Realizing the presence, promise, and power of the Kingdom of God.
The DEEP

Fading Faith

as soon as unbelief is possible.

Joshua 24:29–33

Now it came to pass after these things that Joshua the son of Nun, the servant of the LORD, died, being one hundred and ten years old. And they buried him within the border of his inheritance at Timnath Serah, which is in the mountains of Ephraim, on the north side of Mount Gaash.

Israel served the LORD all the days of Joshua, and all the days of the elders who outlived Joshua, who had known all the works of the LORD which He had done for Israel.

The bones of Joseph, which the children of Israel had brought up out of Egypt, they buried at Shechem, in the plot of ground which Jacob had bought from the sons of Hamor the father of Shechem for one hundred pieces of silver, and which had become an inheritance of the children of Joseph.

And Eleazar the son of Aaron died. They buried him in a hill belonging to Phinehas his son, which was given to him in the mountains of Ephraim.

This passage concludes the book with some beautiful notes. Joshua is called the servant of the LORD (ev-ed Yahweh, עֶ֣בֶד יְהוָ֑ה) for the first time. This gives him a status similar to Moses.

The bones of Joseph are buried at Shechem, in keeping with a promise made centuries earlier. Eleazar’s burial is also noted in keeping with his service. But …

The second paragraph is foreboding.

Israel served the LORD all the days of Joshua, and all the days of the elders who outlived Joshua, who had known all the works of the LORD which He had done for Israel.

This sounds nice; they kept the faith for the rest of this generation, but that’s all it says.

What about the next generation?


The next generation drops the ball.

The book of Judges continues the narrative, but rewinds a bit. When it gets to the paragraph that records the death of Joshua, we see the news he dreaded. The faith starts to fade as soon as it gets a chance.

So the people served the LORD all the days of Joshua, and all the days of the elders who outlived Joshua, who had seen all the great works of the LORD which He had done for Israel. … When all that generation had been gathered to their fathers, another generation arose after them who did not know the LORD nor the work which He had done for Israel. — Judges 2:7, 10 (ESV)

Joshua’s fears were realized. The monuments and books didn’t prevent it.

And so, the cycle of faith continues. Most folks only believe when unbelief is impossible.


These Monday—Friday DEEPs are written by Mike Slay. The Weekend DEEPs are written by Matt Richardson. To subscribe to all the DEEPs click here:

https://www.ailbe.org/resources/community

The weekly study guides, which include the Monday–Friday devotionals plus related questions for discussion or meditation, are available for download here:

https://www.ailbe.org/resources/itemlist/category/91-deep-studies

Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. ESV stands for the English Standard Version. © Copyright 2001 by Crossway. Used by permission. All rights reserved. NIV stands for The Holy Bible, New International Version®. © Copyright 1973 by International Bible Society. Used by permission. All rights reserved. KJV stands for the King James Version.

As soon as the first-hand eyewitness memory of what God did fades, the faith that it spawned fades too.

Mike Slay

As a mathematician, inventor, and ruling elder in the Presbyterian Church in America, Mike Slay brings an analytical, conversational, and even whimsical approach to the daily study of God's Word.

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