-In this final chapter of the book, Joshua is gathering all the tribes of Israel with their elders, heads, judges, and officers to Shechem in the Ephraim hill country to present themselves before God. Joshua reviews Israel’s history with them one last time before his passing speaking to them prophetically the Voice of the LORD. He went back to the land of Ur beyond the Euphrates River where Abram and his father Terah lived. In this place they served other gods, but the Living God took them out and led Abraham to the land of Canaan and multiplied his descendants according to promise giving him Isaac. To Isaac the LORD gave Jacob and Esau. Esau got Mount Seir to possess, but Jacob (Israel) went down to Egypt. 400 years later, God sent Moses and Aaron and plagued Egypt by what He did in their midst delivering the Hebrew slaves into freedom parting the Red Sea and destroying the Egyptian army miraculously before them. The sons of Israel lived in the wilderness (desert) a long time, 40 years in fact, a full generation. Then the LORD brought His people into the land of the Amorites who lived east of the Jordan, and they fought with Israel. God gave the Amorites into the hand of Israel, and they took possession of their land. The LORD destroyed the Amorites. Then Balak, the king of Moab, arose and fought with Israel summoning Balaam to prophesy against God’s people. But Balaam had to bless Israel according to the word of the LORD, and Balak was defeated and killed. Moab also was delivered into Israel’s hand. They eventually crossed the Jordan and came to Jericho. The citizens of Jericho, the Amorite, the Perizzite, the Canaanite, the Hittite, the Girgashite, the Hivite, and the Jebusite all fought with Israel, but the LORD delivered His people and gave every enemy into their hand. His ways were miraculous, His power devastating. All knew of His glory. Israel was given a Promised Land for which they had not labored for nor built. They now lived here eating of their vineyards and olive groves which they did not plant (Joshua 24:1-13).
-Therefore, Joshua calls his people to “fear the LORD and serve Him in sincerity and truth.” He told them to put away all idols against Him that their fathers had served beyond the Euphrates River and in Egypt. He asked them to choose this day whom they would serve: the gods of their faithless fathers, or the gods of the Amorites, or the One-Living LORD. The people responded with positive acknowledgement to their LORD. They professed they would not forsake Him to serve other gods. They knew Who had delivered them from bondage, did great signs in their midst, and preserved them through the wilderness wanderings. They realized Who had driven out the giants of the Promised Land and given them victory in this new place. They pledged their support of God (Joshua 24:14-18). But, Joshua said to the people, “You will not be able to serve the LORD, for He is a holy God. He is a jealous God; He will not forgive your transgressions or your sins. If you forsake the LORD and serve foreign gods, then He will turn and do you harm and consume you after He has done good to you (Joshua 24:19-20). However, the people maintained their commitment to serve the LORD their God. With that pledge, Joshua commented that they were witnesses against themselves that they indeed had chosen for themselves the LORD as their covenant God, to serve and worship only Him. They responded again that they were indeed “witnesses.” Joshua commanded then that they “put away the foreign gods which are in your midst, and incline your hearts to the LORD, the God of Israel.” The people maintained one more time, “We will serve the LORD our God and we will obey His Voice (Joshua 24:21-24).”
-So, Joshua made a covenant with the people that very day, a statute and an ordinance in Shechem. The elderly leader wrote these words in the book of the Law of God; and he took a large stone to set under an oak of the city by the sanctuary of the LORD telling them to behold it. The stone would be a witness against them in future generations, for it heard all the words of the LORD, which He spoke to His children. It was a witness against them if they were to ever deny their God. “Then Joshua dismissed the people, each to his inheritance (Joshua 24:25-28).”
-It came about after these things that Joshua passed away at the ripe old age of 110. He was buried in the territory of his inheritance, in Timnath-serah in the hill country of Ephraim on the north of Mount Gaash. “Israel served the LORD all the days of Joshua and all the days of the elders who survived Joshua, and had known all the deeds of the LORD which He had done for Israel.” They buried the bones of Joseph, brought up from Egypt, at Shechem in a piece of ground which their ancestor Jacob had actually bought from the sons of Hamor, the father of Shechem. This place became the inheritance of Joseph’s sons. Then the priest Eleazar, the son of Aaron, died and was buried at Gibeah of Phinehas his son, which was his inheritance in the hill country of Ephraim (Joshua 24:29-33).”
-*Application* Knowing the history of Israel, what shall we say of this pivotal time of their national and spiritual commitment? In our day, are we able to faithfully serve the LORD? God is holy. God is jealous. God will not forgive iniquity without a price. He will turn and do us harm and consume us after He has done so much good to us if we do not have a Savior. Let’s all admit it, on our own we fail miserably. Thanks be to Jesus Christ who rescues us from the justified punishment of a righteous God (Romans 7:24-25a, 1 Corinthians 15:56-57). His grace, however, is all sufficient (2 Corinthians 12:9). The application we must note here from this text involves our cockiness when God is telling us something. If He sees outside of time knowing our frailties and faults, let’s agree with Him on it in complete humility rather than arguing that we are going to be perfect in faith and practice with a haughty mindset. Sure our resolve can be strong at times, but God knows our every weakness and loves us anyway. So it’s always best to acknowledge our depravity: past, present, and even future. God knows the complete truth about us, and His reality is the only genuine indicator (Psalm 51:17).
Verses to Memorize: Joshua 24:14-28, 31