Joshua 24:1

 

The Bible says in Joshua 24:1-4, “And 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.[2] And 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 Nachor: and they served other gods.[3] And 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.[4] And 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.” In these verses Joshua is reminding the children of Israel of all that God had done for them. The Israelites are in a good place right now. They have conquered many of their enemies. They have thrived and grown. They are also blessed materially and physically. Their families have grown and prospered. How did these things happen? They happened for one reason: God blessed them. God made it happen. They did not do it for themselves: the Lord did it.

 

Abraham was the beginning of the Jewish people. Abraham was also the beginning of the Arab people. God said that he “gave” Isaac to Abraham, and He gave Jacob and Esau to Isaac. Children are a gift from God. That certainly was the case in the Old Testament as the Lord built up the family of Abraham and multiplied it.

 

The Bible says in Joshua 24:5-13, “I sent Moses also and Aaron, and I plagued Egypt, according to that which I did among them: and afterward I brought you out.[6] And 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.[7] And 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.[8] And 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.[9] Then 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:[10] But I would not hearken unto Balaam; therefore he blessed you still: so I delivered you out of his hand.[11] And 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.[12] And I sent the hornet before you, which drave them out from before you, even the two kings of the Amorites; but not with thy sword, nor with thy bow.[13] And 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 oliveyards which ye planted not do ye eat.” These verses are a review of all that the Lord did for them. That is the emphasis. We are dependent upon the Lord and what He does. Notice the phrases in verse five: “I sent,” “I plagued,” “I did,” “I brought.” Verse six has the phrase “I brought.” Verse eight has “I brought” and “I gave.” Verse ten has the phrase “I delivered.” Verse eleven also has the phrase “I delivered.” Verse twelve has the phrase “I sent.” And then finally verse thirteen says, “I have given you a land for which ye did not labour.” This reminds me of the spiritual situation we are in as believers in Jesus. Jesus did it all and paid it all for us. Jesus could say to us, “I left heaven and came to the earth for you.” “I lived a perfect life for you.” “I died on the cross for you.” “I rose from the dead.” “I sent the Holy Spirt.” “When you were born, I gave you life.” “I came to you so that you could believe in me and have eternal life.” “I have loved you with an everlasting love.” Truly salvation is what God has done for us and not what we have done for Him. It says in Ephesians 2:8-9, “For by grace are ye saved through faith, and that not of yourselves. It is the gift of God. Not of works lest any man should boast     

 

The Bible says in Joshua 24:14-15, “Now 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.[15] And 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.” In verse fourteen the Israelites are told to “fear” the LORD. We should fear the LORD because the LORD punishes sin,  because the LORD is Judge, because the LORD determines the outcome of all endeavors, and because we need the LORD day by day and moment by moment. The Israelites are also told to serve he LORD “in sincerity and in truth.” Jesus is the truth. In order to know Him and serve Him, we must be truthful with Him. We must tell Him the truth about our sinfulness. That is why it says in First John 1:9, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness                                                          

 

As it says in the last part of verse fourteen, one of the tings that can keep anyone from serving the LORD is to go back to the gods or the ways of the old life before we were saved. It says, “put away the gods which your fathers served on the other side of the flood, and in Egypt.” Once we accept Christ, we are to have a new life. Old ways are to be put away. New Christian friends should become our friends. We should acquire new habits of studying the Bible and being a part of a good Bible teaching church.

 

Joshua said in verse fifteen, “choose you this day whom ye will serve.” The Lord gives us a free choice. It is one of the great evidences that freedom comes from God. Even regarding serving Him, everyone is given a free choice. Even concerning accepting Christ, everyone is given a free choice. The Lord wants everyone to go to heaven, but those who choose to reject Jesus are choosing to go to hell. From that viewpoint God will not put anyone int hell: they will put themselves there by the choice that thye made.

 

You can serve the Lord if you want to. You just need to make that choice. Once you make that choice, you will influence others to do the same thing who are in your sphere of influence. Joshua said at the end of verse fifteen, “but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.” Joshua was the leader of his household. If he served the Lord, and went to the religious services, and had a prayer time, and talked about the Lord, then all of his house would be affected because Joshua was the leader. Once people have a spiritual leader, they will follow. That is why Jesus said, “Let your light so shine before men that they may see your good works and glorify your father which is in heaven

 

The Bible says in Joshua 24:16-23, “And the people answered and said, God forbid that we should forsake the LORD, to serve other gods;[17] For 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:[18] And the LORD drave 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.[19] And 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.[20] If 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.[21] And the people said unto Joshua, Nay; but we will serve the LORD.[22] And 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.[23] Now therefore put away, said he, the strange gods which are among you, and incline your heart unto the LORD God of Israel.” Remember that the deliverance from Egypt symbolizes being saved from your sins through Christ. Egypt symbolized the world. The Israelites were slaves there. God delivered them at the plague of the death of the firstborn and said, “When I see the blood, I will pass over you.” Jesus gave His blood for us. Why should we keep confessing our sins and keep following Christ? We should do this for the same reason given in this passage for why the Israelites should keep serving God. It says in verse seventeen, “For 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.”   

 

Verses nineteen and twenty are a warning from Joshua to the children of Israel. I think that Joshua was warning them because Joshua knew that their tendency was to go away from the Lord. Knowing myself and knowing many other Christians, I would say that we all have that tendency. After all, we have the world, the flesh, and the devil aligned against us. Here is the warning: “And 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.[20] If 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.” By saying, “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,” that means that Joshua knew they had known sins in their lives that were unconfessed and unrepented of. The way to keep serving the Lord, and keep walking with the Lord Jesus is to keep confessing your sins and keep turning away from them. We confess our sins one time when we get saved, and we are forgiven completely in regards to the final judgment and in regards to getting into heaven. But we sin daily, and we need forgiveness from those sins in order to stay in fellowship with Christ, and that is because God is holy and sin cannot be in His presence. First John 1:9 is the same spiritual principle, and it says to Christians, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” If you do not judge yourself daily and do not confess your sins daily, you are not going to like the results. It says in First Corinthians 11:3-32, “For this cause many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep.[31] For if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged.[32] But when we are judged, we are chastened of the Lord, that we should not be condemned with the world.”

 

The Bible says in Joshua 24:24-26, “And the people said unto Joshua, The LORD our God will we serve, and his voice will we obey.[25] So Joshua made a covenant with the people that day, and set them a statute and an ordinance in Shechem.[26] And 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.” The children of Israel tell Joshua in verse twenty-four that they are definitely going to serve the Lord. Joshua does not need to worry about it. They know their history just like Joshua does. They know all the things that the Lord has done for them. But Joshua knows that they are weak and that they are going to need reminders of all the things that happened under the leadership of Joshua. This was God working in Joshua’s heart so that Joshua will write. Starting with Moses, God used writings to give His truth. “Holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.” The key phrase of the above verses is verse twenty-six that says, “And Joshua wrote these words in the book of the law of God…” What was “the book of the law of God?” That is the Torah, the first five books of the Bible that Moses had written. That was the Word of God up to that point. But the Word of God was not yet finished. God wanted to ad another book to the Word, and so God used Joshua to do that very thing. And we know that God used many other people all the way up to the end of the first century when the Word of God was finally completed. And then as the very end of the last book of the Bible God made it very clear that this process was over. There was nothing else to add to written Word of God. It says in the last three verses of the Bible in Revelation 22:18-20, “For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book:[19] And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.[20] He which testifieth these things saith, Surely I come quickly. Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus.”

 

The Bible says in Joshua 24:27-33, “And 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.[28] So Joshua let the people depart, every man unto his inheritance.[29] And 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.[30] And 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.[31] And 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.[32] And 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.[33] And 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.” We see in these verses that Joshua went the way of all human beings: he died. Verse thirty-three also tells us that Eleazar the priest died. In other words, there is taking place a turn-over of leadership. One generation of leaders did well, but that does not mean that the next generation will do so. One generation of Christians might serve the Lord Jesus faithfully, but that does not mean that the next generation will do so. Even in one’s own life, not many get saved and then keep that same love and zeal for Christ. The book of Judges will show us what happened after Joshua and Eleazar and the other leaders were no longer around, and what happened after the children of Israel settled into their daily lives in the Promised Land. Sadly, it does not turn out so well.

 

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Copyright; 2019 by Charles F. (Rick) Creech
All Rights Reserved