Scripture Reading : Joshua 23:1-8
The wars had finished 20 years ago. The fighting was now a distant memory of the past. To the teenagers, the war was just an old fable that Grandad would delight in talking about. Society had settled down once again. Agriculture was increasing, the economy was looking healthier all the time. People were settling down into their routines again. Fear was an element of the past. No more were there any barriers or bunkers dotting the horizon. Complacency was setting in, in fact, they were so complacent that they had recently disbanded the army. There was no need for an army any more - so it seemed.
The drama & excitement of war had brought about a revival amongst the people. There were many conversions. People everywhere were confessing their allegiance to God and His cause. The attitude of society in general seemed to be changing. But, then came the end of the war. There was no more fighting, there was no more bloodshed, it was over. Peace was reigning once again, in their tiny nation.
People had no more need to be scared. No more were they afraid to walk the streets at nights. The apprehension and fear that had grown during the years of fighting had now petered away. As well as the apprehension and fear, so also did the spirituality peter away. Gradually society was becoming more permissive. The evils that had once possessed this city were beginning to rear their ugly head. The cause of God faded into the background, people were too busy, they were pursuing their own interests, and careers, they were busy seeking their own pleasures.
It was during this time that Joshua stepped in, Joshua had realised that he was an old man. Over the many years of his life he had served the Lord faithfully. He was scared for the future. He could see the sliding standards, he could see it all happening again, just like before. He knew that his life was coming to an end. It was amongst such a setting that God called upon Joshua to preach his last message, Joshua begun this message by calling in the elder’s, the heads, the judges and the officers. These men represented the four levels of civil distinction. To these men, Joshua presses home the responsibility that they have to drive out the enemy. Firstly, he reminds them of what God has done for them as a nation in the past. For example in the recent past, Israel has finally come to dwell in the land of Canaan, fulfilling one of the promises made to Abraham. Over the last 20 years, God had allowed Israel to live in peace. The wars had stopped, not because of their military prowess, but because God had decided it was enough. Joshua then launches into a discussion of the promises God has given them for the present and the future.
Read Josh. 23:4, Then in v.5, God says that He will expel the people out of the Land, so that His promises may be fulfilled. God is working all around them. BUT there are some conditions attached to these promises. Read Josh, 23:6-8. The point is that Joshua is making here is that God has freely shown his love to the Israelites in the past. He has openly given them land, possessions and wealth. But He asks one thing from them in return, He says, ’’Show me that you love me.’’ The way he wanted them to show their love for God is "to keep & to do all that is written in the book of the Law of Moses." Joshua was deeply concerned for this nation who was so blessed of God. For 20 years now, Israel had been enjoying the rest and plenty of Canaan. But Joshua was concerned for the future of His people. The whole promise depended on one thing. That one thing that His promise hung on was whether or not Israel would remain faithful to God. At this point Joshua was feeling very apprehensive. 7 times he makes mention of the idolatrous nations that were still left in Canaan. 7 times. He was worried about the Israelites. He knew that the Canaanites would be a snare, a trap, ready to catch any of the young Israelites. With this fear in His heart, Joshua prescribed 3 guidelines to the Israelites, so that they may not be corrupted by the Canaanites and their religion. The first of these guidelines we have already covered.