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THE BOOK OF JOSHUA, 1. 1—18.
The Lord exhorteth Joshua; and he exhorteth the people.
1 Now after the death of Moses the servant of the LORD it came to pass, that the LORD spake unto Joshua the son of Nun, Moses' minister, saying,
2 Moses my servant is dead; now therefore arise, go over this Jordan, thou, and all this people, unto the land which I do give to them, even to the children of Israel.
3 Every place that the sole of your foot shall tread upon, that have I given unto you, as I said unto Moses.
4 From the wilderness and this Lebanon even unto the great river, the river Euphrates, all the land of the Hittites, and unto the great sea toward the going down of the sun, shall be your coast. 5 There shall not any man be able to stand before thee all the days of thy life: as I was with Moses, so I will be with thee: I will not fail thee, nor forsake thee. 6 Be strong and of a good courage: for unto this people shalt thou divide for an inheritance the land, which I sware unto their fathers to give them.
7 Only be thou strong and very courageous, that thou mayest observe to do according to all the law, which Moses my servant commanded thee: turn not from it to the right hand or to the left, that thou mayest prosper whithersoever thou goest.
8 This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but
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thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success.
9 Have not I commanded thee? Bestrong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the LORD thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest.
10 Then Joshua commanded the officers of the people, saying, 11 Pass through the host, and command the people, saying, Prepare you victuals; for within three days ye shall pass over this Jordan, to go in to possess the land, which the LORD your God giveth you to possess it.
12 And to the Reubenites, and to the Gadites, and to half the tribe of Manasseh, spake Joshua, saying,
13 Remember the word which Moses the servant of the LORD commanded you, saying, The LORD your God hath given you rest, and hath given you this land. 14 Your wives, your little ones, and your cattle, shall remain in the land which Moses gave you on this side Jordan; but ye shall pass before your brethren armed, all the mighty men of valour, and help them;
15 Until the LORD have given your brethren rest, as he hath given you, and they also have pos
sessed the land which the LORD your God giveth them: then ye shall return unto the land of your possession, and enjoy it, which Moses the LORD's servant gave you on this side Jordan toward the sun-rising.
16 And they answered Joshua, saying, All that thou commandest us we will do, and whithersoever thou sendest us we will
17 According as we hearkened unto Moses in all things, so will we hearken unto thee: only the LORD thy God be with thee, as he was with Moses.
18 Whosoever he be that doth rebel against thy commandment, and will not hearken unto thy words in all that thou commandest him, he shall be put to death: only be strong and of a good courage. LECTURE 366.
Of our title, help, and way, to the attainment of heaven. The title of the Israelites to the land of Canaan is expressly set forth in the beginning of this book, which relates chiefly to their settlement therein. And that title is no other than the gift of God. "Go over this Jordan, thou, and all this people, unto the land which I do give to them, even to the children of Israel." And again, "Every place that the sole of your foot shall tread upon, that have I given unto you, as I said unto Moses." God gives, in fulfilment of his promise. God gives in the free exercise of his right. "The earth is the Lord's, and all that therein is the compass of the world, and they that dwell therein." Ps. 24. 1. So is it also in the case of our heavenly inheritance. We can plead no other title than the gift of God through Jesus Christ our Lord. And indeed what other plea could be so strong? What other claim could be so sure to be right? In many things our Maker has vouchsafed to justify his dealings to his creatures. In many respects the grounds of his proceedings are yet far above out of our sight. But whether it be in the allotment of Canaan, or of heaven, whether it be in giving to the wayward Israelites a land flowing with milk and honey, or whether it be in assigning the joys of eternity to Christians so unworthy as the best of Christians are, still we know of a certainty, from what we know of God's proceedings, and from what we know of God Himself, that whatsoever He orders, in earth, or in heaven, must be holy, and just, and good.
The gift of God was Joshua's warrant for taking possession of the land of Canaan. The help of God was to be the means of his success. But at the same time he was exhorted to be strong, and of a good courage, and very diligent in obeying all the law of the Lord." Have not I commanded thee? Be strong and of a good courage, be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the Lord thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest.' Thus are we also encouraged, in our Christian course, by the covenanted assurance of help from heaven. Whilst at the same time we are
charged, that we must nevertheless ourselves be stedfast, and obedient, faithful, and devout. The fact that God "worketh in us both to will and to do, of his good pleasure," is the very reason urged by St. Paul, for us to work out our own “salvation with fear and trembling." Phil. 2. 12. So little do they know what God's good pleasure is, who think that He is pleased to give us grace by way of dispensing with our own exertions! So fearfully do they dishonour God's everlasting Gospel, who suppose, that by reason of the riches of his mercy in Christ they may safely continue in sin!
Joshua, in obedience to the command of God, bids the people be prepared for entering into Canaan; and especially reminds the Reubenites, and Gadites, and half tribe of Manasseh, of the conditions on which Moses had allowed them to settle in the country east of Jordan. See Num. 20. 29. In their reply they profess their willingness to obey his orders, and they declare that disobedience shall be punished with death; at the same time repeating the words of exhortation with which Joshua had been exhorted by God, and which he had probably reported to them: "only be strong and of a good courage." Firmness, and boldness; these are graces of the utmost importance in attaining to eternal life. These are graces entirely consistent with an humble distrust of our own strength, and a reverential fear of God. Whilst we can scarcely think too meanly of our own unassisted powers, we must have entire confidence in the strength of the Holy Ghost; we must work under the full conviction that we are strong in the Lord and in the power of his might. Whilst we shrink with lively terror from the least risk of sin, and fly with salutary caution from the most remote approaches of temptation, we must have a good courage when we are tempted, we must resist the tempter without misgiving or doubt that we shall through Christ obtain the victory. As God was with Joshua, so will He be with us. He will not fail us, nor forsake us. Only let us be "strong and of a good courage.'
O God, who hast commanded us in thy word to serve Thee with full purpose of heart, grant that the book of thy law, the volume of thy revealed will, may be ever in our thoughts, and in our hearts; that we may "meditate therein day and night," and that we may "observe to do according to all that is written therein." For then shall we make our "way prosperous;" and then shall we have "good success."
The two spies sent to Jericho are preserved by Rahab.
1 And Joshua the son of Nun sent out of Shittim two men to spy secretly, saying, Go view the land,evenJericho. And theywent, and came into an harlot's house, named Rahab, and lodged there. 2 And it was told the king of Jericho, saying, Behold, there came men in hither to night of the children of Israel to search out the country.
3 And the king of Jericho sent unto Rahab, saying, Bring forth the men that are come to thee, which are entered into thine house for they be come to search out all the country.
4 And the woman took the two men, and hid them, and said thus, There came men unto me, but I wist not whence they were: 5 And it came to pass about the time of shutting of the gate, when it was dark, that the men went out: whither the men went I wot not: pursue after them quickly; for ye shall overtake them. 6 But she had brought them up to the roof of the house, and hid them with the stalks of flax, which she had laid in order upon the roof.
7 And the men pursued after them the way to Jordan unto the fords: and as soon as they which pursued after them were gone out, they shut the gate.
8 And before they were laid down, she came up unto them upon the roof;
9 And she said unto the men, I know that the LORD hath given you the land, and that your terror is fallen upon us, and that all the inhabitants of the land faint because of you.
LORD dried up the water of the Red sea for you, when ye came out of Egypt; and what ye did unto the two kings of the Amorites, that were on the other side Jordan, Sihon and Og, whom ye utterly destroyed.
11 And as soon as we had heard these things, our hearts did melt, neither did there remain any more courage in any man, because of you: for the LORD your God, he is God in heaven above, and in earth beneath.
12 Now therefore, I pray you, swear unto me by the LORD, since I have shewed you kindness, that ye will also shew kindness unto my father's house, and give me a true token :
13 And that ye will save alive my father, and my mother, and my brethren, and my sisters, and all that they have, and deliver our lives from death.
14 And the men answered her, Our life for your's, if ye utter not this our business. And it shall be, when the LORD hath given us the land, that we will deal kindly and truly with thee.
15 Then she let them down by a cord through the window: for her house was upon the town wall, and she dwelt upon the wall.
16 And she said unto them, Get you to the mountain, lest the pursuers meet you; and hide yourselves there three days, until the pursuers be returned: and afterward may ye go your way. 17 And the men said unto her, We will be blameless of this thine oath which thou hast made us swear.
18 Behold, when we come into 10 For we have heard how the the land, thou shalt bind this line
of scarlet thread in the window which thou didst let us down by: and thou shalt bring thy father, and thy mother, and thy brethren, and all thy father's houshold, home unto thee.
19 And it shall be, that whosoever shall go out of the doors of thy house into the street, his blood shall be upon his head, and we will be guiltless: and whosoever shall be with thee in the house, his blood shall be on our head, if any hand be upon him. 20 And if thou utter this our business, then we will be quit of thine oath which thou hast made
us to swear.
she sent them away, and they departed: and she bound the scarlet line in the window.
22 And they went, and came unto the mountain, and abode there three days, until the pursuers were returned: and the pursuers sought them throughout all the way, but found them not.
23 So the two men returned, and descended from the mountain, and passed over, and came to Joshua the son of Nun, and told him all things that befel them :
24 And they said unto Joshua, Truly the LORD hath delivered into our hands all the land; for 21 And she said, According even all the inhabitants of the unto your words, so be it. And country do faint because of us. LECTURE 367.
That no mere human example is perfect.
The faith of the harlot Rahab is commended in the Epistle to the Hebrews, 11. 31, and in the Epistle General of St. James, 2. 25. She acted upon the conviction thus expressed to the spies, "The Lord your God, he is God in heaven above, and in earth beneath." Her faith wrought by works. Whereas the rest of the people, and their king, acted in opposition to the truths which they had heard, acted as if they thought they could succeed in resisting the will of the Lord. In taking then the faith of Rahab for our pattern, we are not concerned to defend or justify the whole. course of her conduct. We need not be surprised to find, or unwilling to admit, that her past life had been spent in profligacy, and that her present right conduct was mingled with deceitfulness. We have only one perfect pattern set before us, the example of our Saviour and our God. And when we are to be instructed by the attainments and graces of our frail fellow creatures, we must be content to learn from each a part only of our duty; and we must expect to see in each something, if not much, to be avoided. It was an eminent attainment in this Canaanitish woman to act at no small present risk, and in the hope of future safety, on the strength of what she had heard of God's declared will. Let us not be ashamed to learn this valuable lesson, of one who yet knew no better than to promote her object by a falsehood. For if we cannot condescend to be instructed in faith, by one who had so grievously transgressed in works, we have need to call to mind what our Lord declared to the haughty chief priests and elders: "Verily I say unto you, that the publicans and the harlots go into the kingdom of God before you." Matth. 21. 31.