Now after the death of Moses the servant of the LORD it came to pass, that the LORD spoke to Joshua the son of Nun, Moses' minister…
"There shall not any man be able," &c. "Well," you say, "it does not require any great courage to go out with a backing like that." I reply, God promised Joshua no more than He promises you and me in our conflicts. The framer of the universe, the chieftain of all eternity, has pledged all His resources to see us through, and He promised no more than that to Joshua. His first undertaking was to cross the river Jordan in a spring freshet. You might as well talk of wading across the Hudson river at Yonken as to think of wading the river Jordan at the season of which I am speaking. The Canaanites on the other side felt perfectly secure. But one day Joshua orders out his troops, and tells them to fall into line. "Forward: march!" They pass on towards the river, and it seems as if the light armed troops, and the spearmen, and the archers, and all their leaders, must be swept down in the fearful flood. Let them prepare, you say, for a watery grave. March on. Come to the other bank. They reach the bank, and they pull themselves up its steep, thirty or forty feet in height — they pull themselves up the bank by the oleanders, and the tamarisks, and the willows, until they reach the top. No sooner have they climbed up this high bank than with dash, and roar, and terrific rush, the waters of the Jordan break loose from their strange anchorage. God never makes any provision for the Christian's retreat. He clears the path to Canaan if we go ahead; if we go back. we die. Victory ahead! Darkness, flood, ruin, and death behind! You say: "Why didn't those Canaanites destroy Joshua and his troops while they had a chance? Here they were, on a bank thirty or forty feel high. There were the Israelites under Joshua down in the bed of the stream. Why didn't the Canaanites fight back these invaders?" The promise had been given, and the Lord God keeps His promise. "There shall not any man be able to stand before thee all the days of thy life." But we cannot stop here. It is no place for Joshua's troops to stay. What is that in the distance? At the end of a grove of palms eight miles long is the chief city Jericho, the great metropolis. Take it Joshua must. "Take it Joshua can't," say the unbelievers. Joshua rises up to his full stature, and he gives the command. He feels the right moment has come, and he says: "Shout! for the Lord hath given you the city," and the command is heard, and the people all together cry: "Down, Jericho! down, Jericho!" and that long line of solid masonry begins to quiver, and then crash go the walls, the temples, the palaces, until the earth quakes, and the heavens are blackened with the dust, and the shriek of the crushed city and the huzza of the victorious Israelites commingle. This is no place to stop. "Forward: march!" There is city of Ai to be taken. "Oh!" says a scouting party just come back from that city, "you can take that very easily. Joshua, you need not go; you stay, and few of us will go and take that city." They started out in pompous order to take the city of Ai. The men of Ai came out and gave one yell, and away ran the Israelites like reindeer. Our northern troops, at Bull Run, made slow time compared with those Israelites with the men of Ai after them. We have no right to go into the Lord's conflict having only half our force. Body, mind, soul, reputation, property — everything — must be marshalled, equipped, launched for God, and against our enemies. And soon the retreating army come up. They say: "Oh! general, we are all cut to pieces. Those men of Ai are awful people. We are all cut to pieces." Joshua falls down on his face in chagrin. But how did God arouse Joshua? Did He address him in some complimentary apostrophe? No. He says: "Get thee up. Why liest thou thus on thy face?" Joshua arose, I suppose, looking mortified; but his old courage came back again. He marshals all the Israelites, and he says: "We will go up en masse, and we will take the city of Ai." And as I see the smoke of the burning city curling in the sky, and as I hear the groans of the defeated men of Ai, and the victorious shout of the Israelites, Joshua hears something better than that: "There shall not any man be able," &c. Joshua's troops cannot stop yet. "Forward: march!" says Joshua; for there is the city of Gibeon; it has put itself under the wing of Joshua's protection, and Joshua must defend it. Joshua makes a three days' march in one night. Prepare now to see the Gettysburgh, the Waterloo, the Sedan of the ancients. It is not yet quite sundown in Joshua's day, and we will have time for five royal funerals. Who will preach their funeral sermon? Massillon preached the funeral sermon of Louis XIX. Dr. Robert South preached a sermon commemorative of Charles
I. Who will preach the funeral sermon of these five bad kings? Joshua. And what shall be his text? "There shall not any man be able," &c. "Oh," you say, "it is a pity to bury these five kings so ignominiously." No, sir; before that rock is sealed up I want to put in five more beings, first having them beheaded — King Alcohol, King Fraud, King Lust, King Superstition, King Bigotry. Have them all in. Cover them over with a mound of broken decanters and the debris of their miserable doings. Roll a rock against that cave so they never can get out. Then chisel for these last five kings the same epitaph you had for the other five kings; and let all the Christian reformers and philanthropists, before the sun of their protracted day of usefulness is ended, come up and read it.
(T. De Witt Talmage.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Now after the death of Moses the servant of the LORD it came to pass, that the LORD spake unto Joshua the son of Nun, Moses' minister, saying,