As one of the most renown and successful men in the Old Testament, Joshua stands out as a God-fearing leader. His exploits are well-known, assuming command from Moses, conquering the promised land for the nation of Israel, and delivering upon the richness of God’s promises made to Abraham so many years before. His words and deeds echo from the pages of scripture. Among those words is Joshua’s final guidance to his people, to God’s chosen nation.
“After a long time had passed and the Lord had given Israel rest from all their enemies around them, Joshua, by then a very old man, summoned all Israel.” Joshua’s final addresses are recorded in chapters 22-24 of the book that bears his name.
What wisdom would such a successful leader leave as a final remembrance to his nation? There are at least 6 specific lessons to be gained from Joshua’s final guidance to Israel.
- Remember with gratitude the blessings already bestowed upon us: Joshua knew that as the years passed, through both peace and conflict, his people must always remember what had been done for them. Including the exodus from Egypt, parting of the Red Sea, and the conquest of Canaan, the nation had been blessed by God’s providential hand. (Joshua 23:3; 24:2-14)
- Stick together to accomplish the mission: Joshua credits the success of the Israelite’s following God’s commands as given by Moses to their ability to persevere side-by-side with each other until the mission is complete. (Joshua 22:2-3)
- A sincere Faithfulness and Obedience to the Lord is not to be watered down with things of the world: The Israelites are warned to not intermingle their lives and their faith with the citizens of conquered cities. (Joshua 23:7-11)
- The Lord is the source of strength: Joshua attributes the nation’s success to the Lord, not to the superior knowledge, skills, and abilities of the people. His strength is a constant companion and encouragement. (Joshua 23:3-5; 24:2-14)
- Straying from the Lord results in destruction: Joshua describes the results of unfaithfulness as “snares,” “traps,” “whips,” and “thorns.” Unfaithfulness results in death. (Joshua 23:12-13; 24:19-20)
- Victory may be followed with a period rest, but the mission isn’t over: After the tribes of Israel conquered numerous Canaanite cities, they received their inheritance as promised by God. They also received rest for a period of time, but there was still work to be done. Much territory still had to be conquered. Faithfulness and obedience are long-term requirements. (Joshua 22:4-5)
In the New Testament age, these lessons still seem largely applicable.
We must remember how much we have been blessed by the Lord, including the grace of our Savior’s sacrifice. We must stick together, shoulder-to-shoulder with our brothers and sisters in the kingdom of God. As citizens of the Kingdom, we are not of the world. We are to be distinct. The Lord is our strength, and only in Him will we find our salvation. We may win and lose battles upon this world, and we should keep our eyes fixed on the eternal prize. Heaven is our ultimate victory.