Joshua – Lesson 20 - Joshua Chapter 23

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Contact: David Parham 940-322-4343





Last week we saw Joshua sending the tribe of Reuben, Gad, and the half tribe of Manasseh to their possession on the east of Jordan where they prepared a large altar there to remind their children and those of the other tribes that they had received their inheritance on the east side of the Jordan River. The other tribes did not understand this and thought they had built it to perhaps offer sacrifices to Baal or some other false God, and they went down to find out the facts. After interrogating them, they were satisfied that the altar was built for the right reasons. This week we get into Chapter 23 where Joshua calls the nation of Israel together.


I. Joshua Calls Israel Together

Josh 23:1 And it came to pass a long time after that the LORD had given rest unto Israel from all their enemies round about, that Joshua waxed old and stricken in age.

Josh 23:2 And Joshua called for all Israel, and for their elders, and for their heads, and for their judges, and for their officers, and said unto them, I am old and stricken in age:

Joshua has reached the latter part of his life we find in the first two verses, and he calls the leaders of Israel together for his last counsel. The elders would be the successors to the seventy men chosen by Moses.

Exo 18:13 And it came to pass on the morrow, that Moses sat to judge the people: and the people stood by Moses from the morning unto the evening.

Exo 18:14 And when Moses' father in law saw all that he did to the people, he said, What is this thing that thou doest to the people? why sittest thou thyself alone, and all the people stand by thee from morning unto even?

Exo 18:15 And Moses said unto his father in law, Because the people come unto me to inquire of God:

Exo 18:16 When they have a matter, they come unto me; and I judge between one and another, and I do make them know the statutes of God, and his laws.

Exo 18:17 And Moses' father in law said unto him, The thing that thou doest is not good.

Exo 18:18 Thou wilt surely wear away, both thou, and this people that is with thee: for this thing is too heavy for thee; thou art not able to perform it thyself alone.

Exo 18:19 Hearken now unto my voice, I will give thee counsel, and God shall be with thee: Be thou for the people to God-ward, that thou mayest bring the causes unto God:

Exo 18:20 And thou shalt teach them ordinances and laws, and shalt show them the way wherein they must walk, and the work that they must do.

Exo 18:21 Moreover thou shalt provide out of all the people able men, such as fear God, men of truth, hating covetousness; and place such over them, to be rulers of thousands, and rulers of hundreds, rulers of fifties, and rulers of tens:

Exo 18:22 And let them judge the people at all seasons: and it shall be, that every great matter they shall bring unto thee, but every small matter they shall judge: so shall it be easier for thyself, and they shall bear the burden with thee.

Exo 18:23 If thou shalt do this thing, and God command thee so, then thou shalt be able to endure, and all this people shall also go to their place in peace.

Exo 18:24 So Moses hearkened to the voice of his father in law, and did all that he had said.

Exo 18:25 And Moses chose able men out of all Israel, and made them heads over the people, rulers of thousands, rulers of hundreds, rulers of fifties, and rulers of tens.

Exo 18:26 And they judged the people at all seasons: the hard causes they brought unto Moses, but every small matter they judged themselves.

Moses was one of those hard workers who wanted to do it all for God. Each of us must fight that tendency that we must do all the work. God wants no one man or woman to do all the work in the church. Moses’ father in law told Moses that he was not doing anyone a favor working day and night and making the people settle every little issue with him. So he gathered together men who could rule thousands, some to rule 100’s, and some smaller numbers. That way only the important issues had to be brought to him. Every successful leader in business and in the church must learn to delegate to be most effective. God does not want anyone responsible for everything. If something needs to be done, it is good if we will just sometimes get busy and handle it rather than coming to someone else for it to be done. If we do that, we free up much of the pastor’s time to do the serious matters in the church. Of course anything of serious nature should go through him, but simple things can certainly be done without asking him to do it.

Exo 24:1 And he said unto Moses, Come up unto the LORD, thou, and Aaron, Nadab, and Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel; and worship ye afar off.

Exo 24:2 And Moses alone shall come near the LORD: but they shall not come nigh; neither shall the people go up with him.

Exo 24:3 And Moses came and told the people all the words of the LORD, and all the judgments: and all the people answered with one voice, and said, All the words which the LORD hath said will we do.

Exo 24:4 And Moses wrote all the words of the LORD, and rose up early in the morning, and builded an altar under the hill, and twelve pillars, according to the twelve tribes of Israel.

Exo 24:5 And he sent young men of the children of Israel, which offered burnt offerings, and sacrificed peace offerings of oxen unto the LORD.

Exo 24:6 And Moses took half of the blood, and put it in basins; and half of the blood he sprinkled on the altar.

Exo 24:7 And he took the book of the covenant, and read in the audience of the people: and they said, All that the LORD hath said will we do, and be obedient.

Exo 24:8 And Moses took the blood, and sprinkled it on the people, and said, Behold the blood of the covenant, which the LORD hath made with you concerning all these words.

Exo 24:9 Then went up Moses, and Aaron, Nadab, and Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel:

Exo 24:10 And they saw the God of Israel: and there was under his feet as it were a paved work of a sapphire stone, and as it were the body of heaven in his clearness.

Exo 24:11 And upon the nobles of the children of Israel he laid not his hand: also they saw God, and did eat and drink.

When Joshua called the people together, it was during a prosperous time of peace. He called together the elders, heads, judges, and officers of Israel. God had given them rest from all their enemies round about. This rest they experienced was temporary and conditional. There were several factors that could disturb this rest. Today, I thank the Lord for Christ who gives us rest and guides us each day. When we are lost, we are like the troubled sea. There is no peace for the wicked. But when Jesus saves a lost soul, He gives that lost sinner peace. There is a new birth when we are saved.

Mat 11:28 Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.

Mat 11:29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.

Mat 11:30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.

And not only does He give us rest when we are lost, but as a child of God, we have rest also as we see in verse 29 of our text. Once we are saved, we are to take the yoke of the Lord upon us and we will find rest unto our soul. We experience great rest upon conversion, and we find rest in consecration. (Being dedicated to God and set apart for His work.)

In Hebrews, the Bible teaches that the person who trusts Christ as Savior enters into rest.

Heb 4:3 For we which have believed do enter into rest, as he said, As I have sworn in my wrath, if they shall enter into my rest: although the works were finished from the foundation of the world.

To the Christian, God said "Let us labour therefore to enter into that rest, lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief.

Heb 4:11 Let us labour therefore to enter into that rest, lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief.

I believe that the rest that a Christian has after he has faithfully finished the work God has given him to do is likened to the rest that God had after He finished restoring the earth.

Gen 2:1 Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them.

Gen 2:2 And on the seventh day God ended his work which he had made; and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had made.

I sure believe that if God set the example to rest after 6 days of labor, you and I sure would be wise to not work on Sundays. When I was forced to work on Sunday a few weeks ago while in Houston, I felt a giant void in my spiritual life. God does not want us to fail to rest that one day each week, and to remember to come together and honor His name. It is not an option, it is commanded. The first commandment was to love the Lord they God with all your heart, and then we were to honor the sabbath day and keep it Holy. We know the Sabbath Day remembered a finished creation. Today, in New Testament times, we are to come together on the first day of the week to worship the Lord. The Sunday worship is a recognition of a finished redemption. In Corinthians, Paul told them to come together and bring all the money into the church on the first day of the week as God had prospered them.

1 Cor 16:2 Upon the first day of the week let every one of you lay by him in store, as God hath prospered him, that there be no gatherings when I come.

Others read our lives a whole lot more than what we say. Are they reading a separated, consecrated life for Jesus. If not, let's change and let others see Christ living through us. Even Jesus was known to be in the synagogue on the Sabbath which was the day of worship until he died on the Cross.

Luke 4:14 And Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit into Galilee: and there went out a fame of him through all the region round about.

Luke 4:15 And he taught in their synagogues, being glorified of all.

Luke 4:16 And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up: and, as his custom was, he went into the synagogue on the sabbath day, and stood up for to read.

II. Joshua Recalls the Past, Present, and Future Actions of God

Josh 23:3 And ye have seen all that the LORD your God hath done unto all these nations because of you; for the LORD your God is he that hath fought for you.

Josh 23:4 Behold, I have divided unto you by lot these nations that remain, to be an inheritance for your tribes, from Jordan, with all the nations that I have cut off, even unto the great sea westward.

Josh 23:5 And the LORD your God, he shall expel them from before you, and drive them from out of your sight; and ye shall possess their land, as the LORD your God hath promised unto you.

Josh 23:6 Be ye therefore very courageous to keep and to do all that is written in the book of the law of Moses, that ye turn not aside therefrom to the right hand or to the left;

Josh 23:7 That ye come not among these nations, these that remain among you; neither make mention of the name of their gods, nor cause to swear by them, neither serve them, nor bow yourselves unto them:

Josh 23:8 But cleave unto the LORD your God, as ye have done unto this day.

Josh 23:9 For the LORD hath driven out from before you great nations and strong: but as for you, no man hath been able to stand before you unto this day.

Josh 23:10 One man of you shall chase a thousand: for the LORD your God, he it is that fighteth for you, as he hath promised you.

Joshua called upon these elders as witnesses of God’s grace to their nation throughout the past. He tells them that they have seen all that the Lord your God hath done unto all nations because of you. In verse 5, he says that God would drive them from their sight. (This is future tense… "would drive")

In Joshua’s appeal to the elders, he gives three exhortations.

In verse 6,

Josh 23:6 Be ye therefore very courageous to keep and to do all that is written in the book of the law of Moses, that ye turn not aside therefrom to the right hand or to the left;

He tells them to be very courageous to keep and do all that is written in the book of the law of Moses. You and I need to follow that command but to even a greater level. We should follow every word written in the whole Bible. Good advice in a changing world that no one has control over except God Himself.

In verse 8,

Josh 23:8 But cleave unto the LORD your God, as ye have done unto this day.

Cleave unto the Lord. Want success in your life, cleave unto God. Want happiness in your life, cleave unto God. Want peace and joy in the midst of all the trials of life,

Cleave unto God. It was true back then… it is true today.

Prov 3:5 Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.

Prov 3:6 In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.

And in verse 11,

Josh 23:11 Take good heed therefore unto yourselves, that ye love the LORD your God.

Do you love the Lord as much as you should? I know I come far short. When I stop to assess what God does for me, for the protection He affords me, for the blessings He gives me, I am humbled. I don’t begin to love Him like he loves me. Why don’t we love God more? I don’t think we have the capacity humanly to love the way that God can love, but oh we ought to love God more and more everyday. God help us to realize the love He gave for us when Jesus went and died on the cross 2,000 years ago. If we can fathom that love that it talks about in the account of the gospel of John, then we may start loving the way God would have us to love. And he wants us to be people known for our love.

John 13:34 A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.

John 13:35 By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.

1 John 4:12 No man hath seen God at any time. If we love one another, God dwelleth in us, and his love is perfected in us.

1 John 4:13 Hereby know we that we dwell in him, and he in us, because he hath given us of his Spirit.

Deu 6:4 Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD:

Deu 6:5 And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might.

The Lord demanded the supreme place in the heart of the people, especially in the heart of the elders among His people.

III. The Results of not Cleaving Unto the Lord

Josh 23:12 Else if ye do in any wise go back, and cleave unto the remnant of these nations, even these that remain among you, and shall make marriages with them, and go in unto them, and they to you:

Josh 23:13 Know for a certainty that the LORD your God will no more drive out any of these nations from before you; but they shall be snares and traps unto you, and scourges in your sides, and thorns in your eyes, until ye perish from off this good land which the LORD your God hath given you.

If the people of God did not cleave to the Lord, they would cleave to the remnant of these nations that remained among them. That means that they would marry among those nations, and God had commanded that they not do that. Israel was to keep separate and in the same lineage of the tribes from which they were born. If the people of God married the Canaanites, the Lord would cease to drive them out from before them. If they married them, the Lord would permit them to become snares and traps unto Israel. He also would let them perish from off the land of Canaan.

If you and I don’t stay pure from sin, it will keep us from being the witness that God would have us to be. A little sin here and there seems insignificant, or that is what Satan wants us to believe. But some little sins lead to bigger sins, and soon Satan is in charge.

Luke 16:13 No servant can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.

Are we serving God and being pure in our actions. If not, we are serving Satan. No middle of the road in our service for Christ. Remember what Paul told the church at Corinth that was tolerating gross sin in the church. He told them to get rid of it. That it was their responsibility to see that the members walked uprightly, or they were to be turned over to Satan for the destruction of the flesh.

1 Cor 5:1 It is reported commonly that there is fornication among you, and such fornication as is not so much as named among the Gentiles, that one should have his father's wife.

1 Cor 5:2 And ye are puffed up, and have not rather mourned, that he that hath done this deed might be taken away from among you.

1 Cor 5:3 For I verily, as absent in body, but present in spirit, have judged already, as though I were present, concerning him that hath so done this deed,

1 Cor 5:4 In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, when ye are gathered together, and my spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus Christ,

1 Cor 5:5 To deliver such an one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.

1 Cor 5:6 Your glorying is not good. Know ye not that a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump?

1 Cor 5:7 Purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened. For even Christ our passover is sacrificed for us:

1 Cor 5:8 Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness; but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.

Leaven always speaks of sin. We need to eliminate the leaven in our lives, and walk with purity and righteousness before God.

IV. God is a Faithful God

Josh 23:14 And, behold, this day I am going the way of all the earth: and ye know in all your hearts and in all your souls, that not one thing hath failed of all the good things which the LORD your God spake concerning you; all are come to pass unto you, and not one thing hath failed thereof.

Joshua’s statement emphasized the faithfulness of God. I thank God that even if we fail God, we don’t have to worry. God will not fail us. We can bank on that and have faith that what God promises, God delivers. He says "Not one thing hath failed of all the good things which the Lord your God spake"

Jeremiah wrote "Great is thy faithfulness."

Lam 3:23 They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness.

Lam 3:24 The LORD is my portion, saith my soul; therefore will I hope in him.

Lam 3:25 The LORD is good unto them that wait for him, to the soul that seeketh him.

Lam 3:26 It is good that a man should both hope and quietly wait for the salvation of the LORD.

David said in the Psalms that the Lord’s faithfulness reaches unto the clouds.

Psa 36:5 Thy mercy, O LORD, is in the heavens; and thy faithfulness reacheth unto the clouds.

Psa 36:6 Thy righteousness is like the great mountains; thy judgments are a great deep: O LORD, thou preservest man and beast.

Psa 36:7 How excellent is thy lovingkindness, O God! therefore the children of men put their trust under the shadow of thy wings.

Psa 36:8 They shall be abundantly satisfied with the fatness of thy house; and thou shalt make them drink of the river of thy pleasures.

IV. God Could be Moved to Anger

Josh 23:15 Therefore it shall come to pass, that as all good things are come upon you, which the LORD your God promised you; so shall the LORD bring upon you all evil things, until he have destroyed you from off this good land which the LORD your God hath given you.

Josh 23:16 When ye have transgressed the covenant of the LORD your God, which he commanded you, and have gone and served other gods, and bowed yourselves to them; then shall the anger of the LORD be kindled against you, and ye shall perish quickly from off the good land which he hath given unto you.

If the people transgressed the covenant of the Lord and served other gods, this would bring the anger of the Lord upon them. How could they turn their backs on the true and living God to serve a false god that had man made eyes that could not see; ears that could not hear, and mouths that could not speak.

We see in Judges that the very next generation failed and served Baalim.

Judg 2:11 And the children of Israel did evil in the sight of the LORD, and served Baalim:

Judg 2:12 And they forsook the LORD God of their fathers, which brought them out of the land of Egypt, and followed other gods, of the gods of the people that were round about them, and bowed themselves unto them, and provoked the LORD to anger.

Judg 2:13 And they forsook the LORD, and served Baal and Ashtaroth.

Judg 2:14 And the anger of the LORD was hot against Israel, and he delivered them into the hands of spoilers that spoiled them, and he sold them into the hands of their enemies round about, so that they could not any longer stand before their enemies.

Judg 2:15 Whithersoever they went out, the hand of the LORD was against them for evil, as the LORD had said, and as the LORD had sworn unto them: and they were greatly distressed.

Pray that you and I never fail to serve the true and living God, but ever look to Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith.

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