In chapter 24 we have Joshua’s final words as he addresses “all the people” of Israel from Shechem.
Joshua begins by reviewing what God has done for Israel going all the way back to their chosen Patriarch, Abraham; the LORD called him out of paganistic polytheism to serve the one true and only God. Abraham was led throughout the promised land, Canaan, and begot Isaac, who begot Jacob who went down to Egypt.
Joshua doesn’t mention the population explosion among the Jews and their bondage in Egypt (he implies it), but he mentions Moses and Aaron being sent to Egypt, and how God redeemed the people. The LORD split the sea, defeated Egypt, sustained Israel in the wilderness, conquered many nations, turned cursing into blessings and gave them the Promised Land – cities that they had not built, vineyards that they had not planted.
God did all this and so much more – “Therefore…” (Joshua 24:14) there should be a logical and practical application.
As we read this I’m reminded of the wisdom of looking back at what God has done for us. The Jews could always look back to their redemption from Egypt, and Christians can always look back to our redemption from sin, we can gaze upon the cross and resurrection of Jesus Christ. We can view and review God’s faithfulness over our lives – if we’re saved, we are free and forgiven and that’s all that matters…anything else is only icing on the cake. Paul the Apostle does this in the book of Romans chapters 1-11. And then in Romans 12:1 he begins with the same word, “…therefore…” (Romans 12:1).
Therefore…what should be our response to such a gracious God who has granted us so great a salvation?
Paul and Joshua go on to tell us that we should resolve to love the Lord and serve Him only!
Joshua 24:14a (NKJV) “Now therefore, fear the LORD, serve Him in sincerity and in truth…”
And then there’s that classic passage wherein Joshua challenges all leaders of their homes to make that choice – once and for all!
Joshua 24:15 (NKJV) “And if it seems evil to you to serve the LORD, choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of 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.”
As the days, weeks, months, and years go by we can find ourselves picking up the ways of the world and even the gods (people and things they worship). There needs to be a constant purging of these things and a realignment of the heart:
Joshua 24:23 (NKJV) “Now therefore,” he said, “put away the foreign gods which are among you, and incline your heart to the LORD God of Israel.”
Maybe we can take time today, to take inventory, to put off things in our lives that need to go, and put on the Lord Jesus Christ (Ephesians 4:22-23; Romans 13:14).
Joshua finished his race and went home to glory. We then read something so key, so core to life:
Joshua 24:31 (NKJV) “Israel served the LORD all the days of Joshua, and all the days of the elders who outlived Joshua, who had known all the works of the LORD which He had done for Israel.”
We see it here and we’ll see it again in the book of Judges, the key to serving the LORD is knowing all He’s done for us. Soak it in, and let every generation faithfully pass it on.
It’s interesting that Jesus was watching as the people were dropping their donations in the Temple. God sees the way we give (Acts 10:4). Mark tells us, in his account, that the “rich put in much” (Mark 12:41-44) but it wasn’t impressive to God for we learn from Jesus that it’s not the portion, but rather the proportion we give. God takes into account the sacrifice not the sum; God sees not merely the amount we give, but the amount we have left over. The widow gave only two mites, but she gave more than all the wealthy donors because she gave everything she had.
As they were leaving the Temple the disciples commented on the beauty of it, but again, God’s not impressed. As a matter of fact, Jesus told the guys (and us) that the day was coming, when not one stone would be left upon another. Now this was an amazing prophecy considering the fact that this Temple (beautified by Herod) was considered to be one of the wonders of the world. Some of the stones were 20 feet tall and 40 feet wide; they were all cut perfectly, at a separate site, then transported and joined together – just so – so that there would be no mortar, no cement, no super-glue necessary to keep them together. One stone recently excavated in Jerusalem was found to weigh 400 tons. Think on that! A modern-day crane can barely handle 5 tons…how did they do it? The gates were 130 feet high and made of pure brass. The temple itself stood 90 feet high. Josephus the historian said the temple was so magnificent that it was visible from 30 miles away. Gold was everywhere – as a matter of fact, they say the value of the gold in current currency – would have been – a trillion dollars!
But Jesus predicts the destruction of the Temple and the disciples proceed to ask three questions:
Matthew 24:3 (NKJV) “Now as He sat on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to Him privately, saying, “Tell us, when will these things (the destruction of the Temple) be? And what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?”
Jesus goes on to describe the persecution of the Apostles and the destruction of the Temple in A.D.70. He then describes the things that will lead to His Second Coming that begins with the rapture of the Church – signs like an increase of the intensity and frequency of racial tension, wars, rumors of wars, earthquakes, and pestilences.
The signs are like birth pangs, God is letting us know, beyond a shadow of a doubt that the new world is about to be “born,” He’s almost here.
Prayerfully…we’re all looking up!
Luke 21:27–28 (NKJV) “Then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. 28 Now when these things begin to happen, look up and lift up your heads, because your redemption draws near.”
At the time of the writing of this Psalm, Israel was in the middle of God’s severe discipline. The Psalmist uses strong and heartbreaking words.
Israel had been cast off, abhorred, ruined, cast down to the ground, covered with shame. The Psalmist felt as if God was furious with His people and had renounced His covenant.
It’s important to remember that God DOES discipline His children. We will reap what we’ve sown. Not that all heartache is due to sin, but for Israel this was the case. We must learn from the and even their mistakes. Often times when God disciplines us, we blame it on God, when in all reality we’ve brought it upon ourselves. We need to remember the spiritual laws of sowing and reaping!
Galatians 6:7–8 (NKJV) “Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap.”
The Psalmist is wise in closing in prayer, and a plea for mercy. Just the fact that he’s talking to God means so much, especially the way he praises God, in closing and in the middle of the pain.
Psalm 89:52 (NKJV) “Blessed be the LORD forevermore! Amen and Amen.”
Can you say that in the middle of all you’re going through? Praise Him by faith!
V. 20 – If you tell me who you’re friends are, it tells me who you are. Walk with Christ, let Him be your best friend, and then pray for solid Christian friends you can journey with, step by step.
V. 21 – The big picture is a contrast between the righteous and the unrepentant sinner. Imagine being chased down by sin! That’s the chase and case of the sinner. But the “good” life is promised to the sinner saved by grace because he’s placed his faith in Jesus Christ.
V. 22 – This is a practical principal, but not an absolute precept. It’s not a universal statement, for many good men and women have no inheritance to leave their children, much less their grandchildren. But we CAN leave them spiritual riches, a Godly heritage.
“Abraham left his covenanted inheritance to his children’s children.” What a gift godly grandparents can be! (Patriarchs; Matriarchs)
V. 23 – The poor farmer works hard, for he must sustain himself, he is dependent on his own exertion. But then there are those who lack judgment in the administration of their land or resources…often times ending in waste.
(What a difference Joseph’s judgment made)
(Even Jesus gathered up the fragments) (Matthew 14:20; 15:37)
If you have any questions or comments on today’s reading, or you’d like to share something the Lord showed you, feel free to leave a reply below. I’d love to hear from you as we grow forward in 2021.