Lectionary Calendar
Wednesday, May 29th, 2024
the Week of Proper 3 / Ordinary 8
We are taking food to Ukrainians still living near the front lines. You can help by getting your church involved.
Click to donate today!

Bible Commentaries
Joshua 24

Smith's Bible CommentarySmith's Commentary

Verses 1-33

Chapter 24

Chapter twenty-four, Joshua is continuing this final charge to the children of Israel. Picture now this old man he was. He was faithful to the Lord. He has done a good job, but now he is bent over with age. He has been weakened. His voice is probably shaky and trembling.

And Joshua gathered all the tribes of Israel to Shechem, [Right in the heart of the land there between mount Ebal, and Gerezim.] and he called for the elders of Israel, and for their heads, and for their judges, the officers; and they presented themselves before God. And Joshua said to all the people, Thus saith the Lord God of Israel, Your fathers dwelt on the other side of the flood in old times, even Terah, the father of Abraham, the father of Nachor: and they served other gods. And I took your father Abraham from the other side of the flood, and led throughout all the land of Canaan, and multiplied his seed, and gave him Isaac. And I gave unto Isaac, Jacob and Esau: I gave to Esau the area of mount Seir, to possess it; but Jacob and his children went down to Egypt. And I sent Moses also and Aaron, and I plagued Egypt, according to that which I did among them: and afterward I brought you out. And I brought your fathers out of Egypt: and you came unto the sea; and the Egyptians pursued after your fathers with their chariots and horsemen unto the Red Sea. And when they cried unto the Lord, he put darkness between you and the Egyptians, and brought the sea upon them, and covered them; and your eyes have seen what I have done in Egypt: and you dwelt in the wilderness a long season. And I brought you into the land of the Amorites, that dwelt here on the other side of Jordan; [And I fought with you] and they fought with you: [rather] and I gave them into your hand, that ye might possess their land; and I destroyed them from before you. Then Balak the son of Zippor, the king of Moab, arose and he warred against Israel, and he called Balaam the son of Beor to curse you: But I would not hearken unto Balaam; therefore he blessed you still: so I delivered you out of his hand ( Joshua 24:1-10 ).

Now you'll notice that this has gone into the first person. So actually Joshua at this point is prophesying to the leaders of Israel and God is now speaking through Joshua a word of prophecy to these people. Having gone into the first person here, as God declares, "I destroyed them", and "I delivered you out of his hand."

And I sent the hornet before you, and drove out the Amorites; but not with your sword, nor with your bow. And I have given you a land for which you did not labour, cities which you did not build, that you might dwell in them; vineyards and oliveyards which you did not plant and yet you eat of them. Now therefore fear [or reverence] the Lord, and serve him in sincerity and truth: and put away the gods that your fathers served on the other side of the flood, and in Egypt; and serve ye the Lord. Now if it seems evil unto you to serve the Lord, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord ( Joshua 24:12-15 ).

So Joshua stands before these people, declares to them the marvelous works of God, and then he challenges them to choose this day, whom you're going to serve, recognizing that God has given man the power and capacity of choice. Each man chooses, not if you will serve or not, but who you will serve. For every man is serving somebody. Every man is governed by some passion, some guiding principle, some philosophy, which has become his god. He reminds them that in ancient times before the flood, people were worshiping gods. The Amorites in whose land they were now dwelling had their own gods. There are many different gods that a man can worship, many governing principles by which his life can be directed. A man can live after his own flesh that can become his god. A man can live obsessed by the desire for success, and that can become his god. A man can live obsessed with the desire of wealth, that becomes his god. But you must choose which god you are going to serve, the true and the living God, or the gods that the people worshiped and served who lived before the flood.

Even Terah the father of Abraham worshiped other gods. The Amorites worshiped other gods, "Choose whom you will serve," then declaring, "As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord." Though he's old and stricken in years, still he rules his house. It's marvelous when the husband, the father, can speak for his house. "As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord." The people responded and said to Joshua, "Oh, we also will serve the Lord,"

and Joshua said, You can't serve the Lord ( Joshua 24:19 ).

They said, "We will," he said, "You can't," for he said, God is a jealous God and when you start turning away from Him, turning your backs upon Him; He won't take that lightly but He will bring his judgments among you.

For if you forsake the Lord, and serve strange gods, he will turn and do you hurt, and consume you, after that he has done good. And the people said to Joshua, No; we will serve the Lord. And Joshua said to the people, You are witnesses against yourselves that ye have chosen to serve the Lord, to serve him. And they said, We are witnesses. He said, All right then put away the strange gods which are among you, and incline your heart unto Jehovah God of Israel. And the people said to Joshua, Jehovah our God we will serve and his voice we will obey. And Joshua made a covenant with the people that day, and set them a statute and an ordinance there in Shechem. Joshua wrote these words in the book of the law of God, and took a great stone, and set it there under an oak, that was by the sanctuary of the Lord. And Joshua said unto all the people, Behold, this stone shall be a witness unto us; for it hath heard all the words of the Lord which he spake unto us: and it shall be therefore a witness unto you, lest ye deny your God. So Joshua let the people depart, and every man went to his own inheritance. Now it came to pass at this time, that Joshua, died, being a hundred and ten years old. And they buried him actually there in mount Ephraim in this city that was given to him for his inheritance. And Israel served the Lord all the days of Joshua, and the days of the elders that overlived Joshua, which had known all the works of the Lord, that he had done for Israel ( Joshua 24:16-31 ).

Now it is interesting how that as you go back in history, that God had done marvelous works among people. Those that have seen that work of God remain committed and true, but rarely does a work continue into a second generation.

We look at the church and there have been marvelous spiritual revivals in the history of the church. Usually new denominations have been born out of spiritual revivals. But it is tragic that rarely does a work of God continue through a second generation. Those that have seen the work of God continue to relay that which God has done. But you get into a new generation, and there comes modifications, there comes organization, there comes structure. The seeking to more or less codify that which God has done.

Rarely does the work of God go on into another generation, which makes me glad that I'm living in this last generation. I don't have to worry about this thing going on. We're going up, we're not going on. But that would be my chief concern if I didn't believe that the rapture was so close. It's beautiful what God has done for us. I'm thrilled with what God has done for us, but my chief concern would be that after we have gone, we have been able to see this glorious work of God, that others would come in and they'd analyze it and get the thing all structured. They'd be able to tell you all of the reasons why it was such a success. They'd get the whole thing organized, developed, and the whole thing went down the tubes like everything else has done in the past, as far as denominations and all. Thank God that we won't have to see that day.

But it's been true through the history. Those that have been privileged to see that work of God usually remain true. It's the next generation, somehow there is a failure to adequately communicate to the next generation the marvelous things of God. In trying to analyze the failure, I think that perhaps when God blesses us, the blessings are usually multi-faceted. It's a blessing in almost every area, spiritual blessings, material blessings, physical blessings. But we went through a lot of struggles, a lot of testing of faith, a lot of deprivations, a lot of hardships. We went without so many times. Now that we are blessed, we don't want our children to have, to experience the same hardships that we experienced. We don't want them to have to live by faith, as we had to live by faith, to have to just trust in God for the next meal. Thus, we seek to keep our children from a lot of the same hardships that we endured.

And I think in that, we are keeping them from learning a lot of important lessons of trust, and faith, and being able to see the miraculous work of God in response to that faith, and believing, and trusting in Him. Thus they don't have the same privileges of knowing the miracle working power of God that we experienced, because we were going through the periods of deprivation and hardship. Thus God doesn't become as real to them as He was to us because they haven't had to trust Him for that meal, to believe Him for a set of tires.

Now here at the end of Joshua there's a very interesting notation, and why this would come here at the end of Joshua, I am sure I don't know. Chuck Misler could probably give you some suggestions.

And the bones of Joseph, which the children of Israel brought out of Egypt, they buried in Shechem, in a parcel of ground which Jacob had bought from Hamor the father of Shechem for a hundred pieces of silver: and it became the inheritance of the children of Joseph ( Joshua 24:32 ).

Now the children of Joseph did inhabit this Ephraim, tribe of Ephraim, it did inhabit this particular area of the land, Shechem, and that area through there, so they were the sons of Joseph. But why at this point in the text it would refer to the burial of Joseph's bones, I don't know. We did read where the children of Israel made their exodus out of Egypt, that they brought the bones of Joseph with them. But the recording of the burial of the bones is left here for the end of Joshua.

And Eleazar the son of Aaron died; and they buried him in a hill that pertained to Phinehas his son, which was given to him also there in mount Ephraim ( Joshua 24:33 ).

So the old guard is passing away and the new guard is coming in. And as we move into Judges we'll begin to see how soon they moved away from God, how soon they went into apostasy. I think that prosperity is probably one of the most difficult things to handle.

My father used to have a little motto on his desk. "God please never prosper me above my capacity to maintain my love for You." He recognized that there was a weakness in his own life. He knew what money could do to him. He knew what it did to his family. Thus it was his constant prayer, "God never bless me beyond my capacity to maintain my love for you." I think that was a rather wise prayer. So many people have been blessed beyond the capacity of maintaining that deep devotion for God. Their love begins to wane as the love of the world, and the things of the world begins to occupy their lives.

Next week we'll move on in the book of Judges. Shall we stand? There is one charge that we skipped over in chapter twenty-two that Joshua gave to the tribes of Reuben, Gad, and Manasseh, as they were returning back, and it's found in verse five.

He said, "Love the Lord your God, walk in His ways, keep His commandments, cleave unto Him, and serve Him with all your heart and soul." I think that's a tremendous exhortation. "Love the Lord your God, walk in His ways, keep His commandments, stick to Him, cleave unto Him, and serve Him with all your heart and with all your soul. Thus may you be blessed of God this week, as you walk with Him, as you serve Him, as you cleave unto Him. "

Bibliographical Information
Smith, Charles Ward. "Commentary on Joshua 24". "Smith's Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/csc/joshua-24.html. 2014.
Ads FreeProfile