Chapter 23 begins with Joshua summoning the leaders of Israel to Shechem, the place that Jacob had first owned property hundreds of years ago. Since the LORD will drive their enemies “out of [their] sight,” Joshua exhorts them to “be very strong to keep and do all that is written in the Book of the Law of Moses…” Completing the conquest of the land is about obedience, not military might, and Israel cannot forget how they got this far.
Joshua’s words to Israel conclude with the same call that Moses’ had: “Choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your fathers served… or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you dwell,” or the LORD your God. And he adds his own answer, “As for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.”
Listen to the way Joshua goads the elders of Israel toward accountability: You are not able to serve the LORD… “No, we will!” Then you are witnesses against yourselves this day… “We are witnesses!” Then put away your foreign gods… “The LORD our God we will serve!” Joshua indeed has been exalted, just as the LORD had promised.
And with a final monument of witness, the journey ends. The people are sent away, “every man to his inheritance.” Sent away from Shechem, just as Jacob had been, but with a markedly different future. Do they sense that a page is turning, that they will never pass this way again? Will they indeed serve the LORD in the land He has given them?
The book ends with the typical farewells, to Joshua, to Eleazar, to this chapter in Israel’s story. But if you’ve been with this story from the beginning, ever since “…but God will visit you, and bring you up… to the land that he swore to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob,” then the author has one final reward in store.
We’ll end our Joshua readings with the postscript at the end of Joshua 21:
“Thus the LORD gave to Israel all the land that he swore to give to their fathers. And they took possession of it, and they settled there. And the LORD gave them rest on every side just as he had sworn to their fathers. Not one of all their enemies had withstood them, for the LORD had given all their enemies into their hands. Not one word of all the good promises that the LORD had made to the house of Israel had failed; all came to pass.”
Our verse for this week is Hebrews 11:30: By faith the walls of Jericho fell down after they had been encircled for seven days.
Joshua 23 and 24. Now let’s read it!
By faith the walls of Jericho fell down after they had been encircled for seven days.