Joshua 11
Pulpit Commentary Homiletics
Another league is here. One in the south destroyed; another in the north is formed. A formidable one scattered; one more so gathers. Four kings are mentioned, and probably a dozen others of those mentioned in the following chapter are associated with them. They marshal all the fighting power of the northern half of Palestine. As the land was then (as repeatedly afterwards) very populous; as war was the most familiar of all employments; as numbers of the cities - almost impregnable by nature - were fortified as well; as the army gathered was strong in chariots and horses, and had taken up a position on the great plain of Jezreel, where cavalry could operate with ease - it seemed as if the outlook for Israel were very dark indeed. A nation of fugitive slaves assailing a Phoenician people of vast wealth, enterprise, civilisation, and numbers! What chance of success was there? But they unite only for their easier destruction. Cheered by God, falling thereon suddenly, the terrific shock of Israel's charge was irresistible, and this "battle of the league" at once leads to Israel's easy conquest of the whole of this half of the kingdom. Take this story as an example of the way in which God's warriors have always "many adversaries." And observe -

I. THE NATURAL CHANCES ARE ALWAYS AGAINST GOD'S PEOPLE. The sacred history is little more than a list of conflicts of one sort and another, fought invariably against great odds, but followed invariably by victory. The chances were many against Israel getting away from Egypt, taking Jericho, winning at Beth-boron, gaming a victory here. It was not otherwise in the case of Jephthah, of Deborah, of Gideon. Who would have ventured to describe David as having a single chance in his conflict with Goliath? How pathetic is Elijah's estimate of the odds against him in his fight for truth. Baal's prophets and Astarte's prophets are numbered by hundreds, backed by the whole power of the court and the perversity of the people. But "I am left alone, and they seek my life." The odds were heavily against Daniel and his three friends - say 10,000,000 to 1. Neither Ezra nor Nehemiah felt they had anything approaching a level chance. The Babe of Bethlehem had all superstitions, vices, prejudices of the world against His cause. The Apostle of the Gentiles had all the philosophies, religions, and weaknesses of men against him and his simple gospel. The great theologian of the early centuries lamented that he stood "Athanasius against the world." Luther had Church and State throughout all Europe against him. Every missionary to a heathen land, every philanthropist seeking to remove abuses, have had the same experience. The Church today sometimes deems herself "hardly bested" by science, secularism, the preoccupation of men with their necessary cares, the sluggishness of the human heart to adopt a higher principle of life. Each Christian man finds such weaknesses and perversities within him and such obstacles without that it seems often as if it would be impossible to hold his ground, much less to make advance. Be not astonished if, in the part of the field assigned to you, the odds are altogether and absolutely against you. They always are against God's people and God's children. But observe secondly, though the chances are against them -

II. THE WINNING FORCES ARE ON THEIR SIDE. Inward forces are on their side. The heart makes the hero. Nelson's Methodists were his best sailors. God infuses such energy of purpose, confidence, self sacrifice, that these intensify natural force a hundredfold. [See Shakespeare's 'Cymbeline,' for illustration of effect of moral energy in war.] Good is the strongest and sturdiest thing under heaven; evil, cowardly and self ashamed in its presence. Duty, peace, hope, gracious memories, self respect, God's smile - these are forces which the world can never match, and which all operate in the direction of victory. Outward forces are also on their side. Divine guidance is imparted, Providence aids them, concurrently with their efforts the efforts of God are put forth. When God fights His battles of mercy there is no lukewarmness in His conflict. He uses us. The weapons of our warfare are heavenly, while the weapons of His warfare are often earthly. And so, while the world has the appearance, the Church has the reality, of a preponderant weight on her side. Is it a case of a battle of the northern league with you? Fight on, for they that are with you are far more than they flint are with them. - G.

I. GOD'S COMMANDMENT IS ENDURING. The commandment to Moses is transmitted to Joshua. God's will is changeless. What is right is right eternally. We must not regard God's laws as obsolete when they are ancient. The precepts of the Bible are not the less binding upon us because they are old (Psalm 119:160; Isaiah 40:8). Nevertheless

(a) what God commands relative to certain circumstances will be modified if those circumstances are changed;

(b) a larger commandment coming later exonerates from the observance of the details of a smaller commandment when these are by their nature preparatory to the larger. Thus the larger Christian law of love frees us from the narrower preparatory law of ordinances (Romans 13:10).


(1) Faithfulness is shown in devotion to God. Moses and Joshua regarded themselves as God's servants. The Christian is not to live for self, but for Christ (Romans 14:8).

(2) This devotion must be exercised in active service. Belief, religious feeling, and acts of worship will not satisfy God. We are called to do His will (Matthew 7:24-27).

(3) Faithful service is obedient service. We must not simply work for God, but work for God in His way, doing His will, and fulfilling His commandments. Self will is fatal to the merit of the most zealous service. Much of our most devoted service is spent in serving God according to our own will instead of simply doing His will (Psalm 40:8; John 6:38).

(4) Perfect fidelity requires obedience in all things. We are tempted to choose our favourite commandments for obedience, and to neglect others. Some are not obvious; we should search for them. Some are difficult; we should seek special strength to do them. Some are dangerous; we should be brave and firm before them. Some are distasteful; we should sacrifice our feelings to God's will.

(5) Perfect fidelity will make us endeavour to secure the fulfilment of God's commandments by others when we cannot accomplish all ourselves. Moses transmitted the commandment to Joshua. We should think more of the execution of the work than of the honour of the agent. Jealousy sometimes leads us to refuse sympathy for a good work if we cannot do it ourselves.

(6) The justifying grace of God in Christ does not free us from the obligation of perfect fidelity. No man is perfectly faithful. As Christians, we are accepted by God, not on account of our fidelity, but for the sake of Christ and through the mercy of God. But the receipt of God's forgiving grace brings upon us the greater obligation to be faithful to Him in the future (Romans 6:1).

(7) The liberty of the gospel does not exonerate us from the duty of fidelity. We are freed from the bondage of the letter of the law that we may obey the spirit of it. We are delivered from the legal servitude of fear that we may serve the better in the "sweet lawlessness of love" (Romans 8:3, 4). - W.F.A.

I. WHEN GOD HARDENS A MAN'S HEART IT IS BECAUSE HIS CHARACTER IS SUCH AS TO TURN GOD'S RIGHTEOUS ACTION TO THIS RESULT. The same act of Providence which hardens one heart softens another. Prosperity will harden one in selfish, worldly satisfaction, and soften another to grateful devotion and active benevolence. Adversity will harden one in discontent and unbelief, while it softens another to penitence and trust. The experience of life will deaden the spiritual insights of one, and quicken that of another. The effects of God's work with us is thus largely determined by the condition of our own minds. God never hardens a man's heart except through his own abuse of providential actions and spiritual influences which are kindly and wholesome in themselves, and prove themselves so to these who receive them aright (Matthew 13:11-15).

II. GOD HARDENS I MAN'S HEART NOT BEFORE, BUT AFTER, HE HAS SINNED. The Canaanites had hardened their hearts in sin before God hardened them for judgment. God never predisposes a man to sin, nor does He harden a man in sin against any desire for amendment. The Divine hardening of the heart is not a cause of sin but a fruit of it.

III. GOD DOES NOT HARDEN A MAN'S HEART SO MUCH BY MAKING THE WILL STUBBORN AS BY BLINDING THE EYES TO PRESENT DANGER AND FUTURE CALAMITY. The Canaanites were not made more wicked, they were only rendered blind to their danger and doom, so that they resisted where resistance was hopeless, and attempted to make no terms with the invader. When a man will not repent in obedience to conscience, it may be best that lie should not find a means of escaping punishment through the exercise of prudence. So long as conscience is blind it is better for all moral purposes that prudence also should be blind. Note, however, as a warning, while sin tends to blind us to its approaching punishment, we are not the less in danger because we feel a sense of security.

IV. WHEN THE CONSCIENCE IS DEAD TO GOD'S LAW IT MAY BE WELL THAT THE INTELLECT SHOULD BE BLIND TO HIS TRUTH. It is better not to receive the truth into the intellect than to hold it with a disobedient heart. Otherwise

(1) we shall misunderstand, abuse, and misapply it;

(2) we shall deceive ourselves by supposing we are the better for knowing what is good although we do not practise it; and

(3) we shall be less susceptible to the influence of truth when it comes at the right moment to reveal our guilt and direct the way to redemption. Christ expressly said that He spoke in parables that they who were in a wrong condition of heart to benefit by His teaching might not receive it to their hurt and its dishonour (Matthew 13:13). - W.F.A.

The evil men do often appears to be attributed in Scripture to the Divine will and agency (Exodus 4:21; Jude 1:14; 1 Kings 12:15; Romans 9:17, 18). Reason and conscience, indeed, confirm the view St. James gives of the history of all transgression (James 1:13-15). Every man's sin is emphatically his own - born of his own inward impulse, nourished by influences to which he freely and wilfully yields himself, and its deadly issue is his just and natural recompense. God has nothing to do with it but to condemn and punish. How, then, can it be said of any form of evil that it is "of the Lord," or that a man does it because the Lord "has hardened his heart"? Is it so that the wrongdoer is after all but the passive instrument of a Divine purpose, and his life the working out of a Divine decree? The perfect solution of this difficult problem may be beyond us; but there are considerations that will shed much interpreting light upon it, and under the guidance of which we may

"assert eternal Providence,
And justify the ways of God to man."

I. THE HARDENING OF MEN'S HEARTS IN EVIL COURSES IS THE RESULT OF CERTAIN LAWS OF WHICH GOD IS THE AUTHOR. A suggestive analogy is found in the realm of material things. Nature has its stern impartial laws, its latent dangers, destructive powers, deadly poisons, etc. If a man deals wantonly and recklessly with these, he arms them all against himself; but the blame of the mischief thus done cannot be laid on Him who made or ordained them. What is man's business in this world but just to utilise for good ends - to "use and not abuse" - the laws and resources of the sphere in which the Creator has placed him? So, morally, the circumstances of our existence upon earth work out good or evil results according as we are voluntarily disposed to use them. The very influences that in one case tend to nourish the principles of a true and noble life, in another case harden the heart in sin. God's part in this is simply to determine the conditions under which the process shall go on. The evil men do is their own; the powers they prostitute to their base purposes, the place they occupy among their fellow men, the advantages that favour the working out of their designs, the laws that govern the development of their sin to its fatal issues, are "of the Lord."

II. WHEN MEN SHOW THAT THEY ARE RESOLUTELY BENT ON EVIL COURSES, GOD MAY SEE FIT TO LEAVE THEM TO THEMSELVES. There is in morals, as in mechanics, a law of inertia by virtue of which we remain in a chosen state, or continue to move in a chosen direction, unless some stronger force is brought to bear upon us. Will and habit rivet the chain of iniquity. When a man's heart is thoroughly "set in him to do evil," God sometimes abandons him to his own choice, leaves him to become the prey of his own wayward and wicked infatuation (Proverbs 1:31). In such a case the law of sin is simply left to take its course. The Divine act is negative rather than positive. It lies in the withholding of restraining or delivering grace. And there is no injustice in this - nothing unrighteous in God thus allowing the heart to harden itself. Moreover, it is by the operation of a law of our nature that he who will net turn from his evil way shall at length come to a point at which he cannot (Jeremiah 13:23).

"Sins lead to greater sins, and link so straight,
What first was accident, at last is fate."

And God, who established that law, is often said in Scripture to do that which takes place by virtue of it, or which results from it. He has framed the whole constitution of things under which it comes to pass that the impenitent sinner gradually becomes obdurate and closes against himself the door of hope. In this sense only can it be true that "it is of the Lord to harden men's hearts."

III. GOD OFTEN WORKS OUT, THROUGH THE WORST FORMS OF HUMAN EVIL, HIS GRANDEST ISSUES OF GOOD. In tracing the course of earthly affairs, we have to draw a very distinct line of separation in our minds between the wicked will and purpose of man, and the overmastering will and purpose of God. The sovereignty of the latter is most triumphantly asserted when the former has been suffered to reach its utmost limits, and work its deadliest work. The utter destruction of these Canaanites, aggravated by their own mad resistance, was essential to a full display of the majesty of the God of Israel, and the vindication of eternal righteousness. How important a part it has played in the general progress of humanity, who shall say? The triumph of redeeming mercy was brought about through the most heinous of all human crimes. "Him being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God," etc. (Acts 2:23). The "hands" were none the less "wicked" because through them God accomplished His holy and loving will. The Son of man was born into the world to be betrayed and crucified and slain; but that does not lighten the curse that falls on the betrayer and the murderer. Across the dark thunder cloud of man's evil, God casts the bright and beautiful rainbow of hope. The darkness is man's - the hope is from Him "who is light, and in whom is no darkness at all." - W.

The terrible extermination of the Canaanitish nations remains a mystery too hard for us to understand. "It was of the Lord," we read (ver. 20). The history of Israel is designed to bring out in an impressive manner, by outward and visible facts, the constant intervention of God in human destinies. The history of our race is a fearful drama of blood and tears, in which ruin and devastation meet us on every hand. The Old Testament teaches us that in this history the purposes of Divine justice are carried out. It shows us the great Justiciary perpetually working. We might almost say that the veil which usually conceals His operation is lifted, so that we see that "our God is a consuming fire" (Hebrews 12:29). If we look into the causes of this extermination of the Canaanites, we see that it was brought about by the excessive corruptness of the life of these people, under the influence of their impure idolatries. The same conditions are found today at the root of all the woes that afflict humanity. The sin is always greater than the suffering. The just God is also the God of love. His justice paves the way for His mercy. The triumph of Israel is to be turned to the account of the human race, since the establishment of the sons of Abraham in the land of promise is a necessary condition and antecedent of the universal salvation. We do net for a moment deny that an awful mystery rests upon these dark records of the Old Testament. It is impossible to think without shuddering of these myriads of human beings, swept away in a deluge of blood. But surely we may believe that even in this there was some hidden secret of love Divine, and may cling with the early Church to the "larger hope," that redemption may have come to them in that mysterious abode of spirits in prison to which Jesus Christ went to preach (1 Peter 3:17). We do not see why the victims of the first deluge should have been the only ones thus privileged. Alike in public and private misfortunes, let us ever recognise the justice of the Holy God. Let us bow beneath His mighty hand, remembering that it is at the same time the hand of our Father, and that "all things work together for good to them that love Him." - E.DE P.

These giants had been the terror of Israel. In the evil report of the unfaithful spies they are mentioned last in the ascending scale of difficulties which seemed to make the conquest of the land an impossibility. The dread of their prowess had provoked the mutiny in the wilderness which led to the forty years of homeless journeying. But here we have the account of their destruction; the brevity of the account itself suggesting what everything subsequently stated confirms, that the most dreaded was not the most arduous part of their task, but somehow a part which was done like all the rest, without hitch or strain. There is much here that is very suggestive.

I. THERE ARE GIANTS THAT WE HAVE TO RIGHT. The spies had made a true report. Their report erred not in the measurement of the difficulty, but in the estimate of the nation's power with God's help to overcome it. It was true enough that scattered over the land were these tribes or families of great stature - Anakim, Emim, Zamzummims, Rephaim, as they are variously called. The Israelites being probably a people of less than ordinary stature found themselves thus face to face with a most stalwart and lordly race, with a people whose strength is still evinced in those marvellous remains of "the giant cities of Bashan," which impress all who behold them. And the land cannot be theirs until these giant tribes in their mountain fastnesses are destroyed. It is with them as it is with all men - all have to fight some giants in their fight of life. Our outlook should be made hopeful by faith, not by illusion. There are giants before us whom we shall have to fight if we are faithful. Difficulties, temptations, huge griefs, loneliness of spirit, impulses of wrong, cares and anxieties, still make a great tribe of the children of Anak. We shall find them scattered all over the land - in Bashan and in Hebron, and throughout all the hill country. Wherever the conquest would be hard enough without them, there are they found to make it harder still. It is well to abjure self deception. The way of righteousness is hard, and many a battle will try all our nerve and all our endurance. Life itself is stern and fun of conflict. Be not surprised if the strain on you be terrific, if the number and force of the enemy alike distress you; there has nothing new happened to you. All have had giants to fight with in their course through life. Israel could not possess the land until the giants were con. quered, and your apprehensions of the future are so far accurate that you will have to encounter them without doubt. Secondly observe -

II. WE CANNOT HELP BEING. AFRAID OF THEM, BUT WE MUST KEEP THE FEAR WITHIN PROPER LIMITS. It is useless to forbid fear, and perhaps unwise. Useless, because so long as our nervous system is what it is, and the possibilities of life are so solemn and various, it is inevitable that solicitude should be awakened. It would be unwise, for the fear, kept within proper limits, is one of the most valuable of all our instinctive emotions. The eye, by a sort of fear instinctively operative in it, brings down its lid over it whenever anything approaches it. And by the physical apprehensiveness of the organ itself its delicate arrangements are protected. And what is done for that organ by its nerves of peculiar sensibility is done for our lives in all their complexity by an instinctive apprehensiveness which "scents the danger from afar." While there are giants it is desirable that there should be some fear of them. For fear, within bounds, makes men brace up their energies - take all precautions against surprise, sends them to God for guidance and for help, sets them to repair their weak point, whatever it may be. It is only in excess that fear is mischievous - that is, when it occupies the entire thought, paralyses all the energies of the life, and itself directly aids the overthrow it was meant to avert. It may perhaps be expressed accurately thus: Fear is a good servant but a bad master. So long as it does not rule us, but only suggests precautions and helps to make our protection complete, so long it is a blessing. Whenever it becomes master, and commands instead of merely advising us, then our manhood is destroyed, and the ills we fear overtake us all the faster for our alarm. Israel did not do wrong in fearing the Anakim, but only in letting their fear exceed its proper limits, and fill their souls to the exclusion of all faith in God and hope of His help. Do not needlessly blame yourself for the agitation and apprehension produced by the possibilities of the future, only limit these things by faith and prayer and watchfulness, so that, thus kept in its place, your fear may serve you well. Thirdly observe -

III. ISRAEL HAS NOT TO FIGHT THE GIANTS TILL IT IS STRONG ENOUGH TO CONQUER THEM. Somehow - we hardly know how - the fight with the Anakim comes last. Perhaps because they occupied the fortresses formed by Nature - the mountain fastnesses; and naturally the first attention was given to the more regular and more numerous combatants inhabiting the cities. Whatever the reason, they were five years in the land before Caleb led the first attack on them (see Joshua 14:10). And only when they were flushed with victory, every man a conqueror - when the prestige of their miraculous forces conquered men's hearts before a sword was drawn - only then are they exposed to the strain of what seemed such an unequal conflict. And meeting them when they were thus grown in courage and prowess, their defeat requires no more effort than many of the lesser struggles which taxed their less developed powers. There seems something here characteristic of a universal experience. God's Israel are never unequal for a conflict, when the time has come for it. There is always such growth of force, or such heavenly aid, that when the fight comes it is found that fitness for it has come before it. You perhaps look forward with extreme solicitude to the giants that will dispute your passage. Remember, there is some distance between you and them, and much may happen before you reach them. You are gathering strength every step you take on the right road. And every lesser victory is giving you force and nerve to win a greater one. And should the giants not die before you get to them, you will find that, like Israel, you have grown fit to fight them before you are called to fight them. You will be strong enough for victory over them before you are required to enter into conflict with them. Lastly observe -

IV. THEY FOUND OUT THAT THE WORST PART OF THE GIANTS WAS THE TERROR THEY COULD INSPIRE. The great power of the giants was over the imaginations of their foes. And they had no real force at all equal to the terror they excited. Israel saw in imagination the size of the men, heard with alarm of the length of their spears and the weight of their armour. They did not remember that in any match between a great soul and a big body, the big body has but little chance. And so they were overpowered by the mere imagination of their enemy's force. But when they actually face them, they find that valour avails more than muscle, energy than height, faith than armour, soul than body. By beating them they found that the chief power of the giant was his power of affecting the imagination of his opponent. So is it still. "The worst ills are those that never happen," as the French proverb says. They threaten us, alarm us, agitate us, and after all turn off in some other direction, and do not come to us. And so is it with our giants. Their worst part is something which exists only in our imagination. They kill us by frightening us, and they frighten us by the powers they borrow from our imagination. Let us be of good courage and not afraid. And if giants many and strong threaten us let us keep fear in the bounds of faith, let us remember on warfare is ordained for us except where victory is possible, and let us put a check on the too easily affected imagination which needlessly dreads a foe, whose outward bigness is no accurate measure of the dimensions of his real force. - G.

It is well to note the absolute fulfilment of God's promises. That which He has done for others He will do for us, if we trust Him. All who commit the keeping of their souls and the guidance of their life to Him have a promised land - the enjoyment of which seems often so distant as to move them to despair. Here we see a great promise grandly redeemed. God promised safe deliverance from Egypt, safe conduct to the promised land, and the possession of the whole of Canaan. And now we find Joshua took (ver. 18) "all that land, the hills and all the south country, and all the land of Goshen, and the valley, and the plain, and the mountain of Israel, and the valley of the same, even from Mount Halak that goeth up by Seir, down to Baal Gad in the valley of Lebanon under Mount Hermon." It took him several years - seven at least - to make the conquest. Even when made, and the enemies subdued, they were still in various localities in sufficient force to dispute the possession and enjoyment of certain points of the country. But the land of Canaan had become the possession of Israel, and was to continue to be theirs for more than a thousand years to come. It is a bright and conspicuous instance of God's faithfulness. Consider this fulfilment of promise. Observe -

I. IT DID NOT COME AS THE YOUNG MAN HOPED. When Joshua first came from Egypt he had doubtless his roseate dreams. To him the projected conquest would seem the easiest of all things. A journey of a few weeks, a bold entrance, a vigorous blow, the strenuous efforts of a united nation, helped by the enthusiasm of grace and the assistance of Providence - such would seem to him all that was requisite for complete and grand success. Even when he had traversed the land he still believed in the perfect possibility of its conquest, and had all a hero's difficulty in believing in anything tending to prevent it. But God's promise came, not as the young man hoped or expected. Youth sails too fast, underrates the difficulties to be surmounted, does not realise its own weakness, and the weakness of coadjutors, so that five-and-forty years elapse before the promise receives its ripe fulfilment. God's promises to us will all find realisation, but not quite so swiftly, perhaps, as in our youth we dream. Perfect victory over sin within ourselves will not be achieved in one conflict, and abuses will not be destroyed by one assault. The might of God's help is greater than ever we deem it, but our own weakness and faultiness are inadequately known. Our scheme of philanthropy will meet stouter opposition and a feebler backing than we anticipate. Be not discouraged. God's promises will all be fulfilled, though not so fast as the young expect them. Observe secondly -

II. GOD'S PROMISE WAS FULFILLED EARLIER THAN THE MIDDLE-AGED MAN DARED TO HOPE FOR. I expect Joshua felt the years of pilgrimage longer than any one else felt them. "When would the nation be fit to strike for its earthly home?" Some centuries of bondage had been required to give them unity; would a similar stretch of wandering be required to produce courage and faith? To his eye, doubtless, virtues grew far too slowly. And when he witnessed their murmurings, their readiness to decline to lower paths and viler practices, there could hardly fail to rise within him the feeling that the conquest of the land was daffy becoming a more distant thing. And when he saw three of the hardiest tribes settle on the east of Jordan, and saw a great reluctance on the part of the rest to cross that river, doubtless he began to think the promise of God tarried, and to wonder whether he would ever see his people settled. But faith sufficient to cross the Jordan and courage sufficient to take the land did not require centuries to grow. God's purposes ripened faster than the faith of even His most believing servants, and accordingly, in all probability, long before Caleb and Joshua would have dreamed the people ready for the task, Canaan is won. God sees more than we see. He hastes not, but He tarries not. Our despairing thoughts are not our wise ones. More forces are working on our side than we imagine. God sleeps not. The desire of your heart will come sooner than, in your despondency, you deem either likely or possible. And when, perhaps, hope deferred has made the heart sick, then, like a morning without clouds, it comes in all its fulness. Lastly observe -

III. WHEN GOD FULFILS HIS PROMISES, HE DOES SO GRANDLY. It is not half done, or three-quarters. All the land is given them. Nay, good measure, pressed down and shaken together and running over. On the south their territory extends to Seir; on the east it passes over Jordan and embraces almost all within the edge of the desert. It is given easily. They have war, but no defeat; difficulties, but none insuperable; much left to be done (as in a new house there always is!, but still the conquest is complete. Won far more easily than any could have imagined, the land is theirs. So in God's own time - i.e., the really fittest time - every promise will be fulfilled. The promise of answers to our prayers, of the heart's desire, of a blessing on our work, of growth in grace, of the abundant entrance into the inheritance of the saints in light - all will be given to us at last, more richly, more fully, more easily than we have ever dared to hope. - G.


(1) Victory is promised in God's Word. From the first promise that "the seed of the woman should bruise the head of the serpent" (Genesis 3:15), to the latest assurance of a "crown of life" to those who are "faithful unto death" (Revelation 2:10), success is assured to the faithful soldier of God. So the land was taken "according to all that the Lord said unto Moses."

(2) Victory is secured by God's help. In the passage of the Jordan, the fall of the walls of Jericho, and the success of the battlefield, it is everywhere indicated that God was aiding His people. In our spiritual warfare we are victorious because God is fighting for us (Psalm 118:6), and gives us strength to fight (Psalm 117:14), and because Christ has first conquered our enemies (John 16:33; 1 Corinthians 15:57).

(3) Victory is attained through our fighting. "Joshua took the land" after hard fighting. The Christian must fight to win (Ephesians 6:10, 11; 1 John 5:4).


(1) The fact of victory will in itself be a great reward. To have conquered sin and mastered self and to be independent of the world will be attainments full of blessing.

(2) Victory will introduce us to a great inheritance. We have our Canaan to possess after the baffle of life is over. Heaven will be a great inheritance to us, as

(a) the home of our souls and the abode of our Father,

(b) the "land flowing with milk and honey," wherein our souls will receive all needful nourishment.and inspiration;

(c) the place for peaceful, honourable service. After fighting the Israelites had leisure to till the soil and tend their flocks; after our fighting will come the happy service of heaven.

(3) Victory will secure to us rest from further warfare. "The land rested from war." War is always an evil, though sometimes a necessary evil. Happy the land that has "rest from war"! The Christian is not to live forever in the toils and dangers of spiritual warfare. In heaven he will be free from the assaults of evil. Note: True rest is not rest from service - idleness, but rest from war - peace. - W.F.A.

These words bring us a grateful sense of relief. We are weary of reading the long catalogue of bloody victories - how of one city after another it is said, "They smote all the souls that were therein with the edge of the sword, utterly destroying them; there was not anything left to breathe." We are ready to say with the Prophet, "O thou sword of the Lord, how long will it be ere thou be quiet?" (Jeremiah 47:6). If it were not for our conviction that an all wise and righteous Divine purpose determined all this (Carlyle's distinction between the "surgery" of God's judgments and "atrocious murder"), we should turn with loathing from the sickening tale of slaughter. Certain thoughts about war are suggested.

I. THE CAUSES OF WAR. The baser passions of human nature are the sources from which it always more or less directly springs. These are the root of all its practical wickednesses. "Whence come wars and fightings among you? Come they not hence, even of your lusts that war in your members?" (James 4:1). Vain ambition, the desire for territorial aggrandizement, the thirst for power, jealousy, revenge, etc. - these are the demons that kindle its destructive fires. Other and more plausible motives are but the false veil that hides their hatefulness. There is no real exception. Self defence is no doubt an imperious instinct of nature, and there are interests (liberties, sanctities of social life, principles of eternal righteousness) which it may often be a noble thing for a nation, even by utmost force of arms to guard. But there would be no need to defend if there were no lawless lust or cruel wrong to endanger them. These "wars of the Lord" are no exception to the rule. They were waged by the Divine command, but their cause lay in the moral evil that cursed the land - those foul iniquities which, to the view of Infinite Wisdom, could be wiped out only by such a baptism of blood.

II. THE MISERIES OF WAR. It is the very symbol of almost all the woes of which human nature is capable, and that can darken with their shadow the field of human life.

(1) The frenzy of malignant passions,

(2) physical suffering,

(3) the cruel rending of natural ties,

(4) the arrest of beneficent industries,

(5) the imposition of oppressive burdens,

(6) the increase of the means and instruments of tyranny.

These are some of the calamities that follow in the track of wax. Their sadness and bitterness cannot be exaggerated.

III. THE POSSIBLE BENEDICTIONS OF WAR. It is a marvellous proof of the Divine beneficence that reigns supreme over all human affairs that even this deadly evil has something like a fair side to it, and is not unmixed with good.

(1) It developes certain noble qualities of character - self reliance, self control, resolution, fortitude, mastery of adverse circumstances, etc.; so much so that men have been led to look upon the experience of great wars as essential to the vigorous life of nation, necessary to save it from the lethargy of moral indifference and the enervating influence of self indulgence. We may give due weight to those heroic qualities that war calls forth, and yet feel that they in no way counterbalance the crimes and horrors that attend it.

(2) It prepares the way for new and better conditions. As storms clear the air, as a great conflagration in the city destroys its dens of shameful vice and loathsome disease, so wars which dislocate the whole frame of society, and let loose lawless passions, and inflict unspeakable miseries, do, nevertheless, often bring about healthier conditions of national life, and clear the ground for the spread of truth and righteousness. God" makes the wrath of man to praise him," though in itself it "worketh not his righteousness." And when the land rests from war there often arises a benign power of restoration that soon changes the face of things

"softening and concealing,
And busy with its hand in healing,"

the rents and ravages the sweep of the destroyer may have made.

IV. THE CURE FOR WAR. There is no cure but that which is supplied by the redeeming influence of the Prince of Peace.

(1) It will uproot and destroy those hidden evils in the heart of man from which all war arises, substituting for them that "love which worketh no ill to his neighbour."

(2) It will turn those energies of our nature to which war gives a false and fatal impetus into worthier directions, enlisting them in a purely moral conflict with the abounding evils of the world (2 Corinthians 10:4, 5; Ephesians 6:12-18). - W.

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