Joshua 11:16-23 – the statement that the Israelites had rest from war makes you think that the job might be over. But it’s not. Just because the initial battles had been won, and God’s promises had started to be fulfilled, did not mean that the job was done.
Joshua 13:1, 18:1-3 – why were they not taking possession of the land God had given them?
Significant parallels to our Christian walks. There is a tension between the promises of what God has given us and what our day-to-day experience is.
Joshua 17:12-18 – Manasseh did not take possession of the land
Q: What are areas of challenge that can sometimes seem overwhelming to us?
Q: What might make a person want to give up?
- Fear of failure
- Fear of pain
- Being satisfied with the basically good things we have now
The real danger: personal peace and affluence. (Fernando quote)
Q: Why might personal peace and affluence be dangerous to us spiritually?
Q: What do you notice about Caleb in this passage?
There’s no point at which we can start to coast
- Once I become a Christian
- Once I move into the ministry house
- Once I get a girlfriend/boyfriend or get married
- Once I start meeting with someone to mentor them
- Once I become a leader
There’s no point at which I can give up the fight. Transition points can be points of spiritual danger.
Joshua 22 – summarize
Joshua 23 – talk to the leaders. Recounts the history of the Israelite nation.
- Joshua 23:14
Joshua 24 – talk to everyone. Read v2-13
- The reminder
- Q: What are some of the points you see Joshua making here?
- He’s starting not with what they need to do, but with what God has done.
- It’s all about what God has given them.
- Q: What are some of the good things God has given us?
- Q: What are some of the points you see Joshua making here?
- The call v14-15
- Q: What do you think he means by “serve the Lord”?
- The response
- V16-21 – Count the cost!
- 2nd decision (Heb 12:1, Rom 12:1-2)
- V22-26 – take personal responsibility for your decision
This life is hard; in some ways it’s harder than the life you will have if you don’t follow God wholeheartedly. But it’s worth it. Some of you need to allow God to discipline you. Some of you need to make the 2nd decision. Some of you need to respond to Christ’s initial offer. Whatever it is, know that throwing in fully with God is worth it because he is true and good.
We are at a high point in the nation of Israel’s history
- They are successfully claiming the land that God has been trying to give them, to live in and to rest in
- We read last week that the land has a rest from war, which might lead us to think that the job is over, but it is not: the initial battles have been won but there is a long way to go
- MAIN POINT
- Parallels to our Chrisian lives
- It’s really hard to fight to keep things good, especially when things start to go downhill. Let’s do it anyways.
13:1 When Joshua was an old man, the Lord said to him, “You are growing old, and much land remains to be conquered.
- Repeated over and over again
- Tribe of ____ was not able to drive out the occupants of the land, so they lived in the land together
There is a really daunting task in front of the Israelites
- Something that is really difficult and will take a long time
- Sometimes it’s just easier to let it go
- Especially when we are in a comfortable spot where we can get by
In case we start to think that all hope is lost…. don’t despair. There is Caleb in chapter 14
14:6 A delegation from the tribe of Judah, led by Caleb son of Jephunneh the Kenizzite, came to Joshua at Gilgal. Caleb said to Joshua, “Remember what theLord said to Moses, the man of God, about you and me when we were at Kadesh-barnea. 7 I was forty years old when Moses, the servant of the Lord, sent me from Kadesh-barnea to explore the land of Canaan. I returned and gave an honest report, 8 but my brothers who went with me frightened the people from entering the Promised Land. For my part, I wholeheartedly followed the Lord my God. 9 So that day Moses solemnly promised me, ‘The land of Canaan on which you were just walking will be your grant of land and that of your descendants forever, because you wholeheartedly followed the Lord my God.’
10 “Now, as you can see, the Lord has kept me alive and well as he promised for all these forty-five years since Moses made this promise—even while Israel wandered in the wilderness. Today I am eighty-five years old. 11 I am as strong now as I was when Moses sent me on that journey, and I can still travel and fight as well as I could then. 12 So give me the hill country that the Lord promised me. You will remember that as scouts we found the descendants of Anak living there in great, walled towns. But if the Lord is with me, I will drive them out of the land, just as the Lord said.”
DQ: What do you notice about Caleb in this passage?
Caleb is old and has been around the block a few times
- He did not result to will power but knew the Lord’s promises
- He fought his whole life, be he is HAPPY
- We see a lot of the people at the end of their lives who are unhappy or even bitter–Caleb is not like that here
- Most people don’t end up like this at the end of their lives….even with Christians
DQ: What are areas of challenge that can seem really overwhelming to us?
DQ: What might make us want to give up?
NO POINT AT WHICH WE CAN START TO COAST
- Once I become a Christian
- Once I lead someone into a relationship with God
- Once I date or get married
- Once I become a leader
- Once I have other responsibilities
- There is always a fight
And if we look at Caleb… we see that it is more fulfilling and brings more joy to keep pushing yourself and not settling for where you are.
There is this tension that is coming up between the fact that following God can be daunting and overwhleming and there are all kinds of reasons to give up
At the same time there is a call to never let up
Joshua senses this tension
- God has come to him and reminded him that there is still work to be done and all around him people are throwing in the towel
So he calls a gathering… first the leaders
23 The years passed, and the Lord had given the people of Israel rest from all their enemies. Joshua, who was now very old, 2 called together all the elders, leaders, judges, and officers of Israel. He said to them, “I am now a very old man. 3 You have seen everything the Lord your God has done for you during my lifetime. The Lord your God has fought for you against your enemies. 4 I have allotted to you as your homeland all the land of the nations yet unconquered, as well as the land of those we have already conquered—from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea[al] in the west. 5 This land will be yours, for the Lord your God will himself drive out all the people living there now. You will take possession of their land, just as the Lord your God promised you.
- The vision that was promised them for what their future could look like is still a reality
- It seems like their leaders might have lost sight of that
6 “So be very careful to follow everything Moses wrote in the Book of Instruction. Do not deviate from it, turning either to the right or to the left. 7 Make sure you do not associate with the other people still remaining in the land. Do not even mention the names of their gods, much less swear by them or serve them or worship them. 8 Rather, cling tightly to the Lord your God as you have done until now. 9 “For the Lord has driven out great and powerful nations for you, and no one has yet been able to defeat you. 10 Each one of you will put to flight a thousand of the enemy, for the Lord your God fights for you, just as he has promised.11 So be very careful to love the Lord your God.12 “But if you turn away from him and cling to the customs of the survivors of these nations remaining among you, and if you intermarry with them, 13 then know for certain that the Lord your God will no longer drive them out of your land. Instead, they will be a snare and a trap to you, a whip for your backs and thorny brambles in your eyes, and you will vanish from this good land the Lordyour God has given you.
- Reminds them that there is danger is giving up
- Danger that they will wander away from God, as it looks like they are already starting to
- Danger that their lives will be miserable
- Reminds them that hope is real based on God’s past actions
14 “Soon I will die, going the way of everything on earth. Deep in your hearts you know that every promise of the Lord your God has come true. Not a single one has failed!
- Yes you should be careful to continue with the Lord
- And why?
- Because deep down you know that God has never lied or gone back on his word
- And he has said that life with him is good and abundant
- So even when we are upset, intimidated, or ready to give up… deep in the back of our minds we KNOW that the failure is not on God’s end…
- How much more now with Christ… the ultimate promise has been fulfilled
Then Joshua moves to talk to everyone and proceeds to recount their history to them
2 Joshua said to the people, “This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: Long ago your ancestors, including Terah, the father of Abraham and Nahor, lived beyond the Euphrates River, and they worshiped other gods. 3 But I took your ancestor Abraham from the land beyond the Euphrates and led him into the land of Canaan. I gave him many descendants through his son Isaac. 4 To Isaac I gave Jacob and Esau. To Esau I gave the mountains of Seir, while Jacob and his children went down into Egypt.
5 “Then I sent Moses and Aaron, and I brought terrible plagues on Egypt; and afterward I brought you out as a free people. 6 But when your ancestors arrived at the Red Sea, the Egyptians chased after you with chariots and charioteers.7 When your ancestors cried out to the Lord, I put darkness between you and the Egyptians. I brought the sea crashing down on the Egyptians, drowning them. With your very own eyes you saw what I did. Then you lived in the wilderness for many years.
8 “Finally, I brought you into the land of the Amorites on the east side of the Jordan. They fought against you, but I destroyed them before you. I gave you victory over them, and you took possession of their land. 9 Then Balak son of Zippor, king of Moab, started a war against Israel. He summoned Balaam son of Beor to curse you, 10 but I would not listen to him. Instead, I made Balaam bless you, and so I rescued you from Balak.
11 “When you crossed the Jordan River and came to Jericho, the men of Jericho fought against you, as did the Amorites, the Perizzites, the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Girgashites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites. But I gave you victory over them. 12 And I sent terror ahead of you to drive out the two kings of the Amorites. It was not your swords or bows that brought you victory. 13 I gave you land you had not worked on, and I gave you towns you did not build—the towns where you are now living. I gave you vineyards and olive groves for food, though you did not plant them.
- Even in the position that the Israelites are in, the thing that Joshua starts with when he addresses the people is what God has already done for them
- Which is always what it has been like
- We can’t begin to serve God, or follow him, or change our lives if he hadn’t first done something
- It is first and foremost about what has been done for us.
- AND WE HAVE TO TAKE IT
DQ: What are some of the good things that God has given us?
After laying out all the ways that God has been good to them, and given them so many things he makes a call for a decision–
14 “So fear the Lord and serve him wholeheartedly. Put away forever the idols your ancestors worshiped when they lived beyond the Euphrates River and in Egypt. Serve the Lord alone. 15 But if you refuse to serve the Lord, then choose today whom you will serve. Would you prefer the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates? Or will it be the gods of the Amorites in whose land you now live? But as for me and my family, we will serve the Lord.”
DQ: What do you think that he means by “serve the Lord”? What does that entail?
16 The people replied, “We would never abandon the Lord and serve other gods.17 For the Lord our God is the one who rescued us and our ancestors from slavery in the land of Egypt. He performed mighty miracles before our very eyes. As we traveled through the wilderness among our enemies, he preserved us. 18 It was the Lord who drove out the Amorites and the other nations living here in the land. So we, too, will serve the Lord, for he alone is our God.”
19 Then Joshua warned the people, “You are not able to serve the Lord, for he is a holy and jealous God. He will not forgive your rebellion and your sins. 20 If you abandon the Lord and serve other gods, he will turn against you and destroy you, even though he has been so good to you.”
21 But the people answered Joshua, “No, we will serve the Lord!”
- This illustrates that there are two decisions that we make
- The first: To come into a relationship with God and actually accept what he has done for us for ourselves
- The second: To offer our lives to him
- To make him our first priority
- To follow his lead by giving up our lives for other people
- Which while full of incredible blessings, can also be really difficult
- Living in reality
- One of the worst things we can do to ourselves is to pretend that this isn’t hard
DQ: What are some reasons we have a hard time admiting that we are having a hard time?
DON’T FORGET ABOUT SATAN, PEOPLE!
DQ: What benefits come with admitting that things are difficult or that we ourselves are having a hard time?
DQ: How do we both acknowledge difficult circumstances but maintain hope?
***I cut these last two questions for the sake of time
- Some of us need to take God up on his offer to forgive us and be the one that takes care of us
- Some of us need to decide to live our lives with God at the center
- Some of us need to admit that this is really hard, and experience comfort from God
- And some of us need to regain the vision for what this life can be like so that we can persevere
- And some of us need to commit to being an encouragement to those around us who are in the midst of times that are difficult (we aren’t all having a hard time at the same time)
That’s what Joshua wants to leave the Israelites with before he dies
- Like Moses before him, he exorts the people to remain faithful to a good God who has always had their back
- Next week we start Judges, which you really won’t want to miss.