Joshua 23

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1 Now after a long time, when the Lord had given Israel rest from wars on every side, and Joshua was old and full of years,

2 Joshua sent for all Israel, for their responsible men and their chiefs and their judges and their overseers, and said to them, I am old, and full of years:

3 You have seen everything the Lord your God has done to all these nations because of you; for it is the Lord your God who has been fighting for you.

4 Now I have given to you, as the heritage of your tribes, all these nations which are still in the land, together with those cut off by me, from Jordan as far as the Great Sea on the west.

5 The Lord your God will send them away by force, driving them out before you; and you are to take their land for your heritage, as The Lord your God said to you.

6 So be very strong to keep and do whatever is recorded in the book of the law of Moses, not turning away from it to the right or to the left;

7 Have nothing to do with these nations who still are living among you; let not their gods be named by you or used in your oaths; do not be their servants or give them worship:

8 But be true to the Lord your God as you have been till this day.

9 For the Lord has sent out from before you nations great and strong: and they have all given way before you till this day.

10 One man of you is able to put to flight a thousand; for it is the Lord your God who is fighting for you, as he has said to you.

11 So keep watch on yourselves, and see that you have love for the Lord your God.

12 For if you go back, joining yourselves to the rest of these nations who are still among you, getting married to them and living with them and they with you:

13 Then you may be certain that the Lord your God will not go on driving these nations out from before you; but they will become a danger and a cause of sin to you, a whip for your sides and thorns in your eyes, till you are cut off from this good land which the Lord your God has given you.

14 Now I am about to go the way of all the earth: and you have seen and are certain, all of you, in your hearts and souls, that in all the good things which the Lord said about you, he has kept faith with you; everything has come true for you.

15 And you will see that, as all the good things which the Lord your God undertook to do for you, have come to you, so the Lord will send down on you all the evil things till he has made your destruction complete, and you are cut off from the good land which the Lord your God has given you.

16 If the agreement of the Lord your God, which was given to you by his orders, is broken, and you become the servants of other gods and give them worship, then the wrath of the Lord will be burning against you, and you will quickly be cut off from the good land which he has given you.


Exploring the Meaning of Joshua 23      

Napsal(a) Rev. Julian Duckworth

Joshua 23: Joshua’s farewell address to all Israel.

Now that the people of Israel are living in the land of Canaan according to the Lord’s promise to them, Joshua, now old, gathers Israel together and offers the people his final words. It is a review of God’s faithfulness to them, His power in their victories, the gift of a good land in which they may live, and finally, a warning: they must not turn away from the Lord and follow the gods of other nations, or the Lord’s anger will follow them.

The spiritual meaning of Joshua’s address is about our experience of the Lord’s activity in our lives, our responsibilities in the work of regeneration, and what happens in us when we drift away from our relationship with the Lord. Every part of Joshua’s speech touches on these subjects, and it is a shining statement for our spiritual well-being. We will look at each part of what Joshua says and their spiritual meanings.

Joshua called for all Israel, and for all of their leaders - their elders, their heads, their judges and their officers. Spiritually, what leads and commands our mind is what we hold as true, which then informs our actions.

Joshua says he is old and advanced in age. Spiritually, this stands for acquiring wisdom during regeneration. Perhaps ‘advanced’, with its range of meanings, is a clue here.

Then Joshua turns to the Lord and the conquest. Joshua reminds the Israelites of what the Lord has given them, and says that the Lord will help them drive out the remaining nations until the whole land is theirs. Spiritually, this is about the ways in which the Lord guides us through regeneration, and how He will be present in our continuing spiritual work.

Joshua then urges Israel to keep the law of Moses and not turn away from it, nor go among other nations who are alongside Israel, nor mention their gods, nor swear by them or serve them or bow down to them. For us, this means following the Lord, and not giving in to the other influences that could lead our lives - for example, greed or ambition. If we do give thought to these other things, they can entrap us. It is enough for us to see them in our mind and quickly refuse their place there.

Joshua then says that because the Lord has been fighting for Israel, no one has been able to stand against them. In verse 10, he says, “One man of you shall chase a thousand: for the Lord your God, he it is that fighteth for you, as he hath promised you.” This means when we acknowledge that the Lord rules our life and empowers us, the influences of hell will be powerless against our resolve.

Joshua then tells Israel that if they do turn to the other nations and their gods, the Lord would no longer drive out these nations, and they would become snares and traps for Israel. This is about the spiritual consequences of going against the Lord. This will inevitably bring on its own dangers, and we can be drawn in without realizing. The Lord can only drive out our spiritual enemies when we turn to Him for guidance.

Finally, Joshua says that not one thing God intended for Israel has failed to happen; so, just as God had given Israel many blessings, He would bring harm on Israel if they grew unfaithful. In our spiritual lives, this is only how things appear. We may feel that God is punishing us at times, but in reality we bring harm on ourselves when we no longer follow the Lord. So, Joshua says, the good land would be taken from them, just as the delight of heavenly life is taken from us if we turn away from the Lord.

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