For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.
Romans 15:4
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JOSHUA - CHAPTER 8

 A Bible Study - Commentary by Jim Melough

Copyright 2000 James Melough

8:1.  "And the Lord said unto Joshua, Fear not, neither be thou dismayed: take all the people of war with thee, and arise, go up to Ai: see, I have given into thy hand the king of Ai, and his people, and his city, and his land:"

The removal of sin had restored Israel to a right relationship with God, (as it will every believer), so that the assurances given in chapter one were given again, enabling Joshua and the people to go against the enemy, having the confidence that God was with them, and that victory was certain.

Contrary to the advice of the returned spies given in chapter seven, the command of God was, "take ALL the people of war with thee."  As was noted in our study of chapter 7, Ai, meaning the heap (of ruins), represents the world lying under the judgment of God, soon to be reduced to the condition depicted in the meaning of Ai's name.  That knowledge, however, should not lead us to repeat Israel's mistake.  Ai's size led them to underestimate its strength.  The knowledge that the world lies under the judgment of God should never lead us to underestimate its power.  Small as it was, it took all the men of war to capture Ai.  Men have been slain by the sword in the hand of a dying foe.  Though he received a mortal wound at Calvary, Satan still has the power to wound and kill.  His power must never be underestimated.

In the foretold destruction of Ai, and the deliverance of "the king ... his people ... his city ... and his land" into the hand of Joshua and Israel, God bids us see the coming end of this present evil world system, and the deliverance of everything into the hand of Christ and His people at the end of the tribulation.

8:2.  "And thou shalt do to Ai and her king as thou didst unto Jericho and her king: only the spoil thereof, and the cattle thereof, shall ye take for prey unto yourselves: lay thee an ambush for the city behind it."

That Ai and Jericho represent the same world, but from different perspectives - the one, human, the other, Divine -  is declared in the words, "And thou shalt do to Ai and her king as thou didst unto Jericho and her king."  There was one difference, however: all the spoil of Jericho was reserved for God, while all the spoil of Ai was to be retained by Israel.  We must never forget that all belongs to God, and that all we have comes from His hand.  Our token acknowledgement of this truth is to be given upon the first day of the week, when in addition to the worship of our lips, we present Him also with His portion of the money He has given us for our temporal needs, as it is written,  "Upon the first day of the week let every one of you lay by him in store as God hath prospered him," 1 Co 16:2.

8:3.  "So Joshua arose, and all the people of war, to go up against Ai: and Joshua chose out thirty thousand mighty men of valor, and sent them away by night."

8:4.  "And he commanded them, saying, Behold, ye shall lie in wait against the city, even behind the city: go not very far from the city, but be ye all ready:"

8:5.  "And I, and all the people that are with me, will approach unto the city: and it shall come to pass, when they come out against us, as at the first, that we will flee before them,"

8:6.  "(For they will come after us) till we have drawn them from the city; for they will say, They flee before us, as at the first: therefore we will flee before them."

Since Jericho represents the world as seen by man, and since Joshua's destruction of it is the symbolic portrayal of Christ's victory at Calvary, it would be strange if that same victory were not also symbolically portrayed in the conquest of Ai, since it also represents the world.  The strategy for the destruction of this second city does indeed reveal that it too is a picture of the victory secured by the Lord's death, and to be consummated at His return in power and glory at the end of the tribulation.

The groundwork for the victory was laid at night, and it centered around the plan to make it appear as a defeat for Israel and victory for Ai.  The type was fulfilled during the hours of darkness at Calvary when Christ, in what looked like His defeat, and victory for the powers of darkness, destroyed Satan's kingdom.  Few will fail to see in verse 13 a foreshadowing of Calvary, "Joshua went that night into the midst of the valley."  As Joshua in the darkness of night went into the valley near Ai, so in the darkness of Calvary did the Lord enter into the valley of death; and by the very means (His death) which seemed to declare the victory of the enemy, He accomplished the destruction of Satan and his kingdom. 

It was not until the morning, however, that the success of the strategy against Ai was seen.  It was not until the morning of His resurrection that the success of the plan of redemption was revealed to the disciples; nor will it be until that "morning" when He returns in glory as the "Sun of righteousness" that the world will see the success of the work accomplished in Calvary's darkness.

While the prophetic picture is primarily of the victory won by the Lord's death at Calvary, the emphasis is upon the effect of that victory as it affects the believer today, and as it will affect the world when He returns in power and glory to end the tribulation and inaugurate His millennial kingdom.  Considering the symbolic picture, then, from this viewpoint, we see that night as being representative of the spiritual darkness of the world during this present age of grace (from Pentecost till the rapture), when like Ai, the world is unaware of impending destruction; ignorant of the fact that as Joshua was positioning his army, so is the Lord "positioning" His men for that soon-coming morning when the overthrow of the present world system will be accomplished.  Those "thirty thousand mighty men of valor ... sent ... away by night," each going to his appointed place, each doing his appointed task, may well represent believers of this present age, each standing in his appointed place, each fulfilling his appointed task for the ultimate overthrow of this present evil world system.  Their number, thirty thousand, is significant, for it is based on the number three, which is the number of resurrection.  Only those who stand spiritually on resurrection ground, i.e., those who have passed from spiritual death to spiritual life through faith in Christ, have any part in this great work. 

Verse 4 teaches a much needed lesson, "And he commanded them, saying ... ye shall lie in wait ... but be ye all ready."  Are you discouraged because it seems that there is so little you can do; because your spiritual gift can't be exercised publicly?  That night of just lying in wait must have seemed long to many of the thirty thousand.  "Common sense" must have suggested that the hours of darkness would have been better employed in attacking the sleeping city.  But "common sense," which is only another name for worldly wisdom, hadn't proved very successful in the first assault upon Ai, nor does it ever prove successful in our conflict with the powers of darkness.  The evil prince of darkness is all too familiar with worldly "common sense."  It never takes him by surprise.  He can be defeated only by the wisdom of God which he cannot understand, and which alone can overcome all his schemes.  Spiritual battles are won, "Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, saith the Lord of hosts," Zec 4:6.  Joshua's plan was best accommodated by the patient waiting of the thirty thousand.  The Lord's master plan for the overthrow of Satan's kingdom is no less accommodated by our patient waiting for His time, His instructions.  Unfortunately, patient waiting is not very acceptable to human nature.

8:7.  "Then ye shall rise up from the ambush, and seize upon the city: for the Lord your God will deliver it into your hand." 

They would take Ai, not by their own schemes or power, but because God would deliver it into their hand.  It is the same in regard to the conquest of the present world system.  It is not to be conquered by human schemes.  In His own good time God will deliver it into the hand of His people through the finished work of Christ.  Our part is to yield Him implicit obedience now, knowing that the day is near when He will deliver it into our hand.  Part of the reward of our patient waiting will be that we shall reign with Christ when the victory won by His death at Calvary, will be consummated at His return in glory.

8:8.  "And it shall be, when ye have taken the city, that ye shall set the city on fire; acording to the commandment of the Lord shall ye do.  See, I have commanded you."

The command, "Ye shall set the city on fire," implies the complete destruction of the place, and foreshadows the coming complete destruction of this present evil world system at Christ's return.

8:9.  "Joshua therefoe sent them forth: and they went to lie in ambush, and abode between Bethel and Ai, on the west side of Ai: but Joshua lodged that night among the people."

Where they lay in ambush is the symbolic picture of the spiritual position of every believer, for the west is always indicative of approach to God, just as the east speaks of departure from Him.  Since Ai the heap (of ruins) represents the world from the Divine viewpoint; and since Bethel means house of God, the spiritual picture couldn't be clearer.  Spiritually, we too spend the "night" of waiting, having "Ai," the world, on our "east," and "Bethel," God's house, on our "west."  It is instructive that in Ge 12:8 we have the record of Abraham's having pitched his tent in exactly the same location.

"But Joshua lodged that night among the people." If the preceding clause discloses the believer's spiritual position during this age of grace, then this present clause is the symbolic revelation of a double truth.  First, it is a typological picture of the incarnation.  Before the battle at Calvary, the Lord, came down from heaven to "lodge among the people" during the world's spiritual "night."  And second, it is the revelation of the Lord's presence with us during this age of grace.  In this the world's spiritual night time, He "lodges" in the midst of His people through the indwelling Holy Spirit.

8:10.  "And Joshua rose up early in the morning, and numbered the people, and went up, he and the elders of Israel, before the people to Ai." 

As already noted, this early rising to do the Lord's business was characteristic of many of His outstanding servants; and reminds us that as the Lord set His Father's business first, so also should we.

The numbering of the people is a symbolic way of declaring them to be God's people, and in this He would emphasize the truth that His work can be done only by those who belong to Him.  The unbeliever has no part in God's work.

8:11. "And all the people, even the people of war that were with him went up, and drew nigh, and came before the city, and pitched on the north side of Ai: now there was a valley between them and Ai." 

8:12.  "And he took about five thousand men, and set them to lie in ambush between Bethel and Ai, on the west side of the city."

Inasmuch as the north speaks of intelligence as distinct from faith which is always associated with the south, their pitching on the north side of Ai reminds us that faith rests on a work that has been planned and executed according to God's perfect wisdom.  Since five is the number of responsibility, these five thousand men remind us that it is our responsibility to make ourselves available to God to do whatever task He may assign us.

The west is the direction that speaks of approach to or nearness to God, and its being mentioned in connection with the five thousand, serves to remind us that those who fulfill their responsibility to God are they who enjoy the closest communion with Him.

8:13.  "And when they had set the people, even all the host that was on the north of the city, and their liers in wait on the west side of the city, Joshua went that night into the midst of the valley."

Calvary is foreshadowed in the Divine strategy that required Joshua to go "that night into the midst of the valley," before the enemy could be vanquished.  God's plan for the destruction of our deadly foe required that the Lord Jesus Christ fulfill the type, for it was in the darkness of Calvary that He went into the valley of death to defeat Satan and redeem your soul and mine.

The others occupying their appointed places, and not acting until Joshua had first lured the enemy out of the city, represent the believers of this present age, foreknown by God, and being brought forth each in his generation to do his part in that work that will culminate in Christ's return in power and glory, to judge the world, and set up His millennial kingdom.

8:14.  "And it came to pass, when the king of Ai saw it, that they hasted and rose up early, and the men of the city went out against Israel to battle, he and all his people, at a time appointed, before the plain; but he wist not that there were liers in ambush against him behind the city.

This is the foreshadowing of what happened at Calvary, for there Satan, represented by the king of Ai, and all his hosts were present, in a vain attempt to ensure the destruction of Christ, which would have  ensured also the destruction of the human race.  And as the king of Ai knew not that "there were liers in ambush against him," and that he and his city were to be destroyed, neither was Satan aware that that day at Calvary, he and his kingdom were to be destroyed.

"... at a time appointed (is correctly "at a place appointed").  Calvary was also the place appointed by God, the place where Satan and his evil kingdom would be brought to nothing through the death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ.

8:15.  "And Joshua and all Israel made as if they were beaten before them, and fled by the way of the wilderness."

The type of this seeming defeat of Joshua and Israel was fulfilled at Calvary when the Lord Jesus Christ appeared to have been overcome by Satan and his evil hordes.

8:16.  "And all the people that were in Ai were called together to pursue after them: and they pursued after Joshua, and were drawn away from the city."

8:17.  "And there was not a man left in Ai or Bethel, that went not out after Israel: and they left the city open, and pursued after Israel."

(The words "or Bethel" are not in the better manuscripts, an ommission which is in harmony with the typological significance of Bethel house of God, for in the present context it is difficult to envisage such an alliance as would be portrayed by the union of Ai and Bethel).  This marshalling of all the manpower in Ai points to the fact that that day when the type was fulfilled, Satan too had assembled all his forces in his vain attempt to destroy Christ.  And as Ai was thus left open to the Israelites lying in ambush, so was Satan's kingdom that day at Calvary "left open" to spiritual Israel, the Church.  Our conflict with the forces of darkness is with a foe already vanquished.  We should fight as men assured of victory.

8:18.  "And the Lord said unto Joshua, Stretch out the spear that is in thy hand toward Ai; for I will give it into thy hand.  And Joshua stretched out the spear that he had in his hand toward the city."

The spear, like the sword, in the hand of God's earthly people, represents the Word in the hand of believers of this present age.  Its being stretched out toward Ai is the typological announcement of the truth that the fate of this evil world is foretold in the written Word.  It was by Christ's perfect obedience to the written Word that Satan was vanquished that day at Calvary. It was with the same assurance of ultimate victory that He submitted Himself to death, for the Word which foretold His death foretold also His glorious resurrection and victorious return to earth as King of kings, and Lord of lords.

8:19.  "And the ambush arose quickly out of their place, and they ran as soon as he had stretched out his hand: and they entered into the city, and took it, and hasted and set the city on fire."

Up to this point we have been shown prophetically what was fulfilled at Calvary, and have been given little symbolic glimpses of our own part in God's great plan during this present Church age when we are engaged in conflict with Satan and the forces of darkness, but now we are being pointed to what is still future.  Joshua's turning around is a figure of Christ's resurrection, while his spear pointed toward Ai is the symbolic announcement of the truth that the return of Christ will be to execute judgment; and the picture will be brought into clearer focus if we remember that this present Church age is not the subject of prophecy.  It comes, in fact, as a break in the continuity of God's program for the salvation and blessing of Israel.  Following the removal of the Church, God's prophetic clock, which stopped in AD 70, will begin to tick again.  Shortly after the removal of the Church, the seven years of the Tribulation will begin, and end with the Armageddon conflict, followed by Christ's judgment of the nations, and the inauguration of His millennial kingdom.  Some of the details of that end time activity are being set before us symbolically in the verses we are now considering.  In the firing of Ai God is showing us in symbol the beginning of the coming Tribulation judgments which will culminate with the destruction of the present world system, and the inauguration of Christ's millennial kingdom.

It isn't difficult to discern in these details a miniature of that final great battle that will conclude the campaign of Armageddon, for as it was in Joshua's conquest of Ai, so will it be in that day when Christ returns in power and glory to establish His millennial kingdom.  The king of Ai is but a type of the beast ruler of the tribulation age: as he opposed Joshua and Israel, so will the final world ruler oppose Christ and His people Israel.

As in verse 14 we read of an appointed place where the destruction of Ai would begin, so is there a Divinely appointed place for the destruction of this whole world system headed up by its evil king, Satan's puppet, the final beast emperor, as it is written, "And He gathered them together into a place called in the Hebrew tongue Armageddon," Re 16:16.  Few will fail to discern in that plain where the might of Ai was destroyed, a picture of the plain of Esdraelon, where the might of an earth ruled by Satan, will also be destroyed by the One of Whom Joshua is but a type.  

The ignorance of the king of Ai relative to the outcome of the battle and the imminence of his own destruction, anticipates the ignorance of the final beast ruler relative to the outcome of the battle of Armageddon.

8:20.  "And when the men of Ai looked behind them, they saw, and, behold, the smoke of the city ascended up to heaven, and they had no power to flee this way or that way: and the people that fled to the wilderness turned back upon the pursuers."

8:21.  "And when Joshua and all Israel saw that the ambush had taken the city, and that the smoke of the city ascended, then they turned again, and slew the men of Ai."

8:22.  "And the other issued out of the city against them; so that they were in the midst of Israel, some on this side, and some on that side: and they smote them, so that they let none of them remain or escape."

In this utter destruction of Ai God bids us see the coming certain destruction of this present whole world system.  Nor should we overlook the fact that the victors in this conflict were Joshua and Israel.  The end of the Tribulation judgments will end the evil reign of Satan, and the dominion of the Gentiles.  The scepter will be placed again in the hand of a Jewish king a literal descendant of David, and Israel will be restored to her long vacated place of supremacy over the nations, while we of this Church age, together with the resurrected saints of the OT and Tribulation eras, will reign with Christ over the millennial earth from the heavenly Jerusalem which will then be poised over the earth, lighting it with her glory.

8:23.  "And the king of Ai they took alive, and brought him to Joshua."

Inasmuch as the king of Ai - in common with the Tribulation age beast ruler and all the evil kings who have misruled in the intervening centuries - is the human representative of Satan, his being brought to Joshua prior to his execution, foreshadows what is yet to be.  We learn from Re 20:1-3, that after Armageddon, Satan will be bound, and imprisoned in the abyss for the duration of the Millennium; following which he will be released for a brief period prior to his being finally cast into the lake of fire, Re 20:7-10.  All of this is foreshadowed in the capture, and eventual execution of Ai's king.

The interval between the capture and death of the king of Ai is occupied with Israel's utter extermination of the inhabitants of the city, and the appropriation of all the spoil.  The destruction of every unbeliever, and the appropriation by Israel of both spoil and dominion at the end of the Tribulation, is typologically foreshown here.

8:24.  "And it came to pass, when Israel had made an end of slaying all the inhabitants of Ai in the field, in the wilderness wherein they chased them, and when they were all fallen on the edge of the sword, until they were consumed, that all the Israelites returned unto Ai, and smote it with the edge of the sword."

These slain in the field and in the wilderness represent those who will be slain by the Lord in the battle of Armageddon.  Those remaining in Ai, and now also slaughtered, represent the remaining unbelievers who will not have been slain at Armageddon.  They too will be banished into hell following Christ's judgment of the nations, so that there will remain only believing Jews and Gentiles, to whom the Lord will extend the invitation, "Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world" Mt 25:34, and they will remain on the earth to enjoy the blessings of Christ's millennial reign.

8:25. "And so it was, that all that fell that day, both of men and women, were twelve thousand, even all the men of Ai."

Twelve is the number of Divine government on display, e.g., the twelve tribes of Israel were the living demonstration of God's government: obedience brought blessing; disobedience, chastisement; and the Church "built upon the foundation of the apostles (twelve)," is the present-day demonstration of that same government in operation.  As the twelve thousand slain Aiites were the demonstration of the Divine displeasure, so will the slain unbelievers at the end of the tribulation be the demonstration of that same Divine government punishing sin.

8:26.  "For Joshua drew not his hand back, wherewith he stretched out the spear, until he had utterly destroyed all the inhabitants of Ai."

This further reference to the spear, symbol of the written Word, emphasizes that not one word of Scripture will go unfulfilled.

8:27.  "Only the cattle and the spoil of that city Israel took for a prey unto themselves, according unto the word of the Lord which he commanded Joshua."

This is the symbolic revelation of what will be at the end of the Tribulation.  The believing remnant of Israel and of the nations, will then inherit all the goods and wealth left behind by the slain unbelievers, and will enjoy them in the Millennium; and it is instructive to note that the same truth is revealed in connection with Israel's departure from Egypt following the Passover.  They also took with them the treasure which God led the Egyptians to give them, for that destruction of Egypt, and the departure of Israel for Canaan, is also a prophetic foreshadowing of what will be in connection with the ushering in of Christ's millennial kingdom.  (In connection with this, it is to be noted that the forty years which intervened between Israel's departure from Egypt, and their entering Canaan, foreshadows the experience of the Church during this present age, for a careful study of Scripture makes it clear that Israel's history is simply the symbolic prewritten history of the Church).  

One obvious practical lesson being taught in all of this is that we shouldn't covet the things of this doomed world.  We have a better, an enduring treasure, laid up for us in heaven; nor should we forget that the pursuit of this world's riches simply diminishes the extent of our eternal inheritance.  It is the height of folly to acquire earthly riches at such cost.

8:28.  "And Joshua burnt Ai, and made it an heap for ever, even a desolation unto this day."

This burning of Ai is also prophetic.  After the Millennium has ended Satan will be released from the abyss, and will mount his last assault against God and His people, following which he will be cast into the lake of fire.  The present earth will then be destroyed by fire, and will be replaced with the new earth in which righteousness will dwell eternally.  It is that final fiery destruction of the earth which is portrayed in Joshua's burning of Ai. Its being made "an heap for ever, even a desolation unto this day" is the symbolic declaration of the finalty of that coming final destruction of this present earth.

8:29.  "And the king of Ai he hanged on a tree until eventide: and as soon as the sun was down, Joshua commanded that they should take the carcase down from the tree, and cast it at the entering of the gate of the city, and raise thereon a great heap of stones, that remaineth unto this day."

The hanging of Ai's king on a tree until eventide points to what will be in the Millennium.  As that dead carcase was powerless during that day, so will Satan, imprisoned in the abyss during earth's millennial "day," also be powerless.  And as at the end of that day the carcase was buried under "a great heap of stones," so at the end of the millennial "day" will Satan be put away for ever in the lake of fire.  

Since the gate of the city was the place of government, the burial of Ai's king in the gate was the symbolic assurance that his rule had ended; and so will it be at the end of the Millennium: Satan's evil rule will then also be ended for ever.

8:30.  "Then Joshua built an altar unto the Lord God of Israel in mount Ebal."

Having been shown, in the utter destruction of Ai, the coming destruction of this present evil cosmos, we are now to be shown, from verse 30 to the end of the chapter, something of the operation of the Divine government in the Millennium.  Significantly, it begins with worship, for universal worship will be one of the characteristics of the millennial age.  Unlike past ages, in which men have been free to choose whether they would worship God, the Millennium will offer no such choice.  In that age when the Lion of the tribe of Judah will rule with a rod of iron, the unbeliever will be compelled to render the worship that will be willingly offered by the believer.

The erection of this altar had been commanded by Moses in Dt 27:1-8, as was also the setting up of the great stones which were to be plastered, and engraved with "all the words of this law."  It is significant, however, that Ebal was associated with cursing, as Gerizim was with blessing, and here Ebal is mentioned first, indicating that God was fully aware of the fact that disobedient Israel would make herself heiress of cursing rather than blessing.  As Israel stood that day around the newly erected altar, with the riches of Canaan spread before them, so will that same nation yet stand with the vastly superior blessings of millennial Canaan lying before them.  

8:31.  "As Moses the servant of the Lord commanded the children of Israel, as it is written in the book of the law of Moses, an altar of whole stones, over which no man hath lift up any iron, and they offered thereon burnt offerings unto the Lord, and sacrificed peace offerings."

These directions given by Moses are recorded in Dt 27 and 28, and clearly that altar is a figure, not only of OT Israel, and also of the Church, but also of the repentant and converted remnant of Israel and of the nations that will enter the Millennium.  In 1 Pe 2:5 it is written concerning the Church, "Ye also, as lively (living) stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ."  But concerning sacrifice, it is written, "Hath the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams" 1 Sa 15:22.  The presentation of an obedient life is the highest form of worhsip.

The OT believing remnant, represented by that heap of stones, was the true Israel, the only one God recognized as His people, as it is written, "They are not all Israel, which are of Israel" Ro 9:6; and Israel in the wilderness is described as "the church in the wilderness" Ac 7:38.  It was the believing remnant in the midst of the unbelieving mass of the nation that rendered willing obedience to God.  And so will it be with the believing remnant of Israel and of the nations in the Tribulation.  Today the equivalent of the believing remnant is the true Church in the midst of the professing but apostate mass of Christendom. 

It must not be forgotten that the blessedness of the millennium will be largely because no violation of God's law will be tolerated.  All of this is easily read in the proclamation of the law from Ebal and Gerizim; and in the offerings presented on the altar of unhewen stones, by an Israel just brought from the wilderness (picture of the world, particularly at the end of the Tribulation) with Canaan's riches spread before her, we have a typological picture of the obedience of the remnant of Israel and the nations passing from the Tribulation into the enjoyment of millennial blessing.

We shouldn't miss the significance of the proscription that forbade the hewing of the altar stones.  Those stones, untouched by any tool of man, and forming the foundation upon which Israel's offerings were laid, represent the finished work of the Lord Jesus Christ.  Man had no part in that work which is the foundation of man's every blessing, and therefore, of his worship.  They also represent believers, living stones, and in God's forbidding the use of any tool upon those literal stones He is emphasizing the truth that man has no part either in the salvation of a soul, or in the building of the Church.  He may graciously use believers as His instruments, but that great work is all by the power of the Holy Spirit through obedient believers.  Scripture does not authorize the formation of committies, organizations, etc., in connection with Christian service.  Even elders have no authority to direct the service of any believer.  The Holy Spirit works through individuals, not organizations; and where any man or group of men arrogate such authority, they are usurping His prerogative.

The blessedness of the Millennium is foreshadowed in the fact that the sacrifices offered on that altar were the Burnt and the Peace offering.  There is instructive ommission of the Trespass, Sin, or Meal offering.  God would focus attention on the truth that that glorious age will be characterized by righteousness, and therefore by peace, for the two cannot be separated.

8:32.  "And he wrote there upon the stones a copy of the law of Moses, which he wrote in the presence of the children of Israel."

This continues to proclaim that in the Millennium God's law will be enforced, overt sin bringing immediate death to the offender.

8:33.  "And all Israel, and their elders, and officers, and their judges, stood on this side the ark and on that side before the priests the Levites, which bare the ark of the covenant of the Lord, as well the stranger, as he that was born among them; half of them over against mount Gerizim, and half of them over against mount Ebal; as Moses the servant of the Lord had commanded before, that they should bless the people of Israel."

Governmental authority is represented by the elders, officers, and judges, the Divine center of that government being represented by the ark in their midst.  The blessedness of the Millennium will be due to the fact that God's government will be inflexible, as it is written, it will be "with a rod of iron," for as the past six thousand years have clearly demonstrated, any infraction cuts off blessing.

The mention of "the stranger" announces that millenial blessing will not be restricted to Israel: the Gentile, no less than the Jew, will enjoy the righteous reign of the Prince of Peace over the millennial earth.

An important part of the lesson of this section will have been missed, however, if we fail to recognize that the literal blessings of Israel in the Millennium pale into insignificance compared with the blessings which are ours under the new covenant sealed with the blood of Christ.  The linking together therefore of the blessings and cursings of a law kept or violated, and their worship, should remind us that obedience is the very essence of worship, as already noted, "Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams," 1 Sa 15:22.  If their earthly blessings called for obedience and ritualistic worship, surely our greater blessings demand a more perfect obedience, and a worship that is no longer ritualistic, but spiritual.

8:34.  "And afterward he read all the words of the law, the blessings and cursings, according to all that is written in the book of the law."  

8:35.  "There was not a word of all that Moses commanded, which Joshua read not before all the congregation of Israel, with the women, and the little ones, and the strangers that were conversant among them."

This continues to emphasize the fact that the Millennium will be an age marked by absolute enforcement of God's law, hence its blessedness.

Relative to "the strangers that were conversant among them," conversant means to walk, that is, they were Gentiles who walked with, or lived amongst the Israelites.  They too must be obedient if they were to enjoy the blessings of Canaan, and so will it also be relative to the Millennium.  The Gentile, no less than the Israelite, will be blessed only as he walks obediently before God.  No one was exempt.  The law was read before the women and children as well as the men, and in this we may learn a practical lesson having to do with the meetings of the local church.  There is a tendency developing today to divide the assembly into categories according to age, gender, marital status, etc., for Bible study and prayer, and it is without Scriptural warrant.  No such divisions are recorded in the history of the early Church.  Men and women, young and old, married and single, all came together for these meetings, to their own profit and God's glory.  The Holy Spirit is no less able today to take out of the portion of Scripture being studied what is appropriate to the need and spiritual maturity of every believer, from the youngest to the oldest.

And in regard to prayer, when the whole assembly comes together, the young and the immature learn how to pray by listening to the prayers of the more mature brethren in the company.

[Joshua 9]

 

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     Scripture portions taken from the Holy Bible, King James Version
2000-2005 James Melough
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