Joshua 10


Before entering upon this new subject, I should like to make one or two incidental remarks.

The more I ponder these chapters of Joshua, the more I am struck with the part Satan plays in them. He combines circumstances to attain his end, and in this way he gets hold of people unknown to themselves; his suggestions are mistaken for those of their own free will, and, alas, he too often attains his end by making use even of the children of God who have been foolish enough to listen to him. Amidst all this show of activity, he hides himself, and nothing unusual causes his presence even to be suspected; in short, he is so little to be seen, that his very existence is denied by the world. What part has he in such a natural course of events, as the ambition, the disputes or the contests of two nations?

And, after all, who is right in this struggle? Whose is the good cause? Which is the aggressor? Where is a spirit of cruelty and extermination to be seen? and who lays snares? Let us weigh the facts fairly and decide.

I listen, and consider, and I decide for the Canaanites against Israel , for Satan against God. The enemy has succeeded by the facts themselves in hiding God from me. The word, on the con­trary, reveals God to me, makes Him known to me in His fulness in Christ, bringing, in His Person, perfect goodness, truth, light, righteous­ness, and holiness. Thus Satan is exposed; his schemes and artifices are seen in broad daylight; and the soul, knowing God, has no longer any difficulty in judging between good and evil in this world; all things are made manifest by the light.

But Satan does not consider himself beaten. To deceive souls, he attacks the very ones who are standing for God and bearing witness for Him; and having succeeded in corrupting them, he says: Are these people any better than others? They may talk about separation and humility, but look at Achan and the Gibeonites; see their self-confidence and their spiritual pride. These arguments gain entrance into souls, and the enemy succeeds in inducing them to reject God.

In connection with this I would further re­mark, that Satan has two grand methods of corrupting God's children. The first of these is the accursed thing, the world allowed in the heart. But this being judged, and the soul humbled, Satan will not be defeated. His second method is the league with Gibeon , the world allowed in the walk.

Throughout our Christian course we have to watch against these two snares, and again and again the twofold question arises in our hearts: Is the Lord enough for me, or shall I allow the attractions which the world offers me? Is it possible for us to be Christians, nothing but Christians in our walk; to be completely separate from the world, even the religious world, to be on no terms with it, and to avoid every associa­tion with it? Satan has perfectly succeeded, and succeeds every day, by means of these two snares, in enticing God's redeemed people. The first fall in the church was by means of the accursed thing, in the case of Ananias and Sap­phira, quickly followed by alliance with the world. If we take only the principles of this alliance, they shewed themselves in the lifetime of the apostle, and are denounced by him in the first Epistle to the Corinthians. They would like to have gained the wise, in order that Christianity might triumph. Their motives were of the world and carnal, similar to those of Gibeon in the midst of the congregation.

Well, Israel have owned their failure with re­gard to Gibeon, have confessed it by their acts, and must bear the lasting shame of it, approved of God in so doing, as we have seen. But Satan has not exhausted his artifices. We see a new confederation of kings assembled together, and this time arrayed not against Israel , but against Gibeon . The men of Gibeon send to Joshua to Gilgal saying: “Slack not thy hand from thy servants.” What is Israel to do? Danger is there, whatever course he pursues. Not to go up, and to allow the Gibeonites to be cut to pieces by others, would deliver them from the consequences of their failure, but where would be the needed humiliation? Would it be up­right towards God or man? To go up, on the other hand, would look like a definite allowance of association with the world. Such dilemmas are common with Satan. How many times he placed them in the pathway of the perfect Man! The only way to get out of the difficulty is by simple dependence on God, realised in the school of Gilgal . The lesson of the snare of Gibeon is learnt, and Satan is foiled.

Still, as we have already seen in the course of these chapters, Israel 's safety does not consist in the mere fact of being at Gilgal. The Gibeonites found Joshua and the men of Israel at the camp at Gilgal (ch. 9:6) when they went up to lay the snare, the result of which we have seen. That which so often is lacking, is the practical application of the cross of Christ to all the details of life in the flesh. “Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth.” It is not enough to be at Gilgal (ch. 10:6), but there must be also the going up from Gilgal (v.7), and the return to Gilgal (v.15). Circumcision and Gilgal are inseparable; the first is not sufficient of itself to keep us from falling; and Gilgal without circumcision would be monas­ticism, for the natural man can find satisfaction in it (Col.2:20-23).

But, as we have said, this judgment of self produces dependence, which is manifested in blessed intercourse with God, such as had not been previously tasted by the soul to the same extent. Jehovah speaks to Joshua (v.8), Joshua speaks to Jehovah (v.12), and Jehovah answers him (v.14). Encouragement, power and vic­tory are the precious fruits of that dependence which keeps our souls habitually having to do with Him. Now the Lord was no longer obliged to take part against them as at Ai, but He could fight for them (v.11-14). We see them too gaining the most signal victory recorded in the word of God. “There was no day like that before it, or after it” (v.14), a day which lasted twenty-four hours, thus allowing the children of Israel to gather in the very last fruit of their victory. The God of earth and heaven, the God of all creation can thus publicly declare that Israel is the object of His special favour; yes, these very people who were beaten before Ai, deceived by Gibeon, and whose ways might well have exhausted the long-suffering of God, but who are now a chastened people with broken and contrite hearts which “God will not despise” (Ps.51:17). And this very God hearkens to the voice of a man (v.14).

Beloved, we are all in the same condition. However feeble we may be, we can go to God by the Spirit of Christ, and present to Him the highest requests. Nothing was too great for Joshua to ask; he knew Jehovah's heart, and he knew the place His people occupied in it; he could ask that the heavens, the sun, and the moon might be at the service of His beloved people!

From this time nothing arrests Israel 's vic­torious progress (v.19); they must smite the enemies till none remain. The five kings are taken, and hung on five trees; Joshua sees his way to this more clearly, from a previous page in his history learnt in the presence of God. Joshua has got into the way which suits God's holiness (v.26,27). Encouraged himself by the word of God (v.8), he can encourage the people (v.25); Makkedah, Libnah, Lachish , Gezer , Eglon, Hebron , Debir, are their victorious stages; they take possession of their inheritance, and then “they return unto the camp to Gilgal” (v.43).