Israel had known many battles, many bad days, and yet they had many wonderful victories! Now they had reached a relatively peaceful time, a time when they could enjoy the blessings of the Lord. They were enjoying a time of rest, a time when they could reflect on their labors and thank the Lord for his wonderful provisions. They had to a certain extent possessed their possessions. It is often during peaceful times that we can become lax and slack, our commitment and devotion to the Lord can slip. There is the danger in the midst of spiritual blessing to forget about the Lord. Moses had warned them about this in De 8:13-14:
"And when thy herds and thy flocks multiply, and thy silver and thy gold is multiplied, and all that thou hast is multiplied; Then thine heart be lifted up, and thou forget the LORD thy God, which brought thee forth out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage"
Joshua called together the leaders of the nation here in chapter twenty-three. He has some advice for those in authority, but all of us would do well to listen to Joshua's admonitions here. Joshua was not a pessimist but a realist he recognized the danger of complacency.
I. He reminds them of God's Faithfulness v1-5
A. We need to be reminded of how God has blessed us.
Ps 103:2 Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits: Note: v3-5
1. Forgiveness of sin
2. Healing of disease
3. Redemption of our lives
4. Lovingkindness and tender mercies
5. Satisfaction and provision
B. Our tendency, like Israel, is to forget.
1. What have you done for me, lately?
2. Have you noticed how easy it is for us to remember the bad things of the past, and to forget the good things?
3. Joshua reminded the nation that God had done so much for them, and that He would do more!
Jos 23:5 And the LORD your God, he shall expel them from before you, and drive them from out of your sight; and ye shall possess their land, as the LORD your God hath promised unto you.
II. He reminds them of God's Unchanging Standards. v6-11
A. Concerning the Book of the Law (God's Word) Jos 23:6 Be ye therefore very courageous to keep and to do all that is written in the book of the law of Moses, that ye turn not aside therefrom to the right hand or to the left;
1. What was Joshua told at the beginning of this book?
Jos 1:7-8 Only be thou strong and very courageous, that thou mayest observe to do according to all the law, which Moses my servant commanded thee: turn not from it to the right hand or to the left, that thou mayest prosper whithersoever thou goest. This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success.
2. Moses had instructed them also.
De 5:32 Ye shall observe to do therefore as the LORD your God hath commanded you: ye shall not turn aside to the right hand or to the left.
B. Concerning their Walk with God. v7-10
1. They were to bind themselves to the Lord.
2. The word used here is "cleave" and it means to stick close or adhere.
3. Joshua encourages them to stick close to the Lord, don't let anything come between you and the Lord.
4. He was especially concerned about the false gods of the nations…NOTE: v7
5. Nothing should come between us! This is the same word that the Lord used concerning the relationship of a husband and wife…NOTHING …and NOONE should come between us.
6. This is great advice for us, we need to stick with the Lord!
C. Concerning their love of God. v11
1. Joshua feared that the love they had for the Lord would grow cold.
2. He recognized the danger of complacency.
3. It happen all the time…
a. Husbands and wives.
b. Friends and family
c. God and the church
De 6:4-5 "Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD: And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might."
Joh 21:15 "So when they had dined, Jesus saith to Simon Peter, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me more than these? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my lambs."
III. He warns of the Consequences of Complacency. v12-13
A. Loss of position.
1. If they neglect these things they will soon find themselves in the wrong company.
2. Next there will be marriages among them.
3. The nation of Israel will lose it's distinctive character of being God's people.
4. They will have an ineffective testimony.
5. Oh, how many have lost their testimony among the lost world? Among their family?
B. Loss of power.
1. God had blessed them with much might and power.
2. He had fought their battles.
3. They had experienced the power of God working in and through and for them.
4. But if they neglect the things that Joshua had mentioned, they will become powerless, weak believers.
C. Loss of peace.
1. Instead of the freedom and liberty that they now enjoyed…
2. They once again would find themselves in bondage, just like they were in Egypt.
3. Sin would master their lives and they would become ensnared and trapped.
4. Joshua could see the possibility of trouble ahead.
5. He knew what complacency could do to the nation.
6. Don't think that it cannot rob us of our position, power and peace just as well.
IV. He gives them a Solemn Farewell. v14-16
A. Death will come to all.
1. Not something that we like to think about, but it is true.
2. When it is all said and done, and our life has come to an end…
3. What will we leave behind as a legacy?
4. An example of faithfulness or failure?
B. Joshua reminds them that God has never and will never fail.
1. Certainly they will fail, but not God.
2. That is true of each of us…
3. Not a reason to give up, but a reality of living in the flesh.
4. We will fail God, but He will never fail us!
Joshua 1:5 There shall not any man be able to stand before thee all the days of thy life: as I was with Moses, so I will be with thee: I will not fail thee, nor forsake thee.
1Ki 8:56 Blessed be the LORD, that hath given rest unto his people Israel, according to all that he promised: there hath not failed one word of all his good promise, which he promised by the hand of Moses his servant.
C. Joshua warns of what will come to pass.
1. Although we do not think of Joshua as a prophet, he certainly was on the mark with this.
2. History records how the people began to become influenced more and more by the nations around them until they became just like them!
3. As a result God judged them and brought against them powers who would carry them away from this land in captivity.
4. In Joshua's words… "Therefore it shall come to pass…"
Tonight we have been reminded of God's faithfulness, of His unchanging standards, and warned of the danger of complacency.
It is easy for us to forget the Lord and what He has done for us.
It is so easy for us to get so caught up in what's going on in the world around us that we forget there is a world to come.
There is so much to lose when we neglect the Word of God…when we neglect our walk with God…when we neglect our love for Him.
We all need to heed the warnings tonight!