But Joshua had said to the two men that had spied out the country, Go into the harlot's house, and bring out there the woman…
If any city ever was such a "City of Destruction" as Bunyan fancied, it was Jericho. Itself and all within it were devoted to destruction, only Rahab, like another Noah, with her family escaping. It is an awful fact to contemplate the destruction of a whole city. No escape, and little warning! Old and young, one day in possession of wealth, ease, comfort, and the next day captured and destroyed. The judicial principles on which God acts and on which He here commands the destruction of Jericho, are beyond us, but some of the lessons are clear and useful. Study these:
I. THERE IS A PENALTY FOR SIN. There is nothing wanton in God's ways. Israel was God's chosen, and the nations of Canaan His rejected, because morally the former, with all its faults, infinitely surpassed the latter. You get glimpses of the evil of the primitive races with their religious in the story of Baal-Peor; in the vice and atrocity which perpetually mark every relapse of Israel into idolatry; in the nameless defilements of modern heathenism. Dr. Arnold, no narrow theologian, defends the destruction of the Canaanites as a great gain to the welfare of humanity. It is these cruelties and abominations of heathenism which required and explain the destruction of the Canaanites. For God punishes sin. There is no truth more undeniable, and none the knowledge of which is more widely spread. We suffer for every fault we commit. As root and fruit, so wrong and wretchedness, go together. However subtle the fault, God's providence operates in penalties still more subtle. The eating of any forbidden fruit always has its two penalties - loss of power, and loss of some sort of Eden. Sins of sinners have their penalties. And God's people receive "double for all their sins" - a heavier stroke for the less excusable transgression. It is not because God is wrathful that He punishes, but because He is gracious. God is love, and therefore will not let us harm ourselves or others. His infinite love impels Him to "stamp out" evil by penalty. It is blasphemy to think God can sit still and see, with indifferent eye, the poison of sin working its mischief in the world. For love is neither in God nor man a merely sentimental thing. It is wise, it is strong, it is stern. "Love is inexorable," says one of our greatest teachers (George Macdonald). So God's love makes Him "a consuming fire." He pardons sin, when His grace working penitence has got it out of us, but punishes it until we deplore and loathe it. The creed of Jericho was probably a very free and easy one. But as God's facts do not accommodate themselves to our creeds, it is better to adjust our creed to God's facts. Your sins will not pass unpunished. Blessed be God's name, He loves us too well for that. There will be an element of correction in all penalty, until correction becomes impossible; and then, in mercy at once to ourselves and others, God steps in to prevent the further accumulation of guilt by us, and the further infliction of mischief on others. The city of sin is a city of destruction, and your sin will receive the penalty due to it, however secure you may feel in yore' power to evade it.
II. PENALTY IS OFTEN LONG DEFERRED, AND IS THEN SUDDENLY INFLICTED. Jericho had, I suppose, stood long. The destruction of the cities of the plain had not extended to it. It is possible that, alike from the calamities of war as well as those of nature it had been free. And its prosperity and wealth, its abounding trade with East and West, suggested that there was really no reason to be afraid of God's judgments. Yet suddenly, like a thunderbolt out of a clear sky, destruction fell on them. There is often delay in inflicting a punishment. God prolongs opportunity. "This year also" He spares the barren fig tree, reluctant to destroy what might produce fruit. He is not willing that any should perish, lie is "slow to anger." His long suffering is salvation. He lengthens "the days of tranquillity" that we may at last repent. But when all delay is abused, and the postponement of doom only awakes presumption, at last the stroke comes," suddenly and without remedy." The flood came suddenly, and so did the destruction of Sodom, so did that of Jezebel and Nabal, and Belshazzar, and Herod, and Judas, and that of multitudes that cannot be numbered. Do not mistake postponement of penalty for pardon of sin. Of all our unrepented sin that has not yet been smitten, the punishment is only suspended. We cannot dig so deep but God will find us, nor strengthen our defence so stoutly as to defy His power. Be wise and use the days of reprieve for repentance. "Seek the Lord while he may be found," as we are here taught there is a penalty for every sin, and that, long suspended, it yet at last falls suddenly. So observe also lastly -
III. THEY WHO WOULD AVOID DESTRUCTION MUST BECOME FOLLOWERS OF THE GOD OF ISRAEL. Only one woman with her relatives seems to have done this. We do not read of any persons fleeing from the city of doom, or making any provision for capitulation or escape. The enervation of luxury and immorality is on them. They alternately sink in despair or are puffed up in the confidence of their walls. But one person, rising in repentance from the guilt of a long neglect, sees the glory of God and chooses Him as her hope and Master. When she cannot save the city with her, she saves herself, and, expecting the wonderful works of God, enlists in His service. Repent thou, and take Jesus Christ as thy Lord, ending with serious change of thought and action all the evil of your life. And then the infinite love which weeps when it can only smite will pardon the sin that you forsake, and give you "a place amongst the children," and the great salvation which you long to enjoy. - G.
Parallel VersesKJV: But Joshua had said unto the two men that had spied out the country, Go into the harlot's house, and bring out thence the woman, and all that she hath, as ye sware unto her.