Testimonies for the Church, Vol. 4, pp. 159-168 Day 214

The Lord had now signally manifested His power and favor by leading His people over Jordan on dry land, and their enemies could no longer reproach them. The manna, which had continued up to this time, now ceased; for as the Israelites were about to possess Canaan, and eat of the fruits of that goodly land, there was no more need of it.

As Joshua withdrew from the armies of Israel to meditate and pray for God’s special presence to attend him, he saw a Man of lofty stature, clad in warlike garments, with a drawn sword in His hand. Joshua did not recognize Him as one of the warriors of Israel, and yet He had no appearance of being an enemy. In his zeal he accosted Him, saying: “Art Thou for us, or for our adversaries? And He said, Nay; but as Captain of the host of the Lord am I now come. And Joshua fell on his face to the earth, and did worship, and said unto Him, What saith my Lord unto His servant? And the Captain of the Lord’s host said unto Joshua, Loose thy shoe from off thy foot; for the place whereon thou standest is holy. And Joshua did so.”

The glory of God hallowed the sanctuary, and for this reason the priests never entered the place sanctified by God’s presence with shoes upon their feet. Particles of dust might cleave to them, which would desecrate the holy place; therefore the priests were required to leave their shoes in the court before entering the sanctuary. In the court, beside the door of the tabernacle, stood a brazen laver, wherein the priests washed their hands and their feet before entering the tabernacle, that all impurity might be removed. All who officiated in the sanctuary were required of God to make special preparation before entering the place where His glory was revealed.

It was the Son of God who stood as an armed warrior before the leader of Israel. It was the One who had conducted the Hebrews through the wilderness, enshrouded in a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night. In order to impress the mind of Joshua that He was no less than Christ, the Exalted One, He said: “Loose thy shoe from off thy foot.” He then instructed Joshua what course to pursue in order to take Jericho. All the men of war should be commanded to compass the city once each day for six days, and on the seventh day they should march around Jericho seven times.

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Accordingly Joshua gave orders to the priests and the people as the Lord directed him. He marshaled the hosts of Israel in perfect order. First was a select body of armed men, clad in their warlike dress; not now to exercise their skill in arms, but only to believe and obey the directions given them. Next followed seven priests with trumpets. Then came the ark of God, glittering with gold, a halo of glory hovering over it, borne by priests in the rich and peculiar dress denoting their sacred office. The vast army of Israel followed in perfect order, each tribe under its respective standard. Thus they compassed the city with the ark of God. No sound was heard but the tread of that mighty host, and the solemn voice of the trumpets, echoing among the hills and resounding through the streets of Jericho.

With wonder and alarm the watchmen of the doomed city marked every move and reported to those in authority. They could not imagine what all this display meant. Jericho had defied the armies of Israel and the God of heaven; but when they beheld that mighty host marching around their city once each day in all the pomp and majesty of war, with the added grandeur of the sacred ark and the attendant priests, the impressive mystery of the scene struck terror to the hearts of princes and people. Then, again, they would inspect their strong defenses, feeling certain that they could successfully resist the most powerful attack. Many ridiculed the idea that any harm could come to them through these singular demonstrations on the part of their enemies; but others were awed as they beheld the majesty and splendor of the procession that each day wound grandly about the city. They remembered that forty years before, the Red Sea had parted before this people, and that a passage had just been opened for them through the river Jordan. They knew not what further wonders God might work for them; but they kept their gates carefully closed, and guarded them with mighty warriors.

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For six days the host of Israel performed their circuit around the city. The seventh day came, and, with the first dawn of light, Joshua marshaled the armies of the Lord. Now they were directed to march seven times around Jericho, and, at a mighty note of the trumpets, to shout with a loud voice, for God had then given them the city. The imposing army marched solemnly around the devoted walls. The resplendent ark of God lighting the early dusk of morning, the priests with their glittering breastplates and jeweled badges, and the warriors with their flashing armor presented a magnificent pageant. They were silent as the dead, save the measured tread of many feet and the occasional blare of the trumpet, cutting the blank stillness of the early morning. The massive walls of solid stone frowned darkly down, defying the siege of men.

Suddenly the vast army halts. The trumpets break forth in a blast that shakes the very earth. The united voices of all Israel rend the air with a mighty shout. The walls of solid stone, with their massive towers and battlements, totter and heave from their foundations and, with a crash like a thousand thunders, fall in shapeless ruin to the earth. The inhabitants and the army of the enemy, paralyzed with terror and amazement, offer no resistance, and Israel marches in and takes captive the mighty city of Jericho.

How easily the armies of heaven brought down the walls that had seemed so formidable to the spies who brought the false report! The word of God was the only weapon used. The Mighty One of Israel had said: “I have given into thine hand Jericho.” If a single warrior had brought his strength to bear against the walls, the glory of God would have been lessened and His will frustrated. But the work was left to the Almighty; and had the foundation of the battlements been laid in the center of the earth, and their summits reached the arch of heaven, the result would have been the same when the Captain of the Lord’s host led His legions of angels to the attack.

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Long had God designed to give the city of Jericho to His favored people and magnify His name among the nations of the earth. Forty years before, when He led Israel out of bondage, He had proposed to give them the land of Canaan. But by their wicked murmurings and jealousy they had provoked His wrath, and He had caused them to wander for weary years in the wilderness, till all those who had insulted Him with their unbelief were no more. In the capture of Jericho God declared to the Hebrews that their fathers might have possessed the city forty years before had they trusted in Him as did their children.

The history of ancient Israel is written for our benefit. Paul says: “But with many of them God was not well pleased: for they were overthrown in the wilderness. Now these things were our examples, to the intent we should not lust after evil things, as they also lusted.” “Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come. Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall.”

Many who, like ancient Israel, profess to keep God’s commandments have hearts of unbelief while outwardly observing the statutes of God. Although favored with great light and precious privileges, they will nevertheless lose the heavenly Canaan, even as the rebellious Israelites failed to enter the earthly Canaan that God had promised them as the reward of their obedience.

As a people we lack faith. In these days few would follow the directions given through God’s chosen servant as obediently as did the armies of Israel at the taking of Jericho. The Captain of the Lord’s host did not reveal Himself to all the congregation. He communicated only with Joshua, who related the story of this interview to the Hebrews. It rested with them to believe or to doubt the words of Joshua, to follow the commands given by him in the name of the Captain of the Lord’s host, or to rebel against his directions and deny his authority. They could not see the host of angels, marshaled by the Son of God, who led their van; and they might have reasoned: “What unmeaning movements are these, and how ridiculous the performance of marching daily around the walls of the city, blowing trumpets of ram’s horns meanwhile! This can have no effect upon those strong towering fortifications.”

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But the very plan of continuing this ceremony through so long a time prior to the final overthrow of the walls afforded opportunity for the increase of faith among the Israelites.

They were to become thoroughly impressed with the idea that their strength was not in the wisdom of man, nor in his might, but only in the God of their salvation. They were thus to become accustomed to putting themselves out of the question and relying wholly upon their divine Leader.

Would those who today profess to be God’s people conduct themselves thus under similar circumstances? Doubtless many would wish to follow out their own plans and would suggest other ways and means of accomplishing the desired end. They would be loath to submit to so simple an arrangement and one that reflected upon themselves no glory save the merit of obedience. They would also question the possibility of a mighty city being conquered in that manner. But the law of duty is supreme. It should hold sway over human reason. Faith is the living power that presses through every barrier, overrides all obstacles, and plants its banner in the heart of the enemy’s camp.

God will do marvelous things for those who trust in Him. It is because His professed people trust so much to their own wisdom, and do not give the Lord an opportunity to reveal His power in their behalf, that they have no more strength. He will help His believing children in every emergency if they will place their entire confidence in Him and implicitly obey Him.

There are deep mysteries in the word of God; there are unexplainable mysteries in His providences; there are mysteries in the plan of salvation that man cannot fathom. But the finite mind, strong in its desire to satisfy its curiosity and solve the problems of infinity, neglects to follow the plain course indicated by the revealed will of God and pries into the secrets hidden since the foundation of the world. Man builds his theories, loses the simplicity of true faith, becomes too self-important to believe the declarations of the Lord, and hedges himself in with his own conceits.

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Many who profess our faith are in this position. They are weak and powerless because they trust in their own strength. God works mightily for a faithful people who obey His word without questioning or doubt. The Majesty of heaven, with His army of angels, leveled the walls of Jericho without human aid. The armed warriors of Israel had no cause to glory in their achievements. All was done through the power of God. Let the people give up self and the desire to work after their own plans, let them humbly submit to the divine will, and God will revive their strength and bring freedom and victory to His children.

Chap. 17 – Jeremiah Reproves Israel

The Lord gave Jeremiah a message of reproof to bear to his people, charging them with the continual rejection of God’s counsel: “I have spoken unto you, rising early and speaking; but ye hearkened not unto Me. I have sent also unto you all My servants the prophets, rising up early and sending them, saying, Return ye now every man from his evil way, and amend your doings, and go not after other gods to serve them, and ye shall dwell in the land which I have given to you and to your fathers.”

God pleaded with them not to provoke Him to anger with the work of their hands and their hearts, “but they hearkened not.” Jeremiah then predicted the captivity of the Jews as their punishment for not heeding the word of the Lord. The Chaldeans were to be used as the instrument by which God would chastise His disobedient people. Their punishment was to be in proportion to their intelligence and to the warnings they had despised. God had long delayed His judgments because of His unwillingness to humiliate His chosen people, but now He would visit His displeasure upon them as a last effort to check them in their evil course.

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In these days He has instituted no new plan to preserve the purity of His people. As of old, He entreats the erring ones who profess His name to repent and turn from their evil ways. Now, as then, by the mouth of His chosen servants He predicts the dangers before them. He sounds the note of warning and reproves sin just as faithfully as in the days of Jeremiah. But the Israel of our time have the same temptations to scorn reproof and hate counsel as had ancient Israel. They too often turn a deaf ear to the words that God has given His servants for the benefit of those who profess the truth. Though the Lord in mercy withholds for a time the retribution of their sin, as in the days of Jeremiah, He will not always stay His hand, but will visit iniquity with righteous judgment.

The Lord commanded Jeremiah to stand in the court of the Lord’s house and speak unto all the people of Judah who came there to worship, those things which He would give him to speak, diminishing not a word, that they might hearken and turn from their evil ways. Then God would repent of the punishment which He had purposed to inflict upon them because of their wickedness.

The unwillingness of the Lord to chastise His erring people is here vividly shown. He stays His judgments; He pleads with them to return to their allegiance. He had brought them out of bondage that they might faithfully serve Him, the only true and living God; but they had wandered into idolatry, they had slighted the warnings given them by His prophets. Yet He defers His chastisement to give them one more opportunity to repent and avert the retribution for their sin. Through His chosen prophet he now sends them a clear and positive warning, and lays before them the only course by which they can escape the punishment which they deserve. This is a full repentance of their sin and a turning from the evil of their ways.

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The Lord commanded Jeremiah to say to the people: “Thus saith the Lord; If ye will not hearken to Me, to walk in My law, which I have set before you, to hearken to the words of My servants the prophets, whom I sent unto you, both rising up early, and sending them, but ye have not hearkened; then will I make this house like Shiloh, and will make this city a curse to all the nations of the earth.” They understood this reference to Shiloh and the time when the Philistines overcame Israel and the ark of God was taken.

The sin of Eli was in passing lightly over the iniquity of his sons, who were occupying sacred offices. The neglect of the father to reprove and restrain his sons brought upon Israel a fearful calamity. The sons of Eli were slain, Eli himself lost his life, the ark of God was taken from Israel, and thirty thousand of the people were slain. All this was because sin was lightly regarded and allowed to remain among them. What a lesson is this to men holding responsible positions in the church of God! It adjures them faithfully to remove the wrongs that dishonor the cause of truth.

In the days of Samuel, Israel thought that the presence of the ark containing the commandments of God would gain them the victory over the Philistines, whether or not they repented of their wicked works. Just so, in Jeremiah’s time, the Jews believed that the strict observance of the divinely appointed services of the temple would preserve them from the just punishment of their evil course.

The same danger exists today among the people who profess to be the depositaries of God’s law. They are too apt to flatter themselves that the regard in which they hold the commandments will preserve them from the power of divine justice. They refuse to be reproved for evil, and charge God’s servants with being too zealous in putting sin out of the camp. A sin-hating God calls upon those who profess to keep His law to depart from all iniquity. Neglect to repent and obey His word will bring as serious consequences upon God’s people today as did the same sin upon ancient Israel. There is a limit beyond which He will no longer delay His judgments. The desolation of Jerusalem stands as a solemn warning before the eyes of modern Israel, that the corrections given through His chosen instruments cannot be disregarded with impunity.

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When the priests and the people heard the message that Jeremiah delivered to them in the name of the Lord, they were very angry and declared that he should die. They were boisterous in their denunciations of him, crying: “Why hast thou prophesied in the name of the Lord, saying, This house shall be like Shiloh, and this city shall be desolate without an inhabitant? And all the people were gathered against Jeremiah in the house of the Lord.” Thus was the message of God despised and the servant with whom He entrusted it threatened with death. The priests, the unfaithful prophets, and all the people turned in wrath upon him who would not speak to them smooth things and prophesy deceit.

The unfaltering servants of God have usually suffered the bitterest persecution from false teachers of religion. But the true prophets will ever prefer reproach, and even death, rather than unfaithfulness to God. The Infinite Eye is upon the instruments of divine reproof, and they bear a heavy responsibility. But God regards the injury done to them through misrepresentation, falsehood, or abuse as though it were done unto Himself, and will punish accordingly.

The princes of Judah had heard concerning the words of Jeremiah and came up from the king’s house and sat in the entry of the Lord’s house. “Then spake the priests and the prophets unto the princes and to all the people, saying, This man is worthy to die; for he hath prophesied against this city, as ye have heard with your ears.” But Jeremiah stood boldly before the princes and the people, declaring: “The Lord sent me to prophesy against this house and against this city all the words that ye have heard. Therefore now amend your ways and your doings, and obey the voice of the Lord your God; and the Lord will repent Him of the evil that He hath pronounced against you. As for me, behold, I am in your hand: do with me as seemeth good and meet unto you. But know ye for certain, that if ye put me to death, ye shall surely bring innocent blood upon yourselves, and upon this city, and upon the inhabitants thereof: for of a truth the Lord hath sent me unto you to speak all these words in your ears.”

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Had the prophet been intimidated by the threats of those in high authority and the clamoring of the rabble, his message would have been without effect, and he would have lost his life. But the courage with which he discharged his painful duty commanded the respect of the people and turned the princes of Israel in his favor. Thus God raised up defenders for His servant. They reasoned with the priests and false prophets, showing them how unwise would be the extreme measures which they advocated.

The influence of these powerful persons produced a reaction in the minds of the people. Then the elders united in protesting against the decision of the priests regarding the fate of Jeremiah. They cited the case of Micah, who prophesied judgments upon Jerusalem, saying: “Zion shall be plowed like a field, and Jerusalem shall become heaps, and the mountain of the house as the high places of a forest.” They put to them the question: “Did Hezekiah king of Judah and all Judah put him at all to death? did he not fear the Lord, and besought the Lord, and the Lord repented Him of the evil which He had pronounced against them? Thus might we procure great evil against our souls.”

So, through the pleading of Ahikam and others, the prophet Jeremiah’s life was spared; although many of the priests and false prophets would have been pleased had he been put to death on the plea of sedition, for they could not endure the truths that he uttered exposing their wickedness.

But Israel remained unrepentant, and the Lord saw that they must be punished for their sin; so He instructed Jeremiah to make yokes and bonds and place them upon his neck, and to send them to the kings of Edom, of Moab, of the Ammonites, and of Tyrus and Zidon, commanding the messengers to say that God had given all these lands to Nebuchadnezzar, the king of Babylon, and that all these nations should serve him and his descendants for a certain time, till God should deliver them.

Testimonies for the Church, Vol. 4 pp. 159-168

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