Learning from God's Word (Joshua 20-24)
20:1-21:45 - We read of manslaughter, ‘the cities of refuge’ and the death of the high priest (20:1-6). What does all this have to do with us? We are sinners. Jesus Christ has died for us. He is our Refuge. He is our Great High Priest. In Him, there is ‘no condemnation’. In Him, we become ‘a new creation’ (Matthew 5:21-22; Romans 5:8; 8:1; Hebrews 2:17; 2 Corinthians 5:17). Israel’s story is a human story. It is also the Lord’s Story (43-45). We fail God. He never fails us (2 Timothy 2:13). Sin threatens to overwhelm us. The Lord comes to us with His promise of deliverance and victory (Romans 7:21-25; 1 Corinthians 15:56-57). Our spiritual progress is so slow - ‘little by little’(Exodus 23:29-30; Deuteronomy 7:22-24). God does not lose patience with us (Psalm 103:8-13). He never stops loving us!
22:1-34 - Joshua had heard God’s Word (1:8). Now, he speaks God’s Word to the people (5). To those who ‘have obeyed’ Him, God says, ‘Keep on obeying Me’. This is the way of blessing (1-6). Together with God’s promise of blessing, we need His warning against rebellion: ‘Do not rebel against the Lord’ (19). Why does God warn us against the dangers of ‘rebellion against the Lord’ (16)? It is because He wants us to say with heart and voice: ‘Far be it from us that we should rebel against the Lord and turn away this day from following the Lord’ (29). Our ‘resolution’ seems so weak - ‘I feel like giving up’. The temptation to ‘rebel against the Lord’ seems so strong - ‘I feel like I can’t go on’. Let us pray for a stronger faith in God - ‘The Lord is God’ - and a richer experience of His presence - ‘We know that the Lord is in the midst of us’ (34,31).
23:1-16 - God has done, is doing and will do great things for us (3-5, 8-10). He calls us to ‘obey’ Him, to ‘hold fast’ to Him, to ‘love’ Him (6,8,11). The pattern of Joshua’s teaching - ‘This is what the Lord has done’ (3-5) ‘Therefore’ ‘This is what you must do’ (6-8) - is similar to Paul’s approach in Romans and Ephesians. In Romans 1-11 and Ephesians 1-3, Paul grounds his readers in the truth of the Gospel. In Romans 12:1 and Ephesians 4:1, he says, ‘Therefore’. Here are the practical implications. In the light of all that the Lord has done for you, this is how you must live for Him. Be strong in the Lord. In Him, we have the victory (10; Psalm 3:6). Maintain your love for God. Don’t presume on God’s blessing. There is no guarantee of blessing for those who ‘turn back’ from following the Lord (11-13,15-16). He has not failed us (14). We must not fail Him!
24:1-33 - Close to the end of his life, Joshua commits himself and his family to the Lord (15,29). Moved by his example, the people commit themselves to the Lord (16-18,21,24). For Israel, this was a momentous decision - a definite, public commitment to the Lord (24-27). Note the pattern of Joshua’s preaching. What God has done for Israel (2-13) is followed by ‘Therefore...’ (14). When we are called to make a real commitment, we must ask the searching question, ‘Do I really mean it’ (19-20). We must commit ourselves to the Lord: ‘Fear the Lord, and serve Him in sincerity and in faithfulness’ (14). Make your own commitment to the Lord. Give your testimony - ‘as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord’. Pray that others will also say, ‘We will serve the Lord our God and obey Him (15,24). Let us ‘serve the Lord all the days’ of our life (31).