but also true, that all your resets will not restore him to his wonted place. There is to be no standstill in the kingdom of God. A new leader is summoned to the front. Joshua must succeed to the vacant post.
I. We have A NEW LEADER AND A FRESH START. As if to magnify Joshua in the eyes of the Israelites, the command is at once given to prepare for that entrance into the land of promise which Moses had so ardently longed for but was not permitted to witness. "One soweth, another reapeth." The law paved the way for the gospel. It is well to follow a period of inaction by vigorous measures. Active employment would turn away the people's thoughts from unduly dwelling upon the absence of Moses, and would prove that all wisdom and energy had not died with him, nor had God also perished in His servant's death. And so today the class in the Sunday school shall continue its training, though the much loved teacher has been compelled to renounce his work; the congregation shall be instructed as heretofore, though by a different voice. Let class and congregation rally around their new chief. The appointment of a new leader should be the signal for a fresh advance. Let "Onward!" be the cry.
II. THE TITLE OF POSSESSION. The real claim of the Israelites was grounded on the gift of God. Consider the earth
(a) Materially, as belonging to God. "The earth is the Lord's." Men are but His tenants at will. The justification of the Israelites in driving out the Canaanites is to be sought in the fact that the inhabitants had made an ill use of the land. He who owned it had revoked His grant, and conferred it on His chosen people. The lesson enforced by our Lord in the parable of the talents is of wide application. Not only agriculturists but merchants must regard their property as held at the disposal of the Creator. Nevertheless there is something in the possession of a "foot of ground" which seems to connect us immediately with the Lord of the earth, and renders impiety amid scenes of nature the more guilty.
(b) Spiritually, as given through Christ to the Church. The commission of Christ to the disciples embraced the whole world. Every nation of right belongs to God, and the establishment of missions is but claiming the land for its Great Owner. God hath given to every company of believers a "land" to possess, a neighbourhood to be evangelised, cruelty and vice and selfishness to be expelled, that peace and love and righteousness may dwell in the conquered territory. The text may remind us, therefore, of the aggressive measures which the Church of Christ is required to undertake.
III. THE DIVINE GIFT NO SUPERSESSION OF HUMAN EFFORT. First the Israelites must cross the river Jordan, and then seize the gift offered. They had literally to tread with the "sole of the foot" upon the land they desired to receive from God. Every promise of Scripture is intended not as a sedative, but as a stimulus, to exertion. We have to "labour to enter into the rest." There is a Divine law, "Seek and ye shall find; knock and it shall be opened." The redemption that is in Christ will not benefit unless appropriated. The "treasures of wisdom and knowledge" will be ours by taking them in Christ from the outstretched hands of God. In all church operations we must be mindful that "Christ expects every man to do his duty." The heathen are His inheritance, but will be made His only as the Church is stirred up to diligent activity in moral conquest. Thus the gifts of God are conditional upon human service. Not, of course, that God simply allocates the land as did the Popes formerly, expecting the grantees to secure it for themselves; for He helps us, and without Him our efforts would be vain.
IV. THE RECORDED PROMISE INTENDED FOR ALL GENERATIONS. "As I said unto Moses." There is evident reference to the utterance of Jehovah forty years before (Exodus 23:31). He had not forgotten His word. Should the unbelief of the people make His "promises of none effect"? That Moses had not allowed the declaration to slip from his memory is seen in Deuteronomy 11:24. Intervening years do not render the fulfilment of God's promises less sure. Thousands of years rolled away between the first prediction of a Messiah and His actual appearance. Let not our hearts fail to trust in God. "As I said unto Moses may be turned into a general promise, as the Epistle to the Hebrews did with the specific utterance of Joshua 5:5 to Joshua (Hebrews 13:5). It may be kept before us as a message of hope and assurance.—A.
HOMILIES BY J. WAITE
Joshua the successor of Moses.
The very name Joshua, Jesus, "God's salvation," is enough of itself to awaken special interest in the man who, on the page of Scripture, first bears it. It is suggestive at once of the nature of his life work, and it leads us to anticipate some points of analogy between him and the Savior of the world. Joshua is one of the few Old Testament characters against whose name there is no reproach. Not that this Book presents any formal delineation of his character or pronounces his praise. It is but a simple, matter of fact record of great events in which he took a leading part. His illustrious deeds are their own eulogium. He stands before us as the type of a godly warrior, reverent in spirit yet full of practical energy, blameless and fearless, gentle and strong, spending a long life in unselfish and unwearied devotion to the cause of the people and of God. He was the brave soldier whose work, dark and terrible as it was, was consecrated by the inspiration of a Divine call and of a beneficent purpose. A general view of Joshua's position in the annals of the Hebrew race is suggestive.
I. IT REMINDS US HOW, AT CRITICAL PERIODS IN HUMAN HISTORY, GOD RAISES UP MEN AS FITTING INSTRUMENTS FOR THE ACCOMPLISHMENT OF HIS PURPOSES. The death of Moses marks a crisis in the career of the chosen people, he who has been their "leader and commander" through all the forty years' wandering in the wilderness and has brought them to the borders of the land of promise, is taken from them just when they seem most to need him. Only Jordan now rolls between them and the fruition of their hopes; the prize is within their reach. Shall they fail, and, after all, come short of it? They would have failed if God had not been with them, moving, working among them, fulfilling His own will, magnifying His own name. Joshua's uprising is itself a Divine interposition. He is not the product of the mere natural working of events and second causes. He is a deliverer whom God has provided, well named God's salvation. The lesson is an important one. When God has any great work for men to do, he never fails to call forth those who can do it. The history of the Church, the general course of the world's life, establish this law. The demand and the supply, the hour and the man, always meet. When those who are in the high places of the field fall, others step forth, often from very unlikely quarters, to fill the gap and carry on the work to riper issues. This continuity of the Divine purpose and of the path of its development is very wonderful ―
"The voice that from the glory came
To tell how Moses died unseen,
And waken Joshua's spear of flame
To victory on the mountains green,
Its trumpet tones are sounding still,"
kindling our expectations, rousing our energies, rebuking our distrust. Through the shifting clouds of circumstance we catch "glimpses of the unchanging sky." God's redeeming purpose shines on through all human and earthly changes. We need not fear but that He "will plead his own cause," and when new emergencies arise provide some new instrument or agency to meet them.
II. IT REMINDS US OF THE PROCESS BY WHICH GOD IS WONT TO PREPARE MEN FOR THE WORK HE HAS FOR THEM TO DO. Joshua was a divinely chosen and ordained deliverer (Numbers 27:18-4.27.23; Deuteronomy 31:14-5.31.23). But God's choice is never arbitrary, reasonless. There is generally some native quality, or circumstantial advantage, that makes the chosen man the more fitting instrument. (Examples: Moses, David, Cyrus, Paul, Luther) Joshua grew up as a slave in the brick fields of Egypt. Born about the time when Moses fled into Midian, he must have been forty years old at the exodus. It may seem strange that such greatness as his should have been nursed amid such associations. But when God has fixed His choice on a man He can make what seem to be the most adverse conditions a school of preparation. And, perhaps, the rough influences of such a lot were, after all, the best school. In servitude as a youth, he learnt how to command as a man. No doubt sudden emergencies have often developed unlooked for qualities in men. Tender spirits, nursed in the lap of luxury, have been found calm in danger, brave in battle. Still, as a nile, to "bear the yoke in one's youth" is the best preparation for the stern struggle of after life. Moreover, the trials and responsibilities of life are graduated. The right discharge of lesser duty qualifies for higher positions of trust. Joshua proved, in the previous expeditions on which Moses sent him (Exodus 17:9; Numbers 13:17), his fitness to take the place of the great leader. "He that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much." "If thou hast run with the footmen," etc. (Jeremiah 12:5). Again: other circumstances of a different kind—miraculous manifestations, Divine revelations—had their part in Joshua's preparation, he had witnessed the wonders in Egypt and at the Red Sea, had been with Moses in the mount, had had direct communication from God to himself (Deuteronomy 31:1-5.31.30). We are reminded of the higher, diviner influences that help in the formation of all noblest human character; there is always the blending of natural and supernatural elements, ordinary associations of life mingled with direct heavenly visitations, innate qualities sanctified and glorified by special ministries of the grace of God.
III. IT ILLUSTRATES THE HEROISM THAT SPRINGS FROM FAITH. Faith, the faith that brought him into personal contact with the living God, was the spring of all Joshua's strength and courage. He had no prophetic gift as regards the vision of the future, for it was through the priest Eleazar, "after the judgment of Urim," that he was to ask counsel of the Lord (Numbers 27:21). But as military leader of Israel he was divinely inspired; and his inspiration was the energy of faith. This has ever been the prolific root of the noblest forms of character and deed. By it "the elders," whose names shed lustre on the ages of the past, "obtained their good report." And so it always will be. There is no heroism like that which springs from the soul's living hold on the unseen and eternal. The hope of the world for deliverance from the ills that afflict it, and its being led into the heritage of a brighter future, is in the men of faith. And he is an enemy to his race who would attempt to dry up this spring of power. "This is the victory," etc. (1 John 5:4).
IV. IT PRESENTS US WITH AN INTERESTING HISTORIC TYPE OF GOSPEL SALVATION. Many points of typical resemblance have been traced. This, at least, is clear, as Joshua, "Moses' minister," consummates his work, leads the people into the promised land, divides to them their inheritance; so Christ, "made under the law," brings in the richer grace. He is the "end of the law for righteousness," etc. (Romans 10:4). The Captain of salvation leads many sons, His redeemed ones, to glory and eternal rest.—W.
THE SOURCE OF JOSHUA'S CONFIDENCE.—
There shall not any man be able to stand before thee. Literally, no one shall set himself up against thee, i.e; successfully resist thee (ἀντιστήσεται, LXX). As I was with Moses. Literally, as I have been with Moses: that is to say, was with him and remained with him unto the end. The continuity of the work of God under the old dispensation is thus as clearly marked as that of the new in Matthew 28:20, and John 20:21-43.20.23. The promises made to Abraham, the law given to Moses, the gift of a new life in Christ, are so many parts of one great work, and that work the regeneration of mankind. I will not fail thee. Literally, I will not be weak towards thee, relax towards thee. God is ever the same, If His attitude to us be altered, it is not He who has changed, but ourselves.
Be strong and of a good courage. Literally, be strong and vigorous. The word does not refer so much to the character of Joshua as to his actions. He was to be a man of action, alert, prompt, ready to act when occasion demanded (see Deuteronomy 31:6, Deuteronomy 31:7, Deuteronomy 31:8, Deuteronomy 31:23). Which I sware unto their fathers (see note on verse 3).
Be very courageous. The word is the same as is translated "be of good courage" above. Knobel remarks that the phraseology here is similar to that of Deuteronomy, but "strange to the other Books" of the Pentateuch. This may be from the fact that Deuteronomy is throughout hortatory, while the other Books are historical. But the recurrence of the hortatory phrases of Deuteronomy here is at least remarkable (see verse 3). Prosper. Rather, perhaps be wise (cf. Deuteronomy 29:9, though, according to Calvin, the word means, "not only to act prudently but successfully"). The only true Wisdom is that obtained from God, whether in answer to prayer, or in meditation on His law (see 1 Corinthians 1:17-46.1.31; 1 Corinthians 2:12-46.2.16; 1 Corinthians 3:19).
This book of the law. The law was, therefore, embodied in a written document when the Book of Joshua was written; and as the antiquity of this Book may be regarded as proved, we may quote thus an early authority for the genuineness of at least some portions of the Pentateuch. There was a "book of the law" in Joshua's time, according to this early testimony, and we may conclude from verses 3-7 that Deuteronomy formed a part of it (see also Deuteronomy 17:19 for a similar precept. And for the fact see Deuteronomy 31:24-5.31.26). Meditate therein (cf. Psalms 1:2, Psalms 63:7, Psalms 143:5, in the original. Also Deuteronomy 31:26). Observe to do. Literally, keep to do, thus impressing on us the care necessary in deciding on our actions. All that is written therein (cf. for the expression Deuteronomy 28:58, Deuteronomy 28:61; Deuteronomy 29:19, Deuteronomy 29:20, Deuteronomy 29:26; Deuteronomy 30:10). Shall have good success. The word is the same as is translated "prosper" above, and not the same as that rendered "prosperous" in this verse. "Men," says Calvin, "never act skilfully, except in so far as they allow themselves to be ruled by the Word of God." Have I not commanded thee? "An emphatic inquiry is a stronger form of affirmation, and is generally employed by those who wish to infuse into another courage and alacrity" (Michaelis). Moreover repetition is a remarkable feature of Hebrew composition, as we may observe from the second chapter of Genesis onward, and is designed to give emphasis to what is commanded or related. Calvin would lay stress on I: "Have not I commanded thee?" But this is not borne out by the Hebrew.
The source of Joshua's confidence.
I. HE HAD BEEN CHOSEN BY GOD. Moses was dead, and Joshua's heart might well have failed him. For the great lawgiver had found the task of leading the Israelites from Egypt to the borders of the promised land too much for his strength and spirit (Exodus 18:13-2.18.17; Numbers 11:11-4.11.17; Deuteronomy 1:9-5.1.15). Constant rebellions and murmurings had weakened his hands. "They provoked his spirit, so that he spake unadvisedly with his lips (Psalms 106:33), and in consequence he was not permitted to lead them into Canaan. To Joshua a harder task was assigned. He was not only to lead the Israelites, but to lead them in battle, and against foes more numerous and better prepared for war than themselves. Yet the sense that he had been marked out for the task, as well as his determination to obey the orders he had received, sustained him. He was never known to waver but once (Joshua 7:1-6.7.26), nor did the confidence of his followers in him ever falter. So may all those who have received a charge from God rest assured that they will be able to execute it.
II. HE REPOSED UPON GOD'S PROMISE. He "believed God," and it was not only "counted unto him for righteousness," but his faith led him to victory. Nothing could have nerved him for such a task but the consciousness that God was with him. For he had no personal ambition (Joshua 19:49), such as often stimulates men to great tasks. Thus the Christian warrior of today, who contends not for himself but for his Master, may emulate Joshua's courage and confidence, for the same promises are his as were Joshua's (Hebrews 13:5, Hebrews 13:6; Ephesians 6:10; 2 Thessalonians 3:3).
III. HE WAS DILIGENT IN THE STUDY OF THE SCRIPTURES, AND HE GUIDED HIMSELF BY THEIR INJUNCTIONS. He had only the law of Moses, but he kept it (Joshua 5:1-6.5.15; Joshua 6:1-6.6.27; Joshua 7:1-6.7.26). He had been warned to extirpate the Canaanites, and he obeyed the command to the letter (Joshua 10:1-6.10.43; Joshua 11:15). The Christian who would conquer in his conflict with the powers of evil must be diligent in his study of God's Word, and careful to frame his life by its precepts. He must "meditate therein day and night (cf. Psalms 1:2; Psalms 119:1; 97-99; also Deuteronomy 4:9; Deuteronomy 11:18-5.11.20; Deuteronomy 17:18, Deuteronomy 17:19), and must take heed to carry out the lessons he has learned."
HOMILIES BY E. DE PRESSENSE
A renewed covenant.
The covenant made with the patriarchs, and afterwards with their descendants when they came out of Egypt, is here renewed in almost the same words. The promises are identical (Joshua 1:4, Joshua 1:5), and also the conditions of their fulfilment, which are summed up in fidelity and obedience: "Observe to do according to all the law which Moses my servant commanded thee" (Joshua 1:7, Joshua 1:8). This renewal to each generation of the covenant between God and His people is a law of religious history. It results both from the nature of that covenant and from the character of those who enter into it.
I. This alliance is, in its essence, THE RESTORATION OF THE BOND OF LOVE BETWEEN MAN AND GOD, by the obedience of faith. Now love is a feeling which needs to be constantly renewed. The love of one generation will not avail for the next. It must be rekindled and find fresh expression.
II. The covenant must be made between the true God and man made in His image; IT MUST BE SPIRITUAL AND SPONTANEOUS IN ITS CHARACTER. It cannot be signed upon parchment or graven in the insensate stone; it must be written upon living hearts. Hence it ought to be perpetually renewed, though it gladly avails itself of the strengthening influence of its glorious antecedents. It recognises as its essential principle the free and sovereign initiative of Divine love. "We love him because he first loved us" (1 John 4:19). Nor is it enough that this Divine covenant be renewed with each successive generation; it must be entered into by every individual sad. This was true, indeed, in relation to the higher religious life, even under the old covenant. How much more under the new—the covenant of the Spirit—which is ratified not by circumcision but by conversion. "Except a man be born again he cannot see the kingdom of God" (John 3:3).—E. DE P.
HOMILIES BY R. GLOVER
Joshua 1:5, Joshua 1:6
The leader's promise.
Such is God's word to Joshua when commencing his great task. He needed the urgent precept and the supporting promise. He was no youthful dreamer, but one long past middle life, who had no exaggerated estimate of Israel's faithfulness, and no illusions about its task. He needed, and here he gets, the quickening influence of a sacred charge. As God spake to him, so he would speak to all who are constrained by a sense of duty to God or man to undertake some task that seems beyond their powers. Let us take its general lessons to all.
I. HEROES PASS AWAY, BUT THE POWER THAT MADE THEM STILL REMAINS. When Moses left his task it seemed as if the work must come to a stand. Where should they find such grace again? or how could they do without it? Such a combination of courage and meekness, faith to follow anywhere, patience with those who had hardly faith to follow at all; such wisdom, such love—could it be repeated? could it be dispensed with? Especially now, when the finish of their great enterprise was so full of difficulty. They know little of the human heart who imagine that Joshua could gaily assume the responsibilities of his command. They who enter into great wars "with light heart" do not take long to gather heaviness. And Joshua, advanced in life, acquainted with the difficulties of his task, doubtless was tempted to feel that with Moses the heroic age had ended, and prosaic common life alone remained. Probably the people shared this feeling; and with the departure of this great hero there was the feeling that all greatness and glory was gone. The first thing that will quicken men with hope is this—heroes leave us, but God remains. Before the special promise will operate its special comfort there must be this general thought of comfort cherished and realised. And we all shall be prepared to realise the promises which suit ourselves, if we realise that amidst all changes God remains unchanged, and whatever leaves us He abides. We are all apt to say that former times were better than the present; to imagine that former greatness cannot be grown now; that grandeur of thought, saintliness, courage, will come no more "to dignify our times;" that there was special grace vouchsafed to past ages which made them rich, and which has evaporated long ago. Churchmen look back to the Fathers; Dissenters to the Reformers of the Church. Now the martyrs of the ancient days, now the stalwart heroes of Puritan times, are gilded with our reverent memory; and then rises the pensive thought that "the tender grace of the day that is dead" will never return. "As I was with Moses, so will I be with thee." Revere the saintly past, but recognise the Divine present. The great ones have gone; that which made them great remains. The fixed constancy of their maturer service makes us forget with what gradualness their characters grew. How by lowly ventures, by difficult waiting, by support only sufficient to prevent despair, they rose step by step; God's grace entering them ever the more largely and obeyed ever the more fully. So, blade to ear, ear to full corn in the ear, their character grew; and so may ours. Today the Spirit of all grace broods on humanity, kindling all wakeful spirits, entering and employing them. Still Christ's love helps and harbours all. The peculiarities of the nineteenth century do not enfeeble God. And He is here, fresh and strong today. He will hallow, not equalise, varieties of constitution; will not make a Joshua into a Moses, nor an Elisha into an Elijah; but with special grace for their special task will equally endue each. Despair not of God's Church; tremble not for the ark of God; despair not of our country, or of mankind. Whoever, whatever has gone, God remains. "As He was with our fathers, so He will be with us."
II. WITH EVERY DUTY COMES THE POWER TO DO IT. "I will not fall thee, nor forsake thee." If the first clause of the text promised the presence, the second pledges the power and help, of God. He will be with Joshua—not merely in sense of ubiquity, but in sense of interest; not to watch faults and failures, but to prevent them. There was the fear that in this enterprise many things might "fail" them. The people's courage might fail; they might withdraw from allegiance to him; his wisdom might be at fault, his endurance might fail. But God comes in and says, "I will not fail thee." Will disappoint no expectation, withhold no needed help; will not fail you when you are weak, nor forsake you when you are faulty. With the duty there will be the power, for God will not fail us. There is no part of the gospel more necessary or more sweet than this—that with duty power always comes; they walk hand in hand. The moment the Saviour's precept makes it the man's duty to stretch forth his hand, that moment he has power to do it. When the disciples are bidden to feed the multitude they have power to do so. The acceptance of a charge opens the heart to God, and He floods it with His grace. If the disciples are sent out to cast out devils they have the power to do so, for God does not fail them. They never get power apart from Him, of which they can be conscious and proud. But He is there—by them, in them; and when they are feeling all weakness, and unfitness, He, not failing, charges them with all the grace they need. You are called to confess Christ; to forsake some pleasant or profitable course of evil; to stand alone; to take up some forlorn hope of philanthropy … and you feel no strength, energy, vigour for your task. Take this comfort: with duty there invariably comes the power to discharge it. "I will never fail thee, nor forsake thee." Observe lastly—
III. COURAGE IS THE SUPREME REQUIREMENT OF GOD'S SAINTS, AND STRENGTH GOES WITH IT. "Be strong and of a good courage." It is striking how large a place exhortations to courage hold in all the Bible. "Add to your faith, courage" (not virtue), says Peter; and so saying sums up many testimonies. You cannot easily count the "fear nots" of the Bible. And these are not merely soothing words, calming solicitude, but quickening words, calling to conflict and to victory. Take the eleventh chapter of Hebrews, and you will find that in almost every instance in which the writer attributes men's greatness to their faith he might have done so with equal truth to their courage. Fear is the parent of every kind of vice; fear of conflict, fear of shame, fear of failure, fear that God will leave fidelity unrewarded and prayer unanswered. "They were afraid to confess him," says the Evangelist of those who sold their birthright for a mess of pottage. "I was afraid and went and hid my talent." Fear exaggerates difficulties, murmurs at duties, shrinks from reproach, postpones duty, then neglects it, and then hates God with the bitterness of despair. Be of good courage. If seeking God, seek hopefully, expecting to find Him. If distressed with doubts, face them bravely, and calmly wait the rising of the broader light which will include all that is best of old and new. Are you afflicted, bereaved, and broken? Be brave and of good courage. Look the grave in the face, and summon your energy to meet the falsehoods of despair. Are you failing—"feet almost gone," "perplexed," and all but in despair? Be of good courage, for hardihood of spirit, while it is needed, is sufficient for what you have to do. Strength goes with it. The momentum of a projectile is the product of its mass and velocity; and a lighter ball, if driven with greater force, will do all the work of a heavier one that moves more slowly. And this law of mechanics is true of souls. There is many a soul light, fragile, weak, but which hurls itself with energy against resisting forces, which has a power of overcoming far in excess of that possessed by many stronger and lordlier natures. Be strong and of good courage. If God appoints the task and leads the way, you are in a course in which fear of failure is superfluous. Let the eye be brighter; go not to your task burdened with melancholy of dark foreboding. Courage gladdening, strengthening you is duty and strength in one. Joshua obeyed the precept, and exceedingly abundantly above all he thought realised the promise. Let us act like him, and then from a pinnacle of high performance and blest success we shall look back and praise our God for the "faithful word on which he caused us to hope."—G.
HOMILIES BY S.R. ALDRIDGE
The study of the Bible.
Who without secret misgiving could succeed to the position of Moses, that large-hearted, clear-sighted, faithful servant of God? How overwhelming the anxiety of him who would aspire to be leader of the Israelites; a fickle people who, "like bees about to swarm, were ready to alight on any bough." He who summoned Joshua to occupy the vacant post promised to stand by and strengthen him. He gave him the direction contained in the text, to study well the book of the law. He seemed to say, "Take it; it shall be thy food, live upon it: carry it as a torch, and it will illumine thy pathway in the thickest darkness: in the vigour of thy manhood it shall be thy wand of truth to scatter doubt and error from before thee, and it shall be a staff to sustain thee in the decrepitude of age." Surely the advice given to Joshua is applicable to all who are in positions of responsibility or perplexity. How fitted for the young! What better can any of us do than seek wisdom at the oracles of God? Let us group our thoughts under three headings.
1. Its subject-matter. "This book of the law." This recommendation stamps the Pentateuch with authority. Joshua was favoured with direct communications from the Almighty, sometimes by an inward revelation, sometimes by the appearance of an angel in visible form. He could also consult the wishes of God by means of the high priest's Urim and Thummim. Yet was he to study the written word. Meteoric flashes were not to make him careless of the steady light that burned in the lamp of God's truth. Provision was made for a public rehearsal of the law every seven years, at the Feast of Tabernacles (Deuteronomy 31:10), and it was the duty of a king on ascending the throne to write out a copy of the law (Deuteronomy 18:18). How intense should be the eagerness with which we meditate on the whole Bible. The rapturous strains of the Messianic prophets, the simple and sublime gospel narratives, the epistles—those commentaries on the preparatory dispensation and on Christian doctrine—do not all these "testify" of the Saviour? Well may we "search the Scriptures." Consider the fitness of the Bible to be a general textbook. It contains lessons suited to all capacities; the flowing river for the man, the purling brook for the little child, doctrines for the learned, pictured stories for the common people. It contains all truth needful to make us "wise unto salvation," and contains it in a compact form, so portable that each may have a Mentor always at his side. It tells us things of the utmost importance which we could not know without it; and it comes in to verify the conclusions of our reasoning. It lends to the utterances of conscience the might of Divine testimony.
2. The character of the meditation enjoined. Constant—"day and night." So close a companion that it was not to "depart out of his mouth." It should become his mother tongue; his speech should be redolent of the law. Constant reading alone can make us familiar with the contents of Scripture, so as to be well equipped at all points for the Christian warfare. Many knotty questions would Joshua have to decide; and many are the occasions on which men err grievously through "not knowing the Scriptures." The command of the text implies that it was to be no formal perusal, but an endeavour to grasp the real meaning of the law. Glancing at the pages of the word can do little good; we want to enter into and imbibe the spirit of that we read. A good plan to read the Scriptures regularly through. There will be many an oasis in what we called a desert, and many a pretty flower on what we deemed only a sterile rock. It is profitable to read "at morning and at night." He is well armed for his struggle with temptations and annoyances who goes to his work fortified by previous study of the Scriptures; and after the battle of the day is over, when the shadows of evening surround him or the gloomier shadows of trouble threaten to enclose him, there is naught so effectual to dissipate the darkness as the kindled rays of the heavenly lamp. Then "at evening time it shall be light."
II. ACTION. Meditation is to be followed by appropriate conduct. "That thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein." The inference is plain—that the law contains, as we should expect in a law, precepts to be observed. And the whole Bible may be considered as a law. There are general regulations and positive institutions. "This do and thou shall live" is common both to the Old and New Testament, the difference being in the things to be done, and the spirit that is to characterise the doing thereof. We may test the value of our meditation by the obedience which results. Obedience is a proof of holding the things read in due estimation. "Why call ye me, Lord, and do not … say?" Obedience springs from faith, a hearty acceptance of the will and ways of God. Obedience brings its own confirmation of the truth. "If a man love me, he will keep my words, and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him." "If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine whether it be of God." "Hereby we do know that we know him if we keep his commandments." Obedience is to extend to the smallest matters. "Observe to do according to all." The only question with Joshua to be, "What is written in the law? how readest thou?" We do not plead for the "letter" as against the "spirit," nor forget that many Scripture precepts are expressed in a general form, and one must be compared with another to ascertain the intention of our Lawgiver. But many persons are for drawing distinctions, for keeping greater and violating lesser commandments. Some will compound with God. These ordinances they will observe, those they will neglect. Such resemble the strangers imported into Samaria, who "feared the Lord and served their own gods" (2 Kings 17:33). A little Christian service and a little idolatry, a little self denial, and a little worldliness to make the former palatable. We see the necessity of the frequent injunction, "Be strong, very courageous." Joshua would have often to act in opposition to the prejudices and desires and clamours of the multitude. He who will follow Christ must "be courageous," must be prepared to act in the teeth of worldly wisdom, to forego "good openings," to refuse to give dishonest measure, though his gains be thereby slow in accumulating. We want a knowledge of the Bible, not merely as words and sentences but as influential principles. Not the Hebrew and not the Greek do we want so much as a translation of them into thought and feeling and conduct. He has not read his Bible to good purpose who has not repented of sin and thankfully accepted God's well-beloved Son as his Saviour, his Redeemer "from all iniquity."
III. PROSPERITY. The reward of obedience.
1. Regard prosperity, first, as the natural consequence of noting on good advice. The rules framed for the guidance of the Israelites evince consummate wisdom. Experience proved how disastrous was any attempt to depart from the lines of procedure there laid down. And many familiar instances show that, in modern days, he who steers by God s compass and chart is preserved from many rocks and shallows, and is most likely to reach the haven of his legitimate desire. A pure, temperate Christian life is likeliest to win real success in any department of activity.
2. Regard prosperity as a promised result. He who consults Omniscience is helped by Omnipotence. A finger post may indicate the way, it can do no more. God is a living Guide; he has written directions and he aids in the performance of them. "No good thing shall fail of all that he has promised concerning us." "Seek first the kingdom of God, and all other things shall be added unto you." Blessed is the man whose "delight is in the law of the Lord," so that "in it he doth meditate day and night, he shall be like a tree shall prosper" (Psalms 1:2, Psalms 1:3).—A.
JOSHUA'S COMMAND TO THE PEOPLE,—
Then Joshua commanded the officers of the people. The Shoterim, a term derived from the same root as an Arabic word signifying "to write." Different ideas have been entertained of their duties. Keil, Jahn (Hebrew Commonwealth), and others believe that they were genealogists; but it seems more probable that their original duties were to keep processes and minutes, and that, like our Indian "writers" and the "Master of the Rolls" at home, they exercised some kind of judicial functions, with which, moreover, active duties were sometimes combined. The idea that they were genealogists is contrary, as Gesenius shows, to the context in many places. Thus in Exodus 5:6-2.5.19, they seem to have had to see that the specified tale of bricks was delivered up; and we know from the recently deciphered Egyptian inscriptions that very accurate registers of such matters were kept. In Deuteronomy 1:16 (cf. Deuteronomy 16:18; Joshua 8:33; Joshua 23:2; Joshua 24:1, etc) they appear to have exercised judicial functions in connection with the "princes" (not "captains," as in our version, which would lead to the idea that they were military officers). In Numbers 11:16 they are connected with the elders. In 1 Chronicles 26:29 they seem again to have exercised judicial functions, whereas in 2 Chronicles 26:11 their duty appears to have been to keep the muster rolls. In Proverbs 6:7 we find them once more with active duties as in the text. The LXX. equivalent; γραμματεύς, is rendered in Acts 19:35 by "town clerk," an officer with active as well as merely secretarial duties. Here they seem to have acted as officers of the commissariat, civil and military functions being naturally largely interchangeable in the then condition of the Israelitish people, just as they were in the early days of our Indian empire.
Prepare you victuals. Literally, game, the term being applied to meat obtained by hunting. Thus it is applied by Isaac to Esau's venison in Genesis 27:1-1.27.46. Here it means food of any kind, but especially animal food. It is therefore obvious that the miraculous supply of manna was soon to cease (cf. Joshua 5:12). Within three days. Much difficulty has been created here by the fact that another three days are mentioned in Genesis 3:2 as elapsing after the return of the spies, which has been supposed to have taken place between this command and the period then mentioned. Three more days were spent (Joshua 2:22) by the spies in eluding the pursuit of the men of Jericho—one day in going thither, and one more in returning to Moses. Consequently eight days, if not more (see Joshua 3:7), must have elapsed between this proclamation and the actual crossing of the Jordan. But when we remember that the Hebrew language possesses no pluperfect tense, that there are many instances, such as (very probably) Genesis 12:1, and more certainly Genesis 3:1, Genesis 6:6, Genesis 20:18, Genesis 26:18, Genesis 26:32, where the Hebrew narrative has clearly departed from the chronological order, and that the chronology is obscured by this chasm in the Hebrew linguistic system, we may suppose that the narrative in the second chapter is parenthetical, and relates to events which occurred before the occasion now spoken of. This is the view taken by Josephus and the Rabbis, and our translators have adopted it in the margin—a proceeding which, as their preface shows, may frequently be held to imply that in their opinion it is the preferable interpretation. It is energetically impugned by Keil, who maintains that there are insuperable difficulties in the way of this arrangement. He does not, however, make out a very powerful case against the simple explanation of Cornelius a Lapide, that the spies left the camp on the 3rd Nisan, returned on the 6th, that Joshua gave his order on the 7th, and that on the 10th (Joshua 4:19) the crossing was effected. Stripped of all verbiage, Keil's argument appears to amount simply to this, that it was not likely that the account of the narrative would be thus interrupted by an account of a transaction out of its proper chronological order. It may be added that it seems doubtful whether we must not render the word למַר in verse 12, by the pluperfect, for it seems very probable that the word of command to the two tribes and a half who had obtained their inheritance beyond Jordan had been given before this, and that therefore it may have preceded the command given to the spies, in which case one of Keil's chief objections fails to the ground. Other explanations than that of Cornelius a Lapide have been suggested. Thus Kimchi supposes that the spies left on the 5th Nisan and returned on the 8th; while Masius supposes that they were sent out simultaneously with these orders. Augustine's explanation, that Joshua did not speak by revelation, but was influenced by human hope, is noticeable, as proving that the early fathers did not always take the strictest view of inspiration.
And to the Reubenites, and the Gadites, and the half tribe of Manasseh (see Numbers 32:1-4.32.33). We have here a remarkable instance of undesigned agreement between the various books of the Old Testament: one of those signs of the genuineness of the narrative which would be almost impossible to a compiler of fictitious records. We are told in the passage just cited that the reason why these particular tribes desired an inheritance on the other side Jordan was because they were particularly rich in cattle. Now we learn from other passages that this region was—and travellers tell us that it is to this day—a region particularly suited for pasture. The 'Jewish Chronicle,' in December, 1879, mentions a scheme projected by Mr. Laurence Oliphant for colonising this district for agricultural purposes under the auspices of a company. The "fat bulls of Bashan" were almost proverbial in Scripture. Mesha, king of Moab, was a "sheep master," we read (2 Kings 3:4), and his tribute, rendered in sheep to the king of Israel, was a very large one; especially when we remember that Moab was at that time but little larger than an ordinary English country (see also Deuteronomy 32:14; Ezekiel 39:18). The land to the east of Jordan bore the name Mishor, or level land, as contrasted with the rocky region on the other side of Jordan.
Remember the word. The substance, and not the ipsissima verba, of the directions of Moses in Numbers 32:1-4.32.42. is here given (see also Deuteronomy 3:16-5.3.20). Hath given you rest. Perhaps, rather, hath caused you to rest—hath permitted you to settle; though the LXX. here has κατέπαυσεν, and the Vulgate, dedit vobis requiem (cf. Hebrews 3:11-58.3.18; Hebrews 4:1-58.4.11; and Psalms 95:11). This land, i.e; that in which they then were, on what we call the further side of Jordan.
Armed. This word, translated harnessed in Exodus 13:18, only occurs besides here in Joshua 4:12, and in Judges 7:11. In the first cited of these passages it has given rise to much discussion among those whose studies have been confined to the text of the English Bible, excluding even the margin. But its meaning is much debated among scholars. There seems no authority whatever for the translation armed or harnessed. We must either take it
(1) to mean in five divisions, the usual manner of marching under Moses (see Numbers 2:1-4.2.34), "divided into centre, right and left wings, van and rear guard" (Ewald); or
(2) fierce, eager, brave, from a Semitic root found also in the Arabic. So Rosenmuller and Gesenius—who does not, however, as Keil asserts, derive the word from חָמַשׁ to be fat, but from a root akin to חָמָס violence, and חָמֵץ to be pungent. The former refers to the parallel passage in Numbers 32:17, where for חֲמֻשׁיס we find חֻשׁיס quick. The first interpretation is rendered probable by Numbers 2:1-4.2.34; where the order of march is described as a fivefold order, and by the similarity of the word to הָמֵשׁ five, and is not excluded by Judges 7:11, where the army, though disorganised, may have still been arranged in its fivefold divisions. The fact that there is an Arabic word, almost precisely similar, which is applied to the fivefold division of an army, makes it almost certain that this is the true meaning. But some scholars prefer to render it "brave," or "eager for war" (cf. חלוּצֵי Joshua 4:13). This last word is also found in the parallel passages in Numbers 32:1-4.32.42. and Deuteronomy 3:18-5.3.20. Its original meaning is expeditus—unencumbered. See note on the last-mentioned passage. All the mighty men of valour. The number of fighting men in these tribes would be, from a comparison of Numbers 26:7, Numbers 26:18, Numbers 26:34, remembering that half only of the tribe of Manasseh must be counted, between 110,000 and 111,000. But we read in Joshua 4:13 that 40,000 only of them went over. Above 70,000 must have remained behind to guard their women, children,and flocks, a precaution both reasonable and necessary. So indispensable, in fact, was it, that in this apparent discrepancy we may find one of the strongest proofs of the genuineness of our narrative. For, as Calvin remarks, in a country not yet pacified, all the women and children would infallibly have been massacred had they been left unprotected.
Joshua's command to the people.
I. WE MUST WORK WITH THE GRACE OF GOD. All these promises of God were not intended to supersede human effort. God had promised to be with Joshua, but Joshua must act on the promise. He had promised to plant the people in the Holy Land, but not without exertion on their part. Where their own action was impossible, as in crossing the Jordan, He did all for them. When a sign of His presence with them was necessary, as at Jericho, He did likewise. But in the rest of their warfare He did but prosper their own endeavours. So we are both to pray and work, save in cases where to work is denied us, and then our weapon must be prayer alone.
II. WE NEED PROVISION FOR THE WAY. Without meat we should "faint by the way." But we have "meat to eat" that the world "knows not of," even the flesh and blood of Christ. And this we must "prepare;" that is, we must take pains to obtain it. "This kind goeth not forth but by prayer and fasting," and by endeavours to serve Christ. Whether in the sacrament of His love, or in any other way in which He vouchsafes to impart His humanity to us, there needs on our part
(1) an earnest petition for the gift;
(2) steady self denial in our lives;
(3) steadfast efforts to do His will.
It is remarkable that the miraculous provision failed as soon as there was no more need for it. So exceptional provision for our spiritual needs is withdrawn so soon as we find ourselves within reach of the means of grace. These we must use with due diligence and forethought if we would derive benefit from them.
III. WE FIGHT, NOT FOR OURSELVES ALONE, BUT FOR OTHERS. The two tribes and a half had received their inheritance, yet they were not allowed to settle down in it. They had been solemnly bound to help their brethren. Nor may we Christians sit down in the exclusive possession of religious privileges, but must impart them to our brethren, whether
(a) by nature, as the heathen, or
(b) by grace, as in the case of Christians less favoured than ourselves.
We cannot cease our labour till they are as well off as we. Thus the duty is incumbent upon us of cooperating in every good work, whereby the temporal or spiritual benefit of others is attained.
IV. EACH HAS HIS APPOINTED TASK. As Christ gave to His disciples to set before the multitude (John 6:11, etc), so Joshua "commands the officers" to "command the people." All are not apostles or prophets, but each has his proper office in God's Church. Some are set over the flock to guide and exhort them, while others have to listen and carry out the voice of exhortation. They were to go up chamushim, in battle array (verse 14), with van and rear, with wings and centre, each in his appointed rank. And we, too, shall only throw the army of Jesus into disorder if we fail to keep the place which God's providence has assigned us.
V. SOME, BY THEIR POSITION, ARE DENIED A PART IN THE GENERAL CONFLICT. As Christ forbade the demoniac to attach himself to His person, but bade him "go home to his friends", so there are those, like the women and children here, whose work for Christ is the simple discharge of domestic duties, whom Christ has not called to any more public efforts in His cause.
HOMILIES BY E. DE PRESSENSE
Joshua and the Reubenites.
The Reubenites and Gadites had already settled on the banks of the Jordan. They were at rest; they had not to await the ordeal of the conquest. As far as they were concerned, they had already received the promise. And yet they were not to be allowed to remain in idleness, and in selfish enjoyment of their own good. They were not to forget their brethren. "Ye shall pass before your brethren armed," said Joshua, "and help them." "And they answered Joshua, saying, All that thou commandest us we will do." Such was the response of these valiant and true hearted men. We have here an admirable illustration of the great bond of solidarity which makes all the people of God one.
I. IN REALITY, NO SECTION OF GOD'S PEOPLE CAN LIVE AN ISOLATED LIFE. It would he vain for the Reubenites to dream that they could rest at ease under their vines and fig trees. The defeat of their brethren would recoil upon them, and should the Canaanites be victorious the Reubenites would quickly find themselves driven out of the land. And it is the same with the Church—each for all, and all for each; this is the Church's motto. Therefore it is that all should rally round the great standard of the army.
II. FOR ANY SECTION OF GOD'S PEOPLE TO ISOLATE THEMSELVES in their prosperity is not only the sure way to impoverish and ultimately to ruin themselves, but it is TREASON TO THE KING OF THE SPIRITUAL KINGDOM; for it implies that the first object of desire is prosperity for themselves, not the glory of the King; that he is loved, not with a pure, but with a selfish love.
III. SUCH ISOLATION HARDENS THE HEART. It is a violation of the first law of the kingdom—the law of love. Its tendency is, as far as possible, to obliterate that law. It ignores the fact that we receive only to give again. Let us fully grasp, then, this great truth, that every blessing received is a trust placed in our hands only that we may diffuse it among our brethren. The applications of this great precept of Christian love are innumerable. Do we possess in large measure the good things of this world? It is that we may communicate to our less favoured brethren. Are we rich in spiritual gifts? It is that we may impart to those less privileged and of fewer opportunities than ourselves. And as we are indebted to the Church, so are we also to humanity, for are we not all one flesh? Hence the claim of missions, both at home and abroad, as a means of imparting the gifts of God already received by us to those who as yet are ignorant of them. Nor is this all. After having won the victory for ourselves, we have to begin the battle over again, and to suffer in sympathy with those who have yet the Jordan to cross. Let us never forget Him who left the blessedness of heaven to undertake our cause, and who, though He was rich, yet for our sakes became poor.—E. DE P.
HOMILIES R. GLOVER
Duties of brotherhood.
We have here a fine appeal, and a fine answer to that appeal. Arrived at the Jordan, they are about to make that invasion of Palestine which gave the Church of God a country and truth a home. At first the settlement of all the twelve tribes in the country between the Jordan and the sea seems to have been the design of Moses. But "the region beyond Jordan" was fertile—a finer land for flocks than Canaan itself. It was not surprising, therefore, that the pre-eminently pastoral tribes of Reuben, Gad, and Manasseh should desire to settle there. And when the opposition of Og, king of Bashan, and Sihon, king of the Amorites, necessitated war, and ended in their defeat, the desire of these tribes found expression in a formal request. On the condition that their settlement on the nearer side of Jordan was not to be a "secession," and that they would help their brethren in the conquest of the whole land, Moses had granted their request, and divided the territory between them. Now Joshua, on the death of Moses, requires their fulfilment of their pledge. Rest would have been pleasant, and selfish reasons in plenty forthcoming for evading the fulfilment of their promise; but the claim for brotherly help was made to men of brotherly nature. This chapter shows their prompt response, and the remainder of this Book shows—one might almost say all the subsequent books of the Bible do so—the splendid results of their brotherliness. I find a very perfect illustration of a great theme, viz; the duty and blessedness of the more favoured helping their less favoured brethren. Observe—
I. THE DUTY OF THOSE MORE EARLY, OR MORE RICHLY BLESSED, HELPING THEIR LESS FAVOURED BRETHREN. There are those more and those less favoured. Those that attain the desire of their hearts much earlier and much more fully than their brethren. God does not divide His favours as a communistic philosopher would do. All are largely, but all unequally and diversely, blessed. So it happened here. The two and a haft tribes had got all their fighting over before the others had well begun. Had Israel entered the land of Canaan by the south, as they probably would have done if they had not shrunk from the enterprise on the return of the spies, then Judah would have been the first to find its home secure; and Reuben, Gad, and half Manasseh would have been the last if they still desired the district of Gilead. It is not the peculiar virtue of the latter that it should be earlier, nor any fault of the former that it should be later. It is due simply to their entering now from the east instead of from the south. So in the contrasted condition of these tribes we have but a type of the contrasted conditions of men. There are some have made their fortune by the time others are just beginning to struggle for it. To some, truth comes with clear evidence as a bright heritage of their youth, while others only reach it with protracted struggle. Some are favoured with a knowledge of the gospel, while others are in densest ignorance. Some nations have vast wealth of liberty and justice, when others are just beginning to achieve the first sweets of freedom. And in such circumstances the more fortunate are very apt to enjoy their comforts, regardless of the struggles of their brethren; just as these tribes might have argued with plausible ingenuity that they should be excused from rendering assistance to their brethren. The struggle with Bashan—that district which rises like an island of rock from the pastoral plains, and which is the great natural fortress, the "keep" of the whole district—had been arduous. The remains of the cities of Bashan, so strongly built that three thousand years has not been able to reduce them to ruins, show the energy and developed civilisation of their foes. There are not a few indications that the stress of the conflict fell on the two and a half tribes. How easily they might have been tempted to settle down, indifferent to their brethren's welfare. Besides, they had respectable excuses. Who would defend their wives and children when all their mighty men were across the Jordan? What would become of their cattle? What security was there against the Bedawin, then, as now, roving about intent on spelt? Might they not act as rear guard, and keep the communications open—secure a safe retreat? But Moses, Joshua, God, all expect the more to help the less fortunate, and the generous instincts of their own hearts assent to the doctrine, and the nobility of their action testifies to all posterity that privilege carries responsibility, and that all who have are bound to aid all who lack. "Go forth before your brethren armed, till the Lord hath given them rest." Let the upper classes of our country share rather than monopolise education, power, enjoyment of life. Let the rich aid the poor; the strong the weak. Let those who have the gospel help those who are in darkness to attain its light. The successful have a duty to the struggling to aid them, not feebly, but with their full strength. If this example illustrates the duty of the more helping the less favoured, it illustrates with equal clearness, secondly—
II. THE BLESSEDNESS OF DOING SO. One does not like to contemplate what would have been the results had they withheld their help. The Amorites, strong in their mountain fastnesses, the Canaanites—the race we know better under the name of Phoenicians, strong in their civilisation, wealth, commerce, maritime enterprise, inhabiting the seaboard plains—were not enemies to be lightly overcome. Ten out of the twelve spies—all brave men—reported the conquest impossible; and the other two hoped for it only because they had the faith that remembered nothing was impossible. What would have been the effect on the world if Phoenician religion, with its unutterable vileness and cruelty, destruction of morality and virtues in all their forms, had extirpated Hebrew religion, with its inspiration of virtue, truth, liberty, and all things high, one is content to leave unguessed. But Israel was fighting the world's battle of truth and righteousness against enormous odds, and the two and a half tribes nobly taking their share in the conflict. Observe what blessed results followed.
1. They had the reward of being grandly useful in the service they rendered. They did not fail, nor were discouraged until, as the result of three or four years of war, the whole land from Hebron in the south to Baal Gad in Lebanon was theirs. And God's people, God's Church, and God's Truth had an earthly house. The candle was set on a candlestick, and gave light to all surrounding nations and succeeding ages. Thy brotherly help, in whatever direction rendered, will never be in vain. Nothing has such success and so little failure as kindly help.
2. Their service resulted in the development of a finer brotherhood. Not a perfect one, as there will be too much occasion to mark, but yet a relationship in which there was on the one hand the genial interest we always take in those we help, and on the other there was the gratitude always felt where service is promptly and freely given. They know not what they lose who never render help. Serve and love your brethren and they will pray for you and love you, when perhaps their love and prayer will turn the scale between hope and despair.
3. There was developed in these tribes a noble sentiment of heroic patriotism. We make our acts: but our acts make us. And a noble deed increases the nobility of nature from which it sprung. The service now rendered by the tribes inhabiting Gilead lived in their memory, an inspiration to similar service. Gideon and Jephthah headed the tribes, and twice over delivered Israel from her oppressors. And in later times this same region gave Israel her grandest prophet—the great Elijah—who restored pure and undefiled religion to its throne. The service you render ennobles you, and makes you more capable of nobler service in all time to come.
4. There was the direct outward reward. They lost nothing by it even in material wealth. No enemy attacked their families. They brought back great store of spoil, more wealth than herding could have given them in the interval. And through all their future history the service now rendered by them was repayed to them. So that, though exposed in situation, the first to feel the brunt of the attacks of Syria and Ammon, they retained, by help of their brethren, their possessions and their freedom, right down to the days of Ahab. It is no slight reward which waits on brotherly kindness and charity, but one which makes men richer than with any wealth of selfishness they could possibly be. Go thou, and in thy sphere do as these tribes did—render prompt, willing, rich, lengthened service to your less favoured brethren, and "exceedingly abundant above all you ask or think" will you find your reward in heaven.—G.
HOMILIES BY S.R. ALDRIDGE
An agreement remembered.
The latter part of this chapter recounts the preparations made for the entrance of the Israelites into Canaan. Joshua was already showing himself "the right man in the right place." Having given orders with respect to the food necessary for the next march, he now addresses the tribes who had been permitted to choose an inheritance on the east of the Jordan. He reminds them of their promise to send their armed men as a van-guard to the people. Though under the sheltering wings of the Almighty no prudent precautions must be neglected, no vigilance relaxed, the honour of God demands that reasonable care should be exercised to prevent surprise and the consequent disgrace that would attach to His holy name. God helps us not only outwardly but inwardly, teaching us how to live a sober, righteous, and godly life, and so to vanquish the machinations of the enemy.
I. A COVENANT REMEMBERED. If the Reubenites and Gadites had forgotten it, not so Joshua. Nor does God fail to recollect the vows we have made. As He recalled Jacob to a sense of his ingratitude and remissness (Genesis 35:1), so He will not have us treat our promises lightly. It is part of the functions of a faithful leader to bring to light forgotten duties. A minister reminds his people of their engagements. What declarations of devoted adherence to Christ were uttered at conversion! how they bound themselves henceforth to live to the glory of God! The people's promises to God must be insisted on, as won as the cheering promises which God has made to them. Let us not be angry nor revile such admonitions as the preaching of the law instead of the gospel. An appeal was made to authority. The agreement had been a commandment on the part of Moses. Joshua enforced compliance therewith. On the same grounds we draw attention to the precepts of prophets and apostles, as well as to the direct dictates of the Lord. These holy men were inspired, and to dispute their utterances is to call in question the authority of the Master whose servants they were. Joshua thus sanctioned Moses as Peter afterwards bore witness to Paul (2 Peter 3:15).
II. PRINCIPLES RECOGNISED IN THE COVENANT.
1. Favours merit some grateful return. The land of Gilead and Bashan was desired by these two and a half tribes on account of its fruitful pasturage. It was adapted for flocks and herds, and the sight of such fertile territory caused the owners of much sheep and cattle to be willing to settle down at once, rather than to occupy soft in the "land of promise" itself. Their request was not pleasing to Moses, as it seemed to put a slight upon Canaan, and to threaten a relapse into idolatry, beside the imminent danger of discouraging the rest of the Israelites, and so effecting by the wrath of God the utter extinction of the nation. Yet on the condition to which reference has been made the petition was ultimately granted. As they had achieved their desire it was rightly expected that they would render some proportionate recompense. And in similar method our heavenly Father deals with us today. We must be ready to cry with the Psalmist, "What shall I render unto the Lord for all his benefits toward me?" If more than others we have received, of us will more be required. Health and strength, wealth and position, learning and influence—not one of these gifts but entails a corresponding responsibility. If the conditions have not been stated in so many words, yet they are easily discoverable.
2. The priority of duty to pleasure. Before these armed men could lawfully enjoy their inheritance they must fulfil their engagement. We do not oppose duty to pleasure, strictly speaking, for it is obvious that only when mindful of the former can the latter be truly known. But the two may be distinguished, and it is clear that there are cases in which selfish inclination would lead one way and obligation calls us another. The rule to be adopted is plain. Listen to "I ought," and follow whither it directs; there will be a satisfaction gendered which will go far to repay us for any sacrifice; and then when the period of relaxation has really arrived our delight will be embittered by no stings of reproachful conscience, but enhanced by the remembrance of duty discharged. Let this be noted and acted upon by the young, and there will be fewer wasted lives. Let Church members consult their obligations before their convenience and there will be fewer vacancies crying out for occupants.
3. The obligations of fraternal love. The dislike of Moses to the request of these tribes was akin to the grief of a father who witnesses the separation of some members of the family from the rest. The river Jordan was in itself but a small dividing line, but it might be significant of a wide and deep estrangement. Evidently perceiving the fear of Moses, the Reubenites, etc; offered to prove by their conduct that they were still at one with their brethren and intended so to remain. The offer was approved of and established as a covenant between the whole nation and these special tribes. It affirmed a participation in the common hopes and risks. The New Testament speaks not less clearly of the relationship between all the children of God. The members of the body. of Christ axe bound to feel with and for one another (1 Corinthians 12:25, 1 Corinthians 12:26). "Let brotherly love continue." So forcible was the impulse of the first preaching of the gospel that it led the Christians of Jerusalem to a commonalty of goods. It is required of the rich to help the poor, the strong must assist in bearing the burdens of the weak, the settled in position and faith must stretch out the hand to those who axe still searching for a place of rest, and those who have leisure must devote a portion at least to the succour of the busily employed. The Jewish Paul having obtained the privileges of Christianity could wish himself to be "accursed for his brethren, his kinsmen according to the flesh." We are selfish indeed if we pray not and labour not for the salvation of our friends till they become possessed likewise of an eternal inheritance. Briefly note—
III. THE RATIFICATION OF THE COVENANT. The covenanters assented immediately to the command of Joshua. They were ready to keep their word. No excuses urged, no pleas of misunderstanding, no subtle equivocations, no attempts to secure a remission of their engagement, but downright honest confirmation of their pledged promise. They did not desire their sin to find them out (Numbers 32:23). The covenant had been really made with the Lord, and He would be certain to punish its violation. God give us grace to imitate their example! Like Jephthah, we have "opened our mouth to the Lord and cannot go back." We have declared that our bodies shall be living sacrifices, that our mouths shall show forth the Redeemer's praise, that as for us we will serve the Lord. Very shame should bind us to our word; we must not, dare not, "keep back part of the price." And love to God and man draws us onward to our "reasonable service."—A.
THE PEOPLE'S ANSWER.—
And they answered Joshua, saying. We may compare this joyful willingness with the murmurings of the people in the wilderness, and their rebellion after the death of those who led them into the promised land (cf. Joshua 24:31 with Judges 2:10, Judges 2:11, etc). Obedience is easy when all goes well with us, and when it makes no demand upon our faith. The Israelites murmured when the promise was as yet unfulfilled. They rebelled against God when obedience entailed serf sacrifice. But now all was hope and eagerness. So it is often with the young Christian at the outset of life's battle, before he has begun to realise the exertion and self denial that can alone ensure him victory.
As we hearkened unto Moses. Calvin remarks that the Israelites did not hearken unto Moses, but replies that, compared with the conduct of their fathers whose bodies lay in the wilderness, the conduct of this generation was obedience itself. It certainly appears as though for the last two years of the wandering in the wilderness there was far less rebellion against Moses than before; and after the solemn repetition of the precepts of the law to the new generation which had arisen, given in the Book of Deuteronomy, there seems to have been no rebellion at all (see Numbers 26:63).
Whosoever he be that doth rebel against thy commandment. A striking fulfilment of this promise appears in the case of Achan, who was put to death by the act of the whole congregation (see Joshua 7:25; and cf. Deuteronomy 17:12). Only be strong and of a good courage. The task of a leader in Israel is easy when he is sustained by the prayers of his people, and when their exhortations are an echo of the words of God (see Joshua 1:6, Joshua 1:9).
The people's answer.
This passage can only be interpreted of Jesus, of whom Joshua was the type. Implicit obedience is no longer due to any human leader, nor has been since Joshua's death. Even a St. Paul can say, "I speak as to wise men, judge ye what I say" (1 Corinthians 10:15). And St. Peter urges the clergy to remember that they are not "lords over God's heritage" (1 Peter 5:8). And this because we each "have access by one Spirit to the Father by the faith of Jesus Christ" (Ephesians 2:18; Ephesians 3:12). We may remark—
I. THAT EVERY CHRISTIAN IS BOUND BY A VOW OF OBEDIENCE. Jesus is the Captain of our salvation. He leads us in the warfare against every kind of evil. To disobey is to mutiny, and mutiny in every army is a capital crime. Yet here we may remark on the forbearance of our Joshua. All his troops are more or less guilty of this crime. Yet
(1) He pardons it, and
(2) with His mutinous troops He has achieved, and will achieve, many a glorious victory.
But there is a limit to His patience (see below). Though we sin often we must take heed to repent as often, and strive to do better for the future. "If any man have not the Spirit of Christ," at least in such a manner as to make him strive sedulously after obedience, "he is none of his" (Romans 8:9). The best we can do is to ask Him to "renew our will from day to day," that so, after each of our frequent falls, we may brace ourselves up to a renewed obedience. And thus, by virtue of His merits, not of our own, shall we be recognised as faithful soldiers of the true Joshua—Jesus Christ.
II. THAT THE LAW IS STILL "OUR SCHOOLMASTER TO BRING US TO CHRIST." We must still "hearken to Moses" before we can hear the voice of Christ. Still in our childhood must we be subject to law, be under tutors and governors, have duties prescribed for us, obey precepts "contained in ordinances," before we reach the glorious liberty of the children of God," before we find the law "written in our hearts," and a power existing within us prompting us to a spontaneous obedience. We must all know the period of struggle, when, "after the inward man," we "delight in the law of God" (Romans 7:22, Romans 7:23), but find another law in our members at conflict with it. So must we learn to find the only deliverance from "the body of this death," in Jesus Christ our Lord, just as to follow Joshua was the only escape from the wilderness. And if we live up to the law that is set before us, we shall find through it a pathway to a better land, the land of promise (Galatians 3:18). For "the law is not against the promises of God, God forbid" (Galatians 3:21). It is "holy, and the commandment holy, just, and good" (Romans 7:12). But its object was to show us "the exceeding sinfulness of sin," and the terrible reality of our bondage to it, that we might learn the infinite value of the reconciliation which has been effected for us in the Person and work of Jesus Christ.
III. "THE WAGES OF SIN IS DEATH." This is recognised as a fact by the followers of Joshua. So the followers of Jesus must acknowledge the fact that to sin against Him, to refuse to obey His words, leads to destruction. And they must separate themselves from all that "walk disorderly" (2 Thessalonians 3:6; 1 Timothy 6:5; 2 Timothy 3:5). For they only who do His commandments "have right to the tree of life." All they that do otherwise are "without," shut out from the joys of eternal life, and condemned to the "second death" (Revelation 21:8; Revelation 22:14, Revelation 22:15).
HOMILIES BY S.R. ALDRIDGE
A demand had been made that the "men of valour" of these tribes should leave their relatives and property in the fenced cities of their inheritance, and head the advance of the Israelites into Canaan. A call to a dangerous position, to bear, as it seemed, the brunt of the enemy's attack; a summons to exercise self denial in absence from home and possessions; the precept issuing, too, from unaccustomed lips, those of a new general. These verses record a courageous, generous response, which may well furnish matter for meditation and imitation.
I. A DECLARATION OF OBEDIENCE.
1. A prompt assent. No time forthought and preparation asked for. No reasons invented for delay.
2. A hearty assent. It is expressed in three forms: a promise to do what is commanded, to go where sent, and to hearken when addressed. These phrases cover all possible kinds of precepts.
3. Promise of unreserved obedience. "All," "whithersoever," and "in all things," thus blocking the smallest loophole of escape in each case. No picking and choosing here of the mandates to which they will conform.
Such complete acquiescence as this can be required of us only with respect to Him who is the Captain of our salvation. With regard to other subalterns of His, and to the national sovereign, there are occasions on which refusal and resistance are justifiable. Consider the grounds on which we owe fealty to Jesus Christ. He is our Lord as Creator, "by him were all things made," and as Redeemer, "that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves," etc.
II. A PRAYER OFFERED FOR THE LEADER. "Only the Lord thy God be with thee as he was with Moses."
1. This petition recognised the fount of authority. The warriors readily complied with the demand of Joshua because they believed that he was appointed to occupy the place of Moses. Joshua was henceforth to receive and utter the directions of the Almighty, to be His vicegerent to the Israelites. And on this foundation Jesus Christ often based His claims to be heard by the Jews, viz; that He was sent from God and spoke the words of God. He pointed to His mighty works in evidence of the truth of His pretensions. Nicodemus declared, "No man can do these miracles that thou doest except God be with him." The Father openly signified His approval of the Son's mission, "This is my beloved Son, hear ye him." The Jewish king was the "anointed of the Lord. "The powers that be are ordained of God." Pastors under the Christian dispensation are "over" men "in the Lord." "Remember them who have the rule over you, who have spoken unto you the word of God." "Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves, for they watch for your souls as they that must give account."
2. The prayer invokes the presence of God as the leader's source of strength. By prayer we can commend to Divine grace "all that are in authority." How the Apostle Paul reiterated his request that the readers of his epistles would earnestly pray on his behalf! When Peter was miraculously released from prison he found "many gathered together praying." Thus may the people aid their minister, as Aaron and Hur upheld Moses' hands. There were seasons when the commands of the great legislator were received with murmuring, and when his right to rule was called in question. These Reubenites had not "in all things" hearkened unto Moses. Yet now they spontaneously avow that he had been supported by God. The death of a celebrated man calms passion, removes prejudice, and purges the vision.
III. A STERN RESOLUTION. To inflict the punishment of death on any recalcitrant offender. Presumptuous refusal to hearken to the priest or judge was to be visited with this severe penalty (Deuteronomy 17:12). This declaration by these tribes evinced their firm determination to abide by the decrees of their new ruler. Rebellion is treated as one of the worst crimes, inasmuch as whilst some illegal acts are only indirectly subversive of government, this strikes a blow at the very seat of authority, and endangers all order. Nor is it a matter of small moment whether men bow or not to the rule of Christ. Peter quoted the prophecy of Moses in reference to Christ and the terrible threat annexed, "Every soul which will not hear that prophet shall be destroyed from among the people." Our Lord, in the parable of the pounds, represents Himself as saying, "But those mine enemies … and slay before me."
IV. ADMONITORY ADVICE. In olden days servants were much freer in speaking their mind to their masters, and soldiers to their generals. But Joshua's humility in listening to this exhortation is worthy of being copied. The wisest may learn from the ignorant, and the meanest of the flock may sometimes suitably address their pastor. Nor need any of us be above accepting good counsel, from whatever quarter it proceeds. There is no intimation of weakness, but only that these tribes perceived the weighty enterprise in which Joshua was engaged, and the necessity of his exhibiting a fearless demeanour. They sympathised with him, and wished to inspirit him for his arduous, honourable work. They knew how much Commonly depends on the leader's courage, and how quickly his fear would affect his subjects. It was advice in full accordance with their actions. They had gone the right way to strengthen Joshua by their instant submission to His will. They did not try to cheer him with words after having previously knocked the breath out of him with their deeds. Speech and conduct were in harmony, and lent each other force. Marvellous is the effect of an encouraging word! Is there not some one whom we can thus send to his post with augmented zeal and hope? Conclusion. Whom are we serving? Under whose banner enlisted, and what wages, what reward do we anticipate? The true Joshua, even Christ, demands, invites, yea, entreats our faithful adherence.—A.
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Exell, Joseph S; Spence-Jones, Henry Donald Maurice. "Commentary on Joshua 1". The Pulpit Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/
the Second Week of Advent