The Tribes Renew the Covenant
Then Joshua gathered all the tribes of Israel to Shechem, and summoned the elders, the heads, the judges, and the officers of Israel; and they presented themselves before God.
2And Joshua said to all the people, “Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel: Long ago your ancestors—Terah and his sons Abraham and Nahor—lived beyond the Euphrates and served other gods. 3Then I took your father Abraham from beyond the River and led him through all the land of Canaan and made his offspring many. I gave him Isaac; 4and to Isaac I gave Jacob and Esau. I gave Esau the hill country of Seir to possess, but Jacob and his children went down to Egypt.
5“Then I sent Moses and Aaron, and I plagued Egypt with what I did in its midst; and afterwards I brought you out. 6When I brought your ancestors out of Egypt, you came to the sea; and the Egyptians pursued your ancestors with chariots and horsemen to the Red Sea.
7When they cried out to the Lord, he put darkness between you and the Egyptians, and made the sea come upon them and cover them; and your eyes saw what I did to Egypt. Afterwards you lived in the wilderness a long time.
8“Then I brought you to the land of the Amorites, who lived on the other side of the Jordan; they fought with you, and I handed them over to you, and you took possession of their land, and I destroyed them before you. 9Then King Balak son of Zippor of Moab, set out to fight against Israel. He sent and invited Balaam son of Beor to curse you, 10but I would not listen to Balaam; therefore he blessed you; so I rescued you out of his hand.
11“When you went over the Jordan and came to Jericho,
the citizens of Jericho fought against you, and also the Amorites, the Perizzites, the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Girgashites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites; and I handed them over to you. 12I sent the hornet ahead of you, which drove out before you the two kings of the Amorites; it was not by your sword or by your bow. 13I gave you a land on which you had not labored, and towns that you had not built, and you live in them; you eat the fruit of vineyards and oliveyards that you did not plant.
14“Now therefore revere the Lord, and serve him in sincerity and in faithfulness; put away the gods that your ancestors served beyond the River and in Egypt, and serve the Lord. 15Now if you are unwilling to serve the Lord, choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served in the region beyond the River or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you are living; but as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.”
Joshua commands them to choose whom you will serve, not if you will serve. We will all serve someone — either the devil (intentionally or not), or the Lord. We really are not left the option of not serving anyone. Joshua answers on behalf of his family. Inherent in Joshua’s declaration is that he would serve the Lord alone. He would not serve the Lord and someone or something else. There was one God in his life, and that God was the Lord.
16Then the people answered, “Far be it from us that we should forsake the Lord to serve other gods; 17for it is the Lord our God who brought us and our ancestors up from the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery, and who did those great signs in our sight. He protected us along all the way that we went, and among all the peoples through whom we passed; 18and the Lord drove out before us all the peoples, the Amorites who lived in the land. Therefore we also will serve the Lord, for he is our God.”
HERE is the perfect song for this chapter! “Today I Choose (As for Me and my House)” by Brian Doerksen.
19But Joshua said to the people, “You cannot serve the Lord, for he is a holy God. He is a jealous God; he will not forgive your transgressions or your sins. 20If you forsake the Lord and serve foreign gods, then he will turn and do you harm, and consume you, after having done you good.”
21And the people said to Joshua, “No, we will serve the Lord!”
22Then Joshua said to the people, “You are witnesses against yourselves that you have chosen the Lord, to serve him.”
And they said, “We are witnesses.”
23He said, “Then put away the foreign gods that are among you, and incline your hearts to the Lord, the God of Israel.”
24The people said to Joshua, “The Lord our God we will serve, and him we will obey.”
25So Joshua made a covenant with the people that day, and made statutes and ordinances for them at Shechem. 26Joshua wrote these words in the book of the law of God; and he took a large stone, and set it up there under the oak in the sanctuary of the Lord.
27Joshua said to all the people, “See, this stone shall be a witness against us; for it has heard all the words of the Lord that he spoke to us; therefore it shall be a witness against you, if you deal falsely with your God.” 28So Joshua sent the people away to their inheritances.
from This Day with the Master,
by Dennis F. Kinlaw
The closing chapters of the book of Joshua are Joshua’s final words to the people of Israel. Israel is in the promised land, and Joshua wishes to renew the covenant between Israel and Yahweh before he dies. He reviews the history of the covenant and speaks about God’s faithfulness to his people. He calls them to choose whether or not they will serve Yahweh. Joshua is very aware that after his death the temptation to compromise with the Canaanites will be strong, and a compromise would mean death for Israel’s culture and faith. Joshua is anxious for the people of God to reaffirm their loyalty to the God of Abraham, Moses, Sinai, and the conquest, and so he calls them to do so. The people acknowledge God’s actions for them, and they pledge their allegiance to Yahweh.
Joshua’s appeal to the people is based on God’s actions for Israel and not on Israel’s actions for God. God has chosen and blessed Israel, and their motive for serving him must be his great mercy and grace to them. The same is true today. The important thing is not what we have done for God but what God has done for us. The deliverance from Egypt, the provision in the wilderness, the crossing of the Jordan, and the conquest of the land are historical pictures of redemption provided for us in Christ. He will provide for those who trust in him and will give them grace to overcome all foes.
The effectiveness of Joshua’s plea is indicated in the closing verses of his book. “Israel served the Lord throughout the lifetime of Joshua and of the elders who outlived him and who had experienced everything the Lord had done for Israel” (verse 31). It is necessary for every individual in every successive generation to see the work of God personally. Each of us must come to a meeting with God in which we enter into a covenant relationship with Yahweh. Therefore the word to us is still: “Choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve.”
Death of Joshua and Eleazar
29After these things Joshua son of Nun, the servant of the Lord, died, being one hundred ten years old. 30They buried him in his own inheritance at Timnath-serah, which is in the hill country of Ephraim, north of Mount Gaash. 31Israel served the Lord all the days of Joshua, and all the days of the elders who outlived Joshua and had known all the work that the Lord did for Israel.
This was the greatest legacy of Joshua. His godly influence was effectively communicated to and through the whole nation.
32The bones of Joseph, which the Israelites had brought up from Egypt, were buried at Shechem, in the portion of ground that Jacob had bought from the children of Hamor, the father of Shechem, for one hundred pieces of money; it became an inheritance of the descendants of Joseph.
This may seem like an inconsequential point, but it fulfills Genesis 50:25. This is also mentioned in Hebrews 11:22 as an example of Joseph’s faith.
33Eleazar son of Aaron died; and they buried him at Gibeah, the town of his son Phinehas, which had been given him in the hill country of Ephraim.
Eleazar’s death meant that another link with the wilderness generation had passed. Now Phinehas was High Priest.
The END of the book of Joshua.
THE END OF THE BOOK OF JOSHUA
What did you learn?
Or what encouraged you?
Or what do you want to remember always?
Or for what specifically can you praise God on account of the book of Joshua?
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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.