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Passing the Torch

The Bible Study Hour / James Boice
The Truth Network Radio
June 17, 2021 8:00 am

Passing the Torch

The Bible Study Hour / James Boice

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June 17, 2021 8:00 am

The last words of a great man are of special interest to us; they are often poignant and deeply moving. Joshua's final farewell to the people he loved is no exception. On The Bible Study Hour, Dr. James Boice shares some very stirring words in a sermon titled "Passing the Torch."

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The last words of the great man are of special interest to us are often poignant and deeply moving Joshua's final farewell to the people he loved is no exception. Coming up on the Bible study our Dr. James Boyce shares some very stirring words in a sermon entitled passing the torch to Bible study our radio and Internet broadcast with Dr. James Boyce preparing you to think and act biblically. We tend to put a lot of stock in our feeling. It's easy to live based on how we feel. At any given moment, but Joshua called for a more secure way of living in a final farewell from Joshua 23, he challenged the people to choose the Lord to make a choice for God not drift along in their feelings. Dr. Boyce explains there is always something poignant and storing about the last words of great men, particularly when those words are in the form of a charge to their successors in American history weight thing of Washington's farewell to the Continental Army or Gen. Douglas MacArthur's final address to the US Congress old soldier who tried to do his duty as God gave them the light to see that duty goodbye.

I memorize that years ago for declamation contest that still brings tears to my eyes when I think about it, but the way I gave it in the declamation contest with the speech itself returned to the Bible for many starring words of this nature.

We think for example of Joseph's final words very end of the book of Genesis. Joseph is old Diane speaking to his brothers. He says I am about to die, but God will surely come to your aid and take you up out of this land of the land he promised on oath to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. God will surely come to your aid and then you must carry my bones up from this place again. We think of Moses final words that we have recorded that the very end of the book of Deuteronomy was last chapters contain what's called Moses song. The song of Moses and then Moses final blessing on the 12 tribes or in the New Testament we think of the apostle Paul on his way to Jerusalem for the final time in the stopover he made on the coast of Turkey and how he sent for the elders in Ephesus, among whom he labored for two years now.

I gave them final address. I know Paul said that none of you, among whom I brought about preaching the kingdom will ever see me again. Therefore I declare to you today that I am innocent of the blood of all men, for I have not hesitated to proclaim to you the whole will of God be on your guard, remember that for three years I never stopped warning. Each of you night and day with tears.

It's the same when we come to the end of the book of Joshua. Joshua was a great man and as he came to the end of his life. He wanted to give a charge to the people something they would remember and words by which they could guide our actions in significant ways in the years that lie ahead. The point of fact, Joshua gives to farewell charges gives a charge to all the people I does the entire nation assembled at one great convocation at Shechem, as recorded in chapter 24 and then before that he gives a final farewell charge to the leaders of the people those that are called in chapter 23 the elders, leaders, judges and officials of Israel moving moment. That must've been.

I said when we were studying the chapter before this chapter 22 that it must've been a very moving time when they comrades in arms that that fought side-by-side during the seven years of the Canaanite campaign separated. Some of them the members of the tribes of Reuben, dad and the half tribe of Manasseh to go off to the far side of the Jordan to their land there and the others remain to the west of the Jordan that must've been very very stirring, but here are those so were the leaders of the nation, the generals, those who had put their heads and their hearts together in developing the strategies and affecting the campaigns that eventually brought the entire land under the control of the Jewish armies Caleb would've been there. That great man Phineas, the son of Eleazar the priest would've been therein all those others, many of those who came on this occasion as leaders of the people would've been just young man back there in the days of the fighting, because it taken place quite a few years before Joshua as we learned in the next chapter was 110 years when he died, and the events of chapter 22 when the fighting was over and they parted probably took place when Joshua was about 8740 years in Egypt.

40 years in the wilderness, seven years of the campaign so 20 or 23 years of gone by now in their interim these who had been near you soldiers fighting back in those days of the campaign had now grown they had families, they had risen to positions of power and it was these as well as the old-timers like Caleb and Phineas Joshua called together on occasion. What is Joshua going to say that these people before he dies. What kind of a charge, is he going to give Joshua's charge. The leaders falls in a number of parts in the first part, quite naturally is a reminder of what God has done on their behalf is what Joshua says I am old now and well advanced in years. You yourselves have seen everything the Lord your God has done all these nations for your sake was the Lord your God, who fought for you. Remember how I have a lot it does in inheritance for your tribes, all the land of the nations that remain the nations like Concord between the Jordan and the great sea in the West Lord your God himself would drive them out of their way, he will push them out before you, and you will take possession of their land as the Lord your God promised you involved in that remembrance. Joshua tells him to remember the promises.

Remember the victories. Remember, the division of the land. According to the directions of God and the remember that God is going to complete that gun quest by driving out of the nations that remain. Some of them still remained at this time but Joshua looks ahead what's going to happen any season with the eye of faith, knowing that God is going to fulfill this in times, remember these things. He says quite naturally I say naturally and yet I does true in one sense and false and another true and that it was natural for Joshua to remind him of the things that happen, but it's most unnatural in the sense that it's natural for us to forget God does great things for us. God has done great things and we find ourselves drifting away from the memory of what God is Donnan so falling away from a following after God is. We should do a couple ways in which we do that, that are very contemporary R particular form of forgetting one thing we do is divorce what we regard as our religious experience from the facts of our faith. I mean by that. We have a tendency in our day to put feeling ahead of thinking.

It used to be when someone sought your opinion about something they would say to you and say rightly well what you think about so and so and a person would naturally reply by what he thought based on the facts available to it. Nowadays people don't say that so much people say well how do you feel about so and so we take those two terms as if there's a lot of is how do you think about it. How do you feel about it also monitors thinking you say involves reason based on facts and feeling is just an emotional thing has nothing to do with the facts and we slip. I am afraid that kind of thinking and our Christianity with the results that what is importantů How we feel at the moment and not necessarily what we know that God is done. So we find ourselves adrift on the sea of feelings see in which many people in their faith have made shipwreck. Joshua didn't want the people to do that. Joshua know that that time would, as they made contact with some of the people of the land remained in they would come to feel that well maybe what those people were doing was all right after all. And maybe would make them feel good if they would follow after the gods of the Canaanites, Joshua said, look, you mustn't drift into that. You have to remember that this religion lowers this biblical faith, which is the product of God with his people is something based on facts.

It's based upon what God is done in this history time sequence so he says you want to live for God to build your feelings on your faith on what you know rather than to be the other way around as a second way in which we fail to do what Joshua has told the people to know our particular form of failing and that and that is why regarding faith itself is what has come to be known in theology as a result of the work of Soren Kierkegaard as a leap of faith, I all know that phrase it. One of those phrases which I wish nobody had ever heard of. And certainly I wish that Kierkegaard had never, never used it, what it suggests is that we can by faith leap over the evidences.

We don't have to have any proof or religion. We don't have to have any historical documentation we don't have any basis for what it is. We believe all you have to do is have faith in that great leap over the Castleman everything to be all right. This has been hailed by many of our contemporary theologians is a great thing because releases this so they think from embarrassing obligation to provide sound Christian evidences course. It is nothing of the sort. All it does is abandon evidences and when it abandons evidences that abandons important aspects of the faith as well. The Bible knows nothing of a leap of faith, all faith itself is something that God works in our hearts we don't have saving faith apart from the work of God in our hearts, but it is not apart from evidences is based upon other words, faith is linked to reason the biblical approaches of faith is added to reason and understanding is added to faith. The reason the facts, the evidences of Christianity. Life is the foundation of it all so very important you say when Joshua begins to talk to the people that he says remember all the things that God is done and in beginning at that point is most contemporary is saying something that we need to hear as well. On the second and Joshua says is that on the basis of what God is done you a present obligation or couple of them. One obligation is the obligation of obedience really talks about in verses 6 to 8 be very strong.

Be careful to obey all that is written in the book of the law of Moses without turning aside to the right or to the left associate with these nations that remain among you do not invoke the names of their gods are swear by them you must not serve them or bow down to them what you are to hold fast to the Lord your God as you have until now significant is and what we might expect that Joshua is great soldier who knew the importance of obedience and you must have obedience, and military areas should stress obedience when he talks of the people is even more significant in his case because that is precisely what God urged upon him as a matter fact these verses. Verses six through eight Joshua 23 Echo verses six through eight Joshua one in that first chapter of the book that we saw long ago.

In our studies we saw that Joshua apparently timid and somewhat afraid.

Certainly feeling inadequate to the great responsibility that had been placed upon them now that Moses leader until now.

For all those years wanderings had died.

Joshua this timid man is encouraged by God, urged to be strong and challenge to obedience what God said to him on that occasion was be strong and very courageous.

Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you. Do not turn from it to the right or the left here all these many years later when they are 30 years later, Joshua, who had received that command from God, than to and obeyed it burns those who were to follow him and says, look, this is the secret to God's blessing wasn't talking about something that he read in the textbook he was talking about something that he lived out over those many dangerous and trying years of the conquest.

In the years that followed any saying, look, this is what you must do to God came to me and he said be strong and courageous. And remember to obey everything that Moses said in the book of the law, and now he said to them, you must do the same. If you would have God's blessing, I noticed a number of interesting things about this one is that the command to obey his links to the remembrance of what God is always latest biblical ethics. Think for example of the 10 Commandments, the 10 Commandments begin with a brief rehearsal of what God is not. I am the Lord your God who brought you up out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. Therefore, thou shalt have no other gods before you see how it goes.

God reminds us of what is done and as a consequence of that we are to live for him. This is precisely what Joshua was saying to the people, Joshua. You see, lived in that book Joshua knew the law he had. As David had made it his meditation day and night, those principles of entered into his thinking and when he comes to challenge the people. He says number one remember what God is done a number two. Be careful to obey him because he is your God, and that follows naturally upon what is done for you. The second thing I noticed about this is the emphasis upon the written book of the law. Joshua even uses that word. Be careful to obey all that is written in the book of the law of Moses.

This is early in Jewish history. Certainly early in the history of the people as a nation. Yet even at this point, you say there is what was for their day as the whole of the Bible is four hours a Canon that is a role written set of books by which they were to order their lives. Joshua does not say you say is people say today. Well, in some general vague way to live a moral life is good.

It's going to be good for you and it's going to be good for our society. If you were hard-working and virtuous in Brighton. All those things everybody agrees to that Joshua didn't say that to say didn't say in some vague way be moral means nothing at all when you get right down to it, your morality might be quite different for my morality and the basis of my sense of morality hundreds about anything I want but Joshua says you see if you're going to be a follower of God, it must be according to the written book of the law which he is given another words, your morality must be that which God has recorded in the book are important that the people have this book as a matter of fact, when we turn over to the next chapter we find in verse six that Joshua added to the canon.

Joshua recorded these things in the book of the law of God, what is that mean dwelling means that Joshua provided us with Joshua. Up to this point. In the Pentateuch, Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy, Joshua came along, God spoke to Joshua. Joshua loaded down and now Joshua is added to the canon so on throughout Old Testament history book after book was added as God inspired man in the writing of those things which were necessary to the theological understanding of the moral health of the people of God and we have the New Testament was also added to that, but that is our cogency. Although it is true that over the years in those periods of biblical history God through inspired man added to the canon. Nevertheless, the standard recorded in the canon remains the same standard. Joshua, saying if you are going to be God's people, you must order your lives according to what is revealed here in the Bible. The second part of the people's present obligation is in verse 11, Joshua says so be very careful. The love the Lord your God has been emphasized so much. Up till now it occurred in the previous chapter, and 22 Joshua was giving a farewell charge.

The people who were about to go off across the Jordan. But that's the first point of the book which that occurs, obedience is there all along. Now Joshua is stressing as he talks to them. They really must love God go to interpreting what Joshua means here in chapter 23 is the way he talks about love in chapter 22. Interesting that each of these chapters throws light on the other. Chapter 22 of the way Joshua talks about loving God is expressed clearly in language of Deuteronomy 65 Deuteronomy 65 is the worst that the Lord Jesus Christ referred to later when he was asked what was the first and great commandment. He said it's the love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind.

This is what Joshua refers to this as his definition of love and as he talks about it in the 22nd chapter he spells out a bit more fully. He says be careful to love the Lord your God walk in all his ways, to obey his commands to hold fast to him and to serve him with all your heart and soul say what is it mean to love God. That's the explanation walk in his ways, to obey his commands to hold fast to him and to serve him with all your heart and soul and other emergency obedience and love go together. We should know that of course Jesus said to his disciples, if you love me you keep my commandments. Obviously, if you don't keep his commandment.

You don't love him.

The symbol is not. We would like to say oh yes, I love God, but of course I want to do what I wanted to and the Bible tells us that that is just blatant hypocrisy or self-deception.

It's not true. If you are not obeying God you are not loving God.

The other hands and it works his way as well. If you really strive to obey his commandments and try to walk in his ways carefully, then you'll find that you will come to know him because God reveals himself in special ways to those who obey and you will grow in your love for him as well.

Obedience and love go together.

The third part of Joshua's charge has to do with the possible in future intermarrying of the people of Israel with the people of the land. Verse 12 but if you turn away to lie yourself with the survivors of these nations remain among you as you intermarry with them and associate with them, then you may be sure that the Lord your God will no longer drive these nations before you, instead I will become snares and traps for you lips on your back some thorns in your eyes and you perish from this good land which the Lord your God has given you. This also is a relatively new thing so far as we can tell by the history of the people we have up to this point. This matter of rudeness intermarrying should not been a problem does become a problem. After this, Joshua, who was obviously a keen observer of human nature, and who saw the danger of the people who remained in the land and their idolatrous ways anticipated what rose to become a tremendous problem exactly what he says as snare for the people. As the years of their history role on we know that it was a problem in the time of the judges became a great problem, even through the period of the kings, and even after the exile.

After the people of God in the Bible and in the been brought back. It is still a theme in the books of Ezra Nehemiah the very last chapter of Nehemiah. For example, being given almost entirely to this problem is not a problem you say wheat we misunderstand this at times I think it's not a problem of mere racial or ethnic intermarriage.

Reason I say that is that there had been racial and ethnic intermarriage among the Jewish people and nothing is said about that at all. For example, the people that came out of Egypt were mixed's body. People of different nations of different backgrounds were told that several times over.

They traveled together and mingled together. There wasn't anything wrong with that Moses himself married a Cushite. That is, a woman from Ethiopia and he's not condemned for that in the slightest way, was a Canaanite and right now as we saw when we studied her story was incorporated in the people and even became an ancestor of the Lord Jesus Christ. So it's not racial or ethnic intermarriage. That's a problem. The problem rather is what we call in our terminology the marriage of a believer with an unbeliever.

That's what's involved. The reason Joshua warned the people against marrying with the Canaanites, is that the Canaanites work on leaving pagans to have the most corrupt because of the perversions of their culture and morality that the Jewish people were instructed to wipe them out in the first place. This is a kind of problem we have today we have Christians marrying non-Christians so compromising their faith destroying the spiritual heart of the home will all of the bad consequences for children and the church at large is the devil was in this particular temptation presented itself to the Jewish people. I am sure he was because just as dictators know that if you want to establish a strong loyalty of individuals to the state you have to destroy the family, because family loyalties will always take precedence over the devil knows that if he wants to detach people from God he has to begin by destroying the spiritual value and heart of the homes were seeing that unfortunately happening in large measure in our day. What Joshua says here as well is what he says in the earlier parts of the chapter are very contemporary challenge to us as well. When we come to the last part. The last part of Joshua's charge is in the form of the challenge. He challenges them to drift along rather than make a choice for God, but is clear. Perhaps here at the end of chapter 23 is it's going to become. In chapter 24, with a very word choose cars choose you this day whom you will serve, says Joshua, but that's the idea. Joshua says I'm about to go the way of all the earth. You know all your heart and soul that not one of all the good promises of the Lord your God has failed every promises been fulfilled not one is failed. Just as every good promise of the Lord your God is come true so the Lord will bring on you all the evil he is threatened until he is destroyed you from this good land is given you. You violate the covenant of the Lord your God, which he commanded you and go and serve other gods, and bow down to them. The Lord's anger will burn against you and you will quickly perish from the good land he has given you silly saying he saying choose the Lord don't drift along the day when people are drifting one thing that strikes me so much about our contemporaries is people are increasingly unable to make a decision and stand by you say well what are you going to do about this place.

I well think about.

To do this. The next day. Well, maybe they're going to do something else you. You never know what they're going to do until the time finally comes that you observe it to see what happened sometimes what they do is simply what presents itself is the easiest way to go in the situation. The question shouldn't be like that Christians on the basis of what God is not in the determination of the following know is law also determined to do it and then do it because I already made a choice to do so now you save yourself a lot of agony in the Christian life. If you get that settled first early in your mind ever thought how wretched it would be if every single morning when you get up you had to make a decision whether or not you were going to brush her teeth missing a much time you waste trying to decide that question every single morning, the way to solve problems and greatly simplify your life is to decide early on. Every morning when I get up to brush my teeth in the same way with all sorts of other decisions the same spiritually early on in our lives. We must decide that were going to go God's way and then the challenges, they do come already are on the right path, and when things are difficult, we say well he's is never promised they'd be asleep but that's a decision I've already made. I already decided to follow the Lord as Joshua and the other great characters of the Bible did let you know I don't want to leave it there because there are always people who wrestled with these things, wonder if they can make the decision earth they ought to make the decision. I notice that when were challenged to do something by God. God never just leaves the question open as if he's in different style. You may choose or it makes no difference to you.

You go to the right of the left with choose God or bail God always gives inducements, encouragements to do the right thing I noticed here in this last portion of Joshua 23 that there are four times in the last paragraph and once in the chapter before when Joshua uses the word good twice in terms of the good promises of the Lord your God in three times in reference to this good land that is given.

That's the point, you say it's not just that we should obey God because it's our duty to obey all that is true. And it's not just that perhaps it might be wise to obey him all that is also true, but it's of this is a good thing to do. God is a good God and his promises are good promises and his gifts are good gifts, and if I can put it this way, if you really want the good life in the thing to do is decide for God early and follow them faithfully to your life. Sam, I was thinking about that this week I took some time to look up some of the verses that tell us about the goodness of God and the good things that he has for his people.

Psalm 34, eight says taste and see that the Lord is good and blessed is the man who takes refuge in him. Psalm 100 verse five declares the Lord is good and his love endures forever. In Psalm 103 verse five David affirmed. See satisfies my desires with good things. Psalm 6916 speaks of the goodness of God's love Psalm 100 1939 asserts that all God's laws are good man.

17 observes the Lord is good, a refuge in times of trouble. Romans 712 argues that the law is holy, and the commandment is only righteous and good.

Romans 828 says that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose Romans 12 to admonishes us to test and approve what God's will is that good, pleasing and perfect will. James 117 declares every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the father of the heavenly lights does not change like shifting shadows. John 1011 Jesus calls himself the good Shepherd.

Psalm 8411 affirms the Lord God is the sun and shield Lord bestows favor and honor no good thing busy withhold from those whose walk is blameless. These verses are not misrepresentations. God is not why God's master of the understatement. God says that is why is good, God means that his weight is superlative tremendous, the absolutely best thing you and I could possibly experience are no thoughts. True, why not following my not determined the following now, why not determined to follow him wholeheartedly without reservation without drawing back as Joshua did. Be blessed for its as he was to spray our father, we confess that we are weak we vacillate we start out well in folder we take two steps forward, we fall one step back.

We don't want to be like that. We want to be strong in faith and obedience and love and go on from faith to faith and from strength to strength.

We we want to mount up with wings like eagles, we want to run and not be weary. We want to walk and not faint. Other help us to do that in spite of the difficulties in spite of the temptations pursuing our way, but that good way that would pleasing and perfect will of God bless us. We pray in our determination to do that.

Not because of who we are because of who you are, the good God, pray in Jesus name. You are listening to Bible study hour with the Bible teaching of Dr. Jean's voice listener supported ministry of the alliance of confessing Evangelicals.

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