Then Joshua assembled all the tribes of Israel at Shechem. He summoned the elders, leaders, judges and officials of Israel, and they presented themselves before God.
2 Joshua said to all 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 worshiped other gods. 3 But I took your father Abraham from the land beyond the Euphrates and led him throughout Canaan and gave him many descendants. I gave him Isaac, 4 and to Isaac I gave Jacob and Esau. I assigned the hill country of Seir to Esau, but Jacob and his family went down to Egypt.
5 “‘Then I sent Moses and Aaron, and I afflicted the Egyptians by what I did there, and I brought you out. 6 When I brought your people out of Egypt, you came to the sea, and the Egyptians pursued them with chariots and horsemen as far as the Red Sea. 7 But they cried to the Lord for help, and he put darkness between you and the Egyptians; he brought the sea over them and covered them. You saw with your own eyes what I did to the Egyptians. Then you lived in the wilderness for a long time.
8 “‘I brought you to the land of the Amorites who lived east of the Jordan. They fought against you, but I gave them into your hands. I destroyed them from before you, and you took possession of their land. 9 When Balak son of Zippor, the king of Moab, prepared to fight against Israel, he sent for Balaam son of Beor to put a curse on you. 10 But I would not listen to Balaam, so he blessed you again and again, and I delivered you out of his hand.
11 “‘Then you crossed the Jordan and came to Jericho. The citizens of Jericho fought against you, as did also the Amorites, Perizzites, Canaanites, Hittites, Girgashites, Hivites and Jebusites, but I gave them into your hands. 12 I sent the hornet ahead of you, which drove them out before you—also the two Amorite kings. You did not do it with your own sword and bow. 13 So I gave you a land on which you did not toil and cities you did not build; and you live in them and eat from vineyards and olive groves that you did not plant.’
14 “Now fear the Lord and serve him with all faithfulness. Throw away the gods your ancestors worshiped beyond the Euphrates River and in Egypt, and serve the Lord. 15 But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.”
16 Then the people answered, “Far be it from us to forsake the Lord to serve other gods! 17 It was the Lord our God himself who brought us and our parents up out of Egypt, from that land of slavery, and performed those great signs before our eyes. He protected us on our entire journey and among all the nations through which we traveled. 18 And the Lord drove out before us all the nations, including the Amorites, who lived in the land. We too will serve the Lord, because he is our God.”
19 Joshua said to the people, “You are not able to serve the Lord. He is a holy God; he is a jealous God. He will not forgive your rebellion and your sins. 20 If you forsake the Lord and serve foreign gods, he will turn and bring disaster on you and make an end of you, after he has been good to you.”
21 But the people said to Joshua, “No! We will serve the Lord.”
22 Then Joshua said, “You are witnesses against yourselves that you have chosen to serve the Lord.”
“Yes, we are witnesses,” they replied.
23 “Now then,” said Joshua, “throw away the foreign gods that are among you and yield your hearts to the Lord, the God of Israel.”
24 And the people said to Joshua, “We will serve the Lord our God and obey him.”
25 On that day Joshua made a covenant for the people, and there at Shechem he reaffirmed for them decrees and laws. 26 And Joshua recorded these things in the Book of the Law of God. Then he took a large stone and set it up there under the oak near the holy place of the Lord.
27 “See!” he said to all the people. “This stone will be a witness against us. It has heard all the words the Lord has said to us. It will be a witness against you if you are untrue to your God.”
28 Then Joshua dismissed the people, each to their own inheritance.
Buried in the Promised Land
29 After these things, Joshua son of Nun, the servant of the Lord, died at the age of a hundred and ten. 30 And they buried him in the land of his inheritance, at Timnath Serah in the hill country of Ephraim, north of Mount Gaash.
31 Israel served the Lord throughout the lifetime of Joshua and of the elders who outlived him and who had experienced everything the Lord had done for Israel.
32 And Joseph’s bones, which the Israelites had brought up from Egypt, were buried at Shechem in the tract of land that Jacob bought for a hundred pieces of silver from the sons of Hamor, the father of Shechem. This became the inheritance of Joseph’s descendants.
33 And Eleazar son of Aaron died and was buried at Gibeah, which had been allotted to his son Phinehas in the hill country of Ephraim.
Before the people are sent off, each to their own inheritance, they all gather at Shechem for a final address from Joshua. Shechem was the place where Abraham built his first altar to God in Genesis 12, and where Jacob (Israel) had bought land during his return to his father Isaac in Genesis 33. This place had great meaning for the Israelites, almost like a place of new beginnings.
Joshua gives the people a message directly from God. The Lord recounts all that He has done for this family, and that He was the one who made all of this possible. God was the one who called Abraham. God led Abraham to the land his descendants would one day inherit. God instructed which land belonged to Esau and which to Jacob. God brought the Israelites to Egypt, and then back out again. Everything that happened was because it was God’s will.
Joshua draws a line in the sand, “choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve… But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.” The people ardently respond that they, too, desire to serve God, and God alone. After their proclamation of faith, Joshua sets up a stone, right next to Abraham’s first altar to the Lord, as a witness to their confession to follow God. Joshua is already aware of the fate that awaits the Israelites, being foretold by God in Deuteronomy 31. He knows that they will turn from the one true God to worship idols and false gods. This is a moment he hopes to mark in their memories as a covenant between them and the Lord.
After the reading of the laws given to Moses by God, each person is dismissed. The book closes with Joshua and Eleazar’s deaths and burials, and an ominous passage: “31 Israel served the Lord throughout the lifetime of Joshua and of the elders who outlived him and who had experienced everything the Lord had done for Israel.” And then???
- Is there a promise or principle to remember?
God directs our paths. He is the one who calls us, and He is the one who authors our faith. “Let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, 2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith.” – Hebrews 12:2
- Is there an example to follow or a command to obey?
As in other parts of the book of Joshua, the people of God are commanded to remain steadfast in God’s laws, commands, and word. It is only by study that we will come to understand the will of God, and how to live for Him.
- Are there attitudes that needed changing, or an error to avoid?
It is one thing to say with your mouth that you will follow God. It is quite another to believe it in your heart. In the book of Romans we are given instruction as to how to be secure in Christ. Let us take precaution and warning from these passages in Joshua about the Israelites confessing their alliance with God, for we will soon see that they turn from Him because their hearts were not settled in their confession.
“9 If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved. 11 As Scripture says, “Anyone who believes in him will never be put to shame.” 12 For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile—the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him, 13 for, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.
14 How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? 15 And how can anyone preach unless they are sent? As it is written: “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!”
16 But not all the Israelites accepted the good news.” – Romans 10
- Is there a sin being revealed?
In whom do you give credit when something is accomplished? Psalm 139 tells us that God has ordained all of our days. He places us right where we need to be to move forward in the plans He has for us. It is in Him that we should place our pride. It is by His grace and mercy towards us that we are called His children.
- Does this make you want to pray for someone or yourself?
O Lord, God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; hear my cry for help. I desire to please you, and you alone. I desire for others to be witness of your glory, and for them to know you as I do. Make my life a living sacrifice for you. Make me see the truth that it is only in you that I should store up my treasure.