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had one short answer to give to all such ensnaring questions : “ We have sworn unto them by the LORD God of Israel: now therefore we may not touch them.” It was a hasty proceeding to take this oath without further enquiry: And they who had now discovered their mistake, must have felt how foolish a thing it was not to have asked counsel at the mouth of the Lord. See ver. 14. But though they suffered loss themselves, by being debarred from taking these four. cities, though they found all the congregation murmuring against them, though they might have pleaded the fraud by which the league was obtained, and might have been tempted to plead further that the Lord's work was hindered by the escape of these four cities, still they resolved to abide by the words which they had sworn in the name of the Lord God of Israel. If we act hastily, we shall often have to regret our haste. If we decide without asking counsel of God, without considering what is his will in the matter, we must be prepared to suffer loss. But let us rather suffer any loss than violate an oath, or not keep an agreement. Let us rather brave the murmurs and reproaches of the world, than run the least risk that God should hold us guilty of taking his name in vain.
As for the inhabitants of these four Hivite cities, it must be allowed that they gained some present benefit by the falsehood they were guilty of. For it is evident, that but for their league, the children of Israel would have smitten them with the edge of the sword. Thus the men of these cities saved their lives. And this seems to be all for which they had agreed. They had given up their liberty, in saying, “We are your servants.” Ver. 11. And the league which Joshua made with them was “ to let them live.” Ver. 15. It was therefore no infringement of this league to make them perpetual bondsmen, to punish them for their fraud by the most strict bondage, and the most laborious work.
“ Now therefore ye are cursed, and there shall none of you be freed from being bondmen, and hewers of wood, and drawers of water for the house of God.” But see the mercy of God! What a miracle of goodness is manifest in this punishment! What a blessed change for these idolatrous Hivites, to become servants, though the very lowest, in the house of the true God! Well may we be disposed to think that in them, as in Rahab, faith was counted unto them for righteousness. Both parties were guilty of deceit. But both really believed. Both were really persuaded of God's almighty power, exerted in behalf of Israel; though both still sought to gain their object by the practice of deceit. In both we have ground to think, that the sin was set down to their heathen ignorance; whilst their faith, in such unfavourable circumstances, redounded, through God's mercy, to their gain. We for our part have the inestimable privilege of knowing, not only what great things God has done for us, but also how we ought to walk and to please Him. Let it be our desire and endeavour, so to believe, as always to obey
The victory which God gave to Joshua over five kings. i Now it came to pass,
when 8 And the LORD said unto JoAdoni-zedec king of Jerusalem shua, Fear them not: for I have had heard how Joshua had taken delivered them into thine hand; Ai, and had utterly destroyed it; there shall not a man of them as he had done to Jericho and stand before thee. her king, so he had done to Ai 9 Joshua therefore came unto and her king; and how the inha- them suddenly, and went up bitants of Gibeon had made peace from Gilgal all night. with Israel, and were among
10 And the LORD discomfited them;
them before Israel, and slew them 2 That they feared greatly, be- with a great slaughter at Gibeon, cause Gibeon was a great city, as and chased them along the way one of the royal cities, and be that goeth up to Beth-horon, and cause it was greater than Ai, and smote them to Azekah, and unto all the men thereof were mighty. Makkedah.
3 Wherefore Adoni-zedec king 11 And it came to pass, as they of Jerusalem sent unto Hoham fled from before Israel, and were king of Hebron, and unto Piram in the going down to Beth-horon, king of Jarmuth, and unto Japhia that the Lord cast down great king of Lachish, and unto Debir stones from heaven upon them king of Eglon, saying,
unto Azekah, and they died : 4 Come up unto me, and help they were more which died with me, that we may smite Gibeon: hailstones than they whom the forit hath made peace with Joshua children of Israel slew with the and with the children of Israel. sword.
5 Therefore the five kings of 12 Then spake Joshua to the the Amorites, the king of Je- Lord in the day when the LORD rusalem, the king of Hebron, delivered up the Amorites before the king of Jarmuth, the king the children of Israel, and he said of Lachish, the king of Eg- in the sight of Israel, Sun, stand lon, gathered themselves toge- thou still upon Gibeon; and ther, and went up, they and all thou, Moon, in the valley of their hosts, and encamped before Ajalon. Gibeon, and made war against it. 13 And the sun stood still, and
6 And the men of Gibeon sent the moon stayed, until the people unto Joshua to the camp to Gil- had avenged themselves upon gal, saying, Slack not thy hand their enemies. Is not this written from thy servants; come up to us in the book of Jasher? So the quickly, and save us, and help us: sun stood still in the midst of for all the kings of the Amorites heaven, and hasted not to go that dwell in the mountains are down about a whole day. gathered together against us. 14 And there was no day like
7 So Joshua ascended from Gil- that before it or after it, that the gal, he, and all the people of war Lord hearkened unto the voice with him, and all the mighty men of a man : for the LORD fought of valour.
LECTURE 380. How easy the greatest miracles must be to God. That the men of Gibeon should make peace with the Israelites was sure to draw down upon them the wrath of their heathen neighbours. In like manner all they who leave the company of the wicked, and flee in earnest from the wrath to come, must reckon on encountering both_scorn and persecution from their old companions in iniquity. Let it be our delight to render all assistance in our power, to such of our brethren as are thus exposed to pain. It is out of our concern for God's honour that we ought to come forward, fearless of man, to uphold, and comfort those, who have declared themselves willing to be his servants. The world cannot but be at enmity with God, and with those who are truly his. But when most it frowns, threatens, or assaults, we may still take to ourselves the Lord's words to Joshua, “ Fear them not.” And however severe the tribulation may be, which it would inflict on those who refuse to be conformed to it, they may still have the comfort of hearing our Saviour say, “Be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.” John 16. 33.
That God will mightily interfere, that He will do great things for us in our spiritual warfare, is plainly signified, and ought to be strongly impressed upon our minds, by the things which He did of old for Israel, in this great battle with the Amorites. “The Lord cast down great stones from heaven upon them unto Azekah, and they died.” Nay much more, “the sun stood still and the moon stayed, until the people had avenged themselves upon their enemies.” This was a miracle most suitable to magnify God's people in the sight of their enemies, as well as to exalt Joshua in the eyes of God's people. It was at the same time most fit to terrify and confound the ignorant idolaters, who worshipped these very creatures of God's hand, who bowed down before the sun and moon and stars; and who little thought that there is a Great Being, a Spirit, a real God, who in the beginning made these things, and who has ever since upheld them. It has indeed seemed strange to some of those who are aware of this, that God should interfere, as here related, with the laws which He has impressed upon his works. And this surprise has probably been increased by our enlarged acquaintance with the enormous size, and complicated laws, of the heavenly bodies here referred to. But let us expand our narrow minds still further. Let us endeavour to conceive, what is further discovered by the same true philosophy, an universe so spacious, a world of worlds so boundless, that the earth which we inhabit, and its moon, and sun also, seem no larger, if they can be seen at all, to them that dwell in distant stars, than the very least of stars appear to us. To a mind that can comprehend a system great as this, how easily conceivable is the notion of staying sun and moon for one day's space! To the God who created all, how infinitely more easy must this thing have been to do!
The five kings are taken and slain. 15 And Joshua returned, and 23 And they did so, and brought all Israel with him, unto the camp forth those five kings unto him to Gilgal.
out of the cave, the king of Jeru16 But these five kings fled, salem, the king of Hebron, the and hid themselves in a cave at king of Jarmuth, the king of Makkedah.
Lachish, and the king of Eglon. 17 And it was told Joshua, say- 24 And it came to pass, when ing, The five kings are found hid they brought out those kings in a cave at Makkedah.
unto Joshua, that Joshua called 18 And Joshua said, Roll great for all the men of Israel, and said stones upon the mouth of the unto the captains of the men of cave, and set men by it for to war which went with him, Come keep them:
near, put your
the 19 And stay ye not, but pursue necks of these kings. And they after your enemies, and smite the came near, and put their feet hindmost of them; suffer them upon the necks of them. not to enter into their cities : for 25 And Joshua said unto them, the Lord your God hath deli- Fear not, nor be dismayed, be vered them into
hand. strong and of good courage: for 20 And it came to pass, when thusshall the Lord do to all your Joshua and the children of Israel enemies against whom ye fight. had made an end of slaying them 26 And afterward Joshua smote with a very great slaughter, till them, and slew them, and hanged they were consumed, that the them on five trees: and they were rest which remained of them en- hanging upon the trees until the tered into fenced cities.
evening: 21 And all the people returned 27 And it came to pass at the to the camp to Joshua at Mak- time of the going down of the kedah in peace: none moved his sun, that Joshua commanded, and tongue against any of the child- they took them down off the trees, ren of Israel.
and cast them into the cave 22 Then said Joshua, Open the wherein they had been hid, and mouth of the cave, and bring out laid great stones in the cave's those five kings unto me out of mouth, which remain until this
very day. LECTURE 381.
True compassion for the heathen. One chief lesson suggested by this passage is this, that God, if we trust in Him, will not fail in his due time to beat down Satan under our feet. Neither the five kings which fled and liid themselves in a cave, nor their people who endeavoured to escape to the fenced cities, could avoid the “very great slaughter,” which God inflicted, by the sword of Joshua, and that of the people under his command. Love of strife, and ambition to prevail, are deeply rooted in our fallen nature. These propensities in the Israelites were applied to the destrnction of the nations, which had set themselves to fight against God. In us they ought to be directed
against enemies no less real, though we see them not, no less hurtful, though we do not always feel their blows. Let us often think of the contest in which we are engaged. Let us often feel as if we were engaged in it. Let us earnestly desire success. Let us heartily rejoice in each victory we gain. And then how glad should we be to think, that God is ready, in every instance, to make us conquerors! Then how thankful should we be to know, that these victories of the Israelites were types of the triumphs, which God promises in the Gospel to every true follower of Christ!
But though they were types and figures of other things, they were themselves real events, actual victories, actions which were done as here related; things which as they actually happened, if rightly viewed, must redound to the glory of Him who ordered them. There is no reason to doubt that Joshua herein acted according to the known will of God. There can be no doubt that it was God's will that these multitudes who fled should be slain, that these kings who hid themselves should be discovered, secured, brought forth out of the cave, trampled on, slain, hung upon trees, and then cast “into the cave wherein they had been hid.” And as if to shew that these things were fit to be had in memory, it is added in the sacred history, after mention of the stones laid on the cave's mouth, “ that they remain until this very day;" that is to say, until the day when these words were written. And whether that were whilst Joshua was still alive, or whether these words were added afterwards to his history, they seem to signify, in either case, that these actions were fit to be remembered, to the praise of the glory of God.
In vain then does the scoffer here attempt to cast aspersions upon God's goodness, by reflecting upon these actions of God's people, as if they were cruel, baughty, and oppressive. In vain does he affect pity for the sufferers, as if to shew himself more merciful than God. True compassion for the heathen must be shewn, by making known to them, and making welcome, the truth of the Gospel; by teaching them, and persuading them, to put away those abominable sins, which expose all who do such things to the just judgments of the Lord. And it was doubtless with a view to forward these gracious purposes, in due season, as well as to make manifest in the meanwhile his wrath against the worship of false gods, that the Lord was pleased to bring to pass, and to put on record, these acts of unusual severity. May they incline us, as we read them, to feel deep concern for those many millious of mankind, who are now living in the darkness of idolatry ! May they determine us to carry on incessant war against Satan and his kingdom, not only in our own hearts, but also in the hearts of all
, whom in any way we can influence, and in all the nations which in any way we can reach!
PART U. 0. T.