Then the Angel of the LORD gave this charge to Joshua:
I. THE GREAT IN CHARACTER. How described.
1. Obedience. Life regulated by the Divine will. "Walk in my ways."
2. Fidelity of service. Life devoted to God's glory. So Moses (Hebrews 3:5).
II. THE GREAT IN HONOUR. Not place, or outward distinction, or arbitrary rewards. "Knighthoods and honours borne without desert are titles but of scorn" (Shakespeare). Three things.
1. "Judge my house."
2. "Keep my courts."
3. "Walks among those that stand by."
Dignity. Power with God and power with man. Society of the noblest.
III. THE GREAT IN BLESSEDNESS. Freedom of soul. Holy living. Harmonious development. Grandest fellowship. Immortal hope. The promises of God are gracious in character, elevating in purpose, faithful in fulfilment. - F.
The Angel of the Lord protested unto JoshuaI. WHAT THE GREAT HEAD OF THE CHURCH REQUIRES OF YOU.
1. Personal piety. "Walk in My ways." This phrase denotes the whole of practical and experimental godliness. There can be no true piety without a previous scriptural conversion, a moral, universal, spiritual change; a change of the principles, of the mind, of the affections, of the heart, of the conduct, and of the life, by the power of the Holy Ghost, and obtained by faith in Christ Jesus. Every unconverted minister is an intruder into the sacred office. The dignity of your office does not discharge you from all the obligations to personal holiness; but it binds those obligations upon you with superadded weight and force. Then he men of integrity. Cultivate a devotional spirit. Be clothed with humility. Be grave and serious. Be cheerful, but take care that cheerfulness noes not degenerate into levity. The piety of some ministers has serious blemishes, against which you will do well to guard yourselves. Such as envy, which is the vice of little minds. Or a disposition to retail slanders. In order to maintain your personal piety it will be necessary for you every day to renew your acts of dedication to God.
2. A faithful discharge of your ministerial and pastoral functions. Your office may be called the "charge of the Lord," because you received it from Him, and are accountable to Him for the discharge of its functions. In order to keep this charge, you should well understand its nature. It is Christian theology, which you have to teach to mankind; and you cannot teach it to others unless you well understand it yourselves. It is the well-informed, well-instructed divine who alone can adorn the sacred profession and edify the Church of Jesus Christ. Avoid a controversial style of preaching, for that is generally unprofitable, and unpopular too. You should be faithful, zealous, and laborious preachers, ever randy to declare "the whole counsel of God."
3. In this charge is implied the faithful performance of pastoral duties. The exercise of a pure discipline over the societies (Churches) entrusted to your care A Church without discipline is like a garden without a fence. The clue administration of pastoral advice and counsel is another of our duties.
II. THE IMPORT OF THOSE PROMISES MADE TO YOU. Dignity and authority in the Church of God is here promised to faithful ministers. Continuance in office is another promise. And it is further promised that they shall at length be translated to nobler stations in the heavenly world, where they shall become companions of angels. Allow me to charge you then to give attention to all these things. I have not exhorted you to pursue unattainable objects; they are all well within your reach. Redeem the time. And "be thou faithful unto death."
I. WHAT IS REQUIRED OF JOSHUA; or how he was to behave. He was to "walk in God's ways, and keep His charge"; which signifies a general care to be religious himself, and a faithful performance of the duties of his particular station.
II. WHAT IS PROMISED TO JOSHUA IN CONSEQUENCE OF SO DOING.
1. That he should be continued in his office.
2. At length he should be preferred to a nobler station, in which he should be the companion of angels.It does not mean that angels should guard and preserve him in all his goings and undertakings. The most natural and easy sense of the words is, that they refer to a future state, and mean that Joshua should at length be joined to the angels in heaven. Most of the Jewish writers paraphrase thus, "I will raise thee from the dead, and place thee among the seraphims." This is a most delightful and instructive idea of the heavenly world — walking among the angels. Heaven is the stated abode of these glorious, wise, and happy spirits, who are superior to men; therefore they are called the angels of God in heaven. God intends that all His faithful servants on earth should at length dwell and walk with them. Reflect what an honour and happiness this will be. Consider what excellent beings they are in themselves. And consider them as those who have been ministers of God to the world, the Church, and ourselves. Application —(1) Reflect, for our caution, on the counterpart of this, or the future state of those who forsake the ways of God.(2) Let us be excited to the duties required in the text, by the gracious promise contained in it.
(F. Whirfield, M. A.)Zechariah 3:7), for in the Authorised Version the text has quite a meaningless rendering. "I will give thee place to walk among these that stand by." The immediate reference of the promise is, of course, to Joshua, the high priest. It was his privilege and his duty, clothed in white linen, to enter the most holy place once a year, there to make atonement for the sins of the people. Instead, however, of this great office being fulfilled, the prophet sees Joshua clothed in filthy garments — the type of his own sins and of those people of his "standing," — with Satan at his right hand to be his "adversary." it appeared impossible that such a high priest, or such a nation, should ever be permitted to draw near the living God. Then comes the symbolic action of the prophetic vision. The filthy garments are taken away by command of God, from Joshua, and are replaced by "rich apparel," the mitre of high priestly office is set on his head, and the promise is made — made both to him and to his people — "I will give thee a place of access." In spite of Israel's unworthiness and sin, God Himself would permit His people to draw near to Him. Such were the original scope and meaning of these words. "I will give thee a place of access." How little we realise the great privilege of this great promise! To say that we can draw near to God is only to utter one of the commonest of all truisms; but familiar as the truth may be to us, let us never forget that there was a time when it would have been regarded as the strangest and most incredible of all truths. A Jew was never permitted in his own person to come near to God; he had to approach the Most High from a distance, and even the high priest himself was only allowed the. privilege of a place of access "once in" each year. Such were the awful holiness and the ineffable majesty of the Most High, and such the terrible sin and guilt of man, that no human soul dared to draw near the consuming fire. God was a God "far off" and not "nigh" to a Jew. There was no "place of access" opened for all the world. We do not wonder, therefore, at the exaltation and rapture with which the author of the Epistle to the Hebrews dwells on what Christ had done, in opening a "new and living way" to God, even into the holy place, by His blood, and on the fact that His sacrifice for sin makes it now possible for the sinful and guilty with "boldness to enter into the Holiest." It was the fulfilment of the promise of the text, "I will give thee a place of access." And this is the astonishing privilege of every child of man today. Howsoever unworthy and sinful he may be, still through the blood of Jesus, he may freely draw near to God. He may stand in the presence of the Eternal. He may speak face to face with God, and hear God speak to him. "In Christ Jesus," to use St. Paul's words, "we that once were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ."
(G. W. Barrett.)
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