Understanding the Old Testament

The Death of Joshua

(All quotations are from the New American Standard Bible translation)

Joshua knew his life was nearing its end so he did what he could to ensure that the Israelites would remain faithful to God after he was gone.

First, he assured them that the Lord would continue to give them victories over the remaining inhabitants of Canaan until the land was devoid of them. (Joshua 23:5) But this assurance was subject to a condition: the Israelites must not associate with, or intermarry with, the Canaanites—for God had forbidden this, per Exodus 34:12-16 and Deuteronomy 7:3. (Joshua 23:12-13) Joshua foresaw, as did the Lord, that close association with the Canaanites would inevitably lead to the adoption of their barbaric religious practices. So Joshua warned his people against such idolatry, which would bring upon them God’s wrath instead of His favor. (Joshua 23:15-16)

Next, Joshua gathered all the people at Shechem, which was centrally located in Canaan. After reminding them of all that God had done for them and their ancestors, Joshua presented them with this famous choice:

If it is disagreeable in your sight to serve the Lord, choose for yourselves today whom you will serve: whether the gods which your fathers served which were beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you are living; but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.

(Joshua 24:15)

Despite Joshua’s repeated warnings that unfaithfulness to God would bring His wrath upon them, the people three times promised to serve the Lord. (Joshua 24:18, 24:21, and 24:24) So the people once again made a covenant to serve the Lord, and they memorialized it with a large stone at Shechem. (Joshua 24:25-27)

Sometime after this, Joshua died at age 110, and was buried within the territory of his tribe, Ephraim.

Joshua 24:31 adds that “Israel served the Lord all the days of Joshua and all the days of the elders who survived Joshua. . . .” (See also Judges 2:7) But as we will soon see, the Israelites’ loyalty to God did not last long after that.

Questions to ponder or discuss: We all face the choice of whom we will serve: God or the world. What does it mean to serve “the world”? Is anything—or anyone—more important to you than your relationship with God? If so, what do Matthew 22:34-38 and Matthew 10:37 say about that?

.Copyright 2018 by Don Davidson

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Beyond Blind Faith: Reasons for the Hope We Have (1 Peter 3:15):

Why Reasonable People Should Consider Christianity

Stories of the Faithful (with some church history)

Christmas Stories

Understanding the Old Testament

The Truth About America Star Books


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I am a member of Trinity Arts Writers Workshop, in Bedford, Texas.