Joshua 23 – 24
1 A long time after the Lord had given Israel rest from all the enemies around them, Joshua was old, getting on in years. 2 So Joshua summoned all Israel, including its elders, leaders, judges, and officers, and said to them, "I am old, getting on in years, 3 and you have seen for yourselves everything the Lord your God did to all these nations on your account, because it was the Lord your God who was fighting for you. 4 See, I have allotted these remaining nations to you as an inheritance for your tribes, including all the nations I have destroyed, from the Jordan westward to the Mediterranean Sea 5 The Lord your God will force them back on your account and drive them out before you, so that you can take possession of their land, as the Lord your God promised you. 6 "Be very strong, and continue obeying all that is written in the book of the law of Moses, so that you do not turn from it to the right or left 7 and so that you do not associate with these nations remaining among you. Do not call on the names of their gods or make an oath to them; do not worship them or bow down to them. 8 Instead, remain faithful to the Lord your God, as you have done to this day. 9 "The Lord has driven out great and powerful nations before you, and no one has been able to stand against you to this day. 10 One of you routed a thousand, because the Lord your God was fighting for you, as He promised. 11 So be very diligent to love the Lord your God for your own well-being. 12 For if you turn away and cling to the rest of these nations remaining among you, and if you intermarry or associate with them and they with you, 13 know for certain that the Lord your God will not continue to drive these nations out before you. They will become a snare and a trap for you, a scourge for your sides and thorns in your eyes, until you disappear from this good land the Lord your God has given you. 14 "I am now going the way of all the earth, and you know with all your heart and all your soul that none of the good promises the Lord your God made to you has failed. Everything was fulfilled for you; not one promise has failed 15 Since every good thing the Lord your God promised you has come about, so He will bring on you every bad thing until He has annihilated you from this good land the Lord your God has given you. 16 If you break the covenant of the Lord your God, which He commanded you, and go and worship other gods, and bow down to them, the Lord's anger will burn against you, and you will quickly disappear from this good land He has given you."
1 Joshua assembled all the tribes of Israel at Shechem and summoned Israel's elders, leaders, judges, and officers, and they presented themselves before God. 2 Joshua said to all the people, "This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: 'Long ago your ancestors, including Terah, the father of Abraham and Nahor, lived beyond the Euphrates River and worshiped other gods. 3 But I took your father Abraham from the region beyond the Euphrates River, led him throughout the land of Canaan, and multiplied his descendants. I gave him Isaac, 4 and to Isaac I gave Jacob and Esau. I gave the hill country of Seir to Esau as a possession, but Jacob and his sons went down to Egypt. 5 " 'Then I sent Moses and Aaron, I plagued Egypt by what I did there, and afterwards I brought you out. 6 When I brought your fathers out of Egypt and you reached the Red Sea, the Egyptians pursued your fathers with chariots and horsemen as far as the sea. 7 Your fathers cried out to the Lord, so He put darkness between you and the Egyptians, and brought the sea over them, engulfing them. Your own eyes saw what I did to Egypt. After that, you lived in the wilderness a long time. 8 " 'Later, I brought you to the land of the Amorites who lived beyond the Jordan. They fought against you, but I handed them over to you. You possessed their land, and I annihilated them before you. 9 Balak son of Zippor, king of Moab, set out to fight against Israel. He sent for Balaam son of Beor to curse you, 10 but I would not listen to Balaam. Instead, he repeatedly blessed you, and I delivered you from his hand. 11 "'You then crossed the Jordan and came to Jericho. The people of Jericho-as well as the Amorites, Perizzites, Canaanites, Hittites, Girgashites, Hivites, and Jebusites-fought against you, but I handed them over to you. 12 I sent the hornet ahead of you, and it drove out the two Amorite kings before you. It was not by your sword or bow. 13 I gave you a land you did not labor for, and cities you did not build, though you live in them; you are eating from vineyards and olive groves you did not plant.' 14 "Therefore, fear the Lord and worship Him in sincerity and truth. Get rid of the gods your ancestors worshiped beyond the Euphrates River and in Egypt, and worship the Lord. 15 But if it doesn't please you to worship the Lord, choose for yourselves today the one you will worship: the gods your fathers worshiped beyond the Euphrates River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you are living. As for me and my family, we will worship the Lord." 16 The people replied, "We will certainly not abandon the Lord to worship other gods! 17 For the Lord our God brought us and our fathers out of the land of Egypt, the place of slavery and performed these great signs before our eyes. He also protected us all along the way we went and among all the peoples whose lands we traveled through. 18 The Lord drove out before us all the peoples, including the Amorites who lived in the land. We too will worship the Lord, because He is our God." 19 But Joshua told the people, "You will not be able to worship the Lord, because He is a holy God. He is a jealous God; He will not remove your transgressions and sins. 20 If you abandon the Lord and worship foreign gods, He will turn against [you], harm you, and completely destroy you, after He has been good to you." 21 "No!" the people answered Joshua. "We will worship the Lord." 22 Joshua then told the people, "You are witnesses against yourselves that you yourselves have chosen to worship the Lord." "We are witnesses," they said. 23 "Then get rid of the foreign gods that are among you and offer your hearts to the Lord, the God of Israel." 24 So the people said to Joshua, "We will worship the Lord our God and obey Him." 25 On that day Joshua made a covenant for the people at Shechem and established a statute and ordinance for them. 26 Joshua recorded these things in the book of the law of God; he also took a large stone and set it up there under the oak next to the sanctuary of the Lord. 27 And Joshua said to all the people, "You see this stone-it will be a witness against us, for it has heard all the words the Lord said to us, and it will be a witness against you, so that you will not deny your God." 28 Then Joshua sent the people away, each to his own inheritance. 29 After these things, the Lord's servant, Joshua son of Nun, died at the age of 110. 30 They buried him in his allotted territory at Timnath-serah, in the hill country of Ephraim north of Mount Gaash. 31 Israel worshiped the Lord throughout Joshua's lifetime and during the lifetimes of the elders who outlived Joshua, and who had experienced all the works the Lord had done for Israel. 32 Joseph's bones, which the Israelites had brought up from Egypt, were buried at Shechem in the parcel of land Jacob had purchased from the sons of Hamor, Shechem's father, for 100 qesitahs. It was an inheritance for Joseph's descendants. 33 And Eleazar son of Aaron died, and they buried him at Gibeah, which had been given to his son Phinehas in the hill country of Ephraim. — Joshua 23 – 24
Joshua’s Farewell Address and Review of Israel’s History
by Michael Volbeda
As Joshua said his final words to the nation of Israel before he died, it was a pivotal moment of incredible importance—and you get the sense that he knew it. There was a touch of urgency in the way he exhorted them to stay true to their covenant with the Lord. Both the physical and spiritual well-being of God’s people hung in the balance as he recounted to them all God had done on their behalf.
In a culture where the power of a nation’s god was challenged in battle and proven in victory, the world witnessed the power of the God of Israel as He granted His people victory after victory. With no enemies left to fight, their days of war were finally over. Looking ahead to peace and prosperity in the land God had promised them, Joshua offered the Israelites a stark choice: either serve the God who gave you victory or serve the gods of the nations that were conquered.
It’s an easy decision when the options are so clear, but sin has a way of blurring the lines in a way that affects our judgment in the moment of temptation. Seeing their vanquished enemies living in their midst should have been a constant reminder of their God’s power over all others, but instead it became a stumbling block that led them astray. We see them reaffirm their covenant with the Lord and their intention to honor it, but eventually God’s people began to worship the very same gods of the nations they themselves defeated. Joshua’s words of warning come true, and they forgot about all the great things God had done for them.
Their utter inability to remain faithful to the Lord should awaken a familiar ache in all of our hearts because we share their condition. Just as they failed to live out the charge to obey God that was given to them by Joshua, we have failed to live up to the example of perfect obedience provided to us in the person of Christ (Romans 3:23). How quick we are to forget the goodness and grace of God and, as the Israelites did, chase after things that in the end will never satisfy us. But despite our failings, we give thanks to God for His unchanging faithfulness to us and for providing a way out of our hopeless condition through the death and resurrection of Christ.
- Remembering God’s faithfulness to you is a powerful weapon against temptation, bitterness and disillusionment. Take a moment to revisit some instances where you experienced undeserved goodness, provision or mercy from God. Thank him for what He has done for you.
- A contributing factor to Israel’s downfall in the generations that followed Joshua was their failure to remember and share about the great things the Lord did for them. We have the benefit of Scripture to remind us of how God was faithful in the past, but let us never grow weary of telling others of how God continues to be faithful here and now. Is there something God has done for you that you can pass on as an encouragement to a friend or family member in the midst of what he or she is facing?
Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Christian Standard Bible®, Copyright © 2017 by Holman Bible Publishers. Used by permission. Christian Standard Bible® and CSB® are federally registered trademarks of Holman Bible Publishers.