Joshua 24

 

 

THE LAST RENEWAL OF THE COVENANT (vs. 1-28)

 

The difference between this address to the children of Israel and the one in the

previous chapter is there, Joshua’s object was to warn them of the danger of

evil doing, whereas in this he designed to lead them, now they were in full

possession of the land, to make a formal renewal of the covenant. For this

purpose he briefly surveys the history of Israel from the call of Abraham

down to the occasion on which he addressed them. Up to that time the

covenant had been given them as one which it would be their duty to fulfill

when the time arrived. Now, he reminds them, the time had arrived. And

just as the Church calls upon those who were dedicated to God in infancy

to solemnly affirm, when they are old enough, their obligation to fulfill the

engagement that was then contracted for them, so Joshua, now Israel was

in a position to carry out fully the terms of the covenant, chooses a place as

well as a time most fitting for the ceremony, and obtains from them a full

recognition of the duties to which they were bound. In this address there is

no appeal to their feelings. It is no question of personal influence to guide them into

the right path. They are now simply asked to affirm or deny the position in which,

whether they affirm or deny it, they really stand before God.

 

1 “And Joshua gathered all the tribes of Israel to Shechem,” - The Septuagint

and the Arabic version read Shiloh here, and as the words “they presented themselves

(literally, took up their station) before God” follow, this would seem the natural

reading. But there is not the slightest manuscript authority for the reading, and it is

contrary to all sound principles of criticism to resort to arbitrary emendations of the

text. Besides, the Septuagint itself reads ΣυχέμSuchemShechem -  in v. 25,

and adds, “before the tabernacle of the God of Israel,” words implied, but not

expressed in the Hebrew. We are therefore driven to the supposition that this

gathering was one yet more solemn than the one described in the previous chapter.

The tabernacle was no doubt removed on this great occasion to Shechem. The

locality, as Poole reminds us, was well calculated to inspire the Israelites

with the deepest feelings. It was the scene of God’s first covenant with

Abraham (Genesis 12:6-7), and of the formal renewal of the covenant

related in Ibid. ch. 35:2-4 (see note on vs. 23, 26), and in ch.8:30-35, when

the blessings and the curses were inscribed on Mount Gerizim and Ebal, and

the place where Joseph’s bones (v. 32) were laid, possibly at this time, or if not,

at the time when the blessings and curses were inscribed. And now, once again,

a formal renewal of the covenant was demanded from Israel by their aged chieftain,

before his voice should cease to be heard among them any more. Rosenmuller

reminds us that Josephus, the Chaldee and Syriac translators, and the Aldine and

Complutensian editions of the Septuagint itself, have Sichem. Bishop Horsley

makes the very reasonable suggestion that Shiloh was not as yet the name

of a town, but possibly of the tabernacle itself, or the district in which it

had been pitched. And he adds that Mizpeh and Shechem, not Shiloh,

appear to have been the places fixed upon for the gathering of the tribes

(see Judges 10:17; 11:11; 20:1; 27; I Samuel 7:5). See, however,

Judges 21:12, as well as ch.21:2; 22:12. Some additional probability is given to

this view by the fact noticed above, that it is thought necessary to describe the

situation of Shiloh in Judges 21:19, and we may also fail to notice that the words

translated “house of God” in Judges 20:18, 26 in our version, is in reality Bethel,

there being no “house of God” properly so called, but only the “tabernacle of the

congregation.” The tabernacle in that case would be moved from place to

place within the central district assigned to it, as necessity or convenience

dictated.  Hengstenberg says that the meeting in the last chapter had reference to

Israel from a theocratic and religious, and this one from an historical point of

view, he is on firmer ground. The former exhortation is ethical, this historical.

He goes on to refer to the deeply interesting historical traditions centering round

this place, which have been noticed above. The oak in ver. 26, he maintains to be

the same tree that is mentioned in Genesis 12:6 (where our version has, erroneously,

“plain”), and which is referred to both in Genesis 35:4 and here as the (i.e, the

well known) terebinth in Shechem (see note on v. 26). He has overlooked the fact

that the tree in Genesis 12:6 is not an אֵלָה but an אֵלון. He goes on to

contend that the terebinth was not merely “by” but “in” the sanctuary of

the Lord, which he supposes to be another sanctuary beside the tabernacle,

perhaps the sacred enclosure round Abraham’s altar. But he is wrong, as

has been shown below, (v. 26), when he says that בְּ never signifies near

(see v. 25). The question is one of much difficulty, and cannot

be satisfactorily settled. But we may dismiss without fear, in the light of the

narative in ch. 22 -. “and called for the elders of Israel, and for their

heads, and for their judges, and for their officers; and they presented

 themselves before God.”

 

2 “And Joshua said unto all the people,” -  (see note on ch.23:2) -  “Thus saith

the LORD God of Israel,” -  Rather, Jehovah, the God of Israel (see Exodus 3:13).

Until the vision to Moses, the God of Israel had no distinctive name. After that time

Jehovah was the recognized name of the God of Israel, as Chemosh of the Moabites,

Milcom of the Ammonites, Baal of the Phoenicians. Our translation, “the Lord,”

somewhat obscures this -“Your fathers dwelt on the other side of the flood” - 

Rather, of the river. Euphrates is meant, on the other side of which (see, however,

 note on last verse) lay Ur of the Chaldees. It is worthy of notice that there is no

evidence of the growth of a myth in the narrative here. We have a simple abstract

of the history given us in the Pentateuch, without the slightest addition, and certainly

without the invention of any further miraculous details. All this goes to establish the

position that we have here a simple unvarnished history of what occurred.

The manufacture of prodigies, as every mythical history, down to the

biographies of Dominic and Francis, tells us, is a process that cannot stand

still. Each successive narrator deems it to be his duty to embellish his

narrative with fresh marvels. Compare this with the historical abridgment

before us, and we must at least acknowledge that we are in the presence of

phenomena of a very different order - “in old time,” - Literally, from everlasting,

 i.e, from time immemorial, ἀπ ἄρχηςap archaesfrom the beginning.  The

Rabbinic tradition has great probability in it, that Abraham was driven out of his

native country for refusing to worship idols. It is difficult to understand his call

otherwise. No doubt his great and pure soul had learned to abhor the idolatrous

and cruel worship of his countrymen. By inward struggles, perhaps by the vague

survival of the simpler and truer faith which has been held to underlie every

polytheistic system, he had “reached a purer air,” and learned to ADORE THE

ONE TRUE GOD!   His family were led to embrace his doctrines, and they left

their native land with him. But Haran, with its star worship, was no resting place

for him. So he journeyed on westward, leaving the society of men, and

preserving himself from temptation by his nomad life. No wandering

Bedouin, as some would have us believe (see Drew, ‘Scripture Lands,’ p.

18), but a prince, on equal terms with Abimelech and Pharaoh, and capable

of overthrowing the mighty conqueror of Elam. Such an example might

well be brought to the memory of his descendants, who were now to be

sojourners in the land promised to their father. Guided by conscience

alone, with every external influence against him, he had worshipped the

true God in that land. No better argument could be offered to his

descendants, when settled in that same land, and about to be bereft of that

valuable support which they had derived from the life and influence of Joshua -

“even Terah, the father of Abraham, and the father of Nachor: and

they served other gods.” Other gods. That the family of Nahor were not

exactly worshippers of the one true God in the same pure ritual as Abraham, may

be gathered from the fact that Laban had teraphim (Genesis 31:19, 30).

But recent researches have thrown some light on the condition of

Abraham’s family and ancestors. If Ur Casdim be identified, as recent

discoverers have supposed, with Mugeyer, which, though west of

Euphrates as a whole, is yet to the eastward of one of its subordinate

channels (see ‘Transactions of the Society of Biblical Arebaeology,’ 3:229;

Tomkins, ‘Studies on the Time of Abraham,’ p. 4), its ruins give us

plentiful information concerning the creed of its inhabitants. We may also

find some information about this primeval city in Rawlinson’s ‘Ancient

Monarchies,’ 1:15, and in Smith’s ‘Assyrian Discoveries,’ p. 233. The

principal building of this city is the temple of the moon god Ur. One of the

liturgical hymns to this moon god is in existence, and has been translated

into French by M. Lenormant. In it the moon is addressed as Father, earth

enlightening god, primeval seer, giver of life, king of kings, and the like.

The sun and stars seem also to have been objects of worship, and a highly

developed polytheistic system seems to have culminated IN THE

HORRIBLE CUSTOM OF HUMAN SACRIFICES.  (On the

Judgment Day, I WONDER HOW GOD WILL INTERPRET

WHAT LED TO THE CULMINATION OF THE MILLIONS

OF ABORTIONS IN AMERICA AND AROUND THE WORLD

IN THE LATER DAYS OF TIME?????? (I recommend

Abortion Rationale – 2012 – this web site – CY – 2012)   This was a

recognized practice among the early Accadians, a Turanian race which

preceded the Semitic in these regions. A fragment of an early Accadian hymn

has been preserved, in which the words “his offspring for his life he gave”

occur, and it seems that the Semitic people of Ur adopted it from them. A

similar view is attributed to Balak in Micah 6:5-7, and was probably derived

 from documents which have since perished (see Tomkins, ‘Studies on the Time of

Abraham,’ p 24). Hence, no doubt the Moloch, or Molech, worship which

was common in the neighborhood of Palestine, and which the descendants

of Abraham on their first entrance thither rejected with such disgust (see

also Genesis 22., where Abraham seems to have some difficulties

connected with his ancestral creed). Other deities were worshipped in the

Ur of the Chaldees. Sumas, the sun god, Nana, the equivalent of Astarte,

the daughter of the moon god, Bel and Belat, “his lady.” “In truth,” says

Mr. Tomkins, in the work above cited, “polytheism was stamped on the

earth in temples and towers, and the warlike and beneficent works of kings.

Rimmon was the patron of the all-important irrigation, Sin of brick making

and building, Nergal of war.” A full account of these deities will be found

in Rawlinson’s ‘Ancient Monarchies,’ vol. 1.

 

3 “And I took your father Abraham from the other side of the flood,

and led him throughout all the land of Canaan, and multiplied his

seed, and gave him Isaac.  4  And I gave unto Isaac Jacob and Esau:

 and I gave unto Esau mount Seir, to possess it; but Jacob and his

children went down into Egypt.”

 

5 “I sent Moses also and Aaron, and I plagued Egypt, according to that

which I did among them:” - This verse implies that the Israelites possessed

some authentic record which rendered it unnecessary to enter into detail. Add

to this the fact that this speech is ascribed to Joshua, and that the historian, as we

have seen, had access to authentic sources of information, and we cannot

avoid the conclusion that the hypothesis of the existence of the written law

of Moses at the time of the death of Joshua has a very high degree of

probability. The word rendered “plagued” is literally smote, but usually

with the idea of a visitation from God - “and afterward I brought you out.”

The absence of any mention of the plagues here is noteworthy. It cannot be

accounted for on the supposition that our author was ignorant of them, for

we have ample proof that the Book of Joshua was compiled subsequently

to the Pentateuch. This is demonstrated by the quotations, too numerous to

specify here, which have been noticed in their place. We can only,

therefore, regard the omission made simply for the sake of brevity, and

because they were so well known to all, as a sign of that tendency, noticed

under v. 1, to abstain from that amplification of marvels common to all

histories. Had Joshua desired to indulge a poetic imagination, an admirable

opportunity was here afforded him.

 

6 “And I brought your fathers out of Egypt: and ye came unto the sea;

and the Egyptians pursued after your fathers with chariots and

horsemen unto the Red sea.”  There is no unto in the original. Perhaps the

meaning here is into the midst of, the abruptness with which it is introduced

meaning more than that the Israelites arrived at it. But though without the

He locale, it may be no more than the accusative of motion towards a place.

(I recommend arkdiscovery.com and look over the material about the Red

Sea Crossing – CY – 2012)

 

7 “And when they cried unto the LORD,” - This fact is taken, without addition

or amplification, from Exodus 14:10-12. The original has unto Jehovah, for

“unto the Lord.”  -  “He put darkness” -  (see Ibid. vs.19-20). The occurrence,

which there is most striking and miraculous, is here briefly related. But the miracle is

presupposed, although its precise nature is not stated - “between you” - This

identification of the Israel of Joshua’s day with their forefathers is common in this

book (see notes on ch.6:21) -“and the Egyptians, and brought the sea upon

them, and covered them; and your eyes have seen what I have done in Egypt:

and ye dwelt in the wilderness a long season.” Literally, many days. Here, again,

there is no discrepancy between the books of Moses and this epitome of their

contents. If both this speech and the Pentateuch were a clumsy patchwork,

made up of scraps of this narrative and that, flung together at random, this

masterly abstract of the contents of the Pentateuch is little short of a

miracle. Whatever may be said of the rest of the narrative, this speech of

Joshua’s must have been written subsequently to the appearance of the

books of Moses in their present form. But is there any trace of the later

Hebrew in this chapter more than any other?

 

8 “And I brought you into the land of the Amorites,” - (see ch.12:1-6;

Numbers 21:21-35; Deuteronomy 2:32-36; 3:1-17) - “which dwelt on

the other side Jordan; and they fought with you: and I gave them

into your hand, that ye might possess their land; and I destroyed

them from before you.”

 

 9 “Then Balak the son of Zippor,” - We have here the chronological

order, as well as the exact historical detail, of the events carefully preserved

“king of Moab, arose and warred against Israel,” - The nature of the war

is indicated by the rest of the narrative, and this tallies completely with that given

in the Book of Numbers. Balak would have fought if he dared, but as he feared

to employ temporal weapons he essayed to try spiritual ones in their stead.

But even these were turned against him. The curse of God’s prophet was

miraculously turned into a blessing -“and sent and called Balaam the

son of Beor to curse you:”

 

10 “But I would not” - The Hebrew shows that this is not simply the conditional

form of the verb, but that it means I willed not. It was God’s “determinate purpose”

that Israel should not be accursed - “hearken unto Balaam; therefore he blessed

you still:” -  Rather, perhaps, blessed you emphatically  - “so I delivered you out

of his hand.” Both here and in the narrative in Numbers 22-30, it is implied that

Balaam’s curse had power if he were permitted by God to pronounce it. Wicked as be

was, he was regarded as a prophet of the Lord. There is not the slightest shadow of

difference between the view of Balaam presented to us in this short paragraph and that

in which  he appears to us in the more expanded narrative of Moses.

 

11 “And ye went over Jordan,” - This epitome of Joshua’s deals with his own

narrative just as it does with that of Moses. The miraculous portions of the history

are passed over, or lightly touched, but there is not the slightest discrepancy between

the speech and the history, and the miraculous element is presupposed throughout the

former -“and came unto Jericho: and the men of Jericho” - Literally, the lords or

possessors of Jericho. The seven Canaanitish tribes that follow are not identical with,

but supplementary to, the lords of Jericho -“fought against you,” - The word is the

same as that translated “warred” in v. 9. The people of Jericho did not fight actively.

They confined themselves to defensive operations. But these, of course, constitute war -

 “the Amorites, and the Perizzites, and the Canaanites, and the Hittites, and

the Girgashites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites; and I delivered them into

your hand.”

 

12 “And I sent the hornet” - Commentators are divided as to whether this

statement is to be taken literally or figuratively. The mention of hornets in

the prophecies in Exodus 23:28, Deuteronomy 7:20 is not conclusive. In the

former passage the hornet seems to be connected with the fear that was to be

felt at their advance. The latter passage is not conclusive on either side. The

probability is — since we have no mention of hornets in the history — that what

is meant is that kind of unreasonable and panic fear which seems, to persons too

far off to discern the assailants, to be displayed by persons attacked by these

apparently insignificant insects. The image is a lively and natural one, and it well

expresses the dismay which, as we read, seized the inhabitants of the land when their

foes, formidable rather from Divine protection then from their number or warlike

equipments, had crossed the Jordan (see ch.2:9-11; 5:1; 6:1). Where the figure

came from is not far to seek. Joshua was quoting the prophecies of Moses mentioned

above.  (I have no doubt that God did this if he wanted to or I have no trouble with

the above commentary, as long as it was God’s idea – either way, it was not the

Israelites who brought about this condition, as explained below – since hornets are

stated to be involved in three different above mentioned scriptures, I tend to go

with the Word of God in the matter - CY – 2012) – “before you, which drave

them out from before you, even the two kings  of the Amorites;” -  Sihon

and Og, who were driven out, beside the tribes on the other side Jordan who have

just been mentioned - “but not with thy sword, nor with thy bow.”

 

13 “And I have given you a land for which ye did not labor,” – The word here

used is expressive of the fatigue of labor, and is more equivalent to our word toil.

The whole passage is suggested by Deuteronomy 6:10-12 - “and cities which ye

built not, and ye dwell in them; of the vineyards and oliveyards which ye

planted not do ye eat.”

 

14 “Now therefore fear the LORD, and serve him in sincerity and in

truth:” -  These words, rendered by the Septuagint – ἐν εὐθύτητι καὶ ἐνδικαιοσύνῃ -

en euthutaeti kai endikaiosunaein righteousness and righteousness (synonyms)

but translated - in sincerity and truth – but are not the precise equivalent of those

so translated in other passages in the Bible, nor is Paul, in I Corinthians 5:8,

quoting this passage where it says εἰλικρινείας καί ἀληθείας eilikrineias kai

alaetheias – sincerity and truth. The word translated sincerity is rather to be

rendered perfection, or perfectness. The Hebrew word signifying truth is

derived from the idea of stability, as that which can stand the rude shocks

of inquiry - “and put away the gods which your fathers served

on the other side of the flood, and in Egypt; and serve ye the LORD.”

 

15 “And if it seem evil unto you to serve the LORD, choose you this

day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were

on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites,” -  There is a

reductio ad absurdum (reduction to absurdity) here.  “Had ye served those gods ye

 would never have been here, nor would the Amorites have been driven out

 before you.”  The reference to the gods of their fathers seems to be intended to

suggest the idea of an era long since lost in the past, and thrown into the

background by the splendid deliverances and wonders which Jehovah had

wrought among them.  “in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house,

we will serve the LORD.”  Or, Jehovah. Here speaks the sturdy old warrior, who

had led them to victory in many a battle. He invites them, as Elijah did on another even

more memorable occasion, to make their choice between the false worship and the true

(I Kings 18), between the present and the future, between the indulgence of

their lusts and the approval of their conscience. But as for himself HIS CHOICE IS

ALREADY MADE!   No desire to stand well with the children of Israel

OBSCURES THE CLEARNESS OF HIS VISION!  No temptations of this

lower world PERVERT HIS SENSE OF TRUTH!   The experience of a life

spent in His service has convinced him that Jehovah is the true God. And from that

conviction he does not intend to swerve. In days when faith is weak and compromise

has become general, when the sense of duty is slight or the definitions of duty

vague, it is well that the spirit of Joshua should be displayed among the

leaders in Israel, and that there should be those who will take their stand

boldly upon the declaration, “BUT AS FOR ME AND MY HOUSE WE

WILL SERVE THE LORD!

 

16 “And the people answered and said, God forbid that we should

forsake the LORD, to serve other gods;”  There could be no doubt of the

sincerity of the people at that moment. The only doubt is that afterwards

expressed by Joshua, whether the feeling were likely to be permanent. The best

test of sincerity is not always the open hostility of foes, for this very often

braces up the energies to combat, while at the same time it makes the path of

duty clear. Still less is it the hour of triumph over our foes, for then there is no

temptation to rebel. The real test of our faithfulness to God is in most cases

our power to continue steadfastly in one course of conduct when the

excitement of conflict is removed, and the enemies with which we have to

contend are the insidious allurements of ease or custom amid the common

place duties of life. Thus the Israelites who, amid many murmurings and

backslidings, kept faithful to the guidance of Moses in the wilderness, and

who followed with unwavering fidelity the banner of Joshua in Palestine,

succumbed fatally to the temptations of a life of peace and quietness after

his death. So too often does the young Christian, who sets out on his

heavenward path with earnest desires and high aspirations, who resists

successfully the temptations of youth to unbelief or open immorality, FALL

A VICTIM TO THE MORE INSIDIOUS SNARES OF COMPROMISE

WITH A CORRUPT SOCIETY  and instead of maintaining a perpetual

warfare with the world, rejecting its principles and despising its precepts,

sinks down into a life of ignoble ease and self indulgence, in the place

OF A LIFE OF DEVOTION TO THE SERVICE OF GOD!

He does not cast off God’s service, he does not reject Him openly, but

mixes up insensibly with His worship the worship of idols which God  hates.

Such persons halt between two opinions, they strive to serve two masters,

and THE END, like that of Israel, is OPEN APOSTASY and RUIN!

 For “God forbid” see ch.22:29.

 

17 “For the LORD our God,” - Rather, for Jehovah our God (see

note on v. 2). The Israelites, we may observe, were no skeptics, nor ever

became such. Their sin was not open rebellion, but the attempt to engraft

upon God’s service conduct incompatible with it, which LED IN

PRACTICE TO THE SAME RESULT — a final antagonism to God.

But they believed in Jehovah; they had no doubt of the miracles He had

worked, nor of the fact that His protecting hand had delivered them from

all their perils, and had achieved for them all their victories. Nor do we find,

amid all their sins, that they ever committed themselves to a formal denial

of His existence and authority. To this, in the worst times, the prophets appeal,

and though ISRAELI OBSTANCY contested their conclusions, it never

disputed their premises - “He it is that brought us up and our fathers

out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage, and which did

those great signs” - Here the people, in their answer, imply the circumstances

which Joshua had omitted. This remark presupposes the miraculous passage

of the Red Sea and the Jordan, and the other great miracles recorded in the

books of Moses and Joshua -  “in our sight, and preserved us in all the way

wherein we went, and among all the people through whom we passed:”

The Hebrew is stronger, “through the midst of whom.” As the destruction of

the Amorites is mentioned afterwards, this must refer to the safe passage of the

Israelites, not only among the wandering bands of Ishmaelites in the wilderness,

but along the borders of king Arad the Canaanite, of Edom, and of Moab

(Numbers chapters 20-25). This close, yet incidental, agreement on the part

of the writers of two separate books serves to establish their trustworthiness!

 

18 “And the LORD drave out from before us all the people, even the

Amorites which dwelt in the land: therefore will we also serve the

LORD; “for He is our God.” There is an ambiguity in our version which

does not exist in the Hebrew. There is no “therefore,” which only serves to obscure

the sense,  and which is borrowed from the Vulgate. The Septuagint, which has

ἀλλὰ καί - alla kai -  therefore we also - gives the true sense. After the

enumeration of the great things God Jehovah has done for them, the

Israelites break off, and, referring to the declaration of Joshua in v.15,

“but as for me and my house, we will serve Jehovah,” reply, “we too

 will serve Jehovah, for He is our God.”

 

19 “And Joshua said unto the people, Ye cannot serve the LORD:” – Calvin

thinks that Joshua said this to rouse the sluggish heart of the people to some

sense of their duty. But this is quite contrary to the fact, for the heart of the

people, as we have seen (ch. 22.), was not sluggish. As little can we accept

the explanation of Michaelis, who paraphrases, “Ye will not be able, from

merely human resolutions, to serve God.” Joshua was stating nothing but a

plain fact, which his own higher conception of the law had taught him, that

the law was too “holy, just, and good” (Romans 7:12) for it to

be possible that Israel should keep it. He had forebodings of coming

failure, when he looked on one side at the law with its stern morality and

rigorous provisions, and the undisciplined, untamed people that he saw

around him. True and faithful to the last, he set before them the law in all

its majesty and fullness, the nature of its requirements, and the unsuspected

dangers that lay in their weak and wayward hearts. No doubt he had a dim

presentiment of the truth, to teach which, to Paul, required a miracle

and three years’ wrestling in Arabia to learn,, that by the deeds of the law

“shall no flesh be justified in God’s sight, for by the law is the knowledge

of sin (Romans 3:20). As yet THE SPIRIT OF GOD had barely begun to

 unveil THE FIGURE OF THE DELIVERER WHO WAS TO DECLARE

AT ONCE GOD’S RIGHTEOUSNESS AND HIS FORGIVENESS!   Yet

none the less did Joshua do his duty, and strove to brace up the Israelites to theirs,

not by disguising the nature of the undertaking to which they were pledging themselves,

but by causing them to be penetrated with a sense of its awfulness and of the solemn

responsibilities which it entailed. St. Augustine thinks that Joshua detected in the

 Israelites already the signs of that SELF-RIGHTEOUSNESS  which Paul

(Romans 10:3) blames, and that he wished to make them conscious of

it. But this is hardly borne out by the narrative - “for He is an holy God;” - The

pluralis excellentiae is used here in the case of the adjective as well as the

substantive. This is to enhance the idea of the holiness which is an essential

attribute of God - “He is a jealous God;” - The meaning is that God will not

permit others to share the affections or rights which are His due alone. The

word, which, as its root, “to be red,” shows, was first applied to human

affections, is yet transferred to God, since we can but approximate to His

attributes by ideas derived from human relations. Not that God stoops to

the meanness and unreasonableness of human jealousy. His vindication of

His rights is no other than reasonable in Him. “His glory” He not only “will

not,” but cannot “give to another.” And therefore, as a jealous man does,

yet without his infirmity, God refuses to allow another to share in what is

due to Himself alone. The word, as well as the existence of the Mosaic

covenant, has no doubt led the prophets to use, as they do on innumerable

occasions, the figure of a husband and wife (Jeremiah 2:2; Ezekiel 23:25; Hosea

2:2,13,16 (margin), 19-20) in describing the relations of God to His Church, and

approximate to His attitude towards His people by the illustration of an injured

husband towards a faithless wife (see also Exodus 34:14; Deuteronomy 6:15).  

“He will not forgive your transgressions nor your sins.”  (Exodus 23:21).

There were many words used for “forgive” in Scripture: נשׁא כפר and סלה. 

The one here used signifies to remove or to bear the burden of guilt, corresponding

to the word αἴρω - airotake away; remove; put away - in the New Testament.

The word here translated “transgressions” is not the same as in ch. 7:15, and the

cognate word to the one rendered “transgressed” in Ibid. v.11, is here rendered

“sins.” It signifies a “breach of covenant,” while the word translated “sins”

is the equivalent of the Greek ἀματίαhamartiasin.

 

20 “If ye sake the LORD, and serve strange gods, then He will turn” -

There is no contradiction between this passage and James 1:17 – “with

whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning”, any more than our

expression, the sun is in the east or in the west, conflicts with science.  James is

speaking of God as He is in Himself, sublime in His unchangeableness and

bountiful purposes towards mankind. Joshua and the prophets, speaking by way of

accommodation to our imperfect modes of expression, speak of Him as He

is in relation to us. In reality it is not He but we who change. He has no

more altered His position than the sun, which, as we say, rises in the east

and sets in the west. But as He is in eternal opposition to all that is false or

evil, we, when we turn aside from what is good and true, must of necessity

exchange His favor for His displeasure -“and do you hurt,” - Literally, do evil

 to you - “and consume you, after that He hath done you good.” - This implies

what has been before stated, that it is not God who is inconsistent but man, not God

who has changed His mind, but man who has changed his.

 

21  “And the people said unto Joshua, Nay; but we will serve the LORD.”

22 “And Joshua said unto the people, Ye are witnesses against yourselves” –

Joshua has not disguised from them the difficulty of the task they have undertaken.

Like a true guide and father, he has placed the case fully and fairly before them, and

they have made their choice. He reminds them that their own words so deliberately

uttered will be forever witnesses against them, should they afterwards refuse to keep

an engagement into which they entered with their eyes open. They do not in any way

shrink from the responsibility, and by accepting the situation as it is placed before them,

render it impossible henceforth to plead ignorance or surprise as an excuse for their

disobedience. And it is well to observe, as has been remarked above, that such an

excuse never was pleaded afterwards, that the obligation, though evaded, was

 never disavowed -“that ye have chosen you the LORD, to serve Him.  And

they said, We are witnesses.”

 

23 “Now therefore put away, said he, the strange gods which are among you,” –

The words translated “among you” have also the meaning, “within you,” and some

think speaks  of inward tendencies to idolatry. But this is very improbable. For the

word is the same as we find translated in v.17, “through whom.”  The internal

scrutiny which the law demanded was hardly so well understood at this early period

as by diligent study it afterwards became. The plain provisions of the law demanded

obedience. Comparatively little heed was given at first to inward feelings and

tendencies.  There can be little doubt that the meaning is precisely the same as in

Genesis 35:2, and that though the Israelites dare not openly worship strange gods,

yet that teraphim and other images were, if not worshipped, yet preserved

among them in such a way as to be likely to lead them into temptation. The

history of Micah in Judges 17:5 is a proof of this, and it must be remembered that

this history is out of its proper place. The zealous Phinehas (Judges 20:28) was

then still alive, and the worship at Micah’s house had evidently been carried on for

some time previous to the disgraceful outrage at Gibeah. The putting away the strange

gods was to be the outward and visible sign, the inclining of the heart the inward and

spiritual grace wrought within them by the mercy of God. For it is not denied that

God desired their affections, and that those affections could scarcely be given while

their heart went secretly after idols. It may be further remarked in support of this

view that the Israelites are not exhorted to turn their heart from the false gods, but to

put them away. It is a plain, positive precept, not a guide for the inner consciousness.

On the other hand, the command to incline the heart to the Lord rests upon the simple

ground of common gratitude. St. Augustine thinks that if any false gods were secretly

in Israel at this time, they would have been met by a severer punishment than that

accorded to Achan - “and incline your heart unto the LORD God of Israel.”

 

Neither the Israelites nor any other nation could serve the Lord perfectly.

Limitations of knowledge and frailties of temper produce at least

temporary deviations from the path of obedience. But the people no doubt

remembered the provision made in the law for sins of ignorance, the

trespass offerings, the day of atonement “to cleanse them that they might

be clean from all their sins before the Lord.” (Leviticus 16:30).  Nor were

they unmindful of the prayers which had been heard on their behalf When Moses

pleaded for them, and the gracious forgiveness that had often followed their national

repentance. And what was dimly foreshadowed in the Levitical economy

now blazes brightly for our instruction and comfort under the Christian

dispensation. JESUS CHRIST HATH  BY ONE OFFERING PERFECTED

THEM THAT ARE SANCTIFIED (Hebrews 10:14).  His perpetual priesthood

is a guarantee for the final salvation of those WHO COME TO GOD BY HIM!

“Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth.”

(Romans 10:4) - “Ye are complete in Him” (Colossians 2:10). The spirit

cries out for entire emancipation from the thraldom of sin, and longs for

the redemption of the body. When shall we be conformed to the image of

Christ, and enjoy to the full what now we know only by brief moments of

rapture and sudden hasty glimpses? You who so delight in Christian work as to

wish you could spend all your time and energy therein, look to the years to come!

 They serve Him day and night in His temple.” (Revelation 7:15).

“His servants shall serve Him, and they shall see His face.”(Ibid. ch. 22:3-4)

 

24 “And the people said unto Joshua,” - The triple repetition of the

promise adds to the solemnity of the occasion and the binding force of

the engagement - “The LORD our God will we serve, and His voice will

we obey.”

 

25 “So Joshua made a covenant” -  Literally, cut a covenant, a phrase common

to the Hebrew, Greek, and Latin tongues, and derived from the custom of sacrifice,

in which the victims were cut in pieces and offered to the deity invoked in ratification

of the engagement. The word used for covenant, berith, is derived from another

word having the same meaning. This appears more probable than the suggestion of

some, that the berith is derived from the practice of ratifying an agreement by a

social meal - “with the people that day, and set them a statute and an ordinance” -

Or, appointed them a statute and a judgment. The word translated “statute” is

derived from the same root as our word hack, signifying to cut, and hence to engrave

in indelible characters. The practice of engraving inscriptions, proclamations, and the

like, on tablets was extremely common in the East. We have instances of it in the two

tables of the law, and in the copy of the law engraven in stones on Mount Ebal. The

Moabite stone is another instance. And the Egyptian, Assyrian, and Babylonian

monarchs seem to have written much of their history in this way (see note on ch.8:32).

The word rendered “ordinance” is far more frequently rendered “judgment” in

our version, and seems to have the original signification of a thing set upright, as

a pillar on a secure foundation “in Shechem.”  (see note on v.1).

 

26 “And Joshua wrote these words” - Or, these things, since the word (see note

on ch..22:24; 23:15) has often this signification.  Joshua no doubt recorded, not the

whole history of his campaigns and the rest of the contents of what is now called the

Book of Joshua, but the public ratification of the Mosaic covenant which had now

been made. This he added to his copy of the book of the law, as a memorial to later

times.  The covenant had been ratified with solemn ceremonies at its first

promulgation (Exodus 24:3-8). At the end of Moses’ ministry he once

more reaffirmed its provisions, reminding them of the curses pronounced

on all who should disobey its provisions, and adding, as an additional

memorial of the occasion, the sublime song contained in Deuteronomy 32.

(See also Deuteronomy 21:19, 22). Joshua was present on this occasion, and

the dying lawgiver charged him to undertake the conquest of the promised

land, and to maintain the observance of the law among the people of God.

Hitherto, however, God’s promise had not been fulfilled. It seems only

natural that when Israel had obtained peaceful possession of the land sworn

unto their fathers, and before they were left to His unseen guidance, they

should once more be publicly reminded of the conditions on which they

enjoyed the inheritance. It may be remarked that, although Joshua’s

addendum to the book of the law has not come down to us, yet that it

covers the principle of such additions, and explains how, at the death of

Moses, a brief account of his death and burial should be appended by

authority to the volume containing the law itself. The last chapter of

Deuteronomy is, in fact, the official seal set upon the authenticity of the

narrative, as the words added here were the official record of the law of

Moses, having been adopted as the code of jurisprudence in the land –

“in the book of the law of God, and took a great stone,”-  (see notes

on ch. 4:2, 9) -“and set it up there under an oak,” -  Perhaps the

terebinth. So the Septuagint (see note on ver. 1). The tree, no doubt, under

which Jacob had hid the teraphim of his household (Genesis 35:4).

This was clearly one of the reasons for which the place was chosen –

“that was by the sanctuary of the LORD.”

 

27 “And Joshua said unto all the people, Behold, this stone shall be a witness” –

(see note on ch.22:27) - “unto us; for it hath heard” - Joshua speaks by a poetical

figure of the stone, as though it had intelligence. The stone was taken from the very

place where they stood, and within earshot of the words which had been spoken.

(If you have trouble with this, “Don’t worry!”  God has some sophisticated form of

virtual reality on tape or a capture of time, much superior to any technology of

the 21st century or any century in the future for that matter, that in the day of

judgment, will witness against the people of that day or ours now!  - CY – 2012) 

Thus it became a more forcible memorial of what had occurred than if it had been

brought from far -  “all the words of the LORD which He spake unto us: it

shall be therefore a witness unto you, lest ye deny your God.”  To deny is

to say that He is not. (One of my favorite scriptures is “If we deny Him, He

also will deny us:  If we believe not, yet He abideth faithful:  HE CANNOT

DENY HIMSELF!” (II Timothy 2:12-13) - The Hebrew implies “to deny

concerning Him,” to contest  the truth of what has been revealed of His essence,

and to disparage or deny the  great things He had done for His people. The whole

scene must have been a striking one. The aged warrior, full of years and honors,

venerable from his piety and courage and implicit obedience, addresses in the

measured, perhaps tremulous, accents of age the representatives of the whole

people he has led so long and so well. Around him are the ancient memories of his

race:

 

·         Here Abraham pitched his tent in his wanderings through Canaan.

·         Here was the first altar built to the worship of the one true God of the land.

·         Here Jacob had buried the teraphim, and solemnly engaged his household

in the worship of the true God.

·         Here was the second foothold the children of Abraham obtained in the

promised land (see v. 32), a foretaste of their future inheritance.

·         The bare heights of Ebal soared above them on one side,

the softer outlines of Gerizim rose above them on the other; and

·         on their sides, the plaster fresh and the letters distinct and clear, were to

be seen the blessings and the curses foretold of those who kept and those

who broke the law.

 

In the midst, Shechem, in a situation, as we have seen, of rare beauty, bore witness

to the fulfillment of God’s promise that the land of their inheritance should be

“a good land,” a “land flowing with milk and honey.” No other place

could combine so many solemn memories; none could more adequately remind them

of the fullness of blessing God had in store for those who would obey His word;

(Does not the scriptures say “Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have

entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for

them that love Him”   (Isaiah 64:4; I Corinthians 2:9),  none  could be fitter to

impress upon them THE DUTY OF WORSHIPPING GOD AND HIM

ALONE!

 

28 “So Joshua let the people depart, every man unto his inheritance.”

 

 

29 “And it came to pass after these things, that Joshua the son of Nun,

the servant of the LORD, died,” -  Joshua’s  end was one which any man might

envy. Honored and beloved, and full of days, he closed his life amid the regrets

of a whole people, and with the full consciousness that he had discharged

the duties God had imposed upon him - “being an hundred and ten years old.”

 

30“And they buried him in the border of his inheritance in Timnathserah,” –

The Septuagint, as well as the Arabic translators have added here the following

words: “There they placed with him in the sepulcher, in which they buried him

there, the stone knives with which he circumcised the children of Israel in Gilgal,

when he led them out from Egypt, as the Lord commanded, and they are there

unto this day.”  This passage is not found in the Hebrew. And as the Arabic and

the Septuagint do not altogether agree, the probability seems to be that some

apocryphal legend was inserted here at a very early date - “which is in mount

Ephraim, on the north side of the hill of Ga-ash.”

 

31 “And Israel served the LORD” -  -  (compare Judges 2:10). We see

here the value of personal influence. Nor is such influence altogether

unnecessary among us now. The periods of great religious movements in

the Christian Church are in many ways very like to the time of the

Israelite conquest of Palestine by Joshua. They are times when God

visibly fights for His Church, when miracles of grace are achieved, when

the enemies of God are amazed and confounded at the great things God

has done. (We often wish that God would intervene in our day like He did in

days of old.  May I say, coinciding with America turning her back on God, that

when God does start to work at the end, whether believer or non-believer,

whether religious or secular, YOU AND I BOTH WILL KNOW IT! 

For any skeptic, I recommend Ezekiel – Study of God’s Use of the Word Know –

this web site – CY – 2012)  The successes, so clearly due to the interposition of

a Higher Power, have a sobering rather than an intoxicating effect, and the

influence of the grave, wise, earnest men at the head of the movement is great with

their enthusiastic followers. But with the removal of these leaders in Israel

a reaction sets in. The fervor of the movement declines, the era of

slackness and compromise succeeds, and a generation arises which “knows

not the Lord, nor yet the works which He had done for Israel (Judges

2:10).  In our times such reactions, living as we do in the full blaze of gospel light,

are far more transient and less fatal than in the days of Israel. But in our measure

we continue to experience the working of that law by which intense energy

is apt to be followed by coldness (Revelation 3:15-16), and every earnest

movement for good needs A CONTINUAL REKINDLING AT THE

ALTAR OF GOD OF THE FIRE WHICH FIRST SET IT AT WORK!

- “all the days of Joshua, and all the days of the elders that overlived

Joshua,” - Literally, that lengthened out their days after Joshua - “and which

had known all the works of the LORD, that He had done for Israel.”

 

32 “And the bones of Joseph,” -   (see Genesis 50:24-25; Exodus 13:19).

Nothing could more fully show the reverence in which the name of Joseph was

held in Israel than this scrupulous fulfillment of his commands, and the careful

record of it in the authentic records of the country. This passage is another link

in the chain of evidence which serves to establish the authenticity and early date

of the present book. For though Joseph’s name was always a striking one in

Israel’s history, it is unquestionable that as time went on his fame was

overshadowed by that ofhis ancestors. It is Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob on whom

the national mind was fixed. It is their names that the prophets recall, the covenant

with them which is constantly brought to mind. But during the Israelites’ sojourn

in Egypt, and while the departure from Egypt was yet recent, the conspicuous

position which Joseph occupied in Egyptian history could not fail to be

remembered, and the command he gave concerning his bones, as well as

his conviction that the prophecy concerning their departure would be

fulfilled, was not likely to be forgotten. The emphatic way in which the

fulfillment of Joseph’s charge is here recorded affords a presumption for the

early date of the book, as well as against the theory that it was a late

compilation from early records. We are not necessarily to suppose that the

interment of Joseph’s remains took place at this period. The Hebrew, as we

have seen, has no pluperfect tense (see for this Judges 2:10), and therefore

it may have taken place, and most probably did take place, as soon as Shechem

was in the hands of Israel. “which the children of Israel brought up out of

Egypt, buried they in Shechem, in a parcel of ground” - Rather, in the portion

of the field (see Genesis 33:19). Our word parcel is derived from particula, and

was originally identical with the word particle, a little part. It has now come to

have a widely different meaning - “which Jacob bought of the sons of Hamor

the father of Shechem for an hundred pieces of silver:” -  There can be little

doubt that this is the true translation. The cognate word in Arabic, signifying

“justice,” is apparently derived from the idea of even scales. A kindred

Hebrew word signifies “truth,” probably from the same original idea.

Another kindred Arabic word signifies a balance. It therefore, no doubt,

means a coin of a certain weight, just as the word shekel has the original

signification of weight. The Rabbinical notion, that the word signified

“lambs,” rests upon no solid foundation, though supported by all the

ancient versions. Some commentators, however, think that a coin is meant

upon which the figure of a lamb was impressed -“and it became the

 inheritance of the children of Joseph.”

 

 

33 “And Eleazar the son of Aaron died; and they buried him in a hill

that pertained to Phinehas his son,” -  The Septuagint, Syriac, and Vulgate

translate this as a proper name, Gibeath or Gabaath Phineas. But it may also

mean Phinehas’ hill. A city may or may not have been built there. The tomb

of Eleazar is still shown near Shechem, “overshadowed by venerable terebinths,”

as Dean Stanley tells us. And so the history ends with the death and burial of

the conqueror of Palestine, the lieutenant of Moses, the faithful and humble

servant of God, and of the successor of Aaron, who had been solemnly invested

with the garments of his father before that father’s death. (Numbers 20:22-29 –

I recommend a study of this – this web site – Numbers 20 – CY – 2012) A

fitting termination to so strange and marvelous a history. With the death of two

such men A NEW ERA  had begun for the chosen people; A DARKER PAGE

NOW HAD TO BE OPENED.  The Septuagint adds to this passage, “In that day

the children of Israel took the ark and carried it about among them, and Phinehas

acted as priest, instead of Eleazar his father, until he died, and was buried in his

own property at Gabaath. And the children of Israel went each one to his place

and to his own city. And the children of Israel worshipped Astarte and

Ashtaroth, the gods of the nations around them. And the Lord delivered

them into the hand of Eglon king of the Moabites, and he had dominion

over them eighteen years.” The passage is an obvious compilation from the

Book of Judges. It has no counterpart in the Hebrew, and the mention of

Astarte and Ashtaroth as different deities is sufficient to discredit it - “which

was given him in mount Ephraim.”

 

 

      The Possession of the Inheritance and Its Responsibilities (vs. 1-28)

 

·         THE COVENANT MUST BE RENEWED BY EACH FOR

HIMSELF. The promises of God are general, to all mankind. But they are

also special, to each individual. They must be applied personally by each

man to his own soul, by faith. (“Ye must be born again” - John 3:16)

For this reason the Church of God has always required a profession of faith

from each person when they entered into covenant with God at baptism. But

this formal profession is practically inoperative, unless each man makes a

personal profession of faith, in his own heart, on which he means to act,

as soon as he is conscious of his own individual responsibility to God. Thus

Israel, when the time had come for the fulfillment of the covenant by reason

of his possession of his inheritance, was called upon to avow his readiness

so to do. And thus he was the typeof all Christians, who cannot appropriate

to themselves the blessings of the covenant until they have acknowledged the

obligation on their part to fulfill its conditions.

 

·         WE DID NOT GAIN THE BLESSINGS FOR OURSELVES (see

v.15). The Israelites were continually reminded that the good things they

enjoyed were not of their own procuring (see Deuteronomy 6:10; 9:5).

And so THE CHRISTIAN IS REMINDED THAT HE OWES ALL

TO GOD!   The Christian covenant is one of mercy, not of works. Any merits

the Christian possesses are not his own, but the gift of God. “What hast thou,

that thou hast not received?” (I Corinthians 4:7) - If the gift of salvation

through Christ, it was not thine by merit, but by GOD’S FREE GRACE!

 If thou hast any bodily or intellectual gifts, they came down “from the Father

 of lights” (James 1:17).  If thou possessest any moral or spiritual qualities

worthy of praise, they have been the work of God’s Spirit within thee. Boast

not, then, of anything thou art. Be not high-minded, but fear. (Romans 11:20)

Take heed to use the gifts that have been given you to God’s glow, and to be

ever thankful to Him for His mercy, to whom you owe all you have and all you

are.

 

·         THE COVENANT IS A HARD ONE TO OBEY. The law of Moses

was singularly strict and searching. It bound men to a close and minute

scrutiny of their lives, and forced them to remember every hour the

obligations they lay under. Nor is the Christian covenant one whit less

searching. Nay, it is far more so, for it embraces not merely every act and

word, but even the “thoughts and intents of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12).

God still punishes those who, even in the least point, offend against His law,

and thus forsake Him and serve strange gods. It is still true that we “cannot”

in our own strength “serve the Lord.” But it is also true that He will forgive

us our short-comings through Jesus Christ, and that He will furnish

us with the strength we lack to fulfill the precepts (John 1:12) of the

wide reaching law which He has set us.

 

 

Public Worship (v. 1)

 

“And they presented themselves before God.” Eminent servants of God

were remarkable for their solicitude respecting the course of events likely

to follow their decease. “When I am gone let heaven and earth come

together” is a sentiment with which a good man can have no sympathy.

Note the instructions given by Moses (Deuteronomy 31.), David (I Kings

2.), Paul (II Timothy 4:1-8), and Peter (II Peter 1:12-15). As Jesus

Christ looked to the future (John 14-17.; Acts 1:3), so did His type

Joshua. He was determined that the people should be bound to the service

of the true God, if solemn meetings and declarations could bring it about.

Nothing should be wanting on his part, at any rate. The gathering of the

Israelites may remind us of the purposes for which we assemble every

Lord’s day. We come:

 

  • TO MAKE SPECIAL PRESENTATION OF OURSELVES BEFORE

GOD. Always in the presence of the Almighty, yet do we on such

occasions “draw nigh” to Him. The world, with its cares and temptations,

is for a season excluded. We leave it to hold more immediate communion

with our heavenly Father. We approach to pay the homage that is His due

from us. Surely those who plead that they can worship in the woods and

fields as well as in God’s house, in solitude as in society, forget that the

honor of Jehovah demands regular, public, united recognition. We have

to consider His glory, not only our INDIVIDUAL SATISFACTION.

 “I will give Thee thanks in the great congregation” (Psalm 35:18). 

It is our privilege also to proffer our requests, to implore the blessings

essential to our welfare.

 

  • TO LISTEN TO THE WORD OF GOD. We have the “lively oracles”

(Acts 7:38), the revelation of God to man. It behoves us to give reverent

attention thereto. In business or at home other matters may distract our

attention; here we can give ourselves wholly to the “still small voice.”

It may instruct, inspire, rebuke, and comfort. The utterance of God’s

messenger claims a hearing as the message from God to our souls.

“Thus saith the Lord” (v. 2). The speaker may:

 

Ø      recall the past to our remembrance. Joshua reviewed God’s

dealings with His people, speaking of their call (v. 2), deliverance

from bondage (v. 5), guidance (v. 7), help in battle (vs. 9-11),

and possession of a goodly land (v. 13). Such a narrative is

fruitful in suggestions; provocative of gratitude, self abasement,

and trust.

 

Ø      state clearly the present position. Acquainted with God and the

rival heathen deities, it was for the Israelites to make deliberate

choice of the banner under which they would henceforth enroll

themselves. In God’s house Christians are taught to regard

themselves as “strangers and pilgrims,” as “seeking a better

country” (Hebrews 11:13-14), as those who are “on the Lord’s

side.” If they will they may turn back and desert the Master whom

hitherto they have followed. There must be “great searchings of heart.”

 

Ø      Briefly sketch the future. Religion does not confine itself to the

narrow region of present circumstances; it looks far ahead, desires

no man to take a leap in the dark, but rather to weigh calmly the

respective ISSUES DEPENDENT UPON THE ACTIONS

OF TODAY!   None who have experienced the tendency of earthly

occupations to absorb, to engross the interest, will deny the advantage

accruing from the quiet contemplations of the sanctuary, where it is

possible to calculate correctly afar from the bustle of the city, where

on wings of the spirit we rise to an altitude that dwarfs the loftiest objects

of worldly ambition, and brings heaven and its glories nearer to our view.

 

  • TO RECONSECRATE OURSELVES TO GOD’S SERVICE. We

remain the same persons and yet are continually changing. Like the

particles of the body, so our opinions, affections, etc., are in unceasing

flux. To dedicate ourselves afresh is no vain employment. It brightens the

inscription, “holiness unto the Lord,” which time tends to efface. Are not

some idols still in our dwellings? some evil propensities indulged, which an

exhortation may lead us to check? To keep the feast we cast out the old

leaven. Man is the better for coming into contact with A HOLY BEING!

 The contrast reveals his imperfections and quickens his good desires.

 

CONCLUSION. If inclined to say with the men of Beth-shemesh, “Who is

able to stand before this holy Lord God?” (I Samuel 7:20) let us think

of Christ, who has entered as our Forerunner into the Holiest of all.

In His name we may venture boldly to the throne of grace (Hebrews 4:14-16).

Some dislike the services of the sanctuary because they speak of the need of

cleansing in order to appear before the Almighty. Men would prefer to put aside

gloomy thoughts and to stifle the consciousness that all is not right within.

But does not prudence counsel us to make our peace with God NOW, to

“seek Him while He may be found” (Isaiah 55:6), clothed in the attribute of

mercy, instead of waiting for the dread day when we must all appear before the

judgment seat (II Corinthians 5:10) when it will be useless to implore rocks and

mountains to hide us from the presence of Him that sits upon the throne? (Revelation

6:12-17) - Behold Him now not as a Judge convening to condemn, but as a Father

who hath devised means whereby His banished ones may be recalled, who waits

for the return of the prodigal — yea, will discern Him afar off, and hasten to meet him in

love.

 

 

A Review of Providence (vs. 1-13)

 

  • IT IS WELL TO REVIEW THE PAST.

 

Ø      The life which is wholly occupied with the present is necessarily

superficial. Recollection and anticipation broaden and deepen life.

They are essential to the consciousness of personal identity. Memory

retains possession of the past and thus enriches life. The past is not

wholly gone; it lives in memory; it lives in its effects; it will be called

up for judgment.

 

Ø      A review of the past should make us

 

o       grateful for the goodness of God,

o       humble in the consciousness of our own failings,

o       wise from the lessons of experience, and

o       diligent to redeem the time which yet remains.

 

·         NO REVIEW OF THE PAST IS COMPLETE WHICH DOES NOT

RECOGNIZE THE DIVINE PROVIDENCE OF GOD. The chief value

of biblical history is in the fact that it clearly indicates the action of God in

human affairs.

 

Ø      The highest historical study is that which searches for “God in

history.” To do this is to trace events to their first cause, to see

the connecting ideas of unity which bind all things together, and

to follow out the course of all changing movements towards their

destined end.

 

Ø      We may see indications of the active presence of God in history and

In private life by noting

 

o       material and spiritual good things enjoyed;

o       providential deliverances in trouble;

o       solemn acts of judgment;

good thoughts and deeds which ALL HAVE THEIR

ORIGIN IN GOD, THE SOURCE OF ALL GOOD!

o       the general onward and upward movement of mankind.

 

Ø      Let us practically apply the duty of noting God’s action in human

affairs to national history, church history, and private experience.

“Known unto God are all His works from the beginning

of the world.”  (Acts 15:18)

 

  • A RIGHT REVIEW OF GOD’S ACTION IN THE PAST WILL

SHOW THAT THIS IS CHARACTERISED BY GOODNESS AND

MERCY. We single out striking calamities for difficulties to the doctrine of

Providence. We should remember that these are striking just because they

are exceptional. We are often tempted to fix upon the troubles and neglect

the mercies of the past. A fair review of the whole will show that the

blessings infinitely outnumber the distresses.

 

Ø      Such a review should stimulate gratitude. It is most ungrateful to be

receiving innumerable blessings every day of our lives and rarely to

recognize the Hand from which they come, while we complain that

others are not added, or murmur if any cease.

 

Ø      Such a review should increase our confidence and hope. God is

changeless. As He has been He will be. “Hitherto the Lord hath

 helped us.” (I Samuel 7:12)

 

Threatening clouds have burst in beneficent showers. Deliverance has come

when all seemed hopeless. Let us believe that the same will be in the future,

and press forward to dark and uncertain days with more assurance of faith.

 

  • THE GOODNESS OF GOD IN HISTORY WILL BE CHIEFLY

SEEN IN THE PROMOTION OF THE HIGHEST HUMAN

PROGRESS. History in the main is the story of the progress of mankind.

(Starting with filling the earth with people and finding out its secrets –

Genesis 1:28 – CY – 2012)  This was the case with Joshua’s review of

Jewish history. It showed progress from idolatry to the worship of the true

God, from slavery to liberty, from poverty to a great possession, from

homeless wandering to a happy, peaceful, settled life. Thus God is always

leading us upwards from darkness to light, from bondage to liberty, from

ignorance, superstition, sin, and misery to the golden age of the future!

(Romans 8:19-23)

 

 

The Great Appeal (vs. 14-15)

 

  • AN APPEAL FOR HEARTY RE-DEDICATION TO THE SERVICE

OF GOD.

 

Ø      Its necessity arises from the proneness of man to settle down upon

his lees, neglecting the watchfulness observed on his first profession of

faith. Enthusiasm cools; men sleep and tares are sown among the wheat;

the Christian athlete rests content with the laurels already gained; the

warrior, having defeated the enemy, allows him time to gather his forces

for another battle. The temple was beautifully cleansed, but inattention has

allowed it to grow filthy again, and it needs a thorough renovation.

 

Ø      Its leading motive is gratitude for Divine goodness in the past. How

skilfully Joshua, in the name of Jehovah, enumerates the chief national

events wherein God’s mercy had been conspicuous. Brethren,

review the past! Your mercies have been numberless, like the drops

of the river flowing by your side. If you can tell the stars, then may you

catalogue the blessings you have received. (In my 68 years of life, this

is literally true – there is no way I could recount them all, although to

me I understand THEIR REALITY!  – CY – 2012). The retrospect

teaches the character of your God, and may inspire you with hope for

the future. Reverence the Almighty, and your highest expectations will

not be disappointed but far surpassed.  (He is able to do “exceeding

abundantly above everything we can ask or think” – Ephesians 3:20-21)

 

Ø      Its method prescribes severance from idolatry and a sincere

determination to follow the Lord fully. Self examination will reveal many

sins still cherished in the heart, like the gods which Israel had allowed to

remain in the camp. It were well for us, like David, to go in and sit before

the Lord (II Samuel 7:18). In the presence of Him who has loaded us

with benefits (daily – Psalm 68:19) temporal and spiritual, our vision will

be clarified, and we shall be filled with an earnest desire to “cleanse

ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit.” (II Corinthians

7:1). All avowals of a change of heart are to be distrusted which are

unaccompanied by evident renunciation of evil habits. The outward act

not only affords an index of the inward feeling, but also materially

contributes to its strength.

 

  • AN ALTERNATIVE PRESENTED. Notwithstanding all that had been

done for the Israelites, some of them might deem it “evil,” unpleasant,

irksome, laborious to serve the Lord. Hence the option of forsaking Him,

and bowing before the gods whom their fancy should select. The

alternative suggests that, in the opinion of the speaker,

 

Ø      some kind of service is inevitable. Without acknowledging some

superior powers, the Israelites could not remain. Absolutely free and

independent man cannot be, though his idol may assume any

 form or character. (We see this in America today – CY – 2012)

In every breast there is some predominating principle or passion,

be it piety, morality, intellectualism, aestheticism, or love of selfish

pleasure.

 

Ø      the freedom of the will is seen in the power of choice. (We

hear a lot about choice today, especially Pro-choice!   The Greek

αἱρέσις - hairesis  - a choosing; choice, hence an opinion,

especially a SELF-WILLED opinion, which is substituted

for submission to the power of truth – Vine’s Expository

Dictionary of New Testament Words – see below for amplification

of this line of thought - CY – 2012)

 

 

Immorality is a departure from the faith, no less than error in

opinion. To “walk in the truth” is to follow holiness. The man,

therefore, who professes Christian zeal and all the while is wallowing

in sin, or becoming entangled with the world, is really a heretic

(αἱρετιζω - hahee-ret-id’-zo; a schismatic:  or heretic); derived

from (αἱρέομίαhaireomai - to make a choice:  choose).  The Greek

word for heresy is αἱρέσεις - hah’ee-res-is; - a choosing, choice – then

that which is chosen, and hence an opinion, especially a self-willed

opinion, which is substituted for submission to the power of truth

and leads to division, the formation of sects and finally,

APOSTASY FROM GOD!  (Think of the origins, influences and

                                                roles of  PRO-CHOICE and the AMERICAN CIVIL LIBERTIES

                                                UNION in the United States of America’s CULTURAL DEMISE 

(IT ALL BEGAN WITH A CHOICE – a la – HERESY – CY -2009)

                               

                .

 Choose man must; but he can choose what seems best to him.

God has a right to demand our homage; but He is content to let

us decide for ourselves the equity of His claims. He appeals to

the judgment and the conscience. He makes His people

“willing in the day of His power” (Psalm 110:3), not by enchaining

their wills and constraining obedience, but by appropriate motives and

inducements, leading them to consider it their glory to lay themselves

at His feet “Who then is willing to consecrate this service this

day unto the Lord?” (I Chronicles 29:5). Freedom of choice is too

frequently a beautiful and dangerous gift, which, like a sword in

the hands of a child, injures its possessor. Yet we are unable to

divest ourselves of the responsibility that attaches to free agency.

Some plan of life is ruling us, even if it be a resolve to live aimlessly.

We may deliberately weigh our decision, bringing to bear upon our

comparison of conflicting claims all the strength of our moral nature

and power of discernment, or we may refuse to face the points at issue,

and let our judgment go by default, imagining that we shall thus escape

the onus of a formal determination; but in the latter case, no less than in

he former, we have made our choice, and are serving some master,

THOUGH WE RECOGNIZE IT NOT. The alternative indicates:

 

Ø      that neutrality and compromise are each impossible. If God be

not the object of adoration, then any occupant of the throne must be

considered as God’s enemy. Multitudes think that if they are not

 found openly opposing religion there is naught to be complained

 of in their attitude and conduct.  Herein they are terribly WRONG

and at fault. “He that is not with Me is against Me.” (Luke 11:23)

Those who advance not to the help of the Lord are treated as His foes

(compare Judges 21:8 and I Samuel 11:7). Nor will God accept a

Divided allegiance. Dagon must fall from his pedestal when the ark

of God’s presence enters the chamber of the heart. How could the

Israelites be true at once to Jehovah and to idols? “Ye cannot serve

God and mammon” (Luke 16:13).   Religion modifies the character

of every action, transforming it into an offering laid upon the altar to

the glory of God. All that we have and are we send to the Royal Mint,

and receive it back, stamped with the Sovereign’s image, and fashioned

according to His desire.

 

  • A FIXED RESOLVE.As for me and my house, we will serve the

Lord.” Joshua set a noble example, which powerfully affected his

followers. The expressed determination of a pastor, a teacher, a parent may

produce widespread beneficial results upon those under their charge.

Joshua showed himself fit to lead men. He did not wait to see what the

majority of the people would approve before he committed himself to a

particular course of action; but boldly stated his intention to cleave with

full purpose of heart unto the Lord. The Ephraimites, slow to come to the

rescue in the hour of danger, but swift to claim a place of honor when

 a victory has been won (Judges 12:1-2), have found many imitators in

every age. Men who wait to see in which direction the current of popular

feeling is setting ere they risk their reputation or their safety by taking a

decided step. We may dislike isolation, but are not alone if the Father is

with us. Joshua’s resolve was never regretted. What man has ever been

sorry that he became a follower of Christ? Even backsliders confess that

they were never happier than when they attended to the commandments of

the Lord. True religion furnishes its votaries with self-evidential proofs of

its Divine authority in the peace of mind and satisfaction of conscience

which they experience. To enjoy the favor of God is felt to be worth more

than any earthly friendship or worldly gain.

 

 

The End of the Work (vs. 29-33)

 

We now reach the conclusion of the narrative. Like every other biography,

it ends with death. Well were it for us all if death came at the conclusion of

a well spent life like Joshua’s.

 

  • A GOOD MAN’S END. We read in the Book of the Revelation,

“Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord… their works do follow

them.” (Revelation 14:13)  Few have been privileged to be “followed”

by their works like Joshua. He led the Israelites into the promised land,

and left them there. For many hundred years — the seventy years’

captivity excepted — they dwelt there. For their rejection of Him of

whom Joshua was the type THEY WERE CAST OUT!   But even now

they remain a distinct people, and entertain hopes of a return to the land

(they did in 1948, this being written prior to this – CY – 2012) which,

humanly speaking, Joshua gave them. If we ask the cause of this great

success, whose results have lasted even to our own day, it is to be found

in the unique character of the conqueror. Simple, straightforward

adhesion (ch. 1:7-8) to duty, intense moral earnestness, earnest piety,

 prompt and unquestioning obedience to God, the highest public spirit,

the utter absence of all self seeking and ambition, mark a character

altogether without parallel in the history of conquest. Conquest generally

is associated with fraud and wrong. It has its origin in the greed and

ambition of the conqueror; it is carried out amid injustice and oppression;

it leaves its EVIL RESULTS behind it, and is avenged by the hatred of

the oppressed, and by the sure and often swift collapse of a power founded

 in wrong. Cruel, according to our modern ideas, Joshua was, no doubt.

But he was centuries in advance of his age; his cruelty was the result of

a moral purpose. And we must remember that for our modern notions of

cruelty we are indebted to Jesus Christ. It is a fact that God did permit

men to live for thousands of years in ignorance of the true law of mercy.

It is not strange, then, if Joshua was not in this respect conformed to an

ideal which was not permitted to exist until Christ revealed it. In all

other respects, he was the model of what a commander should be, and

hence the durability of his work. We cannot hope to become so famous.

Yet if we imitate Joshua’s obedience, earnestness, piety, unselfishness,

we, too, may achieve results as durable, though it may never be known

to whom they are owing. For a good deed never dies. It associates itself

with the other good influences at work in the world, each of these

producing good results on others, and thus steadily working on to THE

GREAT CONSUMATION OF ALL THINGS!   What Joshua was it is

shame to us if we are not, according to our opportunities. For the

SPIRIT OF GOD  is now freely shed forth in all the world, and given

 to them that ask HIM!

 

  • THE MEMORY OF THE JUST IS BLESSED. Joseph’s bones were

interred in Shechem. Thus we learn:

 

Ø      that patriarch’s affectionate love for his brethren, in that he desired

in death to be among them, and would have his memory cherished

as an encouragement to serve God faithfully. And

 

Ø      we learn the duty of commemorating God’s saints.

 

The extravagant veneration paid to saints and martyrs by those of

another communion has caused us to be somewhat too neglectful of

their memory.  The martyrs of the Reformation are not commemorated

among us. We publish biographies of our good men, and straightway

forget all about them. Yet surely we might be greatly cheered and

encouraged on our way by the recollection of the triumphs of God’s

Spirit in our fellow sinners. (Do not we all have people of great faith in

the memories of our past?  To me Sherman Jones, Delia Neely, Clara

Moreland Simpson, Cloda Shadoan, J. M. Boswell, Floyd Yancey, Bess Henderson, Ruthell Wilhelm, Augusta Freeman, to name a few personally

you don’t know them but God does and He remembers for there is

a book of remembrance was written before Him for them that feared

 the Lord” in the day when God makes up His jewels  (Malachi 3:16-17). 

Surely the pulses of the spiritual life may lawfully be quickened by a

sympathy with the great and good who have gone before. Surely all

noble examples, all holy lives, are a part of the heritage of the saints

DESIGNED TO ADVANCE GOD’S CAUSE.  The victories of God’s

Spirit over the devil, the world, and the flesh, in various ages, among

various nations, under various circumstances, will surely best encourage

that catholic spirit of  sympathy with all that is great and good, without

which no Christian perfection can exist. “Let us then praise famous men,

and our fathers that begat us.” Let the Josephs and Joshuas of the new

covenant be held in the deepest honor among us. And thus we shall rise

from the contemplation of their struggles to the vision of the Great

Captain of their salvation, by  whom alone they had victory in the fight.

 

  • THE INFLUENCE OF A GOOD MAN LIVES AFTER HIM. As

long as the memory of Joshua’s personal influence was felt, so long did the

children of Israel keep to the right way. Or rather, perhaps, we may better

put it thus: the example and influence of Joshua gradually gathered round

him a number of men like minded, who were placed in positions of

authority, and who were capable, like him, of guiding and directing others.

(Would to God that we had a few in the 21st Century?  I believe that the

Bible warns us of the decline in leadership when we turn our backs on

God!  - see Isaiah 3:12 – CY – 2012)  When they died, their places were

filled by men whose recollection of Joshua’s conduct was less distinct,

and who possessed in a less degree His power of ruling. (Thus the

importance of the passing on to the next generation the Word and Will

of God – Deuteronomy 6:4-12 – We are now in the process of rearing

a third generation of people in the United States that have not known

the Judaeo-Christian system – we cannot and will not survive this

mistake as the Israelites did not – CY – 2012)  Thus Israel fell into

disobedience, and it is worthy of remark that when oppression brought

them to their senses, it was Othniel, one of those on whom the example

of Joshua may be supposed to have had most effect, that they looked

for deliverance. We see these facts

 

Ø      repeated constantly in the history of God’s Church.

 

o       The great leader of a religious movement trains a number

of men like minded, who guide and direct the movement

in his spirit after he has passed away in the spirit, and for

the ends that he intended. But

 

o       a time comes when the first fervor of the movement dies

away, when its principles become popular, and thereby

vulgarized. They are corrupted by the admixture of the

 worldly element, the peculiar features of the system

are unduly pressed, and deprived of that balance which

they possessed in its founder’s mind by being kept in check

by a wider sympathy and a larger grasp. From a revival of

forgotten truths the movement degenerates into a sect or

 party; the salt has lost its savor (Matthew 5:13), and there

needs some other regenerator to arise, who shall give a new

direction to the flagging spiritual energies of men. There is

no need to give instances of this. Unfortunately, they occur

in numbers to every student of history. Also

 

Ø      in the life of individuals. Whether in a public and private position,

either as a minister of Christ, or as a member of a congregation,

God is pleased to raise up some one whose life of piety is at

once an encouragement and an incentive to others to lead the

same kind of life. He dies, and for a long time his name is a

household word to those who knew him. From his grave he is

a preacher of righteousness to those who live near and where

he is known. (The biblical phrase is “he being dead still

speaketh– Hebrews 11:4 – CY – 2012)  His example is brought

forward, his words are quoted, to those who have never seen him.

And so the tradition of his excellence lives on among those who

come after him. Yet it grows fainter as the years roll on, until it

becomes a tradition of the past. Others come in his place who

knew him not. Other influences are at work in the pulpit where

he preached, the parish where he labored, the place where he

dwelt. His influence has not really died out — good influence,

as we have said, never dies — for the good seed he sowed

sprung up in the most unexpected quarters, and in the most

 unexpected ways. But his own place knows him no more. His

name is now but a shadow in the distant past. It is no longer an

 influence full of power. Very often there is a declension in the

neighborhood when the good man is taken away. Very often the

aged who remembered him have too good cause to lament A

CHANGE WHICH IS NOT FOR THE BETTER!   But the

good work goes on. The torch of love flames more brightly,

now here, and now there. But God does not fail to raise up

deliverers for His people AND HAS NOT LEFT HIMSELF

WITHOUT WITNESS   (Acts 14:17).  His Spirit does not

cease to work powerfully in human hearts. (If He is working

on you, Dear Reader, please respond to Him at once. 

Tomorrow will/may be TOO LATE! – CY – 2012)  His

faithful servants still continue to battle against sin, and

shall do so until He come again.  “Even so, COME LORD

JESUS!   (Revelation 22:20)

 

 

The Death of Joshua (v. 29)

 

It has been well remarked that “this Book of Joshua, which begins with triumphs,

ENDS WITH FUNERALS.”  All human glory ends in the grave. The longest life

is soon passed. The most useful men are taken from their work on earth, leaving

the unfinished task to other hands. Joshua being dead yet speaketh.

 

  • JOSHUA IS AS EXAMPLE FOR US.

 

Ø      His character is an example of

 

o       courage,

o       energy,

o       independence,

o       trust,

o       unselfishness.

 

He is the type of the soldier of God, the pattern of active and

masculine excellence.

 

Ø      His mission is an example. Christians are called to possess an

inheritance, to conquer the earth for Christ, to fight against

and overcome the evils and temptations of the world.

 

Ø      His career is an example. We see how Joshua was true to his

character and fulfilled his mission. He served through a long

life. There are some whose devotion is like morning dew.

There are others who are roused for great deeds at critical

moments, but are negligent in the longer intervals which are

left for quiet service. It is a great thing to be long and

continuously faithful. It is selfish to desire an early death.

Rather, if it is God’s will, should we welcome the

opportunity of long service.

 

Ø      His end is an example. Joshua was faithful to death, and

faithful in death. His last act was to bind the people to the

service of God with a solemn covenant, and pledge his own

 devotion and that of his house. The Christian’s death bed

should be a blessing to others.

 

  • JOSHUA IS A TYPE OF CHRIST. Jesus is our Joshua, with marks of

resemblance and of contrast to the Hebrew leader.

 

Ø      Jesus Christ exemplifies in perfection all those good

characteristics for which Joshua is famous. Though mild and

gentle, our Lord was not weak and effeminate. Fidelity,

firmness, courage, energy ARE SEEN IN HIM TO

PERFECTION! . As the Perfect Man, Christ  combined

and harmonized the excellences of all good types of character.

 

Ø      Jesus Christ, like Joshua, lived a life of warfare. Joshua was a

warrior.  CHRIST IS THE CAPTAIN OF SALVATION!   

(Remember, He actually met Joshua before the Battle of

Jericho!  (see ch. 5:13-15) - He met constant opposition

from men; He was opposed by the powers of Satan, and

He conquered. Yet;

 

o       Joshua fought enemies of flesh and blood, Christ fought

spiritual foes; (we do too! – Ephesians 6:12 – thus the need

for all the armor of God – Ibid. vs. 13-18 - CY – 2012) and:

 

o       Joshua used the sword, Christ conquered by submission and

suffering and sacrifice.

 

Ø      Jesus Christ, like Joshua, is a SAVIOUR!

 

o       He delivers from real present enemies. He saves not only

from the future consequences of evil, but from our present

sins and troubles.

 

o       He saves those who trust Him, follow Him, and fight with Him,

as Joshua not only fought himself, but led the people to battle.

 

Ø      Jesus Christ, like Joshua, leads His people to an inheritance,

but in this there are no Canaanites remaining; it is “an

inheritance incorruptible and undefiled, and that fadeth not

away, reserved in heaven for us” (I Peter 1:4).  (Dear Reader,

if you are unaware, please be advised that in Heaven there will

not be “the fearful, and unbelieving, ….the abominable,…

murderers,…whoremongers,….sorcerers,….idolaters, ….all

 liarsneither the unrighteous…..be not deceived:  neither

 fornicators, ….adulterers, ….nor effeminate, …abusers of

 themselves with mankind, … thieves, … covetous, …

drunkards, ….revilers,…extortioners,”  - Revelation 21:8;

I Corinthians 6:9-10 – I trust that you do not want to go to

Hell with people like these and have to, like the rich man in

Luke 16:19-31, realize that there is a “great chasm” between

him and life in Heaven.  I hope it never dawns on you to

suddenly realize that there will be people who have been

washed in the Blood of Jesus coming from all the quarters

of the earth, with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob AND YE

YOURSELVES THRUST OUT!  -Matthew 8:11-12;

Luke 13:28-29 – If you are not saved or are not sure,

may I recomment How to Be Saved - # 5 – this web site –

CY – 2012)

 

Ø      Jesus Christ, unlike Joshua,ever liveth.” Joshua lived to old

age and died in honor, and was buried, and ceased to serve his

nation. Jesus Christ was cut off in early life and crucified in

shame, but He rose from the dead, and is now with His people,

and will remain till all have entered into their inheritance! 

(Matthew 28:20)

 

 

 

Three Graves (vs. 30, 32, 33)

 

Such is the story of life. The end of it is always in some sepulcher. “They

buried Joshua.” “They buried the bones of Joseph.” “They buried Eleazer.”

So the land is taken in possession. Every grave becoming a stronger link,

binding the people to each other and to the land God gave them. Look at

these graves. And observe:

 

  • EVERY LIFE AT LAST FINDS A GRAVE. However strong the frame

and long the conflict, at last the priest must lay down the censer, the

statesman resign command, the warrior retire from fields of strife.

IMMORTALITY IS NOT FOR EARTHLY SURROUNDINGS, nor for

the imperfect spirit and body we have here. If we are to live forever it must

be somewhere where character is perfect, and a frame suited for a perfect

spirit is enjoyed. It is well that an existence so faulty is so brief. Out of

Eden it is better that we should be out of reach of any tree of life that can

give earthly immortality.  (God remedied that situation by placing

Cherubims, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep

the way of the tree of life.”  - Genesis 3”24 – It is my understanding

that had man re-entered the Garden of Eden and eaten of the Tree of

Life in his sinful and fallen state, he would have been doomed to that

condition forever.  God truly  is forgiving and exhibits plenteous

redemption! – Psalm 130:4, 7 – CY – 2012)  The average life is long

enough for the average power of enjoying it. And it is well that it should

be “rounded off by sleep.”  This destiny is too much overlooked. It may

be so contemplated as only to injure us. When we anticipate it with dread,

without the light of God’s smile upon it or of His home beyond it, when it

only shrivels up the warmth and energy of life, then its influence is harmful.

But it need not have any such influence. If we remember that GOD IS

LOVE  and death a Divine institution, we shall feel that there must be

some service rendered by even death; and this feeling destroying the dread

of it, we shall then be in a condition to profit by its helpful influence.

Amongst many wholesome influences these may be noted:

 

Ø      It should CORRECT THE FOLLY THAT WASTES LIFE! 

 Some make two mistakes:

 

o       They treat time as if it were eternity, and

o       eternity as if it  were time.

 

And this mistake produces PURPOSELESS EXISTENCE

 that turns life to no account. The thought of death should

wake those wasteful of life. It reminds us that the day of life

has its task, that there is a serious account to be rendered of

how we spent it. It says, “Awake thou that sleepest, and arise

 from the dead and Christ shall give thee LIGHT .” (Ephesians

5:14).  It bids us live while we live, and work while it is called

day for “the night cometh when no man can work.” (John 9:4).

 

Ø      It comforts the heavy laden. Life has many burdens. Duty is often

a heavy load. Regrets, cares, sorrows make between them a

burden of huge dimensions. God’s saints, though they take

more peacefully what is sent them, are not insensible to its

troubles. On the contrary, “many are the afflictions of the

righteous:  but the Lord delivereth him OUT OF THEM

ALL!.   Death comes when the burden is too heavy, and

whispers, “It is not for long.” “The light affliction is but

 for a moment” (II Corinthians 4:17).  THE GLORY IS

ETERNAL!

 

“Brief life is here our portion,

Brief sorrow, shortlived care,

The life that knows no ending,

The tearless life is there.”

 

How many would have fainted utterly but for the thought, that

trials were only mortal. If to some death had seemed a great foe,

to many others it has seemed the

 

“Kind umpire of men’s miseries,

Which, with sweet enlargement, does dismiss us hence.

 

If it is a great consoler of the suffering, observe further:

 

Ø      it gives zest to every activity of life. How vapid would life become

if death were not the lot of men! How dull the activity which had

eternity for its work! How poor the low delight would become if

anything fixed forever the conditions which for the moment are

sufficient to produce it.  But a brief life, ever changing, with no

time to waste, gives keenness and zest and joy to all our existence.

And lastly:

 

Ø      it makes us look for immortality. It raises the eye above. The other

world is lighted by those who, dying, enter it. The thought of our

own impending death makes us desire some “everlasting

habitation (Luke 16:9) when the stewardship here is ended. So

mortality protects immortality, keeps it from being forgotten,

undervalued, or endangered. And, like some schoolmaster

whose harshness yet helps the learning of some lesson, so death

is the great instructor and preparer for the life beyond. Lament

not Joshua, or Joseph, or Eleazer. Death is mercy to all such.

It is not a calamity, it is the sleep God gives His beloved. (the

 rest from their labors, and their works do follow them.”

(Revelation 14:13) -  If it is well to remember that all life comes

to a grave, it is still more important to remember:

 

  • THAT NEITHER LIFE NOR USEFULNESS END THERE.

 

Ø      Life does not end in the GRAVE!  Who could imagine that the

grave at Timnathserah was the end of Joshua? When ripest and

fittest for high employment, to what purpose would have been

the waste of such ointment”? “God gathers up fragments that

nothing may be lost;” would He waste such a splendid aggregate

of saintly forces? Men could not believe it. Jacob spoke

of his approaching death as a being “gathered to his people,” as if

his great ancestors were all above waiting to welcome him. (The

Bible presents the situation as “so great a crowd of witnesses”

(Hebrews 12:1 – CY - 2012)  What nature has whispered to the

hearts of all men the Saviour has revealed more clearly.

He has “ABOLISHED DEATH!”   And now we rejoice to

believe life does not end, but only takes a new departure from

the grave. Death in the ease of all God’s saints is only the

fulfillment of the Saviours promise, “I will come again and

receive you unto myself, that where I am, THERE MAY YE

BE ALSO (John 14:3).  if life does not end with the grave,

Observe

 

Ø      Usefulness does not end with life. There is something touching in

These earliest graves of IsraelMachpelah, Shechem, Timnath,

Mount Ephraim. Such graves were thrones, on each of which a

great spirit sat and ruled, teaching spirituality, truth, courage,

communion with God. The very graves consecrated the land.

As of the great cathedral of Florence the poet sang:

 

“In Santa Croce’s holy precincts lie

Ashes which make it holier. Dust which is

Even in itself an immortality;”

 

So we feel these graves were a leavening consecration which made

Palestine indeed a holy land. England is rich in graves. Its soil is

rich with the dust of the great and good.  (How do you think one

would feel at the Great Judgment who has wasted his life, trodding

under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the

Covenant…….an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto

the Spirit of grace?”  (Hebrews 10:29)

 

“Half the soil has trod the rest

In poets, heroes, martyrs, sages.”

 

 

 “Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die it abides alone; but if it

die, it bringeth forth much fruit.” (John 12:24)  Death robs us of rulership over

a few things only to give us rulership over many things (Matthew 25:21,23). 

Let us live so that,  like these, our graves may brighten and bless the land of

our burial.

 

 

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