A FRESH START, A FITTING END (JOSHUA 23:1-11)
The World Cup is held every four years since 1930 except for the Second World War. The 19 World Cup tournaments have been won by eight different national teams. Brazil has won five times, the most among winning countries. Do you know who is the current champion? Spain. Do you kn0w who won before Spain in 2010? Italy in 2006, Brazil in 2002 and France in 1988. Do you remember the last team that repeated as champions? Not for the last 12 tournaments. PPT
As it has often been said, "It is harder to defend a title than to win a title."
Answering the question, "When is a person old?" a famous tragedienne wrote: "The conceited never; the unhappy too soon, and the wise at the right time." (More Toasts, Gertrude Stein)
"Long time" (v 1) is a key phrase that repeats as many as four times in the book (Josh 11:18, 22:3, 23:1, 24:7), more than any book in the Bible. Joshua waged war for a long time against all the local kings (Josh 11:18) and they lived a long time in the desert (Josh 24:7). How long? Caleb was forty years old when Moses sent him to explore the land. (Josh 14:7) Now it is at least 45 years later, as Caleb attested (Josh 14:10). Victory was not accomplished overnight. It came through hard work, patience, and determination. The Israelites had rest from all their enemies around them (v 1, Josh 22:4), just as the Lord had promised early in the book (Josh 1:13-15). Up to Joshua's time, the word "rest" occurs the most -- six times in Joshua (Josh 1:13, 1:15; 3:13; 21:44; 22:4; 23:1). The old and well advanced Joshua had choice words for the Israelites. But the challenge had just started?
What do we have to guard against when things are smooth? How can we prevent complacency when times are good? Why is a fitting end just as good as a fresh start?
Long to Be Obedient
6 "Be very strong; be careful to obey all that is written in the Book of the Law of Moses, without turning aside to the right or to the left. 7 Do not associate with these nations that remain among you; do not invoke the names of their gods or swear by them. You must not serve them or bow down to them. (Josh 23:6-8)
A country church was having their annual revival meeting. On the first night the preacher preached a message about repentance and the need to return to the Lord. At the altar call, a man came down the aisle saying "Fill me Lord, fill me."
The next night the preacher challenged the congregation with the need to totally surrender their lives to Christ in complete obedience. Again the altar call was extended; like the night before the same man came down the aisle saying "Fill me Lord, fill me".
The third night of the revival preacher warned his congregation of the evils of sin and urged the congregation to live lives of holiness. Again at the invitation was made to give one's life to Christ, the same man came up the aisle saying "Fill me Lord, fill me".
To which someone in the back of the church yelled; "Don't do it Lord, He leaks!"
The word "strong" (v 6) makes its debut in the Bible when the angels "grasped" the hands of Lot and his family when they hesitated to leave Sodom and Gomorrah (Gen 19:16). Angels' grip and hands are no laughing matter in the Bible. The most extreme case of "strong" is when the Lord hardened Pharaoh's heart (Ex 9:2, 12, 35). In Pharaoh's case, he was steadfast to the point of stubborn. Obedience means yielding to a higher authority, in this case man's will yielding to the word of God.
To be disobedient means to stray from the path, to walk in one's ways, and to waver in belief and to want what is forbidden. Richard Baxter said, "The cost of obedience is nothing compared with the cost of disobedience." To obey means to put God's words and ways above your wisdom and willfulness. Disobedience leads to pain more than punishment. It leads to disappointment and defeat more often than it leads to distress and disaster. An obedient life results in the delight to do the Lord's will, but a disobedient life results in denial of the Lord's will.
The second part of verse 6 "be careful to obey" (v 6) PPT is literally "to keep and do" and is linked to "be very strong" in Hebrew by the preposition "to." It should be "be very strong to keep and to do." It is also a continuation of what Moses told Joshua before he left them (Josh 1:7, 8)