CHARACTER OF JOSHUA.
"Then shall not any man be able to stand before thee all the days of thy life; as I was with Moses, so I will be with thee. I will not fail thee, nor forsake thee. Be strong and of a good courage." Joshua 1: 5,6.
You that were here last Thursday afternoon, remember that I was talking about the life and character of Jacob. This morning I will talk about Joshua, and draw a contrast between the two. Jacob was one of those characters that wanted to walk by sight altogether; he wanted to reason out everything, like a great many men now-adays. Joshua was the man that walked by faith; and vou will find the key of his character in three words, courage, obedience &nd faith; and he dared not be in the minority. There are very few men at the present time that like to be in the minority; they always want to be in the majority; they want to go with the crowd. But when a man has laid hold of the divine nature of God, has become a partaker of the divine nature, he is willing then to go against the current of the world.
Where Joshua met the God of Israel first, we are not told. We don't catch a glimpse of him until he is about forty years old. The first sight we get of Joshua was as he came up out of Egypt. We are told, after Moses had struck that rock in Horeb, and the children of Israel had drank the water which came out of that rock—and that was typical of Christ, because Paul says in Corinthians "that rock was Christ"; the next thing that happened after that, Amalek came out to fight them; but they had got a draught of the livingwater; and they were able to meet Amalek and overcome him. That is a type of the world; and Joshua goes out to take charge of the armies, and that is the first glimpse we have of him. His first battle was successful, and his last was successful. He never knew what defeat was, because he believed in the Lord God of heaven. Moses went up into the mountain to pray, and while he was praying, Joshua was down there fighting Amalek; and while Moses's hands were up Israel prevailed, and Amalek was defeated, and Joshua had prevailed.
As I said the other day, when I was talking about Joshua, there is only one thing on record against him; and that is, he was opposed to lay preaching. He didn't like the idea of Eldad and Medad prophesying in the camp; they didn't belong to the regular apostolic crowd, those that were set apart for the purpose; and Moses rebuked him, and told him all God's people were prophets. And that is what we want in this city; every man that has heard the voice of God saying, "Come," let him take up that cry and extend it. "Let him that heareth say, Come." If you have heard, let others come. But after Moses rebuked him, we never hear of his complaining any more about Eldad and Medad. It is the only thing on record against him. The next we hear of him is in connection with those twelve spies. That I spoke of the first Sunday I was here, and will pass over that You remember he came back, and was one of the only two of the twelve that dared to bring in a minority report. But now the forty years' wilderness journey is over; and all these forty years you cannot find any place where Caleb or Joshua ever murmured, where they ever complained; they were not that kind. And whenever you find a man or a woman that is successful in God's service, you will never hear them complaining or whining; you will never hear them murmuring; they are looking on the bright side all the while; they are of good courage; and then it is the Lord God blesses them. And now as I said, the forty years' wilderness journey is over, and Moses is about to leave. And if you never read that farewell address of Moses—you will find it in the last few chapters of Deuteronomy—I would advise you to read it to-day. You are reading a great many printed sermons now-a-days; suppose you read this sermon of Moses. There is more truth in that sermon than in fifteen hundred of the sermons now-a-days. Let me just give you a few verses: "Give ear, O ye heavens, and I will speak; and hear, 0 earth, the words of my mouth. My doctrine shall drop as the rain, my speech shall distil as the dew, as the small rain upon the tender herb,, and as the showers upon the grass. Because I will publish the name of the Lord; ascribe ye greatness unto our God. He is the Rock, his work is perfect: for all his ways are judgment: a God of truth and without iniquity, just and right is he. When the Most High divided to the nations their inheritance, when he separated the sons of Adam, he set the bounds of the people according to the number of the children of Israel. For the Lord's portion is his peo
Ele; Jacob is the lot of his inheritance. He found him in a desert ind and in the waste howling wilderness; he led him about, he instructed him, he kept him as the apple of his eye. Why, there are two or three sermons in one verse. Just see what the Lord did; the Lord did it all. As an eagle stirreth up her nest, fluttereth over her young, spreadeth abroad her wings, taketh them, bearing them on her wings, so the Lord above did lead him, and there was no strange god with him. He made him ride on the high places of the earth, that he might eat the increase of the fields; and he made him to suck honey out of the rock, and oil out of the flinty rock." And go he went on and finished his sermon. And now God called him off into Mount Nebo, and showed him that land which he could not go over to possess; be showed him the land from Dan to Beersbeba, and pointed out the portions of land which each tribe was to have; And then, some one said, God kissed away his soul and buried him. The greatest tribute ever paid to mortal man was paid to Moses, and he was buried by the Almighty himself.
Joshua was now to take charge of the armies of God. And the word of the Lord came to Joshua saying: "Moses my servant is dead; now therefore arise, go over this Jordan, thou, and all this people, unto the land which I do give to them, even to the children of Israel." If Joshua had been like a great many of us, now-a-days, he would have said: "Lord, I don't know how I am going to take this people over Jordan; it is just harvest-time; all the banks are overflowed. Hadn't we better wait a few weeks, until we can go over at some place and ford it? How am I to get these three million people over?" But Joshua had got the word from God; and the God that brought them through the Red Sea and through the wilderness could take them over Jordan. The Lord gave orders, that was enough; he got his word and he brings them to Jordan. Their faith must be tried. He will not have a people that he has not tried. He had kept them in the wilderness forty years, and now he brings them in sight of Jordan. If he had brought them up there forty years before, what murmuring there would have been! "You might aa well have let us die down in Egypt, we cannot get across this river; and when the enemy sees us, if we get a bridge or a pontoon across, they will shoot us, and we will be defeated and slain on the banks of the Jordan; we had better have died in Egypt; we had better turn round and go back." That would have been their cry forty years before; but now they have got faith, and are in sight of Jordan, and there isn't a word of complaint.
Joshua tells the priests to take the ark, and they were to be about two thousand cubits ahead of the people, so that the people could see them; and they were to walk right down to the Jordan, and the moment the soles of their feet touched the water the waters were to be cut off. There is faith for you! These very men, without any questioning, take up the ark of God. God is with them and calls them across Jordan, and is not going to leave them; and the moment their feet touched the water the waters are cut off, and they pass to the middle of the stream and put down the ark; that ark represented the Almighty God of Israel. He was in the ark and with the ark and right there in the midst of death (for Jordan means death and judgment), right in the middle of the stream was the Almighty, and he held that river in the hollow of his hand; and now the people sweep beyond the ark, three millions of them; you can hear their solemn tread. Not a word was said as through death and judgment they go; Joshua is leading them up on to resurrection ground, and into the promised laud. And alter they all got over, twelve men,
one from each tribe, took each a stone, and set them up as a sign, to tell the story of how God brought them over that stream into the promised land.
Instead of leaving at once for Jericho, they stopped to keep the Passover. They were in no hurry, and were willing to wait and worship God. The Passover lamb is killed, and they keep the Passover; and after they have worshiped, they start for Jericho.
Jericho was shut up. Undoubtedly they had heard what great things the Lord had done for the children of Israel; they had got no such God in Jericho. Joshua walks round the walls of Jericho, to see how he is going to take the city, and sees a man standing ri^ht in front of him, with a drawn sword over him. The Lord said, "No man shall be able to stand before you all the days of your life." I suppose that is the first time that came into Joshua's mind; and he stepped right up to him and said, "Art thou for us, or for our adversaries?" "No, I am captain of the Lord's host, and come to lead you to victory." Joshua fell on his face, and God talked to him. It is when men are on their faces, that God talks with them. There are so few willing to humble themselves that God may talk with them and give them the blessings from heaven. How much sport they would have made in Jericho; and if there had been a Jericho Herald, it would have ridiculed taking the city in the way proposed. Seven priests were to go in front 01 the ark and blow seven rams' horns. This is very absurd. I think the people of Boston would have wanted silver or golden trumpets. The idea of our friend Dr. Brooks and Dr. Pentecost and Dr. Webb, and the Catholic Bishop, and the Episcopal Bishop, and the other potentates of the church blowing rams' horns. It would touch our pride. Give them some beautiful trumpets; don't let them go round the city blowing rams' horns. But that is what God told them to do. Those seven priesU were to go in front of the ark and blow rams' horns; and then there were 600,000 footmen that followed the ark round the walls of Jericho. Bear in mind, Jericho was to be taken by faith. So they went round for six mornings, and the seventh morning comes; they are up very early, perhaps at daybreak, and the whole city of Jencho is startled. They get up earlier than usual, they can hear the rams' horns blowing; and instead of going into camp after the first circuit of the city, they go round the second, and the third, and the fourth, and the fifth time; and the people begin to get onto the walls of the city and look down on them. What does this mean? They have gone round the fifth time; now they go round the sixth time; not a word is spoken. Now they have got round the seventh time; and a shout went up from the 600,000 men. Joshua had given the word, and the walls came tumbling down; and they went up and took that city, and took it by faith, and every man and woman perished in that city. God gave the orders and they just obeyed.
My friends, the lesson we want to learn is obedience to God. If some Boston men had been there, they would have advised taking the city some other way. The Lord said, "Do it," and Joshua did it; and he was successful.
Now they moved to Ai, and they told Joshua they only wanted a few men to take that place; but they were repulsed; and Joshua fell on his face and cried to God, to find out what the difficulties were. He knew the sin was with the people. And when the Church of God does not advanoe, it is not because God has failed, but because there is something wrong with us. There was treachery in the camp. God told them not to touch one solitary thing in Jericho; but Achan coveted a Babylonish garment, or a nice dress for his wife, and a wedge of gold. God hates the sin of oovetousness; he has punished it in all ages; and when that sin was found out and put away, they moved on to Ai. There was no trouble then, and the men of Ai soon fell; they could not stand before the Lord.
Then we are told Joshua comes to Mount Ebal and the law of God is read to them (see Joshua 8: 31st to 35th verses). Thank God for such a man as Joshua. That is the kind of men we want now-a-days. Men have been cutting and slashing at the Bible, so that they haven't got anything left now. But Joshua just gave them the whole Word; it was all read. And now he is ready to move on. The law had been read; they had worshiped their God; and, undoubtedly, the nations all through that land heard of that solemn assembly on those two mountain sides, and that the law of God had been read. Now they are ready to move on again; and some startling news reaches Joshua that there is a confederacy formed, and instead of meeting one king at a time he is to meet five of the leading kings of the country; and they were coming from the mountains and from the valleys with their giants, to overwhelm him. I see the old warrior; he don't tremble at all; he had got the Word of God: "Joshua, be of good courage, no man shall be able to stand up before thee all.the days of thy life;" and he routed the armies of the kings; and the day was not quite long enough, so he commanded the sun and moon to stand still and had two days in one, and there was none of them left together. He found those five kings hid away in a cave. He overcame thirty-one kings and killed them. He overcame them by faith.
Some men say, "What right had he to go over and take that land?" The Word of God tells us. (See Deuteronomy 9, 4th to 6th verses.) God didn't want to have them go in on account of their selfrighteousness; God hates that, but it was on account of the wickedness of the inhabitants. Joshua then divides up the land among them, taking the poorest part for himself, so that he might be near the ark, near Shiloh. There comes out another trait of his character. There he died. He lived to the ripe age of 110; and all these yean not one solitary man was able to stand before him.
And see the contrast between his dying testimony and that of Jacob down in Egypt! "Few and eril have been my days"—had a pretty stormy voyage. There is a man that walked by sight. Now look, and see this old warrior going to rest. He is not going to die like an infidel, Or an atheist. He knows in whom he believes, and he sent for all Israel; and they gathered at Shiloh, to hear the old prophet and patriarch and that mighty man of God speak. What does he say? What is his dying testimony? How we linger about to catch what our dying friends Bay; how anxious we are to catch their last words and utterances. Now what are the last words of this man, who has tried God and proved him, and who knew God? This is it: "Behold, this day I am going the way of all the earth; and ye knowin all your hearts and in all your souls, that not one thing hath failed." God has kept his word, fulfilled his promise, made his word good: "not one thing hath failed." What a glorious dying testimony! What a beautiful sunset! Look at the old warrior sinking away, like the sun going down on a summer evening full of beauty. There the old man is dying, and is leaving that testimony behind him. It has lived all these years. How we like to go back to it! Moses laid away in the mountains by God; Aaron also buried in the mountains by God; and Miriam, the sister of Aaron, had died in a foreign land; and now in sight of the celestial city which Abraham caught sight of, this is Joshua's dying testimony: * And, behold, this day I am going the way of all the earth; and ye know in all your hearts and in all your souls, that not one thing hath failed of all the good things which the Lord your God •pake concerning you."
My friends, let us take God at his word; let us try his word and prove him, and we will find that God is true. Ah, these men that are trying to destroy our confidence in the Word of God, by telling us that God does not keep his word, are deceiving us. It is not true. Any man that has tried these promises has found them to be "yea and nay;" he has found them to be true. Let us pray to the God of Joshua.