Summary: 26th in series on Joshua. This is about what Joshua told Israel to do: 1) Remember God’s strength, and 2) Remember God’s standards.
Joshua 23:1-16 – Remembrance Day
Today I’d like to share with you some famous last words, lines spoken by people over the years just before they passed into the great hereafter.
Ethan Allen was an American Revolutionary general, who died in 1789. An attending doctor attempted to comfort him by saying, "General, I fear the angels are waiting for you." Mr. Allen responded with, “Waiting are they? Waiting are they? Well--let ’em wait.”
John Barrymore, an actor who played Sherlock Holmes, Hamlet, and Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, died on May 29, 1942. He said on his deathbed, “Die? I should say not, dear fellow. No Barrymore would allow such a conventional thing to happen to him.”
Humphrey Bogart, also an actor, who died January 14, 1957, said, “I should never have switched from Scotch to Martinis.”
Charlotte Bronte, the author of Jane Eyre, died March 31, 1855. She had been married for 9 months to Rev. Arthur Nicholls. She was speaking of the Lord when she said, “Oh, I am not going to die, am I? He will not separate us; we have been so happy.”
And Harry Lillis Crosby, better known as the singer/actor Bing Crosby, died October 14, 1977. His final words were, “That was a great game of golf, fellers.”
Today we are looking at the beginning of Joshua’s last words. He has called the leaders of Israel together for some final instructions. Someone fairly clever once said that the Bible, the BIBLE, could stand for, “Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth.” Well, let’s look at Joshua’s basic instructions before he left earth. Let’s read. Joshua 23:1-16.
Now, the Israelites have been living in the Promised Land for a few years now. Their leader, Joshua, is about to leave them, and he wants to make sure they understand what’s important in life. He uses the word “remember” in v4. He wants them to remember some very important directions. I think there are 2 things that Joshua wants his people to remember at the twilight of his own life. These are 2 things that Joshua would want us to remember, too.
The 1st thing Joshua wants is for us to 1) remember God’s strength. Look at what Joshua tells the leaders: v3-6a, 9-19, 14b. God had made promises to the His people, and He had fulfilled them. He gave His people strength to accomplish what He had said they could do. It wasn’t so much that He did it completely for them, but He invited them to be part of fulfilling those promises. God promised them that they would have strength to accomplish what He told them He would do.
We often forget God’s promises to us. Joshua tells the people to remember because it’s so easy to forget. Forgetting is so natural, it’s no wonder that over and over again in the Scriptures, we are told to remember what God has done for us.
I’ve been told of an older couple who had trouble remembering common, day-to-day things. They both decided that they would write down requests the other had, and so try to avoid forgetting. One evening the wife asked if the husband would like anything. He replied, “Yes. I’d like a large ice-cream sundae with chocolate ice cream, whipped cream and a cherry on top.”
The wife started off for the kitchen and the husband shouted after her, “Aren’t you going to write it down?” “Don’t be silly,” she hollered back, “I’m going to fix it right now. I won’t forget.”
She was gone for quite some time. When she finally returned, she set down in front of him a large plate of hashbrowns, eggs, bacon, and a glass of orange juice. He took a look and said, “I knew you should have written it down! You forgot the toast!”
Well, that’s why we should make such an effort to remember God’s strength for us, which flows from God’s promises to us: because we are likely to forget. I’d like to share with you a list of 12 promises for us from God, 12 statements we can depend on with absolute confidence
1 - We can depend on God’s presence— “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” (Heb. 13:5)
2 - We can depend on God’s protection—”I am your shield” (Gen. 15:1)
3 - We can depend on God’s power—” So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God.” (Isa. 41:10)
4 - We can depend on God’s provision—”I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” (Isa. 41:10)
5 - We can depend on God’s leading—”When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice.” (John 10:4)