Chapter 23: Keep the Commandments and Love God
Joshua speaks to Israel and encourages them to be courageous in keeping the commandments of God. He advises that the Israelites keep the commandments and LOVE God. He commands them not marry the remnants of the Canaanites, for if they do they will be brought down and destroyed for the evil that they have committed. If Israel serves other gods they will be cursed and destroyed.
We must follow the laws of Moses: Verse 6. But do we have to follow them today? I would say no. But can we learn a lot from the laws? Yes. Many things like eating of pork and other animals are not an issue today. But the general laws of doing good in the sight of God is something we must hold to.
Chapter 24: Serve the Lord God
Joshua gathers Israel and recalls how the Lord has blessed and led Israel throughout the years. Joshua and all the people make a covenant to choose serve the Lord only and no other gods. Joshua and Eleazer die. Joshua dies at the age of 110 (verse 29). The bones of Joseph are taken from Egypt and buried in Shechem.
I am including the actual text from chapter 24, only because I think it serves as a great summary of what the Lord has done for Israel since the beginning. Verses 1-13;
“And Joshua gathered all the tribes of Israel to Shechem, and called for the elders of Israel, and for their heads, and for their judges, and for their officers; and they presented themselves before God. And Joshua said unto all the people, Thus saith the Lord God of Israel, Your fathers dwelt on the other side of the flood in old time, even Terah, the father of Abraham, and the father of Nachor: and they served other gods. And I took your father Abraham from the other side of the flood, and led him throughout all the land of Canaan, and multiplied his seed, and gave him Isaac. And I gave unto Isaac Jacob and Esau: and I gave unto Esau mount Seir, to possess it; but Jacob and his children went down into Egypt. I sent Moses also and Aaron, and I plagued Egypt, according to that which I did among them: and afterward I brought you out. And I brought your fathers out of Egypt: and ye came unto the sea; and the Egyptians pursued after your fathers with chariots and horsemen unto the Red sea. And when they cried unto the Lord, he put darkness between you and the Egyptians, and brought the sea upon them, and covered them; and your eyes have seen what I have done in Egypt: and ye dwelt in the wilderness a long season. And I brought you into the land of the Amorites, which dwelt on the other side Jordan; and they fought with you: and I gave them into your hand that ye might possess their land; and I destroyed them from before you. Then Balak the son of Zippor, king of Moab, arose and warred against Israel, and sent and called Balaam the son of Beor to curse you: But I would not hearken unto Balaam; therefore he blessed you still: so I delivered you out of his hand. And ye went over Jordan, and came unto Jericho: and the men of Jericho fought against you, the Amorites, and the Perizzites, and the Canaanites, and the Hittites, and the Girgashites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites; and I delivered them into your hand. And I sent the hornet before you, which drave them out from before you, even the two kings of the Amorites; but not with thy sword, nor with thy bow. And I have given you a land for which ye did not labour, and cities which ye built not, and ye dwell in them; of the vineyards and oliveyards which ye planted not do ye eat.” (Joshua 24:1-13)
Joshua asks the Israelites “…choose you this day whom ye will serve…” (Joshua 24:15). Joshua warns that if “…ye forsake the Lord, and serve strange gods, they he will turn and do you hurt… after that he hath done you good” (Joshua 24:20). I find this to be very true, if we chose to disobey God’s commandments and serve other gods (which can be putting material things before him) then we will be hurt. We can take a look at the world today and see that people are suffering everywhere… why? Because they are not following the commandments of God. Don’t have sexual relations outside of marriage… and then when people do that and get diseases and have unwanted pregnancies they look to God and say “there is no God” or that “How could God cause such horrible things to happen?”
You want to know the answer? He doesn’t cause bad things to happen, he always warns us, but if we don’t listen… WE ARE THE ONES LETTING BAD THINGS HAPPEN!! God hates to see us suffer, but like in the end of the verse “…he hath done you good.” (Joshua 24:20). Why has he done you good, by hurting you? Because you have to learn. Just like a parent telling their child to not touch the stove, but after the constant pursuit to touch the stove, the parent gives up and lets the child do what they want. The result? A crying child. God sees us the same way. Honestly we are all a bunch of crying babies in his eyes, and if we want something bad enough, eventually he won’t intervene, in fact he gave us agency to choose for ourselves. Remember Adam and Eve? He let Adam make his own decision. We too can make our own decision, as long as we are prepared to face the consequences of our decisions.