Core ConvictionsAugust 22, 2021
As Joshua neared the end of his life, he held two gatherings to share his core convictions. The first gathering was at the nations spiritual center, Shiloh, where he addressed Israel’s leaders. The second gathering was at Shechem where he spoke to the entire nation.
At the end of Joshua, he is called the “servant of the Lord.” (Joshua 24:29) That was the title Moses carried. A question the book of Joshua has been hinting at has been: Is Joshua able to stand in the shoes of Moses? Will he have the courage, righteousness and faith to be a man of God like Moses; or will he crumble under the weight of his assignment? Now at the end of his life, the Scriptures declares that he is indeed the Lord’s servant.
1. I Know What I Have
Joshua 23:2 Joshua addresses the leaders at Shiloh. This is where the tabernacle and ark of the covenant would have been. It was Israel’s spiritual center until King David moved it to Jerusalem.
Joshua 23:7 Joshua warns the nation not to mix with the nations because they are headed to trouble.
Joshua 23:8 Joshua instructs the nation to “cling” to Yahweh your God. NIV, “hold fast”, Hebrew dabaq, “cleave.” It is the same word used in Genesis 2:24 when Adam says that a man will leave his father and mother and “cleave” to his wife. The symbolism is strong here. Israel is married to Yahweh. (Mount Sinai was like a wedding ritual.)
What we have a believers in Jesus is special. Our relationship with God is special. When we say things like, “all religions are the same,” we devalue the beauty of Christ. When someone says, all spiritual leaders are the same, they are robbing Christ of glory that belongs to Him alone.
Joshua 23:12 he warns them that if they turnback and “dabaq” (cleave) to other nations, there will be a severe change in their relationship. The Lord will no longer drive them out as he has in Joshua, but he will allow them to experience defeat at the hands of their enemies.
2. I Know God’s Word
Joshua 23:6: Joshua brings what God commanded him in Joshua 1 to the nation itself. They are to keep the law of Moses fully.
Joshua 23:14: Joshua maintains that everything God promised, everything he gave his word to, has not failed. Thus the nation can continue to trust in the Lord, as God has already proven himself to Joshua and that generation. They have seen with their eyes the Jordan stop flowing, Jericho’s walls fall, the defeat at AI and the very sun stand still in the sky. If God was faithful in the past, they can rely on him to be faithful again.
3. I Know I’m
Joshua pauses to remind the nation that their great success is not the result of their skill, but the Lord’s power.
Joshua 23:10 compare to Deuteronomy 32:30.
Joshua 24 is the scene of the next meeting. The twelve tribes gather to hear Joshua speak. This second meeting should remind us of Genesis 49, where Jacob in his last days gathered his 12 sons around him to bless them. Those 12 sons became 12 tribes. Now Joshua in his last days gathers the 12 sons to himself. But they are not 12 sons, they are now 12 great tribes.
The nation meets at Shechem, the same place where God had promised in Genesis 12:6-7 to give the land to Abaraham’s descendants. They are now literally standing on the promises.
Joshua reminds the nation that everything they have is because the Lord gave it to them, not because of their own ability.
Joshua 24:12 God says that he sent the “hornet” before them to drive the enemies out. People run from a hornet. They are afraid of the hornets sting. Here God is the hornet who went ahead of Israel and stirred the nations into a crazed panic so they would be easily defeated.
4. I Know
Joshua 24:14 Joshua calls the nation to “put away the gods” of their fathers. That is, they are to throw away their idols. Wait! They still have idols by Joshua 24? Wow.
This meeting is taking place at Shechem where Jacob commanded his family to give up their household idols before going to Bethel. (Genesis 35:4) Joshua, like Jacob, now commands his family to throw away their idols.
Joshua 24:15 Joshua dares to tell the nation they must make a choice; follow God, or leave. But stop wavering between both the gods of the land and Yahweh. He wants them to choose once and for all. Joshua declares that he and his household will serve Yahweh. Joshua is an old man who remembers slavery. He’s determined not to go back.
(See “Letter from a freed slave” at the end of the notes.) The devil, sin and evil would love to invite us back into slavery. The Christian must choose once and for all not to return to the old slavery that God rescued us from.
5. I know I need
Joshua 24:16-19 the people respond that they do desire to follow the Lord. But surprisingly, Joshua says they cannot. “You are not able to serve the Lord, for he is a holy God.” What they need is not just willpower, they need a savior.
“Letter from Jourdan Anderson to His Former Master”
Dayton, Ohio, August 7, 1865
To My Old Master, Colonel P. H. Anderson,
Big Spring, Tennessee
Sir: I got your letter and was glad to find you had not forgotten Jourdan, and that you
wanted me to come back and live with you again, promising to do better for me than anybody else can. I have often felt uneasy about you. I thought the Yankees would have hung you long before this for harboring Rebs they found at your house. I suppose they never heard about your going to Col. Martin’s to kill the Union soldier that was left by his company in their stable.
Although you shot at me twice before I left you, I did not want to hear of your being hurt, and am glad you are still living. It would do me good to go back to the dear old home again and see Miss Mary and Miss Martha and Allen, Esther, Green, and Lee. Give my love to them all, and tell them I hope we will meet in the better world, if not in this. I would have gone back to see you all when I was working in the Nashville hospital, but one of the neighbors told me Henry intended to shoot me if he ever got a chance.
I want to know particularly what the good chance is you propose to give me. I am doing tolerably well here; I get $25 a month, with victuals and clothing; have a comfortable home for Mandy (the folks here call her Mrs. Anderson), and the children, Milly, Jane and Grundy, go to school and are learning well; the teacher says Grundy has a head for a preacher. They go to Sunday-School, and Mandy and me attend church regularly. We are kindly treated; sometimes we overhear others saying, “Them colored people were slaves” down in Tennessee. The children feel hurt when they hear such remarks, but I tell them it was no disgrace in Tennessee to belong to Col. Anderson. Many darkies would have been proud, as I used to was, to call you master. Now, if you will write and say what wages you will give me, I will be better able to decide whether it would be to my advantage to move back again.
As to my freedom, which you say I can have, there is nothing to be gained on that score, as I got my free-papers in 1864 from the Provost-Marshal-General of the Department at Nashville. Mandy says she would be afraid to go back without some proof that you are sincerely disposed to treat us justly and kindly¾and we have concluded to test your sincerity by asking you to send us our wages for the time we served you. This will make us forget and forgive old scores, and rely on your justice and friendship in the future. I served you faithfully for thirty-two years and Mandy twenty years. At $25 a month for me, and $2 a week for Mandy, our earnings would amount to $11,680. Add to this the interest for the time our wages has been kept back and deduct what you paid for our clothing and three doctor’s visits to me, and pulling a tooth for Mandy, and the balance will show what we are in justice entitled to. Please send the money by Adams Express, in care of V. Winters, esq, Dayton, Ohio. If you fail to pay us for faithful labors in the past we can have little faith in your promises in the future.
We trust the good Maker has opened your eyes to the wrongs which you and your fathers have done to me and my fathers, in making us toil for you for generations without recompense. Here I draw my wages every Saturday night, but in Tennessee there was never any pay day for the negroes any more than for the horses and cows. Surely there will be a day of reckoning for those who defraud the laborer of his hire.
In answering this letter please state if there would be any safety for my Milly and Jane, who are now grown up and both good-looking girls. You know how it was with poor Matilda and Catherine. I would rather stay here and starve and die if it comes to that than have my girls brought to shame by the violence and wickedness of their young masters. You will also please state if there has been any schools opened for the colored children in your neighborhood, the great desire of my life now is to give my children an education, and have them form virtuous habits.
P.S.—Say howdy to George Carter, and thank him for taking the pistol from you when you were shooting at me.
From your old servant,