Joshua
Introduction 1-2 Joshua Calls All Together 3-4 What Is Done for the People 5 The LORD Will Continue to Help Them 6-8 Call to Faithfulness to God 9-10 The LORD Fights for His People 11 Appeal to Love the LORD 12-13 Warning 14 The LORD Has Fulfilled All His Promises 15-16 Consequences of Unfaithfulness Announced
Introduction

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.


Joshua Calls All Together

1Now 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, 2that 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.

The explanation of these last chapters is not difficult. It is about a time when the leaders and elders are no longer there, but when the Word remains. Leaders may pass away; the words of God they have spoken remain. The Lord Jesus also remains “Remember those who led you, who spoke the word of God to you; and considering the result of their conduct, imitate their faith. Jesus Christ [is] the same yesterday and today and forever” (Heb 13:7-87Remember those who led you, who spoke the word of God to you; and considering the result of their conduct, imitate their faith.8Jesus Christ [is] the same yesterday and today and forever.). Whoever believes, lacks nothing.

In Joshua and the elders we can see the generation of apostles, who are the founders of the church, and the elders they appointed. There comes a moment when Joshua dies. This is followed by a time when the elders are still there. They are, as it were, the second generation. But this generation will also die. And Joshua shows what will happen then. The people will remain alone. There will be no new leader. They will have to rely completely on God only as their Leader. This is also what Paul points to in connection with his passing away: “And 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” (Acts 20:3232And 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.).

Joshua first speaks to the elders, just as Paul does. Paul commands them to God and to the Word of His grace. He has no successor, no new generation of apostles. But the grace of God does not change, does not pass away, nor does His Word, which always remains with us, as does the Spirit. This allows us to receive and enjoy the inheritance among those who are sanctified. Paul has made known the heavenly blessings. Paul is no longer there, but his words are. So Joshua also wrote everything down (Jos 24:2626And 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.).


What Is Done for the People

3And 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. 4See, 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.

Joshua especially addresses those who have a special responsibility in the midst of God’s people. He first wants to impress them with the great grace with which God has worked for His people.


The LORD Will Continue to Help Them

5The 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.

The history of the conquest of the land is in fact that of the power and faithfulness of God. What they have seen in the past of God’s power and faithfulness, they can count on for the future. Joshua points to the grace that will remain with them in the future.


Call to Faithfulness to God

6Be 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, 7so 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. 8But you are to cling to the LORD your God, as you have done to this day.

There are also conditions to be fulfilled. Joshua shows how to preserve the inheritance. He points out the dangers from outside, the peoples around them, with which they should not interfere. Thus Paul warns of intruders, and what will come forth from among them: “I know that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; and from among your own selves men will arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after them” (Acts 20:29-3029I 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.). There are dangers from outside and inside. We are always surrounded by opponents and we still have the flesh in us.

The involvement with the remaining peoples begins with the naming of their gods. Therefore they should not even mention their names (Psa 16:4b4The sorrows of those who have bartered for another [god] will be multiplied;
I shall not pour out their drink offerings of blood,
Nor will I take their names upon my lips.
). Mentioning the names means paying attention to them. Thus the demons behind these idols are given the opportunity to exert their influence on the thinking of God’s people. A next step is to swear by it, followed by adhering to it and bowing to it.

Satan always tries to get room for his views first. Once he has been given an opening for this, the practice follows automatically. Therefore the admonition comes to us that certain things are not even mentioned among us as believers (Eph 5:3-43But immorality or any impurity or greed must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints;4and [there must be no] filthiness and silly talk, or coarse jesting, which are not fitting, but rather giving of thanks.).


The LORD Fights for His People

9For 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. 10One of your men puts to flight a thousand, for the LORD your God is He who fights for you, just as He promised you.

All the victories that the people have achieved are due to God. The enemy is defeated not by his own strength, but by God’s strength. That one was able to pursue thousand is because God fought for them according to His promise (cf. 1Sam 14:66Then Jonathan said to the young man who was carrying his armor, “Come and let us cross over to the garrison of these uncircumcised; perhaps the LORD will work for us, for the LORD is not restrained to save by many or by few.”). Without God the strongest army can do nothing, while with God a few can defeat the biggest army.


Appeal to Love the LORD

11So take diligent heed to yourselves to love the LORD your God.

Here we read for the third time the precept not to deviate from the LORD their God. The first prescription is obedience (verse 66Be 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,). What we have seen in God’s Word, we must do, otherwise we will fall. This obedience can only be brought about by observing the second precept, that our soul adheres to the Lord (verse 88But you are to cling to the LORD your God, as you have done to this day.), that is to say, knowing to be one with Him. The adherence to the Lord is again the result of loving Him from the heart, as the third precept says (verse 1111So take diligent heed to yourselves to love the LORD your God.). Love leads to the keeping of God’s commandments (1Jn 5:33For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments; and His commandments are not burdensome.). Love brings to complete surrender and means life.


Warning

12For 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, 13know 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.

There are always enemies left over that they have to drive out and for whom they have to beware that they are not going to serve their gods. Those enemies always want to try to be among God’s people. If they commit to it, it will have great and evil consequences. If they do not use God’s power to drive out the enemy, God will allow the enemy to remain among them and they will not be able to drive him out.

David later subdues the enemies that are still in Israel. Thus, when the Lord Jesus returns to earth, He will subdue the enemies of Israel. We are part of Christianity and constantly have to deal with these enemies, the wolves from outside, which we no longer get rid of. We also have an enemy in us, that is the flesh. We should not fight against this, but keep ourselves dead for it (Rom 6:1111Even so consider yourselves to be dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus.).

If we do not treat the enemy as God indicates, he will make us a “snare” that will bring us down. We will be caught in his “trap”, which will prevent us from moving. He will become our “whip”, which means he will oppress us hard and cruelly. Finally, he will become “thorns in your eyes”, which means that he will cruelly and painfully blind us, so that we see nothing more of God’s blessings.


The LORD Has Fulfilled All His Promises

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.

Joshua goes “the way of all the earth”, that is, he leaves the earth by death. Enoch and Elijah are exceptions (Gen 5:2424Enoch walked with God; and he was not, for God took him.; 2Kgs 2:1111As they were going along and talking, behold, [there appeared] a chariot of fire and horses of fire which separated the two of them. And Elijah went up by a whirlwind to heaven.). By emphasizing his death so emphatically, his words will have made an even greater impression.

Joshua honors God before the people by keeping God’s absolute faithfulness to all His promises to the people (Jos 21:4545Not one of the good promises which the LORD had made to the house of Israel failed; all came to pass.; Heb 10:23b23Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful;). He speaks of “all the good words”. God seeks only the good for His people, all His promises are good and He fulfils them without exception. All the promises that have already been fulfilled are a guarantee for all the promises that remain to be fulfilled.


Consequences of Unfaithfulness Announced

15It 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. 16When 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.”

What applies to good things also applies to evil things. God is faithful to His Word in everything. Just as He has made good come, so He will also let evil come when His people become unfaithful to Him.


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