JOSHUA - Chapters 21-24 - Be Courageous Print E-mail

JOSHUA – CHAPTERS 21-24 – Be Courageous

Tuesday Morning Bible Study

October 4, 2016, the Year of Our Lord

Pastor Carolyn Sissom


Joshua assembled all Israel to review the goodness and faithfulness of the Lord, and to exhort the nation to obedience to the Mosaic Law.  Josh. 24:6: “Be very courageous to keep and to do all that is written in the book of the law of Moses, that you turn not aside there from the right hand or to the left.” 


Joshua 24:31: “ And Israel served the LORD all the days of Joshua, ad all the days of the elders that out lived Joshua, and which had known all the works of the LORD, that he had done for Israel.”


In Chapter 21:41-42 – Israel gave cities to the Priests out of their portion.


21:41: “All the cities of the Levites within the possession of the children of Israel were 48 cities with their suburbs.”


The Kohathites were given 13 cities.  Kohath was the second son of Levi.

The Gersonites were given 13 cities.  Gershen was the first born son of Levi.

The Merarites were given 12 cities.  Merar was the third son of Levi.


The priest-cities were distributed to exert an influence for pure worship against idolatry.


21:43-45: “The Lord gave to Israel all the land which He swore to give to their fathers; and there stood not a man of all their enemies before them; the Lord delivered all their enemies into their hand.  There failed nothing of any good thing which the Lord had spoken to the house of Israel; all came to pass.


In chapter 22:2: “Joshua called the tribes of Ruben, Gad and the half tribe of Manasseh (on the east) and said to them:  You have kept all that Moses the servant of the Lord commanded you, and have obeyed my voice in all that I commanded you:  You have not left your brethren these many days to this day, but have kept the charge of the commandment of the Lord your God.  Now the Lord your God has given rest to your brethren, as he promised them; therefore now return, get your tents, and lie in the land of your possession, which Moses the servant of the Lord gave you on the other side of Jordan, but take diligent heed to do the commandments and the law, which Moses, the servant of the Lord charged you, to love the Lord your God, and to walk in all His ways, and to keep his commandments, and to cling to Him, and to serve Him with all your heart and with all your soul.  Joshua blessed them, sent them away; and they went to their tents.  Return with much riches in your tents, and with very much cattle, and with silver, gold, brass, iron, and raiment.  Divide the spoils of your enemies with your brethren.”


The distribution of the land was from Shiloh.  The 2-1/2 tribes left Shiloh and returned to Gilead, to the land of their possession.  When they came to the border of the Jordan in the land of Canaan, they built an altar on the river.  This violated the Law of Leviticus 17: 8-9: “…Whatever man of the house of Israel, or of the strangers who dwell among you, who offers a burnt offering or sacrifice, and does not bring it to the door of the tabernacle of meeting, to offer it to the LORD, that man shall be cut off from among his people.”


The other tribes began to gather at Shiloh to make war against the 2-/12 tribes.   The law of the central and only sanctuary had been violated.  A delegation headed by Phineas (son of Eleazar) was sent to examine these matters, and to warn the 2-/12 tribes.  The controversy was settled: the Altar was a memorial (witness) and not a real Altar.


Joshua 22:24-26: “ We did it for fear that in time to come your descendants may speak to our descendants, saying, ‘what have you to do with the LORD God of Israel? The LORD has made the Jordan a border between us.  If your descendants say we have no part in the Lord, they would make our descendants to cease from fearing the Lord.  We built an altar, not for burnt offering or sacrifice, but for a witness between you and us and our generations after us, that we may perform the service of the LORD before Him…It is a witness between you us and you.’”


This pleased the children of Israel and they did not go up against them in battle.


Joshua 22:34 “The children of Reuben and the children of Gad called the altar Ed: for it shall be a witness between us that the LORD is God.


I did some research on the altar of Ed, but didn’t find anything of substance except what we know in these passages.


Chapter 23 is a beautiful passage of Holy Scripture of the faithfulness of God to the Faithful.  It takes place eight years after the conquest of the land (and the allotments to the various tribes).  The enemy was cut off and subdued, but not expelled.  The Word that sustained Joshua is now given.


In all the LORD calls us to do, He will give us His WORD, that WORD will sustain us in all our battles.  It is a sure thing the LORD will always send us into enemy territory to take Kingdom.  It is a sure thing; there will always be a battle.


23: 1-6: “It came to pass a long time after that the Lord had given rest to Israel from all their enemies round about, that Joshua waxed old and stricken in age.  Joshua called for all Israel:  their elders, their heads, judges, and officers.  He said to them, I am old and stricken in age. You have seen all that the Lord your God has done to all these nations because of you; for the Lord your God is He that has fought for you.  Behold, I have divided to you by lot these nations that remain, to be an inheritance for your tribes, from Jordan, with all the nations that I have cut off, even to the Great Sea westward.  The Lord your God, He shall expel them from before you, and drive them from out of your sight; and you shall possess their land, as the Lord your God has promised to you.  Be very courageous to keep and do all that is written in the book of the Law of Moses, that you turn not aside there form the right hand or to the left.”


Every blessing implies the peril of greater condemnation.  If a man is blessed in the Spirit, he must walk in the Spirit.  God means all that he says.  He has said it in love to save us.


Joshua 23: 7-10: “And less you go among these nations, who remain among you, you shall not make mention of the name of their gods, nor cause anyone to swear by them; you shall not serve, them, nor bow down to them.  You shall hold fast to the Lord your God, as you have done to this day.  For the Lord has driven out from before you great and strong nations.  As for you, no one has been able to stand against you to this day. One man of you shall chase a thousand, for the LORD your God is He who fights for you, as He promised you.  Therefore take careful heed to yourselves, that you love the LORD your God.”


Failure to keep clear of idolatrous unions with the heathen would spell ruin.  They are not to mention, covenant, serve or bow to heathen gods.  God had kept his Word.  One man of you shall chase 1,000.


This is the promise of the LORD to children of Israel through the Song of Moses in Deut. 32:30: “How should one chase a thousand, and two put ten thousand to flight, except their Rock had sold them, and the LORD had shut them up?


This is the WORD and promise of the LORD to the faithful who courageously and faithfully perform His Kingdom work in season.   


Joshua 23: 12-14: “Or else, if indeed you do go back, and cling to the remnant of these nations---these that remain among you---and make marriages with them, and go in to them and they to you, know for certain that the LORD your God will no longer drive out these nations from before you.  But they shall be snares and traps to you, and scourges on your sides, and thorns in your eyes, until you perish from this good land which the LORD you God has given you.  Behold this day I am going the way of all the earth.  And you in all your hearts and in all your souls that not one thing has failed of all the good things which the LORD your God spoke concerning you.  All have come to pass for you; not one word of them has failed.”


The way of all the earth is death.  That is a beautiful way to describe our short journey on earth.  We also know that through our Savior, we have eternal life.


23;15: “Therefore it shall come to pass, that as all the good things have come upon you which the LORD you God promised you, so the LORD will bring upon you all harmful things, until he has destroyed you from this good land which the LORD your God has given you.  When you have transgressed the covenant of the LORD your God, which He commanded you, and have gone and served other gods, and bowed down to them, then the anger of the LORD will burn against you, and you shall perish quickly from the good land when He has given you.”


This promise also goes for the United States of America and every nation which has come into covenant with the LORD.


In chapter 24, Joshua rehearsed at Shechem to all Israel the review of the Lord’s dealings from Abraham to the conquest as a basis for the challenge to serve the LORD only.  Joshua in turn indicated his own irrevocable choice.  Israel accepted Joshua’s challenge, and then asserted her loyalty to the LORD and the Covenant.  The generation which conquered the land now subscribed to the Covenant at Shechem, between Ebal and Gerizim in the heart of Canaan.  Today this is Nablus in the West Bank.


It is the place of Jacob’s well, Joshua’s tomb, and the meeting of Jesus with the Samarian woman at the well.  This is the place we were sent when we made our trip to Israel.  It was at Shechem that Abraham received the first promise from God after entering Canaan.  It was here that Jacob cleansed and purified his house from idols.


There are three geographic points in the ministry of Joshua:


1.  Gilgal -     The military headquarters of the invasion.

2.  Shiloh -     The religious center of the people.

3.  Shechem –The political cradle of the nation.


24: 2-13:  Joshua said to all the people, thus says the LORD God of Israel:


Your father dwelled on the other side of the flood in old time, even Terah, the father of Abraham, and the father of Nachor; and they served other gods.  I took your father, Abraham from the other side of the flood, and led him throughout all the land of Canaan, and multiplied his seed, and gave him Isaac.  I gave to Isaac Jacob and Esau.  I gave to Esau mount Seir to possess it; but Jacob and his children went down into Egypt.  I sent Moses also and Aaron.  I plagued Egypt, according to that which I did among them.  Afterward I brought you out.  I brought your fathers out of Egypt; and you came to the sea.  The Egyptians pursued after your fathers with chariots and horsemen to the Red Sea. When they cried to the Lord, he put darkness between you and the Egyptians, and brought the sea upon them; and covered them; and your eyes have seen what I have done in Egypt; and you dwelled in the wilderness a long season.  I brought you into the land of the Amorites, which dwelt on the other side of Jordan.  They fought with you.  I gave them into your hand, that you might possess their land.  I destroyed them from before you.  Then Balak, the son of Zippor, king of Moab, arose and warred against Israel.  He sent and called Balaam, the son of Beor to curse you.  I would not hearken to Balaam.  Therefore he blessed you still; so I delivered you out of his hand.  (Bad ministry cannot hurt you if God has blessed you.)


  You went over Jordan, and came to Jericho.  The men of Jericho fought against you, the Amorites, Perizzites, Canaanites, Hittites, Girgashites, Hivites, and Jebusites.  I delivered them into your hand.  I sent the hornet before you which drove then out from before you, even the two kings of the Amorites; but not with your sword, nor with your bow.


The hornet fighting for Israel was included in the covenant the Lord made with Israel through Moses:  Due. 7:20:  The Lord your God will send the hornet among them, until they are left and hide themselves from you, and are destroyed.”


(After reading this scripture, I prayed for the Lord to release his hornets in the United States to drive out the Amorites, Perizzites, Canaanites, Hittites, Girgashites, Hivites, and Jebusites---The Holy Spirit moved in power on the prayer.)


  I have given you a land for which you did not labor, and cities which you did not build.  You dwell in them with vineyards and olive yards which you did not plant, you do now eat.”


This is abundant grace.  We are meeting in a mansion which we did not build.  We live on oak covered streets which we did not plant.  We have beautiful neighborhoods covered with lush yards, beautiful side walks and streets. 


24:14-15: “Therefore fear the Lord, and serve Him in sincerity and in truth.  Put away the gods which your fathers served on the other side of the flood, and in Egypt; and serve the Lord.  If it seem evil to you to serve the Lord, choose you this day whom you 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 you dwell; but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”


Here is a God who can achieve His Word, who stands by his purpose in the long haul, and who cares about his people.  For all of these reasons, they can have confidence in a future with him.  Yet there is more, having done so much, God their creator, commands them now to serve the purpose though they cannot yet see where it is leading---to Jesus Christ.



Israel accepted Joshua’s challenge, and then asserted her loyalty to the Lord and the Covenant.  The generation which conquered the land now subscribed to the Covenant at Shechem.  Joshua outlined the conditions of serving the Lord and set up memorials.


24: 16-18 “The people answered and said, God forbid that we should forsake the Lord, to serve other gods; For the Lord our God, He it is that brought us up and our fathers out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage, and which did those great signs in our sight, and preserved us in all the way wherein we went, and among all the people through whom we passed:  the Lord drove out from before us all the people, even the Amorites which dwelt in the land; therefore will we also serve the Lord; for He is our God.”


There can be no doubt of the reasonable answer.  The power to stand by it will be tragically lacking under the Old Covenant (Rom. 8:3; Heb. 8:7).


24: 19-24: “Joshua said to the people, You cannot serve the Lord; for He is a holy God; He is a jealous God; He will not forgive your transgressions, nor your sins, if you forsake the Lord, and serve strange gods, then He will turn and do you hurt, and consume you, after that He has done you good.  The people said to Joshua, Nay; but we will serve the Lord.  Joshua said to the people, ‘You are witnesses against yourselves that you have chosen the Lord, to serve Him,’ and they said, ‘we are witnesses.’  Therefore put away, said he, the strange gods which are among you, and incline your heart to the Lord God of Israel.  The people said to Joshua, ‘the Lord our God will we serve, and His voice will we obey.’”


The purpose of the seeming discouragement is to guard against a response of mere emotion.  Joshua faces the pastor’s dilemma.  It is his duty to persuade, but a decision induced merely by his persuasiveness will evaporate like dew.  He can only remind them what is involved, what their cost will be, and with whom they have to do.  They must make the act solemn and as honest as possible, counting the costs.  Part of that cost will be the rejection of the world and often our own families.


Turning away from God begins with fear, a guilty conscience, and pretense. 


24: 25-27: “Joshua made a covenant with the people that day, and set them a statute and an ordinance in Shechem.  Joshua wrote these words in the book of the Law of God, and took a great stone, and set it up there under an oak, that was by the sanctuary of the Lord.  Joshua said to the people, Behold, this stone shall be a witness to us; for it has heard all the words of the LORD which he spoke to us; it shall be therefore a witness to you, less you deny your God.”


There were two witnesses that Day:


1. “We the people”

2.  The stone which heard all the words of the Lord.


Let this be a reminder that our words are powerful and are embedded in creation.  Our words continue to witness either for good or bad.  Stones can hear.  Stones can speak and praise.


24: 28-30: “Joshua let the people depart, every man to his inheritance.  It came to pass after these things, that Joshua the son of Nun, the servant of the Lord, died, being a 110 years old.  They buried him in the border of his inheritance in Timnath Serah, which is in mount Ephraim, on the north side of the hill of Gaash.”


Only here is Joshua called the servant of the Lord.  Perhaps it is the highest title we will receive after our mission on earth has finished.  Either that or the “friend of God.”


24:29  - The death of a great soldier                   Joshua

24:32  - The death of a great statesman              Joseph

24:33  - The death of the great religious leader  Eleazar


Joshua 24: 31-33:  Israel served the Lord all the days of Joshua, and all the days of the elders that out lived Joshua, who had known all the works of the Lord, that He had done for Israel.  The bones of Joseph, which the children of Israel brought up out of Egypt, they buried in Shechem, in a parcel of ground which Jacob bought of the sons of Hamor the father of Shechem for 100 pieces of silver; and it became the inheritance of the children of Joseph.  Eleazar the son of Aaron died; and they buried him in a hill that pertained to Phinehas his son, which was given him in mount Ephraim.”


Eleazar was a son and successor of Aaron.  Aaron had shared with Joshua the responsibility for the settlement of the 100 pieces of silver (Gen. 33:19).


Acts 7:16: “Joseph was carried over into Sychem, and laid in the sepulcher that Abraham bought for a sum of money of the sons of Emmor, the father of Sychem.”


Success comes through the gift of God with man’s obedient and persevering response.  The Israelite invasion of Canaan was never a complete success, and all too soon the vision and determination were lost; but the book attests that Joshua did fulfill  his mission.


Carolyn Sissom, Pastor

Eastgate Ministries Church

Scripture from K.J.V.

I entered into the labors of Principles of Present Truth by: Kelly Varner (1949-2009).  Comments and conclusions are my own and not meant to reflect the views of Rev. Varner.  

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