Joshua 8:30

Then Joshua built an altar unto the Lord.... And he wrote there upon the stones a copy of the law of Moses .... And he read all the words of the law. There is always danger in the moment after victory. We remember how Hannibal lost, amid the enervating luxuries of Capua, the fruit of the battle of Cannae. The most seductive Capua to the people of God is spiritual pride, which seeks to take to itself the glory which belongs to God alone. Woe to those who sleep upon the laurels of spiritual success, or who are intoxicated with self complacency. "Let him that thinketh he standeth, take heed lest he fall (1 Corinthians 10:12). Joshua shows us by his example how the people of God should conduct themselves after a victory.

I. HE GIVES ALL THE GLORY TO GOD. He builds an altar to offer thereon a sacrifice of thanksgiving. Let us do the same, and render, as he did, all glory to God.

II. HE SUMMONED THE PEOPLE TO A YET STRICTER OBEDIENCE TO THE DIVINE LAW by placing it afresh before their eyes. He knows well that never are men more prone to forget the sacred obligation of obedience than in the hour of religious success. Without obedience sacrifice is but external and vain. The true sacrifice is that of the will. Let every new blessing, every fresh victory only bring our mind and heart into more complete subjection to the will of God!

Then Joshua built... an altar of whole stones.
Let us behold in the story of Joshua's altar in Mount Ebal the mirror of an honest Christian life.

1. It is well to recognise the fact that this world is under the curse, a true Mount Ebal. Is human existence hard? There is sunshine in life, it is true, but think of the shadows. Go into the houses of the rich, where luxury meets yon on every hand. In this mansion the servants go about with noiseless tread; the street in front is thickly strewn with tan bark; often at the door is seen the physician's carriage. Is it a happy household? Enter the next mansion. Here, too, wealth is supreme, everything of the costliest, but the face of the father of the family is clouded with anger, and the mother's eyes are red with weeping. What is the trouble? Shame, dishonour; a child has fouled a parent's noble name, disgraceful deeds have made the son and heir of a great house a byword and a hissing. But thank God there is Mount Gerizim as well as Ebal; the blessings are as rich as the curses are deplorable, and the curses come first, only to give place to the blessings. We may not forget, however, that the great heart altar for God is to be set up in Ebal, in the consciousness of the power of the curse. The first thought we ought to have in our Christian life is that Christ hath redeemed us from the curse.

2. Well, then, Christian, saved by Christ's blood from wrath to come, rear up to thy Lord and Master thine altar. Of what sort shall we make it? The altar in the heart must be of whole stones upon which no man hath lift up any iron. I suppose that no metal enters into our life to the extent that iron does in its myriad forms of using. Is its cold hardness not an appropriate symbol of human selfishness, the occasion of all strife and quarrelling, hatred, and crime? Is there any one who lives his life on earth unselfishly, who is not concerned more with his own interests than with those of his neighbours? If the secret of the worthy heart altar as towards God be humble acquiescence in the Divine ordering of things, the secret of it as towards men is genuine unselfishness. Towards God the "whole" stones, unfashioned by our wilfulness, towards man stones piled up with no help of iron, but erected in brotherly love, self-forgetting generosity.

3. When Joshua had set up the great cairn, he plastered it all over with plaster, that he might engrave thereon the words of the law. In this way the separate stones, without having been fashioned or fitted together by human hand and tool, were in a certain sort made one through human agency. There is a strange factor in our life which is indeed given more than its rightful share of importance in most earthly things, while in the Divine service it seems to be hardly enlisted at all. I mean the purpose or the will. As the plaster covered all those rough stones and gave them a smooth, well-compacted surface, so does a firm and well-set will, a steadfast heart-purpose, make the unhewn circumstances of our lives homogeneous, a shapely altar for the Lord's use. God's law has been revealed in order that we may obey it, and we have no other guide to duty. The end of the Christian life, in the world at least, is obedience. To believe not what we think reasonable, but what God has said; to do not what seems edifying, but what He has enjoined.

4. Thus are we, every one of us, if we be in earnest, raising up altars in our hearts, as we go on through this world; gathering up one by one the circumstances and opportunities of our lives. Great, rough, ill-shaped stones they seem, yet we may not think to trim and fashion them to our own notion, nor to hew them out with iron tools of selfishness and pride. Lay them up, O soul, in a cairn, as they come, plaster them all over with devout purpose and zealous will, then write on them the law of God, that it may be the guiding principle of all thy thoughts and words and deeds, His will not thine own.

(Arthur Ritchie.)

Israelites, Joshua, Levites
Ai, Arabah, Bethel, Jericho, Mount Ebal, Mount Gerizim
Altar, Build, Built, Ebal, Joshua, Mount
1. God encourages Joshua
3. The plan whereby Ai was taken
29. The king thereof is hanged
30. Joshua builds an altar
32. writes the law on stones
33. and pronounces the blessings and curses

Dictionary of Bible Themes
Joshua 8:30

     7302   altar

Joshua 8:30-31

     1640   Book of the Law
     4336   iron
     5240   building

Joshua 8:30-32

     4366   stones
     5574   tablet

Joshua 8:30-35

     4254   mountains

The National Oath at Shechem
'And Joshua said unto the people. Ye cannot serve the Lord: for He is an holy God; He is a jealous God; He will not forgive your transgressions nor your sins. 20. If ye forsake the Lord, and serve strange gods, then He will turn and do you hurt, and consume you, after that He hath done you good. 21. And the people said unto Joshua, Nay; but we will serve the Lord. 22. And Joshua said unto the people, Ye are witnesses against yourselves, that ye have chosen you the Lord, to serve Him. And they said,
Alexander Maclaren—Expositions of Holy Scripture

February the Seventeenth Blessings and Cursings
"He read all the words of the law, the blessings and the cursings." --JOSHUA viii. 30-35. We are inclined to read only what pleases us, to hug the blessings and to ignore the warnings. We bask in the light, we close our eyes to the lightning. We recount the promises, we shut our ears to the rebukes. We love the passages which speak of our Master's gentleness, we turn away from those which reveal His severity. And all this is unwise, and therefore unhealthy. We become spiritually soft and anaemic.
John Henry Jowett—My Daily Meditation for the Circling Year

Whether it is Lawful to Lay Ambushes in War?
Objection 1: It would seem that it is unlawful to lay ambushes in war. For it is written (Dt. 16:20): "Thou shalt follow justly after that which is just." But ambushes, since they are a kind of deception, seem to pertain to injustice. Therefore it is unlawful to lay ambushes even in a just war. Objection 2: Further, ambushes and deception seem to be opposed to faithfulness even as lies are. But since we are bound to keep faith with all men, it is wrong to lie to anyone, as Augustine states (Contra
Saint Thomas Aquinas—Summa Theologica

Formation and History of the Hebrew Canon.
1. The Greek word canon (originally a straight rod or pole, measuring-rod, then rule) denotes that collection of books which the churches receive as given by inspiration of God, and therefore as constituting for them a divine rule of faith and practice. To the books included in it the term canonical is applied. The Canon of the Old Testament, considered in reference to its constituent parts, was formed gradually; formed under divine superintendence by a process of growth extending through
E. P. Barrows—Companion to the Bible

Five Kings in a Cave
TEXT: "And it came to pass, when they brought out those kings unto Joshua, that Joshua called for all the men of Israel, and said unto the captains of the men of war which went with him, Come near, put your feet upon the necks of these kings. And they came near, and put their feet upon the necks of them. And Joshua said unto them, Fear not, nor be dismayed, be strong and of good courage: for thus shall the Lord do to all your enemies against whom ye fight."--Joshua 10:24-25. The history of the
J. Wilbur Chapman—And Judas Iscariot

Jesus in the Tomb.
It was about three o'clock in the afternoon, according to our manner of reckoning,[1] when Jesus expired. A Jewish law[2] forbade a corpse suspended on the cross to be left beyond the evening of the day of the execution. It is not probable that in the executions performed by the Romans this rule was observed; but as the next day was the Sabbath, and a Sabbath of peculiar solemnity, the Jews expressed to the Roman authorities[3] their desire that this holy day should not be profaned by such a spectacle.[4]
Ernest Renan—The Life of Jesus

Beth-El. Beth-Aven.
Josephus thus describes the land of Benjamin; "The Benjamites' portion of land was from the river Jordan to the sea, in length: in breadth, it was bounded by Jerusalem and Beth-el." Let these last words be marked, "The breadth of the land of Benjamin was bounded by Jerusalem and Beth-el." May we not justly conclude, from these words, that Jerusalem and Beth-el were opposite, as it were, in a right line? But if you look upon the maps, there are some that separate these by a very large tract of land,
John Lightfoot—From the Talmud and Hebraica

Moses and his Writings
[Illustration: (drop cap W) Clay letter tablet of Moses' time.] We now begin to understand a little of the very beginning of God's Book--of the times in which it was written, the materials used by its first author, and the different kinds of writing from which he had to choose; but we must go a step farther. How much did Moses know about the history of his forefathers, Abraham and Jacob, and of all the old nations and kings mentioned in Genesis, before God called him to the great work of writing
Mildred Duff—The Bible in its Making

The Crucifixion.
Subdivision D. Jesus Found to Be Dead. His Body Buried and Guarded in the Tomb. ^A Matt. XXVII. 57-66; ^B Mark XV. 42-47; ^C Luke XXIII. 50-56; ^D John XIX. 31-42. ^d 31 The Jews therefore, because it was the Preparation, that the bodies should not remain on the cross upon the sabbath (for the day of that sabbath was a high day ), asked of Pilate that their legs might be broken, and that they might be taken away. [According to rabbinical writing a few hours before the Sabbath were called the Preparation;
J. W. McGarvey—The Four-Fold Gospel

The book of Joshua is the natural complement of the Pentateuch. Moses is dead, but the people are on the verge of the promised land, and the story of early Israel would be incomplete, did it not record the conquest of that land and her establishment upon it. The divine purpose moves restlessly on, until it is accomplished; so "after the death of Moses, Jehovah spake to Joshua," i. 1. The book falls naturally into three divisions: (a) the conquest of Canaan (i.-xii.), (b) the settlement of the
John Edgar McFadyen—Introduction to the Old Testament

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