We are now at the end of our study in the book of Joshua. One thing that we learn when we study the Word of God is that God uses people who are not perfect. We have observed great victories and some great failures in the life of Joshua, but in spite of his failures, he was still a godly man. Unfortunately, many of the characters in the Scriptures begin well, but finish badly. That was not the case with Joshua, he is an example to all of us of how to stay the course and finish strong. Remember that was Paul's testimony.
2Ti 4:7 I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith:
In those latter days, Joshua assembled Israel together to share one last exhortation before passing on. Joshua's burden at that gathering was twofold. He had a burden for that present generation, and he also had a burden for future generations to come. He wanted to make sure that his generation lived in such a manner so as to pass their spiritual heritage on to generations to come.
Joshua gives to Israel God's formula for remaining in the land under God's blessing. God wanted to bless Israel. God wanted his people to succeed. God still wants all His people to succeed.
From a biblical perspective, success is doing God's will and staying with it. The only way for Israel to do that would be for them to stay the course. He taught them how to remain faithful for the long haul. These principles are certainly applicable to us today. Some thoughts tonight from our final look at the book of Joshua.
I. Remember That God Cares For You v1-13
A. Joshua's first act was to recount God's blessings in their lives.
1. He prefaces what he is about to say with the words, '…Thus saith the Lord God of Israel…'
2. His account of God's blessings is filled with verbs that are preceded by the personal pronoun "I."
3. Thirteen times God reminds them of what He has done for His people.
4. These verbs reveal God as active and involved in the lives of His people.
5. It is good for us to remember that!
B. Joshua told Israel to remember that God cared for them!
1. He had provided for them by supernatural means.
2. He had preceded them in battle.
3. He had protected them in conflict.
4. He had prospered in measure beyond description.
C. One very important element for staying the course is a good memory related to God's past blessings in our life.
1. This is one of the reasons that God established the ordinance of the Lord's Supper.
2. '…This do in remembrance of me."
3. Remembering that we serve a God who is active in our lives, and who has blessed us greatly will keep us from drifting from God's chosen course for us.
II. Receive God's Commands
A. The call to service. V14-18
1. Whole-hearted service "…in sincerity and in truth…" v14
2. An example of service "…as for me and my house…"
a. A choice must be made.
b. In the words of Bob Dylan, "You gotta serve somebody"
c. God will not force us to serve Him.
d. We are called upon to make that choice, and Joshua served as a great example to his family and to the rest of God's people.
3. The response of the people. "…we will serve the Lord…" v18
B. The Warning on Service. v19-20
1. What does this mean? Was Joshua telling the to do something that they couldn't do?
2. No, Joshua was telling them that they could not continue in their own ways and still serve God.
3. There were already those among them worshipping the idol gods.
a. The people probably thought they were keeping this false worship secret, and the elders were likely pretending that such worship did not exist.
b. How foolishly we behave toward the Sovereign God of the universe…we think we can keep secrets!
c. Joshua knew of their sin, and certainly, the Lord knew of it!
d. The reason Joshua told them they could not serve the Lord was because they were harboring this false religion among them.
C. The covenant of service. v21-25
1. The people said they were determined to serve the Lord.
2. God takes seriously the statements that we make.
Ec 5:4-5 When thou vowest a vow unto God, defer not to pay it; for he hath no pleasure in fools: pay that which thou hast vowed. Better is it that thou shouldest not vow, than that thou shouldest vow and not pay.
3. Joshua told them that they were to be witnesses to what they were claiming.
4. He tells them to not just say they would serve God…but calls on them to prove it by their actions!
5. Their response was a repeat of what they had said previously. v24
6. He establishes a covenant with the people and sets up a stone to remind them of their commitment.
7. Note: v31 is a testimony to Joshua's faithfulness and his example to others.
D. Three funerals recorded. v29-33
1. Joshua - 110 years old
2. Joseph's - His bones had been brought with them out of Egypt.
3. Eleazar - Aaron's son had faithfully served as high priest during the conquest of Canaan.
III. Application for Us
A. If we are to stay the course and not drift from what God would have us do we must never forget what God has done for us…
B. We must realize that empty promises are of no importance to God…
C. God desires total, whole-hearted commitment to Him…
D. We need to leave good examples for the future generations…