And I will fix your borders from the Red Sea to the Sea of the Philistines, and from the desert to the Euphrates. For I will deliver the inhabitants into your hand, and you will drive them out before you.
I. THE TREATMENT OF ITS FORMER OCCUPANTS.
1. The avoidance of their idolatries. God cautions us against those dangers which we are most likely to overlook. When once the Israelites entered the promised land and were fairly settled there, they would show no lack of energy and discrimination in doing their best to guard their temporal possessions. But the most serious dangers are those against which walled cities and great armies are no defence. God could easily cut off the idolaters and put Israel in their place; but what about the idolatries? Whether these should also be expelled would depend upon the guard which God's people kept over their own hearts. It is very noticeable that as God takes the thoughts of his people forward to their future habitation, he begins with a solemn caution against idolatry and closes with the same. There is thus a kind of correspondence with the order occupied in the Ten Commandments by those against polytheism and image-worship. It was not possible to make mention too often of the subtle perils which lay in the Canaanitish gods.
2. Jehovah's complete defeat and expulsion of the former inhabitants. This is indicated in a variety of impressive ways. Only let his people be faithful to him, and Jehovah will go before them as a dread to all who come in contact with them. Evidently God would have his people understand that nothing was to be feared from the very greatest external resources available against them. Let enemies threaten and unite and seek allies far and wide. The greater their efforts, the more signal will be their defeat. We must ever believe that our true strength is in God. It was never intended that Israel should be looked on as a mighty military power. Rather it should be a cause of astonishment among the nations that it was able to stand against all the resources gathered against it. Whenever the Israelites began to trust in themselves and think they were able to awe their enemies, then they were lost. God only can terrify with the terror that lasts. We may confidently leave him to scatter confusion among those whom we, with all our demonstrations, are unable to impress.
3. The injunction to enter into no covenant with the former inhabitants. He who had been expelled by nothing less than an awful Divine force was not to be allowed to return under pretence of a peaceful submission. Peace, concord, mutual help - we may say God would ever have these between man and man, nation and nation - but at the same time we constantly get the warning against crying, peace! peace! when there is no peace. If a foreigner came forsaking his idolatries, there was an appointed way for him into Israel, and a welcome to be cordially given. But by no stretching of charity could it be made attainable for the idolater to settle down side by side with the worshipper and servant of Jehovah.
II. THE LARGE POSITIVE BLESSINGS TO COME UPON ISRAEL. Tile expulsion and permanent exclusion of the former inhabitants, much as they are insisted on, were but the negative condition, the clearing of the ground, so as to bless Israel with something positive. Very fittingly does God blend together the mention of these positive blessings with cautions and warnings as to the treatment of the former occupants. As the blessings were considered, the wisdom of the cautions would appear; and as the cautions were considered, so earnest and express, the greatness of the blessings would appear. God presents himself here as one very solicitous to make the land not only a good land for his people, but one cherished so as to make the best of its advantages. For this purpose he begins with a kind of graduated expulsion of the former inhabitants. Instead of expelling them by a sudden overwhelming blow, he rather does it little by little. The enemies of Israel were not to be multiplied needlessly by exposing their land to wild beasts; and the human enemies, contrary to their own designs and desires, were to leave for Israel the fruit of their own industries. If the Israelites had been asked which would be better, - to cast out their enemies at once or by a gradual process, they would probably have replied, "at once." God will ever adopt the right plan to secure the most of blessing for his people. Thus we may learn a lesson with regard to the expulsion of evil still. God is still driving out evil little by little, and in so doing he is building up good little by little. Thus the Israelites were to get a gradual and secure settlement in the land; and then that settlement was to prove eminently profitable. Four great elements of prosperity are mentioned.
1. The blessing of the bread and the water. All that was connected with the obtaining of food and drink would be under God's watchful providence. What are the bread and the water unless he blesses them? God can turn the most fertile of lands into a very proverb of barrenness. Why, this very Canaan had been afflicted with famine. It was because for some reason the blessing of God had been withheld from the bread and the water that the fathers of Israel had found their way into Egypt.
2. The maintenance of health. This is put in the most expressive way by indicating it in the aspect of banished sickness. Disease is such a common sight to us, and presents itself in such varied forms, that in no way can God's blessing of health be more emphatically revealed than by describing him as the one who healeth all our diseases. To a large extent this health was to be the consequence of blessing the bread and the water, giving by them, thus blessed, abundant and nutritious food.
3. The productiveness of animal life. In a perfectly obedient Israel there were to be no abortions, no barren wombs. It was just because there was disobedience in Israel that such cries as those of Hannah were heard (1 Samuel 1:11). Evidently all this normal generative efficacy largely depended on the blessing of the bread and water and the blessing of health. That any animal whatever, either human, or lower than human, should cast its young or be barren, was in itself a sort of disease.
4. The fulfilling of the days. The hoary head, with its crown of glory is the appointed possession of God's people. That so few obtained it only showed how much there was of imperfection in Israelite national life. These purposed blessings did not find their way into reality. The people were disobedient, unbelieving, self-regarding; and hence the seeds of blessing which assuredly God sowed among them either remained dead or struggled forth into a very imperfect life. - Y.
They shall not dwell in thy land.1. God is the sovereign boundmaker to all nations on the earth.
2. Among all God hath promised to set the bounds of His Church on earth.
3. God's suppression of His adversaries is a token of His settling His Church's habitation (ver. 31).
4. No covenant with idolatrous adversaries must be made by the Church against God's will.
5. No covenant can be made with idolaters, but it will be with their idols, viz., devils (ver. 32).
6. Converse with idolaters is very dangerous to make men such sinners against God.
7. Such sinning with idolaters is a snare, which will keep souls to destruction.
8. All such sins must be avoided, that God's promise of good may be obtained (ver. 33).
(G. Hughes, B. D.)
Union Magazine.Those who willingly associate with the sinful are like the river Thames, which is a sweet and pretty river enough near its source; but in the great metropolis it has kept company with drains and sewers under the belief that its current was too powerful and too pure to be injured by them. It was meant that the river should purify the sewer; but, instead of that, the sewer has corrupted the river.
(Newton's Letters to a Nobleman.).
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