Joshua 23 and 24 (#1006)
Good morning. We’re going to continue our series with the book of Joshua. Several sessions ago we read Joshua one and two, where there were instructions for entering the promised land and the spies who went into seek out the land met Rehab who they made an agreement with that she would protect them and they would protect her. Then in Joshua three and four the children of Israel crossed the Jordan River on dry land and set up stones of memorial to remind themselves in future generations of what God had done. Then in Joshua five and six all those who been born in the wilderness were circumcised and they ate the fruit of the land and an angel appeared to Joshua and said take off your shoes because you’re standing on holy ground. Then the children of Israel circled Jericho for seven days and the walls came tumbling down and they take the city.
Then in Joshua seven and eight we learn about how as they were a group, if one person in the group sinned it could affect the whole group. The one fella took some stuff that was dedicated to the Lord and buried it in his tent and the Israelites were defeated at the city of AI. Then they asked God what was going on, and they got that straightened out, and they went back and had a great victory at AI.
And throughout the rest of the book of Joshua, because we’re going to skip to the last two chapters, through the intervening chapters they going in a fight with many groups to reclaim the land. And their two reasons they had to fight with them: one, this was land God had given to Abraham and his descendants many generations before they were simply taking back what was theirs, and the other reason was God said that if they left those other nations they would be thorns in their sides and pricks in their eyes because they would tempt them to go off after other gods. So, God’s solution at that time was just get rid of all the people that could possibly drag you off after other gods.
Because we know from the history of the Israelites, they had a bad habit of getting excited about other gods being worshiped in forsaking the true God. And just look at the golden calf in the wilderness what was when Moses was up on the mountain for what a few weeks? Maybe 30 or 40 days, at the most; just a few weeks and they turned away from the true God and had a golden calf, and they worshipped a golden calf. Even though God taken them out of Egypt, safely protected them from the Egyptian army in so many ways, with parting the Red Sea, and hiding the cloud, and doing everything to take care of them including finding them food in the wilderness, water in the wilderness. Still the minute they had a chance they just turned away from the true God, so that was unfortunately the bad behavior of the children of Israel.
So, because of that God wanted them to get rid of the other nations and claim the land of Canaan for their own without the other nations there. Of course, they didn’t get rid of all of them but they got rid of many of them, so that the children of Israel lived alone more of themselves. And the Old Testament law talks about staying away from people that are the believers in the true God of Israel.
And you see this in the first century church where the first group of Christians were all Judeans and they wanted to stay there in Judea and they basically wanted to follow a lot of the Old Testament law because is that’s all they knew. Today, we would call him perhaps Jews for Jesus or messianic Jews; groups that consider themselves Christians but want to continue to follow the Old Testament law.
And that continued until God sent Peter to the household of Cornelius, a Gentile, to speak God’s word and Peter did want to go. He said “I’ve never eaten anything that’s foul and unclean, and I don’t want to go do that.” But God said “what I have basically cleansed don’t call you unclean,” and so Peter went and as he was speaking the word of God the Holy Spirit came upon the whole crowd and they all spoke in tongues. And that was the first step towards the Gentiles being included, in other words where they were stepping out — and this is so different than the Old Testament records were God told him to get rid of the unbelievers, now all the sudden the people that it been considered unbelievers are becoming believers. And Peter didn’t quite have the vision to be able reach out to all the Gentiles, so God called Paul.
And Paul, unlike Peter, had grown up in a Gentile city, a city called Tarsus in what’s now southern Turkey. So, he spoke the language of the Gentiles which was Greek, because the Judeans spoke Aramaic and read the Scriptures and Hebrew. But Paul could do that: he can speak Aramaic, he could read the Scriptures in Hebrew, and he also could speak Greek. And he understood the culture of the Gentiles. He lived around them, and God gave him the job of reaching out to the Gentiles all around the Mediterranean.
So, you see how different this is. In the Old Testament records here in Joshua, God said chase out the unbelievers because they’ll be a thorn in your side and drag you out after other gods. Then you get to the book of acts in the church epistles, and God says go out among the Gentiles. Go to them. So, Paul went to Ephesus where they worshiped, and to the Ephesians, and he went to Athens where they had many, many gods. And he went to Corinth, and then he went to Philippi which is where Alexander the great was from. He went all over the Mediterranean, especially the eastern Mediterranean, speaking God’s word.
So, in the book of Joshua, the word of the lord was: ‘stay away from those unbelievers.’ In the book of Acts, the word of the Lord is: ‘get right in the middle of the unbelievers and tell them about Jesus Christ.’
So, the reason I point this out is just that administrations are so different and if we take what’s in the Old Testament and try to apply it to ourselves today, we’ll be like some of those groups of want to go hide in the mountains in a cave because their scared of the unbelievers. We don’t want to let the unbelievers influence us to turn away from the true God, but neither do we want to be scared of them. As it says in the epistles: ‘become all things to all men.’ Whatever group we’re talking to, we can act, dress, eat drink, just like they did. But the point is to bring them the gospel, not to have them drag us away from the gospel.
So, that’s the things that happened and there are other chapters in the middle the book of Joshua where they going to great detail about which tribe gets which parcel of land, and which leader will lead each group and each tribe, and when they go to battle, which tribe is can I go first. So, it’s on and on, but then you get to the end of the book of Joshua and there some summary here, which is what I do want to read to you. Go to Joshua chapter 23…
As taught by Bruce Mahone 20201101. All rights reserved.
Verse Listing and Notes
Joshua 23 – Summary of God’s deliverance in the promised land
Joshua 24 – Reminder to put away false gods and serve the true God