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Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary
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Nave's Topical Bible - Blessing; Call; Communion; Courage; Faith; Joshua; Meditation; Minister, Christian; Rulers; Word of God; Thompson Chain Reference - Bible, the; Book; Law; Meditation; Mind, Carnal-Spiritual; Obedience; Obedience-Disobedience; Word; Word of God; The Topic Concordance - Courage; Obedience; Prosperity; Strength; Torrey's Topical Textbook - Law of Moses, the;
Verse Joshua 1:8. This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth — The law which had already been written by Moses, and from which he and the people were to take all those precepts by which their lives were to be governed. Though there was a copy of the law laid up in the sanctuary, yet this was not sufficient. Joshua must have a copy for himself, and he was to consult it incessantly, that his way might be made prosperous, and that he might have good success. If he kept God's word, God would keep him in body and soul; if he should observe to do according to that word, then God would cause all his way to be prosperous. Those who are obedient to God lack no manner of thing that is good.
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Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on Joshua 1:8". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/acc/joshua-1.html. 1832.
1:1-5:15 ENTRY INTO CANAAN
God’s command to Joshua was brief and straightforward: he was to take the land of Canaan. (The region in which Canaan was situated was occupied by various tribal peoples, the most important of whom were the Hittites and the Amorites.) Israel would not win the land without a fight, but the people had God’s assurance that wherever they advanced they would gain possession (1:1-5). As leader of the people, Joshua had the assurance of God’s presence, but he still needed personal courage and wisdom. These would also be his as he devoted himself to the task of understanding and obeying God’s law (6-9).
Joshua then instructed his officials to prepare the people for departure in a few days time (10-11). The two and a half tribes who had asked for and received their inheritance on the eastern side of the Jordan River did not forget the promise they had made earlier to Moses. They were ready to cross Jordan and help their fellow Israelites conquer the western area. After that they would return and settle down to enjoy their own inheritance (12-18; cf. Numbers 32:1-33).
The first city that the Israelites had to conquer was Jericho, for it blocked their passage through the mountain pass to the land beyond. Joshua sent two men ahead to spy out Jericho, and although their presence in the city was discovered, they received protection from a prostitute named Rahab (2:1-7).
Rahab told the spies that the people of Jericho were terrified of the Israelites; but she herself had heard sufficient of the God of Israel to believe in his power and mercy to save her. By protecting the Israelite spies, she won from them a guarantee that she and her household would be safe from any violence when Israel attacked (8-14; cf. Hebrews 11:31). The spies warned her, however, that she would have to remain faithful and follow their instructions if she and her family were to be spared (15-21; cf. James 2:25). The spies’ safe return to Israel’s camp reassured them that God was in full control and Israel was certain of victory (22-24).
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Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Flemming, Donald C. "Commentary on Joshua 1:8". "Fleming's Bridgeway Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bbc/joshua-1.html. 2005.
"There shall not any man be able to stand before thee all the days of thy life; as I was with Moses, so I will be with thee; I will not fail thee, nor forsake thee. Be strong and of good courage; for thou shalt cause this people to inherit the land which I sware unto their fathers to give them. Only be strong and very courageous, to observe to do according to all the law, which Moses my servant commanded thee: turn not from it, to the right hand or to the left, that thou mayest have good success whithersoever thou goest. This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth, but thou shalt meditate thereon day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success. Have not I commanded thee? Be strong and of good courage; be not affrighted, neither be thou dismayed: for Jehovah thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest."
"Be strong and of good courage ..." The recurrence of these words, almost like the refrain of a song, should be noted in Joshua 1:6,7,9,18. It was indeed an incredibly daring and dangerous thing that God called upon Joshua to do.
"According to all the law ..." Yes, indeed, according to this testimony, even in the days of Joshua, there was a "Law of Moses," containing all that the Israelites were expected to do! Efforts to make the Pentateuch itself a late book by dating from the times of the judges, or the monarchy, or the post-exilic priesthood are among the most stupid and impossible tasks the so-called "higher critics" ever assigned themselves! This is as good a place as any to take a little closer look at what the Word of God says concerning this:
SUBSEQUENT REFERENCES TO THE PENTATEUCH IN THE OLD TESTAMENT
JOSHUA: We do not even get out of the first chapter until we find this clear and undeniable reference to the "Law which Moses my servant commanded." If that is not the Law of Moses - ALL of it - the entire Pentateuch, then it is nothing at all! We reject the arbitrary arrogance with which so-called "scholars" would try to limit this to some little fraction of the Mosaic Law. There is no objective grounds whatever for such an obviously false maneuver.
JUDGES: Like every other book in the Bible, the shadow and teaching of the Pentateuch lie over every word of it. Look at Judges 1:27-34, where it is recounted how various tribes of Israel did not "drive out the inhabitants of the land." But, indeed why were they expected to drive them out? It is in the teachings of the Pentateuch that they were commanded to drive them out.
RUTH: Where is the implication that the Pentateuch was in existence and well known in Ruth? The whole book is founded on the practical application of the law of Levirate marriage, and down to the very ceremony of "drawing off the shoe," we are looking at the Pentateuchal background in every line of it!
1,2 SAMUEL, 1,2 KINGS, 1,2 CHRONICLES: In all these books, there are recorded frequent departures from the Pentateuchal Law of God by the kings of the people. But Solomon's marriage with foreign women, contrary to the Law of Moses does not prove that the Law did not exist, but that Solomon wantonly violated it. So with all the other violations. Note the references to the tabernacle. Where could the tabernacle have come from, if not from the Pentateuch? The people complained and kicked against the sacrifices and offerings God had commanded, but why did they think they should make such offerings? It was all taught in the Pentateuch, of course. The Philistines took the ark, but why did Israel consider the ark sacred? The answer is in the Pentateuch. Saul visited the witch of Endor, but he disguised himself because it was illegal to do so. What made it illegal? The Pentateuchal teaching. The tragic death of Abner (2 Samuel 3ff) turned upon his failure to stay strictly within "the city of refuge," called Hebron. Well, how did that tradition about "fleeing for refuge" to certain cities get started? It is all outlined in the Pentateuch. David rescued the ark of the covenant, but he ordered that it be carried on a new cart, instead of by hand, with fatal results to Uzziah. Why was it wrong to haul the ark in a cart? The Pentateuch records specific directions for carrying it "by hand." Read all those glorying passages about building the Temple. Where did the design of it come from? The whole thing was a larger and more elaborate replica of the ancient tabernacle, all of the instructions for which are in the Pentateuch. Solomon offered thousands of sacrifices. Why? Such sacrifices were authorized for Israel only in the Pentateuch. Solomon's apostasy is recorded (1 Kings 11). Apostasy from what? The Law of Moses as revealed in the Pentateuch.
During the long years of the divided kingdom, some kings were reprimanded for appointing priests "from all the people." Why was it wrong? The Pentateuch has the answer. Elijah engaged in the contests with the prophets of Baal as opposed to the God Jehovah. Where was the superiority of Jehovah taught? In the Pentateuch. A king murdered Naboth for his refusal to sell his inheritance. Where did the laws originate that Naboth endeavored to keep? In the Pentateuch. Ahaz made a new Altar, and the description and use of it entailed a discussion of the peace-offerings and many other things that could never have been known in those days except for the teachings of the Pentateuch.
Josiah's reforms led to a popular observance of the sabbath, and of the Passover, (2 Kings 23:22). How did they know how to keep such laws? Where else but in the Pentateuch could the instructions be found?
THE CHRONICLES: Exhibit the same universal (in Israel) consciousness of the whole Law of Moses.
EZRA: Upon what was the cruel edict regarding foreign wives founded? The Pentateuch, of course, and upon nothing else.
NEHEMIAH: In Nehemiah 9, the people remembered the pillar of cloud by day and the pillar of fire by night in their plea for forgiveness. Where did that memory come from? The Pentateuch. Furthermore, upon what law was the abolition of usury based? It was based on the teaching of the Pentateuch.
ESTHER: What emboldened the queen to plead for Israel? Her knowledge of the God revealed in the Law of Moses.
JOB: It is the God of the Pentateuch - the Creator, the Helper, the Sustainer, the Personal Intervening God, who shines in every line of Job. The source of such conceptions of God is Biblical, the Pentateuch in particular.
THE PSALMS: There are so many references to the Pentateuch in the Psalms that it would take a volume to list them all. As one of a hundred examples, read Psalms 135:8-12.
PROVERBS: Many of the Pentateuchal regulations are presented as capsuled wisdom in Proverbs.
ISAIAH: This prophet spoke of Sodom and Gomorrah; and throughout, his conceptions of God, the terminology that he used (as is also true of Jeremiah), and other powerful echoes of the Pentateuch thunder throughout the prophecy.
JEREMIAH: "The resemblances between Jeremiah and Deuteronomy are marked. There are words used in both that are found nowhere else. Passages in one are identical with or closely similar to passages in the other, and in general tone and form of thought, the two remarkably resemble each other. Could there be any doubt that Jeremiah knew the Pentateuch almost by heart?
EZEKIEL: All of this applies to Ezekiel. Where did he learn about Satan and about Eden, the Paradise of God, if not from the Pentateuch? There are details of the burnt-offering and many other instructions lifted right squarely out of the Pentateuch.
DANIEL: It was the observance of the Pentateuchal diet of the Jews that led to Daniel's success in Babylon.
HOSEA: Hosea 8:12 has this, "Though I wrote for him my Law in ten thousand precepts! ... Many parallels of idiom and language are found between Hosea and the Pentateuch, which show that the latter was extant in the northern Israel, and these can only be accounted for by its existence in a prior written form."
JOEL: This prophet mentioned Eden (Joel 2:3), and the meal-offering, and the drink offering (Joel 2:14), none of which he could have known apart from the revelation in the Pentateuch.
AMOS: Amos is absolutely loaded with all kinds of references to the Pentateuch. "The significance of them lies not in the actual number of references, but in the kind of references and the implications involved in the individual references." The knowledge of the Pentateuchal prohibition against keeping the pledge of a man's garment after sundown (Amos 2:8), mention of the Exodus from Egypt and the forty years of wandering (Amos 2:10), the reference to the vows of the Nazarites (Amos 2:11), the citation of the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, and the reference to burnt-offerings, peace-offerings, meal-offerings, tithes, the horns of the altar, etc. - these are but a few of the scores of Pentateuchal echoes in Amos.
JONAH: His knowledge of the Pentateuch is seen in his promise to pay his vows and in the declaration that, "Salvation is of Jehovah."
OBADIAH: There is a reference to Numbers 20:14-21 in Obadiah 1:1:10.
MICAH: In Micah 6 of this prophecy represents the shameful apostasy of Israel as a "breach of their contract with God," and what could that contract possibly be if it is not the Pentateuchal covenant? In this chapter the whole Pentateuchal history of Israel is rehearsed! The Exodus, Moses, Aaron, Miriam, even the disaster in Numbers 26 - all these, and many other things revealed only in the Pentateuch, are mentioned.
NAHUM: Here is the application of the Pentateuchal teachings of the justice, the wrath, and the vengeance of God against all wickedness, especially in the forthcoming judgment against Nineveh, "Jehovah is a jealous God" (Nahum 1:2). That is a line right out of the Pentateuch.
HABAKKUK: In Habakkuk 1:4, we have "The Law is slacked," a plain reference to the Pentateuch. In Habakkuk 1:12, this prophet used three or four Pentateuchal names for God in a single sentence!
ZEPHANIAH: This prophet sternly prophesied the final destruction of the earth on the occasion of the Final Judgment when God will "wipe this Adam off the face of the earth!" The knowledge of Genesis, the fall of man, the repeated rebellions of Israel against God's covenant (the Pentateuch), along with mention of Sodom and Gomorrah as an example - all of these show that the Pentateuch was known throughout the whole history of Israel. Every single book of the Bible after the Five Books of Moses (The Pentateuch) reflect salient teachings of the Pentateuch in all such things, as examples chosen, the laws of God violated, the instances of God's prior deliverance, etc., etc.
HAGGAI: In this prophecy, we actually have Haggai assembling the priests and asking their opinion of certain things laid down in the Law of Moses (Haggai 2:11-13).
ZECHARIAH: This marvelous prophecy reveals the breaking of Beauty and Bands, the two staves that belonged to Zechariah, and both are squarely related to the Pentateuchal covenant status that belonged to Israel. This whole prophecy would have been impossible without a complete knowledge of the Pentateuch.
MALACHI: Here we have such things as the abrogation of the Levitical covenant, the cursing of the Jewish priesthood, the rebuke of Israel for violating the Pentateuchal laws concerning the "unblemished" sacrifices God required, and a dozen other things that are related intimately to a knowledge of the Pentateuch, a law known to all the people, but wantonly violated by many of them.
Well, there it is! All of the books of the O.T. which follow the Pentateuch display the most universal acquaintance with the writings of Moses on the part of all Israel. This proves many things:
(1) the antiquity of the Pentateuch;
(2) the integrity of the Pentateuch;
(3) its acceptance as the writing of the Great Lawgiver;
(4) its existence as the charter and constitution of the nation of Israel.
The whole world has accepted these basic truths for more than 3,000 years, and Christians may be absolutely certain that all the critics on earth shall never be able to destroy half a line of it.
Coffman's Commentaries reproduced by permission of Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. All other rights reserved.
Coffman, James Burton. "Commentary on Joshua 1:8". "Coffman's Commentaries on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bcc/joshua-1.html. Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. 1983-1999.
8. This book of the Law, etc Assiduous meditation on the Law is also commanded; because, whenever it is intermitted, even for a short time, many errors readily creep in, and the memory becomes rusted, so that many, after ceasing from the continuous study of it, engage in practical business, as if they were mere ignorant tyros. God therefore enjoins his servant to make daily progress, and never cease, during the whole course of his life, to profit in the Law. Hence it follows that those who hold this study in disdain, are blinded by intolerable arrogance.
But why does he forbid him to allow the Law to depart from his mouth rather than from his eyes? Some interpreters understand that the mouth is here used by synecdoche for face; but this is frigid. I have no doubt that the word used is peculiarly applicable to a person who was bound to prosecute the study in question, not only for himself individually, but for the whole people placed under his rule. He is enjoined, therefore, to attend to the teaching of the Law, that in accordance with the office committed to him, he may bring forward what he has learned for the common benefit of the people. At the same time he is ordered to make his own docility a pattern of obedience to others. For many, by talking and discoursing, have the Law in their mouth, but are very bad keepers of it. Both things, therefore, are commanded, that by teaching others, he may make his own conduct and whole character conformable to the same rule.
What follows in the second clause of the verse shows, that, everything which profane men endeavor to accomplish in contempt of the word of God, must ultimately fail of success, and that however prosperous the commencement may sometimes seem to be, the issue will be disastrous; because prosperous results can be hoped for only from the divine favor, which is justly withheld from counsels rashly adopted, and from all arrogance of which contempt of God himself is the usual accompaniment. Let believers, therefore, in order that their affairs may turn out as they wish, conciliate the divine blessing alike by diligence in learning and by fidelity in obeying.
In the end of the verse, because the term used is ambiguous, as I have already observed, the sentence is repeated, or a second promise is added. The latter is the view I take. For it was most suitable, that after the promised success, Joshua should be reminded that men never act skillfully and regularly except in so far as they allow themselves to be ruled by the word of God. Accordingly, the prudence which believers learn from the word of God, is opposed to the confidence of those who deem their own sense sufficient to guide them aright. (23)
(23) The French paraphrases the whole sentence thus: “ Ainsi la prudence et sagesse que les fideles apprennent de la parole de Dieu, est opposee a l’assurance de ceux auxquels il semble bien qu’ils se gouvernent assez discretement et sagement, quand ils besongnent selon leur propre sens;” “Thus the prudence and wisdom which believers learn from the word of God, is opposed to the assurance of those who think they govern themselves discreetly and wisely enough, when they manage according to their own sense.” — Ed.
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Calvin, John. "Commentary on Joshua 1:8". "Calvin's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/cal/joshua-1.html. 1840-57.
At this time you may be seated and we'll turn to the book of Joshua.
Now it came to pass after the death of Moses the servant of the Lord, that the Lord spake unto Joshua the son of Nun, Moses' minister, saying ( Joshua 1:1 ),
Moses' minister; it doesn't mean that Joshua was Moses' pastor. The word "minister" there actually is in its true meaning, which is "servant". It is interesting how that somehow we've really sort of twisted the concept of a minister. So many men in the ministry today really don't look at the ministry as servanthood, but they're almost wanting people to serve them. "You know you ought to bring it to me because after all, I'm your minister." That's totally opposite of what the word minister really means. It means a servant.
Jesus said, "If any man would be chief among you, let him be the servant of all"( Mark 10:44 ). So a true minister is a man who is there not to be ministered to, but who is there to serve the needs of the people. So when it reads that he was Moses' servant, or his minister, it means that he was Moses' personal servant. He accompanied Moses, he helped Moses do the things, and Moses was, he was just his valet sort of, just his servant.
Now after the death of Moses, God elevated him from Moses servant, to the servant of all of the people of Israel. Faithful in the little things, now the Lord has entrusted into his hands even greater things. This is always the process of God. Jesus said, "Because thou hast always been faithful in little things, now I will make thee ruler over many" ( Matthew 25:21 ). He said, "If I've entrusted to you the little things, and you haven't been able to take care of them, how can I entrust you the things of the kingdom?" As the Lord encourages us to the faithfulness to our service, no matter what avenue of service He may call us to.
Many times we look with disdain on particular ministries within the body. We look with sort of envy or desirability on other ministries within the body. Men are prone many times to put greater honor on certain ministries. Actually, the particular ministry that I have within the body is one that people often look up to in an enviable kind of a way because it is a particular ministry that draws a lot of prominence because I stand before people. But it doesn't really follow that my ministry is more important than your ministry within the body. There are some ministries that never cause any attention or notice to be drawn to them, which God has placed as some of the most vital and important ministries within the body.
There is that ministry of intercessory prayer. Rarely do you know who it is who has that ministry. Yet what an important ministry within the body. What great honor God places upon that ministry. What great rewards will that person have who has and is faithful to that ministry. I don't know that they'll have rows in heaven, I hope not. Because I'm afraid that I'll have a back row because there is so much feedback to the ministry that I have. It's so neat to have people like you who display and show so much love, and so much warmth, and so much kindness. I fear lest I often am getting all my rewards here, and they'll be nothing left for me when I get up there. I'll have to stand in the back on my tiptoes trying to see down to the front. Some of you people who have never been on the platform, never been in the public eye, you'll be right down there on the front row, because you have been faithful to God in that ministry that He has called you to fulfill. Though it wasn't one that caused a lot of attention to be drawn to you, but you were faithful in that to which God called you.
We need to get away from this concept of full-time ministry, looking at that, those who are on the Calvary Chapel staff are those who've been hired by some mission board are full-time ministers. You are, all of you called by God to be a full-time minister. Now Sears and Roebuck may pay your salary, or some other corporation, but you have been called of God to full time, serving the Lord. Whatever you're doing in word or deed, you should be doing for the glory of God, and as unto the Lord. Knowing that from the Lord you are going to receive your reward. So we need to have the proper concept of the ministry, and especially those who do serve on any church staff. We need to get away from that idea that the minister is someone who is especially holy, or is someone above the others, because as a minister, I'm actually a servant. Can you imagine seeking to serve this many people? But yet that's what God has called me to do. So Joshua was Moses' minister, that is he was his personal valet or servant.
Now after the death of Moses, the Lord then spoke unto Joshua. His name is a very significant name. It was given to him by Moses, originally his mother called him "Hosea", which means "salvation". But Moses after he saw the quality and all in this man, called him "Joshua", or "Yashua", which is "Jehovah is", or "Jehovah's salvation", or "Jehovah is salvation." It is the same name as Jesus. This is in Hebrew "Yashua", in Greek it is "Jesus". So we find in Joshua a very interesting type of Jesus Christ, who, Joshua, led the people into the inheriting of the land.
Now Moses could only lead the people so far. Moses led them out of Egypt and to the border of the Promised Land, but Moses could not lead them in. Moses stands for the law. The law cannot lead you into the fullness of God's blessings for your life. The law can lead you up to the border, but the law can't take you in. So, Moses the representative of the law, could lead them up to the border of the Promised Land; he could not lead them into the Promised Land. It is necessary now that Moses lay down his leadership. Joshua takes up the leadership to lead them into the promises of God.
Now there have been given unto us exceeding rich and precious promises. God has a life for you that is a super rich abundant life in Jesus Christ. It isn't God's will that you be on a spiritual roller coaster, that you be a yo-yo in your spiritual experience. It is God's desire that you enter into the full, rich life that He has for you in Jesus Christ, that you enjoy that life of victory in Christ. But the law can't lead you into that. Only Jesus Christ can lead you in. So where Moses had to leave off, Joshua took up, for the law led them as far as it could. Now the new relationship is gonna be one of faith. They're gonna have to begin by stepping out in faith, coming into this land that God had promised.
Now their conquest of Canaan is typical of the Christians entering into the life of victory that God has for us, as we are conquering over the giants of the flesh that have been entrenched so long in our lives, as we enter into that glorious victory in and through Jesus Christ, that the Lord has for us. Now, it is interesting that Joshua could only lead them so far. He led them into the conquering of the land but he never brought them into a rest. That is something that was reserved for Jesus Christ.
In Hebrews the contrast is made of how that Joshua led them in but could not bring them to the place of rest; that is a work that was reserved for the finished work of Jesus Christ. And once Christ made the work of salvation complete through His death upon the cross, then He has brought us now into the rest where we rest our salvation, our eternal life in that finished work of Jesus. We have that neat rest in the Lord. So Jesus has done for us that which Joshua could not do. He brought them only into the land, not into the rest, but Jesus has brought us into a glorious rest. So you get into some of the typology and it makes a very fascinating study.
Now God spoke to Joshua and the words of the Lord were actually words of encouragement. Commanding Joshua now to take up where Moses left off, and for him to lead the people the children of Israel. The beautiful promise in verse three where God said,
Every place that the sole of your foot shall tread upon, that have I given unto you, as I said unto Moses ( Joshua 1:3 ).
Now I like that because this is stepping in and laying claim to that which is already yours. Notice it's in the past tense, "Every place you put your sole, I have already given to you." Now God has already given to you a glorious, full, rich life of victory. All you have to do is go in and take it by faith, go in. "Wherever you put the sole of your foot", the Lord said, "I have given to you". You can go in and begin to lay claim to the blessings of God, to the promises of God. Let us beware lest God having given us the promise that we would fail to receive it, or enter into it. It is important that we begin to lay claim to those victories over the flesh life that God has promised to give to us. "Every place you put the sole of your foot, I have given to you."
From the wilderness from Lebanon even to the great river, Euphrates ( Joshua 1:4 ),
Now the tragic thing is that they didn't put their sole all the way. So God says, "It's all yours, every place you put your sole of your foot down, I've given it to you." They only went so far and then they quit. They never did go over the river Euphrates. They never did take all that God had given to them.
Now it is also tragically true that so many times we fail to take all that God has given to us. We fail to enter fully into that life of victory in Jesus Christ. We hesitate, or we become as they did, satisfied, "That's all we need." We become more or less complacent in our spiritual growth. We just hit a plateau and we say, "Oh praise the Lord. This is wonderful." We don't press on any further.
So when God tells them the area that is theirs, it is sad that they never did take all of the area that was theirs. They never did fully possess their possessions: that which God gave to them. That is why the scriptures are constantly exhorting us. "Let us go on, let us go on into the completeness, into the fullness." God has so much for you. God wants to do so much for you. If you'll just press in by faith, lay claim, take it, it's yours.
Now the Lord is encouraging him.
No man will be able to stand against you: as I was with Moses, so I'm gonna be with you: I will not fail you, nor forsake you. Be strong and of good courage: for unto this people you're going to divide this inheritance, the land. Only be thou strong and very courageous, that you may observe to do all that is written according to the law ( Joshua 1:5-7 ),
Now the encouragement for Joshua as God promises His presence, His power. Then as God again tells him the conditions upon which he will experience that presence and power of God.
Be careful that you observe to do the whole law: don't turn, don't deviate from it to the right, or to the left. This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for thus thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and thou shalt have good success ( Joshua 1:7-8 ).
Now God is saying, "Look keep the law, don't deviate from it, for it is by this observing it day and night, meditating in it, thus thou shalt make thy way prosperous, thus you will have good success."
As we turn to the first Psalm, we read, "Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of the scornful, but whose delight is in the law of the Lord, and in His law does he meditate both day and night, he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water that brings forth fruit in his season, his leaf also shall not wither, and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper"( Psalms 1:1-3 ). People looking for prosperity, people who are looking for success, God has given you the rules. Meditate in it, observe it, and thus shalt thou make thy way prosperous, for these are the rules to prosperity. These are the rules to success. So the conditions upon which he can know the power, the presence, the victory.
So Joshua commanded the officers of the people, saying, Pass through the land, and command the people, saying, Prepare your food; for within three days you're gonna pass over this Jordan, and go in to possess the land, which the Lord your God gives to you to possess. And to the Reubenites, and the Gadites, and to half the tribe of Manasseh, he said, [All right now, you promised Moses you were gonna go in and help us, and he reminded them of their promise, told them now to leave their wives and so forth, and to get their fighting men together so that they might cross with them, and take this land that God had promised unto them]; Until the Lord has given [verse fifteen] your brothers rest, as he has given you, and they have possessed the land which the Lord your God has given to them: then you will return and enjoy this land. And they answered Joshua, saying, All that you command us we will do, for whithersoever thou sendest us, we will go. And as we hearkened unto Moses, so will we hearken unto you ( Joshua 1:10-17 ).
Copyright © 2014, Calvary Chapel of Costa Mesa, Ca.
Smith, Charles Ward. "Commentary on Joshua 1:8". "Smith's Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/csc/joshua-1.html. 2014.
1. God’s charge to Joshua 1:1-9
In one sense Joshua 1:1-9 are a preamble to the whole book. They contain the basic principles that were to guide Joshua and Israel so they could obtain all that God had promised their forefathers.
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Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on Joshua 1:8". "Dr. Constable's Expository Notes". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/dcc/joshua-1.html. 2012.
Moses had left Israel a written document that the Israelites regarded as authoritative law, namely, the Mosaic Law. The Lord commanded Joshua to keep this Word in mind constantly so he would remember his responsibilities under God and find encouragement to keep them (cf. Psalms 1:2; Isaiah 59:21).
"The phrase ’from your mouth’ refers to the custom of muttering while studying or reflecting. The Hebrew word translated ’meditate’ (hagah) literally means ’mutter.’ When one continually mutters God’s Word to himself, he is constantly thinking about it." [Note: Madvig, p. 257.]
". . . [Meditation] does not mean theoretical speculation about the law, such as the Pharisees indulged in, but a practical study of the law, for the purpose of observing it in thought and action, or carrying it out with the heart, the mouth, and the hand. Such a mode of employing it would be sure to be followed by blessings." [Note: Keil and Delitzsch, p. 30.]
We should never view Bible study and memorization as ends in themselves. They are important methods of obtaining the end of being obedient to God’s Word. We cannot obey it unless we understand it and are consciously aware of it as we make decisions day by day.
"The higher any man is raised in office, the more need has he of an acquaintance with the sacred oracles, and the better will he be qualified by the study of them for the discharge of his arduous duties." [Note: Bush, pp. 21-22.]
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Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on Joshua 1:8". "Dr. Constable's Expository Notes". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/dcc/joshua-1.html. 2012.
This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth,.... He was often to read it, frequently repeat it, and speak of it, to refresh his own memory with it, and the memory of those about him. Jarchi restrains it to the book of Deuteronomy now before him:
but thou shalt meditate therein day and night; whenever he had any leisure from the important business of his office, whether by day or night, see Psalms 1:2;
that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein; which frequent speaking of it, and constant meditation on it, would lead unto:
for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success; in his wars with the Canaanites.
The New John Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible Modernised and adapted for the computer by Larry Pierce of Online Bible. All Rights Reserved, Larry Pierce, Winterbourne, Ontario.
A printed copy of this work can be ordered from: The Baptist Standard Bearer, 1 Iron Oaks Dr, Paris, AR, 72855
Gill, John. "Commentary on Joshua 1:8". "Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/joshua-1.html. 1999.
|Joshua Directed and Encouraged.||B. C. 1451.|
1 Now after the death of Moses the servant of the LORD it came to pass, that the LORD spake unto Joshua the son of Nun, Moses' minister, saying, 2 Moses my servant is dead; now therefore arise, go over this Jordan, thou, and all this people, unto the land which I do give to them, even to the children of Israel. 3 Every place that the sole of your foot shall tread upon, that have I given unto you, as I said unto Moses. 4 From the wilderness and this Lebanon even unto the great river, the river Euphrates, all the land of the Hittites, and unto the great sea toward the going down of the sun, shall be your coast. 5 There shall not any man be able to stand before thee all the days of thy life: as I was with Moses, so I will be with thee: I will not fail thee, nor forsake thee. 6 Be strong and of a good courage: for unto this people shalt thou divide for an inheritance the land, which I sware unto their fathers to give them. 7 Only be thou strong and very courageous, that thou mayest observe to do according to all the law, which Moses my servant commanded thee: turn not from it to the right hand or to the left, that thou mayest prosper whithersoever thou goest. 8 This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success. 9 Have not I commanded thee? Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the LORD thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest.
Honour is here put upon Joshua, and great power lodged in his hand, by him that is the fountain of honour and power, and by whom kings reign. Instructions are given him by Infinite Wisdom, and encouragements by the God of all consolation. God had before spoken to Moses concerning him (Numbers 27:18), but now he speaks to him (Joshua 1:1; Joshua 1:1), probably as he spoke to Moses (Leviticus 1:1) out of the tabernacle of the congregation, where Joshua had with Moses presented himself (Deuteronomy 31:14), to learn the way of attending there. Though Eleazar had the breast-plate of judgment, which Joshua was directed to consult as there was occasion (Numbers 27:21), yet, for his greater encouragement, God here speaks to him immediately, some think in a dream or vision (as Job 33:15); for though God has tied us to instituted ordinances, in them to attend him, yet he has not tied himself to them, but that he may without them make himself known to his people, and speak to their hearts otherwise than by their ears. Concerning Joshua's call to the government observe here,
I. The time when it was given him: After the death of Moses. As soon as ever Moses was dead, Joshua took upon him the administration, by virtue of his solemn ordination in Moses's life-time. An interregnum, though but for a few days, might have been of bad consequence; but it is probable that God did not speak to him to go forward towards Canaan till after the thirty days of mourning for Moses were ended; not, as the Jews say, because the sadness of his spirit during those days unfitted him for communion with God (he sorrowed not as one that had no hope), but by this solemn pause, and a month's adjournment of the public councils, even now when time was so very precious to them, God would put an honour upon the memory of Moses, and give time to the people not only to lament their loss of him, but to repent of their miscarriages towards him during the forty years of his government.
II. The place Joshua had been in before he was thus preferred. He was Moses's minister, that is, an immediate attendant upon his person and assistant in business. The LXX. translates it hypourgos, a workman under Moses, under his direction and command. Observe, 1. He that was here called to honour had been long bred to business. Our Lord Jesus himself took upon him the form of a servant, and then God highly exalted him. 2. He was trained up in subjection and under command. Those are fittest to rule that have learnt to obey. 3. He that was to succeed Moses was intimately acquainted with him, that he might fully know his doctrine and manner of life, his purpose and long-suffering (2 Timothy 3:10), might take the same measures, walk in the same spirit, in the same steps, having to carry on the same work. 4. He was herein a type of Christ, who might therefore be called Moses's minister, because he was made under the law and fulfilled all the righteousness of it.
III. The call itself that God gave him, which is very full.
1. The consideration upon which he was called to the government: Moses my servant is dead,Joshua 1:2; Joshua 1:2. All good men are God's servants; and it is no disparagement, but an honour, to the greatest of men to be so: angels themselves are his ministers. Moses was called to extraordinary work, was a steward in God's house, and in the discharge of the trusts reposed in him he served not himself but God who employed him; he was faithful as a servant, and with an eye to the Son, as is intimated, Hebrews 3:5, where what he did is said to be for a testimony of the things that should be spoken after. God will own his servants, will confess them in the great day. But Moses, though God's servant, and one that could ill be spared, is dead; for God will change hands, to show that whatever instruments he uses he is not tied to any. Moses, when he has done his work as a servant, dies and goes to rest from his labours, and enters into the joy of his Lord. Observe, God takes notice of the death of his servants. It is precious in his sight, Psalms 116:15.
2. The call itself. Now therefore arise. (1.) "Though Moses is dead, the work must go on; therefore arise, and go about it." Let not weeping hinder sowing, nor the withering of the most useful hands be the weakening of ours; for, when God has work to do, he will either find or make instruments fit to carry it on. Moses the servant is dead, but God the Master is not: he lives for ever. (2.) "Because Moses is dead, therefore the work devolves upon thee as his successor, for hereunto thou wast appointed. Therefore there is need of thee to fill up his place; up, and be doing." Note, [1.] The removal of useful men should quicken survivors to be so much the more diligent in doing good. Such and such are dead, and we must die shortly, therefore let us work while it is day. [2.] It is a great mercy to a people, if, when useful men are taken away in the midst of their usefulness, others are raised up in their stead to go on where they broke off. Joshua must arise to finish what Moses began. Thus the latter generations enter into the labours of the former. And thus Christ, our Joshua, does that for us which could never be done by the law of Moses,--justifies (Acts 13:39), and sanctifies,Romans 8:3. The life of Moses made way for Joshua, and prepared the people for what was to be done by him. Thus the law is a schoolmaster to bring us to Christ: and then the death of Moses made room for Joshua; thus we are dead to the law, our first husband, that we may be married to Christ,Romans 7:4.
3. The particular service he was now called out to: "Arise, go over this Jordan, this river which you have in view, and on the banks of which you lie encamped." This was a trial to the faith of Joshua, whether he would give orders to make preparation for passing the river when there was no visible way of getting over it, at least not at this place and at this time, when all the banks were overflown,Joshua 3:15; Joshua 3:15. He had no pontoons or bridge of boats by which to convey them over, and yet he must believe that God, who had ordered them over, would open a way for them. Going over Jordan was going into Canaan; thither Moses might not, could not, bring them, Deuteronomy 31:2. Thus the honour of bringing the many sons to glory is reserved for Christ the captain of our salvation,Hebrews 2:10.
4. The grant of the land of Canaan to the children of Israel is here repeated (Joshua 1:2-4; Joshua 1:2-4): I do give it them. To the patriarchs it was promised, I will give it; but, now that the fourth generation had expired, the iniquity of the Amorites was full, and the time had come for the performance of the promise, it is actually conveyed, and they are put in possession of that which they had long been in expectation of: "I do give it, enter upon it, it is all your own; nay (Joshua 1:3; Joshua 1:3), I have given it; though it be yet unconquered, it is as sure to you as if it were in your hands." Observe, (1.) The persons to whom the conveyance is made: To them, even to the children of Israel (Joshua 1:2; Joshua 1:2), because they are the seed of Jacob, who was called Israel at the time when this promise was made to him, Genesis 35:10; Genesis 35:12. The children of Israel, though they had been very provoking in the wilderness, yet, for their fathers' sakes, should have the entail preserved. And it was the children of the murmurers that God said should enter Canaan, Numbers 14:31. (2.) The land itself that is conveyed: From the river Euphrates eastward, to the Mediterranean Sea westward, Joshua 1:4; Joshua 1:4. Though their sin cut them short of this large possession, and they never replenished all the country within the bounds here mentioned, yet, had they been obedient, God would have given them this and much more. Out of all these countries, and many others, there were in process of time proselytes to the Jewish religion, as appears, Acts 2:5, c. If their church was enlarged, though their nation was not multiplied, it cannot be said that the promise was of no effect. And, if this promise had not its full accomplishment in the letter, believers might thence infer that it had a further meaning, and was to be fulfilled in the kingdom of the Messiah, both that of grace and that of glory. (3.) The condition is here implied upon which this grant is made, in those words, as I said unto Moses, that is, "upon the terms that Moses told you of many a time, if you will keep my statutes, you shall go in and possess that good land. Take it under those provisos and limitations, and not otherwise." The precept and promise must not be separated. (4.) It is intimated with what ease they should gain the possession of this land, if it were not their own fault, in these words, "Every place that the sole of your foot shall tread upon (within the following bounds) shall be your own. Do but set your foot upon it and you have it."
5. The promises God here makes to Joshua for his encouragement. (1.) That he should be sure of the presence of God with him in this great work to which he was called (Joshua 1:5; Joshua 1:5): "As I was with Moses, to direct and strengthen him, to own and prosper him, and give him success in bringing Israel out of Egypt and leading them through the wilderness, so I will be with thee to enable thee to settle them in Canaan." Joshua was sensible how far he came short of Moses in wisdom and grace; But what Moses did was done by virtue of the presence of God with him, and, though Joshua had not always the same presence of mind that Moses had, yet, if he had always the same presence of God, he would do well enough. Note, it is a great comfort to the rising generation of ministers and Christians that the same grace which was sufficient for those that went before them shall not be wanting to them if they be not wanting to themselves in the improvement of it. It is repeated here again (Joshua 1:9; Joshua 1:9). "The Lord thy God is with thee as a God of power, and that power engaged for thee whithersoever thou goest." Note, Those that go where God sends them shall have him with them wherever they go and they need desire no more to make them easy and prosperous. (2.) That the presence of God should never be withdrawn from him: I will not fail thee, nor forsake thee,Joshua 1:5; Joshua 1:5. Moses had assured him of this (Deuteronomy 31:8), that, though he must now leave him, God never would: and here God himself confirms that word of his servant Moses (Isaiah 44:26), and engages never to leave Joshua. We need the presence of God, not only when we are beginning our work to set us in, but in the progress of it to further us with a continual help. If that at any time fail us, we are gone; this we may be sure, that the Lord is with us while we are with him. This promise here made to Joshua is applied to all believers, and improved as an argument against covetousness, Hebrews 13:5, Be content with such things as you have, for he hath said, I will never leave thee. (3.) That he should have victory over all the enemies of Israel (Joshua 1:5; Joshua 1:5): There shall not any man that comes against thee be able to stand before thee. Note, There is no standing before those that have God on their side. If he be for us, who can be against us? God promises him clear success--the enemy should not make any head against him; and constant success--all the days of his life. However it might be with Israel when he was gone, all his reign should be graced with triumphs. What Joshua had himself encouraged the people with long ago (Numbers 14:9) God here encourages him with. (4.) That he should himself have the dividing of this land among the people of Israel, Joshua 1:6; Joshua 1:6. It was a great encouragement to him in beginning this work that he was sure to see it finished and his labour should not be in vain. Some make it a reason why he should arm himself with resolution, and be of good courage, because of the bad character of the people whom he must cause to inherit that land. He knew well what a froward discontented people they were, and how unmanageable they had been in his predecessor's time; let him therefore expect vexation from them and be of good courage.
6. The charge or command he gives to Joshua, which is,
(1.) That he conform himself in every thing to the law of God, and make this his rule Joshua 1:7; Joshua 1:8. God does, as it were, put the book of the law into Joshua's hand; as, when Joash was crowned, they gave him the testimony,2 Kings 11:12. And concerning this book he is charged, [1.] To meditate therein day and night, that he might understand it and have it ready in him upon all occasions. If ever any man's business might have excused him from meditation, and other acts of devotion, one would think Joshua's might at this time. It was a great trust that was lodged in his hands; the care of it was enough to fill him, if he had had ten souls, and yet he must find time and thoughts for meditation. Whatever affairs of this world we have to mind, we must not neglect the one thing needful. [2.] Not to let it depart out of his mouth; that is, all his orders to the people, and his judgments upon appeals made to him, must be consonant to the law of God; upon all occasions he must speak according to this rule,Isaiah 8:20. Joshua was to maintain and carry on the work that Moses had begun, and therefore he must not only complete the salvation Moses had wrought for them, but must uphold the holy religion he had established among them. There was no occasion to make new laws; but that good thing which was committed to him he must carefully and faithfully keep, 2 Timothy 1:14. [3.] He must observe to do according to all this law. To this end he must meditate therein, not for contemplation sake only, or to fill his head with notions, or that he might find something to puzzle the priests with, but that he might, both as a man and as a magistrate, observe to do according to what was written therein; and several things were written there which had particular reference to the business he had now before him, as the laws concerning their wars, the destroying of the Canaanites and the dividing of Canaan; c. these he must religiously observe. Joshua was a man of great power and authority, yet he must himself be under command and do as he is bidden. No man's dignity or dominion, how great soever, sets him above the law of God. Joshua must not only govern by law, and take care that the people observed the law, but he must observe it himself, and so by his own example maintain the honour and power of it. First, He must do what was written. It is not enough to hear and read the word, to commend and admire it, to know and remember it, to talk and discourse of it, but we must do it. Secondly, He must do according to what was written, exactly observing the law as his copy, and doing, not only that which was there required, but in all circumstances according to the appointment. Thirdly, He must do according to all that was written, without exception or reserve, having a respect to all God's commandments, even those which are most displeasing to flesh and blood. Fourthly, He must observe to do so, observe the checks of conscience, the hints of providence; and all the advantages of opportunity. Careful observance is necessary to universal obedience. Fifthly, He must not turn from it, either in his own practice or in any act of government, to the right hand or to the left, for there are errors on both hands, and virtue is in the mean. Sixthly, He must be strong and courageous, that he might do according to the law. So many discouragements there are in the way of duty that those who will proceed and persevere in it must put on resolution. And, lastly, to encourage him in his obedience, he assures him that then he shall do wisely (as it is in the margin) and make his way prosperous,Joshua 1:7; Joshua 1:8. Those that make the word of God their rule, and conscientiously walk by that rule, shall both do well and speed well; it will furnish them with the best maxims by which to order their conversation (Psalms 111:10); and it will entitle them to the best blessings: God shall give them the desire of their heart.
(2.) That he encourage himself herein with the promise and presence of God, and make these his stay (Joshua 1:6; Joshua 1:6): Be strong and of a good courage. And again (Joshua 1:7; Joshua 1:7), as if this was the one thing needful: Only be strong and very courageous. And he concludes with this (Joshua 1:9; Joshua 1:9): Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed. Joshua had long since signalized his valour, in the war with Amalek, and in his dissent from the report of the evil spies; and yet God sees fit thus to inculcate this precept upon him. Those that have grace have need to be called upon again and again to exercise grace and to improve in it. Joshua was humble and low in his own eyes, not distrustful of God, and his power, and promise, but diffident of himself, and of his own wisdom, and strength, and sufficiency for the work, especially coming after so great a man as Moses; and therefore God repeats this so often, "Be strong and of a good courage; let not the sense of thy own infirmities dishearten thee; God is all-sufficient. Have not I commanded thee?" [1.] "I have commanded the work to be done, and therefore it shall be done, how invincible soever the difficulties may seem that lie in the way." Nay, [2.] "I have commanded, called, and commissioned, thee to do it, and therefore will be sure to own thee, and strengthen thee, and bear thee out in it." Note, When we are in the way of our duty we have reason to be strong and very courageous; and it will help very much to animate and embolden us if we keep our eye upon the divine warrant, hear God saying, "Have not I commanded thee? I will therefore help thee, succeed thee, accept thee, reward thee." Our Lord Jesus, as Joshua here, was borne up under his sufferings by a regard to the will of God and the commandment he had received from his Father,John 10:18.
These files are public domain and are a derivative of an electronic edition that is available on the Christian Classics Ethereal Library Website.
Henry, Matthew. "Complete Commentary on Joshua 1:8". "Henry's Complete Commentary on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/mhm/joshua-1.html. 1706.
The book of Joshua naturally follows the five books of Moses, and indeed is connected more manifestly with those that go before it than might appear to an ordinary reader. It opens not with a mere particle of time nor of transition but of connection. This is not expressed in the English version, but it is the fact in the Hebrew text. Undoubtedly it was the Holy Spirit writing by another servant of the Lord; but He was carrying on the same testimony, and a testimony too for which the book of Deuteronomy more particularly prepares us; for all that book was uttered by Moses when the children of Israel were upon the eve, as it were, of entering the promised land. Here, as elsewhere, it is of great importance that we should clearly apprehend the special object of the Spirit of God in the book. I shall make a few remarks therefore of a general nature in order to present it as clearly as the Lord enables me.
No spiritual person who considers the matter can doubt that what the Spirit of God has been pleased to give us in Joshua, if we take it as typical of blessing to us, is not our passing out of the world into heaven. We are all familiar with the usual way of representing the Jordan as death, and the crossing of the Jordan as the leaving the world for heaven at death. But this is not its true force, though it is a matter of immense importance practically for the soul. If you thus assign its import for heaven after death, you miss the prime object of God in giving it to us for the earth. If you put it off till the future state, present application of its meaning can evidently have no direct place. Not of course but that there may be blessing gathered from particular passages here and there. We know that even those who apply the crossing of Jordan to our departure to be with Christ do not scruple to use the deliverance of Rahab in Joshua 2:6, as they would seek to glean moral profit from every chapter. But I am not now speaking of an application or use in which we all agree, but of what some of us, it may be, have to learn, of what we all, I am sure, have had to learn at one time or another.
On the face of the book there is one plain fact which shows us its real nature or bearing, and that is what the children of Israel did when they crossed the Jordan. Did they enjoy rest? Not so; it was still labour; nay, further, it was conflict with the enemy, and not only the patience of faith in which they had been tried as they passed through the wilderness. There was a beautiful moral order in God putting the hearts of His people to the test where there was nothing around them but the barren sands and Himself. In the desert God was there alone to teach them themselves as well as Himself. This was the great lesson for forty years of pilgrimage; but it is clear that it was, as far as the circumstances were concerned, by no means the place where direct positive blessing was displayed. God was there and then turning every circumstance into blessing by His own grace, by what He said, by what He did, and by what He was to His people. This is most true of the earlier time and scene; but in the book of Joshua we enter upon actual and distinct blessing the bestowal of His gifts in love to Israel according to His promise to the fathers, though as yet on the tenure of their fidelity to the covenant of the law. Thus, it was not merely taking them out of what was evil, neither was it the lesson of God in the wilderness His proving of and dealings with His people: God was giving what He had promised to give them; and now He was accomplishing it in His power; He was bringing them into the goodly land of Canaan. But all the while in the book of Joshua we hear of the wars of the people. Now this simple fact shows us its true character. Certainly when we leave the world to be actually with the Lord, we shall not have wars. Plainly therefore the crossing of the Jordan does not answer to the quitting the world for rest in the presence of God; but applies to the full change of position for Christians while they are still in the world. How can they be said to cross the Jordan? This is what one desires to bring out simply according to the light furnished by the New Testament, at least as far as God gives ability. We shall find that divine light is abundant, so that we may see the mind of God distinctly.
It is obvious to every thoughtful Christian that a strong link of connection exists between the crossing of the Red Sea and of the Jordan. It is found in the death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus; but there are two effects sensibly different and of great importance that we should distinguish. Regarded in the type of the Red Sea it is simply setting us apart to God from the world, making us pilgrims while we are passing through it; crossing the Jordan, or the death and resurrection of Christ in this point of view, does far more. It is the power of that mighty work as bringing us into the possession of our heavenly blessings before we go there. We are made consciously of heaven; we have still to fight before the time is come to rest. In both cases it is not that merely is Christ dead and risen, but this applied to us by the Spirit.
On the one hand the passage of the Red Sea is our being dead with Christ and alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord as a question of righteousness. We are thus justified from sin, and effectually delivered from Satan's power. There is no longer a question of dread as to the judgment of God. On the other hand the crossing of the Jordan means our introduction according to the fulness of Christ's title, even now, into heavenly places. On this basis the Spirit would familiarize us with heavenly things.
Accordingly we are called to set our affection on things above, filled with that which is no doubt altogether a matter of faith, but is none the less real because it is so. There is no more grave error than to suppose that the things of sense are substantial, and that the things of faith are not. There is nothing so true as faith; nor does anything so endure as what rests on God's word. Grace has given us in Jesus Christ our Lord a kingdom which cannot be moved. I grant you we have to trust Him; we have nothing to show. Are we the poorer for that? Incomparably richer! It is a blessed thing when we learn to trust God's eyes and not our own, and this is what faith always does. Instead of faith abridging our vision, it enlarges our range infinitely. We may be feeble in seeing, according to such a measure, and undoubtedly we are; but there is such a thing as growth carried on by the Spirit, revealing more of Christ in the scriptures. Having in the word as in Christ that which is divine, there is infinite fulness to grow up into. This is what Christ introduces us to, not when we die as a literal fact, but when we know the power of His death and resurrection, not merely from Satan but from self. Such is the line of truth shadowed in the crossing of the Jordan. It is not deliverance from Egypt: the Red Sea has this import. There in type the world, the scene of Satan's slavery, is left behind; but across the Jordan is the entrance into the heavenly land.
We shall find therefore by and by another most important difference, which can be merely touched on passingly now. Here circumcision comes in, expressly contrasted with the previous state of things. Whilst they marched through the wilderness there was no such practice. Not a single person was circumcised that was born in the wilderness: no doubt some were there who had been circumcised before. But when they crossed the Jordan, they must not delay; it was imperative then to be circumcised. Clearly therefore it became a question of death to self by Christ, who is gone on high and united us to Himself there; and this is just the point that is meant by it. Thus the person is free to enter into what God gives above; and there is nothing that hinders this more than self unsubdued and unmortified. Circumcision therefore takes place directly the Jordan is passed. However I am now somewhat anticipating; nevertheless it seemed to me necessary to give these few words of a more general nature in order that there might be a simple and clear impression of the exact difference between the two.
Plainly then we have common ground in the Red Sea and the Jordan, but each has that which is special. All is found in Christ our Lord. Only it becomes us that we should not be content with the vague and general thought that we have it all. God means that we should know what we have received as His children, as it is what He has given us. Here the energy of faith comes in; that we be not content with the recognition of the truth that all things are ours, but that we diligently learn of Him what they are. God keeps back no good thing from us. We slight His love if we do not press on to learn and enjoy everything He has revealed. The Spirit that elates, and the conflicts in order to possession.
This then is one of the distinctive points of the Book of .Joshua; that Israel is here seen brought into the promised inheritance, and not merely out of the house of bondage into a waste howling wilderness. What mercy to have God in that waste as their companion! It was God leading them into the land where His eyes rested, and in which He could take pleasure He did not in the wilderness; He took pleasure in His people there. And He was surely showing them what He was, and that He would eventually bring them into the good land; but it was not then a question of entering into the given blessings of Emmanuel's land. This we shall find in the Book of Joshua.
Let us now look a little more particularly into some details of the chapters I shall glance over tonight.
Moses is dead, and Joshua takes his place; that is, Christ is represented both by him who was dead and by him who is alive. Thus it was Christ whether bringing out of the world or conducting through the wilderness, and now Christ in a new type the captain of salvation who is at the head of Israel in the land of Canaan. But, as we know, it is the self-same Christ in another point of view who was about to lead the people of God into the better country. We must carefully remember, as indeed involved in the truth I have already shown, that here we have not the death of the body and the separation of the spirit from it: still less is it the resurrection condition. Such is not at all the point in the Book of Joshua. For the same reason it is not Christ returning in glory: Joshua does not represent Christ coming again. It is Christ now in Spirit leading the people into the land, that is, the power of the Spirit of God who thus, answering to Christ's glory, enables the Christians now to appropriate and know their place in heaven where He is. In short then Joshua represents Christ not as coming in person by and by, but acting in spirit now, and giving us therefore to receive and to realize our heavenly blessedness.
Again we shall find in this book, that there is first the reception of what God gives, and next that the people have to make the gift their own. These two distinct truths divide the Book of Joshua into two parts. The first twelve chapters are simply the question of our recognition of the grand truth that, having the heavenly land in title, we have to fight for it. The last portion of the book shows us the duty of grappling with the difficulties when we have received the truth, and puts us on our guard against the various ways by which Satan would enfeeble our sense of the blessing, and hinder its being made truly our own practically. It must not remain only an objective fact: we must make our title available and respected.
This divides the book, accordingly, into its earlier and its later parts.
In chapter 1 there is another thing to which I would call attention: Jehovah, after stating the new form in which Christ's power was to be shown in Joshua, says, "Now therefore arise, go over this Jordan, thou and all this people, unto the land which I do give to them, even to the children of Israel. Every place that the sole of your foot shall tread upon, that have I given unto you, as I said unto Moses." The land was given of God, but had to be won; the country over Jordan was open to the people of God. The book being devoted to this as its special aim, there is given at the starting-point a general notice of the extent of the land "From the wilderness and this Lebanon even unto the great river, the river Euphrates." Strictly speaking, this stretched much beyond Canaan. So we find what remarkably answers to it in that Epistle of the New Testament where the proper heavenly portion of the saints is brought before us. There is nothing more evident in the Epistle to the Ephesians than the two features I am about to state.
First, God has given us heavenly blessings in and with our Lord Jesus, and this now; only without doubt, it is for this reason a matter of faith as far as we are concerned till Jesus come. We are on the earth, but "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ." And secondly, the very same chapter shows us not our Canaan only, but "from the wilderness and this Lebanon to the great river, the river Euphrates." So God gives us a measure of outreaching blessing far beyond that which is proper to us. In short, inasmuch as it is not merely the type of Christ but Christ Himself, so too the blessing is equally enlarged. "All things," and no measure short of all things, must be put under Christ; and if Christ be head universally, He is given head over all to the church. He, in connection with the church, does not take anything less than the whole universe of God. Thus we see what is special the heavenly things answering to Canaan; but along with this a great extent of territory, stretching from Lebanon on the north to the river Euphrates which was in the east beyond. Does it not bring before us that God, if He gives at all, must give as God? He will make good His promises, but He cannot act below Himself. And how this will be verified in the day for which we wait! We shall have our own (Luke 16:12); but we shall have Christ's own, and God keeps nothing back from the rejected but glorified man, His own Son.
Further we find for the difficulties in the way, which in truth are immense, that God gives proportionate comfort and assurance. "There shall not any man be able to stand before thee all the days of thy life: as I was with Moses, so I will be with thee: I will not fail thee, nor forsake thee. Be strong and of a good courage." The last words one sees are very emphatic, and even in the first chapter repeated over and over again. Let me ask my brethren whether they have really understood that this is what they are called to, what we are called to now. Not a few sincere Christians err greatly here. They confound good courage with presumption; that assurance in the Lord with the lowest, basest, proudest feeling of the flesh; mere thoughtless audacity without an atom of believing confidence in God. From presumption may every child of God be kept! On the other hand, God forbid that a child of His should be cheated out of the good courage and single-eyed confidence due to God by that which defames them. No, my brethren; we are called to be strong and of a good courage.
What is presumption then as distinguished from the courage of faith; and how are we to discern the difference? Is it not important to avoid mistake in so grave a matter? Presumption is man's courage founded on self on the first man. The strength and good courage of the Christian is founded only on Christ. The difference therefore is complete. We cannot be too great-hearted if Christ be the one source of our courage: we owe it to Him. If it be a question of standing against the enemy or withstanding his wiles, we need indeed to be watchful. If it be a question of cherishing calm trust in what Christ is, and what He has given us, we cannot abate one jot of the full exhortation conveyed by these words to Joshua on that day. Was it for Joshua alone? It was for Joshua, who bound himself indissolubly with the people of God; it was to cheer the leader and those led by him. But so, beloved brethren, it should be with the children of God; for He does not, could not, complete a mere fraction of them. The best blessings we have got are those God designed for the church for every member of Christ's body.
Alas! we find ourselves in a state and day when but few members of Christ believe in their own blessing. If God has recalled our souls to faith in His grace, let us thank Him; but when we think of the infinite mercy which has caused us to see that God is for us, and what Christ is to us, and working too by the Spirit in us, let us adore Him that all is for all that are His. This will deepen our sense of the ruin of Christendom where their lack of faith refuses the good things God is giving, where flesh feebly judged mixes what is of self and the world without rebuke. At least we shall see what God is towards all saints, though we shall feel the more what they are towards Him in spite of all His love. First of all do we owe our freshest feelings to Himself; but also it becomes us, if we desire the blessing of others, that we should humbly yet at the same time courageously seek to enter in and possess the blessings ourselves. There is nothing that more conduces to the blessing of another than enjoying what His grace gives in our own souls. "Be strong then," says He, "and of a good courage; for unto this people shalt thou divide for an inheritance the land which I sware unto their fathers to give them. Only be thou strong and very courageous." We know that He whom Joshua set forth cannot fail us. There were moments when even Joshua quailed; time was to be when Joshua would sink into the dust, when Jehovah would bid him rise with a measure of reproof too. Our Joshua never needs a check more than a stimulus; and all power is given Him in heaven and on earth. May His power rest on us in our weakness! We shall learn where the hindrances are and what.
But there is another point also in the preliminary chapter. "This book of the law," says Jehovah, "shall not depart out of thy mouth." Along with the entrance of the people, through the power of the Spirit of Christ, into their heavenly blessing, comes increased need of the word of God. The value of every word is not so felt when souls are content with barely receiving Jesus as a Saviour, when they want no more than to be assured that they will not come into judgment. Then a vague and general hold of the word of God suffices for the need. But when we are awakened to see the truth which sets forth Christ on high and the heavenly place of the saints of God, and for desire to have a positive and definite hold of our own proper portion in Christ before entering there in person by and by, then indeed we need, and the Spirit of God does not fail to give us, the value in principle of every word. We feel we want it all; we know that it is good for us too that we should be searched and tried, and that we should not be shut up only to that which ministers direct comfort to us. We can bear that word which makes us conquerors over Satan by making nothing of self; and indeed it is particularly this which it is the object of the book of Joshua (typically viewed at any rate) to bring before us. "This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success. Have not I commanded thee? Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for Jehovah thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest."
Here is another point of immense importance. We have not only the word but God Himself. Granted that in principle the same thing was true while Israel were passing through the wilderness. But it is good to have the sense of the presence of God with us in the introduction of our souls into our own proper inheritance. This then is afresh assured to the people; and need I say how truly we need to be under such a safeguard even in joy, and how good it is always! The time comes when the fresh bloom of truth is apt to pass. If it be no longer a new thing, what is to sustain a soul then? God Himself in the sense that He is with us in the sense of His will as alone wise and good and holy. Then it is that, even though there may be trial, difficulty, and a thousand things exceedingly repulsive to our nature, yet the consciousness of His presence supplies what is lacking, and outweighs every seeming drawback. What can be wanting when God is with us, and in perfect love?
It is evident then that the distinct assurance of the presence of God with His people, put as it is here with the entrance of the people into Canaan, is full of instruction as well as of consolation for our souls, which have it guaranteed in terms no less precise than full. We shall need it too, my brethren; and we do need it. Nothing else endures.
Then we have Joshua acting upon it; so do the Reubenites also, while choosing to dwell on this side of death and resurrection. It might have been thought that it was not for them to speak. They had been eager to seize the good land for their flocks and herds on the other side; but even so, remarkably enough, they cross the Jordan with the rest. There may be and are saints that stop short of their proper blessing; but God's mind is that all His people should enter in. Hence therefore there is particular care to single out these Reubenites and Gadites and half the tribe of Manasseh, whom we find so impressed with the word of God, and with the task in which Joshua was just about to engage, that they themselves now take the place of exhorting him: "Only be strong and of a good courage." Such is the first chapter.
And where is the peculiar beauty of the second chapter? and why have we the story of Rahab here? Can we not at once discern? Possibly more may when a few words are added. Why did we not see a Rahab when the Red Sea was passed? Why here more than there? Is it not here that, along with the bringing of the people of God into their proper heavenly relationship, God must give a fresh sign that the distinctions of flesh and blood are worthless? that it is precisely when the saints of God are called heavenly that the fulness of the Gentiles must come in? There was nothing of the sort at the coming out of Egypt no particular witness of grace to the Gentiles then as now. Undoubtedly all is ordered aright; and there was no such propriety, no such special force, in that witness of a Gentile being called then. Now there is. Therefore I conceive that, as we have in the book of Joshua a general resemblance to the Ephesian epistle, so we may say thatJoshua 2:1-24; Joshua 2:1-24 answers toEphesians 2:1-22; Ephesians 2:1-22 or the latter part of it. Indeed the same principle runs through both, the one typically, the other in plain reality. For, after the new people who are called the church are shown as put into relationship with Christ at the right hand of God, then we have the bringing in of the Gentile particularly and expressly. Of the Jew it was not so requisite to say much. It was perfectly plain that the 'dew was brought out of his Judaism; but the Gentile who had not a single religious privilege is declared to be the object of the fullest divine favour now in Christ. Without Christ, without hope, without God in the world, without promise even, a stranger to the covenants, spite of all their spiritual destitution and their actual degradation, the Gentiles are now brought nigh, and this with a wholly new kind of nearness unknown to Israel of old. Hence therefore it appears to me that we cannot doubt of the truly admirable wisdom of God in bringing in such an one as Rahab. Not merely was she a Gentile, but chosen by grace from the ranks of the fallen; she was avowedly, what is most degrading to a woman, a harlot. I know there are those who have by small points of philology endeavoured to argue that this was not necessarily the fact, and that the designation may have imported no more than that she kept a kind of public lodging. Men have thus sought to save the character not of Rahab only but of God's word. But they need not take the trouble. It is better to accept the Bible with simplicity. Flesh, all flesh, is grass. Indeed there is beauty in the humbling fact just as it is. For if God is going out in the might of His own grace, and showing what He is for His people, why should He not take up one that might seem to human eyes too far steeped in depravity for His blessing, more particularly at such a time? So mistake greater in truth could be made about it. When God raises up His own to the highest, it is the very time when grace goes down to the lowest. Therefore, far from finding a difficulty in that which was the character of Rahab, it appears to me that a great deal of the moral weight of divine truth, and of the beauty of the tale of grace here introduced, is lost by those who wish to make her a more respectable person than she really was. My brethren, it is not what we were, but what grace makes us, that is everything to the believer now; and so Rahab proved then.
We need not dwell upon that which would have the deepest interest for an evangelist's appeal. Nor is it my present aim to pass all in minute review, more especially such a part of the subject. Suffice it to say that Rahab shows us a faith strikingly in keeping with what God was now doing. Indeed this being always true must be more or less manifest. Faith is never a mere repetition in any case. There are hardly two souls whose conversion is exactly alike. Even though they may be converted at the same time, under the same discourse of the same preacher, still each has a speciality; and the more they are understood, the more anyone really gets into the heart of those who are converted, the more decided is the difference seen to be. But this is just what it should be; as it also gives a more living interest to those who really love souls and the ways of God with individuals. Assuredly it is worth learning what a soul is to God, and the manner of God's grace with every soul He brings to Himself. So there was distinctive character in Rahab's conversion. Who would mean to say that everything was as it should be with the object of His mercy? Far from it. The soul that is saved is not the Saviour; nor can it ever rise up to the Saviour, though we all shall be like Him. Unquestionably there is a mighty chasm which grace crosses; and the results are not small in those who believe even now. Still we may see in Rahab what appears to be connected with her old habits; for even at the very time when the truth had told powerfully on her, she lets out a little of what was, I suppose, her old character in her ways and words. There is no doubt she judged that it was all for a good cause; but can one deny that there was a spice of deceit along with the shelter she afforded the spies? Now I do not believe anybody is ever called or allowed of God to deceive in the smallest degree or for any end whatever. We sometimes meet the fact, even in saints of the Old Testament; but never the least justification of it. In short we may find as here the drawback of flesh at the very time when God's grace is blessing in the Spirit. We find it in others who ought to have known better than the Gentile harlot of Jericho. If we hear of such a fault in Rahab, there was at least as great in an Abraham even, none less in Isaac, and yet more. in Jacob. If they after their knowledge of God could so fail, we must not wonder that, when this poor heathen was in but the transition state of coming to the Lord, she betrays what she was in herself, as truly as her faith shows what she had received from God. But this at least she was certain of, that God was with that people. This she saw clearly, that she was in the midst of the enemies of God; and in spirit she had done with them. Faith made her turn her back on her oldest associations of nature. Her heart now was with God and with God's people; and it is a good thing, be assured, that one should have one's heart set upon being not only with Him but with them, and this more particularly considering the world through which we are passing.
To have confidence in the link that is between God and His people is of great practical moment. To many perhaps it might sound and pass muster as more spiritual to say, "I am content with God only: as for His people, I am content to be apart from them. So grave are their faults, so many ways and words that are unworthy, that I must be excused if I seek them not. Do not talk about the people of God: God Himself alone for me." This, I say, was not Rahab's feeling; nor is it God's, who loves them, as we should also. He loves them, spite of what they are; and if we are led of His Spirit, if we have communion with Him, we love them too, and their faults will not alienate our hearts from them: who would put value on the love that could be turned away by a failure? Besides, who and what are we, so ready to criticise the failings of brethren? Have we none to confess of our own? Does it never occur to us that we may be a trial and grief to others, if not a stumbling-block by this very haste to judge? Let us rather learn to judge ourselves more, and to esteem others better than ourselves. I do not say this to make light of evil: God forbid! But assuredly true love labours and loves spite of faults, and seeks to get its object free. Indeed, sometimes we may rather rivet a fault by our own foolish way of dealing with it; but if we are truly led of God, we shall love those whom He loves. Rahab understood this very simply when she identified not God only but herself with the spies she hid in the flax. And this expressed a better, stronger, more real faith, than any words could have done in the circumstances. She proved her faith by her good works, and this in loving not merely the God of Israel but the Israel of God. Was not this its character and meaning? Because of what she had heard (faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God), she connected by a true and single instinct Israel with God; and she was right.
Hence, if even the king of Jericho came before Rahab's mind with a claim that would otherwise have been paramount, faith changed everything. No doubt it had its risk. She carried her life in her hand. It is for God to see to that. He did then as He always does; He acted for His own glory, magnifying Himself whether by our life or by our death for His name's sake. She at any rate had her mind made up. She might be put to death for what the king would call an act of treason; and an act of treason undoubtedly it was after the flesh, judged by its rules. It must have seemed to the men of Jericho selling her country and her king; but she measured every thing by God. This is faith's reckoning. Not only are there cases where one must take one's side thus, but the principle extends to the most ordinary occasions. It is really incumbent on every one who is brought to God. In that most solemn change for the soul, what is every body else in the world as standing between us and God? And what is the effect of faith? That the more you are brought out simply into confidence in God's mind toward His people, the more you must love those whom God loves. Rahab in a striking and practical way apprehended this. Hence she risked her own life in giving effect to this divine conviction; for faith is most real, and can stake everything on God and His way. So she counted it no foolish speculation to risk the loss of life and all things for the spies, because they were the spies of ,Jehovah's people, whose success to her mind was a certainty; and faith assures itself of His mercy in that day.
But she lets us know a little too of the state of feeling in Jericho. Her reasoning was sound, according to faith. It was no mere sentiment, nor sudden feeling either. There were many that shared her fears; but who shared the faith of Rahab? The warriors of the city were not without the same apprehensions. But in her case, as often in ours, God's Spirit wrought where at first there was simply dread. This God followed up, replacing it by living faith in Himself and in His love for His people. "We have heard," says she, "how Jehovah dried up the water of the Red Sea for you when ye came out of Egypt." She at least attributed their crossing to no second cause; nor did the men of Jericho share the unbelief of moderns who feign that Moses knew and used a ford in passing the Red Sea. She understood the truth because she had faith. "I know," she said, "that Jehovah hath given you the land, and that your terror is fallen upon us, and that all the inhabitants of the land faint because of you. For we have heard how Jehovah dried up the water of the Red Sea for you, when ye came out of Egypt; and what ye did unto the two kings of the Amorites, that were on the other side Jordan, Sihon and Og, whom ye utterly destroyed. And as soon as we had heard these things, our hearts did melt neither did there remain any more courage in any man, because of you: for Jehovah your God, he is God in heaven above, and in earth beneath. Now therefore, I pray you, swear unto me by Jehovah, since I have showed you kindness, that ye will also show kindness unto my father's house." (Verses 9-12)
Again I do not believe that it was for her only a question of saving natural life, though of course lives were preserved according to the oath of the spies. But her faith rose above the mere outward circumstances. The comment of James supposes a higher character, as it seems to me. Hence she was not merely incorporated in the line of Israel generally; she was actually brought into the line of Messiah, and sat in the most honourable place into which a woman could be brought after the flesh. The basis is laid in the book that shows us death to flesh, but God acting according to His own grace and accomplishing salvation in the midst of judgment. Accordingly an appropriate sign was given her not only for her own sake but for her family. Salvation came to her house that day, though they were poor and guilty Gentiles. Their deliverance shines the more brightly in the destruction of all the rest. The executors of judgment on Jericho guarantee the safety of Rahab and all her house.
Then comes the new scene in Joshua 3:1-17. "And Joshua rose early in the morning; and they removed from Shittim, and came to Jordan, he and all the children of Israel, and lodged there before they passed over. And it came to pass after three days, that the officers went through the host; and they commanded the people, saying, When ye see the ark of the covenant of Jehovah your God, and the priests the Levites bearing it, then ye shall remove from your place, and go after it." It is plain that in this case there are some notable points that differ from those of the passing of the Red Sea. There was no such solemnity there as here. The ark of Jehovah had no place in that scene; nor any assertion of His right to all the earth the Lord of all the earth. There was no such order as the priests entering in with the ark first, and then the waters failing for the people to pass over. In the main substance there appears the same general truth: that is, God's power acts in grace, and His people enter into death and come victoriously out of it. But when this has been said, we have heard perhaps all that is common.
Let us now look a little at the differences which seem of chief moment. Jehovah there tells the people to sanctify themselves, "for tomorrow Jehovah will do wonders among you. And Joshua spake unto the priests, saying, Take up the ark of the covenant, and pass over before the people. And they took up the ark of the covenant, and went before the people. And Jehovah said unto Joshua, This day will I begin to magnify thee in the sight of all Israel, that they may know that, as I was with Moses, so I will be with thee. And thou shalt command the priests that bear the ark of the covenant, saying, When ye are come to the brink of the water of Jordan, ye shall stand still in Jordan." So Joshua tells them to come hither and hear the words of Jehovah their God, assuring them that "Hereby ye shall know that the living God is among you, and that he will without fail drive out from before you the Canaanites, and the Hittites, and the Hivites, and the Perizzites, and the Girgashites, and the Amorites, and, the Jebusites. Behold, the ark of the covenant of Jehovah of all the earth passeth over before you into Jordan. Now therefore take you twelve men out of the tribes of Israel, out of every tribe a man. And it shall come to pass, as soon as the soles of the feet of the priests that bear the ark of Jehovah of all the earth, shall rest in the waters of Jordan, that the waters of Jordan shall be cut off from the waters that come down from above; and they shall stand upon an heap." Such was to be the principle: God's ark was to go before; the people would follow, yet with a space intervening. (Verses 3, 4) Even in the deepest mercy or the richest conference of privilege as God cannot lose His reverence, so His people shall not make haste.
"And it came to pass, when the people removed from their tents, to pass over Jordan, and the priests bearing the ark of the covenant before the people; and as they that bare the ark were come unto Jordan, and the feet of the priests that bare the ark were dipped in the brim of the water (for Jordan overfloweth all his banks all the time of harvest)," etc.; that is, the difficulties were greatest at this very time. Jordan was peculiarly full. Therefore it was rather harder, if anything, to have crossed then. How then was it that God met the difficulty? "The waters which came down from above stood and rose up upon an heap, very far from the city Adam that is beside Zaretan: and those that came down toward the sea of the plain, even the salt sea, failed, and were cut off: and the people passed over right against Jericho. And the priests that bare the ark of the covenant of Jehovah stood firm on dry ground in the midst of Jordan, and all the Israelites passed over on dry ground, until all the people were passed clean over Jordan." When the priests' feet bearing the ark touched, the waters shrank; and in the midst the priests abode till the people crossed. Faith was thus in lively exercise.
"And it came to pass, when all the people were clean passed over Jordan, that Jehovah spake unto Joshua, saying, Take you twelve men out of the people, out of every tribe a man, and command ye them, saying, Take you hence out of the midst of Jordan, out of the place where the priests' feet stood firm, twelve stones, and ye shall carry them over with you, and leave them in the lodging place, where ye shall lodge this night." (Joshua 4:1-3) Twelve stones were laid in the Jordan where the priests' feet stood, and twelve stones taken out of the Jordan; being, it is evident, the memorials one more particularly of death, as taken into the river, the other of resurrection, as taken out of the waters. They were the signs not only of Christ's death and resurrection, but of the connection of the people with Christ in it. The Adam life cannot enjoy Canaan, and must go down into death. Beyond the Jordan it must be the power of a better life. For this very reason therefore there were twelve. Wherever man is made prominent wherever his administrative place is found in Scripture it has been suggested that twelve is the number ordinarily employed. It is the regular number for completeness in that point of view; that is, where human agency as such is brought before us. Though a familiar truth, still it seems well to notice it by the way.
Such is the reason then why we find twelve stones on this occasion. It was the sign that the people had been there, but having passed through death they had come out of it to the other side. It was the association of the people with the risen Christ Himself. Hence in this place we have the full sign of the glory of the person of Christ as far as a type could convey it. There was none more complete than the ark. Here we do not read of a rod stretched over the waters. The rod was used at the Red Sea; for it was the sign of judicial authority, and so it appropriately appears on that occasion. Judgment fell upon Christ in order that we should be delivered. In the passing out of Egypt it was a question of God's power grounded on His righteous judgment. His judicial authority interfered there, as we see in the destruction of Pharaoh and his hosts. But was not Israel both guilty and ruined? Have not we been also? Christ bore this completely for us, being delivered for our offences, and raised again for our justification.
But at the river Jordan there are new wants. Judicial authority has fully run its course. It is not merely a question of Christ bringing us out from the judgment of God by His own bearing it, but of what Christ going down into death entitles us to enter into according to the rights of His work and the glory of His person. Christ, dead and risen, having perfectly glorified God on the cross, could not be adequately glorified short of heavenly glory. Born the Son of David, He ever called Himself the Son of man. Undoubtedly He had therefore a title to both the kingdom of God in Israel and the still wider empire over all nations and tribes and tongues. But is this the full extent? Not so. There could be no measure. These are the boundless ways of God's glorifying Christ, not only in the highest seats of heaven but, as far as a creature could be a witness of it, in all creation put under Him. It is the same spirit we find here with the symbol of His person in death and resurrection as entering into that place which alone suits One so glorious. Where is it? Heaven alone suffices. Is there one part of the creation of God higher than another? It must be the place for Christ. If there be one sphere that could show exaltation more than another, Christ must be placed there. But Christ, if He goes there, will not be severed from us.
This is therefore what the ark represents. It is the fullest witness of the glory of Christ that could be found in Israel as a type. Hence therefore this is the way in which He is looked at. I repeat, it is not merely righteousness but glory. It is not entering into death to bring us out of what was wrong, but going into death by resurrection as a title to bring us into all that is good and glorious too. Into that connection, my brethren, we are brought now. The object of God's doing so is to deliver us from the false glory of the world, in order that all that is of man, all that occupies his heart, or that could be an object here, should be left behind us. How? By an effort? Exclusively by belief of the truth by Christ received and known by the attractive power of the grace and might of God which, in so giving and raising up and exalting Christ in glory, has bound us up with Him for ever, and has bound us up with Him now. This then is what I shall endeavour to bring out still more fully as we look at the book farther.
Let me only add a few words more now as to this. It is not pleasant to the flesh to die; yet in these things is the life of the Spirit. For man it is an impossibility, but with God all things are possible. "All the Israelites passed over on dry ground." "Ye are dead and your life is hid with Christ in God," says the apostle to the Colossians for all Christians. We shall see that the attention of the people is particularly called to the event: "On that day Jehovah magnified Joshua in the sight of all Israel; and they feared him, as they feared Moses, all the days of his life. And Jehovah spake unto Joshua, saying, Command the priests that bear the ark of the testimony, that they come up out of Jordan. Joshua therefore commanded the priests, saying, Come ye up out of Jordan. And it came to pass, when the priests that bare the ark of the covenant of Jehovah were come up out of the midst of Jordan, and the soles of the priests' feet were lifted up unto the dry land, that the waters of Jordan returned unto their place, and flowed over all his banks, as they did before. And the people came up out of Jordan on the tenth day of the first month, and encamped in Gilgal, in the east border of Jericho. And those twelve stones, which they took out of Jordan, did Joshua pitch in Gilgal. And he spake unto the children of Israel, saying, When your children shall ask their fathers in time to come, saying, What mean these stones? Then ye shall let your children know, saying, Israel came over this Jordan on dry land. For Jehovah your God dried up the waters of Jordan from before you, until ye were passed over, as Jehovah your God did to the Red Sea, which he dried up from before us, until we were gone over: that all the people of the earth might know the hand of Jehovah, that it is mighty: that ye might fear Jehovah your God for ever." (Ver. 14-24) It is not now judgment. There is no question of destroying Pharaoh or his hosts. It is not the dealing with what is evil; but the power of Christ's resurrection in bringing us into what is glorious and heavenly. And very certainly we need them both, and we need them in this order too. A person who looks at Christ simply as bringing into what is good is in danger of constantly allowing what is bad. It is not merely the gift of what is good that delivers the sinner. There must be the solemn sense in our own souls that we are evil ourselves, and are most righteously obnoxious to God's judgment, because of our sinful ways; and that nothing could deliver us, had not Christ Himself borne it, putting Himself under it and exhausting it for us, and that thus thus only could we be saved according to God.
Therefore, it was then a question of Israel being saved; but here it is God magnifying His own love for His people according to His counsels for His own glory. It is God giving the magnificent proof of what He is for His people in the face of Satan and his hosts. If I do not enter into this, I shall only be occupied with my personal salvation and my own blessing. This is all right at first: all else is but theory then. But having gone through, in my own soul, the sense of my guilt and ruin, and of my deliverance in Christ from both, then I am free in spirit to enter into the scene of glory before going there actually; for the blessed Saviour even now has brought me into His things, and not merely delivered me from mine of the first man.
This then is the double truth. This is what Christ has been for us and what God has given us in Him. May we value Him everywhere, delighting in all that grace has given us in the word! The same Israelite could not at the same time be a pilgrim in the wilderness and a conqueror of his Canaanitish enemies in the land. But we ought to know them both together; for in truth all things are ours, and we are now seated in heavenly places in Christ and in conflict with spiritual wickedness there, whilst we are journeying in patience through the desert.
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Kelly, William. "Commentary on Joshua 1:8". Kelly Commentary on Books of the Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/wkc/joshua-1.html. 1860-1890.
the <>Sixth Sunday after Easter