Joshua 23:2
he summoned all Israel, including its elders, leaders, judges, and officers. "I am old and well along in years," he said,
Jehovah the Champion of IsraelW. G. Blaikie, D. D.Joshua 23:1-16
Old AgeJoshua 23:1-16

I. GOD IS PRESENT IN THE MIDST OF HIS FAITHFUL PEOPLE. By the nature of things, God is present everywhere (Psalm 139:7-10). Yet there is a more intimate and revealed presence of God which is not universal, but which is the peculiar privilege of some, while to others it is denied. This consists in the outflow of sympathy, the exercise of special grace, the nearness of spiritual communion. Two persons can be locally near, and yet in thought and sympathy very distant from one another. Spiritual presence is conditioned not by space but by sympathy. When we are out of sympathy with God He is far from us. When we are one with Him in sympathy He is near. This is a real presence. God does not simply send blessings and breathe benedictions from a distance. He makes the bodies of His people a temple (1 Corinthians 6:9), and their hearts the home of His Spirit (John 14:23).

II. GOD'S PRESENCE IS A FACT OF GREAT INTEREST TO HIS PEOPLE. Phinehas expresses satisfaction in the recognition of God's presence.

(1) God's presence should be a source of blessing, since

(a) He is our father, and we are homeless without Him;

(b) He is the Almighty One, and we are full of need;

(c) He is the light and life of all things, and without Him we are in darkness and death, like a planet without its sun.

(2) God's presence is proved by experience to be a source of blessing, bestowing

(a) safety,

(b) purity,

(c) joy,

(d) glory.

The possession of all the treasures of the world without God would leave the soul poor indeed. His presence is a pearl of great price.


(1) God's presence is discernible. It is not for ever secret and hidden. Phinehas perceives the presence of the Lord. We do not always perceive it, but there are events which make it strikingly apparent. If we know how to recognise it, we need not be always asking, "Is the Lord among us or no?" but, like Hagar (Genesis 16:13) and Jacob (Genesis 28:16), we shall be surprised and satisfied with the manifestation of God in our midst.

(2) God's presence is manifested in the conduct of His people.

(a) It is not proved by our opinions: we may have very correct ideas about the nature and character of God while we are far from Him.

(b) It is not made manifest by our feelings: emotions are deceptive, and very strong religious feelings may be found in a very godless life.

(c) It is seen in conduct.

IV. THE CONDUCT WHICH PROVES THE PRESENCE OF GOD IS FAITHFULNESS IN HIS SERVICE. Phinehas perceives "that the Lord is among us, because ye have not committed this trespass against the Lord." Faithfulness in the service of God, and a consequent spirit of brotherly kindness and sympathy, such as that now manifested among the tribes of Israel, are good signs of the presence of God in a Church.

(1) His presence is the cause of fidelity. Our fidelity reveals His presence, but it does not secure it. He is present first, and inspires devotion, and binds His people together in united affection through their common devotion to Him.

(2) He must need depart from His people when they become unfaithful. No past enjoyment of God will secure His abiding presence. If God depart, though wealth and ease and numbers testify to apparent prosperity, we may exclaim, "Ichabod - the glory has departed." - W.F.A.

And behold this day I am going the way of all the earth.
Death is so dim-sighted and so blundering-footed that he staggers across Axminster tapestry as though it were a bare floor, and sees no difference between the fluttering rags of a tatterdemalion and a conqueror's gonfalon. Side by side we must all come down. No first class, second class, or third class in death or the grave. Death goes into the house at Gad's Hill, and he says, "I want that novelist." Death goes into Windsor Castle, and he says, "I want Victoria's consort." Death goes into Ford's Theatre, at Washington, and says, "I want that President." Death goes on the Zulu battlefield, and says, "I want that French Prince Imperial." Death goes into the marble palace at Madrid, and says "Give me Queen Mercedes." Death goes into the almshouse, and says, "Give me that pauper." Death comes to the Tay Bridge, and says, "Discharge into my cold bosom all those passengers."

(T. De Witt Talmage.)

The first symptom of approaching death with some, is the strong presentiment that they are about to die. Oganan, the mathematician, while in apparent health, rejected pupils from the feeling that he was on the eve of resting from his labours; and he expired soon after of an apoplectic stroke. Fletcher, the divine, had a dream which shadowed out his impending dissolution, and believing it to be the merciful warning of Heaven, he sent for a sculptor and ordered his tomb. "Begin your work forthwith," he said at parting; "there is no time to lose." And unless the artist had obeyed the admonition, death would have proved the quicker workman of the two. Mozart wrote his Requiem under the conviction that the monument he was raising to his genius would, by the power of association, prove a universal monument to his remains. When life was fleeting very fast, he called for the score, and musing over it, said, "Did I not tell you truly that it was for myself that I composed this death chant?"

Not one thing hath failed of all the good things which the Lord... spake. —
I. DEATH IS A WAY. It leads the believer from the means and streams of religious ordinances to the fountain-head of living waters; from the society of earthly, and at best imperfect connections, to the company of triumphant saints, &c.

II. Death is a way THAT ALL MUST GO. Some journeys may be deferred and postponed a week, a month, a year, and perhaps be wholly declined. But this cannot be put off or avoided.


(Isaac Bachus, D. D.)

With Joshua as with Simeon, at eventide it was light, the hues of a golden sunset coloured with the tints of the rainbow, which St. John beheld before the throne. The words that I have read to you contain a retrospect and a prospect. He looks behind for them; he looks forward for himself.

1. We, too, have a retrospect like his, and we too have a prospect. Let us look back at life, each from our own standing-point, each colouring with the hues of his own experience the common outline. Begin at the beginning, and look back at childhood. I do not think childhood the happiest time of life, and therefore I will not say it is. And yet in the spring of our life, though it had its biting winds and its cold nights, lest our characters should bud too fast and in an atmosphere too genial we should grow unequally and develop too rapidly, there were gleams of bright sunshine, showers dropping with fruitfulness, in which our minds expanded and our souls grew. Some of us it may be were brought to the feet of Jesus, to hear His Word. As children we knew the Holy Scriptures, and our infant lips were tutored in prayer. But manhood is the time of man's glory, when we partake of the full joys of home life, when opinions mature and cultivation grows, and experience mellows, and noble duties open out before us, and grow into the full liberty of the sons of God, and by faith we overcome the wicked one. Oh, how full manhood may be of pure and generous happiness, if lived unto God, if we will but look up to Him as a reconciled Father, and in the comfort of the Holy Ghost follow the Lamb whithersoever He went on earth! Sorrow there must be, but there is strength to bear it; losses, but there is time to redeem them; sin, but the blood of Christ cleanses us from all sin; imperfectness, but then we are complete in Him. And then, as to old age, in one view of it that is the best of all. The aged man, if he is a Christian, is nearly at home. His activities may be diminished, but his wisdom is augmented. If not strong in action, he is great in counsel. He looks back over a past of unbroken, unvarying love, and his song is, "Surely, goodness and mercy have followed me all the days of my life; I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever." Oh, I pray you, wherever in life you be, whatever in life you have, gather up your mercies and count them; see how the Lord's faithfulness has given you every one of the good things that He has promised to His people. Where you wandered, it was through your own wilfulness, and He brought you back. When you fell He lifted you up. When you wept your tears came to you with a message from God. You may indeed be forgetting Him; that I know not, but this I do know, that He has been love to you, trying to embrace you with the arms of His mercy, willing to draw you with the cords of love.

2. There is also a prospect. "Behold, this day I am going the way of all the earth." "It is appointed unto men once to die, and after that the judgment." My brethren, this way is a universal way, and a sorrowful way, and a cloudy way.

(Bp. Thorold.)

I. THE CIRCUMSTANCES IN WHICH JOSHUA HERE REPRESENTS HIMSELF AS PLACED. Time has gathered death's memorials on that form; and warned, perhaps, by some communication from the world invisible, or feeling, it may be, in the pain, the weakness, or the gathering wrinkles, that his closing hour is near, he thus addresses the multitude around: "Behold, this day I am going the way of all the earth." What was dying Joshua but just the representative of dying man? and what is Joshua dead but an instance, from the midst of ten thousand times ten thousand of the human form, erect and strong, and animated once, consigned to mournful silence, and the human spirit vanished from the scenes of enterprise and life, where it thought so loftily or toiled so zealously of old? And if we commit ourselves to the pages of recorded history, and find them full throughout with the alternations of life and death, or mark the common course of society and providence around us, how many an illustration may be found of what to us is specially momentous in the idea afforded by the words, "the way of all the earth" I


1. Joshua's appeal may suggest the idea of a pious and active old age. To earlier years and robuster vigour may belong the more stirring and laborious forms of Christian enterprise and zeal; but age has the same principles of duty to regard, and the same animating motives to cherish in the heart. In the apparent proximity of death it has a consideration in some degree peculiar, to urge it on to zealous and devoted services for God; and, oh! how powerfully ought that consideration and many a motive else to animate the minds of those who, "old and stricken in age," are ready, like Joshua, to say, "I am going the way of all the earth"! If you have given your more vigorous years to sin, why should you delay with contrite and devout heart to give the close of your continuance here to Christ, and piety, and God? And if you have, in some degree, like Joshua, given your earlier life to the cause of righteousness, oh I have you not found, in your experience of its dignity, anti blessedness, and worth, a motive strong to keep you steadfast to the end?

2. Not only is the appeal of Joshua in the text representative of a pious and zealous old age, but it expresses an important fact presented by the providence of God: "Ye know," says he, "in all your hearts, and in all your souls, that not one thing hath failed," &c. Of all men Christian believers perhaps will be the readiest to perceive, and the most willing to acknowledge, the absolute faithfulness and the gracious liberality of God; and how can they but know that, sad as the outward condition of God's chosen may sometimes be, and sadder still as may be the general aspect of the earth, to neither can the Almighty's pledge be broken, to neither can His promise fail?

(Alex. S. Patterson.)

I. A man dying IN PHILOSOPHIC CALMNESS: "I am going the way of all the earth."

1. It is not a strange road. All that have ever been, have gone through it; and all that ever will be, must.

2. It is not an avoidable road. To complain is useless.

II. A man dying FULLY SATISFIED WITH GOD: "Not one thing hath failed," &c.

1. That God had promised "good things."

2. That all the "good things" promised had come.

III. A man dying WITH SPIRITUAL INTEREST IN SURVIVORS: "Ye know," &c. He wished his contemporaries and survivors to cherish confidence in God when he was gone.


I. THE SOLICITUDE OF A NOBLE VETERAN. Joshua was solicitous that the Israelites

(1)should continue in love to God (ver. 11);

(2)should be separated from the world (vers. 7, 12, 13);

(3)should be courageous m the ways of righteousness (ver. 6).

II. THE TESTIMONY OF AN AGED PILGRIM: "And behold this," &c. We learn here

(1)That the faithfulness of God may be relied on.

(2)That the faithfulness of God extends to all His children.

(3)That the faithfulness of God is to His believing ones a conscious realisation.

III. THE CALMNESS OF A DYING SAINT. What a peaceful, glowing sunset!

(W. Fry.)

There are certain occasions in life when it is irresistibly natural to look back. After climbing a difficult ascent, or concluding a tedious negotiation, or even winding up a long and troublesome letter, we like to take a final view of the whole. Joshua had now arrived at the culminating point of his mission.

I. THE LARGENESS OF GOD'S PROMISES. To bring Israel out of the prison-land of Egypt, through the death-land of the wilderness, into triumphant possession of the fortress-land of Canaan, was what God undertook. If some great leader had undertaken, some years back, to emancipate them of the Southern States of America, to conduct them over the broad Atlantic, and make them owners and masters of military and imperial France, he would scarcely have promised any more, allowing for the difference of the times. All God's promises are "exceeding great and precious."

II. THE STEADINESS OF GOD'S PURPOSES. Just when the promise appeared utterly forgotten, its final fulfilment was being planned. Just when the good seed appeared altogether perished, the labourers who were to gather in the harvest were being engaged. The rest of the history to which Joshua looked back furnished other instances of like kind.

III. THE COMPLETENESS OF GOD'S WORK. God had wrought all that He had promised. I apply the subject to the earnest expectations of the humble believer in Christ. You too are looking forward to the end of your wanderings, to the enjoyment of absolute rest, to perfection of spiritual condition, to the subjugation of every enemy, in a word, to complete conformity to your Lord. Be assured that the time is approaching when you shall look back in triumph upon all.


You can hardly overdraw the character of the patriarch warrior who is about to surrender his command. He is one of the rare men of either economy of whom inspiration, always faithful, has preserved no record of blemish. And if you ask wherein lay the main charm of his character, we find it in the fact that he himself is so much concealed behind the grandeur of his own exploits. That is the highest order of excellence — to be self. concealed by the glory of events whereof we are the authors. "I have sent for you," said a great man of modern days, from his death-bed to a youth who stood beside him, "that you may see how a Christian can die." Let us see how a "servant of the Lord" can die who only saw the day of Christ from a distance. We might dwell, for a warrant in favour of repetition, on the fact that Joshua spends his last breath in telling something to the children of Israel which he himself admits they know already "in all their hearts and in all their souls." Old-fashioned doctrines never look so new, never so precious, as when seen from the edge of the grave. But what absorbs the interest of this spectacle is not so much the triteness of the discussion as the motive Chat moved to its delivery. If Joshua does not say, he implies, that because the chills of death are at the very moment creeping round his heart and the tongue will not serve him much longer, on that very account he stirs them up to remembrance that "the Lord has not been slack concerning His promise." Oh, surely, this is something new in the treatment of an old doctrine! The last faculties of the mind before it ceases to act and move amongst the living, turned upon the character and the honour of the great God, and that not so much towards the man himself, but towards the other men addressed. That a human being should be so able to forget himself, if not in the very struggles, in the nearest prospect, of mortality, as to busy himself entirely with the credit and the character of his Creator, that he should gather around him the thousands who will survive him, for nothing but to wring from them the acknowledgment that God is true — oh! you may fairly enough conclude that the speaker is not far off the world where God will be all in all. There is no test of a man's chief good like death. The miser will ask for his old strong-box to be placed beside him on the bed that he may see the last of the deity he has worshipped whilst he lived. The husband will turn his latest, fondest look, amongst all bystanders, towards the one sad face that belongs to her who has weathered with him so many a storm, and proved her love through evil and through good report. The statesman wanders in his last delirium on the future of the country, the helm of whose affairs he is quitting for ever. The scholar, too, seems reluctant to die till that one great work, the study of years, has received its finishing touch; and the mechanician, or the chemist, or the astronomer, is startled by the grim summons from the busy calculation, or the tiresome experiment, or the sweeping survey of the stars. And if each of these were to leave a witness from the death-bed, that witness would turn for a topic to the favourite and the darling of the life that is leaving him. Joshua does the same. "What will they think of my God when I am gathered to the grave? I know Him, but do they? They do; but will they remember what they know? Will they serve my God as if they recollected that He has never failed them? It is not certain hearts that know forget: souls that have learned love their own lessons. Therefore will I make this work, the honour of Jehovah, at least as perfect as I can make it by hallowing in its behalf the faltering of the dying lip and the clouding of the dying brain." "I must," says the dying hero, "spend the last sands in the glass in putting the glory of the Divine administration beyond all reach of reproach. Are my warriors and myself at one upon the doctrine that the whole of an inheritance promised is as good, to faith, as the whole of it conferred? Are we going to part agreed that Palestine is already as truly the property of the sons of Abraham as Timnath-Serah, in Mount Ephraim, belongs to me?" And so the good man could not rest in his grave till he had exchanged with his brethren in arms a new vow of allegiance to Him who has not, even in our day, with absolutely literal truth, accomplished the fulness of what is here taken as done. Here is faith for you The captain of the army will not die till he has overleapt centuries by a faith of his own, and carried all his squadrons with him in the leap. One of our great warriors ordered his ships into action with the shout of "Victory, or Westminster Abbey!" But what should we have thought had the cry been "Victory and Westminster Abbey!" Joshua foresaw that his own death, and the death of whole generations of soldiers, would make no difference to the conquest of Canaan. Millenniums are shorter than moments to "him that believeth." This then was Joshua's judgment of the right business for a dying day. Beautiful ministry for last moments, to strengthen bystanders in their trust upon God's word. It was to Israel almost as if a spectre spoke. You contract heavy responsibilities — you who stand, from time to time, in the chambers of dying believers. Next to hearing voices from heaven comes the hearing of voices from those who are just stepping from earth. Books are nothing to the last whispers-even the last smiles — of warriors laying down their swords, and of pilgrims sinking into rest. I pray that we may all die leaving some witness to the faithfulness of Christ.

(H. Christopherson.)

Notice, first, that in parting he says nothing of himself. He recalls to their minds only the source of all the power that was theirs in the past, and all the power that could be theirs in the future. His one thought in leaving them is to remind them of the character of God. That should ever be the thought of the pastor who is parting with his people — that he should say nothing of himself, or what he has done, or what, known only to himself and God perhaps, he has utterly failed to do, but that he should be exceeding anxious and exceeding jealous as to the character of God. The question which he seems to ask himself as he is about to leave them is not, "What will the people think about me when I am gone from them?" but, "What will this people think about God? Will they serve Him as if they really believed in their heart and in their soul that God can never tail them? Will they feel that they may, and that they must, because of all that they know of God in the past, trust Him absolutely and utterly for the future?" It is just possible he imagined that they might not, and so his endeavour is in parting to make this great truth of the absolute fidelity of God, which must be the foundation of all true religion, as strong in them as it could be. It is easy to say, of course, that God is true and faithful; but is there a man or woman here to-day who believes that every premise that God, in His written Word, or in revelation to their inmost and deepest spiritual nature, has made is actually fulfilled? What a changed world it would be if every baptized man and woman believed in their heart and soul, as a child believes the assurance of his father, that not one promise of God has ever failed! Joshua called them to witness that day that not one single promise that God had made them had failed; and yet there were the tribes that He had promised to drive out still occupying many places in the land; there was the Star unrisen yet that had been promised to come out of Jacob; there was the sceptre as yet unwielded by Israel; there were many things, if you read the history literally, that God had promised, and that, as far as mere human eye could see, were not accomplished; nay, the approach of their fulfilment was not discernible. And, nevertheless, he called on these men, who longed for these things, to whom these things had been promised and had not yet come, he calls them to bear witness that day that not one promise of the Lord their God had failed them. To his heart of faith and to his eye of faith, because God hath promised them, they were come to pass already; and he could not part from his people without endeavouring to make them as deeply persuaded of that truth as he was himself. And that, amid all the flux of time, that, amid all the great social, political, and economic changes that have swept over the world, that is the one foundation-truth still for nations and for men. In our national life it is the truth we mostly need. In our national life forces are being developed to-day into activity, of which none can at present forecast the issue. Beneath the smooth surface of our modern life fires are seething which reveal themselves now and again, as it were, in tongues of lurid flame that leap through the thin film of our civilisation. Now amid all this how can we look with anything like manly confidence to the remote, or even to the immediate, future? We must sink, as it seems to me, into despair, if we can only think of the schemes of rival politicians, or the impotence of social nostrums, or if we can only hear, as words of hope, the flabby platitudes of the feeble philanthropist. Our confidence and our hope must be based upon faith in the faithfulness of God, in Him as the eternal I Am, who sitteth above the water-floods, be the earth never so unquiet. Our cardinal faith must be that the Lord, who was God in all history, is God in history still, that He holds in His hands to-day all the strength and all the weakness of the nation and of man. He is not the God of the dead but of the living; and, if we will learn the lesson which He wilt be teaching us somehow, by prosperity or by disaster, even now, as we look around us on all the portents of the time, we may do so in the absolute confidence and in the faith and hope which we ought to possess as we say: "No one good thing which the Lord our God hath promised has ever failed us."

(Canon T. T. Shore.)

? — Joshua, when he spoke those words, was one of God's grand old friends. He and Caleb were the oldest men in that company. He tells them his experience of life. It is worth while to ask what made old Joshua the man he was. It was his character. If I met a man on the Manchester Exchange, and he told me he was building a new mill, fitting it up with the newest machinery, and that he would shortly turn out the finest yarn in the country, well, I would say to him: "You've got your work cut out, bur we shall see." So I walk round that way, and look at the new mill, with its fine machinery; see the manager — one who knows his business — and I say, "That's all right." Then I walk down to the mill gate to see what kind of raw material comes in. If the raw material is inferior, then the fine mill, with its machines, all goes for nothing — it won't do. The yarn won't wear. Now, make a man up of poor material, and he'll not wear. What character has a man; what is he made of? That is a great question. There are two things about Joshua's character to be noticed.

I. JOSHUA BECAME THE MAN HE WAS BECAUSE HE KEPT COMPANY WITH ONE OLDER AND BETTER THAN HIMSELF. He was Moses' servant. Watching Moses and hearing his words moulded Joshua's character. My advice to young people is to keep company with folks older and better than yourselves. Why does God let people live to a long age, if not to give the younger generation their experience? Don't leave home in a hurry. If father and mother are people that pray, don't hurry to leave them. It is the same with old books: those used to be bound in sheepskin; nothing to look at outside, but all inside. Nowadays they put it all outside, and the bookbinder does what the author should have done. It is a responsibility which older people should consider, that they ought to live so as to attract the young. This is one of the wants of the age. Live so that your young people may say when they go out into life, "I leave my best friends behind." I never had such a fine compliment paid me before as I had from my boy the other day. It was in class, and when I came to my son Charlie, he said: "Well, father, I am only getting my eyes opened to see what a privilege mine has been to live with such people as you and mother are." I wouldn't give that away for £20,000.

II. JOSHUA BECAME THE MAN HE WAS BECAUSE HE HAD THE COURAGE OF HIS CONVICTIONS. There were twelve of them sent to spy Canaan, tea of them said, "It's no use. The country is good enough, but it is full of giants." "Yes, we shall go up," said Joshua and Caleb. Joshua was willing to be out-voted. It was ten to two, but the ten had their coffins made before the two. Have the courage to vote for the right. One man and God makes a strong party. Joshua's experience was that God had been as good as His word. There are no crises but what God can surmount them. Go and ask George Muller. A man thought that he would give a thankoffering for his life being spared to fifty years. He intended to give £50, and he thought he would send the Bristol Orphanage £10. He was so haunted by this thought that he could not wait for his birthday, but got an envelope and despatched a cheque for £10. He got the usual receipt, and there was no more of it until the yearly report of the Orphanage appeared. He thought he would just turn up the date and see if his money were there. There at the very date he saw George Muller's words, "No money and no bread to-day, but cheque has arrived for £10." Friends, believe in a prayer-hearing God. Don't be afraid to leave your case in His hands if you are doing right. Some of these days you will have to say with Joshua, "I go the way of all the earth." You will have to give up going to business and to lie in bed. Everything is growing dim, and the loved voices seem miles away. Will some of those loved ones, writing to the son in Australia, have to say, "Father's last words were these: 'Not one thing hath failed of all the good things which the Lord spake'"?

(T. Champness.)

The traveller who has reached the highest attainable summit of the Andes, and stands in the pure and cloudless atmosphere around them, can expatiate over a wide and almost boundless horizon; while another who remains in the valley below, amidst the haze of mist and vapour, must be satisfied with a comparatively poor and trifling view of the magnificence and beauty that surround him. It is thus with the Christian militant, in the war fare of his earthly state, and after his release to join the armies of the blessed in the rest of God. Here dimness and obscurity may in part intercept or much distort the prospect of Divine mercy, and all the rich consolations of a Saviour's love. But when his liberated soul shall attain the felicities of heaven, he will stand upon an elevation commanding the boundless extent of Divine operation in the walk and world of providence and grace. His eye will be strengthened to behold, and his comprehension will be enlarged to understand them with knowledge, love, and wonder, increasing throughout eternity. No cloud will be seen throughout the universe of blessedness to intercept his vision. Every dispensation by which the Saviour visited and helped him, however misunderstood in the days of earthly darkness and ignorance, will then be fully explained, every difficulty solved, and every apparent contradiction harmonised for ever.

(R. P. Buddicom, M. A.)

As the herbs and flowers which sleep all winter in their roots underground, when the time of spring approacheth presently start forth of their beds, where they had lain so long unperceived, thus will the waits for the appointed time, and then comes. Every promise is dated, but with a mysterious character; and for want of skill in God's chronology we are prone to think that God forgets us, when indeed we forget ourselves in being so bold to set God a time of our own, and in being angry that He comes not just then to us.

Your boy comes to you and asks you to buy him a fishing-rod, and he says, "I saw one to-day in a window, which was just what I want. Can't I go down now and buy it?" And you say, "No, not to-day, wait a little." A week passes, and the lad begins to say to himself, "I wonder if father has forgotten all about it?" Then you put into his hands a better rod than he has ever seen before, and the boy is overwhelmed with surprise and pleasure. And yet the main thing in all this is not that your son received what he wanted, but the gift won, through delay, has given him a new view of his father's wisdom, and a new confidence in his affection, which makes him say, "Hereafter, when I want anything of this kind, I will leave it all to father." And so the main thing that a man gains, when God at last answers his prayer, is not the gift, but the clearer consciousness that God is better than His gifts, that he has all in God.

(R. Vincent.).

Joshua gathered all the tribes of Israel to Shechem.

1. Israel's enlargement (vers. 2-4).

2. Israel's exodus (vers. 5-7).

3. Israel's entrance into Canaan (vers. 8-12).


1. He exhorts them to fear and serve this great and this good God.

2. To manifest in yet clearer light that the service of God is a reasonable service, and to show the utter folly of idolatry, Joshua, in the gravest irony, upholds the alternative for the adoption of the people, and mocks the apostasy, the latent germs of which he knew too well ware in the hearts of the great assembly before him.

3. Then, having, both with tender love and with withering scorn, set forth the two alternatives, he declares his own resolute decision in words which should be the motto for every ruler, and for every householder. This is the true order of the growth of piety. First, individual consecration; then follows family control; and then the third stage in the gradation — namely, public influence — will not be lacking.



1. The first is the memory of the transaction in the minds of the people themselves.

2. Joshua himself, moreover, puts the whole matter into writing, even as we have it here before us in this last chapter.

3. But there is another testimony that shall witness against Israel if they apostatise — "a great stone," which he places beneath the oak in Shechem, "that was by the sanctuary of the Lord."

V. A THREEFOLD SEAL TO GOD'S PROMISES. The Book closes with the mention of three burials. In the peaceful graves of three of God's saints we seem to see three seals to the truth of God's Word. These holy men once served Him among strange nations, but now their bones are laid within the borders of the promised land.

(G. W. Butler, M. A.)

It was at Shechem that Joshua's last meeting with the people took place. There was much to recommend that place. It lay a few miles to the north-west of Shiloh, and was not only distinguished as Abraham's first resting-place in the country, and the scene of the earliest of the promises given in it to him; but likewise as the place where, between Mount Ebal and Gerizim, the blessings and curses of the law had been read out soon after Joshua entered the land, and the solemn assent of the people given to them. And whereas it is said (ver. 26) that the great stone set up as a witness was "by the sanctuary of the Lord," this stone may have been placed at Shiloh after the meeting, because there it would be more fully in the observation of the people as they came up to the annual festivals (1 Samuel 1:7, 9).

1. In the record of Joshua's speech contained in the twenty-fourth chapter, he begins by rehearsing the history of the nation. He has an excellent reason for beginning with the revered name of Abraham, because Abraham had been conspicuous for that very grace, loyalty to Jehovah, which he is bent on impressing on them. We mark in this rehearsal the well-known features of the national history, as they were always represented; thy frank recognition of the supernatural, with no indication of myth or legend, with nothing of the mist or glamour in which the legend is commonly enveloped. And, seeing that God hath done all this for them, the inference was that He was entitled to their heartiest loyalty and obedience. Never was a good man more in earnest, or more thoroughly persuaded that all that made for a nation's welfare was involved in the course which he pressed upon them.

2. But Joshua did not urge this merely on the strength of his own conviction. He must enlist their reason on his side; and for this cause he now called on them deliberately to weigh the claims of other gods and the advantages of other modes of worship, and choose that which must be pronounced the best. There were four claimants to be considered —


(2)the Chaldaean gods worshipped by their ancestors;

(3)the gods of the Egyptians; and

(4)the gods of the Amorites among whom they dwelt.Make your choice between these, said Joshua, if you are dissatisfied With Jehovah. But could there be any reasonable choice between these gods and Jehovah? It is often useful, when we hesitate as to a course, to set down the various reasons for and against — it may be the reasons of our judgment against the reasons of our feelings; for often this course enables us to see how utterly the one outweighs the other. May it not be useful for us to do as Joshua urged Israel to do?

3. But Joshua is fully prepared to add example to precept. Whatever you do in this matter, my mind is made up, my course is clear — "as for me and my house, we will serve Jehovah." He was happy in being able to associate his house with himself as sharing his convictions and his purpose. He owed this, in all likelihood, to his own firm and intrepid attitude throughout his life. His house saw how consistently and constantly he recognised the supreme claims of Jehovah. Not less clearly did they see how constantly he experienced the blessedness of his choice.

4. Convinced by his arguments, moved by his eloquence, and carried along by the magnetism of his example, the people respond with enthusiasm. But Joshua knew something of their fickle temper. He may have called to mind the extraordinary enthusiasm of their fathers when the tabernacle was in preparation; the singular readiness with which they had contributed their most valued treasures, and the grievous change they underwent after the return of the spies. Even an enthusiastic burst like this is not to be trusted. He must go deeper; he must try to induce them to think more earnestly of the matter, and not trust to the feeling of the moment.

5. Hence he draws a somewhat dark picture of Jehovah's character, lie dwells on those attributes which are least agreeable to the natural man — His holiness, His jealousy, and His inexorable opposition to sin. "Ye cannot serve the Lord," said Joshua; "take care how you undertake what is beyond your strength." Perhaps he wished to impress on them the need of Divine strength for so difficult a duty. Certainly he did not change their purpose, but only drew from them a more resolute expression.

6. And now Joshua comes to a point which had doubtless been in his mind all the time, but which he had been waiting for a favourable opportunity to bring forward. He had pledged the people to an absolute and unreserved service of God, and now he demands a practical proof of their sincerity. He knows quite well that they have "strange gods" among them. Minor forms of idolatry, minor recognitions of the gods of the Chaldaeans and the Egyptians and the Amorites, were prevalent even yet. What a weed sin is, and how it is for ever reappearing! And reappearing among ourselves too, in a different variety, but essentially the same. For what honest and earnest heart does not feel that there are idols and images among ourselves that interfere with God's claims and God's glory as much as the teraphim and the earrings of the Israelites did?

7. And now comes the closing and the clinching transaction of this meeting at Shechem. Joshua enters into a formal covenant with the people. When Joshua got the people bound by a transaction of this sort, he seemed to obtain a new guarantee for their fidelity; a new barrier was erected against their lapsing into idolatry. And yet it was but a temporary barrier against a flood which seemed ever to be gathering strength unseen, and preparing for another fierce discharge of its disastrous waters.

8. At the least, this meeting secured for Joshua a peaceful sunset, and enabled him to sing his "Nunc dimittis." The evil which he dreaded most was not at work as the current of life ebbed away from him; it was his great privilege to look round him and see his people faithful to their God. It does not appear that Joshua had any very comprehensive or far-reaching aims with reference to the moral training and development of the people. His idea of religion seems to have been a very simple loyalty to Jehovah, in opposition to the perversions of idolatry. For his absolute and supreme loyalty to his Lord he is entitled to our highest reverence, This loyalty is a rare virtue, in the sublime proportions in which it appeared in him. The very rareness, the eccentricity of the character, secures a respectful homage. And yet who can deny that it is the true representation of what every man should be who says, "I believe in God the Father almighty, maker of heaven and earth"?

(W. G. Blaikie, D. D.)

The world long remembers Jonathan Edwards's dying charge to his family: "Trust in God, and you have nothing to fear"; or the English Samuel Johnson's exhortation to his physician, "Doctor, believe a dying man: nothing but salvation by Christ can comfort you when you come to lie here"; or a departing President, like Jackson, saying, "Religion is a great reality: the Bible is true." These and a thousand other instances testify that a thoughtful man going the way of all the earth is pretty certain to have his thoughts fixed on the place to which he is going and the preparation he and those around him may need for that journey.

(W. E. Knox, D. D.)

Canaan, Great Sea, Jordan River
Advanced, Age, Authorities, Calleth, Chiefs, Elders, Entered, Full, Heads, Joshua, Judges, Leaders, Officers, Officials, Overseers, Responsible, Stricken, Summoned
1. Joshua's exhortation before his death
3. by former benefits
5. by promises
11. and by threatenings

Dictionary of Bible Themes
Joshua 23:2

     7719   elders, as leaders

But He, Knowing the Custom, and Fearing that his Body Would be Treated This...
91. But he, knowing the custom, and fearing that his body would be treated this way, hastened, and having bidden farewell to the monks in the outer mountain entered the inner mountain, where he was accustomed to abide. And after a few months he fell sick. Having summoned those who were there--they were two in number who had remained in the mountain fifteen years, practising the discipline and attending on Antony on account of his age--he said to them, I, as it is written [1143] , go the way of the
Athanasius—Select Works and Letters or Athanasius

A Summary of Israel's Faithlessness and God's Patience
'And an angel of the Lord came up from Gilgal to Bochim, and said, I made you to go up out of Egypt, and have brought you unto the land which I sware unto your fathers; and I said, I will never break my covenant with you. 2. And ye shall make no league with the inhabitants of this land; ye shall throw down their altars: but ye have not obeyed my voice: why have ye done this? 3. Wherefore I also said, I will not drive them out from before you; but they shall be as thorns in your sides, and their gods
Alexander Maclaren—Expositions of Holy Scripture

Everybody's Need.
Some have the idea that this blessing of the Fullness is only for a favored few, for such as have some special work to do for God, but not for ordinary folk, "for auld wives and wabsters" in their homespun. Surely this is one of the devil's champion lies! Alas! alas! that it has found such credence! The Infilling is what makes this promise true, "He that is feeble among them at that day shall be as David; and the house of David shall be as God" (Zech. xii. 8), so that "one man of you shall chase
John MacNeil—The Spirit-Filled Life

The book of Joshua is the natural complement of the Pentateuch. Moses is dead, but the people are on the verge of the promised land, and the story of early Israel would be incomplete, did it not record the conquest of that land and her establishment upon it. The divine purpose moves restlessly on, until it is accomplished; so "after the death of Moses, Jehovah spake to Joshua," i. 1. The book falls naturally into three divisions: (a) the conquest of Canaan (i.-xii.), (b) the settlement of the
John Edgar McFadyen—Introduction to the Old Testament

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