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HOMILETIC COMMENTARY

ON

JOSHUA.

Preface. The aim of this work is not critical, but moral and spiritual exegesis. The Author's wish has been to expound the principles of Divine teaching contained in the history, and to present the result of his study of these principles in a way which may be useful to any preachers or students of God's Word, who, like himself, may feel suggestions from other minds helpful to their own. No apology seems necessary for a work of this kind; why should it be? Why should the pulpit suppose entire originality, and the class room almost none? Why should public teachers in every other department of life freely make use of the results of scholastic attainments, feel no wrong in doing so, and be thought no evil of, if it be utterly wrong in any and every measure for preachers to avail themselves of the results of such gifts or attainments in their brethren as may best bear fruit in the unfolding of moral or spiritual truth? These questions, it need hardly be said, are not meant to excuse dishonesty, but to vindicate the right of every man to walk in Homiletic fields of thought with at least as much liberty as in fields theologic, philosophic, or scientific. Probably nothing has more tended to independent thought in preaching than the very free reading of sermons, so common in religious circles in the present day : never were so many sermons published and bought as now, and it may be said with almost equal certainty, never was the pulpit so original and strong as now. The power of others, rightly used, tends to our own strength. It is with the consciousness of the absolute truth of this that this work has been written ; how far it may be helpful, others must judge.

In outlines of discourses the style must necessarily be more or less abrupt. In the “ Main Homiletics " an effort has been made throughout to avoid two evils—the giving of mere heads of thought, which probably are of small use to any one, and the extension of thought into that fulness of style which, however suitable for the pulpit itself, would fruitlessly occupy space, and possibly tend to weariness. Reducing the “ bundle of hay” will make no more “needles ;” it may encourage research, if such as may be there are more readily found. The “ Suggestive Comments," as far as seemed desirable, have been thrown into homiletic form, it being felt that they might be more useful given in some systematic manner, than if written as disconnected thoughts; on the other hand, thoughts which seemed to promise assistance in expounding the truth of a verse or passage have not been rejected because for want of coherence it might be inconvenient to bring them under such arrangement. Free use has been made of the best Commentaries and writings on the book, although, excepting some of the detached comments and some outlines acknowledged in loco, the work is the Author's throughout. An attempt has been made to give one or more outlines on every passage in the text likely to furnish matter for preaching, and as much illustration has been supplied as seemed to promise aid in intensifying the thought without too much encumbering the pages.

A critical or extensive Introduction to the book of Joshua is not necessary. Every private library which aspires to be theological will probably have at least two or three good and sufficient notices of the Author, the Date, the Chronology, the Unity, the Credibility, and the Design of this first of the so-called “ Historical Books of Scripture." Keil makes a remark on which it is well to lay much stress—“The Christian revelation cannot be fully understood without a thorough acquaintance with that of the Old Testament which prepared the way for it; and this again cannot be comprehended without a careful study of the history of the Old Testament." We may call the time during which Israel was ruled by Joshua and the succeeding Judges "the most secular period of sacred history;" it is none the less important. The "moral tone" of the people who hear, and are called upon to practise what they hear, may be lower than it should be ; the books giving the history of these people under Joshua and the various Judges may be much taken up in recounting a history of failure and sin; this says nothing whatever against the "moral tone" of the Scriptures that apply to this period : all the more, and certainly not the less, should we mark that the teachings of God and His prophets here are as lofty in their character as those of the Pentateuch, the Kings, or the Prophets. The people who hear and ought to perform may transgress, but there is no flagging in the zeal of inspired teaching. If this be so, the lessons in “ Joshua are as valuable for Christian preachers as those elsewhere, and in point of interest they have this advantage—they shew us the principles which, at the very beginning, God lays down for the guidance of the nation which, in distinction from all others upon earth, He calls to be His

Here, more than anywhere else in the Bible, we may look for the initial leachings of God to His “ peculiar people" in the initial forms of their national life. Theocracy in its earthly infancy ought not to furnish a history barren or unfruitful in instruction to a Church which often needs " the first principles of the oracles of God," to expose the sophistries which may be more readily connected with advanced forms of truth as presented in the Apostolic Epistles.

own.

It is with the deepest conviction that no part of the Bible will ever be found to be “out of date," and that the book of Joshua contains much of Divine truth, eminent, even among the Holy Scriptures, in its suitability for the instruction of all men in the present day, that this work has been undertaken. May He who moved holy men of old to the writing of the text, grant His rich blessing to this further attempt at its exposition,

WANDSWORTH, February, 1875,

CHAPTER I.

THE CALL TO WAR, AND THE RESPONSE. CRITICAL NOTES.-1. And it came to pass after- Vayehi achrea.] The conjunction indicates that the history is a continuation of Deuteronomy. This suggests that Joshua was probably the writer of the last chap. of Deut. He takes up and carries on his own record from the point where he left off recounting the death, burial, and character of Moses. After the death] Including the thirty days' mourning,—Deut. xxxiv. 8. Moses' minister] Not the servant, but “the adjutant," chief helper. The Seventy translate tŷ ÚTovpry. The formal appointment is reported, Num. xxvii. 15—23. 3. Every place that the sole] Every place against which your faith and courage lead you to go up, shall be yours. Your inheritance in the land shall have no limits but those set by your own unbelief and fears. As far as you will tread, you shall possess. 6. Be strong and firm-(Schroeder)] “ The words signify not firmness and strength in general, but the strength in the hands and the firmness in the knees, Isa. xxxv. 3, cf. Heb. xii, 12, 13" (J. H. Michaelis). 11. Prepare you victuals] Herein speaks both the prophet and the soldier. As God's prophet, Joshua anticipates the cessation of the manna, and prepares the people for the new phase of life on which they must soon enter (chap. v. 12). As a soldier, he looks with his keen military forecast to the busy hours of the march, and to that closer massing of the people, which would be unfavourable for gathering their usual food. Within three days] Perhaps the best solution is indicated by Knobel, " The three days mentioned in chap. iii. 2, are identical with the three days here in ver. 11." The march from Shittim to Jordan would, in this case, have been made during the absence of the spies, the events of chap. ii., on the one hand, and of chap. iii. 1, on the other, being concurrcnt. Thus taken, the spies would rejoin the host, not at Shittim, from whence they went out, but immediately before Jordan. 14. All the mighty men] All of those selected for the campaign. About 40,000 passed over, leaving upwards of 70,000 effective men to guard the women and children. (Cf. chap. iv. 13; Num. xxvi. 7, 18, 34.)

MAIN HOMILETICS OF THE PARAGRAPH.-Verses 1, 2.

THE WAY OF GOD IN His PURPOSES. The Divine purpose was to bring the children of Israel onward into Canaan. Moses was just dead; Joshua is here called to succeed him. This juncture gives us interesting light on the plans of God, and man's relation to their fulfilment. I. God's plans are not dependent on men. When Moses dies, He has Joshua ready. The halt in the plains of Moab has in it nothing of hesitancy, but merely sufficient of decency. There is no halting in God's purpose till another leader can be found. Joshua was prepared in his own mind and consciousnsss. Past counsel with Moses had made him familiar with God's way and will. Past victories had given him confidence in God. Past communications from God had pointed to his leadership. Thus, forty years before, “ Rehearse it in the ears of Joshua.” (Ex. xv. 14.) Joshua was equally prepared in the minds of the people. They had seen God giving him victory over Amalek at Rephidim. They had seen him honouring God when the multitude were disobedient. He had no

part in the folly of Aaron and the people at Sinai. (Cf. Ex. xxxii. 17.) Caleb and he had stilled the murmurs which followed the report of the spies. They had seen him openly honoured by Moses. (Deut. xxxi. 7, 8.) They had seen him thus honoured by God. (Num. xxvii. 18—23; Deut. xxxi.14,15.) Thus there could be no question, with either Joshua or the people, who was to succeed Moses. The work never halted. From this promptitude of Providence learn-1. That no man is necessary to God. 2. That the work of the godly man is not suffered to collapse. Such workers are not like children in the winter, engaged in making mere snow men, which the first sun shall melt away for ever. He who labours within the scheme of God's purpose, necessarily works for immortality. 3. A succession of able men, in Divine works, is a token of God's continued interest in and presence with a people. II. God's plans are, sometimes, BEST ADVANCED by the removal of men who have been eminently useful. Moses was not to enter the promised land, and no advance could be made while he lived as leader. He thus barred the way.

In addition to this, Moses was not the man for the future. He had been the best of men for the past. Moses was best to stand before Pharaoh ; Joshua before the Canaanites. Moses was fittest for the sea and the wilderness ; Joshua for the fortified cities. Moses was the right man to lead the people out from slavery in Egypt; Joshua was the best to organise them into civilised life. Moses had, indeed, shewn neglect as to organisation when in the wilderness ; Jethro had supplied a deficiency in his management. 1. To die in the midst of work is not to have lived in vain. You make way for others. 2. The mistakes of our lives are not less harmful because God uses our work generally. Meribah was still a blunder and a sin. III. God's plan sometimes shews the inferior man succeeding where the more eminent man has failed. “The Lord spake to Moses' minister, Moses is dead, now therefore arise, go over,” etc. We do not know what or who is most belpful to success. We often fail to discern success when it does come. Winter is as much a suocess as spring. The frost and the sun are alike God's prophets to the vegetable world. The night is as much inspired to preach as the day, and it too has blessing. In a world of sin, it may be that disease is more successful than health. 1. Work on, whoever you are. You may not be as Moses, who was learned in all the wisdom of the Egyptians, and trained for forty years at the back of the desert. You may be only as Joshua, who was simply a liberated slave, with "good parts" about him. Work on, for you may succeed where better men fail. 2. But let not him who happens to be working in the hour of success forget the labour of his predecessors. Joshua's work was simply the harvesting; the tilling and sowing and weeding had been arduously completed by Moses. IV. The fruit of God's plans, though developed very humanly and naturally, is STILL A GIFT. “ The land which I do give." "The corn may be the natural result of cultivation, yet it is the gift of “the Lord of the harvest.” V. God's plan and its issues have their highEST RELATION not to one man, or two, but to men at large. “Which I do give to them, even to the children of Israel.” This is no mere question of Moses versus Joshua. The land is for Israel ; God's gift to the nation. The honour of Moses, and the prestige of Joshua, are, comparatively, small things. God's great idea is gifts and blessings for the people. Nor should we read this even as a question of Israel versus Canaan. It was for the good of men generally that Israel should enter in. It was for the welfare of the generations to come that these idolatrous Canaanites should be rooted out. This nucleus of idolatry must be broken up and scattered, for the sake of the future world. A nation worshipping God, and making way for the Saviour, must be planted here instead. Such is the plan of the Gospel. It is for no caste of bishops or priests. Individuals and classes are mere items in the great account of humanity. It is for no denominations, as such. The Gospel is “ Peace on earth, and good will towards men.Oh for the day when men will take larger views of the love of God ! Amid the profound mysteries of one elect nation we have revealed in exceeding clearness the Gospel-spirit of God's love to the whole human race.

SUGGESTIVE COMMENTS ON THE VERSES. Verses 1, 2. Instead of looking at of Dura, the three inflexible Hebrews; the passage in its connection with both for winning the favour of Artaxerxes, Moses and Joshua, it may be taken in the devout, yet courtly Nehemiah. The relation to the call of the latter only, man and the emergency must correshewing thus Jehovah's selection of spond. Omnipotence never chooses to human instruments. I. God's choice of waste itself on human awkwardness. men for His service has regard to tem- God cements, things that fit. The man perament and disposition. Joshua's who is inapt has need to pray for the military instincts (Ex. xxxii

. 17); his Divine training of himself ere he can boldness and firmness; his unselfish- expect the Divine blessing on his work, ness (chap. xix. 49, 50); his power of 1. Whom the Lord calls He also personal influence (chap. xxiv. 31). qualifies. 2. Where He entrusts men II. God's choice has regard to previous with authority, He procures them retraining. Joshua had been for forty spect. 3. Where He sends them into years a responsible leader and ruler conflict, He secures them victory. 4. (Ex. xvii. 9, 10; Num. xiii. 2, 3, 8). Where he gives them victory, He inIII. God's choice has regard to past tends them to take possession. character. Joshua had been zealous

11. He that was here called to honour for God's honour. He had shewn

had been long bred to business. Our Lord holy faith. He and Caleb had stood Jesus Himself took upon Him the form of a alone confronting the people. Milton's servant, and then God highly exalted Him.

2. Those are fittest to rule that have learnt Abdiel — " Among the faithless." Bk. V.

to obey. 3. He that was to succeed Moses IV. God's choice has regard to the

was intimately acquainted with him.” work to be accomplished. To eject the

"Well doth Joshua succeed Moses. The Canaanites, a soldier was needed. For

very acts of God of old were allegories. the Pentecostal sermon, impetuous Peter Where the law ends, there the Saviour begins. is chosen ; for the great mission in Asia We may see the land of promise in the law: Minor and Southern Europe, ardent only Jesus, the Mediator of the New TestaPaul; for the testimony on the plain ment, can bring us into it.” [Bp. Hall.]

MAIN HOMILETICS OF TIIE PARAGRAPH.-Verses 3–9.

" SERVING THE LORD." In the service of God

I. There is no honour without work. Joshua is placed at the head of the host, not merely to be a chief, but a leader. “Every place must be won. Israel must go up against each. The sole of the foot must tread, and that often in the tramp of battle, wherever the people would inherit. And the man who is at their head must lead them to the war. He, too, must divide the inheritance for them. Not least, he must “meditate day and night" in the law; for how shall he secure obedience if he be ignorant of that which is to be obeyed ? Leading in such a case means arduous toil, perpetual care, ceaseless interest, and unrest. There can be no honour in the mere position. Idleness there would be simply exalted shame and prominent disgrace. It is always thus. The height of our position is the measure either of our honour or dishonour, according to the work done. High position is vantage ground for work, not rest. It is so socially, ecclesiastically, mentally, and even morally. He who climbs high in order to lie down, only exposes his slothfulness. He may lie more quietly in altitudes which the din of honest labour does not reach; for all that, he is simply a conspicuous sluggard. II. There is no work without encouragement. The whole passage is emphatic with promise. Wherever God gives arduous duties, He supplies bright hopes. Probably there is no position in which humanity ever stood, saving

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