We have almost completed the entire book of Joshua, and have learned a great deal about Joshua, Israel and their relationship to The LORD. Joshua’s leadership of Israel and his faith in God have been inspirational for me and I hope to you as well.
We open the text in chapter 24. Joshua is old and begins his farewell address. Joshua gathered all the tribes of Israel to Shechem and called up their leaders to stand before the people. This passage will be a bit lengthy, but that’s the whole point as we will discuss in our conclusions below. He begins by speaking for The LORD giving an account of what He has done for them, and we conclude this study on a very popular verse. We begin reading in verse two: “Thus says the LORD, the God of Israel, ‘Long ago, your fathers lived beyond the Euphrates, Terah, the father of Abraham and 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 made his offspring many. I gave him Isaac. And to Isaac I gave Jacob and Esau. And I gave Esau the hill country of Seir to possess, but Jacob and his children went down to Egypt. And I sent Moses and Aaron, and I plagued Egypt with what I did in the midst of it, and afterward I brought you out. Then I brought your fathers out of Egypt, and you came to the sea. And the Egyptians pursued your fathers with chariots and horsemen to the Red Sea. And when they cried to the LORD, he put darkness between you and the Egyptians and made the sea come upon them and cover them; and your eyes saw what I did in Egypt. And you lived in the wilderness a long time. Then I brought you to the land of the Amorites, who lived on the other side of the Jordan. They fought with you, and I gave them into your hand, and you took possession of their land, and I destroyed them before you. Then Balak the son of Zippor, king of Moab, arose and fought against Israel. And he sent and invited Balaam the son of Beor to curse you, but I would not listen to Balaam. Indeed, he blessed you. So I delivered you out of his hand. And you went over the Jordan and came to Jericho, and the leaders of Jericho fought against you, and also the Amorites, the Perizzites, the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Girgashites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites. And I gave them into your hand. And I sent the hornet before you, which drove them out before you, the two kings of the Amorites; it was not by your sword or by your bow. I gave you a land on which you had not labored and cities that you had not built, and you dwell in them. You eat the fruit of vineyards and olive orchards that you did not plant.” Joshua now speaks as himself: “Now therefore fear the LORD and serve him in sincerity and in faithfulness. Put away the gods that your fathers served beyond the River and in Egypt, and serve the LORD. And if it is evil in your eyes to serve the LORD, choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your fathers served in the region beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.” (ESV)
The scene is a powerful one. Joshua has called all the people together at Shechem. The elders, heads of the people, the judges and the officers of Israel are all presenting themselves before God. Joshua is standing where all can hear him, and begins to speak of The LORD. This is a beautiful picture of what kind of government is blessed by God. It is one that has leaders who present themselves before God with the people at their backs supporting them. All are placed in subjection to Him. Let us not miss this in the reading of this text. It is a very important point. Joshua then speaks about what The LORD has done. He starts all the way back to Abraham’s father, and goes from there. Ok, let’s look at that. The birth of Abraham happened about 2166 BC, and this address is taking place somewhere around 1350 BC. That’s the span of History that Joshua is speaking about. He, in detail, addresses The LORD’s actions in a little over 800 years of their history, and ties that directly into the people. The LORD did this for you, he says. Go through the text here, and see what Joshua listed. The list is long.
When I think about this, I think of God’s providence. I also think, we have a tendency towards thinking of God solely as doing things for us, and this is counter to what we read in the whole of Scripture. We say things like, “I asked Jesus into my heart” instead of “I have placed myself into His heart.” I think there is a big difference here. I believe this is true that we are indwelled with God’s presence as Scripture teaches, but I also think that we sometimes miss the point that it’s not about us. It is about Him. He loves us, yes, but His picture is much larger than ours. He looks from the beginning of time to the end of time, and I think about my meager presence within this vast span of existence of the universe and stand in awe that I am noticed by Him. Then stand in awe that I am not simply noticed, but loved enough for Him to do what He has done for me.
I don’t know everything He has done in the 800 or so years prior to my existence, but I know that He is good. The least I can do is serve him in the brevity of my life. I encourage you to do the same.
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Joshua 24:15b – “. . . as for me and my house, we will serve The LORD.”