Joshua 1:16
So they answered Joshua, "Everything you have commanded us we will do, and everywhere you send us we will go.
Sermons
Joshua and the ReubenitesE. De Pressense Joshua 1:10-18
Brave ResponsesA. B . Mackay.Joshua 1:12-18
Fidelity to EngagementsW. G. Blaikie, D. D.Joshua 1:12-18
Joshua's Demand for the Services of the Trans-Jordanic TribesA. B. Mackay.Joshua 1:12-18
Prayers for Men in Public OfficesJohn Erskine, D. D.Joshua 1:12-18
The Moral Advantages of Good OrganisationJ. -Parker, D. D.Joshua 1:12-18
LoyaltyS.R. Aldridge Joshua 1:16-18
A demand had been made that the "men of valour" of these tribes should leave their relatives and property in the fenced cities of their inheritance, and head the advance of the Israelites into Canaan. A call to a dangerous position, to bear, as it seemed, the brunt of the enemy's attack; a summons to exercise self denial in absence from home and possessions; the precept issuing, too, from unaccustomed lips, those of a new general. These verses record a courageous, generous response, which may well furnish matter for meditation and imitation.

I. A DECLARATION OF OBEDIENCE.

1. A prompt assent. No time forthought and preparation asked for. No reasons invented for delay.

2. A hearty assent. It is expressed in three forms: a promise to do what is commanded, to go where sent, and to hearken when addressed. These phrases cover all possible kinds of precepts.

3. Promise of unreserved obedience. "All," "whithersoever," and "in all things," thus blocking the smallest loophole of escape in each case. No picking and choosing here of the mandates to which they will conform. Such complete acquiescence as this can be required of us only with respect to Him who is the Captain of our salvation. With regard to other subalterns of His, and to the national sovereign, there are occasions on which refusal and resistance are justifiable. Consider the grounds on which we owe fealty to Jesus Christ. He is our Lord as Creator, "by him were all things made," and as Redeemer, "that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves," etc.

II. A PRAYER OFFERED FOR THE LEADER. "Only the Lord thy God be with thee as he was with Moses."

1. This petition recognised the fount of authority. The warriors readily complied with the demand of Joshua because they believed that he was appointed to occupy the place of Moses. Joshua was henceforth to receive and utter the directions of the Almighty, to be His vicegerent to the Israelites. And on this foundation Jesus Christ often based His claims to be heard by the Jews, viz., that He was sent from God and spoke the words of God. He pointed to His mighty works in evidence of the truth of His pretensions. Nicodemus declared, "No man can do these miracles that thou doest except God be with him." The Father openly signified His approval of the Son's mission, "This is my beloved Son, hear ye him." The Jewish king was the "anointed of the Lord. "The powers that be are ordained of God." Pastors under the Christian dispensation are "over" men "in the Lord." "Remember them who have the rule over you, who have spoken unto you the word of God." "Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves, for they watch for your souls as they that must give account."

2. The prayer invokes the presence of God as the leader's source of strength. By prayer we can commend to Divine grace "all that are in authority." How the Apostle Paul reiterated his request that the readers of his epistles would earnestly pray on his behalf! When Peter was miraculously released from prison he found "many gathered together praying." Thus may the people aid their minister, as Aaron and Hur upheld Moses' hands. There were seasons when the commands of the great legislator were received with murmuring, and when his right to rule was called in question. These Reubenites had not "in all things" hearkened unto Moses. Yet now they spontaneously avow that he had been supported by God. The death of a celebrated man calms passion, removes prejudice, and purges the vision.

III. A STERN RESOLUTION. To inflict the punishment of death on any recalcitrant offender. Presumptuous refusal to hearken to the priest or judge was to be visited with this severe penalty (Deuteronomy 17:12). This declaration by these tribes evinced their firm determination to abide by the decrees of their new ruler. Rebellion is treated as one of the worst crimes, inasmuch as whilst some illegal acts are only indirectly subversive of government, this strikes a blow at the very seat of authority, and endangers all order. Nor is it a matter of small moment whether men bow or not to the rule of Christ. Peter quoted the prophecy of Moses in reference to Christ and the terrible threat annexed, "Every soul which will not hear that prophet shall be destroyed from among the people." Our Lord, in the parable of the pounds, represents Himself as saying, "But those mine enemies... and slay before me."

IV. ADMONITORY ADVICE. In olden days servants were much freer in speaking their mind to their masters, and soldiers to their generals. But Joshua's humility in listening to this exhortation is worthy of being copied. The wisest may learn from the ignorant, and the meanest of the flock may sometimes suitably address their pastor. Nor need any of us be above accepting good counsel, from whatever quarter it proceeds. There is no intimation of weakness, but only that these tribes perceived the weighty enterprise in which Joshua was engaged, and the necessity of his exhibiting a fearless demeanour. They sympathised with him, and wished to inspirit him for his arduous, honourable work. They knew how much Commonly depends on the leader's courage, and how quickly his fear would affect his subjects. It was advice in full accordance with their actions. They had gone the right way to strengthen Joshua by their instant submission to His will. They did not try to cheer him with words after having previously knocked the breath out of him with their deeds. Speech and conduct were in harmony, and lent each other force. Marvellous is the effect of an encouraging word! Is there not some one whom we can thus send to his post with augmented zeal and hope? Conclusion. Whom are we serving? Under whose banner enlisted, and what wages, what reward do we anticipate? The true Joshua, even Christ, demands, invites, yea, entreats our faithful adherence. - A.







Ye shall pass before your brethren armed.
In making this demand he declares their duty plainly, supports it with reasons, and enforces it with firmness. The demand he made was authoritative. It was founded on a past transaction to which they had agreed. He showed that this was nothing more than the carrying out of an arrangement previously made. From this it would not be lawful to deviate, for the commandment of Moses in regard to this was the word of the Lord. The demand was also reasonable. The raw lads and the worn-out soldiers, as well as the inferior men, may stay at home to do garrison duty, the veterans must march with him. Surely this is sensible. It is always wise to put the best men to the most difficult work. In fulfilling this commission of the true Joshua, has the Church always acted with equal wisdom and fidelity? It did so in the purest and palmiest days of missionary effort, when, filled with the spirit of wisdom and love and power, it broke forth on the right and left and speedily overran the known world, Now it seems as if all the mighty men of valour should stay at home to nurse the feeble spark of the Church's vitality, while the striplings go to the wars. Yea, are there not some who, instead of evangelising among the heathen, expend all their energy in proselytising among Christians? The demand made by Joshua on the pastoral tribes was also equitable. "You have rest," he might have said; "your brethren have not. You got rest through their help, therefore you are bound to help them to the same blessing. The command of Moses in regard to this was acquiesced in by you, therefore truth and honour require its faithful carrying out." Moreover, what an unseemly picture it would have presented, to have seen part of the nation fighting hard, while their brethren sat still and looked on in ignoble ease. And how shortsighted would this policy of idleness have been. Only by the speedy and thorough conquest of all the land could the heritage of any tribe be kept in pleasant and unquestioned possession. To march with Joshua was the wisest, as well as the most seemly thing these tribes could do. Surely the same arguments could be urged with equal force as incentives to the grand work of world-wide Christian testimony.

(A. B. Mackay.)

All that
The response of the people was as noble in its way as that of their leader. There is a holy rivalry between Israel and Joshua. They stir each other up to the great work that has to be done. The outstanding feature in the response of the people is its enthusiasm. It is plain from their response that they are heart and soul in the work before them, that they are only waiting for their leader's command to march forth a band of heroes. To say that their reply to Joshua was hearty would be to do them injustice; it was enthusiastic. Every soul in the camp was stirred to its utmost depth. This is plain from the readiness with which they replied. They did not hang back, waiting for each other to speak out. Much less did they hunt up excuses why they should not march. They did not modify or minimise their responsibilities. They were as eager to follow Joshua as Joshua was to follow Jehovah. This enthusiasm was also manifested by their cheerfulness. These men had not only promised to put their hands to this work, but also made if plain that they felt it their highest privilege to be able to do so. Oh! for such holy enthusiasm in the work of the Lord in these days! The best of us are but half-hearted at the best, and some, alas! seem utterly unable to get up the least spark of enthusiasm for holy things. If we profess to be Christians, if we profess to do God's work, if we profess to respond to the call of the true Joshua, let us do it, not like galley-slaves, but like God's freemen; let us do it as those who think His service our highest honour. Joshua's followers were also unreserved in acknowledging their allegiance. They kept nothing back and made no reservation. They asked no questions and imposed no conditions. Is obedience, prompt and unquestioning, the first duty of a soldier? See how splendidly it was possessed by these Israelites. They declare that it is not for them to make reply, not for them to reason why, but simply, constantly, to do all that was commanded them. And if such glorious allegiance was due to Joshua, much more it is due to our great Captain of salvation, Jesus Christ. Whatsoever He commands in His Word we should do. Wheresoever He sends us in His providence we should go. The response of the people was also humble, sincere, earnest, and hopeful. A slight transformation in the opening words of ver. 17 makes their meaning more clear. It should read thus: "According to all in which we hearkened to Moses so will we hearken unto thee." They do not here brag of their obedience to Moses. Though better than their fathers, they had nothing to boast of, and conscious of their own weakness they merely said, "We will try to make our best obedience to Moses the model of our obedience to you." And there is good hope that they will succeed in carrying out this promise, for it is plain that they make it in a prayerful spirit, inasmuch as they follow it up by saying, "Only the Lord be with thee as He was with Moses." This is no impertinent limitation, qualifying their full allegiance as already given; but an earnest prayer that Joshua might constantly enjoy the Divine guidance, protection, and blessing vouchsafed to Moses. Then they finish their response by words vehement and uncompromising: "Whosoever he be that doth rebel against thy commandment, and will not hearken unto thy words in all that thou commandest him, let him be put to death." What more could a leader desire than such a spontaneous manifestation of fidelity? How must this declaration have strengthened Joshua's heart, showing so clearly as it did that his appointment to the leadership by Jehovah was so heartily ratified by all the people.

(A. B . Mackay.)

1. Society must have leadership, and leadership must be a question of competence. There are three things about the true leader which are most notable —(1) He must be directly called of God. Moses was; Joshua was.(2) Being directly called of God, he will walk constantly in the Divine counsel: "This book of the law shall not depart," &c.(3) Walking constantly in the Divine counsel, he shall achieve the most distinguished success. This is God's promise.

2. Organisation is as much required in the Church as in the army. The mature thinker, the new-born Christian, the untried youth, the undisciplined mind, and the cultivated intellect, cannot be equal, and ought not to have equal authority in the Church.

I. Such ORGANISATION WOULD FACILITATE THE DEVELOPMENT OF INDIVIDUAL TALENT. In the absence of wise organisation, the modest man will be ignored or crushed. He will have no power and no disposition to cope with the self-asserting and blustering men who worship their own infallibility. For the moment insolence will vanquish genius, simply because genius disdains the rude weapons which insolence adopts, and cares not to fight where even victory would be disgrace.

II. SUCH ORGANISATION WOULD CONSOLIDATE THE CHRISTIAN SOCIETY ASSEMBLING IN ONE PLACE. The army is a compact confederacy. Its consolidation is its strength. Break up its wisely arranged gradations, and its power is paralysed. The same principle has its bearing upon the Church.

III. SUCH ORGANISATION WOULD PRESENT THE MOST FORMIDABLE FRONT TO THE ENEMY. Every man in his place, every man moving at the same word of command, every man living for the common good — let that programme be carried out, and no power can withstand the united influence of Christ's believers. Disorder is weakness; disorder is waste!

IV. SUCH ORGANI SATION WOULD PROMOTE A MOST HEALTHFUL SPIRITUAL DISCIPLINE, The organisation which God appoints is calculated to train men to habits of self-dominion. The young man is held in check; the passionate man is subdued; the lethargic man is quickened; and each nature has the advantage of association with natures of a different type. The organisation thus commended is not merely mechanical; it is the order which comes of a living love, which is willing to do the most good in the least time.

(J. -Parker, D. D.)

There was no going back from their word, even though they might have found a loophole of escape. They might have said that as the conquest of Sihon and Og had been accomplished so easily, so the conquest of the western tribes would be equally simple. Or they might have said that the nine tribes and a half could furnish quite a large enough army to dispossess the Canaanites. Or they might have discovered that their wives and children were exposed to dangers they had not apprehended, and that it would be necessary for the entire body of the men to remain and protect them. But they fell back on no such afterthought. They kept their word at no small cost of toil and danger, and furnished thereby a perpetual lesson for those who, having made a promise under pressure, are tempted to retire from it when the pressure is removed. Fidelity to engagements is a noble quality, just as laxity in regard to them is a miserable sin. Even pagan Rome could boast of a Regulus who kept his oath by returning to Carthage, though it was to encounter a miserable death. In Psalm 15. it is a feature in the portrait of the man who is to abide in God's tabernacle and dwell in His holy hill, that he "sweareth to his own hurt, and changeth not."

(W. G. Blaikie, D. D.)

The Lord thy God be with thee.
Rulers who answer the end of their office as guardians of civil and religious liberty are pillars of a land. They uphold and support it, and keep it from tottering and sinking. We should pray for them —

1. That they may be endued with every grace and virtue which can animate to the faithful and diligent execution of the duties of their office. If piety, true patriotism, and zeal for the interests of religion are at present less conspicuous in many who hold civil or military offices than they have been in some former periods, there is the greater need to beseech Him, with whom is the residue of the Spirit, to pour out abundantly.

2. We should pray that all in offices, civil or military, may be endued with the gifts and talents necessary for the honourable discharge of their several offices. Capacity and genius, as well as good dispositions, are requisite for serving the public. It is from Divine influence that rulers diligently search what conduct is just and wise; hearken to salutary advice, from whatever quarter it comes; and have clear understandings to discern, and sound judgments to choose the right path, even in situations the most intricate and perplexed.

3. We should pray that, in consequence of good dispositions and eminent abilities, rulers may actually adopt the measures which best tend to promote the public good. It is not enough that a ruler avoids, in his own practice, whatever may embolden wickedness, and recommends, by an exemplary conduct, that righteousness which exalteth a nation. He must vigorously enforce and execute the laws already established for restraining wrong and wicked lewdness, and help forward the enacting of such new laws as may be needful for restraining them more effectually.

4. We should pray God to prosper the endeavours of all in civil and military offices for promoting the public good.

(John Erskine, D. D.).

Joshua... sent out... two men to spy.
I. THE POSITION IN WHICH JOSHUA AND THE ISRAELITES WERE PLACED. It was a difficult task that had been performed by Moses; did not a harder remain? It was something to lead such a host through the wilderness. Surely more is required now the armour is to be put on, active service entered, and they brought face to face with their foes. But was not Joshua specially called to the onerous duty? Certainly he was! We have been called to a work individually, collectively. God has promised success in it; the work is that of dispossessing before possessing. We are to enjoy the companionship of God in it. Still, like Joshua, we have to depend on that word of promise. The comparison is in our favour. We have the example of all the generations from Joshua till the present. These have been strengthened by the life of Christ. In Him we have a volume of testimony confirmatory of our highest hopes.

II. THAT ALL THESE PROMISES DO NOT PRECLUDE THE USE OF PROPER MEANS. What are the feelings of a child when receiving a promise from an earthly parent? Does not the promise heighten affection, induce carefulness, and prompt to obedience? Who ever knew a child made neglectful by a well-timed promise? Is not man the same in all his relations — is he not still a man, though dealing with God? What are the effects of His promises — do they not in every way stimulate to increased affection and zeal? To expect without working is to tempt God — to work without expecting is to dishonour Him. In all that has been and is now doing in the world for God, we find the principle of co-operation prevailing. God works out His purposes by human instrumentalities — men, organised into Churches, in their collective or individual capacity, work, and God crowns with success. Man without God can do nothing. God without man does nothing, and although we have the assurance that through our instrumentality the fortresses of sin shall be vanquished, and the flag of our Master float upon the ramparts, we are bound care fully to consider our steps, and to use all our God-given powers to accomplish the object. We have our Jericho in the world. Adult world — juvenile world — spy the land, call into action all your powers; God will surely give you the land to possess.

III. THE WILLINGNESS ON THE PART OF THE MEN TO UNDERTAKE THE DIFFICULT WORK. They respond at once to the call of their leader, and trusting in God are honoured with success. With this spirit thoroughly in our Churches, what a large amount of work we should do. We seem to think the time for special workings and special deliverances has past. Nay, this is the time; that army on the east of Jordan is but a picture of ourselves. The work is before us. There runs a river between us and our work; yes, and we thank God for it. If we could, we would not on any account remove it. It is the right order of things. He that would do any work must cross it, and we may take it for granted the width, depth, and swiftness of the stream will be proportioned to the value of the work. Earnest Workers will cross it, manfully trusting in God, and these are the only successful workers.

(J. H. Snell.)

From military wisdom we may learn the moral wisdom of always striking first at the right point. Every thing turns upon the first stroke in many a controversy and in many an arduous battle. Why do men come home at eventide saying the day has been wasted? Because their very first step in the morning was in the wrong direction, or the very first word they spoke was the word they ought not to have uttered. With all thy getting, get understanding of how to begin life, where to strike first, what to do and when to do it, and exactly how much of it to do within given time. If you strike the wrong place you will waste your strength, and the walls of the city will remain unshaken. A blow delivered at the right place and at the right time will have tenfold effect over blows that are struck in the dark and at random: however energetic they may be, and however well delivered, they fall upon the wrong place, and the result is nothing. That is what is meant by wasted lives. Men have been industrious, painstaking, even anxious in thoughtfulness, and the night has been encroached upon so that the time of rest might be turned into a time of labour; yet all has come to nothing: no city has been taken, no position has been established, no progress has been made. Why? Simply because they did not begin at the right point.

(J. Parker, D. D.)

Rahab.
Imaginative writers have pictured Rahab as attired in gaudy costume, going about the city with her harp (Isaiah 23:16), and at this very time in pursuit of her evil trade. Others, following Josephus, have adopted so charitable an estimate of her profession as to suppose her to have been simply a tavern-keeper. May we not, perhaps, take a middle line, and venture to believe that one who had become a believer in the God of Israel had also, ere this, repented of and forsaken the infamous life which her title imports. She appears from the narrative to be supporting herself by her own industry, in the preparation and dyeing of flax. One thing is certain, and that is that pure and saving faith cannot exist with foul and deadly sins. In reference to Rahab's faith, observe —

I. THE WONDER OF ITS EXISTENCE. Here dwells an unfortunate woman. She has had no spiritual advantages. — no Sabbaths, no Scriptures, no teachers — and yet in the base purlieus of a Jericho, in the heart of that poor harlot, like a fair pearl that lies within a rough shell among the weeds and rocks at the sea bottom, there is found precious faith, faith that finds utterance in a good confession (ver. 11). Here is encouragement for those who are called, in the providence of God, to minister where worldliness and frivolity, and pride and bitter opposition to the truth prevail, Here, too, is encouragement for those who minister in uncouth regions, where sin and ignorance seem to shut out hope of blessing. Let missionaries and visitors in alleys and courts, in attics and cellars, which seem like nests of blasphemy and impurity, take heart. The unholy atmosphere of gin palaces, and even of houses like that in which Joshua's spies sought refuge, cannot exclude the Holy Ghost, or nullify the Gospel message.

II. ITS PRACTICAL OPERATION. A poetic faith may lift its possessor to the heavens in ecstacies. A talking faith may delight the hearers with glowing descriptions of supposed experiences and imaginary prospects. But the faith that saves is known by its works. Such a faith was Rahab's. Her faith wrought with her works, and by works was her faith made perfect.

III. ITS SAVING TENDENCY. The characteristic of true faith is ever to tend towards salvation. Faith accepts the warnings of the Word of God as true, and leads men to flee from the wrath to come. Now we shall find this to be a marked characteristic in the faith of Rahab. It inclines her to seek salvation both for herself and for her kindred.

IV. ITS RICH REWARD. Vain are man's promises of help except God approve the pledge. The oath of the spies to deliver Rahab and her house had availed her nothing had not God Himself, by a notable miracle, confirmed their word. Joshua held himself bound by the covenant of his representatives; but what was more, the Lord accepted Rahab's faith and spared her house, or, when the walls of Jericho fell down, her house had fallen too, for it abutted on the wall. But it fell not, but stood unscathed amid the overthrow, a monument of Divine faithfulness and mercy. Nor will that faithfulness and mercy fail to save any, even the most unworthy, who has entered into the covenant of grace. "Our life for yours!" may every ambassador of the gospel say. If the conditions of salvation be observed, thy house and thy hope shall stand, though a thousand shall fall at thy side, and ten thousand at thy right hand.

(G. W. Butler, M. A.)

Let us look at Rahab's faith, and meditate on a few of its phases.

I. Consider the HINDRANCES of her faith.

1. There were hindrances which arose from herself. She was the harlot Rahab. Her character was exceptionally evil. She belonged to a class than whom there are none more hardened, inaccessible, and hopeless. Moreover, she had found her calling profitable, and therefore, naturally speaking, would be the more firmly wedded to her evil ways. Moreover, Israel is coming to Jericho for the purpose of executing the Divine vengeance on the very evils of which she is guilty. The cry of the Canaanites has ascended to heaven; in long-suffering patience God has waited till now, but at last He has sent forth His hosts to consume them utterly. How much, then, was there, in herself, to keep Rahab from trust in Jehovah!

2. There were also hindrances to Rahab's faith arising from her natural friends. The example of all her neighbours would encourage her in a path of unbelief. Her faith would make her an oddity in Jericho.

3. There were hindrances to her faith arising from her natural enemies. Israel, the people of Jehovah, were arrayed against her and her people, and were even now marching onward to their destruction. The mission of Israel is not one of mercy, but of judgment. Their feet are not beautiful upon the mountains, bringing good tidings of peace. They bring no gospel to the Canaanites, but war, disaster, and death are in their invincible path. How black was the outlook for Rahab.

II. Consider THE OPPORTUNITY of her faith. Faith always finds, or rather God always gives to faith, an opportunity for its manifestation. As in the day of Sodom's doom, the Lord delayed till righteous Lot had escaped to Zoar, saying, "I cannot do anything till thou be come thither," so now, if there is a single soul in Jericho groping after Him in the darkness of vice and heathenism, He will delay the march of His destroying hosts, to give that soul the opportunity which it requires and for which it longs. He can do nothing in judgment till that one soul in the doomed city is brought into a place of safety. Thus this pause in the Divine and just act of judgment, this parenthesis of grace, this long-suffering of God, is salvation.

III. Consider THE OPERATION of her faith. Rahab showed her faith by her works. We cannot, and do not, defend the deliberate falsehood by which she misled her fellow citizens in search of the spies; but we must remember that her whole training from childhood had been in lies, and that this was a sudden emergency. She was no well-instructed saint, walking under the light of God's countenance, but a great sinner groping after Him. There is sufficient in her conduct to manifest a heart truly sincere and anxiously solicitous for the welfare of God's people, willing to risk her own life to save theirs.

IV. Turn now to THE CONFESSION of her faith. He that believes with the heart confesses with the mouth. All the believing add to their faith virtue, boldness in confessing the truth; all are witnesses. To the spies Rahab said, "I know that the Lord hath given you the land," &c. She does not say, "I think," "I suppose," "I fear," but "I know." She believes as firmly in the promises of God as any in Israel. And as she believes in the promises of God, so she believes in the God of the promises. How clear and unmistakable is her confession of the name of Jehovah; how high, and exalted, and spiritual; how wonderful, in the mouth of one trained from infancy to worship stocks and stones, trained to think that the power of the different deities was local and circumscribed: "The Lord your God, He is God in heaven above, and in earth beneath"!

V. Next let us ponder THE TRIAL of her faith. Faith is always tested, that it may be manifested as Divine. Had Rahab sought to add anything to the instructions of the spies, had she consulted her own ideas as to the best means of ensuring her safety, she would have manifested her folly, and would have miserably failed. So trust in any other means than those which God has provided, trust in anything but the blood of the Lamb, is a manifestation of folly and a sure cause of failure.

VI. Consider also THE SOLICITUDE of her faith. She was anxious not only about her own safety, but about that of those who were dear to her. She was not selfishly absorbed in looking after her own welfare, content if she herself escaped; but, with true affection, arranged for the rescue of her relatives. The work of Rahab, in bringing in others, is similar to that of every saved soul. After we ourselves are saved we are not to rest content; we are not to sit down in idleness and ease because all is well with us for ever. We are to bear on our hearts those who are still exposed to the Divine judgment; we are to be up and doing, instant in season and out of season, if by any means we may save some.

VII. Consider THE REWARD of her faith. When the dread day of Jericho's judgment came, what a joy must it have been to Rahab to know that all dear to her were safe. But who can tell the rapture of those who have saved a soul from eternal death, and covered a multitude of sins? Surely such a glorious reward, such a monument of everlasting renown, is worth labouring for, worth living for, worth dying for. Rut turning again to the ease before us, why did the multitudes in Jericho thus perish without pity? Was it because the cup of their iniquity was full? Yes, truly, for they had fearfully corrupted their ways. But, while many sins characterised the Canaanites, the Holy Ghost selects one sin as emphatically that which caused their destruction. Which sin? Unbelief. That which distinguished Rahab from the rest was not superior morality, higher intelligence, a more exemplary life, a better natural disposition, but faith in God. She believed; they believed not. Because she believed, she was saved; because they believed not, they perished. Even so, many sins may characterise you, and each one is like a millstone round your neck, fitted to drag you down to endless destruction, but your great, culminating, condemning sin is unbelief (Mark 16:16). But Rahab was not only rescued from the judgment of Jericho, she was also received into the number of God's people. Even so the sinner who believes in Jesus is not only saved from wrath to come, but is received into the Church, the house of the living God, there to be instructed more fully in the ways of God; there to learn all the lessons that the grace of God can teach; to deny ungodliness and worldly lust; to live soberly, righteously, and godly in this present world, looking for that blessed hope and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ.

(A. B. Mackay.)

The woman had an eye to see and an ear to hear. She knew better than to suppose that a nation of slaves by their own resources could have eluded all the might of Pharaoh, subsisted for forty years in the wilderness, and annihilated the forces of such renowned potentates as Sihon and Og. She was no philosopher, and could not have reasoned on the doctrine of causation, but her common sense taught her that you cannot have extraordinary effects without corresponding causes. It is one of the great weaknesses of modern unbelief that with all its pretensions to philosophy it is constantly accepting effects without an adequate cause. Jesus Christ, though He revolutionised the world, though He founded an empire to which that of the Caesars is not for a moment to be compared, though all that were about Him admitted His supernatural power and person, after all was nothing but a man. The gospel that has brought peace and joy to so many weary hearts, that has transformed the slaves of sin into children of heaven, that has turned cannibals into saints, and fashioned so many an angelic character out of the rude blocks of humanity, is but a cunningly devised fable. What contempt for such sophistries, such vain explanations of facts patent to all, would this poor woman have shown! How does she rebuke the many that keep pottering in poor natural explanations of plain supernatural facts instead of manfully admitting that it is the arm of God that has been revealed and the voice of God that has spoken.

(W. G. Blaikie, D. D.)

If we ask, How could Rahab have such a faith and yet be a harlot? or How could she have such faith in God and yet utter that tissue of falsehoods about the spies with which she deluded the messengers of the king? we answer that light comes but gradually and slowly to persons like Rahab. The conscience is but gradually enlightened. How many men have been slaveholders after they were Christians! Worse than that, did not the godly John Newton, one of the two authors of the Olney hymns, continue for some time in the slave trade, conveying cargoes of his fellow-creatures stolen from their homes, before he awoke to a sense of its infamy? Are there no persons among us calling themselves Christians engaged in traffic that brings awful destruction to the bodies and souls of their fellow-men? That Rahab should have continued as she was after she threw in her lot with God's people is inconceivable; but there can be no doubt how she was living when she first comes into Bible history. And as to her falsehoods, though some have excused lying when practised in order to save life, we do not vindicate her on that ground. All falsehood, especially what is spoken to those who have a right to trust us, must be offensive to the God of truth, and the nearer men get to the Divine image, through the growing closeness of their Divine fellowship, the more do they recoil from it. Rahab was yet in the outermost circle of the Church, just touching the boundary; the nearer she got to the centre the more would she recoil alike from the foulness and the falseness of her early years. And yet, though her faith may at this time have been but as a grain of mustard seed, we see two effects of it that are not to be despised. One was her protection of the Lord's people, as represented by the spies; the other was her concern for her own relations.

(W. G. Blaikie, D. D.)

Faith in the human heart is a Divine work and a Divine wonder. Jesus wondered when He beheld the witness of it in the message of the centurion, and in the cry of the Syro-Phoenician, and sometimes it occurs among circumstances so strange and unlikely as to compel the wonder even of our hard hearts and dull minds. The faith of Rahab is of this class — strange, unaccountable on merely natural grounds. That this plant of heavenly renown should take root and spring up in such uncongenial soil is what we do not naturally look for. Her faith reminds us of a tree we have seen in the Highlands of Scotland. At the bottom of a wild glen stood a huge boulder, which towered high above those which had toppled with it from the mountain side, and it had a strange crown. On its summit, as if rising out of the rock, grew a young tree — green, vigorous, and healthy. From its peculiar position, it attracted the notice of every passer-by; it was the only tree for miles around, and there, in that wilderness, and on that rock, it grew, planted as it were by the finger of God. Even so the faith of Rahab is a great wonder, a tree of paradise, planted by the hand of God, in the midst of a wilderness of moral and spiritual desolation.

Sunday School Times.
They are mixed characters and mixed actions in the moral sense; and just as we may take a conglomerate mineral and single out one ingredient for remark, so we may fix our minds upon one aspect of a complex action, disregarding all other aspects for the time, with admiration or condemnation. It is what we do continually. We speak highly of an author's genius — without approval of his principles; we praise the skill of some diplomatist — whose policy we strongly condemn; we do not grudge our admiration to the powers of Napoleon — though we may believe him to have been a monster of iniquity. In a famous essay John Foster illustrates decision of character by a number of striking instances. He refers to the untameable soul of Milton as portrayed in "Paradise Lost"; to the sublime height to which Pompey was raised by his ambitious spirit; to the constancy of purpose with which a Spaniard pursued and at last accomplished his revenge; to the indefatigable industry with which a ruined spendthrift regained his fortune and died a miser. But none is so foolish as to accuse the essayist of commending obstinacy, ambition, revenge, or miserliness. Now, the same principle must be applied to an interpretation of Scripture. The unjust steward, e.g., was a bad man: he was selfish, unprincipled, a downright rogue. But withal he was prudent; he forecast the future; he directed his energies towards providing for it; and he succeeded. In his prudence, then, is he set forth as an example for us.

(Sunday School Times.)

Our hearts did melt
I think that testimony stands yet. We, who are fighting Joshua's battle to-day, should take to heart this word that has leaked out from the headquarters of the devil's army; and the word is this, that with all the devil's swagger, and bravado, and bluster, he is a bigger coward than we are, and that is big enough. He is really not so bold as he is trying to pretend. He knows that the doom is coming, and Rahab is the testifier; and she ought to know: she has been near him and is intimate with the latest information on that side. I say, I think that we should all take this. It stands here. This is a bit of the Word of God that "liveth and abideth for ever." And its great value to you and me who are fighting to-day in the wars of the Lord under the heavenly Joshua is that, all appearances to the contrary notwithstanding, the fear of us and the terror of us are working yonder before we arrive. God is making a way for His conquering purpose before we thunder at the enemy's gate. Therefore let us nerve ourselves. Therefore let us be strong. Therefore do not let us be daunted by the colossal and seemingly impregnable powers of evil. There is a trembling and a quivering in the devil's host. "Your terror is fallen upon us." Who would think it, to read the secular press? What nonsense clever men talk about religion, as if it were a feeble kind of thing, such as they would call in Scotland "a fozy turnip" — a half-rotten, effete, useless thing. "We are going to have reforms, and we are going to make things a great deal better, but we will have no religion." Did ever anybody hear such addle-headed talking by clever men? No religion! Oh, indeed! You are going to bow out Jesus Christ? You ought to have been born a long while before you were, if you are going to do that. You have come into the world much too late to put it right without Christ. He is here, and He means to be here, and I trust we are all with Him. Oh, what encouragement there comes to us out of this! What encouragement — that the kingdom of darkness in all its domain is tottering to its fall, and it knows it! Strange it is that we who are serving under the heavenly Joshua, and have all these things to fortify us and to infuse strength into us, are so nervous and womanish. Oh, to be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might, and to be strengthened by what we read here as to the condition of things in the enemy's camp! They are just about to surrender if we would put on a bold front.

(John McNeill.)

The Lord your God, He is God. —

I. THE LORD YOUR GOD. I am aware that "our Lord" and "our Saviour," and so on, are phrases that are frequently employed thoughtlessly, ignorantly, and profanely; but this does not render their value less. Whatever faith is in exercise, so that the believer can really claim his affinity, his relationship, it is most blessed so to do. Nay, more; there is no solid happiness and permanent peace for any child of Adam until that child of Adam can claim this relationship: "the Lord our God." But oh! "wonder, ye heavens, and be astonished, O earth," at this amazing condescension: that the great Eternal — Father, Son, and Holy Ghost — should give to His elect family each of the Persons, and all the perfections and attributes of self-existent Deity, as the Church's portion and inheritance.

II. HE IS GOD IN HEAVEN. AS for myself, the fact that Jehovah, the covenant God of Israel, is "my God," makes me look up to heaven and think of heaven with the utmost confidence; aye, without a scruple; aye, upon scriptural assurance of calling it my home. Now, mark two or three things arising out of this fact that "He is God in heaven above." All the records of heaven written and kept by Him; all the enjoyments of heaven bestowed, communicated, imparted, in His presence; all the inhabitants of heaven His own choice, His own redemption, His own workmanship. He is absolute Sovereign "in heaven" of the fixed decrees of heaven; absolute Sovereign "in heaven" of all the glories of heaven; and absolute Sovereign "in heaven" of all the inhabitants of heaven. Oh! what security is here! "The Lord your God is God in heaven above."

III. HE IS GOD IN EARTH BENEATH. Here we have a solution of the mystery of His providence. He is God in earth, as well as in heaven; tell Him all about it. Go with thy sorrows, thy cares, thy domestic woes, thy bodily afflictions, thy circumstantial trials, thy matters of business, thy little things as well as thy great things; for "He is God in earth." "The Lord your God is God in earth beneath." Oh! I had saved myself a thousand sorrows if I had always lived upon this principle. I had saved myself a thousand woes, if I had lived as if there was "a God on earth."

(J. Irons.)

Bind this line of
In Scripture we find the blessing of God and the curse of God concentrated not only in individual souls, but also in cities. Thus Jerusalem is constantly set forth in Scripture as the city of blessing (Psalm 48:1-3; Psalm 50:2). On the other hand, Jericho is the city of the curse (Joshua 6:17). These two cities, then, are evidently representative cities. Jerusalem, the city of blessing, represents the Church of God, destined to eternal life. Jericho, the city of the curse, represents the world, alienated from God, and destined to destruction. And then what will Rahab represent but those who are gathered out of the one into the other, not on account of anything good in themselves, any natural excellencies or attainments, but by the grace of God, and according to His good pleasure. And specially does she, herself a Gentile, seem to represent those of the Gentiles who are brought to God. Rahab's faith showed itself in this, that she recognised God. She looked above second causes. It was not Israel's power and prowess, but God's hand, which she saw (vers. 9-11). All this throws much light on the nature of true faith. It shows us, first, that living faith carries us straight to God. Our hearts are very prone to get entangled in second causes — to look at the hand of man, and forget the hand of God. The language of faith is, "It is the Lord." It elevates the heart above second causes, and enables it to rest, not, it may be, without many struggles, on the will an arm of God. Again, we see in this history that faith is the principle of a new life. Rahab's life had been an unhallowed one, and she had sunk lower than many others in Jericho. But now through Divine grace she rises higher than all (Hebrews 11:51). And faith is always the same; the same in its object, which is God; the same in its principle, which is His grace; the same in its result, which is holiness of life. Rahab believed in the approaching doom of Jericho; she felt that its days were numbered. The true Christian now believes that a more awful and universal judgment is coming upon the world, and he flees from the wrath to come — flees to the only Refuge from the storm. But Rahab went further. She wished to have some assurance that her life, and the life of her family, would be spared. It is not wonderful that she should have desired this token; and we may well imagine what comfort she must have felt when the scarlet line was floating in the air at her window. Very solemn thoughts must often have weighed upon her heart — thoughts of the awful destruction which awaited her fellow-townsmen; but she felt no anxiety about herself and family. The scarlet line silenced every fear. And if it was natural in Rahab to desire a token of her safety, is it not even more natural in the true Christian to desire it? And one there is which is granted sooner or later to those who walk with God. It is not always given at once; often it grows up by degrees. But yet, sooner or later, it is given. The blood of Jesus secures pardon, and also produces assurance. But notice that there is a wide difference between the two. Forgiveness is one thing; the knowledge of forgiveness is another. Forgiveness of sin we must have, to be Christians. Assurance is a privilege which Christians should seek, and seek until they find, and then watch, that they may retain it. If, then, you would have the scarlet line floating at the window of your hearts, you must trust simply in Christ. This of itself is enough to bring, and does often bring, assurance; but if not, endeavour to walk with God. Be diligent in doing His will and work, and perhaps God will meet you then, and will crown some act of faith and self-denial and devoted service with a true token, a scarlet line of His assurance-love. Having proceeded thus far with the history of Rahab, we must say a few words about its conclusion. What a difference that little piece of scarlet line made! It was not a mere token arranged between man and man; it was sanctioned in heaven. God's eye as well as man's was fixed upon the scarlet line, and Rahab was protected. And if that scarlet line made so great a difference in her case, and secured her protection, oh, how much more shall the blood of Christ secure that of the true Christian I Is it sprinkled upon your heart? Does God's eye see it there? Then all your sins, however many, are forgiven; all your enemies, however strong, will be overcome. But there is still one other point to be noticed in Rahab's history. You will find it stated in Joshua 6:55, where it says, "She dwelleth in Israel unto this day." So that from that time forth, though she had been a sinner of the Gentiles, she was put among God's children, reckoned as one of His own Israel; and even, we learn from Matthew 1:5, so honoured of God as to be one of the line from whom Jesus was descended. And do we not learn from this how completely the blood of Jesus cleanses from all sin? how real a thing is the forgiveness of sins? how great and entire is the change which the grace of God makes in the heart?

(G. Wagner.)

I. THE SOVEREIGN MERCY OF GOD WAS MAGNIFIED IN THE PREVIOUS CHARACTER AND POSITION OF THE INDIVIDUAL TO WHOM IT WAS VOUCHSAFED.

II. THE ONENESS, THE PRIMEVAL, CONSTANT, AND CONTINUED IDENTITY OF THE WAY OF SALVATION, from the blood that flowed upon Abel's altar, and I doubt not upon Adam's also, to "the blood of sprinkling that speaketh better things than that of Abel." By that line — as with Rahab, so with the Church — the messengers that brought it to her and taught it to her had already escaped; it had borne their weight, proved its efficacy; and the Church knows it to be strong enough still. She knows it to be the cable-line which rivets her to the anchor of hope, "sure and steadfast, which entereth into that within the veil." Ah! who that has ever tried it, who that has ever "fled for refuge to lay hold on the hope set before him," hath not found the promise fulfilled in his happy experience —"I will draw them with the cords of love, with the bands of a man"! Blessed Jesus! Thou art this "scarlet line," dyed with the blood of propitiating mercy.

III. ANOTHER EXEMPLARY FEATURE IN THE ACT OF RAHAB'S FAITH IS ITS GREAT SIMPLICITY. What could be simpler than tying a scarlet line in a window? Had the gospel assumed a more scientific and imposing form — had its principles been more elaborate and philosophical had it required years of study to comprehend it, and thereby attached some literary reputation to the ultimate adept in it — had it been like the rabinnical lore of the Hebrews, or the mythological mysteries of the Greeks, beyond the reach of the vulgar, and a consequent badge of distinction to the initiated — had its prophet required us to do some great thing — were its peculiar privileges obtainable only by the pomp of a ritual, the costliness of sacrifice, or the toil of pilgrimage — then the evangelical Sion had never been destitute of its thousands of devotees and ten thousands of disciples; but when it appears in the guise of a system of which a child can appreciate the beauty, and which only requires the spirit of a child to learn and entertain it — when "the wayfaring man," as he runs upon his business. may read it — when its elastic principles expand their comprehensive arms to the embrace of all men, and like the outstretched arms of its crucified Author upon the Cross seem to offer mercy on the right hand and on the left — when its whole system is summed up in a single sentence, "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved" — then the world turns its back upon the Church, is ashamed of the fellowship of children and vulgar and illiterate people, the simplicity of the truth is mistaken for vulgarity, and the house of God is eschewed and avoided, because, instead of the sumptuous drapery and tinselled garniture of the noble, the poetical, the dramatic, the speculative, and the vain, its only ornament and ensign is the Cross of Christ — its sole phylactery is "the scarlet line in the window."

IV. RAHAB'S ACT OF FAITH EXTENDED A BLESSING, AS EVERY ACT OF FAITH DOES, TO THE WHOLE FAMILY. She gathered her father and mother and brethren and all her kindred into her house; and the emblem in the window spared them all. Yet I suppose it will scarcely be contended that it was the bit of thread that saved them, rather than the covenant of which that thread was the sign. But just as idle is the theory that the sacrament is salvation, instead of the sign of the Saviour; as inaccurate is the impression that faith itself saves, and not His blood and righteousness which faith appropriates. Why, there is no more saving merit in faith than there is in works — not a jot. I am not saved because I believe, but I am saved by Him in whom I believe. There is all the world's difference between those propositions.

(J. B. Owen, M. A.).

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