Joshua 23

1 A long time afterward, when the Lord had given rest to Israel from all their surrounding enemies, and Joshua was old and well advanced in years, Joshua summoned all Israel, its elders and heads, its judges and officers, and said to them, “I am now old and well advanced in years. And 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. Behold, I 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. The Lord your God will push them back before you and drive them out of your sight. And you shall possess their land, just as the Lord your God promised you. Therefore, be very strong to keep and to do all that is written in the Book of the Law of Moses, turning aside from it neither to the right hand nor to the left, that you may not mix with these nations remaining among you or make mention of the names of their gods or swear by them or serve them or bow down to them, but you shall cling to the Lord your God just as you have done to this day. For the Lord has driven out before you great and strong nations. And as for you, no man has been able to stand before you to this day. 10  One man of you puts to flight a thousand, since it is the Lord your God who fights for you, just as he promised you. 11  Be very careful, therefore, to love the Lord your God. 12 For if you turn back and cling to the remnant of these nations remaining among you and make marriages with them, so that you associate with them and they with you, 13 know for certain that the Lord your God will no longer drive out these nations before you, but they shall be a snare and a trap for you, a whip on your sides and thorns in your eyes, until you perish from off this good ground that the Lord your God has given you.

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 word has failed of all the good things[a] that the Lord your God promised concerning you. All have come to pass for you; not one of them has failed. 15 But 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 evil things, until he has destroyed you from off this good land that the Lord your God has given you, 16 if you transgress the covenant of the Lord your God, which he commanded 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 off the good land that he has given to you.”

Observations – What does it say?

  • The Lord had given Israel peace
  • There had been peace for a long time before Joshua made this address
  • Joshua lived to be very old
  • Joshua gave this address to all of Israel
  • God had fought for Israel
  • God had fought for Israel for their sake
  • Joshua had allocated the land to the tribes of Israelites
  • There were still other nations in the land
  • The territory allocated to the tribes went from the Jordan to the great sea
  • Joshua said the Lord would push the inhabitants of the land and out of their sight
  • The Israelites were to possess the land
  • God had promised the Israelites the land.
  • The Israelites were to keep and do all that was written to the book of the Law of Moses
  • They were not modify the law in any way
  • The Israelites were not to mix with the nations that remained with them
  • The Israelites were not to mention the name of the gods of the nations that were among them
  • The Israelites were not to serve the gods of the nations that were with them.
  • The Israelites were not to swear by the gods of the nations that remained with them
  • The Israelites were to cling to the Lord their God
  • The Israelites had cleaned to the Lord their God
  • They were to cling to the Lord their God as they had in the past
  • The Lord had driven out of the land mighty nations
  • No one had been able to stand before the Israelites to that day
  • Israelites were able to overcome forces that greatly outnumbered them
  • The reason the Israelites were able to overcome superior forces was God had fought for them
  • The Lord had promised He would fight for them
  • God Keep his promise in fighting for the children of Israel
  • The Israelites were to be careful to love the Lord their God
  • Joshua warning them about clinging to the nations that remained with them
  • The Israelites were not to marry the other nations
  • The Israelites were not to associate with the nations that that were with them
  • If the Israelites turned from God was no longer going to drive out the nation’s before Israel
  • If they associate with the nations, they would be a snare and trap to Israel
  • When Joshua gave this speech he was about to die
  • Joshua reminded the Israelites that not one word of the good things God promised had failed
  • Just as all the good things had been fulfilled so evil things would occur if the Israelites did not keep their covenant with God
  • Evil things would occur if they serve other gods
  • Evil things would occur if they bowed down to other gods
  • If the Israelites served other gods and bow before them, transgressed the covenant of God, God would be angry and the Israelites would perish from the land
  • The Israelites with perish quickly from the land
  • God had given the land to Israel

Interpretation – What does it mean?

Here Joshua is reminding the people of Israel what God had done for them. They were a people who were to be set apart. If they keep the covenant with God then God would bless them. If they did not then they would be cursed. They were to keep themselves separate from the people and not even associate with the other nations. The mere association with another people would be the cause for them to be trapped and not keep their covenant with God.

Application – How does it work?

We hear a lot today about tolerance. That is a word that has been abused. It used to be simply to allow without inhibiting. You could tolerate it. You may not like it but you would tolerate it. Today the idea of tolerance has completely shifted. Because there is a wide spread belief that either there is no truth or if there is truth you cannot know what it is. The highest value is tolerance. Tolerance today does not many merely allowing but endorsing and even encouraging or facilitating. Here God did not allow for that type of tolerance. They were not even to associate with other people. Our command from Christ is different we are to go into the entire world and preach the gospel. But just as Joshua reminded the Israelites, God keeps His promises. So too, we need to be reminded that God keeps His promises. He has not promised us lands wealth here on earth but He has promised us an eternal life with Him. While we may suffer here our hope is in the world to come.

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