Charles Simeon Commentary - Joshua 23:14 - 23:14

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Charles Simeon Commentary - Joshua 23:14 - 23:14


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DISCOURSE: 259

GOD’S FAITHFULNESS TO HIS PROMISES

Jos_23:14. Behold, this day I am going the way of all the earth: and ye know in all your hearts and in all your souls, that not one thing hath failed of all the good things which the Lord your God spake concerning you; all are come to pass unto you, and not one thing hath failed thereof.

IT has been common in all ages to pay peculiar attention to the words of dying men: and the more eminent their characters were, the more regard has been shewn to their last instructions or advice. The person speaking in the text, was, in some points of view, distinguished even above Moses himself: for though Moses was the appointed instrument of bringing the Israelites out of Egypt, he was forced to leave them to the care of Joshua, who alone was commissioned to settle them in Canaan; and who was therefore a more illustrious type of Jesus, whose name he bore, and whose character he prefigured. The dying words of such a person, when speaking under the dictates of inspiration, may well be considered as calling for more than ordinary attention: especially when the scope of them was to vindicate the honour of God, and they were delivered in a way of solemn appeal to the whole nation of the Jews. But they have yet a further claim to our regard, because, though primarily applicable to those to whom they were immediately addressed, they are equally applicable to the Lord’s people, in every place, and every age.

To illustrate them in this view, we shall,

I.       Notice some of those good things which the Lord our God has spoken concerning us—

In order to mark, what we are principally to insist upon, the faithfulness of God in performing his promises, we will specify some that were made,

1.       To the Church at large—

[God promised to the Church the gift of his dear Son [Note: Gen_3:15; Gen_22:18; Deu_18:18; Isa_7:14; Isa_9:6; Isa_53:6; Dan_9:24; Jer_23:6.] — — — the abiding presence of his Spirit [Note: Pro_1:23; Isa_32:15; Eze_36:25-27; Joh_15:26.Joh_16:14; Joh_16:8; Zec_12:10; Rom_5:5; 2Co_1:22.] — — — and a final triumph over all our enemies [Note: Isa_27:2; Isa_33:20; Isa_54:17; Jer_31:35-37; Mat_16:18.] — — —]

2.       To individual members in particular—

[Though the names of individuals are not specified, their characters are delineated, and that too in such a way, that all who study the sacred oracles may read, as it were, their names in them. There are distinct promises made to the humble [Note: Isa_66:2; Jam_4:6; Isa_57:15.] — — — the weak [Note: Isa_42:3-4; Isa_40:11; Isa_41:14-15; Isa_41:17-18; 2Co_12:9; Amo_9:9.] — — — the tempted [Note: 1Co_10:13; Heb_2:18.] — — — the backslidden [Note: Jer_3:14; Jer_3:22; Hos_14:4.] — — — and especially to them that trust in God [Note: Isa_26:3; Psa_125:1; Jer_17:7-8.] — — — In that class is every rank and order of true Christians comprehended, “Verily it shall be well with the righteous [Note: Isa_3:10.].”

These are “great,” “exceeding great and precious, promises [Note: 2Pe_1:4.];” and the persons who correspond with the different characters, are at full liberty to apply them to themselves.]

Having taken a short view of the promises, we may proceed to,

II.      Shew the faithfulness of God in fulfilling them—

There is in the minds of all who have heard the Gospel, a general conviction of the truth and faithfulness of God—

[It is seen that God has already fulfilled all that he has promised in reference to the Church at large. Besides what he did for the Jews [Note: Jos_21:43-45.], he has sent his Son; he has poured out his Spirit; he has maintained his Church, notwithstanding all the efforts that have been used both by men and devils to destroy it. And from hence we feel a persuasion, that his word shall be fulfilled in other respects also. We do not indeed suffer our convictions to operate as they ought; yet we revolt at the idea that “God should lie [Note: Num_23:19.],” and we know that “he cannot deny himself [Note: 2Ti_2:13.]” — — —]

All who have ever sought after God at all, have had proofs of his veracity in their own experience—

[The Israelites “knew in all their hearts, and in all their souls,” that God had fulfilled his promises to them. And are there any who have ever called upon him, or trusted in him, and not found him ready to hear their prayers, and to supply their wants? If we look back to seasons of peculiar trial, shall we not find some manifestations of his mercy, sufficient to shew, that, if we have not received more from him, it has been owing to our own backwardness to ask, rather than to any unwillingness in him to give? — — —]

Nor can the whole universe produce one single instance wherein his promises have failed—

[We can make the same appeal to you, as Joshua, after sixty years’ experience, did to the Israelites. Bring forth every promise from the Bible; then search the annals of the world; and inquire of every creature in it, to find one single instance of God’s violating or forgetting a promise: and if one instance can be proved, we will consent that his word shall henceforth be called in question. Tell us then, To whom has he “been a wilderness [Note: Jer_2:31.]?” What penitent, believing, and obedient soul hath he ever forsaken [Note: Heb_13:5; Isa_49:14-15; Isa_54:7-10.]? He himself bids you “testify against him [Note: Mic_6:3.].” But we defy the whole world to impeach his veracity, or to contradict our assertion, when we say, that “all which he hath promised us is come to pass; not one thing hath failed thereof” — — — God may have delayed the accomplishment of his promises, or fulfilled them in a way that was not expected: but not one of them has ever failed.]

address,

1.       Those who have not considered the faithfulness of God—

[In spite of the general conviction of God’s truth that floats upon our minds, there is a proneness in us to indulge a thought, that his mercy will in some way or other interpose to prevent the execution of his threatenings. But the veracity of God is pledged as much for the accomplishment of his threatenings as of his promises: and of this he labours in the most earnest manner to persuade us [Note: Eze_24:13-14.]. How many, alas! are now experiencing in hell what they would not believe when they were on earth! Let us learn to “tremble at God’s word.” Let us remember, that though the antediluvian scoffers said, as others now do, “Where is the promise of his coming [Note: 2Pe_3:3-4.]?” he did come at last, though he bore with them a hundred and twenty years. And in like manner he will overwhelm us also at last with the deluge of his wrath, if we enter not into the ark before the door be shut against us — — — “We are going the way of all the earth,” whether we be old or young, rich or poor: and as death finds us, so shall we remain for ever. Stay not then till death overtake you; but join yourselves to the Lord, and to his people. “Come with us, and we will do you good; for the Lord hath spoken good concerning Israel [Note: Num_10:29.].”]

2.       Those who are tempted to doubt his faithfulness—

[Let not delays lead you to harbour unbelieving fears. God sent not his Son till four thousand years after he had announced his purpose to the world: nor did he bring Israel out of Egypt till the time fixed in his promises was just expired. If a few more hours had elapsed, his promise to Abraham would have been broken: but God remembered the very day; and then inclined the rebellious Pharaoh to submit: yea, he disposed the Egyptians to “thrust his people out” from their land, on “the self-same day” that he had fixed four hundred and thirty years before [Note: Exo_12:51.]. Tarry then the Lord’s leisure. Take the promises of God as your support, and “claim them as your heritage for ever [Note: Psa_119:111.].” Be not hasty in concluding that God will not accomplish them [Note: 1Sa_27:1; Eze_37:11.]; but take them with you to a throne of grace, and plead them as the saints of old were wont to do [Note: Gen_32:12.]: then you shall find them all to be “yea, and amen, in Christ [Note: 2Co_1:20.].” “If things be marvellous in your eyes, do not imagine that they must therefore be so in the eyes of God [Note: Zec_8:6.];” for as “there is nothing too hard for him” to do, so there is nothing too great, or too good, for him to give to his believing people.]

3.       Those who are relying on his faithfulness—

[It cannot but be a source of unspeakable comfort to observe, in how many passages the faithfulness of God is expressly pledged for the performance of his promises. Does he promise to forgive our sins [Note: 1Jn_1:9.], to deliver us from temptation [Note: 1Co_10:13.], to further in us the great work of sanctification [Note: 1Th_5:23-24.], and to preserve us to the end [Note: 2Th_3:3.]? We are told in each, that he is “faithful to do it” for us. It is also delightful to reflect, that “his word is tried [Note: 2Sa_22:31.].” Solomon’s testimony was precisely that which is given in the text [Note: 1Ki_8:56.]: and, the more we trust in God, the more evidence shall we have that “he keepeth covenant and mercy to a thousand generations [Note: Deu_7:9.].” But remember that his fidelity to you requires in you fidelity to him: it lays you under a tenfold obligation to “hold fast the profession of your faith without wavering [Note: Heb_10:23.].” See then that ye bear in mind the vows that are upon you, and that ye execute all that ye have undertaken in your baptismal covenant. Labour to be found “children that will not lie; so will He be” your faithful and almighty “Saviour [Note: Isa_63:8.].”]