Welcome Back to the Bible Blog!
Wow, what a week! After Genesis – Deuteronomy we’ve actually read an entire book in only 7 days (Joshua)! How can we summarize an entire book in one blog? Well we’ll give it a shot. In fact, an overview like this can bring clarity to what we’re reading, particularly when we go back and reread the book in the future.
The book of Joshua opens with God assuring Joshua that He will never leave him or forsake him (Joshua 1:5b) and telling him to be, “strong and courageous“. In fact I counted at least 4 times in chapter one where God tells Joshua to be, “strong and courageous” (vv. 6, 7, 9 & 18) and it’s not the last time we hear this encouragement. God also tells him in chapter one to, “Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful.” (v. 9)
Have you ever considered that following God might be a frightening thing to do? What might I have to give up? What might people say? What might they do?
God promises us, not just Joshua, to never leave us or forsake us. He also instructs us to be strong and courageous as we follow Him, to do so with all our hearts, and to trust Him. His instruction to Joshua to, “Keep this Book of the Law…” is also an instruction to us.
How can we keep it on our lips?
How can we meditate on it day and night?
How can we do everything written in it?
Daily Bible reading, memorization and practice will allow us to follow Him this way. Reading gets us familiar with His Word. Memorization allows us to be “studying” or meditating on it even when it is not in our hands. If we read and memorize we can begin to put into practice what it says remembering that He will never leave us and never forsake us. Be strong and courageous!
In chapter two we learn from a prostitute (one who is later found to be in the line of Jesus – Matthew 1:5) that God’s fame is known the world over. The world is watching and they can see that, “the LORD your God is God in heaven above and on the earth below” (Joshua 2:11b emphasis mine)
The opening half or more of the book describes the divisions of the land among the tribes of Israel and the plan for cities of refuge, as instructed by Moses. The land is being conquered just as Moses instructed and Joshua is carrying out.
As the eastern tribes return home (Ruben, Gad and the half tribe of Manasseh) to the land east of the Jordan River, Joshua praises them for their obedience and instructs them to, “be very careful to keep the commandment and the law that Moses the servant of the LORD gave you: to love the LORD your God, to walk in obedience to him, to keep his commands, to hold fast to him and to serve him with all your heart and with all your soul.” (Joshua 22:5)
Sound familiar? It’s almost like a commissioning, isn’t it?
As the tribes to the west of the Jordan are ready to settle down, near the end of Joshua’s life, Joshua renews the covenant with them yet again. Notice that the text describes Joshua as very old (Joshua 23:1-2) at this point. This conquering of the Promised Land took time. It did not happen overnight.
In this covenant renewal Joshua points out that they now live on land they did not toil for, in cities they did not build and they eat from vineyards and olive groves that they did not plant (24:13). God described this back in Deut 6:10-11 as He described the land that He would give them.
Now Joshua once again pleads with them to follow God with complete devotion and a singleness of purpose. Notice in 24:14 and 24:23 he tells them to throw away the foreign gods that are among you. They still had them!!! Almost as if exasperated Joshua tells them, “But if serving the LORD seems undesirable to you, choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD.” (24:15)
The people emphatically respond that they will serve the LORD (24:16-18; 21). The book records that they followed through on their commitment (24:31), at least this generation did.
Unfortunately we read yesterday, in the opening chapters of Judges, that the next generation of Israelites did not obey the LORD (Judges 2:10-13) and we begin to see the fulfillment of all the curses that God had described to them in Deuteronomy 28 and that Joshua had reiterated before he passed on.
Do you think we will ever learn?
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