Joshua was 110 years old and knew that his days on this earth were few. He called all of Israel to Shechem (the place of diligence, perseverance, faithfulness, and loyal fidelity) to give them a final message before God took him home. He had the people’s respect and love as their Commander. He had faithfully led them through battle after battle, never shirking in the face of the enemy. He lived with integrity before them and had learned to listen to God with a keen ear. They were ready to hear what he had to say.
He didn’t sound like a man about ready to die! His voice carried across the multitudes that arrived to hear him, strength in his words. “Listen now! I won’t have the opportunity to speak to you again!” What would you say to all who could hear you if you knew this was your last words to them? Listen to what this man of God tells God’s chosen people.
He begins with a stirring account of God’s call to Abraham, then all the exploits of God’s leading His people out of Egypt and through the wilderness and down to this very day that they stood before Joshua. I can imagine his words sounded like trumpet blasts (no microphones folks). It had to be anointed for he used seventeen blasts from his trumpet like voice: “I took your Father Abraham from across the the Great River, To Isaac I gave Esau and Jacob, I sent Moses and Aaron, I plagued the Egyptians, Then I brought your fathers out of bondage, I led you into the land of promise, I drove out the Amorites before you, I have given you this land…” What he did let them know with power and anointing was that all the miracles, conquests, tremendous fetes were not their doing, but God’s! He let them know in no uncertain terms that it wasn’t their swords that had vanquished the enemy, but it was God who went before them! I can only imagine that a holy hush fell over the assembled congregation of Israelites. Joshua, their fearless leader, who had led them into battle time after time, had never appeared so full of and aware of God’s power upon him. He might be at the end of his days on earth, but he was never more commanding in his demeanor.
In Chapter 24, verse 14 he booms forth: “Now therefore, fear the Lord, serve Him in sincerity and in truth, and put away the gods which your fathers served on the other side of the River and in Egypt. Serve the Lord!” He goes on to use that word “serve” numerous other times throughout the rest of the chapter. He was calling them to total commitment, urging them to make an irrevocable choice for God! Then in 24:15 he goes on to make a stirring proclamation: “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord!” He wasn’t speaking just to the assembled folk of Israel on that day, but his charge would transcend the generations even unto our day. Who are you going to serve? Will you let the gods of this society influence you and turn your heart away from God?
Joshua’s whole life was one of integrity and single minded devotion before God. He never wavered in his faith. His loyalty to God was without question. He was obedient to God even in the face of ridicule and harm. He was faithful to God in the face of formidable odds. His whole life was an example for the people of his day to follow and emulate. Yet, I can find no place in scripture where Joshua was ever tempted to harbor even a hint of pride in his accomplishments. He was never corrupted by his position or the power that it held. He seemed to always posses a humility and to be envied wisdom. It was because of Joshua’s contrite heart that God honored him with conquest after conquest. His forthright faith moved mountains in the invasion of Canaan. I believe Joshua’s devotion to God and his keen ear to hear God’s commands that Israel’s woebegone days of wandering turned into triumph after triumph.
Can we hope that what was true for Israel all those years ago could be true for God’s people today? God hasn’t changed and the same spiritual principles that brought victory then can do so today. We can’t see victory and conquest today if we don’t operate under the same operational plan as Joshua did. Being in a “holding” position, or establishing a fortress won’t take the land! What are those principles? 1) God calls and anoints His leaders 2) It’s for His purposes in the earth 3) It’s not because of who we are, but who He is! 4) He leads us, all we have to do is follow! 5) He is at work behind the scenes to achieve His purpose 6) All we have to do is let Him work through us 7) He makes us fruitful and productive.
I can only hope and pray that like Joshua I can come to the end of my days here on earth, having lived a faithful life for those behind me to emulate. That my words have inspired faithfulness and integrity in the hearts of those who knew me. And my life was lived with eternity in view! Thank you Joshua for living before us a life we can truly respect and emulate.