In Joshua 23 and Joshua 24, the last two chapters of the book, the ancient Joshua addresses Israel. He looks back on what the LORD has done to give the people the promised land. Then he tells them how they can continue to enjoy the full blessing of their inheritance. This is first of all by keeping to God’s Word in everything. Secondly, this is by keeping oneself separated from the remains of the peoples that are still around them.
It is the same for us. Only by listening to God’s Word in obedience in all things and by remaining separated from the world in all things will we be able to continue to enjoy the tremendous blessings given to us in Christ in the heavenly places.
Joshua 23 and Joshua 24 belong together. It is always a striking moment when a man of God says goodbye at the end of his life. We also see such a moment with Moses (Deu 31:14-3014Then the LORD said to Moses, “Behold, the time for you to die is near; call Joshua, and present yourselves at the tent of meeting, that I may commission him.” So Moses and Joshua went and presented themselves at the tent of meeting.15The LORD appeared in the tent in a pillar of cloud, and the pillar of cloud stood at the doorway of the tent.16The LORD said to Moses, “Behold, you are about to lie down with your fathers; and this people will arise and play the harlot with the strange gods of the land, into the midst of which they are going, and will forsake Me and break My covenant which I have made with them.17Then My anger will be kindled against them in that day, and I will forsake them and hide My face from them, and they will be consumed, and many evils and troubles will come upon them; so that they will say in that day, ‘Is it not because our God is not among us that these evils have come upon us?’18But I will surely hide My face in that day because of all the evil which they will do, for they will turn to other gods.19“Now therefore, write this song for yourselves, and teach it to the sons of Israel; put it on their lips, so that this song may be a witness for Me against the sons of Israel.20For when I bring them into the land flowing with milk and honey, which I swore to their fathers, and they have eaten and are satisfied and become prosperous, then they will turn to other gods and serve them, and spurn Me and break My covenant.21Then it shall come about, when many evils and troubles have come upon them, that this song will testify before them as a witness (for it shall not be forgotten from the lips of their descendants); for I know their intent which they are developing today, before I have brought them into the land which I swore.”22So Moses wrote this song the same day, and taught it to the sons of Israel.23Then He commissioned Joshua the son of Nun, and said, “Be strong and courageous, for you shall bring the sons of Israel into the land which I swore to them, and I will be with you.”24It came about, when Moses finished writing the words of this law in a book until they were complete,25that Moses commanded the Levites who carried the ark of the covenant of the LORD, saying,26“Take this book of the law and place it beside the ark of the covenant of the LORD your God, that it may remain there as a witness against you.27For I know your rebellion and your stubbornness; behold, while I am still alive with you today, you have been rebellious against the LORD; how much more, then, after my death?28Assemble to me all the elders of your tribes and your officers, that I may speak these words in their hearing and call the heavens and the earth to witness against them.29For I know that after my death you will act corruptly and turn from the way which I have commanded you; and evil will befall you in the latter days, for you will do that which is evil in the sight of the LORD, provoking Him to anger with the work of your hands.”30Then Moses spoke in the hearing of all the assembly of Israel the words of this song, until they were complete:; 32:45-4745When Moses had finished speaking all these words to all Israel,46he said to them, “Take to your heart all the words with which I am warning you today, which you shall command your sons to observe carefully, [even] all the words of this law.47For it is not an idle word for you; indeed it is your life. And by this word you will prolong your days in the land, which you are about to cross the Jordan to possess.”), with Samuel (1Sam 12:1-251Then Samuel said to all Israel, “Behold, I have listened to your voice in all that you said to me and I have appointed a king over you.2Now, here is the king walking before you, but I am old and gray, and behold my sons are with you. And I have walked before you from my youth even to this day.3Here I am; bear witness against me before the LORD and His anointed. Whose ox have I taken, or whose donkey have I taken, or whom have I defrauded? Whom have I oppressed, or from whose hand have I taken a bribe to blind my eyes with it? I will restore [it] to you.”4They said, “You have not defrauded us or oppressed us or taken anything from any man’s hand.”5He said to them, “The LORD is witness against you, and His anointed is witness this day that you have found nothing in my hand.” And they said, “[He is] witness.”6Then Samuel said to the people, “It is the LORD who appointed Moses and Aaron and who brought your fathers up from the land of Egypt.7So now, take your stand, that I may plead with you before the LORD concerning all the righteous acts of the LORD which He did for you and your fathers.8When Jacob went into Egypt and your fathers cried out to the LORD, then the LORD sent Moses and Aaron who brought your fathers out of Egypt and settled them in this place.9But they forgot the LORD their God, so He sold them into the hand of Sisera, captain of the army of Hazor, and into the hand of the Philistines and into the hand of the king of Moab, and they fought against them.10They cried out to the LORD and said, ‘We have sinned because we have forsaken the LORD and have served the Baals and the Ashtaroth; but now deliver us from the hands of our enemies, and we will serve You.’11Then the LORD sent Jerubbaal and Bedan and Jephthah and Samuel, and delivered you from the hands of your enemies all around, so that you lived in security.12When you saw that Nahash the king of the sons of Ammon came against you, you said to me, ‘No, but a king shall reign over us,’ although the LORD your God [was] your king.13Now therefore, here is the king whom you have chosen, whom you have asked for, and behold, the LORD has set a king over you.14If you will fear the LORD and serve Him, and listen to His voice and not rebel against the command of the LORD, then both you and also the king who reigns over you will follow the LORD your God.15If you will not listen to the voice of the LORD, but rebel against the command of the LORD, then the hand of the LORD will be against you, [as it] was against your fathers.16Even now, take your stand and see this great thing which the LORD will do before your eyes.17Is it not the wheat harvest today? I will call to the LORD, that He may send thunder and rain. Then you will know and see that your wickedness is great which you have done in the sight of the LORD by asking for yourselves a king.”18So Samuel called to the LORD, and the LORD sent thunder and rain that day; and all the people greatly feared the LORD and Samuel.19Then all the people said to Samuel, “Pray for your servants to the LORD your God, so that we may not die, for we have added to all our sins [this] evil by asking for ourselves a king.”20Samuel said to the people, “Do not fear. You have committed all this evil, yet do not turn aside from following the LORD, but serve the LORD with all your heart.21You must not turn aside, for [then you would] go after futile things which can not profit or deliver, because they are futile.22For the LORD will not abandon His people on account of His great name, because the LORD has been pleased to make you a people for Himself.23Moreover, as for me, far be it from me that I should sin against the LORD by ceasing to pray for you; but I will instruct you in the good and right way.24Only fear the LORD and serve Him in truth with all your heart; for consider what great things He has done for you.25But if you still do wickedly, both you and your king will be swept away.”) and with Paul (Acts 20:17-3817From Miletus he sent to Ephesus and called to him the elders of the church.18And when they had come to him, he said to them, “You yourselves know, from the first day that I set foot in Asia, how I was with you the whole time,19serving the Lord with all humility and with tears and with trials which came upon me through the plots of the Jews;20how I did not shrink from declaring to you anything that was profitable, and teaching you publicly and from house to house,21solemnly testifying to both Jews and Greeks of repentance toward God and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ.22And now, behold, bound by the Spirit, I am on my way to Jerusalem, not knowing what will happen to me there,23except that the Holy Spirit solemnly testifies to me in every city, saying that bonds and afflictions await me.24But I do not consider my life of any account as dear to myself, so that I may finish my course and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify solemnly of the gospel of the grace of God.25“And now, behold, I know that all of you, among whom I went about preaching the kingdom, will no longer see my face.26Therefore, I testify to you this day that I am innocent of the blood of all men.27For I did not shrink from declaring to you the whole purpose of God.28Be on guard for yourselves and for all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood.29I know that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock;30and from among your own selves men will arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after them.31Therefore be on the alert, remembering that night and day for a period of three years I did not cease to admonish each one with tears.32And now I commend you to God and to the word of His grace, which is able to build [you] up and to give [you] the inheritance among all those who are sanctified.33I have coveted no one’s silver or gold or clothes.34You yourselves know that these hands ministered to my [own] needs and to the men who were with me.35In everything I showed you that by working hard in this manner you must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, that He Himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’”36When he had said these things, he knelt down and prayed with them all.37And they [began] to weep aloud and embraced Paul, and repeatedly kissed him,38grieving especially over the word which he had spoken, that they would not see his face again. And they were accompanying him to the ship.). The farewell address of Paul is the only address in Acts to believers; the other addresses are all for unbelievers. These are the last words of Paul to the elders of Ephesus.
Joshua is a picture of the glorified Lord Who is now with His people in the Spirit to lead it after the death of Moses who is a picture of the Lord Jesus Who led His people through the wilderness. The Spirit dwells in all believers. But there are also leaders in whom the Spirit works to introduce God’s people into the heavenly blessings. The true leaders are those who lead the people of God into the heavenly blessings. What teachers do today is to draw from what the first leaders, who discovered these blessings, the apostles, have passed on.