WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 28
SCRIPTURE: Joshua 24
We have finally made it to the last chapter of this incredible book. I have enjoyed this journey. I hope you have as well.
As we come to the end of this book we are actually coming to the end of Joshua’s life on this earth. In his final effort, he called the people of Israel together one last time. He had two purposes for this. One, to rehearse what God had done. Two, to prepare for the days ahead.
Beginning in verse 2, the Lord spoke through Joshua a quick history of the nation of Israel. This history actually began with the father of Abraham and ended with the Hebrew people living in the Promised Land.
As God recaps this story, He uses the personal pronoun “I” almost 20 times. If that were one of us doing that, it would be seen as ego or pride or something worse. But because it is God, this is seen as a way of reminding the Israelites of His undeniable role in their history. Joshua takes no credit for any of this. And the people of Israel got no credit for any of this. This was the work of God in their midst on their behalf.
It is important even today that we be reminded of the past. But we can’t live in the past. History provides great lessons for all of us that we must learn and use to keep from repeating mistakes. But we can’t live in the past. We have to use the past as a ladder to help us climb into the future.
And that’s what happens in verse 14. Joshua challenges the people about how they were to live in the days ahead. This is the point that we discover one of the great challenges of Scripture. Joshua basically tells them to choose who they are going to serve but (at the end of verse 15), he and his house were going to serve the Lord.
In verse 16, the people made a quick commitment to serving the Lord. In verse 19, Joshua makes a staggering statement. He tells the people they are not able to serve the Lord. He goes on to say that the Lord will not forgive them. So, what is this about?
Joshua knew his people well. He knew it was easy for them to make a quick verbal commitment to the Lord but he also know it would be very difficult for them to follow through. So, he is basically saying that their words by themselves were not sufficient. And that if they remained in idolatry, God would not forgive them while they were intentionally serving idols.
The people made another verbal commitment. Then Joshua told them to do away with their idols. The confession of our mouths must be followed by a change in our lives or it may very well be a false confession.
The chapter ends with three burials. Obviously these burials marked the end of an era but the chapter ends with a sense of anticipation of what is to come. If you are familiar with the Book of Judges, you know the next phase of Israel’s history is not real good. But it is obvious that God has not abandoned His people. That, by the way, is true today. God has not abandoned His people.