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Secondly, And when they came unto the borders of Jordan, that are in the land of Canaan, the children of Reuben, and the children of Gad, and the half tribe of Manasseh, built there an altar by Jordan, a great altar to see to.
Thirdly, When this came to the knowledge of the children of Israel, they were grievously offended. But why were they offended? We read an answer to this question, Deuteronomy xiii. 13-15, "Certain men, the children of Belial, are gone out from among you, and have withdrawn the inhabitants of their city, saying, Let us go and serve other gods which ye have not known; then shalt thou inquire, and make search, and ask diligently; and behold, if it be truth, and the thing certain, that such abomination is wrought among you; thou shalt surely smite the inhabitants of that city with the edge of the sword, destroying it utterly, and all that is therein." In conformity to this divine injunction the Hebrews proceeded to punish these revolters.
Fourthly, And the congregation of the LORD questioned these supposed delinquents. What trespass is this that ye have committed gainst the God of Israel, to turn away this day from following the LORD, in that ye have builded you an altar, that ye might rebel this day against the LORD. Is the iniquity of Peor too little for us, from which we are not cleansed until this day, although there was a plague in the congregation of the LORD? Notwithstanding, if the land of your possession be unclean, then pass ye over unto the land of the possession of the LORD wherein the LORD's tabernacle dwelleth, and take possession among us; but rebel not against the LORD, nor rebel against us, in building you an altar beside the altar of the LORD our God. Did not Achan, the son of Zerah, commit a trespass in the accursed thing, and wrath fell on all the congregation of Israel? And that man perished not alone in his iniquity.
Fifthly, The supposed offenders, however, ably vindicated their conduct and their innocence, and integrity; their piety, and their devotion to the God of their fathers, became incontestible. Proverbs xviii. 13, "He that answereth a matter before he heareth it, it is folly and shame unto him." 1 Peter, iii. 15,
But sanctify the LORD God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear." The ac
cused, while declaring their contemplated purpose, appeal to the God of Gods as a voucher of the sincerity of their intentions, and the priests, the princes, and the heads of the people, were completely satisfied. We have but one remark to make, and this respects the altar. Hebrews vii. 13, "For he of whom those things are spoken pertaineth to another tribe, of which no man gave attendance at the altar." Chapter xiii. 10, "We have an altar, whereof they have no right to eat which serve the tabernacle." Christ Jesus is God's altar; beware of false Christs. The true christian has but one altar, but one Christ.
First, THE affection of Joshua to the people is extended to
the last moment of his illustrious career; he had numbered one hundred and ten years, and yet his bosom glowed with all the ardour of new born zeal. He calls upon them with sacred devotion of soul, to be very courageous; and he piously commands them to keep and do all that is written in the book of the law of Moses, to turn not aside therefrom, either to the right hand, or to the left; but to cleave constantly unto the LORD their God, and to attend unceasingly to the things which made for their peace. Thus did the Patriarch Jacob, thus did Moses the servant of the LORD, close their eventful lives.
Secondly, Joshua conjures the people to remember what the LORD their God had done for them. Psalm xliii. 2, "For thou art the God of my strength."
Thirdly, The Hebrews are reminded of what had been effecfuated in their favour. "And ye have seen all that the LORD your God hath done unto all these nations because of you: for the LORD your God is he that hath fought for you." And of what was still to be accomplished for their complete establishment, "And the LORD your God, he shall expel them from before you, and drive them from out of your sight: and ye shall possess their fand, as the LORD your God hath promised unto you."
Fourthly, Joshua exhorts the Hebrews to have no connexion with the people of the land. Ephesians v. 11, "And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them." 2Corinthians vi. 14, "Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship has righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?"
Fifthly, But if ye will not obey the voice of Jehovah your God, if ye do, in any wise, go back and cleave unto the remnant of these nations, even these, that remain among you, and shall make marriages with them, and go in unto them, and they to you, know for a certainty, that the LORD your God will no more drive out any of these nations from before you; but they shall be snares and traps unto you, and scourges in your sides, and thorns in your eyes, until ye perish from off this good land which the LORD your God hath given you.
Sixthly, Joshua stimulates the people to obey the God of their salvation, from a consideration of his faithfulness. And, behold, this day I am going the way of all the earth: and ye know in all your hearts and in all your souls, that not one thing hath failed of all the good things that the LORD your God spake concerning you, all are come to pass unto you, and not one thing hath failed thereof.
Seventhly, If they will not hear and obey, they must assuredly reap the consequence; expulsion from the land.
First, If God's faithful servants conceive so strong an affection for the people, how much more will they interest that omnipotent Being, who commanded them into existence? Secondly, We are called upon to observe the danger of associating with unbelievers. Thirdly, The whole of this exhortation is calculated to promote the worship of the true God, and the observance of his covenant. Fourthly, The punishment consequent upon disobedience, extends no further than the present life, than the loss of the good land which the LORD their God had given them.
JOSHUA Xxiv. 1—16.
First, THE tribes of Israel are gathered by Joshua to Shechem,
to hearken to the words of Jehovah.
Secondly, They are reminded of what the LORD their God had done for their fathers; that he had taken Abraham from the land of idolaters, that he had multiplied his seed, that he had brought his posterity from the house of bondage, and by multiplied miracles through the red sea, that he had bent his ear to the voice of their supplication, that he hearkened not unto Balaam, but blessed them still that he had brought them through the midst of Jordan, dividing the river before them, that he had sent the hornet before them, scattering their enemies without the assistance of their sword or their bow, and giving them a land for which they did not labour, and cities which they built not, and ultimately giving them to eat of the vineyards and olive yards which they planted not, consequent upon all which,
Thirdly, Joshua exhorts them. "Now, therefore, fear the LORD and serve him in sincerity and truth: and put away the gods which your fathers served on the other side of the flood, and in Egypt, and serve ye the LORD." For myself, the display of divine goodness is sufficiently magnificent to fix my determination; and hence I declare unto you this day, "that as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD." The determination of the Apostle Peter was equally correct. Matthew xxvi. 33, 35, "Peter answered and said unto him, Though all men should be offended because of thee, yet will I never be offended. Peter said unto him, Though I should die with thee, yet will I not deny thee." John vi. 68, "Then Simon Peter answered him, LORD, to whom shall we go? Thou hast the words of eternal life."
Such are the dealings of God with the children of men. First, He humbles them by a consideration of their origin, and upon this dark ground, he Secondly, displays himself and the nature
and magnitude of his grace. Thirdly, From this consideration, he excites the gratitude of his people, and thus they are stimulated to serve him, whose service is perfect freedom. Fourthly, If Joshua be, as we believe he is, a type of Christ, and if the people are his house, whose house we are, Hebrews iii. 6, it follows that the omnipotent Antitype is the master of the house; and if he be the master of the house, and the people, agreeably to scripture testimony, are the house, the consequences are obvious; this house and its master will serve the LORD. Daniel vii. 14, " And there was given him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all people, nations, and languages, should serve him: his dominion is an everlasting dominion which shall not pass away, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed." Philippians ii. 9, "Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name." Fifthly, Faith points to this state of things. Here, while sinners, we are the servants of sin. But, says the lip of truth, ye cannot serve two masters: and in the state which faith gives us to anticipate, we shall serve but one master. Jeremiah xxiv. 6, 7, "For I will set mine eyes upon them for good, and I will bring them again to this land: and I will build them, and not pull them down; and I will plant them and not pluck them up. And I will give them an heart to know me, that I am the LORD: and they shall be my people, and I will be their God: for they shall return unto me with their whole heart." Jeremiah xxxii. 37, "Behold I will gather them out of all countries, whither I have driven them in mine anger, and in my fury, and in great wrath; and I will bring them again unto this place, and I will cause them to dwell safely: and they shall be my people, and I will be their God." Ezekiel xi. 19, 20, "And I will give them one heart, and I will put a new spirit within you; and I will take the steny heart out of their flesh, and will give them an heart of flesh,that they may walk in my statutes,and keep my ordinances, and do them and they shall be my people, and I will be their God."