SOURCE FOR QUESTIONS
Joshua 23:1 through 24:33
KEY VERSE FOR MEMORIZATION
“Be ye therefore very courageous to keep and to do all that is written in the book of the law of Moses, that ye turn not aside therefrom to the right hand or to the left.” (Joshua 23:6)
Joshua made two speeches at the end of this book emphasizing how good the Lord had been to the Children of Israel. His advanced age was the reason for his gathering “all Israel” unto himself, and this text block has been noted as his farewell address to them. Joshua took this opportunity to remind them that they were eyewitnesses of God’s mighty deeds, and he admonished them to be faithful to the Lord and obey His Law.
Joshua went on to remind them that God brought their patriarch, Abraham, from “the other side of the flood,” (Joshua 24:3) referring here to the great river Euphrates, not to the great Flood of Noah’s day. He pointed out the great lengths that God undertook to establish this people as His people.
Although Terah (Abraham’s father) and Nachor (Abraham’s brother), had knowledge of the one true God, they compromised their faith by mixing with the idolatrous culture in Haran. God chose Abraham and established His covenant with him because he obediently followed the voice of God.
Sometimes God used ordinary elements to accomplish His purpose. Joshua reminded the elders of the time that God sent a swarm of hornets to drive out the inhabitants of the land allowing the Children of Israel to possess houses already built as well as crops already cultivated.
As Joshua ended his discourse to them, the Children of Israel said, “The Lord our God will we serve, and his voice will we obey” (Joshua 24:24). True to their word, for a time, they kept the covenant they made with God by the hands of Joshua long after he, and the elders who outlived him, died.
SUGGESTED RESPONSES TO QUESTIONS
- When God commissioned Joshua to be Moses’ successor, He provided Joshua with divine encouragement, exhorting him to be courageous and obedient to God’s will (see Joshua 1:5-9). What similarities do you see between this instruction and the opening words of Joshua’s farewell address to the nation in Joshua 23:6-11? What conclusion can we draw from these two Scriptures regarding how Joshua responded?
In His commission of Joshua, God commanded him to “be strong and of a good courage” and to observe all that was in the Law, not turning to the right hand or the left. In Joshua’s farewell address to the nation, he repeated the same two points: that the people were to be courageous, and to keep the Law of Moses, not turning to the right hand or left. As your group discusses the conclusion that can be drawn from these Scriptures, they should see that Joshua had realized the vital importance of God’s instruction, and knew it must be emphasized to God’s people in his final communication to them.
- Joshua 23:3 describes the Lord as “he that hath fought for you.” What had God done for the Israelites up to this point? Use Joshua 24:2-13 as a guide.
God took them from idolatry, led them into the Promised Land, multiplied them, sent Moses and Aaron, plagued Egypt, brought them out of bondage, gave their enemies into their hand, delivered them out of the hand of their enemies, and gave them a land for which they did not work.
- In Old Testament times, God fought physical battles for His people. What type of “battles” do we face today?
Although we may face physical persecution at times, most of our battles today as Christians are fought in the spiritual realm. The enemy’s favorite battleground is the mind. How has God prepared us to resist the onslaughts of Satan? Lead the class in sharing specific ways they have used that have helped them overcome difficulties.
- What was Joshua’s first command to Israel in this exhortation? What was his second? (Joshua 23:6-7)
Joshua’s first command was to “be ye therefore very courageous to keep and to do all that is written in the book of the law of Moses, that ye turn not aside therefrom to the right hand or to the left.” Discuss the dangers in swerving too far “to the right” or “to the left” of God’s law. Discussion should bring out: loss of direction, poor decision-making, failure to pass the law on to succeeding generations, and ultimately eternal separation from God. Class input could also focus on some of the stabilizing forces in a Christian’s life: salvation, sanctification, the baptism of the Holy Ghost, the sound interpretation of Scripture, and the counsel of pastors, elders, and leaders in the Gospel.
Joshua’s second command was for the people to be separate from the ungodly nations around them, and to cleave unto the Lord. The Hebrew word dabaq, translated as cleave in English, means “to follow closely, to be joined together (as in marriage); to stick or adhere to.” It is the same word used to describe God’s design for marriage in Genesis 2:24. God’s promise to expel the inhabitants of Canaan and give Israel the Promised Land was conditional upon their continued obedience to God’s Law, their faithfulness to Him, and keeping their distance from the wicked and idolatrous Canaanites.
- What were the conditions of God’s promise to fight for the Israelites? (Joshua 23:7) How can we be assured that God is fighting for us?
The conditions of the promise included that they should not live among the heathen nations and that they should not mention the names of the heathen gods, swear by them, serve them, or bow down to them. We can be assured that God is fighting for us when we wholly follow Him, forsaking all other gods (that is, anything that competes with Almighty God), and serve the Lord in sincerity and truth. Ask the class for examples from their lives or from the testimony of someone they know, of instances where the Lord intervened and fought for them. Use the testimony of Walter Janeway (tract #51, Prayed Out, Stayed Out), for whom the Lord fought many physical and spiritual battles.
- Joshua 23:11 states the third command: to love the Lord. How did the Children of Israel demonstrate their adherence or lack of adherence to this command? How can we show the world through our actions that we, too, love the Lord?
If they had truly loved the Lord, they would have followed all His commandments, and this obedience would have been reflected in their daily actions. One who truly loves God is consecrated to His service in heart, soul, mind, and strength. Bring out that obedience alone does not always communicate love. Joyful obedience and an attitude that exudes total love and commitment will demonstrate our devotion. Use a chart listing several Christian duties such as: caring for the poor, witnessing, charity, etc. Ask your students to provide some positive and negative attitudes/behaviors for each item listed.
- What did Joshua do to commemorate the people’s covenant renewal with God? (Joshua 24:25-27) What are some examples of “monuments” in a Christian’s life?
Joshua recorded their decision on a scroll and erected a stone pillar as a monument of their covenant. It is possible that the stone was inscribed, since Joshua mentions that “it hath heard all the words of the Lord which he spake unto us.” The permanency of the stone pillar was to be a continual reminder to the people. Symbolically, the greatest monument in our lives is the experience of being born into the Kingdom of God. Your class may offer testimonials of a time when the Lord answered prayer, or when they received deeper experiences from God. There may even be those who have literal monuments, which constantly remind them of God’s goodness, such as prayer journals and traditions.
- If you knew you had only one month to live, would your attitude and behavior change? If so, in what way? What would you say to your friends, family, neighbors, and coworkers in your “final address”?
If we were told we had only one month to live, possibly we would all be more diligent in our service to God. As we look at our lives, are we evangelizing as we should? Do we have strained or broken relationships that need to be mended? Are there earthly debts that we need to settle? Your students may benefit from considering what they would like written in their own eulogies.
Faithful service to God is built upon the foundation of a born-again experience. As we purpose to “cleave unto the Lord” and “love him with all our heart,” we will consecrate ourselves to the service of the Lord.