Today we close our study on the book of Joshua. Through this journey, we’ve seen the providential hand of God in Israel, and also in our very lives. We’ve been reminded that God is faithful to fulfill all of His promises. God promises, and His promises come to pass. We’ve been challenged to be strong and courageous, not because of who we are but because of who He is. We’ve seen that as the people of Israel stepped out in faith, their faith initiated the work of God in and through them, just as our acts of obedience today initiate God’s work in and through us. The book of Joshua concludes with Joshua’s final speech to the people of Israel.
God refocuses the people of Israel on who brought them to the Promised Land. In verses 1-13, we read about all the things that God has done for Israel.
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. 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. 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. 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. Then I sent Moses and Aaron, and I plagued Egypt by what I did in its midst; and afterward I brought you out. 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. 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. 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. 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. But I was not willing to listen to Balaam. So he had to bless you, and I delivered you from his hand. 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. 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. 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.’ Joshua 24:1-13
God took Abraham from beyond the river and led him through all the land of Canaan. God sent Moses and Aaron, He brought Israel out of Egypt, He brought His people into the land of the Amorites (the Promised Land), He delivered them, and He gave them a land on which they had not labored.
I took your father Abraham
God reminds the people through Joshua that Israel was not in Canaan by accident. God worked this out hundreds of years before, with a time, place, and purpose that He ordained. God changes the scope of the world for His people.
Just as God went before Israel, His hand is on you today and He leads and guides you. Don’t squander where you’re at today – God knows your circumstances, and He’s actively involved in your life:
- I formed you in your mother’s womb – Psalm 139
- I know the plans I have for you – Jeremiah 29:11
- I have given life to you – “He Himself gives to all people life and breath and all things;” Acts 17:25
- I have determined your time and place – “having determined their appointed times and the boundaries of their habitation,” Acts 17:26
- I have created you for a purpose – “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works,” Ephesians 2:10
Don’t squander your life – your life has divine purpose and meaning. You may not see the scope of the impact of your life, you may not understand your purpose, and you may doubt the significance of your impact for the kingdom of God, but God has created you with purpose.
I sent Moses and Aaron
God reminds the people that He sent a deliverer when they cried out (Exodus 3:10). God sent Moses as a deliverer to bring His people out of Egypt, and Moses was a foreshadow of our deliverer, Jesus.
By this the love of God was manifested in us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world so that we might live through Him. In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins…We have seen and testify that the Father has sent the Son to be the Savior of the world. 1 John 4:9-10, 14
God sent Jesus to free us from the bondage of sin:
“For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him. John 3:17
I brought you out
God brought them out of Egypt, and out of slavery, bondage, and out from under a severe taskmaster. They cried out for deliverance and God responded. Those apart from Christ suffer from bondage to sin. Sin kills – the Bible tells us that the wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23). Only God has the power to free us:
So also we, while we were children, were held in bondage under the elemental things of the world. But when the fullness of the time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the Law, so that He might redeem those who were under the Law, that we might receive the adoption as sons. Galatians 4:3-5
At the right time, Jesus came to free us from the bondage of sin. God brings us out of sin and darkness, and brings us into life. God doesn’t strip us of our dirty rags and leave us wandering naked in the wilderness – He has a better plan. God clothes us and brings us into a new nation, a new kingdom, a new family, with a purpose: to proclaim His excellencies and the greatness of our King.
We’ve been called into a new kingdom, yet we still live in a fallen world. Colossians 3:12-16 is a picture of putting off the old and putting on the new self. We are priests and ambassadors for Jesus, and we represent Him wherever we go. Our embassy is our homes, our workplace, our neighborhoods.
I gave them into your hand – I destroyed them
God went before Israel and gave them the victory. They participated in the battles, but it was God who went before them and who goes before us today.
but thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. 1 Corinthians 15:57
But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us. Romans 8:37
I gave you a land for which you did not labor
God reminds them that by grace and grace alone, they entered the Promised Land. None of us can enter the kingdom apart from God. We are all saved by grace and grace alone. We can’t be sinless enough or prove ourselves right before God – only Jesus can make us right before God, and Jesus changes our hearts as we spend time with Him.
Right and Wrong Response
“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. 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.” Joshua 24:14-15
The right response is to fear the Lord and serve Him. Joshua asks the people to choose whether they will serve the gods of their forefathers, or the gods of the Amorites, or the Lord. Joshua brings them to a choice, which is not uncommon in scripture. Elijah went before the people and asked them to make a choice (1 Kings 18:21). Jesus asked the rich young ruler to choose between his money or following Jesus, and in John 6, Jesus also called His followers to a point of decision and asked them if they were all in.
The people said they would follow God (Joshua 24:16-18), but Joshua said that they would not be able to (Joshua 24:19). Sincere repentance requires a change in behavior. Today we have the same choice as Israel: Will we fear the Lord? What is He calling you to do today? Will you obey Him? Will you serve Him?