Joshua 23 (NRSV)
Joshua Exhorts the People
A long time afterward, when the Lord had given rest to Israel from all their enemies all around, and Joshua was old and well advanced in years, 2Joshua summoned all Israel, their elders and heads, their judges and officers, and said to them, “I am now old and well advanced in years;
3and you have seen all that the Lord your God has done to all these nations for your sake, for it is the Lord your God who has fought for you.
Joshua begins his farewell address by praising the Lord.
4I have allotted to you as an inheritance for your tribes those nations that remain, along with all the nations that I have already cut off, from the Jordan to the Great Sea in the west. 5The Lord your God will push them back before you, and drive them out of your sight;
He describes the challenges still ahead for the Israelites.
and you shall possess their land, as the Lord your God promised you.
2 Corinthians 1:20 (NIV)
For no matter how many promises God has made, they are “Yes” in Christ. And so through him the “Amen” is spoken by us to the glory of God.
6“Therefore be very steadfast to observe and do all that is written in the book of the law of Moses, turning aside from it neither to the right nor to the left, 7so that you may not be mixed with these nations left here among you, or make mention of the names of their gods, or swear by them, or serve them, or bow yourselves down to them, 8but hold fast to the Lord your God, as you have done to this day.
He reminds them to be obedient in every way to the word of the Lord and thereby follow God.
Precious Lord, take my hand
Lead me on, let me stand
I’m tired, I’m weak, I’m lone
Through the storm, through the night
Lead me on to the light
Take my hand precious Lord,
lead me home.
9For the Lord has driven out before you great and strong nations; and as for you, no one has been able to withstand you to this day. 10One of you puts to flight a thousand, since it is the Lord your God who fights for you, as he promised you.
“God never made a promise
that was too good to be true.”
–Dwight L. Moody
11“Be very careful, therefore, to love the Lord your God. 12For if you turn back, and join the survivors of these nations left here among you, and intermarry with them, so that you marry their women and they yours, 13know assuredly that the Lord your God will not continue to drive out these nations before you; but they shall be a snare and a trap for you, a scourge on your sides, and thorns in your eyes, until you perish from this good land that the Lord your God has given you.
Joshua tells them to keep themselves “in the love of God” (Jude 21), and “unspotted from the world” (James 1:27).
14“And now I am about to go the way of all the earth, and you know in your hearts and souls, all of you, that not one thing has failed of all the good things that the Lord your God promised concerning you; all have come to pass for you, not one of them has failed.
Every promise in the Book is mine,
Every chapter, every verse, every line,
All the blessings of His love divine,
Every promise in the Book is mine.
from Experiencing God Day-by-Day,
by Henry T. Blackaby and Richard Blackaby
Near the end of his life, Joshua took time with the Israelites to review all that God had done for them since they first began following Him. God had given them an impossible assignment: to conquer a foreign and hostile land with fortified cities and armies more powerful than their own. The Israelites were to go forward with nothing more than God’s promise that He would go with them and take care of them. Now Joshua looked back over their experience and reminded the Israelites that God had kept every promise. They had experienced numerous victories and had enjoyed God’s provision for every need.
Sometimes hindsight gives us a clear picture of how faithful God has been. We are tempted during a crisis to wonder if God will be faithful to His promises. We focus on our problems, and our trust in God begins to waver. Twenty-four years after God promised Abraham and Sarah a son, they were still waiting on God to fulfill His promise. But in the twenty-fifth year, Abraham and Sarah could look back and see that God had been faithful. As David was fleeing for his life, he may have been uncertain how God would keep His promise to make him a king. But at the end of his long and prosperous reign, David could review how God had kept every promise.
You, too, can rely on God’s faithfulness. Are you in a crisis? Hold to the promises of the your Lord! He will not forget His promises to you. Look back over your Christian life and recount the many ways in which God has been faithful to His word.
HERE is “Great Is Thy Faithfulness,” sung by Fernando Ortega in an unusual and lovely musical setting.
15But just as all the good things that the Lord your God promised concerning you have been fulfilled for you, so the Lord will bring upon you all the bad things, until he has destroyed you from this good land that the Lord your God has given you. 16If you transgress the covenant of the Lord your God, which he enjoined on you, and go and serve other gods and bow down to them, then the anger of the Lord will be kindled against you, and you shall perish quickly from the good land that he has given to you.”
He emphasizes that God will be just as faithful to judge as He has been to bless.
The New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.