Next Steps for Israel

Joshua leads the people to carry out their commitment.

Joshua 24 (4)

Read Joshua 24.22-24.

Reflect.
1.  Every good leader needs to understand where those he leads areand where they need to be. Is Joshua a good leader?

2.  A fundamental principle of leadership is that intentions are not enough. They must be coupled with action. To what actions does Joshua point the people of Israel? 

Think about it.
Having led them three times to declare their determination to serve the Lord, Joshua now invites them to reflect on what they’ve heard: They and the people around them have all confessed their commitment to God, and they are witnesses of the fact. To which, the people render hearty agreement. The implication seems to be that, as witnesses together, they owe a debt of mutual encouragement and accountability to one another. That’s good leadership on Joshua’s part.

Further, Joshua understands that, while you have to give people some distant horizons for their journey, you lead most effectively when – those horizons clearly in view (“serve the Lord”) – you help people know and take their next step. As Joshua saw their need, the next steps for Israel were outward and inward. They needed to get rid of whatever household idols they had gathered as booty (cf. Gen. 35.2). As long as those idols were in their possession, they would not devote themselves wholeheartedly to God. At the same time, the people needed to incline their hearts to the Lord. That word has various connotations, including, setting up a tent, reaching out one’s hand, craning the neck, setting a plumb line, bending and bowing, and several more (cf. Ps. 119.112). The form of it here is causative and implies extra intention and effort. It’s not enough just to remove outward stimuli to disobedience; we must also consciously, deliberately, intentionally, and especially pay attention to the incline of our hearts. Joshua understood that, and it is a mark of his leadership that he commanded the people accordingly.

The people understood and enlarged their commitment to say that they would serve the Lord by obeying Him (v. 24). This is where they needed to be. Whether they would fulfill that commitment remained to be seen. But Joshua made sure to lead them this far.

Meditate and discuss.
1.  Do you think it would be a good idea for local church members all to renew their vows or covenant together on a regular basis? Explain. What might be some benefits of so doing?

2.  Good leaders know they must not only cast vision but lead people each step of the way. How does this apply to your work in your Personal Mission Field?

3.  Effective leaders like Joshua lead from the inside-out. Explain.

“The meaning, therefore, simply is, that they are to renounce all idols, and clear themselves of all profanity, in order that they may purely worship God alone. This seems to be the purport of the clause, incline your heart unto the Lord, which may be taken as equivalent to, rest in him, and so give up your heart to the love of him, as to delight and be contented only with him.John Calvin, Commentary on Joshua (1509-1564 AD)

Show me how I can more consistently incline my heart to You, O Lord, so that…

Pray Psalm 139.23, 24.

Ask the Lord to incline your heart to Him, using all the senses of that verb mentioned in today’s lesson. Ask Him to show you your next steps along His righteous path, and then begin taking them right away.

Psalm 139.23, 24 (Ripley: Hallelujah, Praise Jehovah, O My Soul)
Search my heart, O Lord, and know me, as You only, Lord, can do. 
Test my thoughts and contemplations, whether they be vain or true. 
Let there be no sin in me, Lord, nothing that Your Spirit grieves. 
Lead me in the righteous way, Lord, unto everlasting peace!

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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