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We have a sad interruption to the conquest of Canaan related in this chapter, in one of the children of Israel disobeying the commands of God, and taking of the spoil for himself; for which sin the Lord manifested his displeasure against Israel, and causeth the men of Ai, to be victorious over a party of Israel. Joshua's distress upon this occasion is related also, and his prayer to God. The Lord informs Joshua of the cause; enquiry is made for the transgressor. And he and his house being found, are stoned in the valley of Achor.
Observe, Reader, though but one person is said to have taken of the accursed thing, yet, the whole of Israel are included in the trespass. And the reason is plain. Israel is here considered as a body, and if one member transgress, of consequence the whole body is implicated. Doth not this suggest to the Reader, that solemn doctrine of the fall, in which, by one man 's disobedience many were made sinners. And doth not the same doctrine lead by grace the Reader to that glorious soul-transporting truth, that as in Adam all die, in Christ shall all be made alive. See those scriptures, Romans 5:12 to the end. 1 Corinthians 15:22 .
The scouts were not interrupted in their progress by the enemy, it seems, though for the sin of Achan the Lord intended to chastise Israel.
Reader! spiritualize the passage, and say: Doth not your heart melt, when at any time the enemy seemeth to triumph, when from unbelief; or disobedience, or backsliding, the Lord hath a controversy with you? See that sweet text of Ezra 9:6 .
Every step in the conduct of Joshua on this occasion deserves attention. He was unconscious of the cause, and for the moment, in the paroxysm of his distress, had forgotten to reflect, that it must have been some offence which induced it. Reader! depend upon it, if at any time the Lord Jesus seems to frown, the cause, if searched out, will be soon discovered; sin is at the bottom. And if sin be felt by the soul heavy, depend upon it, our affliction, be what it may, will appear light. The church thought so, when she said, Wherefore doth a living man complain, a man for the punishment of his sins. Lamentations 3:39-40 .
After Joshua had humbled himself before the Lord, and lain low in the dust, he now takes hold of God's strength to make peace. Jesus is the strength and peace of his people. Isaiah 27:5 .
Joshua advanceth in his argument of wrestling with God, and pleads, as the strongest and best of all arguments, the glory and honour of his name. What wilt thou do unto thy great name? Reader! mark it down as a memorandum, that God pledgeth his faithfulness for the fulfillment of all his promises in Christ Jesus. Precious assurance! Jesus is himself the great promise of the Bible. And in him all other promises are folded up and included. We have not only his blood and righteousness, our security for the fulfillment of them: but our God and Father is engaged, in all his covenant engagements, by his word and by his oath, to the same. You and I may, therefore, plead with our God upon all occasions, as Joshua did, the glory and honour of Jehovah's name, as the most certain security for the accomplishment of all his promises in Jesus. Lord! if the enemy triumph, where is our confidence in Jesus? It matters not what becomes of us, or if our worthless names were to perish forever: but thine honour is a thousand times dearer than our lives. Oh! never let the enemy say, Where is now thy God? These are sweet and powerful pleadings before the throne: for here is found in them the work of the Holy Ghost, enabling the soul so to plead; the faithfulness of the Father, and the honour of his name; and the never-failing covenant, blood and righteousness of Jesus. See also, another beautiful instance of this kind: Exodus 32:11-14 .
Observe how instantly the Lord answers prayer. So Daniel found it while he was yet speaking. Daniel 9:21 . It is even so, when we lodge our sorrows and complaints before God. Here lies all the mighty difference between the carnal and the awakened. Carnal men in their crosses complain of God. Gracious souls complain to God. Where shall we go in our troubles, but to the Lord Jesus? See Job 23:3-4 .
The Lord mercifully points to the cause. Yes! unless the Holy Ghost discovers to us our sins, never shall we be convinced of them. John 16:8 .
Such will be the issue in all generations. Sin separates between the Lord and man, and it is Jesus only which makes up the breach, by his blood and righteousness. Reader! mark the solemn expression of the Lord's determination; in which the Lord saith, neither will I be with you anymore, except ye destroy the accursed from among you. Oh! for grace to search out the Achan in the heart; to accept the punishment of our iniquity; to put away the ungodly thing, and to come under that blood of sprinkling, which alone cleanseth from all sin. Leviticus 26:41-42 ; Hebrews 12:24 .
Reader! doth not your heart tremble while this examination is making? Do you not feel interested in the prospect of a similar enquiry, which must one day take place in your own circumstances? May there not be an Achan in your heart? Have you looked diligently, searched the ground of your hopes, and seen whether Jesus be indeed your security? have you heard that precious voice, referring to your own case: deliver him from going down to the pit, I have found a ransom! Oh! for assurance in a matter of such infinite concern. Job 33:23-24 .
Observe, Reader! the tribe of Judah, out of which our Lord, after the flesh, sprang, had an Achan in it. And only of twelve disciples the Lord had a Judas. Dearest Redeemer! let me pause to admire and adore thy wonderful condescension! In all things, and in all alliances, how precious is it to see thee going before us! Hebrews 2:17-18 .
Observe what a beautiful example Joshua holds forth to judges, and men in authority, when exercising their judicial power over the guilty. No railing accusation, but the most patient language. There needed no confession by way of gaining information, for the same Lord, who by lot pointed to the very man, could with equal ease have pointed to the crime. But it was, perhaps, meant in mercy to Achan, that by confessing his sin, the Lord might be merciful to his soul in another world, though suffering the just reward of his deeds in the body in this. Luke 23:39-43 .
Achan (or as he is called in 1 Chronicles 2:7 . Achar) which signifies trouble, corresponded to the evil he had brought upon Israel. Alas! what endless troubles do not the same lusts of the eye, and the corruption of the heart, induce in life!
It is awful to behold the sure effects of sin. It is awful to behold how it involves a man's posterity in the commission of it. Oh! all-precious Jesus! where, but for thee, would the sin of our first parent Adam have involved the everlasting ruin of all his race! And what door of hope, but in thy blood and righteousness, should any of his posterity have found to have escaped the wrath to come? Is it not from this very thing, in the salvation of Jesus, the Holy Ghost commissioned the prophet in after ages, when pointing to the gospel church to proclaim that from thence, the Lord would give her a door of hope. For who but Jesus is the hope of Israel and the Saviour thereof? Jeremiah 14:8 . And when doth Jesus appear more lovely, more interesting and desirable than when the soul is brought down to the deepest of soul distresses by reason of sin in the valley of Achor? Hosea 2:14-15 .
BEHOLD, my soul, in the dreadful example of Achan, the ruined state of our corrupt nature: and, while justly condemning him, learn to search thyself. Oh! who can stand in God's sight, and challenge strict enquiry. Lord! I would say; Enter not into judgment with thy servant, for in thy sight can no man living be justified! Teach me, thou blessed Spirit of all truth, teach me to look into myself; to lay my hand with trembling and godly fear upon my heart, and ask how my God is sanctified? How are his commands reverenced? And how his name and majesty honoured? Alas! I fear from the principle of self-love and self-deception, I shall make no discovery equal to what the state really is. Teach me then, thou Holy Spirit, so to stand convinced, of the multitude of transgressions which are secret to my own knowledge, but which are all open to the light of God's countenance, that solemnly condemned in my own heart I may fly to Jesus, take refuge in his all-atoning blood and justifying righteousness; that I may plead this, and this only, before the throne, under all the self-reproaches of my own mind, the charges of Satan, the curses of God's broken law, and the holy demands of his justice. Here, dearest Jesus, do I fix my hope. On thee do I hang all my expectations of pardon, mercy, and peace, through thy blood. And when the demand is made, what I have to say, this shall be all my plea: Thou shalt answer for me, O Lord my God.
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Hawker, Robert, D.D. "Commentary on Joshua 7". "Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary". https://studylight.org/
the Fourth Week after Epiphany