Summary: 27th and final in series on Joshua: Taking New Territory. This sermon is about the journey we are on, and some advice for the road.
Joshua 24:1-27 – Sojourners
And now, here we are. We have reached the end of Joshua. Congratulate yourselves for surviving over 2 dozen sermons from one book. In truth, actually, I hope you have gained insight and wisdom on how to apply what you believe to how to behave. I hope that you have gained some courage to take new territory in your faith.
Let’s read the last chapter of Joshua today – v1-27.
Now, Joshua is continuing on in his last words to his people. In this chapter he is reviewing where they came from, where they have been, and what they need to continue to do. I think it is only fitting that we find out what Joshua would say to us for our spiritual journeys. The Bible tells us to walk in truth, to walk after His commandments, to walk in the light, to walk in wisdom, to walk as children of light, to walk by faith, and to walk in newness of life, among many others.
We are all on a journey at some point. Some are far along, some are just starting. Some should be further along than they are, some are moving quickly. In fact, at different points in your life, you may be the one who should be farther along, and you may be the one who is rapidly growing. The point is, you are on a journey. A word they used to use is “sojourners”. It means people who live in a place as temporary residents, or even as strangers, knowing that the place is not a permanent home. It means people who wander on purpose.
So Joshua is leaving us with some sojourning advice: almost like a hitchhiker’s guide to your faith. Josh starts off by retelling the history of the Israelites – v1-4. You see, the Israelites’ journey was a long time coming. It might have seemed that God moved suddenly, but it was a long build-up. I think it’s the same for us, too. There are times when it looks like God is moving faster than we can possibly imagine, that everything is happening all at once.
But all our lives God has been preparing us for this thing. Conversations, people praying, subtle little incidents, all bringing you to the place you are today. You are not here as a fluke or a mishap – you are where you are today, right here right now, because God has led you here. Even though things seemed like they were all of a sudden, they in fact have been a long time coming.
The Israelites were where they were, in part, because of the faith of those who have gone before. You are where you are, in part, because of those people who fought for the faith for years, from the time of Christ on. You are where you are, in part, because of people who have fought to keep the faith in this town. You are where you are, in part, because of people who have fought to keep the faith in your family. It’s no wonder the Bible says you are not your own.
Hebrews 12:1 tells us of the great cloud of witnesses. They are the ones who lived faithful lives, and are part of the reason you are where you are on your journey. Don’t forget those who have gone before you. You are partly a product of your past, but not entirely. Your past is not the only thing that defines you or determines your directions. You cannot let anything in the past, whether it be wonderful or tragic, decide who you are. You are not just made up of what has happened to you, but you are constantly being made of what you are becoming. It is Christ who is molding you and shaping you for His purposes. It’s part of the journey.
Well, Joshua continues: v5-7. Joshua tells the story of Moses and Aaron leading the Hebrews out of slavery in Egypt, and across the Red Sea. Now, you may notice something in this section. Joshua uses “you” and “them” interchangeably. He says, “When I brought your fathers out of Egypt, you came to the sea.” And he says, “They cried to the LORD for help, and he put darkness between you and the Egyptians.” Why? Why is he flip-flopping people who were there and people who weren’t?
Well, I think it has to do with what I already said: The Israelites were where they were, in part, because of the faith of those who have gone before. They shared a connection with the ones who left Egypt. It’s how they talked back then. They considered themselves connected with each other. It’s why others died when Achan sinned. It’s a concept we know little about in modern day Canada.