Summary of the book of Joshua (Part 2)
Dear BPCWA worshipper, Let us continue on the final part of the highlight of some key lessons from the study of the book of Joshua. Last week, we looked at some lessons from the conquest phase of the children of Israel. Today we will visit some highlights of the phase of land divisions, and the farewell instructions of Joshua.
Accepting our lot in life. How the conquered land would be divided among the tribes after the victories was ordained by God. Lots were cast to show that they were not to choose for themselves, but that God will decide for them. They were not complaining or murmuring. Neither were envies and jealousies noted. They accepted their lot as God had planned for each tribe. Discontentment and comparison could have easily arisen, especially after many years of battling and yet not being able to choose where one would stay for the rest of one’s life. Are we like them? After years of struggling in our studies, jobs, and caring for the family, would you be disappointed, upset, and find it hard to accept what God unveils for your life? Would you feel that you have “wasted effort, time, and resources” if you were to submit to God’s plan and purpose if it is not what you were expecting? Will you rebel and reject His lot for you and your family in this life? It could also mean a permanent health issue or a certain loss that changes your life. Unless we learn to trust God – that what He chooses for us is always perfect for us to fulfil His purpose, we will buck against our lot in life. Joshua did not seek for the best and most prominent lot after having gone through so much in serving God. We must learn to be like Joshua – we are just unworthy servants who had the privilege to serve God. We must not demand that God give us what we want because we are serving Him or had served Him earlier.
Fight, if you want to be freed from temptations. By God’s Hand, the children of Israel were the dominant power over the land after 7 years of battle. Towards the end of his life, Joshua gathered the people and recounted to them how the LORD had fought for them and divided the land to them. Joshua chided them because after all these many years since, they still had not finished the task of removing the remnants of enemies. What the tribes had left undone was to thoroughly remove the remnant forces from their allocated areas. But the children of Israel had enjoyed their new-found prosperity, being rulers over others and their lives of ease, to the point that they were not interested in fighting anymore. God warned them that if they did not practice Biblical separation but instead mingled with the unbelievers, trust in their ways and serve their gods, and if they made marriages with them, then “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” (Josh 23:13). Sadly, the people did not take heed. The lesson for us today is that if we too fail to thoroughly remove negative influences of our lives, build close friendships with the world, compromise, and trust in the ways of the world, then these will surely become temptations to us, ensnare us, and trap us eventually. Unequal yoke in marriage with unbelievers is constantly a prohibition from God because it will lead us to fail in our purpose on earth. To marry an unbeliever is really telling God that you are not interested in living out your covenantal purpose because families are for His purpose too.
Make your life count. Joshua told them that if they lived for God’s purpose and relied on Him, then “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” (Josh 23:10)! You can make your life count for God and eternity. It is your choice. God is ready and willing to use you to fulfil His purposes. But will you love God enough to want to make your life count for His kingdom? Joshua adjured them, “Take good heed therefore unto yourselves, that ye love the LORD your God” (Josh 23:11). It is a personal choice that must come from within you. Joshua’s life truly counted for God’s kingdom. What he lived for was simply to do God’s will and bring God glory. Joshua surely went to heaven with no regrets. Life is short. You have only one shot at it. Make it count. “Only one life, ’twill soon be past, Only what’s done for Christ will last.”
What is your real choice? God gathered the people and Joshua led them to renew the covenant with God. It was the record of his last duty for God. Despite his age, he remained highly passionate about the need to fulfil his living in covenant with his God. Joshua recounted again God’s faithfulness in fulfilling His promises. He urged them therefore to live in covenant with God. What does it mean to live in covenant with God? The answer is found in Joshua’s summary, “Now therefore fear the LORD, and serve him in sincerity and in truth: and put away the gods which your fathers served on the other side of the flood, and in Egypt; and serve ye the LORD” (Josh 24:14). Are you living in covenant with God? At this point, Joshua made clear his own choice for himself and his own family, “And if it seem 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 ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD” (Josh 24:15). As God’s child, choosing to serve the LORD is not in effect a choice because the other choices are to serve Satan’s purposes. Christ repeated it in the New Testament, “No man 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 . . .” (Matt 6:24). Joshua was not giving them a choice per se, but highlighting to them the folly of not choosing to serve God. He and his family would make the logical choice. Individuals, how would you choose? Heads of homes, what would you choose? When you choose not to serve the living God, your real choice is really being a slave to the world.
What will be your legacy? There was no mention of a grand funeral for Joshua when he died at 110 years old. But God called Joshua the son of Nun, “the servant of the LORD”. That is the grandest commendation from the King of the universe. It is a privilege to serve the Almighty God. God further recorded for us His servant’s influence on the nation of Israel, “And Israel served the LORD all the days of Joshua . . .” (Josh 24:31). This was Joshua’s legacy. What would God say about you when you meet Him? What impact would your life have made on the church, your family, and those around you? No titles or commendations of earthly achievements for self and the world will last into eternity. So what if you are the best in your area of profession and well known for your contributions? It may not be evil or sinful work, but will you have these at the cost of fulfilling your covenantal purpose on earth for which God planned for you? You may impact the lives of unbelievers in the secular realm, but leave your own children no spiritual legacy. Will your life count for God? Will your life be one that caused others to follow hard after God? Death is sure and will come. What is not sure yet is your spiritual legacy. The latter depends on what you chose from now, “And if it seem evil unto you to serve the LORD, choose you this day whom ye will serve . . .” (Josh 24:15).
I hope that by summarising some highlights of the book of Joshua, it has stirred memories of lessons learnt but not practiced sufficiently yet, thus encouraging each of us to renew our covenant with God, to fear, love, and serve Him all the days of our lives. It is not by chance that the book of Joshua closes with a renewal of their vows to be consecrated to the LORD. As we recap the book of Joshua, let that be more than a faint memory. May the desire to live in covenant with God continue to linger in our minds and hearts for the rest of our lives. Choose you this day . . . while it is yet day, and while you can still choose.
Yours in our Lord’s service,