And an angel of the LORD came up from Gilgal to Bochim, and said, I made you to go up out of Egypt…
The accusation against them at Bochim was negative rather than positive. They were not charged with any specific act of avowed rebellion, but with having failed to obey the voice of God. But when the Church has begun to habitually neglect any one of her Lord's known commands — still more when she begins to "break one of these least commandments, and teach men so" — the day is not far distant when, unless arrested in her career by the mercy or the judgments of God, she will be found openly consorting with the mammon-worshippers by whom she is surrounded. Even so it was in the history before us.
1. The Canaanites in this history represent the enemies of the Church of God, and also the inward besetting sins of individual members of that Church. Need we name pride, and lust, and covetousness, and self-conceit, and envy, and worldliness, and impatience, and fretfulness, and revengefulness — a band of brothers, tall sons of Anak, diverse in feature, yet all showing the ancestry and lineaments of the serpent? Need we mention others of the same kindred — jealousy, and sloth, and worldliness, and levity, and procrastination, and presumption, and unbelief?
2. It follows, then, that the believer's warfare is not completed when he has been made a partaker of peace through believing in Christ; for "we are made partakers of Christ" only "if we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast unto the end." "Put off," says the Scripture, "the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts." Mighty task! — for this "old man" is not easily ousted from his ancient habitation. He fights hard for possession; and we must "give diligence," even after we have obtained our "calling and election," to "make it sure."
3. We are reminded that many of the spiritual Israel stop short of a full salvation, for it is to be remembered that these men had partially obeyed. They had begun well.
4. The history illustrates the causes of the weakness of the Church and people of God.
(1) One of these causes was indolence. "They neglected to destroy the nations, not because of want of inclination, but because they were deficient in strength in consequence of their guilt; not from feelings of compassion, but from want of holy zeal and from slothfulness," The athlete cannot retain his strength without daily exercise; the vocalist cannot retain his power and command of voice without incessant practise; and the child of God cannot go on to perfection without a daily spiritual gymnastic, "exercising himself with a view to godliness," as an athlete with a view to the games. Faith and love, correcting the indolence of our nature, will make this holy toil delightful.
(2) Another cause of spiritual weakness is a secret love of sin. In our own day there are degraded Englishmen who have settled among the savages of New Hebrides or Fiji on purpose to be free from all moral restraint, and who outdo the worst of the heathen in every kind of abomination. In religious families there are sons and daughters who, although outwardly restrained by the circumstances of their position, cherish a bitter hatred of religion and a secret love for a dissipated life. And even in the hearts of the faithful what strange occasional lingerings towards evil! What treacherous trifling with things fordidden!
(3) Another cause of spiritual weakness is unbelief, if indeed this one cause does not sum up and exhaust the whole subject. Unbelief is vitally connected with that alienation of heart and affections from God in which the deepest ruin of man consists. And is it for this cause, O ye Israel of God, that ye are so slow to believe even in the possibility of being sanctified wholly, and of being preserved blameless unto the coming of the Lord? Is this the reason why ye so stoutly contend that although the inbred foe, the spiritual Canaanite, may be humbled and put to tribute, it is impossible he should be utterly destroyed on this side the grave? When the heart pants after the living God, is it pleasant to think that, in this life at least, He will never take full and complete possession, but that some damnable lust will always be there to dispute with Him for the supremacy?
(L. H. Wiseman, M. A.)
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: