Priorities for the Future (Joshua 23)
First Scripture Reading: Deuteronomy 5:6-21; Matthew 22:34-40
Second Scripture Reading: Matthew 22:15-46
Sermon Text: Joshua 23:1-16
Toward the end of his life, Joshua gathered the leaders of Israel around him in order to give them final exhortations about remaining faithful to the Lord. God had graciously fulfilled his covenant to Abraham by giving him numerous descendants and the land of Canaan. The nation of Israel, now inhabiting the Promised Land, was a living testimony to God’s faithfulness. Joshua said, “And now I am about to go the way of all the earth, and you know in your hearts and souls, all of you, that not one word has failed of all the good things that the Lord your God promised concerning you. All have come to pass for you; not one of them has failed” (Joshua 23:14). It is instructive to note that though Joshua had been through many hardships in his life, his tone at the end was one of praise to God and ongoing confidence in his faith. While so many from his generation had fallen away from the Lord, Joshua persevered to the end by God’s grace. He had fought the good fight, he had run the race, and like the Apostle Paul would later do for Timothy, Joshua exhorted the future generation of believers to do the same.
- For review, scan Joshua 22 to remind yourself about what the chapter teaches. What caused the misunderstanding between the tribes of Israel according to verses 11-12? How was it resolved?
- Read Joshua 23:1-5. Why do you think Joshua felt the need to gather Israel’s leaders in order to remind them about God’s faithfulness and their covenant responsibilities? Why does Scripture remind believers so often to “remember”?
- In v. 6, Joshua appealed to the Word of God as the standard of Israel’s covenant obedience. Read and discuss Westminster Confession of Faith 16.1-2. What do you learn from these paragraphs about the importance of knowing God’s Word?
- What was the danger of Israel’s “mixing with the nations” in v. 7? How does this apply to the Christian life according to John 17:14-19 and Romans 12:1-2? According to Judges 2:6-15, what happened to Israel after Joshua died?
- According to Joshua 23:11-13, how was Israel to display its love for God? How does this connect with John 14:15?
- What covenant curses were threatened in Joshua 23:14-16? Did these come to pass in Israel’s history?
- In preparation for next week, read Joshua 24. What do you make of v. 19? Why did Joshua call Israel to obedience if the people were unable to live that way?
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