March 28, Joshua 22-24

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22 Joshua summoned the Reubenites, Gadites, and half the tribe of Manasseh and told them, “You have done everything Moses the Lord’s servant commanded you and have obeyed me in everything I commanded you. You have not deserted your brothers even once this whole time but have carried out the requirement of the command of the Lord your God. Now that he has given your brothers rest, just as he promised them, return to your homes in your own land that Moses the Lord’s servant gave you across the Jordan. Only carefully obey the command and instruction that Moses the Lord’s servant gave you: to love the Lord your God, walk in all his ways, keep his commands, be loyal to him, and serve him with all your heart and all your soul.”Joshua blessed them and sent them on their way, and they went to their homes. Moses had given territory to half the tribe of Manasseh in Bashan, but Joshua had given territory to the other half,[a] with their brothers, on the west side of the Jordan. When Joshua sent them to their homes and blessed them, he said, “Return to your homes with great wealth: a huge number of cattle, and silver, gold, bronze, iron, and a large quantity of clothing. Share the spoil of your enemies with your brothers.”

Eastern Tribes Build an Altar

The Reubenites, Gadites, and half the tribe of Manasseh left the Israelites at Shiloh in the land of Canaan to return to their own land of Gilead, which they took possession of according to the Lord’s command through Moses. 10 When they came to the region of[b] the Jordan in the land of Canaan, the Reubenites, Gadites, and half the tribe of Manasseh built a large, impressive altar there by the Jordan.11 Then the Israelites heard it said, “Look, the Reubenites, Gadites, and half the tribe of Manasseh have built an altar on the frontier of the land of Canaan at the region of[c] the Jordan, on the Israelite side.” 12 When the Israelites heard this, the entire Israelite community assembled at Shiloh to go to war against them.

Explanation of the Altar

13 The Israelites sent Phinehas son of Eleazar the priest to the Reubenites, Gadites, and half the tribe of Manasseh, in the land of Gilead. 14 They sent ten leaders with him—one family leader for each tribe of Israel. All of them were heads of their ancestral families[d] among the clans of Israel. 15 They went to the Reubenites, Gadites, and half the tribe of Manasseh, in the land of Gilead, and told them, 16 “This is what the Lord’s entire community says: ‘What is this treachery you have committed today against the God of Israel by turning away from the Lord and building an altar for yourselves, so that you are in rebellion against the Lord today? 17 Wasn’t the iniquity of Peor, which brought a plague on the Lord’s community, enough for us? We have not cleansed ourselves from it even to this day, 18 and now would you turn away from the Lord? If you rebel against the Lord today, tomorrow he will be angry with the entire community of Israel. 19 But if the land you possess is defiled, cross over to the land the Lord possesses where the Lord’s tabernacle stands, and take possession of it among us. But don’t rebel against the Lord or against us by building for yourselves an altar other than the altar of the Lord our God. 20 Wasn’t Achan son of Zerah unfaithful regarding what was set apart for destruction, bringing wrath on the entire community of Israel? He was not the only one who perished because of his iniquity.’”21 The Reubenites, Gadites, and half the tribe of Manasseh answered the heads of the Israelite clans, 22 “The Mighty One, God, the Lord! The Mighty One, God, the Lord![e] He knows, and may Israel also know. Do not spare us today, if it was in rebellion or treachery against the Lord 23 that we have built for ourselves an altar to turn away from him. May the Lord himself hold us accountable if we intended to offer burnt offerings and grain offerings on it, or to sacrifice fellowship offerings on it. 24 We actually did this from a specific concern that in the future your descendants might say to our descendants, ‘What relationship do you have with the Lord, the God of Israel? 25 For the Lord has made the Jordan a border between us and you descendants of Reuben and Gad. You have no share in the Lord!’ So your descendants may cause our descendants to stop fearing the Lord.26 “Therefore we said: Let us take action and build an altar for ourselves, but not for burnt offering or sacrifice. 27 Instead, it is to be a witness between us and you, and between the generations after us, so that we may carry out the worship of the Lord in his presence with our burnt offerings, sacrifices, and fellowship offerings. Then in the future, your descendants will not be able to say to our descendants, ‘You have no share in the Lord!’ 28 We thought that if they said this to us or to our generations in the future, we would reply: Look at the replica of the Lord’s altar that our fathers made, not for burnt offering or sacrifice, but as a witness between us and you. 29 We would never ever rebel against the Lord or turn away from him today by building an altar for burnt offering, grain offering, or sacrifice, other than the altar of the Lord our God, which is in front of his tabernacle.”

Conflict Resolved

30 When the priest Phinehas and the community leaders, the heads of Israel’s clans who were with him, heard what the descendants of Reuben, Gad, and Manasseh had to say, they were pleased. 31 Phinehas son of Eleazar the priest said to the descendants of Reuben, Gad, and Manasseh, “Today we know that the Lord is among us, because you have not committed this treachery against him. As a result, you have rescued the Israelites from the Lord’s power.”32 Then the priest Phinehas son of Eleazar and the leaders returned from the Reubenites and Gadites in the land of Gilead to the Israelites in the land of Canaan and brought back a report to them. 33 The Israelites were pleased with the report, and they blessed God. They spoke no more about going to war against them to ravage the land where the Reubenites and Gadites lived. 34 So the Reubenites and Gadites named the altar: It[f] is a witness between us that the Lord is God.

Joshua’s Farewell Address

23 A long time after the Lord had given Israel rest from all the enemies around them, Joshua was old, advanced in age. So Joshua summoned all Israel, including its elders, leaders, judges, and officers, and said to them, “I am old, advanced in age, and you have seen for yourselves everything the Lord your God did to all these nations on your account, because it was the Lord your God who was fighting for you. See, I have allotted these remaining nations to you as an inheritance for your tribes, including all the nations I have destroyed, from the Jordan westward to the Mediterranean Sea. The Lord your God will force them back on your account and drive them out before you so that you can take possession of their land, as the Lord your God promised you.“Be very strong and continue obeying all that is written in the book of the law of Moses, so that you do not turn from it to the right or left and so that you do not associate with these nations remaining among you. Do not call on the names of their gods or make an oath to them; do not serve them or bow in worship to them. Instead, be loyal to the Lord your God, as you have been to this day.“The Lord has driven out great and powerful nations before you, and no one is able to stand against you to this day. 10 One of you routed a thousand because the Lord your God was fighting for you, as he promised.[g11 So diligently watch yourselves! Love the Lord your God! 12 If you ever turn away and become loyal to the rest of these nations remaining among you, and if you intermarry or associate with them and they with you, 13 know for certain that the Lord your God will not continue to drive these nations out before you. They will become a snare and a trap for you, a sharp stick[h] for your sides and thorns in your eyes, until you disappear from this good land the Lord your God has given you.14 “I am now going the way of the whole earth, and you know with all your heart and all your soul that none of the good promises the Lord your God made to you has failed. Everything was fulfilled for you; not one promise has failed. 15 Since every good thing the Lord your God promised you has come about, so he will bring on you every bad thing until he has annihilated you from this good land the Lord your God has given you. 16 If you break the covenant of the Lord your God, which he commanded you, and go and serve other gods, and bow in worship to them, the Lord’s anger will burn against you, and you will quickly disappear from this good land he has given you.”

Review of Israel’s History

24 Joshua assembled all the tribes of Israel at Shechem and summoned Israel’s elders, leaders, judges, and officers, and they presented themselves before God. Joshua said to all the people, “This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: ‘Long ago your ancestors, including Terah, the father of Abraham and Nahor, lived beyond the Euphrates River and worshiped other gods. But I took your father Abraham from the region beyond the Euphrates River, led him throughout the land of Canaan, and multiplied his descendants. I gave him Isaac, and to Isaac I gave Jacob and Esau. I gave the hill country of Seir to Esau as a possession.“‘Jacob and his sons, however, went down to Egypt. I sent Moses and Aaron, and I defeated Egypt by what I did within it, and afterward I brought you out. When I brought your fathers out of Egypt and you reached the Red Sea, the Egyptians pursued your fathers with chariots and horsemen as far as the sea. Your fathers cried out to the Lord, so he put darkness between you and the Egyptians, and brought the sea over them, engulfing them. Your own eyes saw what I did to Egypt. After that, you lived in the wilderness a long time.“‘Later, I brought you to the land of the Amorites who lived beyond the Jordan. They fought against you, but I handed them over to you. You possessed their land, and I annihilated them before you. Balak son of Zippor, king of Moab, set out to fight against Israel. He sent for Balaam son of Beor to curse you, 10 but I would not listen to Balaam. Instead, he repeatedly blessed you, and I rescued you from him.11 “‘You then crossed the Jordan and came to Jericho. Jericho’s citizens—as well as the Amorites, Perizzites, Canaanites, Hethites, Girgashites, Hivites, and Jebusites—fought against you, but I handed them over to you. 12 I sent hornets[i] ahead of you, and they drove out the two Amorite kings before you. It was not by your sword or bow. 13 I gave you a land you did not labor for, and cities you did not build, though you live in them; you are eating from vineyards and olive groves you did not plant.’

The Covenant Renewal

14 “Therefore, fear the Lord and worship him in sincerity and truth. Get rid of the gods your fathers worshiped beyond the Euphrates River and in Egypt, and worship the Lord. 15 But if it doesn’t please you to worship the Lord, choose for yourselves today: Which will you worship—the gods your fathers worshiped beyond the Euphrates River or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you are living? As for me and my family, we will worship the Lord.”16 The people replied, “We will certainly not abandon the Lord to worship other gods! 17 For the Lord our God brought us and our fathers out of the land of Egypt, out of the place of slavery, and performed these great signs before our eyes. He also protected us all along the way we went and among all the peoples whose lands we traveled through. 18 The Lord drove out before us all the peoples, including the Amorites who lived in the land. We too will worship the Lord, because he is our God.”19 But Joshua told the people, “You will not be able to worship the Lord, because he is a holy God. He is a jealous God; he will not forgive your transgressions and sins. 20 If you abandon the Lord and worship foreign gods, he will turn against you, harm you, and completely destroy you, after he has been good to you.”21 “No!” the people answered Joshua. “We will worship the Lord.”22 Joshua then told the people, “You are witnesses against yourselves that you yourselves have chosen to worship the Lord.”“We are witnesses,” they said.23 “Then get rid of the foreign gods that are among you and turn your hearts to the Lord, the God of Israel.”24 So the people said to Joshua, “We will worship the Lord our God and obey him.”25 On that day Joshua made a covenant for the people at Shechem and established a statute and ordinance for them. 26 Joshua recorded these things in the book of the law of God; he also took a large stone and set it up there under the oak at the sanctuary of the Lord. 27 And Joshua said to all the people, “You see this stone—it will be a witness against us, for it has heard all the words the Lord said to us, and it will be a witness against you, so that you will not deny your God.” 28 Then Joshua sent the people away, each to his own inheritance.

Burial of Three Leaders

29 After these things, the Lord’s servant, Joshua son of Nun, died at the age of 110. 30 They buried him in his allotted territory at Timnath-serah, in the hill country of Ephraim north of Mount Gaash. 31 Israel worshiped the Lord throughout Joshua’s lifetime and during the lifetimes of the elders who outlived Joshua and who had experienced all the works the Lord had done for Israel.32 Joseph’s bones, which the Israelites had brought up from Egypt, were buried at Shechem in the parcel of land Jacob had purchased from the sons of Hamor, Shechem’s father, for a hundred pieces of silver.[j] It was an inheritance for Joseph’s descendants.33 And Eleazar son of Aaron died, and they buried him at Gibeah,[k] which had been given to his son Phinehas in the hill country of Ephraim.

In chapter 23, Joshua charges the leaders to follow the commands God has given them. This obedience isn’t an obedience to earn or maintain what god has given them, but it’s a response to God providing it for them. In the same way, our obedience isn’t to earn or maintain anything but it’s the only adequate response to what God has done for us. He gave us His life, why would we not give Him ours? 

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