Exposition: Joshua 24

Exposition: Joshua 24

1And Joshua gathered all the tribes of Israel to Shechem, and called for the elders of Israel, and for their heads, and for their judges, and for their officers; and they presented themselves before God.

 Joshua gathered all the people of the Lord together so that they could present themselves to the Lord and he could speak to them, so that everyone could hear first-hand what he had to tell them.  What he was going to say would be extremely important for their survival and he did not want it misunderstood.  We all know how things can get misinterpreted through the grape vine.

2And Joshua said unto all the people, Thus saith the Lord God of Israel, Your fathers dwelt on the other side of the flood in old time, even Terah, the father of Abraham, and the father of Nahor: and they served other gods. 3And I took your father Abraham from the other side of the flood, and led him throughout all the land of Canaan, and multiplied his seed, and gave him Isaac. 4And I gave unto Isaac Jacob and Esau: and I gave unto Esau mount Seir, to possess it; but Jacob and his children went down into Egypt.

 At the time that God called Abraham, the whole world was in apostasy from God. This is after God broke the language of the people and scattered them all about the face of the earth.  But there was one man who the Lord heard.  Abraham wanted to know the one true God, to God searched his heart and found him to be genuine.  He called Abraham out of a land of idolatry to be separated unto Himself, so He could teach Abraham and eventually call a nation out of him that the messiah would come through.  Much like when we are saved the Lord calls us out of the bondage of sin and to be sanctified to Him, so that we may learn of His grace and mercy.

 5I sent Moses also and Aaron, and I plagued Egypt, according to that which I did among them: and afterward I brought you out. 6And I brought your fathers out of Egypt: and ye came unto the sea; and the Egyptians pursued after your fathers with chariots and horsemen unto the Red sea. 7And when they cried unto the Lord, he put darkness between you and the Egyptians, and brought the sea upon them, and covered them; and your eyes have seen what I have done in Egypt: and ye dwelt in the wilderness a long season.

 Joshua reminds the Israelis how God has always cared for them, even when they were in Egypt and how he used the bondage to make them grow strong and then delivered them in due time. Even when Israel disobeyed God, he did not abandon them, He instead provided their daily needs, reassured them, and guided them back to a place where they were willing to hear Him again, and obey.  They learned from their mistakes through Gods loving kindness and chastisement.

8And I brought you into the land of the Amorites, which dwelt on the other side Jordan; and they fought with you: and I gave them into your hand, that ye might possess their land; and I destroyed them from before you. 9Then Balak the son of Zippor, king of Moab, arose and warred against Israel, and sent and called Balaam the son of Beor to curse you: 10But I would not hearken unto Balaam; therefore he blessed you still: so I delivered you out of his hand.

 God reminds the children of Israel that he continued to care for them and delivered them from all of their enemies, and out of every circumstance.

 11And ye went over Jordan, and came unto Jericho: and the men of Jericho fought against you, the Amorites, and the Perizzites, and the Canaanites, and the Hittites, and the Girgashites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites; and I delivered them into your hand. 12And I sent the hornet before you, which drove them out from before you, even the two kings of the Amorites; but not with thy sword, nor with thy bow. 13And I have given you a land for which ye did not labour, and cities which ye built not, and ye dwell in them; of the vineyards and olive yards which ye planted not do ye eat. 14Now therefore fear the Lord, and serve him in sincerity and in truth: and put away the gods which your fathers served on the other side of the flood, and in Egypt; and serve ye the Lord.

 Of major importance is that now that they occupied then land, they did not rid the land of all of its previous occupants as the Lord had demanded. This meant that they were surrounded and even had in their midst people who followed false gods.  Joshua instructed them that they needed to settle in their hearts to serve only the One True God of their ancestors, who had delivered them through all the events that he previously mentioned.  They were not to forget what God had done for them, and neither should we.  We cannot forget what Jesus has done for us, the bondages of sin and addictions that He delivered us from.

 15And if it seem evil unto you to serve the Lord, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.

 Joshua again let them know, that they were free to choose whether they were going to continue to serve the Lord God, or if they wanted they could choose to serve another god. God is not going to force Himself on us, we all have a choice.  Joshua does show the importance of making a choice and staying with it.  He leads by example and declares that He and his family will serve the Lord.  We as parents and community leaders and employers and peers to others should lead by example.  Showing boldly that we choose to serve the Lord, not out of fear, but out of remembrance of what He has done for us.

 16And the people answered and said, God forbid that we should forsake the Lord, to serve other gods;

 The people following Joshua’s example choose wisely to serve the One True God.

 17For the Lord our God, he it is that brought us up and our fathers out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage, and which did those great signs in our sight, and preserved us in all the way wherein we went, and among all the people through whom we passed: 18And the Lord drove out from before us all the people, even the Amorites which dwelt in the land: therefore will we also serve the Lord; for he is our God.

 The children of Israel gave God recognition for the wondrous things He had done for them, how He had always had his hand in their lives. Many times we do not give God the recognition of the praise for what He has done for us.  Giving praise and recognition to God not only honors God, but it strengthens our faith, it reassures us of His presence in our lives, it reminds us that He is in charge and that He is not slacking of His promises to us.

 19And 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. 20If 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.

 We often forget that God is not only a God of love and mercy, but that He is a just God and a God of judgment.

 21And the people said unto Joshua, Nay; but we will serve the Lord. 22And Joshua said unto the people, Ye are witnesses against yourselves that ye have chosen you the Lord, to serve him. And they said, We are witnesses. 23Now therefore put away, said he, the strange gods which are among you, and incline your heart unto the Lord God of Israel. 24And the people said unto Joshua, The Lord our God will we serve, and his voice will we obey. 25So Joshua made a covenant with the people that day, and set them a statute and an ordinance in Shechem. 26And Joshua wrote these words in the book of the law of God, and took a great stone, and set it up there under an oak, that was by the sanctuary of the Lord.

 These events and the choices of the people of Israel were recorded as a reminder and a testimony against them and to all the other nations

27And Joshua said unto all the people, Behold, this stone shall be a witness unto us; for it hath heard all the words of the Lord which he spake unto us: it shall be therefore a witness unto you, lest ye deny your God. 28So Joshua let the people depart, every man unto his inheritance. 29And it came to pass after these things, that Joshua the son of Nun, the servant of the Lord, died, being an hundred and ten years old. 30And they buried him in the border of his inheritance in Timnath–serah, which is in mount Ephraim, on the north side of the hill of Gaash. 31And Israel served the Lord all the days of Joshua, and all the days of the elders that overlived Joshua, and which had known all the works of the Lord, that he had done for Israel.

 This shows the importance of the godly influence Joshua’s leadership had on the nation. Strong godly leadership is a blessing to a nation.  We as Christians should be involved in our local, state, and federal governments at all levels.  Separation of church and state is not a biblical principle.  The governments of man are constructed by the will of God and are meant as a means to help us in our daily lives to have the freedom to serve God as God sees fit.

32And the bones of Joseph, which the children of Israel brought up out of Egypt, buried they in Shechem, in a parcel of ground which Jacob bought of the sons of Hamor the father of Shechem for an hundred pieces of silver: and it became the inheritance of the children of Joseph.

This serves as a reminder of Josephs faith in God, and that he understood that God would continue to have His hand on his descendants and that God would honor His covenant.

 33And Eleazar the son of Aaron died; and they buried him in a hill that pertained to Phinehas his son, which was given him in mount Ephraim.

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Exposition: Joshua 1:1-9 The First Step

Exposition: Joshua 1:1-9 The First Step 

Moses is dead- then what? Was God’s plan ruined?

No man is indispensable. God’s work does not go unfinished just because there is a change in servants. The same as the carpenter who changes tools while building a house. First he uses a shovel, then a ruler, then a saw, and then a hammer. The tribes were not lost with the death of Moses. Instead the change in leaders rang in a new phase of God’s plan. “Therefore arise and go over this Jordan.” Is what God commanded.

Now this does not mean that Moses was forgotten or that he was not honored and missed. The scripture refers to Moses as “the servant of the Lord”; clearly this is an honored title. Let’s take a second to look at this man’s life. He was at one time an oppressor of his own people, then a murderer. By his own admission he was not a cleaver or charismatic speaker. Yet the Lord used him, because he was obedient. Now in his death he is remembered by the scriptures as the Lord’s Servant.

His life was redeemed by the Lord. Moses heard the voice of God and was obedient, and the Lord changed his life. I look back on things I have done and wonder how God could ever love me, but in this simple scripture I gain hope. Because I hold faith in Jesus, he had redeemed me from my previous life. Because Jesus died and shed His blood for an atonement for my rebellious and self-serving immoral life, I have been made a new creature in Christ. I can think of no greater honor then to be found, by God, to be faithful. To be referred to as the Servant of the Lord, is something I don’t deserve, but bless God He enables me to be. – Amen!

Joshua had some big shoes to fill. I certainly don’t envy him on this. He received the same great promise the Lord gave to Moses, he had to obey the same Law the Lord gave to Moses, he was assured of the same presence from God that Moses had. There was a change in leaders, but nothing else changed in the circumstances. God was still God and God was still in charge.

In verse 2 Joshua receives his first test. “Go over this Jordan”. This seems like a simple charge. However; this was an immediate test of Joshua’s faith in God. God had already found out that Joshua was a good servant to Moses. In verse one it says “the Lord spake unto Joshua the son of Nun, Moses’ minister”. Joshua has served Moses faithfully for over 40 years. He was a great soldier, and dedicated to the Law of Moses. But sometimes when there is a change in management, subordinates do not react well.

Sometimes when a subordinate is promoted, they lose perspective, and their egos inflate beyond what is helpful. So the Lord had to check Joshua to see if he would remain a good servant. So he gave him a small test. In addition this tests his leadership skills. Some soldiers, even officers are great at taking orders, but do not know how to actually lead. Leadership is a skill that is developed over time.

In the corporate world, business owners and CEOs give tests to new managers in order to develop their skills and confidence. Successful accomplishment of smaller tasks leads to an increase in responsibilities and instills faithfulness and confidence. The process of being lead through difficult tasks and challenging circumstances builds a unique bond between mentor and student.

In Joshua 3.15 we read that the Jordan was overflowing its banks. The Lord didn’t tell Joshua, “build an ark”, like He did Noah. The Lord didn’t tell Joshua to “stretch forth his staff over the waters” like he did to Moses. No the Lord at first didn’t give Joshua any indications on how this feat should be approached. Let us consider also the enemy situation. This situation was not like when God parted the Red Sea for Moses so that the tribes could get away from Pharaoh’s army. They weren’t escaping an enemy. The tribes were crossing over into enemy territory, probably being observed doing so. Later we can read that the crossing was in broad daylight. This was not some secret thing that God was doing.

When I was in the Army, we did not cross a river in daylight if it could be helped. We would wait until nightfall and cross under the cover of darkness. In addition, we would send scouts to ensure that the enemy was not able to observe us crossing. We called these linear danger areas, and many lives could be lost if the enemy attacked you while crossing a linear danger area, especially one that took as much time to cross as a flowing river. This was an extremely dangerous and time consuming maneuver to undertake.

So maybe now you can understand what a test of faith this was. Joshua was to cross the entire nation over the river Jordan, and had not received any indication of how this was possible. Joshua had seen what God had done for Moses. Joshua had been trained by Moses to trust in the Lord. Joshua had seen with his own eyes the penalty of unbelief in God. Joshua know the penalty for murmuring against God, and how much it displeased God. Joshua did not display any of these things. In turn Joshua commanded the people. He did not question God.

What Joshua had was a command and a promise from God. We also have some tasks that God has commanded us to do. We sometimes cannot see how God would expect us to complete. We cannot see how to carry through, but if we do, it we obey, it we take that first step in faith, God responds to our faith. God is faithful and we begin to see a path through the waters. We find a trail in the wilderness, a step up the mountain. It might be narrow, and dangerous, but it is enough to let you through – Amen! That’s what God means when He says, “My grace is sufficient.”

The Lord told Joshua in verse 3, “Every place that the sole of your foot shall tread upon, that have I given unto you, as I said unto Moses.” The lord has given us the victory. His word is a lamp unto our feet. We are to have our feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace. Jesus said in Matthew 28 “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the holy Ghost; Teaching them to observe whatsoever I have commanded you; and, lo I am with you always, even unto the end of the world.”

Joshua 1:5 says, “There shall not any man be able to stand before thee all the days of thy life: as I was with Moses, so I will be with thee, I will not fail thee, nor forsake thee:” Does this sound familiar?

This is the same command and promise we have today. “Go” and “I am with thee” are what Jesus reaffirms to us who believe. The promise in verse four is almost verbatim of the promise given to Moses in Deuteronomy 2.24. Now these boundaries as outlined in the text were not actually achieved until late in history, but they were achieved. Does this mean that God failed Joshua? No, the promises were conditional. In verses, 6-9 the Lord laid out the conditions to Joshua. The Lord told him to be strong and of good courage, and also to not let the Law depart from out of his mouth, but to meditate on them daily. The Israeli’s failure to keep the directives of God had a direct consequence on their receiving the promises of God.

God always has more good in store for us than we can ever realize. The problem is that we turn away from God. Following the Law does not give us salvation. Faith in the atonement provided through the blood of Jesus does. However, adherence to the principles of the Law will have positive effects on our lives. For instance if you commit adultery you stand to lose out on a lifelong relationship with a spouse that would have otherwise been committed to you the rest of your life. Someone who would have enriched your life and grew with you daily in love and given you peace in your heart and mind. In addition, adultery opens you and your spouse up to sexually transmitted diseases, and health related issues. In addition, even if you don’t lose your spouse, you lose the sacred bond of trust with your spouse, friends and family members.

Your testimony becomes worthless, and you become useless to God for your intended purposes. The spiritual ramifications to everyone involved are immeasurable. Unbelief and sin turn a great evangelical Christian into an eyesore and a point of shame. That is why God gave Joshua encouragement. That is why God gives us encouragement. That is why Paul tells us over and over in his epistles to encourage one another.

Jesus told his disciples while they were in a boat, in a storm in the middle of the night, “It is I, be not afraid”. He told Joshua, “be strong and of good courage.” So we know that Jesus said, “I am with you always.” We know that God is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow. God’s nature does not change. Knowing this we know that Jesus is with us, we too can be strong and of good courage. We are not in the storm, in the middle of the darkness, all alone. When the waters of stress and fear are rising up and trying to choke the light out of us, He says, “be not afraid.” – Amen.

Be strong! Be courageous! Our strength is the fruit of our faith. That is why Ephesians 6.10 says “Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might.” Christ has given us Himself and thus supplied everything we need. His Word will prove to be definitive, and practical enough if we honestly try to apply it to our lives. – Amen