This is our last study in the book of Joshua, and in my mind, the most powerful and prevalent for our application today. These accounts when observed in great detail reveal the gore and confusion of battle, but we must note that most of these battles are framed as God’s will. Joshua received his instructions from Him! This speaks to our hearts in our understanding of our God. Many people think that we are saved from our sins, and I agree. However, we must not remove the fact taught in the Bible that we are saved from God’s wrath. Our sins invoke His wrath, and while this is not the flowery God that so many seem to like, He is still God. What we think of Him does not change who He is, and we should remember this well. Jesus spoke from this framework. What is our salvation from? Is it from ourselves, or the wrath of an Almighty God that we, ourselves, have invoked? The Bible teaches the latter is true with more clarity, than being saved just from ourselves.
What does Joshua speak to us about Jesus? Let us examine the following verses beginning with our ever popular Joshua 24:15. As point of recollection on last weeks study’s we read:
“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.”
The Israelite people then immediately respond saying they will serve the LORD, as He is their God. He has done great things for them and they would never forsake him, they say. However, the problem arises when Joshua responds back to them in verses 19-21:
“But Joshua said to the people, ‘You are not able to serve the LORD, for he is a holy God. He is a jealous God; he will not forgive your transgressions or your sins. If you forsake the LORD and serve foreign gods, then he will turn and do you harm and consume you, after having done you good.’ And the people said to Joshua, ‘No, but we will serve the LORD.’ “
OK. What just happened? Joshua is telling the Nation of Israel, after going through battle after battle for The LORD, that they were not able to serve Him! Haven’t they served Him already? Haven’t they done what He wanted them to do? I believe that Joshua is simply showing the bar where God has already set it. He is only speaking the truth about the Israelites as human beings. I think they want to serve The LORD, but are unable to serve Him in the capacity that is required. They aren’t good enough. They will get involved in their busy lives and forget what He has done for them. They will develop new friendships with the people of the land, and forget about where they came from. They will be consumed with the things of their world and forget about the being who crafted it. They, of course, disagree, and respond to Joshua saying that Joshua is wrong and they will serve The LORD; however, I think Joshua knows better. He has led them too long, and knows them well. I wonder what Joshua’s facial expression was at this time. Perhaps it was a bit cynical because after the people say that they will serve The LORD, he tells them to put away the foreign gods that are in their midst as recorded in verse 23! You can’t say you will serve God with an idol in your back pocket! One would think that they have learned enough about who God is that they would not choose to invoke His wrath, but, alas, how are we different? Who are we to stand in judgment? The last thing Joshua did prior to sending the people back off to their inheritance, was to place a large stone for a witness to the people. He placed it under a tree by the sanctuary of The LORD to remind all that saw it of it’s meaning. It was to remind them of their covenant with The LORD.
The text then records Joshua’s death at 110 years of age, and he is buried in the hill country of Ephraim.
Our primary thing to observe here is the meaning of this text in the whole of Scripture, and we must remember that these verses close a chapter in the history of the Hebrew people. We have seen the Nation of Israel follow The LORD closely in this book. He blessed their efforts when they aligned with His will, and they, for the most part, served Him in sincerity. In our culture today, we seem to think that if we do something for God than we can use that as a justification to show that we are a good person. It follows that since we are a good person, we seem to think we can get a pass on actions that were against His will. The Book of Joshua speaks against that idea. Big picture the book of Joshua is about the judgment of The LORD. It is unapologetic in its’ delivery and while this may cause some people to not like reading it, and this may be because it forces us to look inside ourselves. This is what it is designed to do, and only after this step is completed do we understand why Jesus came to the earth. He came because of mankind’s inability to act according to The Father’s wishes. His wishes are as simple as the 10 Commandments that are driven by the love of God and the love of people, but mankind seems to have a problem with doing these things. We think we do well, but this is only when we are compared to other people, not when we are compared to His standards.
Maybe we, much like the Ancient Hebrews, speak about being God’s servants with our idols in our back pockets. We tell Him that we will do what He wants, while violating His Commands. We don’t have little wooden idols now, but make no mistake, we all allow other things to influence us more than God.
Joshua depicts equality of mankind under God. The Commander of the Army of The LORD was equally against Israel and their enemies if either went against God. I think we should take note of this as a society. It natural brings us all into the rightful understanding that we are under the reign of a divine being that judges equally are fairly, and causes us to find fault inside ourselves more than finding fault in other people.
The Book of Joshua finishes with a hole. A Messiah shaped hole. This hole exists in all of us unless it is filled repeatedly by studying His word, applying His Word, and placing Him where He rightfully belongs in our lives.
Sign up under the American Flag at the top right of this site or below on the mobile version to receive weekly written studies written to my brothers and sisters in arms by your brother in arms. The privacy of your email address is important to us and it will never be disseminated. Next, find some people who will hold you accountable for The Program and learn more about the God who created you, loves you and what He says about people who do what we do!
Joshua 24:19 – “But Joshua said to the people, ‘You are not able to serve the LORD, for he is a holy God. He is a jealous God; he will not forgive your transgressions or your sins.’ “