Saturday, June 6, 2015

Joshua 23-24

Last week we saw how Joshua divided the Promised Land according to how the Lord commanded.  This week we see the death of Joshua, but before his death he encouraged Israel to have strength and courage and to continue to serve only God. 

Joshua 23 – Joshua’s Farewell

We don’t know how much time had passed.  It may have been many years, but we know that Israel lived in peace.  The Lord gave Israel a time of rest from all their battles and now Joshua was well advance in his years.  Joshua summoned all the elders, leaders, judges and officials of Israel and reminded them of all they had seen God do for them.  It was the Lord who fought for them in conquering the land.  The Lord will dive out the remaining nations and they will again take possession. (Joshua 23:1-5)

We as Christians should remember all God has done for us.  Sometimes we get wrapped up in our circumstances and fail to see God working.  As I think back over my life I can see now when I couldn’t see then, He was there.  He was with me when I thought no one else was or could understand.  He was there when I made those wrong decisions bringing me through them as I learned and grew from them. 

I was in a Bible study several years ago and our group was asked to section off our life in increments of ten year periods.  Then write down each event that happened to us during those times – school, job, marriage, birth of a child, divorce, etc.  When I did that, I could see how God was there guiding me and how I matured in my faith.  It showed me how I got to where I am today and how God was with me in each event.  He is and has always been on my side as He is on yours.  He is working and fighting for us and He always keeps His promises.

When in your past, have you seen God working in your life?
Did you recognize God in your circumstance?
How did you grow in that circumstance?

Joshua told them to be very strong and careful to obey the Book of the Law of Moses.  He reminded them to not associate with these nations and worship their gods.  They are to hold fast to God.  The Lord made Israel into a powerful nation.  He fought for them as He promised.   So they are to love Him and Him alone.  (Joshua 23:6-11)

BUT – if Israel associates with the survivors of these remaining nations and if they intermarry with them, God will no longer drive them out.  These nations will become snares and traps for Israel.  Israel will lose the land.  (Joshua 23:12-13) 

We can follow the world or we can follow God.  That is the only option you have.  Who do you follow?  We need to hold to the ways of God.  Being with other Christians, going to church, praying, and doing Bible studies are all important.  If we listen to God, we will not listen to the world.  We need to be obedient.  Disobedience does not bring blessings.  We have a choice.  Anytime you obey God’s Word you will be blessed and will also bring blessings to others.

Joshua reminded them that all the Lord’s promises had been fulfilled and none had failed.  Just as the good promises were fulfilled so will the evil He threatened.  If Israel violates the covenant with God and serves other gods, the Lord’s anger will burn against them and they will quickly perish from the land He has given them.  (Joshua 23:14-16)

Christians must be careful, too.  We must be strong and careful to obey God’s commands.  God will not forget us if we sin, but it will spoil our fellowship with Him and cause us trouble.

What will be your last words?
Will they be words of encouragement?
Do you encourage others to keep God’s commands?

Principle:  God’s promises never fail.

Joshua 24:1-27 – Covenant Renewed

Joshua assembled all of Israel and reminded them of what the Lord had done for them.  He charged them to fear and serve the Lord.  The people agreed that they would serve Him.  Joshua told them that God is holy and jealous and will not forgive them if they rebel or if they serve other gods.  The people again said, “No!  We will serve the Lord.”Joshua 24:21.  Joshua said they would be witnesses for themselves that they had chosen to serve.

On that day Joshua made a covenant for the people and recorded it in the Book of Law of God.  Then he took a large stone and set it under a tree near the holy place of the Lord.  “This stone will be witness against us.”Joshua 24:27.  This is like signing an agreement to keep the Law of Moses and the stone was the seal of the agreement.

The Israelites chose to serve God.  We have a choice, too.  We can serve God or other gods.    What is the #1 thing you give most of your attention?   Where we spend most of our time, money and energy is worship.  It becomes our god or idol.   The other gods that we sometime serve are our families, sports, entertainment, money, our job, shopping, and even false prophets.  If we focus on these things more and put them before God, that’s idolatry.  We take a good thing and make it an idol.

What are your idols that compete with God? 
Where or who does your approval come from? 
What do you long for or desire? 

Exodus 20:3-5a You shall have no other gods before me.  You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below.  You shall not bow down to them or worship them…”

We must serve and worship the one true and living God.  He freed us from sin by sending His Son, Jesus to die on the cross for us.  Jesus bought us with His blood.  We belong to Him.  That is why we should and must worship Him on Him alone.

What false gods are you seeking instead of the one true God?
What consumes your thoughts, time, energy and emotions?
Is it God Himself, or is it some idol which leaves you with nothing to give to the Lord?

Principle:  God wants us to serve Him and Him alone.

Note:  See my older post “What is Worship”

Joshua 24:28-33 – Joshua’s Death

Joshua died at 110 years of age.  Three people were buried.  Joshua was buried in the land of his inheritance.  Joseph’s bones that were brought up from Egypt were buried in the land Jacob bought, which was the inheritance of Joseph’s descendants.  Eleazar, Aaron’s son died and was buried also. (Joshua 24:29-33)

Israel served God throughout Joshua’s lifetime.  Joshua was a great leader of great faith.  He feared God, believed God, obeyed God, and glorified God.  He knew God would keep His promises.  He was only concerned with doing the will of God.  He tried to do the commands of God to the fullest.  Joshua died, but the God of Joshua is still alive.  Joshua like Moses and Aaron was buried on a mountain.  We are all to be like Joshua.  “Be strong and do not be afraid.  Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you do.  Do not let this Book of the Law depart from our mouth; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it.  Then you will prosperous and successful.  Have I not commanded you?  Be strong and courageous.  Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”Joshua 1:7-9.

Do you fear God, believe God, obey God, and glorify God?
Do expect God to keep His promises?
What legacy will you leave behind?
Will others say you were of great faith?

Joshua was by Moses’ side since his youth.  He was appointed Israel’s leader when Moses died.  He was a warrior for God.  He was gifted with leadership.  God confirmed his position with the miraculous crossing of the Jordan River.  At the end of his life he encouraged Israel to choose God over all else.  He did everything that God commanded.  Under his leadership, “Not one of all the Lord’s good promises to the house of Israel failed; every one was fulfilled”. Joshua 21:45. 

Joshua was told 7 times to “be strong and courageous”.  All of the battles were won in the Lord’s strength and not by the hands of men.  If we choose to fight our battles in our own strength and power, we will lose.  But if we choose to recognize how God gives us power, we will win.  “Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit, says the Lord Almighty”Zech. 4:6.  Through prayer the Spirit will destroy evil influences in our lives.

How devoted to prayer are you in fighting the enemy?
Do you try to fight your own battles?
Do you turn to God only as the last resort?
How do you recognize God’s power in you?

Principle:  We must choose to recognize God’s power and strength in our battles with the enemy.

God continued to be with Israel in their future battles.  God continues to be with us.  We just need to listen, trust, and obey His commands.  We need to be strong and courageous like Joshua.  You can see the next chapter of the Israelites in the book of Judges. 

I hope you have enjoyed this study and have learned many lessons from it.  I know I have.  This book of Joshua gives us insights into God’s character and nature:
God is Creator – His creation is subject to His sovereign control.  He stopped the Jordan so Israel could cross, He shattered the walls of Jericho, He sent hail from heaven to destroy the enemy, and He lengthened the hours of a day.
God is faithful – He led Joshua and Israel to the Promised Land fulfilling His promise to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.  He gave each tribe their inheritance leaving no one out.  He even allowed Joseph’s bones to rest in the Promised Land as promised.
God hates sin – He waged war against the wicked Canaanites and anyone who sinned in Israel.
God is our eternal leader – He appointed Moses and Joshua to serve Israel.  He is our Great Leader.
Jesus is revealed – Joshua’s names means “Lord is my Savior” or “Jehovah is Savior” which points to Christ as the Captain of our salvation leading His people by the power of the Holy Spirit.

For the rest of the summer I will not be posting on a specific book of the Bible, but on several different topics.  Next week we will talk about “How to Study the Bible”.  See you next week.  Until then, “be strong and courageous”. 

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