Concerned about the Future
When King Hezekiah was told that the Kingdom of Judah would eventually go into Captivity in Babylon, his response was: “At least there will be peace and truth in my days” (Isaiah 39:8, NIV). This statement seems to reek of selfishness. Hezekiah should have been concerned for the People who are going into Captivity, the loss and suffering of his People beyond “his days.” Joshua’s two farewell speeches (Joshua chapters 23 to 24) as he was about to go “the way of all the earth” (Joshua 23:14), given ample evidence that he (Joshua) is the Caring Leader, burdened for the Future of his People and his Nation. But at the end of the long and full life, Joshua’s greatest concern was not himself. His greatest concern was God’s People and their relationship with the LORD. Joshua does not want to leave until he has challenged them once again to love the LORD and keep God’s Commandments. His life’s work and battles would be in vain if the Children of Israel failed to keep God’s Covenant and enjoy the Blessing of the Promised Land:
- The Leaders – Joshua first called a meeting with the Leaders of the Nation – Joshua 23:2 “And Joshua called for all Israel and for their elders, and for their heads, and for their judges, and for their officers, and said unto them. I am old and stricken in age.” Joshua warned the Leaders of Israel what would happen if they deserted the LORD (Joshua 23:3-16).
- The People – Joshua gathered “all the Tribes of Israel at Shechem” (Joshua 24:1) and gave them a farewell address which reviewed the history of Israel, starting with Abraham, and challenged the People to love the LORD and serve Him alone.
In these two addresses to the Leaders and the People, Joshua emphasized three important matters:Israel’s Future Dangers (Joshua 23:1-6)
1. Israel’s Future Dangers (Joshua 23:1-16)
Having assembled the Leaders and the People of the Nation of Israel, Joshua presented them with two Scenarios:
- Obey the LORD, and He will bless the Children of Israel and keep them in the Promised Land, in their Inheritance.
- Disobey the LORD, and He will judge the Children of Israel and remove them from the Promised Land, their Inheritance.
These where the “terms” of the Covenant God had made with Israel at Mount Sinai, which Moses had repeated on the Plains of Moab, and which Israel had reaffirmed at Mount Ebal and Mount Gerizim. Joshua’s emphasis was on possessing the Land (Joshua 23:5) and enjoying the blessings (Joshua 23:13-16). While Israel had gained control of much of Canaan Land (the Promised Land), there remained territory to possess and pockets of resistance to overcome (Joshua 13:1-13; 15:63; 16:10; 17:12-13; 18:3; Judges 1-2). The task of the Tribes was not finished. The great danger, of course, was that the People of Israel would gradually change their attitudes toward the heathen Nations living within the Canaan Land (the Promised Land) and start accepting their ways and imitating them. Joshua wanted to be sure that the People knew the LORD and wanted to serve Him with their whole heart.
People who think only of what they can get today are only Opportunists and not true Leaders (“hirelings” – John 10:12-13). The Leader plants the “right seeds” that will bear fruit in years to come for the benefit of others, and Joshua did that.
2. Israel’s Past Blessings (Joshua 24:1-13)
The Nation and Land were the key words in Joshua’s first address (Joshua 23), then the LORD is the major focus in this Second Address, for Joshua refers to the LORD twenty-one times. In fact, in Joshua 24:2-13, it is the LORD who speaks as Joshua reviews the History of the Nation of Israel. Another key word is “serve,” used fifteen times in this address. Jehovah gave them Israel the Land and would bless them in their Land if they loved Him and served Him:
- God chose Israel (Joshua 24:1-4), from the time of Abraham.
- God delivered Israel (Joshua 24:5-7), from the Egyptian Bondage.
- God guided Israel (Joshua 24:8-10), in the Wilderness Journey.
- God gave Israel the Promised Land (Joshua 24:11-13).
To be continued….. Stay Tuned…..