Joshua 23 Joshua’s Farewell

After a long time had passed and the Lord had given Israel rest from all their enemies around them, Joshua, by then a very old man, summoned all Israel—their elders, leaders, judges and officials—and said to them: “I am very old. You yourselves have seen everything the Lord your God has done to all these nations for your sake; it was the Lord your God who fought for you. Remember how I have allotted as an inheritance for your tribes all the land of the nations that remain—the nations I conquered—between the Jordan and the Mediterranean Sea in the west. The Lord your God himself will push them out for your sake. He will drive them out before you, and you will take possession of their land, as the Lord your God promised you.

“Be very strong; be careful to obey all that is written in the Book of the Law of Moses, without turning aside to the right or to the left. Do not associate with these nations that remain among you; do not invoke the names of their gods or swear by them. You must not serve them or bow down to them. But you are to hold fast to the Lord your God, as you have until now.

“The Lord has driven out before you great and powerful nations; to this day no one has been able to withstand you. 10 One of you routs a thousand, because the Lord your God fights for you, just as he promised. 11 So be very careful to love the Lord your God.

12 “But if you turn away and ally yourselves with the survivors of these nations that remain among you and if you intermarry with them and associate with them, 13 then you may be sure that the Lord your God will no longer drive out these nations before you. Instead, they will become snares and traps for you, whips on your backs and thorns in your eyes, until you perish from this good land, which the Lord your God has given you.

14 “Now I am about to go the way of all the earth. You know with all your heart and soul that not one of all the good promises the Lord your God gave you has failed. Every promise has been fulfilled; not one has failed. 15 But just as all the good things the Lord your God has promised you have come to you, so he will bring on you all the evil things he has threatened, until the Lord your God has destroyed you from this good land he has given you. 16 If you violate the covenant of the Lord your God, which he commanded you, and go and serve other gods and bow down to them, the Lord’s anger will burn against you, and you will quickly perish from the good land he has given you.”


Joshua now addresses the leaders of the families in each tribe.  He knows that the mission God gave him has been completed, and that each of Israel’s tribes will go on their way to their lands.  He recalls the great things that have happened, giving the glory to God, who was their real leader.  He reminds the people that even though he will no longer be leading, God will still be with them as long as they look to Him.

Joshua gives them the very words that God gave him at the beginning of this conquest: “Be very strong; be careful to obey all that is written in the Book of the Law of Moses, without turning aside to the right or to the left.”  The Israelites move forward now as a nation in their own land.  Although the land that they inherit is given by God, some of the inhabitants (and the inhabitants customs) remain.  Joshua warns them that if they do not live separate lives from the Canaanite people, they will reap God’s wrath.

  • Is there a promise or principle to remember?

God will deliver wrath upon those who serve other gods.  You might ask: Why does it say other gods when we know there is only one?  Anything that you spend more time doing/thinking about/working on/loving than God becomes the thing you worship; in essence that is your god.

  • Is there an example to follow or a command to obey?

The best command to sum up this passage is the first commandment given by God to Moses and written on tablets of stone: “You shall have no other god’s besides me.” – Deut. 5:7

  • Are there attitudes that needed changing, or an error to avoid?

As chosen people of God, we too, are called to be separated from those that do not follow Christ.  This does not mean that we are to snub our noses, or pretend like they don’t exist.  As Christ loved, so shall we love.  “Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.” – Ephesians 5:1-2.  We should be available to those who do not know our God, but we should not do the things they do.  We are set apart, spiritually and socially.  “For you have spent enough time in the past doing what pagans choose to do—living in debauchery, lust, drunkenness, orgies, carousing and detestable idolatry.” – 1 Peter 4:3

  • Is there a sin being revealed?

What do you put your time and effort into?  God knows you need a job, but the job is not what should make you whole.  Christ is what makes us whole, and He is who gives us life, and life more abundant.  This life gives us opportunity to meet Him, love Him, and follow Him.  We can still work all day and not be defined by it.  So what defines you?  What/who is your god?

  • Does this make you want to pray for someone or yourself?

Oh Lord, I pray that the work you have set before me does not become more than what I need to survive.  I pray that what you have given me is what pushes me to see that you are all I need.  Help me to put you first in all that I do.  Make me a person that others can see is defined by my love for you.

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