Summary: Joshua shows us God’s faithfulness and warns us about the dangers of failing to trust him. We are so much like Israel it’s scary.
Who’s word do you put the most trust in?
There was a sign in a store that said, “In God we trust, all others pay cash.”
As Joshua’s life comes to a close he calls all the people of Israel together for one last charge to encourage them and attempt to solidify their commitment to the Lord. Among the things he says to them listen again to verse 14 of chapter 23. "Now behold, today I am going the way of all the earth, and you know in all your hearts and in all your souls that not one word of all the good words which the LORD your God spoke concerning you has failed; all have been fulfilled for you, not one of them has failed.
Here stands Joshua at the end of his life. He can look back all the way to Egypt and remember all that God has done for Israel. In chapter 24 he reviews their history for them again, reminding them of their roots in Abraham, Isaac and Jacob as God called these their forefathers out of idolatry. God led them and promised them things that Israel is just now seeing hundreds of years later. God doesn’t forget his words. He makes good on his promises. You can trust him completely.
If God promises you good things, he keeps his promise. Also, if God puts conditions on his promises, he sticks to them too. Joshua is leading a faithful nation at this point. These are the people who have come out of the wilderness. They have been disciplined by God and faith has formed in their hearts through the severity of the struggles they have endured. Being led by God day after day, week after week, year after year, they have learned to trust God. They have entered the land and fought the battles with God’s strength and received the blessings of faithfulness to God’s commandments. There is still much to do, and they are still doing it. But Joshua is at the end of his life now and he is watching a new generation rise up who have become the first generation to be born in the promised land of Canaan among all those nice cities that they have not built, eating fruit from the trees that they did not plant, and enjoying the benefits of luxury that they did not work for. This is a dangerous time for faith for this new generation. They are riding on the backs of the sacrifices of others. They are reaping the bounty of God’s gifts without the price that their parents have paid to receive them. It is a dangerous time. There are still Canaanites around them, worshipping their gods. Will this new generation of Israel walk in the footsteps of faith and cling to the Lord their God? Will they be careful to love the Lord their God? Will they fear the Lord and serve him in sincerity and faithfulness? Will they keep God’s covenant?
You know the answer already, don’t you? If you’ve been reading with us, you know it. Could this happen to us and our children?
Where is faith formed? Where do we learn to trust in the Lord and his word so that we cling to him and keep his commandments and love him with all our hearts? How can God build commitment into our hearts so that we will be true to him and faithfully follow his will for our lives?
Listen to me now. Faith comes by hearing the word of God, but faith is tested and strengthened by trial and obedience, discipline and repentance.
Israel fell because they were so attracted to those other gods. They got tired of worshipping the Lord and keeping his covenant. They were weary of doing the good things that demonstrated love for God and one another. Those Canaanite gods appeared to be so fun! They wanted to experiment with the attractions of Canaan. Ahhh, Canaan! That land of milk and honey where all those godless nations have created a place of exotic idolatry with wild parties and sensuous fertility worship.
Israel would be enticed to go after those Canaanite gods and break their covenant with the Lord their God, the one true and living God who had brought them out of Egypt and lead them through the wilderness and into the land of promise.
Listen to Joshua’s warning in verses 6-8: 6 "Be very firm, then, to keep and do all that is written in the book of the law of Moses, so that you may not turn aside from it to the right hand or to the left,
7 in order that you may not associate with these nations, these which remain among you, or mention the name of their gods, or make anyone swear by them, or serve them, or bow down to them.