And an angel of the LORD came up from Gilgal to Bochim, and said, I made you to go up out of Egypt…
The picture here presented to us is that of the people of God stopping short in their career of triumph, not following up and following out the great salvation which the Lord has wrought. They thus incur His stern rebuke and questioning: "Why have ye done this?" Many reasons, more or less plausible, might be given. They were weary of the wilderness and of war; they had had enough of wandering and fighting; they longed for quiet rest and peace. Motives also of seeming pity and prudence might sway them: how hard to cut off with so fell a swoop, and in one wholesale sacrifice, so many hosts and households, of whom some at least might yet be reclaimed to Jehovah's service, or made useful in some way to His people. Then, as these relentings of tenderness or considerations of expediency occasioned hesitation and delay, their enemies recovered courage and became formidable again. No wonder if, under some such influences as these, proposals of truce and compromise began to be welcome to Israel; and the wisdom of God gave way before the policy of man. It was a policy, however, alike unwarrantable and disastrous; unwarrantable, considering all that God had done for them and the assurance they had that He would not break His covenant with them (ver. 1); and disastrous in the issue, for the error was irretrievable.
I. THE SIN. Let me speak to the young Christian, the recent convert. What now have you more urgent on hand than to make good your position and reap the full fruit of the deliverance wrought out for you? What better opportunity for carrying out fully the sternest injunctions of your Lord regarding them? How does He bid you treat these enemies? "Mortify your members that are on the earth." "They that are Christ's have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts." Or take another instance. Such a season as I am speaking of is the very season for remodelling your whole plan of life — its pursuits, its habits, its companionship. You come out, O believer, from the secret place of your God, where He has been speaking peace to you — you come out into the world a new man; and now, when all is fresh, and before you have committed yourself, now is the very time for arranging methodically your general course of conduct and all its details. How are you to meet with your former associates? On what terms and with what degree of intimacy? When and how are you to join yourselves to the company commonly called godly, cast in your lot with them, and avow your self partakers of their toils, their trials, and their joys? What, moreover, are to be your rules for the exercise of private devotion and the cultivation of personal piety? What the system of your studious preparation for heaven? You may take your ground, unfurl your standard, and announce your watchword so unequivocally that few ever after will think of trying to shake or to disconcert you. But alas! too generally, as to all these matters, you have no definite plan of life at all. Hence vacillation, fitfulness, inconsistency, excess, and deficiency by turns. The opportunity of setting up a high standard and a high aim is lost; and soon, amid the snares of worldly conformity and the awkwardness of the false shame that will not let you retrace your steps, you deeply sigh for the day of your visitation, when you might have started from a higher platform and run a higher race than you can now hope ever to realise.
II. THE INEXCUSABLENESS OF THE SIN. Hear the remonstrance which God addresses to Israel (ver. 1), and consider His threefold appeal. Look back to the past, and call to mind from what a state the Lord has rescued you, at what a price, by what a work of power. Look around on your present circumstances; see how the Lord has performed all that He sware to your fathers; the land is yours; and it is a goodly land. And if, in looking forward to the future, you have any misgivings, has He not said, "I will never break My covenant with you"? "What can you ask more? Are these considerations not sufficient to bind you to the whole work and warfare of the high calling of God, and to make cowardice and compromise exceeding sinful?
III. THE DANGEROUS AND DISASTROUS CONSEQUENCES OF THE SIN. Hear the awful sentence of God (ver 3), and then see how the children of Israel ilft up their voice and weep (ver. 4). Well is the place named Bochim: it is indeed a melting scene. The golden opportunity is lost: their error is not to be retrieved; its bitter fruits are to be reaped from henceforth many days. A sad sight truly; but sadder, if possible, is the spectacle of a Christian professor suffering, in after-years, from the insufficiency of his works and the first foundation of his Christianity; from his having allowed some evil thing in his bosom, some Achan in his camp; from his having stopped short when he should have gone on unto perfection.
(R. S. Candlish, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: And an angel of the LORD came up from Gilgal to Bochim, and said, I made you to go up out of Egypt, and have brought you unto the land which I sware unto your fathers; and I said, I will never break my covenant with you.
WEB: The angel of Yahweh came up from Gilgal to Bochim. He said, "I made you to go up out of Egypt, and have brought you to the land which I swore to your fathers; and I said, 'I will never break my covenant with you: