104-1023-Joshua Chapter 23
Joshua, who was well over the age of 100 when he called for the leadership of the people of Israel to gather together, as Joshua was going to give them a farewell address. In Joshua’s address he spoke of the things that were dear to his heart and felt that it was important for the people of Israel to hear. It would not have been possible for Joshua to speak to all the people of Israel so he called all the leaders of the nation to come. The elders, heads, judges, and officers. It then would be there responsibility to give his message to the people they represented.
At the start of Joshua’s message he first gives God the glory for what has been done for the people. Joshua had been a great military leader for the people of Israel and it would have been easy for him to give himself the glory but his focus was to give God the glory for all that God had accomplished through him.
Not all of the land that Joshua had assigned to the tribes of Israel had been fully conquered. There were three reasons that the land was to be conquered. There was an ecological reason, (Exodus 23:29-30) a military reason, (Judges 1:19) and a theological reason. (Judges 2:20-3:4) Through the leadership of Joshua the Israelite military had broken the back of the Canaanite military occupation. Each of the individual tribes was to finish the conquest but that had not happened.
God gives every believer an inheritance. The Apostle Paul writes in Ephesians, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ.” (Ephesians 1:3) God has a definite plan for each of us to play a part in receiving that inheritance.
To live in service to God takes courage on our part to be obedient to God’s plan. This is not a journey for the faint of heart. Joshua reminds them that they must do all that is written in the Law of Moses. Many will focus only on the parts of God’s Word that they like and skip the parts that they dislike. Joshua also reminds them to stay on the path that God has ordained for them. They are not to stray of to the left or the right of the path. Satan does not care to which side we stray, legalism or licentiousness, as long as we stray off the path is the accomplishment that Satan desires.
Joshua tells the people not to even mention the name of the false gods of the Canaanites. This is good advice for us as we should not allow the evil thoughts to enter into our minds that we may be tempted by them. They should keep their minds focused upon their true God. As Christians we are not to become experts on false religions, we are to be an expert on our faith in Jesus Christ.
Israel has seen God do mighty things for them as they abided in His commands. Joshua is telling them that if they continue to abide in God’s Word He will continue to derive out their enemies before them. Joshua again tells the people that they must love the Lord. In the letter of Jude we read, “Keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting anxiously for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to eternal life.” (Jude 1:21) Keeping ourselves in love with the Lord is a process that takes diligence. There are many things within ourselves that can distract us as well as many things outside of us that can distract as well. We love God by an act of our will. It is a decision we make to love the Lord, even if the feelings do not come first.
God called Israel to be a holy nation. This is the same call to the Christian, we are to be holy. As the Israelites we are to separate ourselves from the rest of the world. We are to be a part from the ungodly influences around us. The Christian strives to be unstained by the world about us. (James 1:27)
If we indulge in the evil practices of the ungodly these acts will become snares to us. We will have opened a door that is very hard to close. Remember the battles you have fought against evil temptations and God has given you the victory. Even so you do not want to have to fight those battles again. What may seem like a small thing in our life is more than a little sin or distraction to the holiness we are to achieve. It is a crack in our armor that can only grow until it becomes a large stone around our neck. “How often we see that the temptation we have pampered and encouraged and indulged in has become a scourge and a thorn in our side. The compromising Christian is not a happy man. Let the enemy remain in a Christian life, let him have one foothold, and he soon becomes a scourge.” (Redpath) These little temptations may not seem all that bad at first, but we must see past the outset and see past the outcome. What can start as a little tick can become an instrument of torture.
Joshua now tells the people to search their memories and determine if there was ever a time when God was not faithful to all His promises. God does not operate in circumstance. God declares that which is to happen and by His will it comes to pass. “Declaring the end from the beginning, And from ancient times things which have not been done, Saying, ‘My purpose will be established, And I will accomplish all My good pleasure.” (Isaiah 46:10)
Here Joshua repeats the principle of blessings for obedience and cursing for disobedience as set for in Leviticus 26:1-46. The point is that God has been faithful to bless the Israelite people and He will be just as faithful to judge for their disobedience.
The Christian is now under the New Covenant which is better than the Old. (Hebrews 8:6-7) Jesus has redeemed us from the curse of the law. (Galatians 3:10-14) The difference is that we no longer experience God’s faithfulness to curse us for disobedience as Israel knew it. But we do face God’s faithfulness to correct us. (Hebrews 12:6) We may also experience a lack of blessing if we do not abide in Jesus.