And when Joshua had let the people go, the children of Israel went every man to his inheritance to possess the land.…
I. THE CHARACTER OF THE JEWS AT THE DEATH OF JOSHUA.
II. THE APOSTASY OF THE SUCCEEDING GENERATION.
1. The nature of their apostasy. God is jealous of His own honour; and to unite His name with idols, and to His worship to join the revolting orgies of Ashtoreth, was diabolism, and must be judged and punished.
2. Their apostasy was intensified by all the distinguishing privileges and blessings they had enjoyed. As virtue is proportioned in vigour to the temptations resisted, so transgression is proportioned to the forces of conscience, education, example and blessing which have been fought with and conquered. Nor was this all their sin. To the list must be added disobedience. They refused to execute the Divine command to expel the Canaanites from the land. It was terrible surgery, and not murder, that the Israelites were commanded to perform as touching the heathen idolators — a true and just surgery, cutting away unflinchingly the diseased part, that themselves might remain sound. Stopping short in the operation, they became infected with the moral leprosy which made the Canaanites loathsome to heaven and earth (Leviticus 18:21-30; Deuteronomy 12:30-32).
(1) Mercies despised, privileges scorned, pledges made to God in covenant and broken, become the foundation for towering iniquity. The best things perverted are the worst.
(2) Nothing is more fatal to the Christian calling than alliances with the ungodly. He who makes the experiment of such entangling alliances will speedily discover that his power is lost; that what he builds with one hand he pulls down with the other; that he does not win the world to God: the world wins him. It is a notorious fact that alliances with the wicked do not command the respect of the very men for whose favour they are formed. The world scorns those who sacrifice their religious principles to worldly policy or social ambitions.
III. THE PUNISHMENT OF THEIR APOSTASY.
1. No two ideas are more inseparably linked together than these two of sin and suffering. The one follows the other by a law as fixed and imperative as the agony of a burning hand. They are the "twin serpents" of the race, inseparable companions.
2. But all suffering is not penal. With respect to God's people it is remedial and corrective. Moses Browne truly saith, "A great deal of rust requires a rough file."
IV. GOD'S MERCIFUL PROVISION FOR ISRAEL'S DELIVERANCE. God answered the cries of distress by sending them Judges — men chosen and qualified to act as His vicegerents in the emergencies of the nation. Let no Christian despair or be discouraged even in the most adverse circumstances. Evermore it is true that "Man's extremity is God's opportunity."
(W. G. Moorehead, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: And when Joshua had let the people go, the children of Israel went every man unto his inheritance to possess the land.