Sunday, 30 March 2014

(89) March 30: Joshua 23-24 & Luke 6:27-49

Ask God to open your mind, heart and will to understand, delight in and obey what you read.

To discover:­­
As you read consider what Joshua wants to emphasize.

To ponder:
After a long time, with God having given Israel rest and Joshua old, he “summoned” their leaders for two final speeches. In the first he reminds them that they have personally witnessed the conquest God had given them. This is to encourage them that God “will drive out” those that remain. Likewise, as we see what God has achieved in history we are encouraged that he will certainly complete his work.
            The call of 23v6 provides a bookend with 1v7, stressing the main point of the book as the need to be courageous and carefully obey God’s law. As so often the people are exhorted against idolatry, and to “hold fast” to the LORD, because this “love” for him is the reason he has driven the nations out. By contrast, if Israel enter an alliance, intermarry or associate with the nations, it will mean God no longer does so. Rather, they will entrap and bring pain to Israel until she “perishes” from the land. This may refer to the nations leading Israel astray and fighting against them – an “evil” ultimately caused by God’s burning “anger.”
            As seen previously, this is an exhortation to ensure our churches are pure, so that unbelievers amongst don’t lead God’s people astray or stand against them (Heb 12v15).
            The second speech is given at Shechem, where both Abraham and Jacob had built altars (Gen 33v18-20) – a meaningful place to mark the fulfilment of God’s promise to them both. From God’s choice of Abraham Israel’s history is recounted. God had come to Israel’s “help” in Egypt, refused to curse them as Balaam asked, and given them a land for which they didn’t toil. In response, Israel are to “serve him with all faithfulness” and “throw away” the gods worshipped by Abraham’s family “beyond the river” (24v2v 14) and that they worshipped in Egypt. Echoing Moses’ call to “choose life” Joshua therefore urges Israel to “choose” whether to serve God or the gods of the Amorites, stressing that he and his household will “serve the LORD.” The people respond that because of all the LORD did, they will too. In response to God’s grace in giving his only Son, how much more should we and our households do so, declaring: “far be it for us to forsake the Lord” (24v26).
Rather ominously, Joshua states Israel are actually unable to do this, and that because God is “holy” and “jealous,” if they serve foreign gods he will “make an end” of them. With the people still affirming their commitment, Joshua responds that they are “witnesses” against themselves. They accept that, and so he urges them to throw away their idols. Again, they then affirm they will obey. The point is that Israel were not pushed into this commitment. It was made absolutely clear what they were taking on. And so God’s covenant is renewed, recorded in the “Book of the Law” (perhaps part of Deuteronomy), and a stone set as a “witness” that has “heard” all the words the LORD had said – either those earlier in Joshua’s speech or in reading God’s laws. We too have no excuse if we turn from the Lord. We know the responsibility accepting the gospel puts on us (Heb 10v26-31).
The book ends with the people leaving for their inheritance, Joshua being buried in his, and Joseph’s bones being buried in his too. There’s a hint that there they await their resurrection, to receive their inheritance in full (Heb 11v39-40). However, in stating how faithful the Israelites were who experienced all the LORD had done, it is implied future generations are not going to be, putting their inheritance under threat.
Praying it home:
Thank God for his immense grace in redeeming us from slavery to sin to bring us to our inheritance. Pray that you and your family would remain constantly aware of that and so never forsake him.

Thinking further:
None today.

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