And Joshua returned, and all Israel with him, to the camp to Gilgal.…
1. This solemn scene reminds us of the mad resistance of these kings. Here is the end of it. And what a contrast is this to that which they had conceived. As we look on these wretched kings we hear a voice asking in earnest, solemn tones, "Who hath hardened himself against God and hath prospered?" "Who can resist the arm of the Almighty?" And again it says, "It is hard for thee to kick against the pricks." Can the clay rebel against the potter? Will the tool lift up itself against the workman? Will worms defy the Almighty? Why, then, oh! why are there found, not a few, but many, who still resist Him?
2. This scene also reminds us of the despairing flight of these kings. Finding that resistance was useless, they sought to escape by flight, but this proved also vain. The sinner cannot flee from the judgment of God. Many a man has been able to escape the just judgment of his fellows. It can never be so with the Divine justice. It rolls forth no empty thunders. Seeing all flight is vain, our only hope is instant and complete submission, if haply the Lord will have mercy on us and spare us for His name's sake.
3. The scene also speaks of their useless refuge. Their resistance was found to be utterly vain, therefore they had recourse to flight. But flight they found also unavailing, therefore they sought to hide, but this was also vain. By this new device they not only deceive themselves, they actually destroy themselves. Know that it is as vain to hide from God as to fly from Him. Yet the truth, "Thou God seest me," is one not easily learned. Often, as in the case of Hagar, it is only in the hour of dire extremity that the soul becomes truly conscious of the fact. Nothing is more common or more natural for fallen man than to hide from God. Even in childhood, if unwelcome thoughts of God obtruded themselves, how quickly did we learn to bury ourselves in the cave of other and more congenial thoughts and hopes. And as we grow older, and the heart gets more unsusceptible to spiritual realities, how easily can we hide in indifference. How natural it is to let slip everything that has been taught us of spiritual truth, to forget all warnings and admonitions, to become engrossed with the pleasures that lie around, and to forsake the good habits in which we had been trained. And not a few seek to shelter themselves in hypocrisy. The Church is the garden of God; and not a few are hiding from Him among the trees of His own garden. They come to the solemn assembly. They give of their substance to His work. They maintain propriety of conduct, and yet they know not God; yea, they are hiding from Him all the time, and by these very means. Others are hiding from God in business. From Monday morning till Saturday night they are engrossed in earthly cares, and even on the Lord's day their heads and hearts are more in their bank-books and ledgers than in their Bibles. But though men may for a few moments bury themselves in oblivion of God, they can never hide from Him. Soon the souls who thus hide will be dragged out to the bewildering light, to their shame and ruin. Have we, then, no hope? Is there no refuge for us? There is. We can never hide from God, but we can hide in God. "The name of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous runneth into it and is safe."
4. Here also we behold the utter degradation of these kings. It was far deeper than that of their subjects. As they were ringleaders in this revolt, their end was more terrible. They had to bow their necks under the feet of the children of Israel. This was a most significant act. It was a picture of the absolute subjection of all to the yoke of Israel. It was a pledge of the perfect conquest of the land, of the glorious ending of that work which had been so well begun. This also was written for our encouragement and instruction. All things must be brought into subjection to the true Joshua. They who follow Him are not overcome of evil, they are conquerors in the struggle against sin. However weak we may feel in ourselves, yet in His name we dare deal with the proudest and strongest sin that lurks in our hearts, as Joshua's captains did with these kings. That man cannot be following Christ who is not putting all spiritual foes under his feet from day to day. And we have here not only a picture of this daily and oft-repeated triumph over sin which Jesus gives His followers, but also a picture of that ultimate and complete victory over sin and Satan that shall be granted. There were other kings in Canaan besides these five kings, and they gave Joshua and his captains much trouble. Though the victory so far was real and glorious, it was by no means complete. They have faced and overcome these particular foes; but many more remain. Even so the Christian, though he should and must obtain the victory over all known sin, and keep it ever under foot, learns the longer that he lives that there arc other sins which he had not dreamt of lurking in the recesses of his heart. Therefore he lays count for a protracted war. Yet he does not go forward with a faint heart to face these new foes. Rather, encouraged by the victories already granted, he goes on with assurance of like triumph.
5. We must also draw attention to the miserable end of these kings. Here, as we stand over the dead bodies of these kings, we hear a voice proclaiming, "So perish the king's enemies." There are judgments of God against sin in the past history of the world. In the future history of the world these judgments will again be on the earth. Between the past and the future He has erected the Cross. That also is a centre of judgment. Yea, the judgment against sin on the Cross is far more perfect than either that judgment which goes before or follows after; for it is a judgment finished, a cup of condemnation drunk to the last drop, and that can be said of no other, past or future. Identified with that Victim, nailed with Him to that Cross, cursed in Him with all the curse due to sin, banished with that forsaken Victim in the great darkness, there is no condemnation, no judgment, to them that are in Christ Jesus.
6. In these conquests of Joshua we have a faint picture of the victories of Jesus. However numerous His enemies may be, they will be all scattered as chaff before the wind, as smoke before the hurricane. However mighty they may be, they will bite the dust in terror and dismay. However wise and noble, they will be crushed under His heel.
(A. B. Mackay.)
Parallel VersesKJV: And Joshua returned, and all Israel with him, unto the camp to Gilgal.