Day 11: Struggling to Grab Hold And Keep God’s Promises! (Pt 1: Joshua)

Introduction to the history books

  • The twelve biblical books stretching from Joshua to Esther are conventionally designated “the history books.” But the word “history” really doesn’t tell the whole story! Because this history, is really HIS STORY, which God's people encounter and experience God. Which is one the reasons why in the Hebrew bible, these are classified as the early prophets.
  •        One of the unique characteristics of the Hebrew people is that they were intent on observing and participating in everything that happened around them because they believed that God was alive and active in the world, in their community and in them! 

  • You see, they understood that Life could not be accounted for by something less than the life of God, no matter how impressive and mysterious their experience was. It didn’t matter whether it was an eclipse of the sun, or spots on the liver of a goat, or the hiss of steam from a fissure in the earth.
  • They knew that God could not be reduced to some physiological, geological, or psychological phenomena; God was alive, and was everywhere working his will and challenging people with his call! God was constantly at work evoking faith and obedience, thereby shaping a worshiping community into his image that would show and display his love and compassion to a hurting world.
  • I say all this to help you understand this next set of books we are going to study. In these books, we will discover how God’s story is being displayed through our history in specific places, and specific named people.
  • The scripture shows us and proves to us that God is alive. Not just an idea for philosophers to discuss or a force for priests to manipulate. Nor is God part of creation that can be studied and observed and managed. God is person! Someone to be worshiped or defied, to be believed or rejected, to be loved or hated, by real people in real places on specified dates.
  • That is why these books immerse us in dates and events, specific people and circumstances, because in history, from the Jewish perspective, God meets us in the ordinary and extraordinary occurrences that make up the stuff of our daily lives.
  • Some people like to say that History is the medium in which God works salvation, just as paint and canvas is the medium in which Rembrandt made created works of art.
  • So, it is with this deep sense of reverence of history, and the dignity of their place in history and the presence of God in history, that helps us understand the way in which the Hebrew people talked and wrote.
  • They did not, like the rest of the ancient world, make up and embellish fanciful stories. Their writings did not seek to entertain or explain everything that happen. Instead, they strived simply to reveal the ways of God with men and women and the world.
  • They wrote about actual people and circumstances, and their dealings with God, and in God’s dealings with them.
  • So, for the Hebrews, there was no such thing as secular history! Everything that happened, happened in a world engaged by God.
  • And one other noteworthy thing to consider before we get into the specific books, since the Jewish people didn’t talk a lot about God in their storytelling, it is easy to forget that God is always the invisible and mostly silent presence in everything that is taking place.
  • In other words, they don’t overtly talk a lot about God, but assume he is involved with everything that goes on. This is important to know, because if we forget that they see God in every circumstance, we will miss out on what they are trying to communicate to us. We will neither understand what is written nor the way it was written.
  • Point being, God is never absent from these narratives. As far as these writers were concerned, the only reason for paying attention to people and events was to stay alert to God!
  • Now I understand that this is a difficult mindset for some of us to acquire, since we are used to getting our history from so-called historians, scholars, and journalists who approach history as something that is void of God.
  • And because of this, we have been trained by our schools, daily newspapers, and telecasts to read history solely in terms of human endeavors like politics and economics, or environmental conditions.
  • But these historical books, Joshua through Esther, are radically and refreshingly different. They pull us into a way of reading history that involves us and everyone around us in all the operations of God.

 A.    Joshua…entering, conquering and possessing the Promise Land!


General Background stuff…

  • We Must start by finding Joshua, Moses’ successor as leader of Israel, poised at the River Jordan to enter and take possession of Canaan.  Canaan was a unremarkable stretch of territory sandwiched between massive and already ancient civilizations.
  • First it is important to note, that it would have been unimaginable to anyone at the time that anything of significance could take place on that land. This narrow patch had never been significant economically or culturally, but only as a land bridge between the two great cultures and economies of Egypt and Mesopotamia.
  • But it was about to become important in the religious consciousness of humankind. In significant ways, this land would come to dwarf everything that had gone on before and around it.
  • The second important thing to note, is that what is about to happen is because of the promise that God gave Abraham 500 years earlier, was about to come to pass. If you remember, the People of Israel had been landless for nearly five hundred years. The “Patriarch fathers” — Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and his twelve sons—had been nomads in the land of Canaan.
  • That was followed by a long period of slavery in Egypt (over 400 years!), then a miraculous deliverance into freedom led by Moses, and then forty years of testing and training for living as a free people under God’s guidance and blessing. Now at the very beginning of Joshua, we find the nation of Israel camped at the river of Jordan, finally ready to enter the land.
  • A third thing to note, is how from the worlds point of view, they would have been dumbfounded at the transformation Israel had gone through. In the beginning, Israel was nothing but this ragtag crew of slaves, who knew nothing of the art of war, yet somehow became a military threat beyond belief!
  • They had been farmers and herders and builders of many of the great cities of Egypt! And even more importantly, were slaves! So, this transformation from slaves to warriors was mind blowing!
  • Joshua had a threefold task when it came to leading God's people:

           -       To lead God's people into the land

           -       To defeat their enemies

           -       To possess the land

  • The book of Joshua covers about 25 years from the crossing of Jordan to the death of Joshua.
  • One last thing I would like to point out, is that for most modem readers of Joshua, the toughest barrier to embracing this story as sacred, is the military strategy of the “holy war,” which is better translated as the “holy curse.” Where the mandate was to kill everyone in the conquered cities, and to destroy all the plunder, both animals and goods.
  • We look back from our time in history and think, “How horrible.” But if we were able to put ourselves back in the thirteenth century B.C., we might see it differently, for that Canaanite culture was a snake pit of child sacrifice and religious prostitution!
  • They were known for being devoted to using the most innocent and vulnerable members of their community (babies and virgins) to manipulate God or gods for gain.
  • Furthermore, we need to remember that God had warned them back in Genesis 15 that judgment would come unless they repented of their wicked ways! So, 600 years have come and gone, giving them plenty of time to change their ways if they had any inclination to do so. Obviously, they didn’t!
  • So now was the time to set things right, allowing the justice of God to flow through Israel who was the instrument of God's wrath upon a very wicked people! Thus, making the book of Joshua a journal of faith; an account of victory; a record of triumph!

 

OUTLINE: As you can see, this book breaks down into three specific parts!

Introduction: Joshua’s Commission (Ch. 1)

I.                 ENTERING THE LAND (Ch. 2-5)

           The crossing of the Jordan: A crisis that brings us into rest (the Jordan) as real as the crisis that brought us into                     redemption (the Red Sea).

 

II.              CONQUERING THE LAND (Chas. 6-12) —as a “whole” (11:23)

           Three crushing campaigns

           1.     Against the center (Ch. 6-9). As a wedge between N and S

           2.     Against the south (Ch. 10)

           3.     Against the north (Ch. 11)

           4.     Appendix of conquered kings (Ch. 12)

 

III.            POSSESSING THE LAND (Ch. 13-11) —in particular (13:1)

          (These chapters are the “title-deeds” of the inheritances of the Tribes)

          A.    Allocations of the tribes (Ch. 13-19)

                1.     The East bank Tribes - Ch. 13

                2.     Judah (& Caleb) - Ch. 14,15

                3.     Joseph - Ch.  16.17

                4.     The Seven Remaining Tribes - Ch. 18, 19

 

          B.    The cities of refuge Ch. 20

          C.    The cities of the Levites Ch. 21

          D.    The altar of witness - Ch. 22

 

Lessons we as New Testament believers need to learn:

1.     What is Canaan symbolic of from the New Testament point of view? The promise land is describes over and over again       as being a land flowing with milk and honey, wine, oil and fruit. It also was said to be a place where peace and safety           reigns because they would be free of their enemies there! All these things represent the best that life has to offer us on       this side of heaven! A land of satisfaction, security, fulfillment, plenty and abundance that would give them rest and               peace.

  • Rom 14:17-18 For the Kingdom of God is not a matter of what we eat or drink, but of living a life of goodness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.
  • This imagery was meant to be in contrast with Egyptian bondage or though wildernesses leanness.
  • This imagery also harkens back to the beginning of Genesis when God’s people were living in Eden, the Garden of Paradise. This implies that the land of Canaan represented the same kind of life that Adam and Eve experience before sin entered the world! A life that God is determined to restore.
  • In other words, Canaan represents the kind of life that God wants us to experience internally. Our lives should be ruled by peace and joy and righteousness! Our lives should be so full of life and vitality that we would declare the same thing that King David declared about his life in Ps 23:5-6 my cup overflows. Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life…
  • By the way, 23rd Psalm gives us yet another picture of the kind of abundant life that is meant to be ours as seen in both the picture of Eden and now in Canaan!
  • Another way to say all this… as one author put it; The vision of life we are given from studying Canaan is one where we are free from every form of bondage and in a constant state of rest because we have ceased from striving from our own works to prove ourselves to God!
  • In other words, this is the life that God promises you and me, the kind of life God originally created us for!  And according to the New Testament,  it’s part of our inheritance! But before we can experience it, we need to go in first and possess it! Now, this might seem like a daunting task, but in reality, our success is guaranteed because God has said... for I the Lord am with you!
  • Now, that is not to say this is going to be easy. Unfortunately, the land is filled with enemies that will do everything they can to stop and defeat you.
  • Once again, we are being given a symbolic picture of what the New Testament Christina faces every day! Eph 6:10-13 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.
  • But not only do we battle spiritual powers in high places and against the influence that the world tries to impose on us, but we are also battling our old nature.
  • Gal 5:16-24 So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature. For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. They are in conflict with each other, so that you do not do what you want. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under law.
  • (19-21) The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like.
  • (22-24) I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires.
  • Verses 19-21 are the enemies of the land that need to be overcome! As you rid your own land of the enemies, you will discover the fruits of the land (22-23).
  • You see, you don’t have to work hard to produce fruit! It is a byproduct of taking the promise land!
  • Deut 6:10-11 "The Lord your God will soon bring you into the land he swore to give you when he made a vow to your ancestors Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. It is a land with large, prosperous cities that you did not build. The houses will be richly stocked with goods you did not produce. You will draw water from cisterns you did not dig, and you will eat from vineyards and olive trees you did not plant.
  • In other words, once you have rid the land of the enemies, you'll discover your land is full of fruit!

 

2.     Moses (who represents the law) could not bring us into the promised land, only Joshua (who is a picture or type of Jesus) will lead us into our inheritance by his Grace!

  • Joshua’s name in Hebrew is yeshua and means “the Lord saves.” When the New Testament was written in the Greek language the name Joshua was pronounced “Jesus.” Jesus’ name, therefore, also means “the Lord saves:’ Of course the question then becomes, saves us from what?
  • The angel who announced the coming of Jesus’ birth to Mary, gave us the answer: “He will save people from their sins” (Mt 1:21).
  • But as with any fulfillment of ancient prophesy, there is always more to it that one originally thought. For example, where the first Joshua led one nation out of the world and into the land, Jesus would lead that one nation out of the land and into the world.
  • Another picture that Joshua gives us of the coming Christ and the impact he would have, is the act of Joshua leading Israel through the river of Jordan, which is a symbolic picture of baptism.
  • The Hebrew word Jordan is “Yarad” which literally means going down and is used frequently of "dying." One "goes down" to his grave. So, when Joshua (a picture of Christ) led Israel down into the Jordan, we are being given a picture of how through Christ death we would be reconciled to God.
  • And then when Joshua leads Israel out of the Jordan into the promise land, we are being shown how Jesus will save us by bringing us into promise land, a picture of the resurrection life he has for us!
  • Rom 5:9-10 For if, when we were God's enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life!

 

3.     Here in the book of Joshua they experienced physical blessings. In the New Testament, through Jesus, we have spiritual blessings:

  • Eph 1:3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ...
  • Blessings like peace, redemption, forgiveness of sin. Also, he has adopted us into his family, he has given us authority over demonic powers and has sealed us with the presence of the Holy Spirit!

 

4.     The book of Joshua is a testament to God's grace because once again it becomes clear that Israel didn't               earn or deserve the Promised Land, but it was theirs by God's choosing and grace!

 

5.   The Key to both entering and conquering the land is faith! It’s believing in God's promises, to which he                 gives us no explanations, but only in invitation to trust in him to always give us what we need for the next step.

 

6.     Furthermore, this book is a testimony to the reality that there are very real consequence’s to obeying or            disobeying God!

  • Deut 4:25-31 After you have had children and grandchildren and have lived in the land a long time — if you then become corrupt and make any kind of idol, doing evil in the eyes of the Lord your God and provoking him to anger, I call heaven and earth as witnesses against you this day that you will quickly perish from the land that you are crossing the Jordan to possess. You will not live there long but will certainly be destroyed.
  • The Lord will scatter you among the peoples, and only a few of you will survive among the nations to which the Lord will drive you. There you will worship man-made gods of wood and stone, which cannot see or hear or eat or smell.
  • But if from there you seek the Lord your God, you will find him if you look for him with all your heart and with all your soul. When you are in distress and all these things have happened to you, then in later days you will return to the Lord your God and obey him. For the Lord your God is a merciful God; he will not abandon or destroy you or forget the covenant with your forefathers, which he confirmed to them by oath.
  • From this verse, and many others, the curse of disobedience is clearly seen. There are consequences to our choices! If we continue to choose to trust God and live in such a way that we reflect him, then there is much blessing! Safety, health, and victory over our enemies.
  • But if begin putting our trust in idols, and allow our lives to reflect that, there will be negative consequences. Ultimately, God says he will allow Israel’s enemies to conquer them and scatter them to the ends of the earth!
  • But as you can see in the last verse, God’s discipline is always redemptive, never punitive! God’s hope and goal in using discipline, is to draw us back to himself.

 

7.     Lastly, many have felt that the book of Joshua gives us a picture of how God wants to use his people to                extend his kingdom throughout the whole world, thus fulfilling one of the original Genesis mandates, of                filling the whole world with his image!

  • Joshua (a picture of Jesus) led God's people in possessing their inheritance. Jesus talks about this in his sermon on the mount! The meek (God’s People) will inherit the earth.
  • From that, some scholars say we are being given the picture of how Jesus wants to lead us in expanding his kingdom throughout the whole world.
  • In other words, there is a war going on over the souls of humanity. Jesus has bound the strongman, so we could pillage his goods. Matt 12:28-30 "But if it's by God's power that I am sending the evil spirits packing, then God's kingdom is here for sure. How in the world do you think it's possible in broad daylight to enter the house of an awake, able-bodied man and walk off with his possessions unless you tie him up first? Tie him up, though, and you can clean him out.
  • "This is war, and there is no neutral ground. If you're not on my side, you're the enemy; if you're not helping, you're making things worse. THE MESSAGE:
  • Until Jesus returns, the time his kingdom is restored fully, we are called to slowly advance God’s cause by preaching the gospel to every nation. Matt 24:14 And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.

 

Now that we have all this background, we are now ready to begin exploring all the stories and their insights into apprehending the life God has promised us! Let me remind you this is not meant to be an exhaustive study, but only a overview. Meaning, if something strikes you, I want to encourage you to do more study on your own!

 

The Calling of Joshua

  • Josh 1:1After the death of Moses the servant of the LORD, the LORD said to Joshua son of Nun, Moses' aide:
  • Key idea: Mentoring
  • The relationship between Moses and Joshua is a great example of the power of discipleship. It was through this relationship that Moses was able to pass down his ministry, his faith, his confidence to Joshua.
  • From a New Testament perspective, personal one on one discipleship is God's most effective way to help someone grow into all the things God has for them. We see this over and over again modeled by Jesus, John the Baptist, the apostle Paul and Peter!

 

God sends Joshua

  • Josh 1:2-3 "Moses my servant is dead. Now then, you and all these people, get ready to cross the Jordan River into the land I am about to give to them-to the Israelites. I will give you every place where you set your foot, as I promised Moses.
  • Key Idea: Faith and obedience
  • The land was theirs by covenant promise, but the enjoyment of the land came through their obedience to God's word! Wherever they put their foot, that land became theirs! The opposite of this is true as well. Wherever they didn’t put their foot, that land never became theirs!
  • The New Testament makes the same case, it is only by our following Jesus and applying his word to our lives, that we can experience the fullness of his life, security, strength, and personal direction.
  • The strongest evidence of knowing and loving God is seen in that we are following his Commandments. (It should be noted that we are not talking about your initial salvation, but rather the kingdom blessings.)

 

The story of Rahab:

  • Josh 2:17-20 The men said to her, "This oath you made us swear will not be binding on us unless, when we enter the land, you have tied this scarlet cord in the window through which you let us down, and unless you have brought your father and mother, your brothers and all your family into your house. If anyone goes outside your house into the street, his blood will be on his own head; we will not be responsible. As for anyone who is in the house with you, his will be on our head if a hand is laid on him.
  • Key Idea: Redemption
  • She was a harlot, a prostitute who we discover in the book of Matthew found her way into the genealogy of Christ. God’s redemption was so complete, that irregardless of her sordid past, God wove her into the very genealogy of Christ!
  • Heb 11:31 By faith the prostitute Rahab, because she welcomed the spies, was not killed with those who were disobedient. 
  • An interesting note here, is that the word “scarlet” used to describe the cord put out of her window as the evidence of her faith, was used over 70 times concerning the building of the Tabernacle of Moses. It became a symbolic picture of God's red blood needing to be spilled for our salvation.
  • This principal was introduced to us in the Exodus story, where Israel was instructed to put the blood of the Passover lamb over their door so that the Angel of death would bypass them. This picture of course found it’s fulfillment in Christ sheading his blood for us on the cross, so that we might have eternal life!

 

Crossing the Jordan

  • Judges 3:13-16 And as soon as the priests who carry the ark of the LORD-the Lord of all the earth-set foot in the Jordan, its waters flowing downstream will be cut off and stand up in a heap." So when the people broke camp to cross the Jordan, the priests carrying the ark of the covenant went ahead of them. Now the Jordan is at flood stage all during harvest. Yet as soon as the priests who carried the ark reached the Jordan and their feet touched the water's edge, the water from upstream stopped flowing. It piled up in a heap a great distance away, at a town called Adam
  • Key Idea: New beginning
  • Can you imagine what those first priest must have felt as they stuck out their foot over the raging river?
  • This is no different than when you first cried out to God and surrendered your life completely to him.
  • Joshua led Israel across the Jordan River while it was at flood stage, when the crossing looked impossible. Here we again see the power of God to save his people against impossible odds.
  • The Ark of covenant is another picture of Christ who goes before us. Notice if you would, that the Jordan stopped all the way back to a town called Adam! In other words, the redemptive work of Christ undoes all the brokenness that flows into our life because of the fall of Adam and Eve.
  • Rom 5:12-13 When Adam sinned, sin entered the world. Adam's sin brought death, so death spread to everyone, for everyone sinned.
  • 1 Cor 15:22-23 Just as everyone dies because we all belong to Adam, everyone who belongs to Christ will be given new life.

 

Meeting the Commander of the Lords Army

  • Josh 5:13-15 Now when Joshua was near Jericho, he looked up and saw a man standing in front of him with a drawn sword in his hand. Joshua went up to him and asked, "Are you for us or for our enemies?" "Neither," he replied, "but as commander of the army of the LORD I have now come."
  • Then Joshua fell facedown to the ground in reverence, and asked him, "What message does my Lord have for his servant?" The commander of the LORD's army replied, "Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy." And Joshua did so.
  • Key Idea: God has a holy purpose for each of us!
  • What other story does that last phrase remind you of? Moses calling! Ex 3:6 "Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy ground."
  • Meaning that this was Joshua’s burning bush experience, where God set him apart for his holy purpose! Only this time God manifests himself as the commander of the army instead of a burning bush.
  • The difference being purely circumstantial! The lesson of the burning bush is covered in our study on Exodus. God showed Moses what he needed through the lesson of the burning bus. Here, for Joshua to do what he was about to do, conquering enemies far more superior, he needed a confidence that only a general of an vast army could give him!  
  • Apart from that, the next question we must ask concerning both Joshua’s and with Moses experience, is why was that ground pronounced to be holy? The answer is twofold. First it was made holy because of God’s presence. Secondly, it was made holy by what was occurring! Both Moses and Joshua were being set aside for God’s holy purpose!
  • Joshua then asked him a critical question; was he for Israel or against Israel. The angel’s answer is pivotal for understanding the storyline of the Bible. One would assume that this angelic messenger, or God himself, would have been “against” the enemies of Israel and “for” God’s people. What a surprise it was to hear the angel say; “Neither!”
  • This was not what one would expect! But for those who have been following the storyline closely, it would have made complete sense. You see, God’s heart has always been for all people! Every nation, every tribe and every tongue!
  • The reason why God chose Israel was not to annihilate the people of the earth, but rather to use Israel as his messenger of love, in hopes of drawing all people back to Himself. In other words…  Israel as God’s ambassador to offer the rest of the world his gift of salvation!

 

The victory at Jericho

  • Josh 6:2-5 Then the LORD said to Joshua, "See, I have delivered Jericho into your hands, along with its king and its fighting men. March around the city once with all the armed men. Do this for six days. Have seven priests carry trumpets of rams' horns in front of the ark. On the seventh day, march around the city seven times, with the priests blowing the trumpets. When you hear them sound a long blast on the trumpets, have all the people give a loud shout; then the wall of the city will collapse and the people will go up, every man straight in."
  • Key Idea: Faith and obedience releases God’s power
  • The way they destroyed Jericho was amazing! They simply walked around Jericho for seven days following the Ark of covenant (a picture of Jesus) and worshiped! On the seventh day they walked about Jericho seven more time, the blew their trumpets and shouted! God’s power was released destroying their enemies stronghold!
  • Of course, the act of walking around the city a certain number of times and blasting their trumpets and yelling has no inherent power within themselves. In other words, if they were to go to another city and do the exact same thing, nothing would happen!
  • This is not a formula for success, but rather an example of how God’s power is released through faith filled obedience.
  • One last interesting insight from archaeology. Archaeologist discovered Jericho around 1908 and found that the construction of the wall was unique in that there were two walls. An inner wall that was 18 feet thick and an outer wall that was 6 feet thick! Both walls being somewhere between 25 and 30 feet high.
  • but what is even more fascinating, that that the evidence shows that the walls blew apart causing the outer wall to fall outward while the inner wall fell inwards, thus confirming the biblical story of the falling of Jericho.

 

The Defeat at Ai

  • Josh 7:3-6 When they returned to Joshua, they said, "Not all the people will have to go up against Ai. Send two or three thousand men to take it and do not weary all the people, for only a few men are there." So about three thousand men went up; but they were routed by the men of Ai, who killed about thirty-six of them. They chased the Israelites from the city gate as far as the stone quarries and struck them down on the slopes. At this the hearts of the people melted and became like water.  Then Joshua tore his clothes and fell facedown to the ground before the ark of the LORD, remaining there till evening.
  • Key Idea: Sin and it’s influence
  • The story of Achan and the battle with Ai, gives us clear illustration of how one person's sin can affect the whole nation. And that regardless of how small the enemy is, if God is not with us, they cannot be defeated.
  • While the victory at Jericho was the pattern for doing it right, the defeat at Ai, the second city they encountered, serves as the pattern for doing it wrong.
  • God’s anger “burned” against Israel because one of the Israelites, named Achan, had kept some of the spoil from Jericho, which was supposed to be destroyed. At this point, we need to remember that God’s covenant had been with a corporate people, so that when Achan sinned, the whole nation was affected. God’s judgment came when he allowed the Israelites to suffer defeat against Ai.
  • God’s covenantal justice, however, is not punitive but corrective. He allowed these mistakes to be rectified through repentance. After Achan’s sin was found out and the proper justice meted out, “the Lord turned from his fierce anger” and led them to victory against Al.

 

Joshua’s last admonishment

  • Josh 24:14-15 "Now fear the LORD and serve him with all faithfulness. Throw away the gods your forefathers worshiped beyond the River and in Egypt, and serve the LORD. But if serving the LORD seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your forefathers served beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD."
  • Key Idea: Who will you serve?
  • This question becomes the pivot point! Everything that happens after this, depends upon how they would answer this question.
  • As we have just read, God had accomplished much through Joshua! He had led his people into the land, conquered the land, and for the most part had possessed the land. By taking Jericho first, Joshua had broken the main power of Canaan. So Joshua was able to attack one city at a time till he defeated them all!
  • In other words, he divided them and then conquered them! Yet, there still remained pockets of resistance! How Israel responded to these seemingly inconsequential pockets of resistance, would set the tone of what was to come for the next 300 years.
  • Joshua’s question of whom would they serve, was meant to galvanize Israel’s troops into action! Joshua’s last command was for Israel to go in and completely rid the land of all it’s enemies. And by choosing to serve God, they would carry out these orders.
  • But unfortunately, Israel did not choose to serve God with all their hearts, which resulted in them not completely destroying their enemies. These enemies then grew up to oppress Israel for the next 300 years.
  • Now some may wonder why God didn’t make them do this to save Israel from years of grief? But God understood the important of freedom. He understood, love comes from freedom. God wanted his people to love him in the same way he loved them.
  • God understood the if he took away that freedom, he would be taking away Israel’s ability to love. And God would never do that, even if that meant Israel had to suffer the consequences of their choices.
  • You know the rest of the story, Israel did not heed Joshua’s last command, resulting in Israel never fully occupying the promise land. That would now have to wait 300 years till God raised up King David.
  • All because Israel refused to deal with those little pockets of resistance, which they could have easily defeated in the beginning. Maybe Israel in their pride, didn’t consider them a threat because they were so small.
  • But God knew if they were to be free of their enemies, they needed to completely destroy them now while they had the chance. But Israel didn’t, and those few enemies grew to be many, and then rose up and became a constant thorn in Israel’s side.  This set the scene for the time of Judges!