Joshua 23

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1 It happened after many days, when Yahweh had given rest to Israel from their enemies all around, and Joshua was old and well advanced in years,

2 that Joshua called for all Israel, for their elders and for their heads, and for their judges and for their officers, and said to them, "I am old and well advanced in years.

3 You have seen all that Yahweh your God has done to all these nations because of you; for it is Yahweh your God who has fought for you.

4 Behold, I have allotted to you these nations that remain, to be an inheritance for your tribes, from the Jordan, with all the nations that I have cut off, even to the great sea toward the going down of the sun.

5 Yahweh your God will thrust them out from before you, and drive them from out of your sight. You shall possess their land, as Yahweh your God spoke to you.

6 "Therefore be very courageous to keep and to do all that is written in the book of the law of Moses, that you not turn aside from it to the right hand or to the left;

7 that you not come among these nations, these that remain among you; neither make mention of the name of their gods, nor cause to swear by them, neither serve them, nor bow down yourselves to them;

8 but hold fast to Yahweh your God, as you have done to this day.

9 "For Yahweh has driven great and strong nations out from before you. But as for you, no man has stood before you to this day.

10 One man of you shall chase a thousand; for it is Yahweh your God who fights for you, as he spoke to you.

11 Take good heed therefore to yourselves, that you love Yahweh your God.

12 "But if you do at all go back, and hold fast to the remnant of these nations, even these who remain among you, and make marriages with them, and go in to them, and they to you;

13 know for a certainty that Yahweh your God will no longer drive these nations from out of your sight; but they shall be a snare and a trap to you, a scourge in your sides, and thorns in your eyes, until you perish from off this good land which Yahweh your God has given you.

14 "Behold, today I am going the way of all the earth. You know in all your hearts and in all your souls that not one thing has failed of all the good things which Yahweh your God spoke concerning you. All have happened to you. Not one thing has failed of it.

15 It shall happen that as all the good things have come on you of which Yahweh your God spoke to you, so Yahweh will bring on you all the evil things, until he has destroyed you from off this good land which Yahweh your God has given you,

16 when you disobey the covenant of Yahweh your God, which he commanded you, and go and serve other gods, and bow down yourselves to them. Then the anger of Yahweh will be kindled against you, and you will perish quickly from off the good land which he has given to 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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