Remembering the great things that God has done in your own life so that the exhortation that Joshua brings out of this would connect in your own heart as well and you would walk out of here motivated to continue in the faithfulness that you're established in already.
We need to remember our God. What can the Old Testament book of Joshua teach Christians today? Well, as Pastor Don Green will show you today on the truth pulpit, the lessons within it are timeless and eternal, centered on the truth that God always keeps his promises. Hi there, I'm Bill Wright, and as Don continues to teach God's people God's Word, we'll continue our series, The Justice and Deliverance of God.
Don has part one of a message titled Remember and Respond. We'll be in Joshua 23 through 24, so turn there in your Bible as we join Don now in the truth pulpit. Joshua 24 verse 1 says, Joshua gathered together all the tribes of Israel to Shechem and called for the elders of Israel and for their heads and their judges and their officers, and they presented themselves before God.
Joshua said to all the people, Thus says the Lord the God of Israel. And then he goes on, launches into his speech, which we'll look at a little bit later. For now, I just wanted you to see that he's giving a final address in a couple of different settings. And what is it?
Here's the thing. What is it that a dying man has on his lips? What is it that this spiritual leader who is about to leave his nation behind, what is it that is on his mind? What does the book that bears his name teach the people to do? What should animate them? What are they supposed to remember?
How are they supposed to respond? We're going to see four principles and four themes here, and it's all very clear. It's very much just on the surface of the book of Joshua when you know what to look for. But these are the things, beloved, that frame your own spiritual life as well. These are the exact same principles that will motivate you, that will keep your heart encouraged, that will stimulate you to faithfulness and obedience.
There's no tricks in the spiritual life. There are no hidden secrets that some teachers know that aren't available to all of you in the Scriptures, and just reading them and respecting them for what they are, and we're going to see that as we look at Joshua here today. First principle, the first anchoring principle for us that Joshua taught the elders as well. Number one is to respect the Word of God.
To respect the Word of God. Go back to Joshua chapter 1. From the beginning, God called Joshua, and he said, Only be strong and very courageous. Be careful to do according to all the law which Moses, My servant, commanded you.
Do not turn from it to the right or the left, so that you may have success wherever you go. This book of the law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have success. Emphasizing to Joshua, Pay heed to my word.
Obey my word so that you would experience the blessing that comes from obedience. It's the same thing that we emphasize in our own lives today. As you go on through the book of Joshua, at key points in the middle of the book, the priority of Scripture is again emphasized. Over at Joshua chapter 8.
We're just identifying themes and seeing the centrality of certain themes in the book. After the victory at Ai, they turned to Scripture again. Joshua chapter 8 verse 30. Joshua chapter 8 verse 30.
Built an altar to the Lord, the God of Israel, in Mount Ebal. Just as Moses, the servant of the Lord, had commanded the sons of Israel, as it is written in the book of the law of Moses, an altar of uncut stones on which no man had wielded an iron tool, and they offered burnt offerings on it to the Lord and sacrificed peace offerings. He wrote there on the stones a copy of the law of Moses, which he had written in the presence of the sons of Israel. Drop down to verse 34. Then afterward, he read all the words of the law, the blessing and the curse, according to all that is written in the book of the law.
There was not a word of all that Moses had commanded, which Joshua did not read before all the assembly of Israel, with the women and the little ones and the strangers who were living among them. God's word. God's word.
God's word. After victory. Before the battle.
After the battle. It's all about God's word. When Joshua exhorted the people at the end of his life, going back to chapter 23, he calls them, in light of the Scriptures that we've seen, he calls them to honor the commands and the promises of God's word.
He calls them to commitment. Look at Joshua chapter 23 now. Joshua 23, beginning in verse 5.
The Lord your God, He will thrust them out from before you and drive them from before you, and you will possess the land just as the Lord your God promised you. Be very firm then to keep and do all that is written in the book of the law of Moses, so that you will not turn aside from it to the right hand or to the left, so that you will not associate with these nations these which remain among you, or mention the name of their gods, or make anyone swear by them, or serve them, or bow down to them. He tells them to cling tightly to God's word, to have it in their minds, to read it, to meditate upon it, so that it would help them remain faithful.
This is something that we're to cling tightly to, that we are to lay hold of and be faithful to. Look at verse 6 with me again. Joshua says, Be very firm then to keep and do all that is written in the book of the law of God.
Be firm in your conviction, be firm in your commitment, because in the word of God is your blessing. Look over at chapter 24 verse 26. Joshua 24 verse 26. Joshua wrote these words in the book of the law of God, and he took a large stone and set it up there under the oak that was by the sanctuary of the Lord. Joshua said to all the people, Behold, this stone shall be for a witness against us, for it has heard all the words of the Lord which he spoke to us, thus it shall be for a witness against you so that you do not deny your God. And then Joshua dismissed the people, each to his own inheritance. The word of God is a bookend, is functioning as bookends to the whole text of Joshua. At the beginning, Joshua would be strong and courageous and pay heed to the law of Moses.
At the end, you see the same emphasis coming back out. And what Israel was supposed to understand through the structure of this book and through Joshua's exhortation is that the word of God was the key to their blessing. That being firm and being faithful and being obedient to God's word was the key to blessing. And so like any spiritual leader, Joshua is desiring the blessing of his people when he calls them to obedience and to firmness and to faithfulness to God's word. Obedience brings blessing. God's word brings his favor. And to neglect it, to drift from it, to sin against it is to bring curses and judgment and discipline upon yourself.
And so Joshua is laying this out before them. Recognize the centrality of God's word and respond to it and obey it so that the blessing of God would be upon you. It reminds me, turn over to 2 Timothy, just so you can see that the New Testament emphasis is the same.
And that we stay the course in our commitment to Scripture without varying into different philosophies of ministry because it is here that the blessing of God is found with an open Bible in front of us. 2 Timothy chapter 4, Paul is exhorting Timothy. This is Paul's dying manifesto also. This is the last words that we have from the Apostle Paul. Notice the parallels to how Paul was telling Timothy to carry on the work after he was gone to what Joshua said to the elders of Israel for them to carry on the work after Joshua was gone. He says in chapter 4 verse 1, I solemnly charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus who is to judge the living and the dead and by his appearing in his kingdom. Oh, Timothy, preach the word.
Be ready in season and out of season. Reprove, rebuke, exhort with great patience and instruction. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths. But you, be sober in all things, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.
You see the pattern? Joshua says these are my last words to you. Stay true to the word. Paul 2,000 years later, 1,500 years later, speaking in very rough round terms. 1,500 years later to Timothy saying the exact same thing to him. There's just more revelation for Timothy to draw upon, but he's saying, Timothy, stay to the word, preach the word, don't neglect the word, don't turn aside even though society goes a different direction, though other spiritual people want to abandon the word of God.
Don't you do that, you stay firm. And so, for the people of God, for us as individual Christians, for us as a church, for the people of God, when this concept of respecting the word settles into our thinking and becomes the anchor around which everything else turns, I realize that I mixed metaphors there, that's okay, but becomes the pivot point around which everything, that we do everything. When you understand that, then you are less prone to drift. You're less prone to be enticed by other philosophies of ministry that de-emphasize the word of God and produce more visible results in the short term. We're not interested in short-term results. That's not what motivates us. What we care about is having an enduring ministry that will stand the test of time, and even more importantly, will meet with the approval of God when we stand before Christ in judgment. That's what we care about. And God has laid forth in His Word that what survives the test at His judgment is trust in Christ. What survives the test at judgment is faithfulness to His Word. And that's what we're after. That's what we're aiming at. It's not who shows up on Sunday. It's what we're going to say and hear from Christ when we're before Him.
That's what we care about. It transcends the vicissitudes of life and human opinion here on earth. Now, so we respect the Word of God. Joshua not only teaches the centrality of God's Word, it goes further as Joshua is talking to the people. Joshua goes further and interprets for them the significance of God's acts in the history of the nation. And so secondly, if you were taking notes, the second point that Joshua calls them to is to remember the power of God.
Remember the power of God. This nation, this generation had seen displays of God's power that should motivate them to obedience and make them fearful of sinning. Go back to Joshua 23 now and see what Joshua says to them.
Says to the leadership in this closing address, this final exhortation that he gives to them. In Joshua chapter 23 verse 9, after he had said in verse 8, you are to cling to the Lord your God as you have done to this day. Verse 9, notice how he reminds them of their immediate recent past, of their military conquests in summary form. He says, the Lord has driven out great and strong nations from before you and as for you, no man has stood before you to this day.
Remember the power of God. Remember how he displayed it and defeated mighty nations before you and you put them to flight. Verse 10, one of your men puts to flight a thousand for the Lord your God, who is he who fights for you just as he promised you. Now look at what he says in verse 11.
So, here's the application that you're supposed to draw from this. He says to the nations, here's what you're supposed to take as your departing conviction. Now that God has done this, what should your attitude be in response? Verse 11, take diligent heed to yourselves to love the Lord your God.
What do you do in response to that? What shapes your heart? What shapes your affection?
What becomes the dominating motivating factor in your heart? Verse 11, look at it there, take diligent heed to yourselves to love the Lord your God. Listen beloved, we've been so greatly blessed, I'm going to pay heed even more is the attitude that you come away with with that. When God has displayed his power in your life, you pay all the more attention.
You don't take the future for granted. Where had they seen God's power? Well, let's just look at some of the historical things that Joshua was alluding to. God miraculously brought them across the Jordan River. Look back at Joshua chapter 3. Just to remind you of some of the great moments in history that were echoing in Joshua's mind as he exhorted the people. In Joshua chapter 3, you remember that they miraculously crossed the Jordan River in order to enter into the Promised Land. We won't go into the whole story of it, just to remind you and to point it out so that you know where it's at in your Bibles. Joshua 3 verse 14. So when the people set out from their tents to cross the Jordan with the priests carrying the Ark of the Covenant before the people, and when those who carried the Ark came into the Jordan, and the feet of the priests carrying the Ark were dipped in the edge of the water, for the Jordan overflows all its banks all the days of the harvest.
Watch this. The waters which were flowing down from above stood and rose up in one heap. Kind of reminds you of the crossing of the Red Sea, doesn't it? A great distance away at Adam, the city that is beside Zarethan, and those which were flowing down toward the Sea of the Arabah, the Salt Sea, were completely cut off so the people crossed opposite Jericho. And the priests who carried the Ark of the Covenant of the Lord stood firm on dry ground in the middle of the Jordan, while all Israel crossed on dry ground until all the nation had finished crossing the Jordan.
They had walked through a flowing river on dry ground. They saw what none of us have ever seen is that water unrestrained was standing in a heap. And they walked through a river on dry ground and saw water, contrary to the laws of nature, standing up when it should have been flowing. Joshua tells them, You remember the power of God as you entered into this land, remember what God did for you, so that you would fear Him, so that you would respect Him, so that you would be motivated to obey further in the future. It is ever the fear of a spiritual leader that the people under his watch will start to drift away, that they will lose interest, that they will forget and get wrapped up in the things that are right in front of them, and forget the work that God has done. Joshua says to the nation, You remember the power of God, you saw things that very few human eyes have seen.
And having remembered that, let that shape your conviction to be faithful going forward. In Joshua, God gave them the city of Jericho apart from normal human means. Look over at chapter 6 verse 1, chapter 6 verse 1, reminding you of a story that you know well. Jericho was tightly shut because of the sons of Israel.
No one went out and no one came in. And the Lord said to Joshua, See, I have given Jericho into your hand with its king and the valiant warriors. You shall march around the city, all the men of war circling the city once.
You shall do so for six days. Also, seven priests shall carry seven trumpets of ram's horn before the ark. Then on the seventh day, you shall march around the city seven times and the priests shall blow the trumpets. It shall be when they make a long blast with the ram's horn. And when you hear the sound of the trumpet, all the people shall shout with a great shout, and the wall of the city will fall down flat and the people will go up every man straight ahead.
You know what happened. Look over at verse 20, chapter 6 verse 20. So the people shouted.
This is seven days into the event. The people shouted and priests blew their trumpets. And when the people heard the sound of the trumpet, the people shouted with a great shout, and the wall fell down flat so that the people went up into the city every man straight ahead, and they took the city. They utterly destroyed everything in the city, both man and woman, young and old, and ox and sheep and donkey, with the edge of the sword.
So, Joshua reminds them, you walked through a river on dry ground. Do you remember how that great city with the great wall fell at the sound of human voices? This is contrary to human expectation.
This is contrary to the normal course of human life. And you saw that. You experienced it. You have been recipients of the power of God exercised on your behalf. He says, remember that.
He's telling them at the end of the book. Remember these things and therefore be faithful going forward. Don't sin against your past.
Don't sin against what God has formerly done for you by drifting away now that you're on the receiving end of so much blessing from God. There was one more event that we'll call attention to in chapter 10, another miraculous deliverance that God gave to them. And the reminders of these things shows them that it wasn't by their strength that they attained these victories.
These things were beyond human capacity to accomplish. Look at Joshua chapter 10 verse 8. This is the victory at Gibeon. The Lord said to Joshua, Do not fear them, for I have given them into your hands.
Not one of them shall stand before you. So Joshua came upon them suddenly by marching all night from Gil-gah. And the Lord confounded them before Israel, and he slew them with a great slaughter at Gibeon, and pursued them by the way of the ascent of Beth-haran, and struck them as far as Azekah and Makkida. As they fled from before Israel, while they were at the descent of Beth-haran, the Lord threw large stones from heaven on them as far as Azekah, and they died.
There were more who died from the hailstones than those whom the sons of Israel killed with the sword. Then Joshua spoke to the Lord in the day when the Lord delivered up the Amorites before the sons of Israel. And he said in the sight of Israel, O son, stand still at Gibeon, and O moon in the valley of Eijelon. So the sun stood still, and the moon stopped until the nation avenged themselves of their enemies.
Is it not written in the book of Jaschar? And the sun stopped in the middle of the sky and did not hasten to go down for about a whole day. There was no day like that before it or after it when the Lord listened to the voice of a man, for the Lord fought for Israel. The son supernaturally stood still, and God rained down great hailstones upon their enemies.
And the son stood still to give them time to complete the victory. And so here you have three examples of God's miraculous work at the Jordan River, at Jericho, and at Gibeon where the son stood still. All displays of the power of God, Joshua reminding them of these things so that they would be motivated to be faithful. And so what happens here, what happens for us now as we read it, you know, thousands of years later, what Israel was supposed to do when they read the book of Joshua, was you're supposed to look at this and read this and say, we serve a powerful God. We serve a God of deliverances. We serve a God who exercises His might on behalf of His people.
And He's the same God today as He was back then in the days of Joshua. And so we have confidence and we trust Him and we obey Him, trusting Him ultimately to exercise His power for our benefit, and that keeps us faithful to the Word of God. When we add to it our own past experiences of God's blessings, beloved, do you see how unthinkable it is for us to distrust God, to question God, to disobey God, to drift away because life isn't going a particular direction that we want.
We cannot do that. We must be faithful in response to this kind of God, because His power, His might, His grace deserves that response from His people, and that understanding shapes us to be faithful. The Word of God is sure, past, present, and future, and His power is evident in the lives of all believers. Pastor Don Green will have part two of his message called Remember and Respond next time here on The Truth Pulpit, so be sure to join us then. Right now, here again is Don with some exciting ministry news. Well, my friend, it's always meaningful for me to be able to preach God's Word to God's people and to share it with you here on the radio.
Recently I completed a series that is one of my all-time favorites. It's called The Bible and Roman Catholicism. It was several messages designed to test Catholic teaching by what Scripture says. We'd like to share a copy of that with you, a full, complete CD album of ten messages.
Just go to our website and request it, or you'll find the downloads. We just want you to have this material at no cost as our gift and ministry to you. Just visit us at thetruthpulpit.com and click on Radio Offers to learn more. Again, that's thetruthpulpit.com. Now for Don Green, I'm Bill Wright inviting you back next time as Don Green again teaches God's people God's Word from the Truth Pulpit.
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