As Joshua approaches the end of his life, he gathers the leaders one last time to give his last words, before doing the same with the whole of Israel in ch24. He’s going to remind them of God’s promises that have been fulfilled and the ones yet to be claimed and urge them to stay on course, warning what will happen if they don’t.
You have seen v3
It’s always important to tell the stories of what God has done, not to harp back to the golden days, but to stoke the fires of faith for the future. Joshua reminds his leaders of the promises God has fulfilled that they have seen with their own eyes. God has fought for them and the land has been divided up for the 12 tribes. God will expel the pagans out of the land.
Urging them to stay on course v6-11
Joshua wants to see all the promises of God fully fulfilled, which will be dependent on the leaders guiding the people to stay on course. He commands them: Be strong, keep to the book, don’t turn to the left or right, don’t marry unbelievers, cling to God and most of all be careful to love the Lord your God.
He wants them to avoid complacency – it is so easy to rest on our laurels, or to get apathetic. It is easy to allow life to make us like the Laodecians of Rev. 3:14-22, neither hot or cold, but lukewarm. Just like this water, we would be neither refreshing like a drink of cool water, nor stimulating like a hot bath. It is easy to be lukewarm and good for nothing, other than to trigger a gag reflex in those acquainted with us. Be strong! Keep to the Bible!
He wants them to avoid compromise – Joshua was fearful that the Israelites would start to follow the gods of Canaan. Sadly what he feared, came upon them. Be careful not to follow the false gods of money, fame, sex! Don’t turn to the left or right! Don’t marry unbelievers!
He wants them to stay committed – Be very careful, therefore, to love the Lord your God!
If they don’t…
They will loose their position – God will no longer drive out the nations before them, and those nations will be a snare and a trap. As believers we can’t loose our salvation, but we can loose inheritance in the Kingdom – the crown, the well done good and faithful servant.
They will loose their power – they will no longer be victorious. Sin entangles, it opens doors for oppression. Submit to God, drawing close to Him, resist the devil and He will flee!
They will loose their peace – they will lose enjoyment of the good land.
They will perish in v13 and v16, they are warned that turning from God’s way will cause them to perish. The new covenant is so much more powerful than the old – if we believe we shall not perish but have eternal life (John 3:16), we are born again (John 3:3) – what the Lord begins in us He will carry onto completion (Phil 1:6). Coupled with those assurances are strong warnings not to loose our inheritance and enter the kingdom of God by the skin of our teeth (1 Cor 3:11-15)
We are a temple of the Holy Spirit – so live full of Him and stay the course!