Verse one of our text tells the story. Israel has acquired the land that God had promised them and their faithful leader, Joshua, is old and is preparing to die, v. 14. Before he leaves them, however, he has something to tell them about serving the Lord. To do this, he calls two meetings. The first, in chapter 23, is held with the elders and leaders of the people. The second, recorded in chapter 24, involves all the people of Israel.
As Joshua, the faithful old soldier, prepares to break camp:
- He wants to encourage Israel to stay the course for God. He knows that the old guard, that is, those who knew Moses and Joshua are swiftly dying off. He knows that a new generation is coming along that did not see all the miracles and all the wonders of the Lord in their midst. Before he dies, he just wants to remind them of the God they serve.
In these 2 chapters, there are some valuable lessons for us as well. We live in a day when many have forgotten about the glory and power of God, and those who have known about such things are becoming fewer by the day. We need to be reminded of the power and glory of our God. Our children need to be exposed to His power!
These verses tells us what we need to know this morning about keeping God’s work alive.
Let’s look in on the scene as Good Advice comes from an Old Soldier.
I. 23:1-8 JOSHUA’S CONCERN
(Ill. As Joshua nears the time of his departure, he sees some things beginning to happen in the lives of the people of Israel. He sees things that he does not like. So, like any good leader, he feels duty bound to point out these things to the people before he departs.)
(Ill. Joshua had the same duty that preachers of the Word have in our day. When we see error in the lives of people, we have a duty before God to tell people about those errors. Why? Because we love them and only want God’s best for their lives.)
There are three things that Joshua fears:
A. V. 6 He Fears Complacency – Joshua is afraid that the people of Israel might begin to take the Law of God for granted. He fears that they might become complacent in their walk with the Lord and begin to let things slide in their lives. Sadly, he was right, this is exactly what they did!
(Ill. It is my conviction that the sin of complacency is one of the most common sins there is among the people of God! We have allowed ourselves to adopt a Laodicean attitude – Rev. 3:14-22. We have allowed ourselves to be satisfied with our spiritual condition and as a result, we are allowing thing to go unchallenged in our lives that are leading us away from God and deeper into sin! We are neither hot nor cold.
(Ill. This is a genuine situation in the lives of many people today! Many here at Gilead have been bitten by the complacency bug. No longer do people strive to serve the Lord, win the lost and live holy, consecrated lives to the glory of God. Instead, we are self-satisfied and sure that we have arrived spiritually! That, my friends, is a dangerous condition to be in!)
B. V. 7 He Fears Compromise – Another fear Joshua possesses is that the people of Israel will decide to follow the dead God’s of Canaan. He fears that they will compromise their standards and bow down to idols. Again, it is as if the man could see into the future! What he was afraid would happen, did happen!
(Ill. What about us? Aren’t we just as guilty as the Israelites? Have not the people of God given their affection to other gods? Certainly, many worship the gods of self, success, materialism, career, etc. The truth is, many are guilty of compromise in their lives. We allow ourselves to indulge in activities that we know God disproves of. We do things that we know are wrong and try to justify it by saying, “Well, so and so does it!” All the while we smile and sing, “Oh how I love Jesus!” You have compromised you standards to the will of the flesh! Remember 1 Thes. 5:22? “Abstain from all appearance of evil.”)
C. V. 8 He Fears Commitment – It is not that Joshua fears that they will be committed to the Lord. Rather, he fears that their commitment will become slack and that they will not cleave to the Lord as they should.
I. Joshua’s Concern
II. 23:9-24:24 JOSHUA’S CHALLENGE
(Ill. In this section, Joshua challenges the elders and the people to observe certain truths concerning God. His challenge is for them to look at what the Lord has done and is doing in their lives. If they will just consider the Lord, they are more likely to live the right kind of lives!)
A. 23:11-13 To Consider God’s Wrath – While there are many challenges given here, the primary idea that Joshua is trying to convey is this: If you will serve the Lord, He will bless you. If you disobey Him, He will chastise you!
(Ill. This challenge still applies to the people of God today. That admonition is very simple: You play; you pay! As a child of God, you have two possible ways of living your life. You can either live it within the confines of God’s will and be blessed, or you can live it outside the will of God and be chastised,
B. 24:1-13 To Consider God’s Works – In this section, Joshua reminds the nation of all the many great things the Lord has done for them. His challenge is for them to remember all the works of the Lord on their behalf. If they will remember His goodness, they will be more likely to serve Him faithfully.
(Ill. The works of the Lord on our behalf are a great motivator for service! When we stop to think of all He has done, it should challenge us to go deeper in our relationship with Him. Think of: how He died; how He loved us when we were lost; how He came to us in our sins; how He called us unto Himself; how He saved us when we asked Him to; how He forgave all our sins and failures; how He adopted us into His family; how He has promised us a home in Heaven; how He has met our needs; how He has blessed our lives; how He has never left us nor forsaken us, even though, at times, we have forsaken Him. Think on His greatness and goodness toward you. Let those things be the motivator for you to renew you relationship with Him this morning!)
C. 24:14-18 To Consider God’s Will – Joshua tells the people that it is the Lord’s will for them to clean up their lives and to serve the Lord faithfully. He makes the statement that he and his family will do just that, v. 15! The people respond by expressing their desire to serve God because of His greatness and His blessings!
(Ill. Notice Joshua’s attitude toward the situation, v. 15. He tells them what they should be doing, then he tells that regardless of what they do, he is going to serve God! What a lesson for us as individuals!
D. 24:19-24 To Consider God’s Witness – Joshua makes a strange statement to the people. He tells them that they cannot serve the Lord! His meaning is clear. He is reminding them that the Lord witnesses their lives and they cannot have things both ways. That is ,they cannot serve the Lord on the one have hand, and serve false God’s on the other
I. Joshua’s Concern
II. Joshua’s Challenge
III. 24:25-33 JOSHUA’S COVENANT
A. 24:25-28 It Involved A Great Stone – Before Joshua dies, he erects a great stone as a monument to the fact that the people have sworn to follow the Lord. Thereafter, whenever they passed by that place they would remember their oath and be certain that their lives were pleasing to the Lord their God.
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