Saturday, October 9, 2010

Joshua 24

Recapping Israel's history (vs. 1-13)--Whether this was the same gathering as in chapter 23 is not stated, but it's the same group of people whom Joshua calls together. Shechem (v. 1) was the initial location of the tabernacle. It was a city in Samaria and known in the Bible by various names (Sichem in Gen. 12:6, Sychem in Acts 7:16, and Sychar in John 4:5). Rehoboam, Solomon's son, was anointed king in Shechem. When the tabernacle was moved from the city is unknown. In verses 24:3, "the Lord God Israel" speaks through Joshua, and quickly and succinctly recaps some major events in Israel's history up to that point. Terah, the father of Abraham, "dwelt on the other side of the River"--the Euphrates--"and…served other gods" (v. 2). Thus, Abraham was raised in a polytheistic environment. He himself is never accused of paganism, idolatry, or polytheism. God brought Abraham into the land of Canaan, and "multiplied his descendants" through Isaac (v. 3). Isaac gave birth to Jacob and Esau, but "Jacob and his children went down to Egypt" (v. 4). Moses and Aaron did what God commanded them to do and "afterward I brought you out" (v. 5). The Lord protected them from the Egyptians who pursued them (vs. 6-7), but they "dwelt in the wilderness a long time" (v. 7), for reasons that are not stated in this summary, but it was because of their unbelief (see the story in Numbers 13). The Lord "destroyed" the Amorites--a general name for the peoples who lived east of the Jordan (v. 8). Balak tried to curse Israel for Moab (Numbers 22-24), but the Lord "delivered you out of his hand" (v. 10). When the Israelites finally crossed the Jordan into the Promised Land, they were met by several tribes of people, but "I delivered them into your hand" (v. 11). Some believe the "hornet" (v. 12) to be a figurative reference to terror in general, but the hornet of the Middle East can be a fearsome little creature and in swarms, there is no defense against them. In Joshua's account, if the insect is literally meant, they drove two Amorite kings out of Canaan. The final summation is found in verse 13: "'I have given you a land for which you did not labor, and cities which you did not build, and you dwell in them; you eat of the vineyards and olive groves which you did not plant.'" Notice that all of this is attributed to God. He did this for Israel. He used the children of Israel to accomplish all of this, of course, but the point is, they never could have done it without the Lord's help.

Make your decision (vs. 14-15)--Not surprisingly, the next brief section I wish to discuss begins with "therefore." Based upon what Jehovah has done for you, make your choice--Him or "the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the River" or local (v. 15). The "put away the gods which your fathers served" (v. 14) strongly implies that idolatry still existed among the people, which was most probable. The conclusion of Joshua in verse 15 is perhaps the most famous statement in the book: "As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord."

The people's covenant (vs. 16-25)--The gathering immediately announces that they would serve the Lord because of the things that Joshua recounted at the beginning of this message (vs. 17-18). Joshua chides them some in order to ensure their commitment to Jehovah: you aren't going to serve the Lord and thus He isn't going to forgive your sins (v. 19). But the people reiterate their commitment to Jehovah, and Joshua says to them that they are witnesses against themselves that they would serve the Lord. And the people agree (v. 22). Joshua then commands them again to "put away the foreign gods which are among you, and incline your heart to the Lord God of Israel" (v. 23). Once more, we get a strong insinuation that idolatry existed in Israel, and the Lord obviously was patient with them about it. He had done all His great wonders for them in spite of the fact that they had apparently remained polytheistic in their worship. We remember the golden calf incident in Exodus 32. Joshua’s strong demand that they commit to the one true God apparently has reference to this continued idolatry among the people. The people repeat, "The Lord our God we will serve, and His voice we will obey" (v. 24). We subsequently learn (v. 31 and Judges 2:7) that these people were telling the truth, and so strong was Joshua's influence that the next generation as well was loyal to Jehovah. They made a covenant (Joshua 24:25) and they kept it.

The covenant written down (vs. 26-28)--Joshua "wrote these words in the Book of the Law of God" (v. 26) and set up a stone for a memorial witness. It was something they could see and thus be reminded of their promise to serve the Lord. The people then returned home (v. 28).

The death of Joshua and the bones of Joseph (vs. 29-33)--At some point after these events, and probably not very long afterwards, Joshua died at the age of 110 (v. 29). He was buried in Ephraim, his home tribe (v. 30). Verse 32 speaks of the bones of Joseph. This is one of the great stories of faith in Scripture. In Genesis 50:24, well over 200 years before, Joseph made his people swear, when they entered the land of Canaan, that they would take his bones and bury him there. That great patriarch was absolutely sure that God would keep His word. Joseph was buried in the plot of land that Jacob had bought near Shechem (Genesis 33:19). The book of Joshua concludes with the death of Eleazar the high priest and son of Aaron (v. 33).

Joshua was certainly one of the great men of the Bible, and if we'll devote ourselves to God as He did, then the Lord will use us to accomplish wondrous things, too.

No comments:

Post a Comment