Back to the Future

That Christian will have no Christian future who has no Christian past.

Joshua 24 (1)

Read Joshua 24.1-13.

1.  Joshua reminds the people of Israel that they must not lose sight of their past. Why is this important? 

2.  We note that Joshua now speaks as God’s mouthpiece. Why do you suppose God chose to do this at this time?

Think about it.
Now Joshua assembles the people at Shechem, where, centuries before, Jacob had called his sons to put away all their household deities and to renew their covenant with God. Read Genesis 35.1-7. This entire chapter serves as the backdrop for Part 2 of Joshua’s farewell address. It includes reminders, exhortations, admonitions, charges, and deaths of leaders. And it precedes the catalog of pagan nations surrounding Israel and the beginnings of Israel’s forfeiture of the land of promise and sojourn in Egypt.

The history of God’s work with His people unfolds like a repetitive cycle, moving along a line, in progress toward the new heavens and new earth. The better we understand this pattern of history: the more we will appreciate God’s work in the past, the better prepared we will be to bear fruit in the present, and the greater will be the likelihood of our leaving a positive legacy for the generations to come.

Joshua is deliberately appealing to Israel’s past in the hope that, by doing so, he will affect the choices God’s people make for the future. He wants them to be clear about who they are, from whom they are descended, Whom they are called to serve and what He has done for them, and what is required of them if they are to avoid another lengthy and unhappy captivity.

We will not be able to fulfill our calling to lay hold on the promises of God and bring His Kingdom into being on earth as it is in heaven if we don’t know who we are, where we’ve come from, or what God has done for us in the past. Christians who have no regard for their past will not have much of a future. We need the lessons of our forebears, and the examples of God’s faithfulness to them, to help us in planning and working to obtain the promises of God in our present and for the generations to come.

Meditate and discuss.
1.  Why do you suppose so few Christians care much about our Christian past? What are we missing by ignoring the work of our forebears in the faith, and God’s faithfulness to them?  

2.  In verse 2 Joshua assumes a role similar to that of Moses, where he conveys verbatim the words of God to His people. Why is this significant? Why is it significant that God Himself chose these words by which to exhort and admonish His people?

3.  How might you use these verses as a guide to prayer, in remembering the faithfulness of God to you?

“Therefore, what Joshua said to the people when he settled them in the holy land, the Scripture might also say now to us.” Origen of Alexandria (185-254 AD)

I am surrounded by a great company of witnesses! Forgive me, Lord, for being so indifferent to their sufferings and triumphs, and help me to…

Pray Psalm 44.1-8.

Let this psalm guide you to thank God for His faithful work in previous generations, both those recorded in Scripture and to the present.

Psalm 44.1-8, 23-26 (Faithfulness: Great is Thy Faithfulness)
O God our ears have heard, ancients have taught us, 
All that You did for them long years ago, 
How by Your hand You defeated the nations, 
And to the promised land let Israel go.
Refrain vv. 23-26
Rise up, awake, O Lord! Hide not Your face from us, 
See our affliction, our suffering and pain!
See how our soul is sunk down with oppression; 
Rise up and help and redeem us we pray!

Not by their sword did they drive out the nations; 
Not by their arm did they settle the land.
Your saving mercy and light triumphed for them:
Victories for us, our King, please now command.

Through You shall we all our enemies vanquish; 
Them will we trample in Your mighty Name.
We will not trust in our strength or our wisdom; 

Jesus will save us; we’ll boast of His fame!

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 hereAnd 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).

T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in Essex Junction, VT. 

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