Welcome to Expound, a verse-by-verse of God's word. Our goal is to expand your knowledge of the truth of God by explaining the word of God in a way that is interactive, enjoyable, and congregational.
Father, we have already asked you in these songs that you would speak, that you would speak to us, that we would be able to hear your voice, a voice from heaven, a clarion-call that is unmistakable, through the inspired words that tell the story of Joshua and your people, imperfect, but so loved, and carried by you through the wilderness into a promise land. Lord, as we pray, we think of the land that Israel is in today, that after hundreds, thousands of years of dispersion, you have brought them back, so that we can look over or visit and witness a modern miracle. I pray, Lord, that even that, just that modern existence of that nation, would encourage us that all the promises of God are yea and amen, that we can trust you with our lives, with our future, in Jesus' name, amen.
A couple of years ago, I had the distinct privilege of meeting with the Prime Minister of Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu in his office in Jerusalem. And while we were there, for about an hour, one of the things that was dear to his heart, that he wanted to show us, was a signet ring from the time of King Hezekiah, 2,800 years prior to this day and age, under King Hezekiah, this little ring was found at the excavations near the Western Wall of Jerusalem. And in Hebrew, on that signet ring, it said Netanyahu Ben-Joash. Joash, "jo-ash," was evidently one of the officials who worked for King Hezekiah. And this was his official signet ring.
The Department of Antiquities loaned this little signet ring to the Prime Minister so that he could display it in his office, because it has his name on it. Not that they are related directly, but the idea that he wanted to show, is look at the archaeological evidence of the Land of Israel given to the Jewish people. And he was so passionate about this little stone on this ring, but it made me realize how tied the Israelites, even modern Israel, is to their land, how important the land covenant is to the Jewish nation.
It was to Abraham, in Genesis Chapter 12, that God promised, if you leave your land, the land of your birth, and you follow me to this new land, I have given this land to you and to your descendants forever. He repeated that promise in Chapter 15 of Genesis. You remember the story, when Abram was brought out, and God said, look up in the sky, and look at the stars. See if you can count them. And he says, see how innumerable those stars are? So shall your descendants be.
And then he fell into this weird trance. He saw this vision, where God basically communicate him by a covenant, the truth that the land that he was in, the land of Canaan, would be given to his descendants, even though they would go down into Egypt for 400 years, God would bring them up with a powerful hand. And they would once again occupy that land. That it was a gift, a covenant to Abram, eventually who would be called Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and the 12 Tribes.
Now we come to the last two chapters of the book of Joshua. They're in the land. They're occupying the land. They are settling the land. It's been a long time coming. It took seven years to conquer the land, another 13 to occupy it, so about 20 years have passed since the beginning of this book, but boy have they changed.
They went from nomads to conquerors. They went from wanderers to workers, warriors, and worshippers, in a brand new land. No longer are they going from place to place for 40 years in the wilderness. They are settled into their tribal allotments.
And it is toward the end of Joshua's life. So he has a final commission for them. And these two chapters comprise the final words of Joshua, the final commission given to them. Now like the children of Israel, since we always want to bring this into modern times, like the children of Israel, our Christian growth is a matter of taking the promises that God has given us and occupying them, making them ours.
Even as it took a long time, as God promised, you wouldn't be able to settle it overnight, but little by little, I will give you this land. Over a period of many years, if you just put one foot in front of the other, and you take and walk through the land, and occupy it, I'll be with you. So too is the Christian life. God has given us all the promises in Christ Jesus.
We compare Joshua to Ephesians, spiritual blessings in heavenly places, but we have to take them. We have to believe them. We have to walk in them. We have to occupy them. We walk through our land, for the Bible says, walk in the spirit. That's a tough process.
It doesn't say sporadically sprint in the spirit. Every now and then, you'll get a jolt. You'll feel really good after a worship service. And you'll run for a little bit, then poop out in the spirit. He didn't say, be instantaneously zapped by the spirit. He said, walk in the spirit. That denotes a long, steady, consistent progress.
Chapter 23 and 24, as I already mentioned, Joshua's final words, seem to be split in two. It would seem that Chapter 23 is Joshua's last words to the leadership of Israel, and chapter 24 is his commission and challenge to the whole population of Israel. The heads of all the tribes are all gathered together at Shechem for his final words.
Verse One, Chapter 23, now it came to pass a long time after the Lord had given rest to Israel from all their enemies round about, that Joshua was old and advanced in age. Now remember, we have read that before, right? We read that Joshua was old and advanced in age, and God came to him and said, Josh, you're old. And you're advanced in age, but there remains land to be conquered.
Well now he's gone from old, to advanced age, to really old, and really advanced in age. We'll find out how old he is in the next chapter. He's 110 years old when he kicks the bucket. It's time to die. You're at 110. Who wants to live to 111? Good enough, time to go.
He's old. He's advanced in age. And Joshua called for all Israel, for their elders, for their heads, for their judges, and for their officers, and said to them, now look how he begins, I'm old and advanced in age. Have you ever thought, if you had one last chance to speak, what would you say? If it was your final conversation, if it was your last sermon, if it was your last phone call, what words would you say? Probably not, I'm old and advanced in age.
But I've often wondered, what would be my last words, if I knew they were my last. These are among his last words. Verse 3, you have seen, Joshua continues, this old, 110-year-old general, this leader, this veteran. You have seen, he says to the leaders, all that the Lord your God has done to all these nations because of you. For the Lord your God is he who has fought for you.
Joshua is old. He knows that it's time to change leadership. It was inevitable. The book opened up with a change in leadership. Moses, my servant, is dead, the Lord said. Joshua, you're the next guy.
Now Joshua is old. And he knows that his leadership is over. So a new generation has to take the baton of leadership. I love how he puts his final words to these leaders. You've seen what God has done. You've watched how the Lord has fought for you.
What he's doing is he's appealing to the most important part of the process of the Land of Canaan. And that is not the leadership, but the Lord. It's not about the servant. It's about the master. It's not, oh, Joshua is dying. What are we going to do? Oh, Moses is dead. There is no hope. It's not about the servant. It's always about the master.
Here's the truth Baby Ruth, God buries his workers, but his work goes on.
God always has someone, something up his sleeve. When Joshua is old and advanced in years, he's got someone else. When Moses dies, he's got Joshua. God buries his workers. His work goes on.
See, Verse 4, I have divided to you by a lot these nations that remain to be an inheritance for your tribes. From the Jordan, with all the nations that I have cut off, as far as the great sea-- the great sea is what sea? Mediterranean, that's on the west coast of Israel, westward. And the Lord your God will expel them from before you, and drive them out of your sight. And so you shall possess their land, as the Lord your God has promised you.
Therefore, be very courageous. This Sounds exactly like what God said to Joshua in Chapter 1. Be courageous. To keep and to do all that is written in the book of the law of Moses, less you turn aside from it to the right hand or to the left.
Now, I want you to consider this phrase that he says. The phrase, where he says in Verse 6, it's written in the book of the law of Moses. Have you ever heard the term canon? And I don't mean a gun. I mean the canon of scripture.
The word canon means a list. It is the listing of books that we consider to be inspired books of the Bible, the canon of scripture, that written list, that written code. The first canon of scripture were the first five books of Moses, Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy, what Moses was commissioned by God to write.
Now let me back up and, sort of, append what I just said. The very first canon of scripture was the 10 Commandments. The first scripture are the words that God spoke, and wrote with his own finger, in the Hebrew language, on stone, and gave them to the children of Israel, the 10 Commandments the 10 Words.
But then God said, Moses, I want you to write some stuff down. And so Moses wrote the five books that I mentioned, because God told him to write that down. That becomes law. That becomes scripture to them. That's all they have.
Joshua knows that's all they need at this point. God has given you his word, given you his law. Now you be courageous. And you obey the canon of scripture, those five books that were given to Moses.
Now later on, will see in this book, Joshua will add to the law. So the canon of scripture begins to grow, because this is Joshua, wrote these words in the law of the Lord. So added to the first five books of Moses becomes the words of Joshua, the book of Joshua. And later on the prophets will be writing. And God will speak to the prophets, thus sayeth the Lord, or the word of the Lord came into Isaiah, or to Jeremiah.
Now I bring this up, because we often wonder, well how do we know that the books in the Bible are the books that God wants us to have? Because God told Moses, don't add to my words, don't subtract from my words. Yet God tells him to write more words. And Joshua writes more words. And prophets add more words.
So evidently, they were very strict about what could be added. But they knew when God was speaking, and they wrote that down. So there were always tests, in the Old Testament and in the New Testament times, that God's people, in the old covenant and in the Church, used to determine which books of the Bible are to be included.
Number one, it has to be authoritative, authoritative. 2,600 times in the Old Testament alone, thus sayeth the Lord, the word of the Lord came, God told him to write these words, et cetera. There are claims, 2,600 times, to authority.
Also there was the test of reception. Was it received? Was it recognized by the Jewish people, or by the Church, as having authority? Was it believed, read, circulated, et cetera. So there were several tests.
Another one, concerning inspiration, was it transformative? Does it transform a life? Does it edify a life? Does it bring transformation in the process? And there are several tests that at different times were always applied to writings, to see if it was genuine or not.
Very, very strict, so much so that by 435 BC, the time of Malachi, that was the last time God spoke in the Old Testament. There are 400 silent years until John the Baptist shows up. And in all the Jewish writings, it says that God stopped speaking around that time of Malachi.
So they, again, were very strict. And they recognize when a prophet spoke, and didn't speak. Here Joshua, way back to the beginning, lets them know, our authority up to this point, the word of God, the scriptures we have, are the first five books of Moses, the law of the Lord. That's what he is referring to.
Verse 7, unless you go among these nations, these who remain among you, you shall not make mention of the name of their gods, nor cause anyone to swear by them. You shall not serve them, nor bow down to them. But you shall hold fast to the Lord your God, as you have done to this day. For the Lord has driven out from before you great and strong nations, but as for you, no one has been able to stand against you to this day. One man of you shall chase 1,000, for the Lord your God, here it is again, it is he who fights for you, as he promised you.
Now settling Canaan was a huge task. There were some pretty mighty, fierce enemies. And there were walled cities, walled villages. The children of Israel were not prepared for that kind of warfare, but god was.
When it says, the Lord fought for you, all you have to do is look at the Battle of Jericho, as we already have. And you can see, there's a good example. They didn't do much. They tooted their horn. They blew trumpets. The walls fell over. God is the one who fought that battle.
Joshua couldn't stand there with his soldiers and say, you know, we are brilliant military strategists. Look how we defeated these Canaanites in Jericho. They didn't do anything.
In fact, the plan sounded stupid, march around the city, and then go home. Next day, march around the city, go home. Next day, march around the city, go home. Do that for seven days, blow your trumpet, and then finally, march around it seven times. OK, then what? Then just watch what I do. The walls will fall down.
I always have loved what Martin Luther used to say. With God, one is a majority. Children of Israel learned that by settling the land, and seeing that it was the Lord who fought for them. The Lord is with you.
Now the Lord is with you, too. He's not just with the children of Israel. He's with you tonight, in your situation, in your issue, in your problem. By the time we get to the New Testament, the first book in the New Testament is the Book of Matthew.
I was thinking, I hope they-- have they read the New Testament? OK, so it's Matthew. And Matthew begins, in the words of the New Testament, the first words in the first chapter, he begins with the prophecy of Isaiah, that his name will be called Immanuel, which means, God with us. God is with you.
The book closes with the promise of Jesus. Lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age. So he's-- was with the children of Israel. He promised to be with us, through Jesus. He promised to be with his disciples to the end of the age. It's not the end of the world yet, so the Lord is with us, his people. And he fights your battles.
Therefore, Verse 11, take diligent heed to yourselves, not just to the law, not just to the first five books of Moses, but to you. Take heed to yourselves. That you love the Lord your God. What an interesting command. Love God.
It's an interesting command, because most of us don't associate love with an act of the will, but a byproduct of the emotion. How many times I've heard people say, I'm just don't love her anymore. I just don't love him any more. That's a choice you have made. Just like you have a choice to get up in the morning, turn to your spouse, and say, I love you.
Love is a choice. And sometimes you need that choice to pull the feelings along in the relationship. And when you do, the feelings will be there, but it begins with a choice. So you might wake up saying, I don't feel like love-- loving the Lord today. Love him.
But I'd be a hypocrite, if I say I love the Lord, bu then I don't feel like it. You wouldn't be a hypocrite. You'd be obedient. That's what you'd be.
So he says, therefore, you shall, as a command, you shall love the Lord your God, or else-- uh oh-- if indeed you do go back and cling to the remnant of these nations, these that remain among you, and make marriages with them, and go into them, and they to you, know for certain that the Lord your God will no longer drive out these nations from before you, but they shall be snares and traps to you, and scourges on your sides, and thorns in your eyes, until you perish from this good land, which the Lord your God has given you. Notice in these verses three consequences are given of disobedience, a failure to love the Lord. First of all, defeat. He promises defeat. God will no longer drive out these nations, Verse 13.
Second consequence, discomfort, there'll be snares and traps, scourges on your sides, thorns in your eyes. Finally, disgrace is the third consequence, until you perish from the good land which the Lord your God is giving you. Joshua acknowledges, you have served, you have obeyed up to this day. Up to this day, you've done it. You follow the Lord, up to this day. But be careful after this day, that you do the same.
He must have known. He must have had insight. Joshua had to have had insight into the heart of men and women. We have a propensity to go back, to backslide, a propensity to lose ground.
You can take the Christian out of the world. The real hard part is taking the world out of the Christian. You can take Israel out of Egypt. God did. But for 40 years, Egypt was still inside of Israel, as they wandered in the desert, as they complained about how good that bondage was in Egypt. I miss being a slave. In their hearts, Egypt was still there.
So, or else, if you go back, very strong words. Now in the New Testament, there is a principle of separation. I won't go through all the verses, but I will mention that to you. Separation is a huge issue, "that you come out from among them, sayeth the Lord, and be separate, Paul," quoting from the Old Testament.
And he amplifies that through, and through, in his letters. Separate yourself from the world. You've been taken out of the world by Christ. Now the world needs to be taken out of you, as you are completely sold out to the Lord.
Now when the Bible speaks about separation in the New Testament, it's not referring to a monastery. Walk away from the world, lock yourself up in a castle somewhere, in a house in the middle of the desert, or in the middle of the mountains, and just have Christian neighbors, and no unbelievers in your life at all, no, no. The Bible does see separation as monasteries, but missionaries. You are sent into the world, Jesus said, I pray, Father, that not that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one, while they're in the world.
So the Lord wants us to be in the world, but not of the world. That's the principle of separation. We have proximity, but not activity. We don't do what they do, though we live among them. So we're to be separated from their values, separated from what they deem as important, different from what they see as right and wrong, separated into the Lord, but still making an influence on them.
Verse 14, behold this day. I am going the way of all the Earth. You know what that means? I'm going to-- I'm kicking the bucket. I'm dying. That's the way of all the Earth. Everybody dies.
You know, we've had-- I don't know how many years we have in our history, and I say that because there is a dispute as to the age of the Earth, but ever since humans have been on the Earth, they die. And yet, every generation, we're just shocked that somebody dies.
Joshua is old. He knows he doesn't have much time. He goes, I'm going the way of all the Earth. Everybody else has done this. It's my turn, coming up soon.
I'm going the way of all the Earth. And you know, in all your hearts, and in all your souls, that not one thing has failed of all the good things which the Lord your God spoke concerning you. All have come to pass. Not one word of them has failed.
I have that underline. I have yellow in those verses, in my Bible, in this Bible that I'm holding, because it's a powerful statement. You know in your heart and in your soul, that everything God has said, he has kept. His promises have been fulfilled.
Now I want you to consider this for a moment. I want you to consider how Joshua viewed those first five books of Moses, which contain promises that they had seen fulfilled. How do you think, if you were to ask Joshua, Joshua, what is your view of the inspiration of the scripture?
Do you know what his answer would have been? If he were a theologian, he would say, I believe in the verbal and plenary inspiration of the scripture. Which is what you and I believe in-- I hope you believe in. It's what I believe in.
It means that the scripture is inspired, down to the very words spoken themselves, and not just part of it, but all of it is inspired by God, all of it, in Genesis, in Exodus, in Leviticus, in Numbers, in Deuteronomy. And for Josh, that's what he had. He believed in the verbal, down to the very words, that promise with those words means those things are going to happen.
And that's what he's referring to. The way those promises were worded have come to pass, all of it, all of it. I can't answer for you. I don't know how you view the Bible. But I hope you do, or soon will, believe in what I just said, the verbal, plenary inspiration of the scripture.
Paul said to Timothy, all scripture is inspired by God, and profitable. Now he was speaking about more than five books. He had a whole lot. All of it, he said, is inspired by God. And in the Greek, it's even more powerful, pasa graphe theopneustos, all scripture is God-breathed, God-breathed, all of it, every bit of it.
And as a Jewish person, in the New Testament looking back, that included all 39 books that we would say of the Old Testament. Therefore, it shall come to pass. That as all the good things that have come upon you, which the Lord your God promised to you, so the Lord will bring upon you all the harmful things, until he has destroyed you from this good land which the Lord your God has given you.
Now this should ring a bell. And for some of you, it will. In Deuteronomy Chapter 28, Moses says the same thing, but he says it longer.
In Deuteronomy 28, Moses says, now you better obey God. And if you obey God, he is going to bless you. He's going to bless going out, and you're coming in. He's going to bless your kneading trough. He's going to bless your offspring. He's going to bless your cattle. He's going to bless your fields.
But if you disobey God, he'll curse your going out. And he'll curse you're going in. He'll curse your kneading troughs. He'll curse your offspring. He'll curse et cetera, et cetera. It's very, very lengthy.
Joshua does the same thing. He challenges them. And he says, if you don't, until he has destroyed you from the good land, which the Lord your God has given you, when you have transgressed the covenant of the Lord your God, which he has commanded you, and have gone and served other gods, and bowed down to them, then the anger of the Lord will burn against you. And you will perish quickly from the good land which he has given you.
Now I hope in reading that, you're puzzled. I hope in reading that, you go, wait a minute. Didn't God promise the land of Israel to the Jewish people as an unconditional covenant? Did he?
Yes, he did, an unconditional covenant, no strings attached. God says, I'm going to do it, period. However, their tenure in the land was always conditional. So when he says, I'll destroy you. It doesn't mean, I'll destroy the land. I'll annihilate Israel, completely. I'll never fulfill my promises that I made to Israel.
This is very important, when it comes to modern day theological stances with regards to the Nation of Israel. Because many schools, many seminaries, will say, all of God's promises in the Old Testament made to Israel are fulfilled in the Church, not in Israel. Well please, go back and read Jeremiah 31, not right now, but later on at home. And see if you can even hold that position while reading that text.
When God says, I'll destroy you from the land, what he means is I will deal with that generation in relationship to the land. So that generation that is disobedient, I will boot them out of that land, but I will bring them back. God promises that time and time again.
So what happened historically? Well, we know what happened. 722 BC, the Assyrians came in, because the children of Israel committed idolatry, disobeyed God's law for year, after year, after year. God sent in the Assyrians, 722 BC, took the Northern Kingdom captive. Later on, 605 BC, 597 BC, 586 BC, the Babylonians, three times, assaulted Jerusalem, and took the children of Judah captive, including Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, Abednego, and a whole bunch others.
Later on, 165 BC, Antiochus Epiphanes and the Syrian hordes marched into Jerusalem, upset temple worship, closed it down, put up pagan altars, persecuted the Jewish people. Later on, 70 AD, the Romans came in, destroying Jerusalem, booting the Jews out of the land. But each time, God kept bringing them back, bringing them back, bringing them back.
And now they're back, since May of 1948. And I believe that Isaiah 11:11 comes into play, when God brings them back into the land that time, they're there for good. They're there for good. Now, have they completely turned to the Lord? No, not yet. They will.
But God keeps bringing them back into the land, because it's an unconditional covenant. But the enjoyment of that covenant is conditional from generation to generation. So just a little recap on the covenants, in brief.
Chapter 24, then Joshua gathered all the tribes of Israel to Shechem called for the elders of Israel, for their heads, for their judges, for their officers. And they presented themselves before God. The leadership is there again, but with the tribes of Israel, so that Joshua, at 110, can just, kind of, brief the leaders, who will then get the message to the rest of the nation.
Chapter 24, the final words of Joshua is a historical review. And it follows the typical Jewish pattern of storytelling. If you know anything about the Jewish storytelling, they love to weave their history throughout the story, to bring them up to the present day and age.
You may, after tonight, again, not right now, look at Acts Chapter 7. It's a lengthy chapter. Stephen does this. He goes all the way back to God calling Abraham, and all the covenants. That's how the Jews told their story. They always reminded themselves of what God did through the patriarchs, you'll find that here, Chapter 24, Verse 2 and 3, what happened in the wilderness in Egypt, or in the Egyptian bondage, and then in the wilderness after they left Egypt, and then crossing the Jordan into the land. All of those elements are found here as well.
Joshua gives them a historic review. Something else I want to throw out, because you may not have noticed this before, three bodies of water are mentioned in Chapter 24, all in relationship to their separation. Remember I said separation is an important principle? So body of water number one, the river, or the Euphrates River, that's where Abraham came from with Terah. And they came to the land of Canaan, crossing the River Euphrates.
On the other side of the River Euphrates was this Sumerian culture, with its animism, and its polytheism. They put that away. They're separated from that.
Second body of water, the Red Sea. On the other side of that is Egypt, with all of its polytheism and false gods. Than the Jordan River. And on the other side of that, on both sides of that, the Canaanites, with all of their false worship. So three bodies of water, all that speak of separation in their history.
So let's begin. Verse 2, Joshua said to all the people, thus says the Lord God of Israel. Your fathers, including Terah, the Father of Abraham, and the Father of Nahor, dwelt on the other side of the river, that's the Euphrates, in old times. And they served other gods. Then I took your Father Abraham from the other side of the river, led him through all the land of Canaan, multiplied his descendants, and gave him Isaac.
Now Abram, later to be called Abraham, was from a town on the other side of the Euphrates River called Ur, U-R, Ur, Ur of the Chaldeans. Ur of the Chaldeans would be in southern Iraq, today, southeastern Iraq.
Ur of the Chaldeans was not some podunk little village. It was the center of civilization at the time. 300,000 people lived in Ur of the Chaldeans at the time of Abraham. It was an advanced civilization.
They had studied math and they had it-- advanced techniques in math and astronomy. There was a library in Ur of the Chaldeans, a great university, greatest in the world at the time. That's where he came from.
But it was also a place of animism, nature worship, polytheism, worshipped many gods, goddesses. In fact, according to the Midrash, one of the Jewish writings, the father of Abraham, Terah, was a dealer-- a manufacturer and a dealer of idols, of statute idols. And Abraham, it says, was his assistant. So he's going all the way back from before they got into the covenant with God, and God called him out of idolatry, out of paganism.
Now that is not much different than the New Testament. Paul writes to the Thessalonians, and says, I have heard how that you turned from idols to serve the living and true God. And in essence, all of us have turned from idols.
Whatever you were into before, at its very root, you were worshipping you, the greatest idol there is. You worship yourself. It was all about you, your pleasure, your ambition, your agenda. And at some point, you came to a place called repentance, where you turned from that. And you turned to him. And you've left idols to serve the living and true God.
Then I took your Father, Abraham, from the other side of the river, that is Euphrates, led him to the land of Canaan, multiplied his descendants, and gave him Isaac. To Isaac, I gave Jacob and Esau. To Esau I gave them mountains of Seir to possess. But Jacob and his children went down to Egypt.
Also I sent Moses and Aaron. And I plagued Egypt, according to what I did among them afterwards, I brought you out. Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, the covenant for the land, here's his point, didn't go to the descendants of Esau, but to the descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and then Jacob.
God gave Mount Seir, the desert areas, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, to Esau, as mentioned here. But the Land of Canaan, specifically, was to be given to Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and the 12 Tribes of Israel. Now Esau also had 12 sons. And he had 12 tribes. And they multiplied. And they have, to this day, much more land than is in the land of Israel today.
And you know, over in the Middle East, and in New York City in the United Nations, there is much debate as to who owns the land, that little strip we today call Israel. Palestinians will say, well we had it first. And the Jews will say, well before you had it first, we had it first. In fact, we can go back thousands of years.
But then if there are any Canaanites alive, they'd have to say, well but we had it first. So who's land is it? They're all wrong, actually. Because in those first five books of Moses, God said, the land is mine, says the Lord, I'll give it to whoever I want to.
And he happened to give it to the descendants of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and the 12 tribes. That's his choice. That's his sovereign choice as the Lord. That's why I believe in Israel's right to be in that land, enough said on that. I have said that before. And given it much greater detail.
So Verse 5-- I already read that. Verse 6, then I brought your Father out of Egypt-- fathers out of Egypt. And you came to the sea. And the Egyptians pursued your fathers with chariots and horsemen to the Red Sea. And so they cried out to the Lord.
And he put darkness between you and the Egyptians. He brought the sea upon them, and covered them. And your eyes saw what I did in Egypt. And then you dwelt in the wilderness a long time.
Is that the understatement of the century, or what? How many years they wander out there? 40 years, do you remember how long of a journey it actually was? 11 days, according to Deuteronomy Chapter 1, it says, it's an 11 day journey from where they started out to Kadesh-barnea.
From Egypt to Kadesh-barnea, it's about 150 to 200 miles, depending which route you take. The most direct route is 11 days. They managed to turn an 11 day march into a 40 year meander.
But he nicely sums it up saying, you were there a long time. And then I brought you into the land of the Amorites, who dwelt on the other side of the Jordan. And they fought with you, but I gave them into your hand, that you might possess their land, to destroy them from before you.
Then Balak, the son of the Zippor, the King of Moab, arose to make war against Israel, and sent to call Balaam, the son of Beor, to curse you. But I would not listen to Balaam, therefore he continued to bless you. So I delivered you out of his hand.
Then you went over the Jordan and came to Jericho. And the men of Jericho fought against you. Also the Amorites, the Perizzites, the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Girgashites, Hivites, Jebusites, but I delivered them into your hand. I sent the hornet before you, which drove them out before you, also the two kings of the Amorites, but not with your sword or with your bow.
In other words, it wasn't your strength, it wasn't your strategy, it wasn't it your military prowess and genius. I, the Lord, did it. Now here, something very interesting-- and if I don't cover it, I know I'll get a question about it.
God says, I sent the hornet. What does that mean? Because through Moses, God did make the promise, behold, I will send the hornet. Number one, it means he literally sent hornets. Could be very possible that they were like smart wasps just programmed by God [BUZZ] [STING].
He did that with hailstones, right? They were like smart bombs in the Book of Joshua. They just got the enemies of God. So it could be that he means that.
A second option that many scholars opt for, is that he wasn't speaking literally, but metaphorically. In other words, it's not about you. It's about me. I'm going to do it. God sent them a despair, a despondency, where they gave up, where they were despairing in battle.
And we've read many times how that they were overcome with fear, even though Israel was outnumbered by them. That's another possibility. Number three, God could have said a plague against them. And the plague, whatever it was, is seen here as the hornet.
Another option, another interpretation, is that the hornet refers to the angel of the Lord. That god sent the angel of the Lord in, and turned back the enemies from them. I'll just say briefly, the history of the Jews is the most fascinating history of all nations. Because time and time again, even up till the '67 war, 1967 war, there are stories of the Jews being outnumbered by her enemies, but God giving Israel the victory.
You know it's interesting. You know the monarch butterfly, every now and then, can be seen chasing birds. You know what's funny about that, is birds eat butterflies. But sometimes, monarch butterflies have been seen, observed chasing birds.
Why is that? Though birds the butterflies, they don't want to eat the monarch butterfly. There's something about the monarch butterfly that is just-- it taste so bad it makes birds sick.
So God just did something with the Jewish nation, where you attack them, and God says, you attacked the apple of my eye. You're going to get really sick if you do this. I'm going to turn against you if you do this.
So here, perhaps literally, perhaps metaphorically, you can come up with your own interpretation on that. And I won't be dogmatic with you either way. I have given you a land for which you did not labor, Verse 13, and cities which you did not build. And you dwell in them. You eat the vineyards, and the olive groves, which you did not plant. Now therefore, please notice this, now therefore, fear the Lord. Serve Him in sincerity and in truth. Put away the gods which your father served on the other side of the river, and in Egypt. Serve the Lord.
This is the Romans 12 moment. What Paul did in Romans 12, Joshua does in Joshua 24. Romans 12, for 11 chapters, Paul lists all the mercies of God. And then he says in chapter 12, I beseech you therefore, by the mercies of God, that you present your body as a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. Don't be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.
This Romans 12 moment is seen here in Joshua 24. Therefore, look what God has done, therefore, put away those foreign gods. Serve the Lord. I love this.
Try this. Look at your personal history, what God has done to you, through you, in you, and then add a therefore, serve the Lord. When you do that, it becomes compelling.
If I look at my personal history and say, by God's grace, in 1973, God got a hold of Skip, me, as I watched a Billy Graham crusade on television. That day I prayed to receive Christ. By God's grace, he moved me back down from San Jose to Southern California, surrounded me with strong believers in a Christian commune, sent me to a church that taught me the word of God, and gave me a love for this scripture under a godly pastor, brought me a wonderful wife named Lenya, the best partner I could ever imagine, send sent to Albuquerque, New Mexico, gave me a son, et cetera.
So I start going through that. And then therefore, Skip, serve the Lord. You know, you go, well of course. In view of all of that, of course I'm going to serve the Lord.
You do the same. You outline your personal history and add a, therefore, put away those gods and serve the Lord. And you'll see, in your own personal Christian journey, it's a compelling case. Therefore, serve the Lord.
And if it seems too evil to you to serve the Lord, choose for yourselves, this day, whom you will serve. Whether the gods which your fathers served, that were on the other side of the river. Or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, you know this verse, we all do so well, as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.
So the people answered, and said, far be it from us, that we should forsake the Lord to serve other gods. For the Lord our God is he who brought us and our fathers out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage, who did these great things in our sight, and preserved us in all the way that we went, among the people through whom we passed. And the Lord drove out from before us all the people, even the Amorites who dwell in the land. We will serve the Lord, for he is our God.
What Joshua did, what Joshua does here, is what Elijah the prophet will do on another mountain, in the same land, in years to come. They will be gathered up, the prophets of Baal, the leaders of Israel, on Mount Carmel, 1 Kings Chapter 18. And Elijah will stand there. And he says, how long will you falter between two opinions, two forks in the road? If Baal is God, then serve Baal. If the Lord is God, and serve the Lord.
He calls them to make a choice. And that's exactly what Joshua does here. He calls them to make a choice. How long will you say, well I'm going to serve the Lord. Well, I don't know if I'll serve. Well, I don't know.
So let me ask you. How many sermons will you have to hear? How many church services will you need to go to? How many things will you need to have happen in your life before you go, OK, I give up. I surrender. I'm going to serve the Lord and put away all that other stuff.
What will it take? That's what this old man is saying. And he's got nothing to lose. He's not preaching another sermon. This is his last one. After this, he dies. He kicks the bucket. But he leaves this strong challenge with the people of Israel.
Don't you love how he puts it? He didn't say, as for me, I'm going to serve the Lord, but, as for me and my house, we, plural, will serve the Lord. He's speaking not for them as a nation, not for individual household, just for his own household, as the leader of his house.
Here's the principle. Your spiritual commitment to the Lord should affect all the other relationships in your life, every one of them. I've always loved what Hudson Taylor, the missionary to China, used to say. He said, if your Christian experience, if you being a Christian, hasn't affected your household, and he put it this way, if your father, your mother, your brother, your sister, if the very cat and dog in your house is not happier for you being a Christian, it's a doubt whether you really are.
As for me, the old man says, and my house, we, we will serve the Lord, very, very strong affirmation of commitment. And if every family that day in Israel made the same commitment, then they have a strong nation. As the families go, so goes the nation.
Show me a bunch of weak families, you have a weak nation. I don't care how much money they have. I don't care how much military they might have. If the family unit is broken up, then it's a broken nation.
So it begins with the men, the heads of the families, saying, as for me and my house, I'm putting my stake down. We're going to serve the Lord. So the people said, well, we're with you Josh.
But Josh Verse 19, Joshua said to the people, you cannot serve the Lord, for he is a holy God. He is a jealous God. He will not forgive your transgression, nor 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 you good.
Now what he means by that, is perhaps, when he says you can't serve the Lord, is number one, he's saying, I know you too well. I know that in your tent, some of you still have these pagan idols, these little statues, that are part of the Amiorite worship system in the land that you dwell in, or you brought some from Egypt. Some of you are still prone to that.
Or he's saying, you can do it on your own. You can't just put your stake down and go, by my own strength, and my own commitment, I'm going to serve the Lord. He could be saying, you can't do anything on your own strength. It's the Lord who gave you this land. It's the Lord who cast out your enemies. You can't serve the Lord in your own strength either. So one of those two options.
Verse 21, and all the people said to Joshua, no, but we will serve the Lord. So Joshua said to the people, you are witnesses against yourselves, that you have chosen the Lord for yourself, to serve Him. And they said, we are witnesses. Now therefore, he said, put away the foreign gods which are among you, and incline your heart to the Lord God of Israel.
And again, any time you see the Lord capitalized, like we have in these two chapters, it is the covenant name, Yahweh, the Lord, the one that-- the name by which God identified himself to Moses. And the people said to Joshua, Yahweh, the Lord, our God, we will serve. In his voice we will obey.
So Joshua made a covenant with the people that day, and made for them a statute, and an ordinance in Shechem. Now watch this. Then Joshua wrote these words in the book of the law of God. So now the canon of scripture is being added to, from the first five books of Moses.
And he took a large stone, and set it up there in the oak that was by the sanctuary of the Lord. And Joshua said to all the people, behold, this stone shall be a witness to us, that it has heard all the words of the Lord, which he spoke to us. It shall therefore, be a witness to you, lest you deny your god.
Now how can a stone be a witness? Ask this stone, this stone heard it all. Well Jesus said on the Mount of Olives, if these, my disciples, hold their peace, the very stones will cry out.
They set up a stone. They're the ones making the covenant, but he sets up a stone, as if to say, this rock, this stone heard everything that you're making a commitment-- now it's interesting. I won't get into it, because I'm looking at the time. I've got two minutes.
They have discovered a stone from this era, archaeologically, that is a large stone in the area of Shechem, that many archaeologists believe could be the Stone of Witness that is mentioned here. It would be fascinating, wouldn't it, to go over there and see that thing, tour to Israel coming up.
So Joshua let the people depart, each to his own inheritance. Now it came to pass, after these things, that Joshua, the son of--
Nun, right, Yehoshua bin Nun is his name. The servant of the Lord died being 110 years old. And they buried him within the border of his inheritance at Timnath Serah, which is in the mountains of Ephraim, on the north side of Mount Gaash. Israel served the Lord all the days of Joshua, and all the days of the elders who outlived Joshua, who had known all the works of the Lord which he had done.
It's a beautiful statement, but it's an ominous statement, because one only has to turn the page. And what book are you in?
The Book of Judges, quickly they depart from that high standard of saying, we're going to serve the Lord. And they backslide so desperately, that they go into captivity as God promised.
Verse 32, the bones of Joseph, which the children of Israel had brought up out of Egypt, they buried at Shechem, in the plot of ground which Jacob had bought from the sons of Hamor, the father of Shechem, for 100 pieces of silver, which had become an inheritance for the children of Joseph. Now before I read the last verse, and I do that, because it's sort of-- it's a cliffhanger within the message tonight. We're going to end the book, obviously. We have one verse left.
But before I end the book, you would do well to compare Moses and Joshua. The children of Israel could not inherit the land under Moses, right? They were on the other side of the Jordan. They couldn't inherit. They didn't qualify to inherit it.
It took Joshua to bring them into their inheritance. Because the law couldn't bring them in, because they could never earn God's favor. The land was a gift. It's an unconditional covenant, Genesis 12, Genesis 15.
So the land was an act of grace, a free gift of God, given to them under the supervision of Yehoshua, Joshua. Do you see the comparison? For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ, we're told in the Gospel of John.
Joshua complemented and completed what Moses did, but never contradicted what Moses did. Our Joshua, Yehoshua, complemented and completed what the law said and did, but never contradicted the law, said, do not think that I have come to destroy the law of the prophets. I've come not to destroy, but to fulfill.
So Jesus did for us what Joshua did for them. There is a interesting thought in that that term, the name Joshua, and the name Jesus, are identical. Ones Hebrew, ones Greek. But they're the same name. Jesus is Joshua, Yehoshua.
Now I've told you before that Ephesians is the New Testament counterpart to the Book of Joshua. Let me end by giving you a different suggestion. That the ultimate complementary book in the New Testament, even more so than the Ephesians, is the Book of Revelation. Because under Joshua, they take the land of Israel and the usurpers are removed. The land is scourged. Hail comes from heaven to destroy the enemies of God.
When we get to the Book of Revelation, it's like the Book of Joshua on steroids. It's not the land that is reclaimed and recalled. It is the Earth. The title deed to the Earth is taken by the Lamb who has the right to do so, and given to the Father. And the world is purged of usurpers. And by the way, hail stones fall from heaven in the Book of Revelation, killing the enemies of God.
In the book of Joshua, he sends how many witnesses into Jericho? Two witnesses, in the Book of Revelation Chapter 11, how many witnesses are on the scene? Two witnesses, very fascinating how they correspond. And one becomes the other one amplified.
So let's finish the book. And Eleazar the son of Aaron died, and they buried him in a hill that belonged to Phinehas, his son, which was given to him in the mountains of Ephraim. We finished the book of Joshua, all 24 chapters.
Next to the Book of Acts. Before the Book of Acts, we're going to do a little series on the Holy Spirit, person and work. Who he is. What he does. What you can expect from him. Because-- well, we'll talk more about him later. Let's pray.
Father, we consider our inheritance. Our inheritance is a spiritual one and it is physical. You said the meek would inherit the Earth. That's a geographical landmass. Yes, we have heaven, but part of heaven will be a renewed and restored millennial kingdom on the Earth, that we, your people, will inherit, given to us by our Joshua, who will purge the land, supervise its judgments, send in witnesses. And your people will occupy.
Thank you for the work of the cross that delivers us from sin, the penalty of sin, the pull and the power of sin. And thank you, Lord, for your promises. Not one thing you have ever promised us has failed. And you said whoever calls upon the Lord will be saved. That's a promise you made. Whoever calls upon the Lord will be saved.
As we close this book, I just want to pray for anyone who might be among us tonight who needs to call upon your name to be saved, who needs to be delivered from the bondage of the chains of an Egypt that has them in fetters, shackled. Lord, you have a new life. You have forgiveness in store.
I'm speaking to some who have gone back, backslidden, as we saw Joshua challenging the people not to do in this book. But some here have. They've gone back. There are clinging to the things of this world. And they're getting swallowed alive because of it.
They need to come back to you. They need to make one simple step, and say, yes, to the Savior. As we close tonight, I just want to give you an opportunity. If you've never said yes to Jesus personally, you may have been raised in a church, you may have been brought by godly parents, you may have been raised in a home where you had a Bible and you heard songs, but the relationship isn't personal for you. Or you've gone back. And you need to turn back to the Lord tonight and renew your commitment to the Lord Jesus Christ, to come back home to him.
If that describes you in any way, would you just lift your hand up as we're praying, as our heads are bowed? God bless you, toward the back. Thank you for your hand? Anybody else? Raise-- God bless you, to my right, toward the back. Anyone else? Raise that hand up high.
Say yes to him. Right up here toward the front. Anybody else? Anyone at all? In the balcony, God bless you. Way in the back, in the center, to my right. Right over here to my right, far right, thank you, in the front.
Father I pray for every person, man or woman, that raised hand. I pray, Father, that you would just let them know right now how much you love them. They are here not by accident but by appointment. And whatever disappointments in their life have come their way, Lord, let them know that it is to birth this moment for them, where they will walk away with the newness of life, and the hope of heaven. Strengthen them in this commitment, in Jesus' name, amen.
Let's stand to our feet. As we sing this final song, now I'm going to ask those of you who raised your hands, if you wouldn't mind doing something else. And that is make it public. I don't do this to embarrass you. I really do this to help encourage you.
Jesus called people publicly. And I believe it just settles a person's heart, when they are willing to make a public stand. It's like, that was the night I broke free from the past, and said yes to Jesus, or renewed my commitment. I saw hands go up on the balcony, in the very back, to the sides, in the middle.
We're going to give you an opportunity, as we sing this song, for you to get up from where you're standing and stand right up here in the front. I'm going to lead you in a moment, in a word a prayer, to receive Christ, like we did at Freedom Celebration at the stadium. I'm going to give you an opportunity right now.
We're going to wait for you, but you come.
[MUSIC - "HERE'S MY HEART"]
You come now, don't--
(SINGING) Here's my--
--stay back in your seat.
Come and make a clean break.
Say yes to Him publicly. Stand right up here in the front.
(SINGING) Here's my heart, Lord.
On The far right, you come. In the balcony, come down the steps.
(SINGING) Here's my
Way in the back, if your--
--hand was is raised please--
Let's do this. Let's make it public. Let's pray together.
(SINGING) Speak what is true.
Come right on up.
(SINGING) here's my heart, Lord. And here's my heart, Lord. And here's my heart, Lord.
We're going to wait just another moment, if you're in that balcony come down the steps.
Come up this aisle.
(SINGING) --what is true.
If you're In the middle of a row, just say excuse me. Yes, you.
(SINGING) Here's-- Yes, you.
(SINGING) --my Life--
That's you. Even if you didn't--
--raise your hand, you get up and come. Come stand--
--right up here.
Right up in the front.
(SINGING) --life, Lord.
(SINGING) And here's my life, Lord. And I know,
Our Joshua is here to save you--
(SINGING) And I come--
--to take you with--
(SINGING) to you.
--him To heaven, to forgive you of all of your past sins, blunders, iniquities. God bless you. Guys, come on up.
You may be in the family room. You could come right through that door to your right, and right, and stand right up here. I can lead you in that prayer.
(SINGING) I come to--
God bless you--
--guys. Come right on up.
(SINGING) Here's my life, Lord. Here's my life, Lord.
Those of you who have come, I'm going to leave you now in a prayer. Prayer is just talking to God. I'm going to pray out loud. And I ask you to say these words out loud after me. Say these words from your heart. Say them to the Lord, as you give your life to Him.
Let's pray. Say, Lord, I give you my life.
Lord, I give you my life.
I know that I am a sinner. I know that I am sinner.
Please, forgive me.
Please, forgive me.
I believe in Jesus. I believe in Jesus.
I believe he died on a cross.
I believe he died on a cross.
That he shed his blood for me.
That he shed his blood for me.
That he rose again.
That he rose again.
That he's coming again.
That he's coming again.
I turn from my sin.
I turn from my sin.
I turn to Jesus as my Savior.
I turn to Jesus as my savior.
Help me to follow him as my Lord.
Help me to follow him as my Lord.
It's in his name, I pray.
It's in his name, I pray.
For more resources from Calvary Albuquerque and Skip Heitzig, visit calvaryabq.org.