Covenant Renewal

(Originally published March 3, 2017)

We have come, at last, to the final chapter of the book of Joshua.  What a journey it has been!  We have walked alongside Joshua as he has followed the Lord in leading the people of Israel into their promised inheritance.  There have been many battles along the way, most with the inhabitants of the land who needed to be driven out; some with their own disobedience and the idolatry which so often lurked just beneath the surface of their obedience.  Yet through it all we have seen the faithfulness of the Lord to fulfill his promises and settle the people in the land that he promised to their forefathers.

Our first question asks us to consider the similarity between what Joshua is doing here in chapter 24 and what Moses did at the end of his life.

‘These are the words of the covenant that the LORD commanded Moses to make with the people of Israel in the land of Moab, besides the covenant that he had made with them at Horeb.’ (Deuteronomy 29:1)

‘So Joshua made a covenant with the people that day, and put in place statutes and rules for them at Shechem.’ (Joshua 24:25)

As Moses did, so Joshua is doing: conducting a covenant renewal ceremony with the people of Israel, to leave them one more reminder while he still draws breath, that they must serve the Lord.  This is still the Mosaic covenant, Joshua adds nothing to the covenant which Moses left them, this is only a renewal of the covenant under which they have lived since they were brought out of Egypt.

We are next asked to look at the structure and substance of the covenant itself.  What is the first part of the covenant as seen both in Deuteronomy and Joshua?

And Moses summoned all Israel and said to them: “You have seen all that the Lord did before your eyes in the land of Egypt, to Pharaoh and to all his servants and to all his land, the great trials that your eyes saw, the signs, and those great wonders.  But to this day the Lord has not given you a heart to understand or eyes to see or ears to hear.  I have led you forty years in the wilderness. Your clothes have not worn out on you, and your sandals have not worn off your feet.  You have not eaten bread, and you have not drunk wine or strong drink, that you may know that I am the Lord your God.  And when you came to this place, Sihon the king of Heshbon and Og the king of Bashan came out against us to battle, but we defeated them.  We took their land and gave it for an inheritance to the Reubenites, the Gadites, and the half-tribe of the Manassites. (Deuteronomy 29:2-8)

‘And Joshua said to all the people, “Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, ‘Long ago, your fathers lived beyond the Euphrates, Terah, the father of Abraham and of Nahor; and they served other gods.  Then I took your father Abraham from beyond the River and led him through all the land of Canaan, and made his offspring many. I gave him Isaac.  And to Isaac I gave Jacob and Esau. And I gave Esau the hill country of Seir to possess, but Jacob and his children went down to Egypt.  And I sent Moses and Aaron, and I plagued Egypt with what I did in the midst of it, and afterward I brought you out.

 “‘Then I brought your fathers out of Egypt, and you came to the sea. And the Egyptians pursued your fathers with chariots and horsemen to the Red Sea.  And when they cried to the Lord, he put darkness between you and the Egyptians and made the sea come upon them and cover them; and your eyes saw what I did in Egypt. And you lived in the wilderness a long time.  Then I brought you to the land of the Amorites, who lived on the other side of the Jordan. They fought with you, and I gave them into your hand, and you took possession of their land, and I destroyed them before you.  Then Balak the son of Zippor, king of Moab, arose and fought against Israel. And he sent and invited Balaam the son of Beor to curse you, but I would not listen to Balaam. Indeed, he blessed you. So I delivered you out of his hand.  And you went over the Jordan and came to Jericho, and the leaders of Jericho fought against you, and also the Amorites, the Perizzites, the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Girgashites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites. And I gave them into your hand.  And I sent the hornet before you, which drove them out before you, the two kings of the Amorites; it was not by your sword or by your bow.  I gave you a land on which you had not labored and cities that you had not built, and you dwell in them. You eat the fruit of vineyards and olive orchards that you did not plant.’  (Joshua 24:2-13)

The very first Sunday school class I ever took in a PCA church was a class on the covenants, taught by Greg Miseyko, at First Presbyterian Church in Margate, Florida.  I went to the bookshelf to find one of the books he used for that class, The Christ of the Covenants, by O. Palmer Robertson.  In this book, we are taught that treaties in the Ancient Near East often followed the same formula, a formula which is familiar in business contracts and other formal agreements even today.

The most essential elements of the treaty form included:

1.  A perambulatory declaration of the lordship of the conquering suzerain (king).

2. An historical prologue emphasizing past acts of benevolence.

In the passages from both Deuteronomy and Joshua the preamble declaring the Lordship of the God to whom they owe their allegiance overlaps with the historical prologue emphasizing his past acts of benevolence.  The enumeration of all that he has done for them is part of God’s declaration of who he is.  The King who has made this covenant with them is ‘the LORD, the God of Israel,’ who ‘took your father Abraham from beyond the river… and made his offspring many.  I gave him Isaac.  And to Isaac I gave Jacob and Esau… but Jacob and his children went down to Egypt.  And I sent Moses and Aaron, and I plagued Egypt… Then I brought your fathers out of Egypt…’ (vs. 2-6)

The point is, this which we find at the beginning of both covenant renewal ceremonies is the preamble and the historical prologue.  This is the God with whom they are covenanting; the very God who unilaterally promised them an inheritance, delivered them from bondage, and fulfilled his promises to bring them into their inheritance.  They have been saved from extinction, slavery, homelessness, starvation and thirst, and war.  This is the very same God who has saved us from sin and death, from darkness, futility, the passions of our flesh, the bonds of the devil, and from his own wrath.

Why must this well-known history of God’s goodness be repeated?  Why must we be reminded so often of his grace?

“It was not only the identity and character of the true God that they were to remember.  They were also to remember what they had been and still would be, were it not for God’s sovereign choice of them to be his people…  Abraham is not mentioned to remind the people of their supposed illustrious ancestry, but rather to remind them of their humble and utterly pagan beginnings.  The point is that, “long ago your forefathers, including Terah the father of Abraham and Nahor, lived beyond the river and worshiped other gods.”  (James Boice, Joshua, An Expositional Commentary, Baker Books, 1989)

They were liable to forget, as are we, who God is, who they had been, and all that he had done for them to bring them into the promised land.  Sadly, with the passing of a generation, they will soon forget.

‘And the people of Israel did what was evil in the sight of the Lord. They forgot the Lord their God and served the Baals and the Asheroth.’  (Judges 3:7)

Earlier in our study of Joshua we learned that the tabernacle has been established in Shiloh.  Why, we are asked, has Joshua chosen Shechem for this renewal of the covenant?  What is it about this place that carries a significance that every Israelite ought to know?

‘Abram passed through the land to the place at Shechem, to the oak of Moreh. At that time the Canaanites were in the land.  Then the Lord appeared to Abram and said, “To your offspring I will give this land.” So he built there an altar to the Lord, who had appeared to him’.  (Genesis 12:6,7)

‘And Jacob came safely to the city of Shechem, which is in the land of Canaan, on his way from Paddan-aram, and he camped before the city.  And from the sons of Hamor, Shechem’s father, he bought for a hundred pieces of money the piece of land on which he had pitched his tent.  There he erected an altar and called it El-Elohe-Israel.’  (Genesis 33:18-20)

‘So Jacob said to his household and to all who were with him, “Put away the foreign gods that are among you and purify yourselves and change your garments…  So they gave to Jacob all the foreign gods that they had, and the rings that were in their ears. Jacob hid them under the terebinth tree that was near Shechem.’  (Genesis 35:2, 4)

Shechem is the place where God first promised to Abraham (then, Abram) that he would give his descendants the land of Canaan.  This is also where Jacob purchased a plot of land and later, where he commanded his household to put away their idols—and he buried them there, under a tree.  Shechem is the perfect location for a people steeped in their own history, and who hold strongly to the symbolic significance of place, to realize the fruition of the faithfulness of God in the fulfillment of prophecy and his promises.  They have come full-circle as they stand on the very ground of their ancestor Abraham as possessors of the land.

The book of Joshua repeatedly emphasizes the promises of God and their fulfillment.  Oftentimes the promises from previous books of the Bible are quoted word-for-word to underscore their fulfillment.  Notice how the promise of Deuteronomy 6:10-11 is fulfilled, and quoted almost verbatim, in verse 13:

“And when the Lord your God brings you into the land that he swore to your fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give you—with great and good cities that you did not build, and houses full of all good things that you did not fill, and cisterns that you did not dig, and vineyards and olive trees that you did not plant…”  (Deut. 6:10, 11)

‘I gave you a land on which you had not labored and cities that you had not built, and you dwell in them. You eat the fruit of vineyards and olive orchards that you did not plant.’  (Joshua 24:13)

This is not a general, vague promise which could be interpreted in any way other than what it meant; this is a very specific promise which they could not misinterpret.  They are living in houses and eating of vineyards and orchards which they had not labored to build or plant.  These things had been prepared for them long before they arrived in the promised land.

Dear ones, does this ring familiar in your ears?

“In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you?  And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also…”  (John 14:2-4a)

Jesus himself is preparing a place for us which is far beyond anything we can hope or imagine.  We labor here on earth to build his kingdom in the power of the Holy Spirit, fighting the battles set before us against the world, the flesh, and the devil, calling others to join us in our pilgrimage through this world which is not our home.  There is much for us to do, yes, but our Commander who is also our Bridegroom is preparing our home: a place of sin-free, pain-free, and turmoil-free rest.

As we have studied the book of Joshua we have seen many things meant for Israel’s harm that God turned to their good.  Even looking back at Joseph’s conflict with his brothers which led to his slavery and imprisonment in Egypt, but then exaltation to second-in-command in order that his own family would be preserved, thereby bringing them to Egypt in the first place, to the 400 years of slavery which drove them to cry out to the Lord for salvation, to Balaam’s curses turned to blessing, and even the gathering of enemy armies that they may be defeated all at once, God has turned impossible circumstances around to work for the good of his chosen people.

Those who are in Christ can also recall a situation meant for harm which was turned to good.  Surely, we each have stories from our own lives that illustrate the goodness of God to turn bad situations to blessing, but there is one circumstance to which every one of us can look and give praise to God.  The crucifixion of the Lord of glory was the most evil act perpetrated by rebellious mankind, and yet, and yet, without the cross there would be no possibility for redemption, forgiveness, cleansing from sin, or adoption by the Father, no inheritance, no hope, no future glory.  Because our Savior bled and died, and even more—praise God—because he rose victorious from the grave, we have all these things and more!

Moving on with our study, we now look to the next part of the covenant renewal ceremony.

“Now therefore fear the Lord and serve him in sincerity and in faithfulness. Put away the gods that your fathers served beyond the River and in Egypt, and serve the Lord.  And if it is evil in your eyes to serve the Lord, choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your fathers served in the region beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”  (Joshua 24:14, 15)

We have much to dig into with these beloved verses of Scripture, but before we jump to the oh-so familiar implications and applications, let’s look at them in the context of the structure of Ancient Near East treaties.  What we see here is the next element of the covenant that Joshua is calling the people to ratify.  This is the “delimiting of stipulations involving both demands for heart-loyalty and requirements for specific action” (O. Palmer Robertson).

Think of a business contract, which will list out in detail what each party of the contract is obligated to do.  Even better, think of a wedding, in which the bride and groom each pronounce who they are, “I, Jane, do take thee, Will,” and then they declare the purpose of the covenant before listing the conditions in which they pledge ‘to have and to hold one another:’ “to be my wedded husband, to have and to hold, from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, till death do us part, according to God’s holy ordinance; and thereto I pledge myself to you.”

Wedding vows are a covenant made between a man and a woman involving declarations of loyalty and stipulations under which the covenant will bind them (for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish), including how long the covenant will last (from this day forward…till death do us part).

The stipulations that Joshua lists in verses 14 and 15 do not contain the entire Law, but it is implied.  The full reading of the covenant of Moses has already been done and “signed off” in Deuteronomy, this is a renewal ceremony and the Israelites understood the “fine print” to which they were now renewing their allegiance.

Before issuing the challenge of verse 15, Joshua has built a solid case for the choice to serve the Lord.  Our study asks what case we can make from our own lives for serving God and not other idols, and I can only cry out with the apostle Paul:

“… [I was] dead in the trespasses and sins in which [I] once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.  But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved [me], even when [I was] dead in [my] trespasses, made [me] alive together with Christ—by grace [I] have been saved— and raised [me] up with him and seated [me] with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward [me] in Christ Jesus.  For by grace [I] have been saved through faith. And this is not (my) own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that [I] may [not] boast.” (Ephesians 2:1-10)

He saved me, he saved me, he saved me!  He has done great and marvelous things for me since, but first, he saved me.

And he didn’t save me to walk alone, but he gave me the church, his body, to whom I belong and with whom I share this pilgrim journey to the promised land.

Looking closely at verse 14 we are to discern the two components—one negative and one positive—of Israel’s (and our) reasonable response to God’s love.  We learned in class that this may depend on the version of the Bible you are using, but we decided that our response to God’s love boils down to “put away other gods,” and “serve the Lord.”  These are not equal options, traveling parallel roads, with neutral ground in between.  There is no neutral when it comes to serving or turning from God.  These options travel in opposite directions: one heavenward, and one to destruction.

In his commentary on Joshua, James Boice shares an insight from Frances Schaeffer.

‘When Joshua challenged the people to choose to serve God and affirmed that this was his settled choice as well, the tense he used implied more than a once-for-all choosing, as if one can make a choice and be done with it thereafter.  The tense involves what grammarians call continuous action.  That is, it involves the past, but it also involves the present and the future.  It is as if Joshua had said, “I have chosen to serve the Lord; I am choosing that same path of service now; and I will go on choosing to serve God until the very end.”  (Francis Schaeffer, Joshua and The Flow of Biblical History, InterVarsity Press, 1979)

In New Braunfels, during the summer, a popular pastime is “floating the river.”  (We don’t tube here ya’ll, we float.)  Everyone gets a tube and we step into the river, climb into the tube, settle ourselves, and float away as the current takes us.  Sometimes it’s rather crowded, and other people’s tubes can push you along, maybe separating you from your own group of friends, or forcing you into a faster current than you prefer.  Crowded or not, the river always flows in one direction: downstream.

The world is like the river.  If we make no effort we will just float along with the world’s opinions and fascinations, getting caught up in the latest trends or arguments, carried in the downstream with everyone else.  But God is calling us to swim against the current, and that can take some hard paddling.  There will be times when we need to push the other tubes away so that we can stay with our own group, swimming further from the fast-moving currents of sin to reach the calmer waters of truth and obedience.  The river is always moving; choose to paddle; choose to keep paddling now; and go on choosing to paddle until the very end.

The people’s response to Joshua is good, “Far be it from us that we should forsake the Lord to serve other gods…” (vs. 16) but how does he then respond in turn?

But Joshua said to the people, “You are not able to serve the Lord, for he is a holy God. He is a jealous God; he will not forgive your transgressions or your sins.  If you forsake the Lord and serve foreign gods, then he will turn and do you harm and consume you, after having done you good.” (vs. 19, 20)

Doesn’t this sound like a negotiation with your kids over cleaning their rooms or doing their homework?!

“Clean your room.”

“We will!”

“No, I mean really, clean your room!”

While we can all relate to this in one situation or another, I think what we are reading here is simply the way negotiations were done back then and there.  Remember when Abraham needed to buy a plot of land to bury Sarah and the owner of the field said, “You don’t need to pay me, I’ll give it to you,” and Abraham replied, “I can’t just take it, how much do you want?” and the guy replies, “What does it matter that it’s worth 400 shekels?” and Abraham whips out his checkbook and pays him 400 shekels.  That’s how contracts were negotiated.  (Genesis 23:8-16, paraphrased)

The point for Joshua, as James Boice helpfully says, is that, “they have to choose intelligently, decisively, and willingly if their choice was to be of real value.”  This is life and death, heaven and hell, and they must really, deeply, and carefully make this choice.

Curiously, Joshua calls upon a large stone to be witness to this renewal of the covenant.  This also, according to O. Palmer Robertson, was part of Ancient Near Eastern treaties, the fifth element of which was, “an invocation of witnesses, often involving the summoning of inanimate objects.”  This reminds me of a Notary seal, which in and of itself, is just a stamp on a piece of paper.  But in its use, it signifies an authority, judicial or governmental, and witnesses to an agreement of importance.  The Bible speaks elsewhere of the inanimate creation in rather animate ways:

‘Assemble to me all the elders of your tribes and your officers, that I may speak these words in their ears and call heaven and earth to witness against them.’  (Deuteronomy 31:28)

“Give ear, O heavens, and I will speak, and let the earth hear the words of my mouth.” (Deuteronomy 32:1)

“Hear what the Lord says: Arise, plead your case before the mountains, and let the hills hear your voice. Hear, you mountains, the indictment of the Lord,  and you enduring foundations of the earth, for the Lord has an indictment against his people,  and he will contend with Israel.” (Micah 6:1, 2)

And, of course:

‘[Jesus] answered, “I tell you, if these were silent, the very stones would cry out.”’  (Luke 19:40)

Finally:

“For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God.  For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now.” (Romans 8:20-22)

We are directed next to read the following passages of Scripture and describe what Moses, Joshua, and Elijah have in common in their outlook on serving God.

 “See, I have set before you today life and good, death and evil… I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse. Therefore choose life, that you and your offspring may live” (Deuteronomy 30:15, 19)

“And if it is evil in your eyes to serve the Lord, choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your fathers served in the region beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”  (Joshua 24:15)

‘And Elijah came near to all the people and said, “How long will you go limping between two different opinions? If the Lord is God, follow him; but if Baal, then follow him.” And the people did not answer him a word.’  1 Kings 18:21

There may be two ways to go, but only one way leads to life and good and blessing.  Choosing to serve the Lord is the way that Moses, Joshua, and Elijah have chosen, and they are earnestly calling Israel to follow them in obedience to the giver of life.  Let us also stop limping between our options and step boldly forward in obedience!

We know that God forgives repentant sinners who turn to him from their sin (If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 1 John 1:9), so what does Joshua mean when he says, “He is a jealous God; he will not forgive your transgressions or your sins” (vs. 19b)?

There is a difference between a repentant sinner and an unrepentant, hard-hearted apostate.  Joshua is not saying that someone who sins, but then turns back to the Lord with repentance, seeking forgiveness, will have the door slammed in her face.  Joshua is warning the Israelites against turning away from God entirely by drifting into the ways of the sinful nations around them and abandoning the true worship of God which he has so carefully taught them.  God is always ready and waiting with open arms to receive repentant sinners who return to him in grateful love, grieving their iniquities and transgressions.  God is gracious and merciful, the author of our salvation.

Joshua warns the people of the consequences of rebellion in verse 20: “If you forsake the Lord and serve foreign gods, then he will turn and do you harm and consume you, after having done you good.”  This is a sobering admonition.  Looking ahead (as we did last week), we can see, sadly, that this warning, indeed every warning they will be given, is forgotten or ignored.

‘The Lord, the God of their fathers, sent persistently to them by his messengers, because he had compassion on his people and on his dwelling place.  But they kept mocking the messengers of God, despising his words and scoffing at his prophets, until the wrath of the Lord rose against his people, until there was no remedy.

Therefore he brought up against them the king of the Chaldeans, who killed their young men with the sword in the house of their sanctuary and had no compassion on young man or virgin, old man or aged. He gave them all into his hand.  And all the vessels of the house of God, great and small, and the treasures of the house of the Lord, and the treasures of the king and of his princes, all these he brought to Babylon.  And they burned the house of God and broke down the wall of Jerusalem and burned all its palaces with fire and destroyed all its precious vessels.  He took into exile in Babylon those who had escaped from the sword, and they became servants to him and to his sons until the establishment of the kingdom of Persia…'” (2 Chronicles 36:15-20)

Praise be to God, this is not the end of the story for Israel.

‘So too at the present time there is a remnant, chosen by grace….  Lest you be wise in your own sight, I do not want you to be unaware of this mystery, brothers: a partial hardening has come upon Israel, until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in.  And in this way all Israel will be saved, as it is written,

“The Deliverer will come from Zion,  he will banish ungodliness from Jacob” (Romans 11:5, 25-26)

God promised there would be a remnant, those who would be chosen by grace.  Even though many were hardened, all those of Israel who have been elected to salvation, and every elect Gentile, will be saved.  I love the way William Hendriksen puts it in his commentary on Romans:

The term “All Israel” means the total number of elect Jews, the sum of all Israel’s “remnants.”  “All Israel” parallels “the fullness of the Gentiles.”  Verses 25, 26 make it very clear that God is dealing with both groups, has been saving them, is saving them, and is going to save them.  And if “All Israel” indicates, as it does, that not a single elect Israelite will be lacking “when the roll is called up yonder,” then “the fullness of the Gentiles” similarly shows that when the attendance is checked every elect Gentile will answer “Present.”  (Romans, New Testament Commentary, Baker Academic, 1980, p. 381)

If the greatest theme of the book of Joshua is that the Lord is a keeper of his promises, a close second is found in the following verses:

 ‘Just as the Lord had commanded Moses his servant, so Moses commanded Joshua, and so Joshua did. He left nothing undone of all that the Lord had commanded Moses.’ (Joshua 11:15)

“But my brothers who went up with me made the heart of the people melt; yet I wholly followed the Lord my God. 9 And Moses swore on that day, saying, ‘Surely the land on which your foot has trodden shall be an inheritance for you and your children forever, because you have wholly followed the Lord my God.”  (Joshua 14:8, 9)

‘Therefore Hebron became the inheritance of Caleb the son of Jephunneh the Kenizzite to this day, because he wholly followed the Lord, the God of Israel.’  (Joshua 14:14)

As we see in these passages, those who wholly follow the Lord will be blessed by him.  This does not mean, “Do these things and you will get whatever you want,” as is taught by the health and wealth false gospel.   We do not serve a Santa-god.  Rather, this means that our wise and good God is faithful to keep the promises made to his children in Scripture, and his gifts are good, bringing glory to his name, even if they aren’t what we expect.

Though Joshua has painstakingly connected obedience to blessing, as we read through chapter 24 we see that he, as Moses did before him, anticipates the eventual rebellion of the people of Israel.  Even still, the theme of God as promise keeper soars right through the final verses of the chapter.  Note the artistry in the relationship between the end of Genesis and the end of Joshua.

‘And Joseph said to his brothers, “I am about to die, but God will visit you and bring you up out of this land to the land that he swore to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob.”  Then Joseph made the sons of Israel swear, saying, “God will surely visit you, and you shall carry up my bones from here.”  So Joseph died, being 110 years old. They embalmed him, and he was put in a coffin in Egypt.’  (Genesis 50:24-26)

‘As for the bones of Joseph, which the people of Israel brought up from Egypt, they buried them at Shechem, in the piece of land that Jacob bought from the sons of Hamor the father of Shechem for a hundred pieces of money.  It became an inheritance of the descendants of Joseph.’  (Joshua 24:32)

How beautiful is this?  Joseph finished his life in very comfortable circumstances, being one of the most powerful men in Egypt.  And yet he was not content with the comforts of Egypt, but he looked ahead to that land promised to his descendants.  Believing God’s Word, he asked that his bones be brought to the land that God swore to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob when the promise found its fulfillment.  And now the promise is fulfilled, his descendants are in possession of the land of promise, and his bones have been brought to their resting place.  God kept his promises.

As we wrap up our study of the book of Joshua, let each of us consider carefully what difference it will make in the way that we live to know that there is a connection between our choices of obedience and disobedience.  Joshua’s choice was clear: he and his household were going to serve the Lord, regardless of the choices made by those around them.  Uncompromising in his allegiance to his Commander, Joshua stood firmly on the promises of God.  James Boice sums up this chapter, and the entire book, by beautifully applying the words of Paul, written to Timothy at the end of his own life, to Joshua:

‘Joshua had fought the good fight.  He had finished his race.  He had kept the faith.  Now there was laid up for him that crown of righteousness that the Lord, the righteous Judge, would award him on that day—and not to Joshua only, but to all who love the Lord and long for his appearing (see 2 Timothy 4:7-8).’

Amen, and amen.

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