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who were also God's enemies. They were made a curse, and declared to be so. Now, according to Joshua's faith, the land was so entirely Israel's, as the gift of God, that it ought not to be defiled; he had, therefore, the dead body taken down that it should not be so in fact.
The other action was Joshua's building an altar on Mount Ebal. Having taken possession of Canaan as a consecrated land, they recognise the Lord as the God of Israel, by worshipping Him in the land. The altar was there as a witness, and as a bond between the people and the Lord who had given them the land. The erection of this altar has been already spoken of, when considering the book of Deuteronomy. I will not recur to it. I leave it to the reader to judge whether Joshua would have done better to set up this
altar as soon as they had crossed the Jordan. Be that as it may, we do not always turn at once to God, when we enjoy that which His power has wrought. Our not doing so only proves our folly, whether it be in things connected with our joy or our safety.
Joshua now reads before all the people, not only the curses attached to the violation of the law, but all that made known the ways of God in His government of the people.
But if such a position as this proclaims the rights of God, and manifests the confidence of the people, it soon leads to conflict. The enemy will not consent to the invasion and the taking possession of all the territory he has usurped. But the wiles of the enemy are more to be feared than his strength; indeed it is only these that are to be feared; for in his strength he meets the Lord. In his wiles he deceives, or seeks to deceive, the sons of
If we resist the devil, he flees; but to stand against his wiles, we need the whole armour of God. Christ met his wiles with Scripture, and when he manifested himself, the Lord said, "Get thee hence, Satan.”
, The inhabitants of Gibeon pretended to have come from far. The princes of Israel use their own wisdom instead of asking counsel of the Lord. This time it is not confidence in the strength, but in the wisdom of man. The princes of the congregation, accustomed to
reflect and to guide, are more likely to fall into this
Bad as they are in their unbelief, the people, eager for the result, are often nearer the mind of God, to whom the result is sure. The princes had some misgivings, so that they are inexcusable: apparently there was much advantage in gaining allies in a place where they had so many enemies. The Gibeonites flattered them too, as the servants of the Lord. Everything was calculated to set their minds at rest.
Satan can talk religiously as well as another; but he deceives only when we take the management into our own hands, instead of consulting the Lord. Communion with Him was needed to discern that these were people of the country, enemies who dared not be enemies: but to make peace with such, is to deprive oneself of a victory, and of one's right to make good the judgment and the glory of God, in the unmingled possession of the land of blessing. Allies can only set aside that single-eyed dependence upon God, and that purity of moral relationship which exist between God and His people, when it is His power alone that sustains them. They spare the enemy; and the name of the Lord, which has been brought in, obliges His people to retain a perpetual snare in their midst.
Four centuries later, in the days of Saul, this produced its sorrowful fruits. To a spiritual mind, the presence of the Gibeonites would always be an evil.
Besides what had Israel to do with allies? Was not the Lord sufficient? May He give us always to trust in Him, to seek counsel of Him, to own none but Him, and to be always subject to Him! This will ensure victory over every enemy, and the land will be all our own. Moreover, this peace with the Gibeonites only brought fresh attacks upon Israel. But now all is plain. The Lord says to Joshua: "Fear them not, for I have delivered them into thy hand." This is all that conflict means, for one who walks in the Spirit before God. There must be conflict, but conflict is only victory. It is the Lord who has delivered the enemy into our hands; none can stand before us.
All things are ours. The sun stands still, and the
moon stays its course, witnessing to the power of God and to the interest He takes in blessing His people. We may be sure that whithersoever the Spirit will go, there the wheels will go (Ezek. i. 20). Joshua defeated all his enemies, because the Lord, the God of Israel, fought for Israel. This time they were faithful, they made no peace. What had Canaanites to do in the Lord's land? Has Satan any right to the land of promise? This is the light in which Joshua always beholds
? the land of Canaan (x. 27). But after the victory, Israel returned to the camp of Gilgal. We have already explained what Gilgal means. But the return thither of the conquerors of the Canaanitish kings, contains the instructive lesson, that whatever our victories and our conquests may be, we must always return to the place that becomes us before God, in the annihilation of self; to the application of the knowledge we have of God, the resurrection of Christ having set us in the heavenly places; to the judging and the mortifying of the flesh; to spiritual circumcision, which is the death of the flesh by the
of resurrection. There is a time to act and a time to be still, waiting upon God that we may
be fit for action. Activity, the power that attends us, success, everything, tends to draw us away fom God, or at least to divide the attention of our fickle hearts.
But the camp, the starting point for victory, is always at Gilgal. It is not there that the enemy attacks us if we are faithful.
The attack will be on our side, whatever the manœuvres of our adversaries
be. Let us observe also, that in spite of the people's and Joshua's failures, everything turned out well in the end. There were faults, and these faults received their chastisement, as in the case of Gibeon, and of Ai. But the walk of the people being faithful in the main, God made everything work together for good. Thus the peace with Gibeon led to victory over the kings who attacked that people. There was cause for humiliation and for chastisement in the details of their history; but as a whole, the hand of God appears in it most manifestly. It is seldom that every step of our way is taken in faith and dependence upon God. We do well to humble
ourselves on account of this; but when the object is the Lord's object, He goes before us, and orders all things for the triumph of His people in this holy war, which is His own war.
Israel's victories bring fresh war upon them; but the confederation of their enemies only serves to deliver them altogether into their hands. If God will not have
peace, it is because He will have victory. A new principle is now set before us. God will in no wise allow the world's seat of power to become that of His people, for His people depend exclusively on Him. The natural consequence of taking Hazor would have been to make it the seat of government, and a centre of influence in the government of God, so that this city should be that for God which it had before been for the world; “for Hazor beforetime was the head of all those kingdoms.” But it was just the contrary: Hazor is totally destroyed. God will not leave a vestige of former power; He will make all things new.
The centre and the source of power must be His, entirely and exclusively His: a very important lesson for His children, if they would preserve their spiritual integrity,
In a certain sense the conquest of the land seemed complete;—that is to say, there was no outward strength left, either to stand before them or to form a kingdom. But Israel had still many enemies in this land, enemies who did not, indeed, molest them while they continued faithful, but who taught the people many things that afterwards helped on their ruin. They had divided the conquered land-they had rest from war. When all is finished we may reckon up our victories, but not before; till then we ought rather to be occupied in gaining more. We may remark here, that in the result of God's dealings, the fault committed previously to the attack upon Ai, seems blotted out, and had even contributed to the development of His purposes. At the time it had kept them back, and was punished. But God applied Himself to Israel's moral restoration to the confidence of faith, and the grand object of His dealings was in no wise hindered. This is no excuse; but it is a sweet and strong consolation which leads so much the more into worship. The fault committed in the matter of the Gibeonites appears to me
It did not delay their progress; but being the act of Joshua and the princes, it set them for ever in a false position with respect to those whom they spared.
The 11th chapter closes the first division of the book, that is to say, the history of Joshua's victories; typically, that of the Lord's power by the Spirit, giving His people possession of the promises.
The 12th is only a summary of their conquests. The Holy Ghost not only gives us the victory over our enemies, but makes us understand and know the whole extent of the country, and defines the particular portion of each, giving us details of everything it contains; of God's perfect arrangements for the appropriation of the whole, and the distribution of each part to His people, so as to produce a well-ordered whole, one and perfect in all its parts, according to the wisdom of God. But here we have to realise the distinction maintained in the New Testament between the gifts of God and the enjoyment of the gifts given. “Ye have an unction from the Holy One, and ye know all things." "He hath made us sít ,
' together in heavenly places,” (by the same power which placed Christ there when He raised Him from the dead, and set Him above every name that is named.) Alas! how many earthly things are still unsubdued among Christians! But the Holy Ghost takes coguisance of this condition, in view of and in connection with that which rightfully belongs to them: it is this which enables us to understand the second division of this book.
Although there was still a considerable part of the land to be possessed, Joshua parcels out the whole amongst the tribes of Israel, according to the command of the Lord, who declares that He will Himself drive out its inhabitants before them. But the people poorly responded to this promise. The cities of the Philistines were indeed taken, but their inhabitants were not exterminated; they were spared, and soon regained power. Here we may remark, that wherever there is faithfulness there is rest. The effect of Joshua's work was, that " the land had rest from war;" so also with that of Caleb