When Israel came out of Egypt to take possession of the
promised land, everything about them was marvelous and instructive. They
approached the land of promise in the time of its greatest plenty, in
harvest—but at a time when Jordan seemed to forbid their entrance, by
overflowing all his banks. But the same power that divided the Red Sea when
they came out of Egypt, divides Jordan that they may enter Canaan. Just so
it shall fare with the spiritual Israel. Death shall not keep them from
their Father's house; and when they enter their heavenly inheritance, they
shall find all fullness, even an eternal harvest of glory.
The heathen nations might think themselves secure from
the armies of Israel, while Jordan, bursting over his banks, remained such a
mighty barrier; but what madness seized them, to combine for battle against
a people before whom Jordan's rapid stream recoiled back, and let them pass
over dry shod! This madness is only equaled and exceeded by sinners who defy
Omnipotence amidst the bright displays of his power, challenge the Eternal
to combat, and run stubbornly against his omnipotence.
When, then, men of such an insignificant city as Ai put
three thousand of the conquerors to flight, it might perhaps raise the
drooping spirits of the Canaanites, and confirm to them, that their foes
were not invincible. But, When they hear that Ai is smitten, all the kings
on this side Jordan, in the hills and valleys, forget their former
animosities, and jarring interests—and unite against the common foe! This
has been the case in all ages of the world, that the powers of the earth
have combined against the people of God; and, in slaying the saints, like
Herod and Pilate, have been reconciled among themselves.
But, while this league is forming, Gibeon, a royal
city, makes peace with Joshua. Here I speak of the change with respect to
the Gibeonites—full of noble lessons and instructions. The inhabitants of
the royal city, are made hewers of wood, and drawers of water, for the house
of God. But the lowest employment in the palace of a king is honorable; how
much more in the house of the king of heaven! Better serve in God's house,
where there is safety, than enjoy the freedom of the world, which ends in
Though the men of Gibeon seem chief in the embassy, yet
they forget not three other cities, where their countrymen dwelt, and all
are included in the league. So those who seek mercy for themselves at the
throne of grace, will not forget their friends, their acquaintances, their
fellow-creatures. In the prayers of every Christian—the salvation of souls,
and the prosperity of Zion, will find a place.
The same tidings came to Gibeon, and the kings—but had
different effects; the kings prepare for war—but Gibeon sues for peace. Just
so, the gospel softens some, and hardens others; is to one the savor of
life, to another the savor of death.
When the kings hear that Gibeon has made peace with
Israel, they resolve to attack Israel in their new allies. Thus, when a soul
leaves the service of sin, the men of the world, and the powers of darkness,
immediately set upon him, and attack Christ in his members.
Gibeon is no sooner in safety by being at peace with
Joshua, than she is in danger by the kings around her. So, when a soul has
peace with God, he may expect persecution from the world, and through much
tribulation to enter into the kingdom.
The kings make war against Gibeon, and Gibeon, who a few
days before, was among the accursed Canaanites, can now send to Joshua,
"Come up quickly, and save us!" This is a surprising change of
circumstances—but consistent with conversion, when he who was once of the
family of hell, can now send the cry of faith to heaven, and say to Jehovah,
'Come and save me!'
Joshua and his chosen warriors attend, and deliver their
new allies from their formidable foes; and, in destroying the five kings
that intended to sack Gibeon, a mighty wonder takes place; the sun stands
still in the midst of heaven, and lengthens out the day, to complete the
glorious work. But, in the work of our redemption, the Son of God comes
down, and shines the Sun of Righteousness in our hemisphere, and will shine
through all the gospel-day, until our spiritual enemies are cut off, and we
put our feet on the neck of all our foes. Then shall we dwell securely in
the land of promise, and serve forever in the house of God.