Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Joshua: Looking Toward The End
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Joshua: Looking Toward The End

Intro.: I want you to imagine just for a moment that you are near the very end of your life.

  1. You know that the end could come at any time. And you want to leave something – but what?

  2. Maybe you will decide to write your closest love ones a letter. I mean, most of us have 40 to 50 years of experience which have taught us a great deal. Experience which we may want to pass on to the next generation.

  3. As we come to the last two chapters of Joshua, we find him doing exactly this.

Read: Joshua 23:1-5


Trans:Joshua was 110 years of age when he died.

  1. Let me suggest you read Joshua 23-24 – they are two of the most readable chapters in Joshua. Chapters full of truth and instructions – both from Joshua and for us.

  2. You will find Joshua's epitaph in Joshua 24:29-30

    After these things, Joshua son of Nun, the servant of the Lord, died at the age of a hundred and ten. And they buried him in the land of his inheritance, at Timnath Serah in the hill country of Ephraim, north of Mount Gaash.

  3. It says three thing – the first is the stuff of jokes. “Name two people in the Bible who are said to have no father.” Of course there was Jesus. But most people forget about Joshua who was the “son of Nun.” Now Joshua did have a father, but his father's name was Nun.

  4. It also says that he was buried at home, the very land which he was given because he believed God.

  5. But the most important thing that it says about Joshua is to call him “the servant of the Lord.” No greater tribute could be paid to Joshua.1

  6. Scripture makes it clear that we cannot serve two masters – and it says Joshua served the Lord. Everything else came second – money, family, possessions. Joshua did serve the Lord.

  7. This title “the servant of the Lord” is reserved for only three men in the entire Bible. Moses was the first and then came Moses successor, Joshua, It would be 400 more years before the term would be used to describe David. And then nobody.

  8. I don't think I will ever compare to these men, but I do hope that when that day comes and I die, that those who know me will feel comfortable putting those words on my tombstone.

  9. That was the very end of Joshua's life – but as he approached that point, he had some things to say to his people. And that is what we wan to look at today.

T.S. Joshua's message can be divided into parts – a look at the past and a look at the future.

  1. It pays to discuss the past

    1. Joshua begins by calling his people to remember what God has done. “So be strong! Be very careful to follow all the instructions written in the Book of the Law of Moses.”

(Ill.) I want to let you into a little secret. I never did like history. In fact I was probably one those students you have read about who make silly mistakes in history class. Rich Lederer gathered a bunch of those in his book Anguished English.

• The Bible is full of many interesting caricatures.

• Noah’s wife was called Joan of Ark.

• Lot’s wife was a pillar of salt by day and a ball of fire by night.

• Moses went up on Mt. Cyanide to get the ten commandments, but he died before he ever reached Canada.

• Solomon had 300 wives and 700 porcupines.

• An epistle is the wife of an apostle.2

History wasn't much fun for me – but Joshua under its importance in preparing God's people for the future.

    1. Joshua reminds the Israelites of all that God had done – He helped clear the land so that it could be settled. God said He would do it – and he did.

    2. If I was going to memorize a single verse from Joshua 23-24, it would be Joshua 23:14 - You know with all your heart and soul that not one of all the good promises the Lord your God gave you has failed. Every promise has been fulfilled; not one has failed.

    3. Joshua, even at the end of his life, still recognizes that God is in the business of being faithful to what He says and to those who belong to Him.

(Appl.) As we age, it sometimes becomes easy to fall into the trap of thinking that God no longer matters. Take time now, while you still believe, to strengthen your walk so that you are ready, as Joshua was, to be faithful even when it gets difficult.

  1. It pays to discuss the future

    1. But Joshua also speaks about the future. In Chapter 24 he begins to call the people to make a decision for themselves.

    2. In the OT it is called a covenant – but in the OT a covenant is a legal term. A covenant is not unique between God and his people – but is found throughout middle east during the era represented by the OT.

(Ill.) Excellent examples are found in the treaties of these Mideastern countries. The Hittites were one such group of people – Their covenants consisted of five parts:

  1. The names of the parties involved

  2. An historical summary of past relations between the parties

  3. The stipulations that each party would uphold

  4. A list of witnesses

  5. A list of sanctions – good and bad, depending on whether the provisions of the covenant were honored

    1. Joshua calls the people to make a covenant – but it comes with a strange addition:

        v14 “honor the Lord and serve him wholeheartedly

        v16 'The people replied, “We would never forsake the Lord”'

        v19 “You are not able to serve the Lord, for He is a holy and jealous God

    2. It is ironic – even as Joshua calls his people to follow the Lord, he also is convinced that they cannot do it. It almost echos one of those things that I am saying quite regularly – we are broken people. As broken people, we cannot do all that God expects of us. And that is why we need a Savior. And there is another irony – the same Savior whose death covers us because we cannot live up to God's expectations, is the same Savior that empowers us, once we place our lives in His hands.

(Ill.) Harry Emerson Fosdick once wrote Fear imprisons, faith liberates; fear paralyzes, faith empowers; fear disheartens, faith encourages; fear sickens, faith heals; fear makes useless, faith makes serviceable; most of all, fear puts hopelessness at the heart of life, while faith rejoices in its God.3

Conclusion: Today, I want call you, like Joshua did so many years ago, to follow God. If you have never made a decision to follow Jesus, today is a good day to say “yes” to Jesus.

  1. God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life.

  2. Each of us has made a choice to go our own way. When we are going our own way, we cannot know and experience God's love and forgiveness.

  3. God's only provision for our sin is Jesus Christ. As we place our lives into His hands, we can know and experience God's love and forgiveness.

  4. Will you receive Him today?4


1Walvoord, J. F., Zuck, R. B., & Dallas Theological Seminary. (1983-c1985). The Bible knowledge commentary : An exposition of the scriptures (1:370). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.

2Streiker, L. D. (2000). Nelson's big book of laughter : Thousands of smiles from A to Z (electronic ed.) (383). Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

3H.E. Fosdick found in Water, M. (2000). The new encyclopedia of Christian quotations (347). Alresford, Hampshire: John Hunt Publishers Ltd.

4Bright, B. (1994). Have you heard of the four spiritual laws?. Orlando, FL: NewLife Publications.

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