Joshua 23

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1 And it cometh to pass, many days after that Jehovah hath given rest to Israel from all their enemies round about, that Joshua is old, entering into days,

2 and Joshua calleth for all Israel, for its elders, and for its heads, and for its judges, and for its authorities, and saith unto them, `I have become old; I have entered into days;

3 and ye -- ye have seen all that Jehovah your God hath done to all these nations because of you, for Jehovah your God [is] He who is fighting for you;

4 see, I have caused to fall to you these nations who are left for an inheritance to your tribes, from the Jordan, (and all the nations which I cut off), and the great sea, the going in of the sun.

5 `As to Jehovah your God, He doth thrust them from your presence, and hath dispossessed them from before you, and ye have possessed their land, as Jehovah your God hath spoken to you,

6 and ye have been very strong to keep and to do the whole that is written in the Book of the Law of Moses, so as not to turn aside from it right or left,

7 so as not to go in among these nations, these who are left with you; and of the name of their gods ye do not make mention, nor do ye swear, nor do ye serve them, nor do ye bow yourselves to them;

8 but to Jehovah your God ye do cleave, as ye have done till this day.

9 And Jehovah is dispossessing from before you nations great and mighty; as for you, none hath stood in your presence till this day;

10 one man of you doth pursue a thousand, for Jehovah your God [is] He who is fighting for you, as He hath spoken to you;

11 and ye have been very watchful for yourselves to love Jehovah your God.

12 `But -- if ye at all turn back and have cleaved to the remnant of these nations, these who are left with you, and intermarried with them, and gone in to them, and they to you,

13 know certainly that Jehovah your God is not continuing to dispossess these nations from before you, and they have been to you for a gin, and for a snare, and for a scourge, in your sides, and for thorns in your eyes, till ye perish from off this good ground which Jehovah your God hath given to you.

14 `And lo, I am going, to-day, in the way of all the earth, and ye have known -- with all your heart, and with all your soul -- that there hath not fallen one thing of all the good things which Jehovah your God hath spoken concerning you; the whole have come to you; there hath not failed of it one thing.

15 `And it hath been, as there hath come upon you all the good thing which Jehovah your God hath spoken unto you, so doth Jehovah bring upon you the whole of the evil thing, till His destroying you from off this good ground which Jehovah your God hath given to you;

16 in your transgressing the covenant of Jehovah your God which He commanded you, and ye have gone and served other gods, and bowed yourselves to them, then hath the anger of Jehovah burned against you, and ye have perished hastily from off the good land which He hath 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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