Tag Archives: Joshua

4: Occupy To The End

"Occupy until I come" Jesus said in His parable in Luke 19:13 (KJV). Baxter details the meaning of that for the Christian in his final survey of Joshua. Spiritual principles are eternal principles and universal principles that span the ages. When we use these principles, they help with any job we are doing in line with multiplying and filling the earth with His glory.

NOTE: – For this present study read again chapters 13 to 24

THE BOOK OF JOSHUA

PART 3: OCCUPYING THE LAND (13-24)

This final group of chapters is rich with matters of interest, yet it can yield but a thin harvest to a casual reading; for since it deals mainly with names and places and boundary lines, it requires to be studied with map in hand. A detailed geographical tracing-out is rather beyond our present treatment of the book; but there are two or three guiding factors which we ought to note carefully.

First: it requires little imagination to see that the division of the land among the nine and, a half tribes and the Levites was no simple task, but a complicated one which demanded careful direction and considerable time.

Second: The dividing of the land was by “casting lots before the Lord” (18:6) – a way of doing which would commend itself because of its impartiality, while at the same time it left the sovereign Lord Himself to settle the tribes in the areas best suited to them. The same blend of impartiality and sovereignty is seen in the administration of spiritual gifts by the Holy Spirit in the Church of Christ.

“Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. And there are differences of administration, but the same Lord. And there are diversities of workings, but it is the same God which worketh all in all. But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal. For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom, to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit, to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another discerning of spirits, to another divers kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues, but all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as He will” (1 Cor 12:4-11).

Third: we should mark well the principle which governed Israel’s occupation of the land, because the same principle operates in our own appropriation of the inheritance in Christ. This principle is seen if we bring together two seemingly contradictory verses. In chapter 11:23 we read: “So Joshua took the whole land, according to all that the Lord said unto Moses.” Yet now in chapter 13:1, God says: “there remaineth yet very much land to be possessed.” These two statements in reality are not contradictory but complementary. They are two aspects of the one situation, and both are true. There was a real sense in which “the whole land” had been taken; and there was a real sense in which “very much land” yet – remained to be taken. The decisive blow had been struck. The key cities had been sacked. All opposing alliances had been crushed. Any remaining foes were well within the power of Israel’s individual tribes to destroy. It only remained for them now to see to it that there was a pressing home of that initial victory to the last detail.

It is the same with ourselves. The decisive blow has been struck at sin and Satan and the powers of darkness by our heavenly Captain; and thereby the entire inheritance of “all blessings in the heavenlies in Christ” is ours; but we must now apply that victory, carrying it through the whole realm of our thought and life, and pressing it home to the last detail. Especially in our prayer-life should there be a pressing forward in the power of this decisive victory. The powers of darkness can never recover from the mortal blow inflicted on them at Calvary; and even though, through the apostasy of the organized Church, they have found increasing opportunity to rally sufficiently for the waging of bitter warfare against God’s spiritual Israel, they still quail before the believer who presses forward in the power of the Cross.

Yes, “the whole land” is taken, yet there remains “very much land” to be possessed. It has been aptly observed that there is a difference between the “inheritance” and the “possession.” The “inheritance” is the whole land given by God, whereas the “possession” is only that part of it which is appropriated by faith. The ideal is for the possession to measure up to the full inheritance. Our inheritance in Christ is what He is to us potentially. Our possession in Christ is what He is to us actually, according to the measure of our appropriation by faith.

And now let us glance quickly at the chapters in this section. The key passage is chapter 21:43-45.

“And the Lord gave unto Israel all the land which He sware to give unto their fathers, and they possessed it, and dwelt therein. And the Lord gave them rest round about, according to all that He sware unto their fathers: and there stood not a man of all their enemies before them: The Lord gave all their enemies into their hand.

“There failed not ought of any good thing which the Lord had spoken unto the house of Israel. All came to pass.”

Note the three things which God gave to Israel –

 “The Lord gave unto Israel all the LAND,”
 “The Lord gave them REST round about,”
 “The Lord gave all their ENEMIES into their hand.”

“All came to pass” – and thus was Jehovah’s faithfulness amply exhibited. Israel at last was realizing the promised inheritance, the promised rest, the promised victory.

The chapters in this final section of Joshua run thus:

Joshua 13-19 – The Dividing of Canaan.

Joshua 20 – The Cities of Refuge.

Joshua 21 – The Portion of Levi.

Joshua 22 – The Altar of Witness.

Joshua 23-24 – The Farewell of Joshua.

Chapters 13-19 – The Dividing of Canaan.

In these chapters we have the distribution of the land among the tribes. First, in chapter 13, the settlement of Reuben, Gad, and half the tribe of Manasseh in Gilead is homologated. In chapter 14 staunch old Caleb is planted in Hebron. In chapters 15 to 17 we see the areas committed to Judah, Ephraim, and the remaining half of the Manasseh tribe. Then in chapters 18 and 19 comes the setting up of the Tabernacle at Shiloh, followed by the allotments to the remaining seven tribes. Following out our spiritual interpretation of the book, we see in these chapters the appropriation of faith.

Chapter 20 – The Cities of Refuge.

Here we have the six “Cities of Refuge” – Kedesh, Shechem, and Hebron, on the west of the Jordan; and Bezer, Ramoth, and Golan on the east. These six were among the forty-eight cities given to the Levites (Num 35:6,7). Their purpose is clearly explained in Num 35 and in this present chapter. They were a merciful provision to protect those who had committed certain wrongs unintendingly or by mistake. Many a man of sincere intent and godly faith might have perished but for the horns of the altars in those cities of refuge.

Thus we have here the Divine recognition of the difference between sins and mistakes. The holiest of men are fallible, and can make mistakes; but mistakes are not sins, and they therefore do not disqualify us for the faith-life or deprive us of our inheritance in Christ. The little girl who lovingly but ruinously put her mother’s shoes in the oven to warm on a wintry night had made a mistake, but had not committed a sin! A man may have a perfect heart without having a perfect head. Sanctification can dwell with a defective memory. Let us be quick to perceive such distinctions and compatibilities.

Even when we are “in the land” we may do many things that are wrong without realizing they are wrong. In strict justice the law of God cannot but pursue us as guilty. Yet there is provision made for this in the blood of Christ. Mistakes, inadvertences, “sins of ignorance,” unintentional wrongs, are provided for in the Atonement – Christ Himself is our “City of Refuge”; and by holding to Him we are protected and covered, so that the maintaining of the faith-life in our spiritual Canaan is made possible. See in this the protection of faith.

Chapter 21 – The Portion of Levi.

Here is the portion of the Levites in the land; forty-eight goodly cities with their suburbs. This distribution of the Levites through the tribes is of obvious significance. “They permeated the whole land with the hallowing influence of Shiloh. What a halo of sacred interest must have gathered round the man whose lot it was to enter into the Tabernacle of God and burn incense at the solemn hour of prayer! Then multiply this a thousand fold, and consider what a wide and wholesome effect must have been produced throughout the country, especially when Levi fulfilled the lofty possibilities of this high calling. Moreover, the teaching of the Law was a special prerogative of the Levites, who appear to have travelled through their apportioned districts. They taught Jacob His judgments, and Israel His law; as well as put incense and whole burnt-offering on the altar. They caused the people to discern between the unclean and the clean, and in a controversy stood to judge. They acted as the messengers of the Lord of Hosts” (Deut 33:10).

The distribution of the Levites was the Lord’s provision for the preservation of Israel’s faith in the land. They had entered by faith. They had overcome by faith. That faith must now be maintained in the place of blessing by the teaching of God’s word. Maintained faith was the condition of maintained blessing. Faith’s food is God’s word. So is it always.

Chapter 22 – The Altar of Witness.

A schismatic altar in Israel! Had not the book of the Covenant emphatically declared that there should be but the one national altar of sacrifice before the Tabernacle – at Shiloh? What then of this “great altar” erected by Reuben, Gad, and the half tribe of Manasseh hard by the Jordan? Is it to be wondered at that the other tribes, shocked and angered, gathered together against them?

But a new complexion is given to the apparent breach when the builders of the altar explain that it is meant to be not an altar of sacrifice but of witness – a witness to the unity of the two and a half tribes east of the Jordan with the rest of Israel.

How many there are who, like these two and a half tribes, want to feel quite sure that they have their part with God’s Israel, yet are content to live just outside the land!

No doubt this altar “Ed” was well meant; but was it not needless if the Divine command were obeyed that three times each year all the males of Israel should appear before the Lord, in Shiloh?

Was it not also presumptuous? No pattern for its shape had been given of God, and no direction for its construction. Nor, apparently, had the counsel of the Lord been as much as thought of!

Now here is a noteworthy lesson concerning the unity of faith. Had Reuben, Gad, and the half tribe of Manasseh settled west of the Jordan with the other tribes, in the promised place of blessing, no such artificial monument of their oneness with Israel would have been required. True unity is not outward but inward. It is not achieved, nor even preserved, by external memorials. It consists in a oneness of inward and spiritual experience. The trend among the various denominations in the organized Church of today is to seek an imposing outward union by the formulation of a common creed and the inclusion of all sections in some single visible body with impressive proportions and social prestige. This is the building of a modern “altar Ed.” It is the confusing of unity with mere uniformity.

The only true unity is that of a common inward life, a common spiritual experience, and a common heart-loyalty. Those who are really living “in the land,” in the enjoyment of that spiritual Canaan which is in Christ, are conscious of their spiritual oneness with all the elect of God in Christ, whatever outward denominational differentiations may exist between them.

Speaking of this true unity, the late Dr. F.B. Meyer, in a fine passage, says: “Coming from all points of the compass, fired by the same hopes, suppliants at the same meeting-place, reliant upon the same blood, the common attraction establishes an organic unity like that of the tree, the multiplicity of whose parts is subsidiary to the one life-force; or like that of the body, the variety of whose members is subordinate to the one animating soul.

“The nearer we get to Christ, the more clearly we discern our unity with all who belong to Him. We learn to think less of points of divergence, and more about those of agreement. We find that the idiosyncrasies by which each believer is fitted for his specific work do not materially affect those depths of the inner life which in all saints abut on the nature of the living Saviour. As the scattered sheep browse their way up towards a common summit, they converge on each other, and there is one flock, as there is one Shepherd.

“It is the supreme vision of the Bible, granted to the most eminent saints, that though the new Jerusalem comprehends the names of the tribes of Israel and of the Apostles of the Lamb, is garnished by jewels of many hues, and has gates facing in an directions, it yet is one, ‘the Bride, the Lamb’s wife.’ What wonder, then, that the world, and sometimes the professing Church, supposes that the Lord’s prayer is not fulfilled, and that the unity has yet to be made? The unity is made; but only the spiritual with spiritual discernment can detect its symmetry.”

We cannot make spiritual unity. The unity of the sanctified in Christ is a spiritual reality wrought by the Holy Spirit Himself. The secret, of Christian unity lies in our being west of Jordan – with the baptismal burial, of that Jordan flood passed through, and the experience of the Spirit’s fulness entered into. Give us back that Canaan experience of spiritual fulness which came at Pentecost, and then the overflowing consciousness of spiritual unity among Christ’s own will submerge all artificial barriers. Israel’s true unity lay in a common life and a common experience of God which found concentrated expression in that one altar of sacrifice at Shiloh. Even so, the true unity of the Lord’s own today lies in – and is only realized according to their common experience of life in Christ, finding its vital centre in the Cross and person of the Redeemer. Let this twenty-second chapter of Joshua, then, speak to us its message on the true unity of faith.

Chapters 23-24 – The Farewell of Joshua.

Finally, we have the parting counsels of the now aged Joshua. We must not linger over the touching scene. The faithful leader’s words unveil the concern of his heart for the privileged nation. For some years now, Israel had been enjoying the rest and plenty of Canaan. What of the future? All depended on whether or not Israel would continue faithful to the covenant. Joshua’s words do not conceal his apprehensiveness. Seven times he refers to the idolatrous nations still left in Canaan. He knew the snare they would be to Israel; and he therefore prescribed three safeguards.

First, there must be brave adherence to God’s word (Josh 23:6).

Second, there must be a vigilantly continued separation from the Canaanite nations (Josh 23:7).

And, there must be a cleaving to the Lord with real and fervent love (Josh 23:8-11).

This is the gist of these closing chapters; and these are the three indispensable conditions (just as truly today as in Joshua’s day) for a continuing in the experience of the “fulness of blessing.” There must be (1) a living close to the word of God; (2) a consistent separation from all known wrong; (3) a cleaving to God with the best love of the heart. Truly, in the words of 1 John 5:3, “His commandments are not grievous,” and they who fulfil them find indeed a Canaan of spiritual, blessing, of peace and joy in the Holy Spirit, of heavenly fellowship and treasure, which this world can neither give nor take away.

In these last two chapters, then, the emphasis is upon the need and the way of continuance. Thus, in this third part of the Book of Joshua, we have:

Joshua 13-19 Partition of Canaan – faith rewarded.

Joshua 20 The Cities of Refuge – faith protected.

Joshua 21 The Levite’s Portion – faith preserved.

Joshua 22 The Altar of Witness – faith unifying.

Joshua 23-24 Farewell of Joshua – faith continuing.

And now it may be helpful to see the whole book set out in analysis, with special reference to its spiritual message which we have traced through the chapters.

Questions & Notes

FIND OUT THE WEAK SPOTS!

1.What are the main divisions of Joshua?
2.What is the key thought of the book?
3.Is Canaan a type of Heaven? If not, why not?
4.How do Joshua and Ephesians correspond?
5.Chapter 1 may be summarized as “Joshua charged. “What of the other chapters?
6.What does the crossing of Jordan typify?
7.Where was Israel’s first camp in Canaan?
8.What was the guile of the Gibeonites, and where is it mentioned?
9.How many cities fell to the Levites, and how many were cities of refuge?
10.What was the altar “Ed,” and where is it mentioned?
11.What are the three emphases in Joshua’s farewell exhortation?
12.In Chapter 1 we have the warrant of faith. What are the characteristics of faith suggested by the other chapters?
Click on the “Explore the Book - Joshua” tag below to see all the posts in this series. To go to the start of this series click here.

3: The Walk Of Faith

I've come to the conclusion of my study on Joshua. One final lesson through Baxter's commentary tomorrow and that will be it. Today, Baxter gives a good summary of the ground we've covered.

NOTE: – For this third study in the book of Joshua re-read the first twelve chapters.

They on the heights are not the souls
Who never erred nor went astray,

Who trod unswerving to their goals
Along a smooth, rose-bordered way.

Nay, those who stand where first comes dawn,
Are those who stumbled – but went on.

THE PARTS

We ought now to glance over the three main parts of the book. Even in their broad features we shall find much to profit us. First we see Israel entering (1-5), then overcoming (6-12), and then occupying (13-24).

PART I. ENTERING THE LAND (1-5)

The five chapters of part one run in an orderly sequence thus

Chapter

1 – Joshua charged.
2 – Jericho spied.
3 – Jordan crossed.
4 – Memorials raised.
5 – Gilgal occupied.

If we bear in mind that the key idea in Joshua is the victory of faith, we shall quickly see how eloquent these chapters are.

Chapter 1 – Joshua charged.

The emphasis in this chapter is upon the fact that Joshua’s assumption of leadership originated in a commission from God Himself. It was grounded in the word of God (see verse 9). The going up into Canaan, also, was based upon a clear Divine authorization (verses 2-5). This is ever the beginning of things where faith is concerned – that God has spoken. True faith is therefore far removed from mere credulousness. It refuses to act on the basis of mere human reasoning: but once it is satisfied that God has spoken, it asks nothing more, for there can be no higher authority than that, and no higher reason than to obey. Here then, in chapter 1, we have the warrant of faith, namely, the word of God. True faith always works on the principle denoted in Heb 13:5,6 – “HE hath said … so we may say.”

Chapter 2 – Jericho spied.

Having received such Divine assurance of invincibility (as in Joshua 1:5-6), Joshua might easily have felt it needless to exercise cautiousness or to resort to military strategy. But this second chapter shows us that the reaction of true faith is in fact the opposite of any such carelessness. Joshua sends the two spies to Jericho; and there was good reason for his doing so, as we shall see later, for Jericho was a key city. True faith does not despise the use of means. There is a wide difference between believing and presuming. To make the promises of God an excuse for not taking reasonable precaution is to tempt God, as our Lord Jesus Himself has taught us. When the deceiver urged the Master to cast Himself from the temple tower because God had promised supernatural preservation, the Master replied: “It is written again: Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God.” In this 2nd chapter of Joshua we have the prudence of faith.

Chapter 3 – Jordan crossed.

The crossing of “this Jordan” was a major crisis of faith. The same crisis had come to the former generation of Israel some forty years earlier under somewhat different circumstances, and they had failed in their reaction to it. It was bound to repeat itself to the new generation. To be “brought out” of Egypt was one thing; but it was another thing altogether to “go over this Jordon” and thus become committed, without possibility of retreat, to the struggle against the powers of Canaan in their seemingly impregnable fastnesses, with their chariots of iron, and their large armies among which were the renowned giants. To do this was to commit themselves to a course which had been condemned by ten out of the twelve spies who had reported on the land forty years before! To the natural eye it was to hazard everything on the chance of battle, to have no retreat, and to run the risk of losing everything.

The same crisis comes in one way or another to all the redeemed – that intense crisis of the soul in which we are forced to the supreme choice whether there shall be an utter once-for-all abandon of ourselves to the will of God, so that henceforth God is absolutely first in the soul’s love and life, or whether we shall take what seems to be the easier way, that is, of continuing in the Christian life, but with a reservation in our love to God. It is one thing to take Christ as Saviour from the guilt of our sin. It is another thing to make Him absolute Master of our will and life. It is one thing to be brought out from the Egypt of our unregenerate life and to join God’s redeemed Israel. It is another thing altogether to bury all our self-born aims and desires in Jordan’s swift-flowing flood, and to pass through to that higher life where no desires or purposes are tolerated but those of our blessed Lord Himself. It was one thing for Abram to leave Ur of the Chaldees and go out in faith at God’s behest. It was another thing – a far bigger and costlier and sublimer thing for him to climb Moriah and lift the knife to slay his beloved Isaac. Yet the crisis must be. There was no other way of decisively determining whether God was to be supreme in the life and love of the soul. There was no need for further testing after that; and God said: “By Myself have I sworn, because thou hast done this thing, and hast not withheld thy son, thine only son, that in blessing I will bless thee, and in multiplying I will multiply thy seed as the stars of the heaven and as the sand which is upon the sea shore.” Abraham’s Moriah and Israel’s Jordan are the same crisis under different names. There is an Isaac to be sacrificed, a Jordan to be crossed, in the history of every redeemed soul. Abraham yielded his Isaac. Israel crossed the Jordan. What of you and me? This is faith’s major crisis; and this is what we have in this third chapter of Joshua – the crisis of faith.

Chapter 4 – Memorials raised.

A faith that goes all the way with God leaves many a beautiful “Ebenezer” in its wake. The Jordan memorial stones were faith’s witness to the power and faithfulness of God. There were two of these cairns or monumental piles-one on the west bank of the river, at Gilgal (Joshua 4:3), and the other in the river itself (Joshua 4:9), each consisting of twelve great stones representing the twelve tribes of Israel. The pile on the Canaan side of the Jordan witnessed to the faithfulness of God in His bringing Israel at last into the land promised to their fathers. The pile in the river itself witnessed to the power of God in holding back the swollen flood and cleaving a pathway across the river bed for the great host. In this fourth chapter, then, we have the witness of faith.

Those two memorial piles are symbolic. They witness to God’s bringing His people right through the river and into the place of blessing. That preposition “through” really comprises the two ideas of “in” and “out” both in one. There must be both a going into and a coming out of to make the meaning of “through.” Now the two memorial heaps in this fourth chapter of Joshua bear witness both to the going into and the coming out of the Jordan. Israel actually went down into that river basin; otherwise, how explain that submerged pillar of great stones amid stream? Israel actually came out on Canaan’s side; hence that erection at Gilgal. Here is symbolic witness to a great truth: ever does a soul go down into that other Jordan – the death and burial of “selfism” – to find itself deserted. As surely as there is the “into” there is the “out of.” God brings the now sanctified soul right through to the resurrection ground of “the heavenlies” in Christ.

Chapter 5 – Gilgal occupied.

Here we see the sealing and chastening of faith. Strange as it might seem, the first experience in the land of blessing is one of pain, though the pain is soon over. Before ever the covenant people draw the sword against the foe, God draws the knife upon them. Israel has at last crossed the dividing line, and is now entering in a new way into the purposes of God. Therefore, that which has been neglected during the forty years’ wandering now becomes imperative. Circumcision is re-enjoined, as the seal of the covenant between God and Israel. Israel’s sons were to carry in their very persons this mark of their separatedness. Moreover, although much of the symbolic and typical meaning of things in the Israelite economy must have been unperceived by the Israelites themselves, they were left in no doubt as to the moral and spiritual significance of circumcision. Moses himself had exhorted them: “Circumcise therefore your heart, and be no more stiff-necked” (Deut 10:16). “The Lord thy God will circumcise thine heart … to love the Lord thy God” (Deut 30:6). Passages like Col 2:11-13 make the New Testament interpretation quite clear. It is that “putting off” of “the flesh,” that sharp pruning of the natural desires, which accompanies God’s chastening in the soul.

Yes, Jordan must be followed by Gilgal. Even the Jordan by itself is not enough. The Israelites must carry Gilgal’s abiding mark of their fuller separation. Even so with ourselves, that soul-crisis of death and burial to selfism, of which Jordan is the type, must be perpetuated by that continuous denial of “the flesh” of which circumcision speaks. This may mean a pang at first; but it is soon over, for God’s deeper work in us when we come through the crisis-burial of Jordan strikes a fundamental blow at inbred sin, and so renews the desires of the heart that the first sharp pang of “daily dying” to “the flesh” is quickly lost in the thrill of new fellowship with God on the resurrection ground of “entire sanctification.”

Following Israel’s circumcision at Gilgal comes the Passover Feast, speaking of this new fellowship with God in the place of blessing (verse 10). Then comes the change-over of Israel’s diet from the manna to the produce of Canaan (Joshua 5:12). Both the manna in the wilderness and the corn of Canaan typify Christ; but Christ will be the one or the other to us according to where we are spiritually. He can only be to us as the rich produce of Canaan when we have crossed the Jordan and come into the place of complete separation to Himself.

So then, in these first five chapters we have

Chapter
1. Joshua charged – the warrant of faith.
2. Jericho spied – the prudence of faith.
3. Jordan crossed – the crisis of faith.
4. Memorials raised – the witness of faith.
5. Gilgal occupied – the pruning of faith.

PART 2. OVERCOMING THE LAND (6-12)

In this second group of chapters we see faith’s warfare and victory. Israel is now in the place of blessing, and goes forth “conquering and to conquer” in the might of the invisible Captain. Vital spiritual lessons are pictured in these chapters.

Chapter
6. – The Fall of Jericho.
7. – The Sin of Achan.
8. – The Sack of Ai.
9. – The Guile of Gibeon.
10-12. – The Route of the kings.

Chapter 6 – The Fall of Jericho.

This remarkable chapter sets forth in graphic type the principles by which faith works and wars and waits and wins. Faith’s first rule of action is to ascertain the will and word of God. Faith’s second rule of action is to obey that will and word implicitly. Faith’s final rule of action is to reckon on that word, and count the thing as good as done, giving glory to God in anticipation – as the Israelites gave their mighty shout of victory before the walls of Jericho had actually fallen. Faith’s principles of action, therefore, cut right across those of natural reason.

We note four things about the procedure of faith in the conquest of Jericho: (1) the seeming folly of it, (2) the inner wisdom of it, (3) the deeper meaning of it, (4) the utter triumph of it. As for the seeming folly of it, nothing could seem more useless to the natural eye than that harmless winding round and round the city walls to the blowing of rams’ horns. As for the inner wisdom of it, nothing could really be wiser than to do just what God Himself had directed, however strange it might seem. As for the deeper meaning of it, nothing could be more significant than the fact that here we see God and man in co-operation for the pulling down of a Satanic stronghold. As for the utter triumph of it, nothing could be more marked, for with one fell blow the city was laid low, without a single Israelite casualty. Here is triumph indeed. This is the emphasis in this sixth chapter – the triumph of faith.

Chapter 7 – The Sin of Achan.

Alas, there is a swift lapse which, though it is soon put right, is not without cost. It is not that Israel’s faith breaks down; but a secret compromise temporarily disables it. The men of Israel turn their backs on the foe; and thirty-six of them fall. In all the seven years’ war this was the one loss. The cause of the failure is carefully exposed so that the lesson may be clearly learned. The electric wire of fellowship between God and Israel had been cut by “a trespass in the accursed thing”; and the current of power therefore ceased to flow. Israel’s first inclination was to attribute blame to God instead of looking within. But anon the ugly deed was forced into the open; confession was made, and judgment executed upon it. Achan’s smuggled loot was of little material value; but the taking of it was of deep spiritual seriousness. It was a grievous compromise with that which was forbidden. It must have been a sorrow to Jehovah to inflict the Ai reverse upon His people; yet Israel must learn by necessary pain that both for their own sake and the sake of Jehovah’s holy name sin must be judged and put away. Any defeat which we sustain in the land of blessing is due entirely to some such failure within ourselves. It need never be; and our great Captain grieves over it more than we do ourselves. We must learn the lesson of this seventh chapter – that parley with sin, or permitted compromise, cuts the vital cord of communion and disables faith.

Chapter 8 – The Sack of Ai.

In this chapter we see faith re-empowered and going forth in renewed triumph. Sin confessed and judged and put away restores the cord of communion, and the Divine power begins to flow again. The invisible Captain of Jehovah’s host now says to Joshua: “Fear not, neither be thou dismayed: take all the people of war with thee, and arise, go up to Ai. See, I have given into thy hand the king of Ai and his people and his city and his land.” – The remainder of the chapter speaks for itself. It is the picture-lesson of faith re-empowered after self-judgment.

Chapter 9 – The League with Gibeon.

Here behold the wiles of Satan. The Gibeonites, realizing that they could not stand against such a power as that which operated through Israel, resorted to a trick of deception. A group of them, forlornly attired as wearied travelers from a distant land, came to the camp of Israel, saying: “From a very far country thy servants are come because of the name of Jehovah thy God; for we have heard the fame of Him and all that He did in Egypt … therefore now make ye a league with us.” So clever was the disguise, so reasonable the story, so reverential the reference to Jehovah, so pitiable their plight, that Israel’s compassion overflowed. Believing that these men were not of the Canaanites who were under the curse, and with whom no leagues were to be made, Israel made a covenant with Gibeon. Three days later the trickery was exposed.

NOTE: – the most significant thing in this incident is that Israel “asked not counsel at the mouth of the Lord” (Joshua 9:14). We need not only the power of the Spirit against giants, but the wisdom of the Spirit against serpent! Satan is far easier to strike down as a son of Anak in warrior’s armor than as a disguised Gibeonite in some pity-evoking beggar’s attire. Satan’s subtle wiles are more dangerous than his open assaults. He is more dangerous as “an angel of light” than as “a roaring lion.” The league with these Canaanites held evil possibilities. It imperiled Israel’s faith. It was not made because of any breakdown of Israel’s faith at the time; but faith had been thrown off guard. Here in this ninth chapter is faith endangered by the failure to refer everything to God.

Chapters 10-12 – The Rout of all Foes.

Joshua’s plan of campaign here becomes clear. In first striking at Jericho and Ai, he had driven a wedge into the centre of Canaan. Now, in chapter 10 he forks south, and then in chapter 11 he strikes up north. Thus we have the central campaign (6-9), the southern campaign (10), the northern campaign (11); while chapter 12 completes the account by giving a summary of all the kings and major cities which fell before the sword of Israel. Inter-tribal quarrels between the peoples of Canaan were shelved in the presence of the one foe common to all Israel. Those who had been each other’s deadly foes now quickly made common cause against the awe-inspiring invader. Military alliances were hastily struck, and united resistance was offered. But it was all of no avail. The most formidable coalitions were no match for that supernatural power which operated through Israel. Down they went one after another – cities, kings, giants, confederacies, until it could be written:

“So Joshua took the whole land, according to all that the Lord said unto Moses, – and Joshua gave it for an inheritance unto Israel according to their divisions by their tribes.” (Joshua 11:23).

We group chapters 10-12 together because whereas the overthrow of Jericho and Ai and the league with Gibeon are depicted in fuller detail, the campaigns in these further three chapters are more summarily described. And what do they show us in a spiritual sense? They shew us faith all-victorious. Enemies are vanquished. Israel is victor. Canaan is won. And “this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith.”

Click on the “Explore the Book - Joshua” tag below to see all the posts in this series. To go to the start of this series click here.

2: Joshua In The Heavenlies

Baxter seeks to lift our lives to a higher plane in his second lesson on Joshua.  He overlays the Book of Joshua with a snippet of the Book of Ephesians so we may be encouraged by its spiritual purpose as a type – a prefigurement of what was to come.  

1 Thess 5:23-24 Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you entirely; and may your spirit and soul and body be preserved complete, without blame at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. 24 Faithful is He who calls you, and He also will bring it to pass.

NOTE: – For this second study in the book of Joshua read the whole book through again, checking off what we have said about the three main divisions of the book, and its three main characteristics typically.

There is a Canaan rich and blest,
Which all in Christ may know,

By consecrated saints possessed
While here on earth below.

There is a vict’ry over sin,
A rest from inward strife,

A richer sense of Christ within,
A more abundant life.

‘Tis here that peace and love abound,
And purest joys excel,

And heavenly fellowship is found
A lovely place to dwell!

Oh, this is Beulah Land indeed,
Where heaven itself is nigh;

Where all our emptiness and need
Is lost in full supply!

Lord slay all subtle love of sin,
Our doubt and fear remove;

Oh help us now to enter in,
And all Thy blessing prove!

J.S.B.

Joshua And Ephesians

Already, in our study of the Pentateuch, we have noted the correspondence between Deuteronomy and The Acts of the Apostles, and the connection between Leviticus and Hebrews. There is also a remarkable parallel between the Book of Joshua and the epistle to the Ephesians. The epistle to the Ephesians is distinctively the epistle of the “heavenly places in Christ” (Eph 1:3). The book of Joshua, as we have pointed out, is in type that fuller Christian life in which we really “possess our possessions” in Christ, enter into heart-rest, and experience fulness of “joy and peace in believing.” That Ephesian phrase, “heavenly places,” or more literally, “the heavenlies,” denotes the sphere of this higher and fuller life. It indicates a union of life and mind and will with the risen Christ, a union with Him in nature, relationships, and purposes, a union with Him in death to sin and to the flesh and to the world, a union with Him in service and suffering and desire, a union with Him in His resurrection and ascension, which lifts the believer to a level where there is a fulness of light and love and power and spiritual understanding unknown to others. This is life on the highest plane. This is the true place of the believer’s present life in Christ. Seldom is it entered right away at conversion. Alas, how many believers seem never to enter it at all! Yet this indeed is God’s provision; this is our inheritance in Christ Jesus; and young Christians should early be pointed to it.

Now in Joshua we see Israel entering and possessing the earthly inheritance given in Abraham. In Ephesians we see the Church entering and possessing the heavenly inheritance given in Christ.

The correspondence, however, is not merely general. There is a five-fold parallel, marked by the five occurrences of that expression, “the heavenlies,” in Ephesians. The five references are Eph 1:3,20; 2:6; 3:10; 6:12. Trace the parallel briefly then between the land of Canaan in the book of Joshua, and “the heavenlies” in the epistle to the Ephesians.

1. Each was the predestined inheritance of a chosen people.

Away back, five hundred years before Joshua led the people over Jordan, God had said to Abram: “Lift up now thine eyes, and look from the place where thou art, northward and southward and eastward and westward, for all the land which thou seest, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed forever” (Gen 13:14,15). And when, at length He brought Israel up from Egypt He said: “The Lord shall bring thee into the land…which He sware unto thy fathers to give thee” (Ex 13:5).

Even so, turning to the first occurrence of that phrase, “the heavenlies,” in Ephesians, we find that here we have the predestined inheritance of the Church, in Christ.

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings IN THE HEAVENLIES in Christ, according as He hath CHOSEN US IN HIM before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love” (Eph 1:3,4).

With our eye on these two verses from Ephesians, let us note the contrastive parallel. Israel was blessed with all material blessings in earthly places in Abraham. The Church is “blessed with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places, in Christ.” Note also, that to enjoy this fulness of material blessings Israel must be in the land. Similarly, to enjoy the fulness of spiritual blessings in Christ we must be “in the heavenlies.” The reason why we miss them is because we are not in the place where God bestows them.

2. Each was opened up by a Divinely ordained leader.

In the case of Israel all was put into the hands of Joshua. It was said to him: “Unto this people shalt thou divide for an inheritance the land which I sware unto their fathers to give them” (Josh 1:6); and, “Thou shalt cause them to inherit it” (Deut 31:7). Joshua was thus the appointed administrator of the Israelite settlement in Canaan; and we are told that at the end of the seven-years’ war “Joshua took the whole land … and gave it for an inheritance unto Israel according to their divisions by their tribes” (Josh 11:23).

Even so, turning to the second occurrence of that phrase, “the heavenlies,” in Ephesians, we find that the Church’s inheritance is opened up by the Lord Jesus.

“That ye may know … what is the exceeding greatness of His power to usward who believe, according to the working of His mighty power which He wrought in Christ when He raised Him from the dead, and set Him at His own right hand IN THE HEAVENLIES … and gave Him to be the HEAD OVER ALL THINGS TO THE CHURCH” (Eph 1:18-22).

Thus is Joshua a beautiful type of Christ as the trustee and representative of His people. It is the ascended Saviour who divides the goodly inheritance, and allots it to His believing people as by faith they plant their feet upon the promises.

3. Each was a gift of grace to be received by faith.

Canaan was given to Israel in Abraham, not in Moses the man of the Law. By the Law Israel could never have become entitled to Canaan. Moses was not privileged even to lead the people in. Nor can the Law ever lead us into God’s promised rest for our souls in Christ. Hence, Moses must die, and Joshua must take his place; and Joshua must open up the inheritance. The very first words of this book of Joshua are significantly in harmony with this – “Now after the death of Moses, the servant of the Lord, it came to pass that the Lord spake unto Joshua, the son of Nun, Moses’ minister, saying: Moses my servant is dead; now THEREFORE arise, and go over this Jordan, thou and all this people, unto the land which I give them, even to the children of Israel” (1:1,2).

So is it with the spiritual Canaan which is ours in Christ, as the third occurrence of the expression, “the heavenlies,” in Ephesians, shows.

“Even when we were dead in sins (God) hath quickened us together with, Christ (by GRACE are Ye saved); and hath raised us up together, and made us sit together IN THE HEAVENLIES EVEN LIES in Christ Jesus: that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His GRACE in His kindness toward us through Christ Jesus. For by GRACE are ye saved, through FAITH; and that not of yourselves it is the gift of God” (Eph 2:5-8).

F.B. Meyer aptly says: “the law of God can never bring the soul of man into the land of promise, not because there is any defect in it, but because of human infirmity and sin. It is the presence of this evil law in our members which makes obedience to the law of God impossible, filling us with disappointment and unrest, ceaseless striving and perpetual failure. We must therefore leave the Law, as an outward rule of life, behind us, in that lonely valley over against Bethpeor, that the Divine Joshua may lead us into the land of promise. Not by vows or resolution or covenants of consecration signed by blood fresh-drawn from the veins; not by external rites or by ascetic abstinence from good and healthy things; not by days of fasting and nights of prayer; not even by obedience to the voice of conscience or the inner light, though attention to these is of prime importance – by none of these shall we enter the land of blessedness. They all become forms of legalism, when practised with a view to obtaining the full rest and victory of Christian experience. Valuable many of them unquestionably are, when the river is crossed and the land is entered; but they will not of themselves unlock its gates or roll back its guardian river.” No; in the words of Eph 2:8, it must be “by grace, through faith.”

The Old Covenant rest-day was the seventh. The New Covenant rest-day is the first. Under the Old Covenant we must work the six days up to the rest. Under the New Covenant we work down from it – from a perpetual rest already possessed in Christ.

4. Each is the sphere of a striking Divine revelation.

Israel’s entering and possessing of Canaan was intended to be a revelation of the true God to the nations of that day – “That all the people of the earth might know the hand of the Lord, that it is mighty: that ye might fear the Lord your God forever” (Josh 4:24). “All people of the earth shall see that thou art called by the name of the Lord; and they shall be afraid of thee” (Deut 28:10). Israel’s yet future regathering to Canaan will consummate that revelation. See Isa 11:11,12; Jer 23:5-8, and other passages in the Old Testament prophets.

Isaiah 11:11-12 Then it will happen on that day that the Lord Will again recover the second time with His hand The remnant of His people, who will remain, From Assyria, Egypt, Pathros, Cush, Elam, Shinar, Hamath, And from the islands of the sea. 12 And He will lift up a standard for the nations And assemble the banished ones of Israel, And will gather the dispersed of Judah From the four corners of the earth.

Jeremiah 23:5-8 “Behold, the days are coming,” declares the Lord, “When I will raise up for David a righteous Branch; And He will reign as king and act wisely And do justice and righteousness in the land. 6 “In His days Judah will be saved, And Israel will dwell securely; And this is His name by which He will be called, ‘The Lord our righteousness.’ 7 “Therefore behold, the days are coming,” declares the Lord, “when they will no longer say, ‘As the Lord lives, who brought up the sons of Israel from the land of Egypt,’ 8 but, ‘As the Lord lives, who brought up and led back the descendants of the household of Israel from the north land and from all the countries where I had driven them.’ Then they will live on their own soil.”

Parallel with this, we find the fourth Ephesian reference to “the heavenlies” telling us that the Church is a wonderful revelation of God to the powers of the spirit-realm. Paul goes on to say, in chapter 3

“Unto me who am less than the least of all saints is this grace given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unreachable riches of Christ, – and to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God, Who created all things by Jesus Christ: the intent that now UNTO THE PRINCIPALITIES AND POWERS IN THE HEAVENLIES MIGHT BE KNOWN BY THE CHURCH THE MANIFOLD WISDOM OF GOD” (Eph 3:8-10)

The crowning revelation of the Divine wisdom and power through Israel in Canaan, as we have said, will be in the restoration yet to be. Even so the consummating display of the Divine wisdom and purpose through the Church, to the spirit powers in “the heavenlies,” will be effected by the second coming of Christ, when the completed Church will be manifested with Christ in His glory.

5. Each is described as a scene of conflict.

In the earthly Canaan there were the giant sons of Anak, and cities “walled up to heaven.” There were the Hittites and Girgashites and Amorites and Canaanites and Perizzites, and Hivites and Jebusites, who held the land with strongholds and iron chariots – seven nations “greater and mightier” than Israel. They were exceedingly evil nations, and they had to be dispossessed and destroyed. Therefore must Israel wield the sword against them, though not with any doubt as to the final issue, for God was with Israel; and if they would but remain true to Him none should be able to stand against them. Conflict was inevitable, but defeat was impossible, for there was an alliance invincible.

So is it with that spiritual Canaan which is ours in “the heavenlies.” We turn to Ephesians again and find these words in the last occurrence of that phrase “the heavenlies”

“We wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness IN THE HEAVENLIES” (Eph 6:12).

Thank God, as no power could withstand Joshua and Israel, so no power in the spirit-realm can withstand the power of Christ, for He has defeated Satan, and is now “far above all principality and power and might and dominion” (Eph 1:21). In Him victory is ours. In Him our prayer-life may become a victorious spiritual warfare which shall be effectual to the pulling down of Satanic strongholds, the casting down of imaginations which oppose themselves to God, and the releasing of regenerating forces among men. When we are truly abiding-in Him, and are “reigning in life by One, Jesus Christ” (Rom 5:17) in “the heavenlies,” all foes are beneath our feet, and we enter into the meaning of that word in Ps 2:4, “He that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh.”

These, then, are the five points of parallel between the earthly inheritance opened up through Joshua, and the spiritual inheritance opened up to us Christian believers in Christ. Perhaps a recapitulation will help to fix them in memory.

1. Each was the predestined inheritance of a chosen people.

2. Each was opened up by a Divinely ordained leader.

3. Each was a gift of Divine grace to be received by faith.

4. Each is the sphere of a striking Divine revelation.

5. Each is described as a scene of conflict.

This parallel between Canaan, in Joshua, and “the heavenlies,” in Ephesians, is as instructive as it is striking, and well merits a fuller consideration than we can give to it here. God grant that we ourselves may live in the goodly land, and “possess our possessions,” to the joy of our own hearts and the glory of God!

Click on the “Explore the Book - Joshua” tag below to see all the posts in this series. To go to the start of this series click here.

28: Joshua’s Farewell – Choose!

Schaeffer continues his plea to imitate Joshua and choose.  Choose life!  When God chose to reveal Himself to Israel, Joshua did not let the impact of that go to waste. It was like a ball was put into play in the game of pinball and he was at the controls.  To use yesterday's pinball illustration, Joshua calculated the use of the flippers to whack that ball to score the most points.  He knew what was at stake.  

It is funny how we will get more excited playing a game than we will actually dealing with life. Are they really that different? If this doesn't show us that we are a defective people, I don't know what will.

This is the final lesson of this book by Schaeffer. God help us spend more time planning our lives than planning our vacation. Help us to live on purpose and not act like a pinball battered around as if we have no control and no choice to make. Help us to live for Your glory as we seek to expand Your kingdom on earth.

What follows are fragmentary pieces of Francis Schaeffer’s commentary Joshua and the Flow of Biblical History picked out for my own edification and direction. I am interested most in finding the conditions God gave for taking and possessing His land. Also, what can we learn from this story of conquest? To go to the start of these lessons click here.

The Extension of the Covenant

In response to the people’s affirmation, the covenant was extended another step:

“So Joshua made a covenant with the people that day, and set them a statute and an ordinance in Shechem” (Josh. 24:25).

This covenant was a part of the ongoing covenant. You will remember, it had been established immediately after the Fall and was continued in the times of Noah, Abraham and Moses. At the end of Joshua’s life it was again extended. This extension of the covenant was related to the book:

“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. 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 spoke unto us: it shall be, therefore, a witness unto you, lest ye deny your God” (Josh. 24:26, 27).

Notice Joshua put up a stone as a testimony. Now, in addition to the stones at Gilgal and the altar on Ebal, another memorial in stone was established so that in years to come the children of coming generations would be able to walk through the land and be reminded of what occurred in that place and of the promises their fathers had made to God.

Sometime after the covenant was extended, Joshua died.

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. And they buried him in the border of his inheritance in Timnathserah, which is in Mount Ephraim, on the north side of the hill of Gaash. And Israel served the LORD all the days of Joshua, and all the days of the elders who overlived Joshua, and which had known all the works of the LORD, that he had done for Israel. (Josh. 24:29–31)

The faithfulness of Joshua’s generation is also extolled in the book of judges, but it is followed by a shift:

And the people served the LORD all the days of Joshua, and all the days of the elders that outlived Joshua, who had seen all the great works of the LORD, that he did for Israel.… And also all that generation were gathered unto their fathers: and there arose another generation after them, who knew not the LORD, nor yet the works which he had done for Israel. (Judg. 2:7, 10)

We come to a group of people who did not imitate Joshua’s continual choice. The children of Israel remembered for a time the choice they had made at Joshua’s farewell, but they then forgot it. And thus came the confusion, the sorrow, and the total lawlessness of the period of the judges.

We are seeing exactly the same shift in our own generation. Those of us from the Reformation countries have experienced a Christian consensus. (This does not mean that every individual was a Christian, but that society was strongly influenced by Christian values.) But my generation and the generations immediately preceding my generation made a bad choice, and so we now live in a post-Christian world. The choices of faith have been set aside and forgotten, and accordingly the confusion, sorrow and lawlessness of the time of the judges is occurring in our generation. If you are a member of the younger generation, you are a recipient of the consequences of this bad choice. This is who you are. To understand yourself, you must understand that you have grown up in a post-Christian world.

Choices

The element of personal choice stands out as a key theme in the book of Joshua.

In Chapter 2 of this study, we saw that the captain of the host of the Lord stood before Joshua, and Joshua had to choose. The people of God had the opportunity to follow their own wisdom, but Joshua made a different decision for them. He fell down and said, “It’s Your leadership.” And he removed his shoes in the presence of the One who had now come as the captain of the host of the LORD.

In Chapter 3 we considered the blessings to the Jews under the national portion of the Abrahamic covenant. Under Joshua the people chose to enter the land (a complete contrast to the choice they made thirty-eight years before) and suddenly, after all the decades of waiting, the complex of the Abrahamic covenant fell into place. We also saw that, as Romans 9–11 make clear, the Jews’ whole history, from that time to this and into the future, rests on their choices. If they continued in disobedience and unbelief, they did not have God’s blessing. If they obeyed, they came into the blessing of the people of God.

Rahab and the Gibeonites (Chapters 4 and 8) chose to step over among the people of God and entered into the spiritual portion of the Abrahamic covenant. Rahab the harlot became an ancestor of Jesus Christ. The Gibeonites, down to the time of David and beyond, worked close to the altar. All this because they had decided to step over from the kingdom of darkness to the kingdom of the living God!

Chapter 5 concerned two kinds of memorials, the stones and the sacraments. The Israelites chose to cross the river Jordan, enter the land, and establish the stone memorials as God commanded. Joshua—foolishly from a human military point of view—observed the sacrament of circumcision. Then he observed the Passover. But we also saw that the external signs, like the sacraments of baptism and the Lord’s Supper today, mean nothing unless there is a choice to be in a proper relationship with God. They are not mechanical.

In Chapter 6 we saw Achan’s titanic choice. This one man decided to take silver and gold and the mantle of Shinar. He coveted within; then he acted. Soon he saw the terrible results of his choice. He himself died, but others died too. His choice led to a temporary defeat for the whole people of God.

On Mounts Ebal and Mount Gerizim (Chapter 7) a choice was set before the people: “Obey the propositional moral absolutes of God, and you’ll receive blessing within the covenant. If you don’t, the blessing will come to an end.”

In Chapter 9 we saw how Caleb chose to stand against the rest of the Israelites. We saw how the people failed to take the totality of the land because they lacked faith. But Caleb went in and took the territory he had been promised. The faith which he had exhibited through thirty-eight years of wandering plus seven years of conquest he continued to practice.

In Chapter 10 we saw that the two and a half tribes that returned to the east side of Jordan chose to serve the true, living God. They even raised a great altar of testimony to show that they intended to continue to worship Him properly even though they had left the west side of the river. The remaining tribes chose to practice both truth and love as they dealt with what they feared was rebellion.

The cities of refuge involved two sorts of choices (Chapter 11). The first sort of choice was made by the man who really chose to murder; the second was made by the innocent man who chose to flee to a city of refuge to escape the avenger of blood.

So we find throughout the entire book of Joshua an emphasis on choice—choice that makes a tremendous difference in history, for individuals, for groups, for future generations. The Bible insists, “Don’t forget who you are. You are not a puppet or a machine. You do not obey a universal law of cause and effect in a closed system. Rather, you are made in the image of God, and, as such, you must choose, and choose rightly, at every point.” Adam chose wrongly, and we all bear the marks of his error. Abraham believed God, and his choice was counted to him for righteousness. Joshua chose rightly, too. For those of us today, the situation is the same. Whether Christian or non-Christian, we are called upon to make choices which will have significant results.

If you are not a Christian, remember that you are faced with a choice which will make total differences to you. God says to you concerning that choice,

And, as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life. For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through him might be saved. He that believeth on him is not condemned; but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.… He that believeth not the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abideth on him. (John 3:14–18, 36)

Your choice is not a piece of theater. You are not thistledown in the wind. There are good and sufficient reasons in history to know that this is the choice you should make, and you are called upon to make it. Choose once for all for justification.

If you are a Christian, having made the once-for-all choice that was involved in your justification, remember that your choices do not end. You do not enter a static situation. Paul gives this imperative: “If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit” (Gal. 5:25). We must continually choose to live within the commands of God.

In Romans Paul describes himself as “a slave of Jesus Christ” (Rom. 1:1). In Philippians he pictures both Timothy and himself as “the slaves of Jesus Christ” (Phil. 1:1). Did Paul have to be a slave? No. A Roman slave could not escape, for he had a hard, heavy band of iron riveted around his neck. He could not remove it. Paul, by a continual act of choice, held the slave-band in place.

Joshua’s great call, “Choose! Choose!” is as meaningful to us today as to the people of God when Joshua was preparing to leave them. If you are a Christian, I urge you to continue to make this choice:

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. 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. (Joshua 24:14, 15)

What are your gods of Ur? What are your gods of Egypt? What are your gods of the Amorites? What are your gods? What gods did you leave when you made the great first choice to become a Christian? God says, “You chose once for all to be a Christian. Fine. Continue to choose, continue to choose, continue to choose—moment by moment, existentially. You must continue to choose between the old gods and Me, the living God.” And, as Joshua said, we must not choose lightly.

When the people affirmed their commitment to God, Joshua insisted, “Remember how you have chosen” (Josh. 24:22). Joshua affirmed, “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” Like Joshua, any Christian who wishes to be of any help to this poor sinful world, especially to a confused generation like ours, must be one who continues to choose to serve the LORD in the here and now. Let us say as we face the choices of life: As for me and my house, by God’s grace, we will serve the Lord!

Click on the “Joshua and the Flow of Biblical History” tag below to see all the posts in this series. To go to the start of this series click here.

27: Joshua’s Farewell

The emphasis of Schaeffer's commentary in this section is on choice.  "It was deeply embedded in Joshua’s comprehension of what is required of a person made in the image of God—one called upon not to obey God like a machine or an animal, but to obey God by choice."  What part of the game of pinball would illustrate obeying God by choice?

Let's think about life as if it's a game of pinball, and obeying God is the main goal. There are moments when life might feel like you're just bouncing around without any control, like a steel ball in a pinball machine. It might seem like everything is up to fate, and you don't have a say in it. But, let's shift that perspective. Imagine you're the one playing the game, standing on the outside. You're the person who starts the game, guides the ball with the flippers, and times the actions to score more points. In a similar way, in life, you have choices to make. You're in control of certain things. You can make decisions that align with what you believe is right, just like guiding the ball to stay in play. Think of those choices as your way of avoiding situations that could bring challenges or difficulties, like losing a turn in the game. It's all about making choices that keep you on the path you want to be on.
https://arcadeclassics.com.au/wp-content/uploads/pinball.jpg
As seen at arcadeclassics.com.au

What follows are fragmentary pieces of Francis Schaeffer’s commentary Joshua and the Flow of Biblical History picked out for my own edification and direction. I am interested most in finding the conditions God gave for taking and possessing His land. Also, what can we learn from this story of conquest? To go to the start of these lessons click here.

Joshua’s Farewell: Choose!

The major campaigns of conquest were over. The land had been divided and the cities of refuge established.

“And it came to pass a long time after that the LORD had given rest unto Israel from all their enemies round about, that Joshua waxed old and stricken in age. And Joshua called for all Israel, and for their elders, and for their heads, and for their judges, and for their officers” (Josh. 23:1, 2).

What would Joshua say to the people at such a time? What was his word to them as they were about to continue without his leadership? He began like this:

I am old and stricken in age; and ye have seen all that the LORD your God hath done unto all these nations because of you; for the LORD your God is he who hath fought for you. Behold, I have divided unto you by lot these nations that remain, to be an inheritance for your tribes, from Jordan, with all the nations that I have cut off, even unto the great sea in the west. And the LORD your God, he shall expel them from before you, and drive them from out of your sight; and ye shall possess their land, as the LORD your God hath promised unto you. (Josh. 23:2–5)

Joshua gave a promise for the future which was rooted in a space-time past. He did not ask the people to make a Kierkegaardian leap of faith. This stress on God’s action in history recurs throughout his farewell:

And, behold, this day I am going the way of all the earth; and ye know in all your hearts and in all your souls, that not one thing hath failed of all the good things which the LORD your God spoke concerning you; all are come to pass unto you, and not one thing hath failed thereof.… 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.… For the LORD our God, he it is who 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. (Josh. 23:14; 24:7, 17)

Joshua appealed to what some of the people had seen themselves. The former generation had died, but some who heard Joshua’s farewell had been children when the Israelites crossed the Red Sea. He reminded them of the historical realities on which their faith rested. Biblical faith is rooted in what may be seen by the eye and heard by the ear. The difference between Greek and Hebrew thinking is not that the Greeks were rationalists while the Hebrews were existentialists. Quite the contrary. The Jews insisted on a tougher reality than the Greeks. They demanded not only that which was reasonable, but also that which was rooted in space and time.

This emphasis continues in the New Testament, which insists, for instance, that the first eleven chapters of Genesis describe actual history. Every New Testament reference to these chapters in Genesis indicates that the event mentioned was space-time history. The New Testament also assumes that that history is stated in ordinary literary forms. Scripture never suddenly confronts us with a heavenly language which carries us into a contentless religious experience.

Believers have been given good and sufficient reasons for believing. This was not only true in Joshua’s days; it has been true throughout God’s redemptive program. When John explains why he wrote his Gospel, he says that “many other ‘space-time proofs’ did Jesus in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book” (John 20:30). “Space-time proofs” is exactly what the Greek word means in the terminology of our own day. John’s statement parallels what Joshua said. What happened at the Red Sea was done in the Israelites’ presence. Jesus’ actions, recorded in John’s Gospel, were done in the presence of the disciples. These space-time proofs were written, John continues, “that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name” (John 20:31). So whether it is in Joshua’s exhortation or through the cry of John’s Gospel, the Bible claims that there are good and sufficient reasons for faith that may be considered and acted upon.

Joshua was saying to the people as he was about to leave them, “Remember the past! Remember these things that are rooted in history and open to reason!”

Remember the Standard

The promises for the future were not, however, unconditional. Joshua confronted the people with a set of categories within which they had to live if the promises were to come to pass:

“Be ye therefore very courageous to keep and to do all that is written in the book of the law of Moses, that ye turn not aside therefrom to the right hand or to the left” (Josh. 23:6).

This hearkens back to Joshua 1 and its emphasis upon the book: “This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein; for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success” (Josh. 1:8). The statement God made to Joshua at the beginning of his leadership, Joshua passed on to the people at the end of his life—namely, “live within the categories of the book and you will be blessed.”

At the end of Joshua’s life we see once more the growth of the canon: “And Joshua wrote these words in the book of the law of God” (Josh. 24:26). Moses’ books were accepted as normative at the time of his death; and by the time Joshua died, he had written another book and added it to the canon, which was the authority for God’s people. This is in complete contrast to the new theology with its focus in contentless, existential experience. God gave the people a set of moral categories in verbalized form, categories that God Himself declared to be absolute. Joshua said, “This is the standard! If you depart from it, the conditional portions of the promise will come to an end.” God Himself gave a written, objective, propositional authority by which to judge in moral matters.

Joshua contrasted what would happen if the people lived within these categories with what would happen if they did not:

One man of you shall chase a thousand; for the LORD your God, he it is that fighteth for you, as he hath promised you. Take good heed, therefore, unto yourselves, that ye love the LORD your God. Else if ye do in any wise go back, and cleave to the remnant of these nations, even these who remain among you, and shall make marriages with them, and go in unto them, and they to you, know for a certainty that the LORD your God will no more drive out any of these nations from before you; but they shall be snares and traps unto you, and scourges in your sides, and thorns in your eyes, until ye perish from off this good land which the LORD your God hath given you. (Josh. 23:10–13)

This carries us back to Ebal and Gerizim, where Joshua “read all the words of the law, the blessings and cursings, according to all that is written in the book of the law. There was not a word of all that Moses commanded, which Joshua read not before all the congregation of Israel, with the women, and the little ones, and the strangers among them” (Josh. 8:34, 35). These commands, considered simple and straightforward enough for everyone, young or old, Israelite or non-Israelite, to understand, highlighted the conditional aspects of the Abrahamic covenant. So at the end of his life Joshua was insisting, as he had practiced, that the blessings depended upon whether or not the people kept God’s commands. Once we depart from this mentality, we are on totally shifting sand. God’s Word, the Bible, is a rock, something solid and immovable. It gives us moral absolutes rather than situation, relativistic ethics.

An Ungodly Heritage

Joshua gathered all the tribes at Shechem, one of the cities of refuge. He began by reminding them,

“Thus sayeth the LORD God of Israel, Your fathers dwelt on the other side of the flood [that is, the Euphrates River] in old time, even Terah, the father of Abraham, and the father of Nahor; and they served other gods” (Josh. 24:2).

We know that Ur and Haran were centers of moon worship. Joshua was telling the people, “Your past heritage is a people that were not God’s people.”

Ezekiel likewise points this out: “Thus saith the Lord GOD unto Jerusalem: Thy birth and thy nativity are of the land of Canaan; thy father was an Amorite, and thy mother, an Hittite” (Ezek. 16:3). No compliment to a Jew, certainly! Nevertheless, Ezekiel told the people, “That’s what you were. The only reason you are something else is that God in His grace reached down and did something with you.”

God does not allow Christians, either, to go on in pride. He constantly reminds us of our heritage—a heritage of those who have turned aside from Him. In Ephesians Paul says to believers, “In times past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience; among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others” (Eph. 2:2, 3). Who does he say we were? He says to us, “Remember, at one time Satan was your god and your father. This is who you were.”

Whether studying the Old Testament or the New, we are reminded that we are not where we are because of a long, wise and godly heritage. We come from rebellion. Individually, we are children of wrath. After we are Christians, we must look at others who are still under God’s wrath and always say, “I am essentially what you are. If I am in a different place, it is not because I am intrinsically better than you, but simply because God has done something in my life.” There is no place for pride.

Three Sets of Gods

In reminding the Israelites of their ungodly heritage, Joshua spoke of three sets of false gods and called upon the people to choose against them:

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 Nahor; and they served other gods. 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. 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. I sent Moses also, and Aaron, and I plagued Egypt, according to that which I did among them; and afterward I brought you out. 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. 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. And I brought you into the land of the Amorites, which dwelt on the other side of 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. (Josh. 24:2–8)

Interestingly, the three sets of gods were related to three different waters. On the other side of the Euphrates were the gods of the Sumerian and Babylonian culture. On the other side of the Red Sea were the gods of ancient Egypt. On both sides of the river Jordan were the gods of the Amorites.

Now, therefore [Joshua challenged], 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. 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. (Josh. 24:14, 15)

“Choose,” he said, “between the Sumerian gods, the Egyptian gods, the Amorite gods—and the LORD. Choose!”

Joshua’s own choice was emphatic: “But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” The English uses a future tense here, but the Hebrew tense has a fuller meaning. It expresses continuous action. It involves the future, but it also can point to the past. Joshua was undoubtedly affirming, “I have chosen, and I will choose.”

His words were not just an empty boast, because the people standing in front of him knew his past choices. Not long after the crossing of the Red Sea, Joshua had stood as the general against the Amalekites. When the people worshiped the golden calf, Joshua, by choice, did not identify with them. When the spies entered the land, he had stood with Caleb against his own people when they were wrong. He chose to affirm that God’s word was valid and that they could conquer the land. When God’s leader, Moses, died outside the promised land, Joshua knew it was because God had clearly told Moses to do one thing and Moses had done another. He saw the result of Moses’ bad choice.

This was the character of Joshua. He chose, and he chose, and he chose, and he kept right on choosing. He understood the dynamics of choice—once-for-all choice and existential choice as well. Thus, this word to the people was not an affirmation puffed up on the spur of the moment. It was deeply embedded in Joshua’s comprehension of what is required of a person made in the image of God—one called upon not to obey God like a machine or an animal, but to obey God by choice.

The people responded positively to Joshua’s challenge:

God forbid that we should forsake the LORD, to serve other gods; 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. 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. (Josh. 24:16–18)

Because of what the people had seen in the past, they made the same choice as Joshua. Yet theirs was in one respect different. Joshua’s choice was rooted in a series of continuous choices. These people had been like a weathervane. Consequently, Joshua warned them not to choose lightly:

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. If ye forsake the LORD, and serve strange gods, then he will turn and do you hurt, and consume you, after he hath done you good. And the people said unto Joshua, Nay; but we will serve the LORD. And Joshua said unto the people, Ye are my witnesses against yourselves that ye have chosen you the LORD, to serve him. And they said, We are witnesses. Now, therefore, put away, said he, the strange gods which are among you, and incline your hearts unto the LORD God of Israel. And the people said unto Joshua, The LORD our God will we serve, and his voice will we obey. (Josh. 24:19–24)

Despite Joshua’s warning, the people continued to insist. So Joshua stressed that their choice (which was, of course, the right choice) had to be total and have practical repercussions in their lives.

Click on the “Joshua and the Flow of Biblical History” tag below to see all the posts in this series. To go to the start of this series click here.

Joshua 24: The Family Reunion

I've been reflecting on family reunions recently. This contemplation has been prompted by the loss of dear family members, similar to the experiences mentioned in the case of Joshua, where two members reached the remarkable ages of 100 and 95. The essence of Joshua 24 revolves around family affairs, and it holds valuable lessons that every family worldwide should take to heart. It serves as an exemplary model for families to consider and emulate.  What do you think family reunions should be like?  What is your ideal family reunion?

 God’s benefits to their fathers. (1-14)
 Joshua renews the covenant between the people and God. (15-28)
 Joshua’s death, Joseph’s bones buried, The state of Israel. (29-33)

God’s Benefits To Their Fathers.

Joshua 24:1-14 Then Joshua gathered all the tribes of Israel to Shechem, and called for the elders of Israel and for their heads and their judges and their officers; and they presented themselves before God. 2 Joshua said to all the people, “Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, ‘From ancient times your fathers lived beyond the River, namely, Terah, the father of Abraham and the father of Nahor, and they served other gods. 3 ‘Then I took your father Abraham from beyond the River, and led him through all the land of Canaan, and multiplied his descendants and gave him Isaac. 4 ‘To Isaac I gave Jacob and Esau, and to Esau I gave Mount Seir to possess it; but Jacob and his sons went down to Egypt. 5 ‘Then I sent Moses and Aaron, and I plagued Egypt by what I did in its midst; and afterward I brought you out. 6 ‘I brought your fathers out of Egypt, and you came to the sea; and Egypt pursued your fathers with chariots and horsemen to the Red Sea. 7 ‘But when they cried out to the Lord, He put darkness between you and the Egyptians, and brought the sea upon them and covered them; and your own eyes saw what I did in Egypt. And you lived in the wilderness for a long time. 8 ‘Then I brought you into the land of the Amorites who lived beyond the Jordan, and they fought with you; and I gave them into your hand, and you took possession of their land when I destroyed them before you. 9 ‘Then Balak the son of Zippor, king of Moab, arose and fought against Israel, and he sent and summoned Balaam the son of Beor to curse you. 10 ‘But I was not willing to listen to Balaam. So he had to bless you, and I delivered you from his hand. 11 ‘You crossed the Jordan and came to Jericho; and the citizens of Jericho fought against you, and the Amorite and the Perizzite and the Canaanite and the Hittite and the Girgashite, the Hivite and the Jebusite. Thus I gave them into your hand. 12 ‘Then I sent the hornet before you and it drove out the two kings of the Amorites from before you, but not by your sword or your bow. 13 ‘I gave you a land on which you had not labored, and cities which you had not built, and you have lived in them; you are eating of vineyards and olive groves which you did not plant.’

14 “Now, therefore, fear the Lord and serve Him in sincerity and truth; and put away the gods which your fathers served beyond the River and in Egypt, and serve the Lord.

We must never think our work for God done, till our life is done. If he lengthen out our days beyond what we expected, like those of Joshua, it is because he has some further service for us to do. He who aims at the same mind which was in Christ Jesus, will glory in bearing the last testimony to his Saviour’s goodness, and in telling to all around, the obligations with which the unmerited goodness of God has bound him. The assembly came together in a solemn religious manner. Joshua spake to them in God’s name, and as from him. His sermon consists of doctrine and application. The doctrinal part is a history of the great things God had done for his people, and for their fathers before them. The application of this history of God’s mercies to them, is an exhortation to fear and serve God, in gratitude for his favour, and that it might be continued.

Joshua Renews The Covenant Between The People And God.

Joshua 24:15-28 “If it is disagreeable in your sight to serve the Lord, choose for yourselves today whom you will serve: whether the gods which your fathers served which were beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you are living; but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”

16 The people answered and said, “Far be it from us that we should forsake the Lord to serve other gods; 17 for the Lord our God is He who brought us and our fathers up out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage, and who did these great signs in our sight and preserved us through all the way in which we went and among all the peoples through whose midst we passed. 18 “The Lord drove out from before us all the peoples, even the Amorites who lived in the land. We also will serve the Lord, for He is our God.”

19 Then Joshua said to the people, “You will not be able to serve the Lord, for He is a holy God. He is a jealous God; He will not forgive your transgression or your sins. 20 “If you forsake the Lord and serve foreign gods, then He will turn and do you harm and consume you after He has done good to you.” 21 The people said to Joshua, “No, but we will serve the Lord.” 22 Joshua said to the people, “You are witnesses against yourselves that you have chosen for yourselves the Lord, to serve Him.” And they said, “We are witnesses.” 23 “Now therefore, put away the foreign gods which are in your midst, and incline your hearts to the Lord, the God of Israel.” 24 The people said to Joshua, “We will serve the Lord our God and we will obey His voice.” 25 So Joshua made a covenant with the people that day, and made for them a statute and an ordinance in Shechem. 26 And Joshua wrote these words in the book of the law of God; and he took a large stone and set it up there under the oak that was by the sanctuary of the Lord. 27 Joshua said to all the people, “Behold, this stone shall be for a witness against us, for it has heard all the words of the Lord which He spoke to us; thus it shall be for a witness against you, so that you do not deny your God.” 28 Then Joshua dismissed the people, each to his inheritance.

It is essential that the service of God’s people be performed with a willing mind. For LOVE is the only genuine principle whence all acceptable service of God can spring. The Father seeks only such to worship him, as worship him in spirit and in truth. The carnal mind of man is enmity against God, therefore, is not capable of such spiritual worship. Hence the necessity of being born again. But numbers rest in mere forms, as tasks imposed upon them. Joshua puts them to their choice; but not as if it were indifferent whether they served God or not. Choose you whom ye will serve, now the matter is laid plainly before you. He resolves to do this, whatever others did. Those that are bound for heaven, must be willing to swim against the stream. They must not do as the most do, but as the best do. And no one can behave himself as he ought in any station, who does not deeply consider his religious duties in family relations. The Israelites agree with Joshua, being influenced by the example of a man who had been so great a blessing to them; We also will serve the Lord. See how much good great men do, by their influence, if zealous in religion. Joshua brings them to express full purpose of heart to cleave to the Lord. They must come off from all confidence in their own sufficiency, else their purposes would be in vain. The service of God being made their deliberate choice, Joshua binds them to it by a solemn covenant. He set up a monument of it. In this affecting manner Joshua took his last leave of them; if they perished, their blood would be upon their own heads. Though the house of God, the Lord’s table, and even the walls and trees before which we have uttered our solemn purposes of serving him, would bear witness against us if we deny him, yet we may trust in him, that he will put his fear into our hearts, that we shall not depart from him. God alone can give grace, yet he blesses our endeavours to engage men to his service.

Joshua’s Death, Joseph’s Bones Buried, The State Of Israel.

Joshua 24:29-33 It came about after these things that Joshua the son of Nun, the servant of the Lord, died, being one hundred and ten years old. 30 And they buried him in the territory of his inheritance in Timnath-serah, which is in the hill country of Ephraim, on the north of Mount Gaash.

31 Israel served the Lord all the days of Joshua and all the days of the elders who survived Joshua, and had known all the deeds of the Lord which He had done for Israel.

32 Now they buried the bones of Joseph, which the sons of Israel brought up from Egypt, at Shechem, in the piece of ground which Jacob had bought from the sons of Hamor the father of Shechem for one hundred pieces of money; and they became the inheritance of Joseph’s sons. 33 And Eleazar the son of Aaron died; and they buried him at Gibeah of Phinehas his son, which was given him in the hill country of Ephraim.

Joseph died in Egypt, but gave commandment concerning his bones, that they should not rest in their grave till Israel had rest in the land of promise. Notice also the death and burial of Joshua, and of Eleazar the chief priest. The most useful men, having served their generation, according to the will of God, one after another, fall asleep and see corruption. But Jesus, having spent and ended his life on earth more effectually than either Joshua or Joseph, rose from the dead, and saw no corruption. And the redeemed of the Lord shall inherit the kingdom he prepared for them from the foundation of the world. They will say in admiration of the grace of Jesus, Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood, and hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father, to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.

Questions & Notes

These questions are from The NIV Serendipity Bible.

Click on the “MHCC-Joshua” tag below to see all the posts in this series. To go to the start of this series click here.

Joshua 23: My Farewell Address

Picture this scenario: you're at the end of your journey, a week left to live. Your children, one by one, gather by your side to bid their goodbyes. In these poignant moments, what parting words would you share with them? Reflect on the significance of this exchange. Are there individuals in your past whose words of profound wisdom you wish you had received?

More than once, I've painted a picture of my life to my children, emphasizing its similarity to theirs. I convey how both of us are navigating our way up this metaphorical mountain, with the only distinction being my 30-year head start. Some of the paths I point out lead to dead ends. Together we keep pushing forward, finding our way. Just like I'd guide a customer through the complexities of a product, I guide my children through the journey of life, sharing the lessons I've learned along the way.

So at the end of my life, what will I tell my children? What parting words of wisdom will I give them? I must start thinking about this. The advice that Joshua provides in this chapter is worth noting; it is sound and valuable guidance.

 Joshua’s exhortation before his death. (1-10)
 Joshua warns the people of idolatry. (11-16)

Joshua’s Exhortation Before His Death

Joshua 23:1-10 Now it came about after many days, when the Lord had given rest to Israel from all their enemies on every side, and Joshua was old, advanced in years, 2 that Joshua called for all Israel, for their elders and their heads and their judges and their officers, and said to them, “I am old, advanced in years. 3 “And you have seen all that the Lord your God has done to all these nations because of you, for the Lord your God is He who has been fighting for you. 4 “See, I have apportioned to you these nations which remain as an inheritance for your tribes, with all the nations which I have cut off, from the Jordan even to the Great Sea toward the setting of the sun. 5 “The Lord your God, He will thrust them out from before you and drive them from before you; and you will possess their land, just as the Lord your God promised you. 6 “Be very firm, then, to keep and do all that is written in the book of the law of Moses, so that you may not turn aside from it to the right hand or to the left, 7 so that you will not associate with these nations, these which remain among you, or mention the name of their gods, or make anyone swear by them, or serve them, or bow down to them. 8 “But you are to cling to the Lord your God, as you have done to this day. 9 “For the Lord has driven out great and strong nations from before you; and as for you, no man has stood before you to this day. 10 “One of your men puts to flight a thousand, for the Lord your God is He who fights for you, just as He promised you.

Joshua was old and dying, let them observe what he said now. He put them in mind of the great things God had done for them in his days. He exhorted them to be very courageous. Keep with care, do with diligence, and regard with sincerity what is written. Also, very cautiously to endeavour that the heathen idolatry may be forgotten, so that it may never be revived. It is sad that among Christians the names of the heathen gods are so commonly used, and made so familiar as they are. Joshua exhorts them to be very constant. There might be many things amiss among them, but they had not forsaken the Lord their God; the way to make people better, is to make the best of them.

Joshua Warns The People Of Idolatry

Joshua 23:11-16 “So take diligent heed to yourselves to love the Lord your God. 12 “For if you ever go back and cling to the rest of these nations, these which remain among you, and intermarry with them, so that you associate with them and they with you, 13 know with certainty that the Lord your God will not continue to drive these nations out from before you; but they will be a snare and a trap to you, and a whip on your sides and thorns in your eyes, until you perish from off this good land which the Lord your God has given you.

14 “Now behold, today I am going the way of all the earth, and you know in all your hearts and in all your souls that not one word of all the good words which the Lord your God spoke concerning you has failed; all have been fulfilled for you, not one of them has failed. 15 “It shall come about that just as all the good words which the Lord your God spoke to you have come upon you, so the Lord will bring upon you all the threats, until He has destroyed you from off this good land which the Lord your God has given you. 16 “When you transgress the covenant of the Lord your God, which He commanded you, and go and serve other gods and bow down to them, then the anger of the Lord will burn against you, and you will perish quickly from off the good land which He has given you.”

Would we cleave to the Lord, we must always stand upon our guard, for many a soul is lost through carelessness. Love the Lord your God, and you will not leave him. Has God been thus true to you? Be not you false to him. He is faithful that has promised, (Hebrews 10:23). The experience of every Christian witnesses the same truth. Conflicts may have been severe and long, trials great and many; but at the last he will acknowledge that goodness and mercy followed him all the days of his life. Joshua states the fatal consequences of going back; know for a certainty it will be your ruin. The first step would be, friendship with idolaters; the next would be, marrying with them; the end of that would be, serving their gods. Thus the way of sin is down-hill, and those who have fellowship with sinners, cannot avoid having fellowship with sin. He describes the destruction he warns them of. The goodness of the heavenly Canaan, and the free and sure grant God has made of it, will add to the misery of those who shall for ever be shut out from it. Nothing will make them see how wretched they are, so much, as to see how happy they might have been. Let us watch and pray against temptation. Let us trust in God’s faithfulness, love, and power; let us plead his promises, and cleave to his commandments, then we shall be happy in life, in death, and for ever.

Questions & Notes

Initiate the process of documenting the most crucial advice you wish to pass on to your children before your time is over. Begin recording the insights, life lessons, and words of guidance that you believe will be instrumental in shaping their lives. Share the wealth of your experiences, the principles you hold dear, and the reflections that you consider invaluable. This recorded legacy will serve as a lasting reservoir of wisdom, offering support and direction for your children even after you have departed.