Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

Joshua 24:20

If you forsake the Lord and serve foreign gods, then He will turn and do you harm and consume you after He has done good to you."
New American Standard Version

Bible Study Resources

Concordances:
Nave's Topical Bible - Backsliders;   Covenant;   Decision;   Shechem;   Thompson Chain Reference - Invitations-Warnings;   Sin;   Warnings;   The Topic Concordance - Forsaking;   Idolatry;   Service;   Torrey's Topical Textbook - Forsaking God;   Idolatry;  
Dictionaries:
Bridgeway Bible Dictionary - Shechem;   Baker Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology - Forgiveness;   Fausset Bible Dictionary - Pillars;   Shechem (1);   Holman Bible Dictionary - Covenant;   Ebal;   Joshua;   Joshua, the Book of;   Temple of Jerusalem;   Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible - Shechem;  
Encyclopedias:
Condensed Biblical Cyclopedia - Conquest of Canaan;   International Standard Bible Encyclopedia - Gods;   Hurt;   The Jewish Encyclopedia - Anger;   Holiness;   Shechem;   Teraphim;  

The Biblical Illustrator

Joshua 24:20

If ye forsake the Lord . . . He will turn

Mercies abused, the precursors of wrath

I.
The reasonableness of expecting that abused mercies must lead to more aggravated punishment. We see this clearly in the history of Israel. Their career as a nation was marked by perfidy and ingratitude; at almost every step of their progress we find them in rebellion against the Most High--“forsaking the Lord, and serving strange gods.” And how did God deal with them when they thus acted? Is it not the case that He scourged them, and caused them to suffer punishment? Look at the plagues that befel them in the desert; look at the slaughters which God permitted them to experience in warfare with their enemies. And who can survey the subsequent history of the Jews, and not read a fulfilment of the threatening contained in our text? And what we are desirous you should gather from the foregoing observations is mainly this, that no experience of good at the hands of the Almighty affords warrant to expect that future disobedience will not be visited with righteous severity. “If ye forsake the Lord and serve strange gods, then He will turn and do you hurt and consume you, after that He hath done you good.”

II. The justice of the dealing which is referred to in the threatening before us. Now it will be admitted that every reason was given Israel to expect the continuance of the Divine favour and protection. We think it easily to be perceived that one main purpose of the Almighty in the calling of Israel as a nation was to maintain upon earth, through means of that race, the pure knowledge of Himself; to afford a witness to the unity of Jehovah, and against idolatry; to secure glory to Himself by the exhibition, on the part of this people, of a consistent obedience. Surely, then, if this purpose was, through the nation’s profligacy and disobedience, altogether thwarted, if all the resources which God gave them of national strength were abused and corrupted, indeed it were strange not to perceive that their conduct in this respect released every presumed obligation “to do them good,” and in short vindicates to the letter the justice of the warning, “If ye forsake the Lord, and serve strange gods, then He will turn and do you hurt, and consume you, after that He hath done you good.” And now, to take a more comprehensive range, from looking at the case of the Jewish people let us turn to that of mankind in general. Does it appear that God can be just in the apportionment of unmitigated wrath to mankind, notwithstanding all the manifestations of His determination to do them good? There are two grand exhibitions to be met with of God’s merciful intention towards mankind at large, to do them good. The first of these is furnished by creation, and the second by redemption. Our object of inquiry is simply this: whether the display of God’s love in creating or redeeming mankind offers any reason to conclude that, in harmony with His justice, He cannot “turn and do them hurt, and consume them.” To begin with creation: no man can doubt that his creation is the proof of a purpose on God’s part to “do him good.” Beyond all question this purpose was man’s happiness, but then his happiness was to consist in assimilation to the Godhead; and if upon man devolve the guilt of having voluntarily destroyed and renounced that similitude, where is the inconsistency of the dealing, should God “turn and do him hurt, and consume him”? The nobler the faculties wherewith he was endowed the brighter the evidence of God’s purpose to “do him good,” the stronger then seem to me the reasons wherefore wrath should be executed upon those by whom the faculties are abused and the evidence slighted. We turn, lastly, to the manifestation of God’s goodness as displayed in redemption. There have been those who have argued--redemption is the evidence of a love so surpassing, they can never believe God will sentence to destruction those whom He has redeemed at such cost. “The method of our atonement involves an expenditure of such wisdom and mercy, that how can we conceive of the Almighty as permitting its objects finally to perish?” Mast to reason thus is equally, as in the former instances we have adduced, to overlook one main purpose of God in the scheme of human redemption. Is it not strange that men who have been made the objects of a sacrifice so costly should regard it so lightly and requite it so coldly? We may wonder that redeemed sinners should perish, but is it not more wonderful that redeemed sinners should refuse to be saved? Again, let us revert to the purpose of God in redemption. Indeed it was to bless the whole earth; it was to ransom humanity from the bondage of evil, and to exalt it to transcendent felicity. But after all, throughout every dealing of God with His intelligent creatures, we may discover the purpose to treat them as responsible beings, free to reject the overtures of His mercy. Now, redemption is offered upon certain terms; man is required to repent and to believe in order to be saved. It is no part of redemption to offer him an entrance into heaven irrespective of a moral fitness, to render him meet for heaven’s enjoyments; and in the acquisition of this moral fitness man is required to co-operate with the Divine Spirit. He can refuse to profit by what God hath done for him, and thus prove himself a despiser of the love which is so unsearchably great. He can resolutely withstand the design of the Almighty in redemption, namely, that he should glorify God, both in his body and soul; and, I ask, if it be possible for Him to act thus, is there not justice in the sentence which awards him to suffer in spite of all the declared willingness of God to do him good? (Bp. R. Bickersteth.)

Christians solemnly reminded of their obligations

I. That we are under obligations to serve the lord from our own choice, or voluntary engagements. Here I would premise that though voluntary obligations, taken upon ourselves by our own act, have something of a peculiar force in them, yet they are not the only obligations we are under to serve the Lord. We are bound to be His servants whether we will or not. His character as our creator, our preserver, and benefactor, and as a being of supreme excellency, give Him the most firm and indisputable right to our obedience. But though we are all under obligations to God, independent upon, and prior to, our own consent, yet there are a class of obligations which we have personally, and by our own act, taken upon ourselves; and in the breach of these we are guilty of more direct and aggravated perjury.

II. To inquire how and when, or in what respects, and at what periods of time, we are witnesses against ourselves that we have chosen the Lord to serve him.

1. You yourselves are witnesses against yourselves that you have chosen the Lord to be your God. You know and confess that you have been dedicated to God in baptism; and some of you know it was your own act and deed when capable of choosing for yourselves. You also know in your own consciences that you are often present at the table of the Lord, and there you renew your covenant with God afresh.

2. You are witnesses against one another that you have chosen the Lord to serve Him. You have seen the transactions that have passed between God and you in His house; you have seen some baptized themselves, some presenting their children to baptism, and so renewing their own covenant with God; some sealing their religious engagements at the Lord’s table. (President Davies.)

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Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on "Joshua 24:20". The Biblical Illustrator. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tbi/joshua-24.html. 1905-1909. New York.

John Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible

If you forsake the Lord, and serve strange gods,.... Joshua knew the proneness of this people to idolatry, and therefore expresses his jealousy of them, that they would not be able to continue in the service of God, and would be apt to be carried away after idols; and therefore, to make them the more cautious and watchful, he represents to them the danger they were in, and what would befall them should they forsake the Lord they now promised to serve, and follow after other gods, which their fathers worshipped before they were called out of their estate of Heathenism, or which the Canaanites, or Egyptians worshipped, whose examples they were too ready to imitate:

then he will turn and do you hurt; not that there is properly any change in God, either of his counsel or covenant, or of love and affection to his people, but of his providential dealings, or outward manner of acting towards men; or the sense is, he will again do you hurt, bring evils and calamities upon you again and again, frequently as you revolt from him, such as the sword, pestilence, famine, and captivity, which these people after experienced when they fell into idolatry:

and consume you; by these his sore judgments:

after that he hath done you good; by bringing you into such a good land, and bestowing so many good things upon you, natural, civil, and religious; and yet, notwithstanding, being disobedient to him, and especially in the instances mentioned, they are made to expect his resentment, and the effects of it.

Copyright Statement
The New John Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible Modernised and adapted for the computer by Larry Pierce of Online Bible. All Rights Reserved, Larry Pierce, Winterbourne, Ontario.
A printed copy of this work can be ordered from: The Baptist Standard Bearer, 1 Iron Oaks Dr, Paris, AR, 72855
Bibliographical Information
Gill, John. "Commentary on Joshua 24:20". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/joshua-24.html. 1999.

Wesley's Explanatory Notes

If ye forsake the LORD, and serve strange gods, then he will turn and do you hurt, and consume you, after that he hath done you good.

Will turn — That is, he will alter his course and the manner of his dealing with you, and will be as severe as ever he was kind and gracious. He will repent of his former kindnesses, and his goodness abused will be turned into fury.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain and are a derivative of an electronic edition that is available on the Christian Classics Ethereal Library Website.
Bibliographical Information
Wesley, John. "Commentary on Joshua 24:20". "John Wesley's Explanatory Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/wen/joshua-24.html. 1765.

John Trapp Complete Commentary

Joshua 24:20 If ye forsake the LORD, and serve strange gods, then he will turn and do you hurt, and consume you, after that he hath done you good.

Ver. 20. And consume you, after that he hath done you good.] Ingentia beneficia, flagitia, supplicia. From apostates God will take away his own and be gone, [Hosea 2:9] he will curse their blessings, [Malachi 2:2] blast their hopes, make them know the worth of his benefits by the want of them, making them cry out, as Jeremiah 4:13, "Woe to us! for we are spoiled."

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Bibliographical Information
Trapp, John. "Commentary on Joshua 24:20". John Trapp Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/joshua-24.html. 1865-1868.

Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible

He will turn, i.e. he will alter his course and the manner of his dealing with you, and will be as severe as ever he was kind and gracious.

Consume you, after that he hath done you good; he will repent of all his former kindness, and his goodness abused will be turned into fury.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Joshua 24:20". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/mpc/joshua-24.html. 1685.

Whedon's Commentary on the Bible

20.Then he will turn — He will alter his attitude toward you. Strictly speaking, God is unchangeable. He is always toward the wicked a consuming fire. When a man changes from righteous to wicked he runs into this consuming fire.

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These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on Joshua 24:20". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/whe/joshua-24.html. 1874-1909.

Joseph Benson's Commentary of the Old and New Testaments

Joshua 24:20. He will turn and do you hurt — That is, he will alter his course, and the manner of his dealing with you, and will be as severe as ever he was kind and gracious. He will repent of his former kindnesses, and his goodness abused will be turned into fury.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Benson, Joseph. "Commentary on Joshua 24:20". Joseph Benson's Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/rbc/joshua-24.html. 1857.

George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

Turn, and alter his conduct in your regard, instead of being your protector, he will destroy you.

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Bibliographical Information
Haydock, George Leo. "Commentary on Joshua 24:20". "George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/hcc/joshua-24.html. 1859.

E.W. Bullinger's Companion Bible Notes

then. Compare Joshua 23:15.

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These files are public domain.
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Bibliographical Information
Bullinger, Ethelbert William. "Commentary on Joshua 24:20". "E.W. Bullinger's Companion bible Notes". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bul/joshua-24.html. 1909-1922.

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

If ye forsake the LORD, and serve strange gods, then he will turn and do you hurt, and consume you, after that he hath done you good.
he will turn
23:12-15; 1 Chronicles 28:9; 2 Chronicles 15:2; Ezra 8:22; Isaiah 1:28; 63:10; 65:11,12; Jeremiah 17:13; Ezekiel 18:24; Acts 7:42; Hebrews 10:26,27,38
Reciprocal: Genesis 35:2 - strange;  1 Samuel 12:14 - If ye will;  1 Samuel 12:15 - But if ye;  1 Samuel 12:25 - But if;  2 Chronicles 28:6 - because;  Jeremiah 1:16 - who have;  Jeremiah 25:6 - GeneralMatthew 6:24 - serve

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Torrey, R. A. "Commentary on Joshua 24:20". "The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tsk/joshua-24.html.