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saith my lord unto his servant? 15 And the captain of the LORD's host said unto Joshua,
Loose thy shoe from off thy foot; for the place whereon thou standest is holy. And Joshua did so. LECTURE 370.
That we ought to put all our confidence in God.
It was natural that the kings of the Canaanites should be dismayed, when they heard of what God had done for the children of Israel, in drying up the waters of Jordan. He who thus opened the way for his people, would be sure to bring destruction upon their enemies. And this is a reason which weighs much, with them that love not God, to cast a doubt upon the tidings of his love vouchsafed to them that love Him. They are unwilling to believe that God is the Helper of all such as put their trust in Him; because this compels them to reflect, that if so, He must also be the Adversary of such as persevere in setting Him at nought.
We have here another instance of God's fatherly protection extended to the Israelites, whilst they were suffering from the effects of circumcision. And we are apt to wonder, that God should have enforced this rite upon his people, at the very time of their entering an enemy's country; after allowing them so long to discontinue it, when they were comparatively safe in the wilderness. But this alone is sufficient reason to account for the time chosen to enforce a general circumcision; it served to establish in the minds of the people a conviction most needful for their safety and success, namely, that their dependence was wholly on the Lord. Their miraculous food of heaven would no longer be supplied; for they might now feed on the natural produce of the earth. But the miraculous protection of God would be needful as much as ever. And they must therefore be reminded anew to put their whole trust in God's help. The reproach of Egypt must be rolled away from off them. They must no longer be liable to be charged with conformity to the ways of the Egyptians, or with indifference to the ordained sign of their national covenant with Jehovah. They must also keep the passover, at the appointed time, "in the plains of Jericho." For it was for this very purpose that God would put them in possession of the land, even that therein they might commemorate his goodness, and shew forth his praise. And behold He now reveals Himself to Joshua, by the vision of a man standing "with his sword drawn in his hand," and saying, "as captain of the host of the Lord am I now come." We see not with the eyes of flesh the great Captain of our salvation. But let us stedfastly look upon Him by faith. And in token of our sense of his presence and protection, let us observe all his ordinances to keep them, let us study all his commandments to do them. And let us feel assured that as long as He is our Helper, though we are weak, we still are safe, though we have no strength to contend with our enemies, we are still sure to overcome.
The siege of Jericho.
1 Now Jericho was straitly on before the ark of the LORD. shut up because of the children of Israel: none went out, and none came in.
2 And the LORD said unto Joshua, See, I have given into thine hand Jericho, and the king thereof, and the mighty men of valour.
3 And ye shall compass the city, all ye men of war, and go round about the city once. Thus shalt thou do six days.
4 And seven priests shall bear before the ark seven trumpets of rams' horns: and the seventh day ye shall compass the city seven times, and the priests shall blow with the trumpets.
5 And it shall come to pass, that when they make a long blast with the ram's horn, and when ye hear the sound of the trumpet, all the people shall shout with a great shout; and the wall of the city shall fall down flat, and the people shall ascend up, every man straight before him.
6 And Joshua the son of Nun called the priests, and said unto them, Take up the ark of the covenant, and let seven priests bear seven trumpets of rams' horns before the ark of the LORD. 7 And he said unto the people, Pass on, and compass the city,and let him that is armed pass
8 And it came to pass, when Joshua had spoken unto the people, that the seven priests bearing the seven trumpets of rams' horns passed on before the LORD, and blew with the trumpets: and the ark of the covenant of the LORD followed them.
9 And the armed men went before the priests that blew with the trumpets, and the rereward came after the ark, the priests going on, and blowing with the trumpets. 10 And Joshua had commanded the people, saying, Ye shall not shout, nor make any noise with your voice, neither shall any word proceed out of your mouth, until the day I bid you shout; then shall ye shout.
11 So the ark of the LORD compassed the city, going about it once: and they came into the camp, and lodged in the camp. 12 And Joshua rose early in the morning, and the priests took up the ark of the LORD.
13 And seven priests bearing seven trumpets of rams' horns before the ark of the LORD went on continually, and blew with the trumpets: and the armed men went before them; but the rereward came after the ark of the LORD, the priests going on, and blowing with the trumpets.
The confidence of the wicked.
It is probable, though not expressly written, that the city of Jericho was one of those which refused to make peace with Israel; see ch. 11. 19; and which the Israelites were therefore bound to destroy utterly; according to the law set forth in Deuteronomy, 20. 12, 13. But possibly it may not have had peace proposed to it, as there directed. It may have been excepted purposely, according to the will of God; to be an instance of his more signal wrath, by
being at once devoted, without the offer of escape, to be cut off by the sword of his people. And indeed it makes no great difference in any point of view, whether He who knew what was in the hearts of these his sinful creatures, gave them up to destruction without offering them terms of escape, or whether as in the other cases He allowed the offer to be made, but hardened their hearts against accepting it. See ch. 11. 20. In either case they were ripe for the execution of his wrath. In either case they serve to give us this warning, that for those who persist in opposition to his will there is a time when no place for repentance can be found; God either cutting short at once the thread of life, or allowing them to linger on alive, when to all spiritual purposes they are dead.
It may the rather make us think, that God purposely made Jericho an exception from the method of procedure, which He had ordered for the invasion of Canaan, when we observe that He interfered, and caused this strong city to be taken, in a way never before heard of amongst men. Strange it is and painful, that so early in the history of mankind we meet with this amongst other symptoms of warlike practices, that men gathered themselves together in cities strongly fenced, protected by high walls, and gates, and bars, against the risk of assault from their fellow creatures. These fenced cities often served to protect the peaceable from the violent. And often they were the strong holds of the violent, to protect them from the consequences of preying on the peaceable. How straitly did the men of Jericho shut their city up! How closely did they bar their gates! How confidently did they trust, that walls so strong and high as theirs would defy, at least for a long time, the utmost force of the children of Israel! But listen to the Lord's words to Joshua: "See, I have given into thine hand Jericho!" Observe the singular directions set down for the fulfilment of this promise; a seven days' procession round the walls, and a shout at which the walls should fall down flat! Note how confidently Joshua acts upon the directions given him, and issues his orders to the priests and the people! And mark how readily and exactly both priests and people obey! And then who can doubt of the result? Who that is aware of the mighty works which God had already wrought for Israel, can trust in the walls of Jericho for safety, its gates of iron, or its bars of brass? Yet has not God denounced, in terms no less express, the vain confidence of the wicked? And notwithstanding all his threats, are there not men who still trust that they shall be safe in sin? Oh madness to hold out, when the sentence has gone forth! Oh worse than madness to contend with God, and to think to escape his vengeance! The day is at hand when the walls must fall, and the city be taken; when the confidence of the wicked shall come utterly to an end, and they shall perish for evermore. God be praised, that as yet He gives them time to repent! God grant, that whilst they yet have life, they may find also place for repentance!
Jericho is utterly destroyed.
14 And the second day they compassed the city once, and returned into the camp: so they did six days.
15 And it came to pass on the seventh day, that they rose early about the dawning of the day, and compassed the city after the same manner seven times: only on that day they compassed the city seven times.
16 And it came to pass at the seventh time, when the priests blew with the trumpets, Joshua said unto the people, Shout; for the LORD hath given you the city. 17 And the city shall be accursed, even it, and all that are therein, to the LORD: only Rahab the harlot shall live, she and all that are with her in the house, because she hid the messengers that we sent.
18 And ye, in any wise keep yourselves from the accursed thing, lest ye make yourselves accursed, when ye take of the accursed thing, and make the camp of Israel a curse, and trouble it. 19 But all the silver, and gold, and vessels of brass and iron, are consecrated unto the LORD: they shall come into the treasury of the LORD.
20 So the people shouted when the priests blew with the trumpets and it came to pass, when the people heard the sound of the trumpet, and the people shouted with a great shout, that the wall fell down flat, so that the people went up into the city, every man straight before him,
and they took the city.
21 And they utterly destroyed all that was in the city, both man and woman, young and old, and ox, and sheep, and ass, with the edge of the sword.
22 But Joshua had said unto the two men that had spied out the country, Go into the harlot's house, and bring out thence the woman, and all that she hath, as ye sware unto her.
23 And the young men that were spies went in, and brought out Rahab, and her father, and her mother, and her brethren,and all that she had; and they brought out all her kindred, and left them without the camp of Israel.
24 And they burnt the city with fire, and all that was therein: only the silver, and the gold, and the vessels of brass and of iron, they put into the treasury of the house of the LORD.
25 And Joshua saved Rahab the harlot alive, and her father's houshold, and all that she had; and she dwelleth in Israel even unto this day; because she hid the messengers, which Joshua sent to spy out Jericho.
26 And Joshua adjured them at that time, saying, Cursed be the man before the LORD, that riseth up and buildeth this city Jericho he shall lay the foundation thereof in his firstborn, and in his youngest son shall he set up the gates of it.
27 So the LORD was with Joshua; and his fame was noised throughout all the country.
"By faith the walls of Jericho fell down, after they were compassed about seven days." Heb. 11. 30. This is the application
of this history, as made in the New Testament. And we may do well to observe, that the faith of the Israelites was proved, not only by what they persevered in doing as commanded, but also by what they refrained from doing before the time appointed. It had been said, that the wall should fall down flat when all the people should shout on the seventh day. See ver. 5. And Joshua well knowing how much they would be tempted to put forth their voice too soon, had carefully forewarned them, "Ye shall not shout, nor make any noise with your voice, neither shall any word proceed out of your mouth, until the day I bid you shout." Ver. 10. Accordingly they refrained, until the signal was given by command of Joshua. And therefore when the people shouted, "the wall fell down flat, so that the people went up into the city, every man straight before him, and they took the city." Let us learn that it is a part and province of faith to wait the Lord's time; to be not hasty or impatient, though diligent and active, in doing the Lord's work. However excellent may be the end we have in view, however great the good we have to compass, let us be as willing to wait, where God bids us wait, for success, as to speed for it, where God lets us succeed speedily.
We may imagine the dismay and horror of the men of Jericho, when their wall fell down, and the invading army marched up into their city, without any barrier whatsoever to prevent it. We may pity their mournful end; and may weep for their wives and children, slain with the sword, and buried in the ruins of their desolated homes. We may pity, consistently with devout acknowledgment that God was not unrighteous in putting them to death. We may weep, for they were members of one family with ourselves. They felt what we should feel, if visited with the like affliction. And though we know that they deserved to suffer this, and worse, as sinners against the God that made them, this thought only adds to our own regret in their behalf, only makes us the more sorry for them that suffered. Compassion for the misery which sinners undergo, is naturally suggested, by our sense of what we still endure, by reason of sin, ourselves. It is sanctioned, nay forcibly recommended, by the affecting example of our Lord, weeping over the city which had rejected Him, dying for the people that nailed Him to the cross. And as long as we are in the flesh, we must cherish this tender pity for sinners, whilst we cultivate no less diligently a determined abhorrence of sin. But the judgments of God, in such a case as this of Jericho, the city wholly burnt, and no one of its inhabitants, except Rahab and her family, saved alive, these things, done at his express command, by his own chosen people, these judgments thus fulfilled, prepare us to expect, that hereafter, when our Saviour shall come again as Judge, we also shall be enabled, consistently with love made perfect in our souls, to join in the triumph of the heavenly host over "the enemies of the cross of Christ." Phil. 3. 18. See Rev. 18. 20.