Joshua 23 (3)
Read Joshua 23.9-11.
1. What motive does Joshua offer in urging the people to love the Lord? How does that apply to us?
2. How can we know that we love the Lord?
Think about it.
Joshua understands that the courage Israel needs to continue seeking the promises of God comes from holding fast to Him in love (vv. 8, 11). He reminds the people of how God has fought for them, and how He has kept His promises faithfully. These are measures of His great love for His people: He delivers them from captivity, spreads out before them precious and very great promises, shows them by commandments and examples how they must live to realize those promises, then comes among them to fight for them and lead them into His blessings.
Since God has shown such love for His people, how can Israel fail to love Him with all their heart, soul, and strength (Deut. 6.4, 5)? And yet, they will fail, because they do not yet have the kind of heart for God that only He can give, and that He gives by His Spirit, according to the Gospel of Jesus Christ (Deut. 30.1-10; Ezek. 36.26, 27; Gal. 4.3-7). The story of Joshua, and of the entire Old Testament, is of the futility of our seeking the blessings of God on our own strength. Unless the Lord defeats the enemy of our soul, and captures our hearts for Himself, we have no hope of salvation or life eternal. Thus, Joshua and all the Old Testament, give us hope, but not in our own strength or efforts, but in God, Who fights our battles in Jesus and gains the victory our hearts sorely need.
That phrase, “take careful heed to yourselves,” is literally, “guard yourselves exceedingly.” The heart is deceitful and desperately wicked, and yet from it flow the issues of life (Jer. 17.9; Prov. 4.23). Even we who have a new heart in Jesus Christ must watch our hearts with all diligence. The world of Joshua’s day was filled with distractions, diversions, and allurements of various kinds, to capture the hearts of God’s people and lead them to compromise and disobedience. The world of our day is just the same. But whereas the people of Joshua’s’ day did not have a heart for God, we in whom the Spirit has come to dwell, and Who has given us a new heart, must be extra vigilant, lest we fail to obtain all the precious and very great promises that are ours in Jesus Christ.
Meditate and discuss.
1. What does it mean to “guard yourselves exceedingly”? How should believers keep watch over their hearts, to resist the world, the flesh, and the devil and to keep our hearts devoted to God?
2. Joshua thought it was important to remind Israel of all God had done for them (see also chapter 24). Why? Would this help them to love Him? Should we review and rehearse the many good things God has done for us? Such as?
3. All the promises of God are “Yes!” in Jesus Christ (2 Cor. 1.20; 2 Pet. 1.4). How should knowing this shape the way we seek the promises of God?
“At length he again exhorts them, as they value their life and safety, to be careful in maintaining love to God. From this source all true obedience springs; for if we do not cling to him with free and ardent affection, we shall study in vain to frame our lives in accordance with the external form of the Law.” John Calvin, Commentary on Joshua (1509-1564 AD)
Help me to love You more, Lord Jesus, because only if I love You more will I…
Pray Psalm 141.
Lift your eyes to the Lord, and see Him in His glory; meditate on His beauty; rest in His promises, presence, and power. Give thanks to the Lord accordingly, and seek the mercy and grace you will need for this day’s work.
Psalm 141 (Truro: Shout, for the Blessed Jesus Reigns)
O Lord, we call to You in prayer! To us come quickly; hear our cry!
Receive our prayer as incense sweet, our lifted hands as a sacrifice!
Lord, set a guard upon my mouth; let not my heart to evil bend,
Nor let me work iniquity in company with wicked men.
Lord, let a righteous man rebuke – a kindness this shall surely be.
Like healing oil upon my head, Your sweet rebuke shall be to me.
When to the judgment wicked men by God are cast, our words shall tell:
Like broken sod or fresh plowed ground, so shall their bones be cast to hell!
We lift our eyes to You, O Lord, and refuge seek; Lord, save our soul!
From every trap and snare redeem; deliver us and make us whole.
T. M. Moore
Where does the book of Joshua fit in the ongoing story of God’s covenant? Our workbook, God’s Covenant, can help you discover the place in God’s work of redemption not only of Joshua but of all the books of the Bible. God’s Covenant is a valuable resource to guide you in all your studies in God’s Word. To order your copy, click here. And when you order, we’ll send you a free copy of Bricks and Rungs: Poems on Calling.
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Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. All psalms for singing adapted from The Ailbe Psalter. All quotations from Church Fathers from Ancient Christian Commentary Series, General Editor Thomas C. Oden (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2006).