“Now I am about to go the way of all the earth. You know with all your heart and soul that not one of all the good promises the LORD your God gave you has failed. Every promise has been fulfilled; not one has failed. But just as all the good things the LORD your God has promised you have come to you, so he will bring on you all the evil things he has threatened, until the LORD your God has destroyed you from this good land he has given you. If you violate the covenant of the LORD your God, which he commanded you, and go and serve other gods and bow down to them, the LORD’s anger will burn against you, and you will quickly perish from the good land he has given you.” – Joshua 23:14-16
Adolph Harstad writes:
Although in the context of sobering judgment, Joshua’s final phrase, “the good land that He gave you,” presupposes God’s covenant of grace. The fact is that the privileged position of Israel and the gift of the land did not result from any worthiness or goodness in the elect people. The LORD in His unmerited favor chose them out of al the world’s nations and made a covenant with them for a saving purpose. The covenant therefore needs careful guarding; otherwise the name “Israelite” will carry no more special meaning than Canaanite, Amorite, Hittite – or even Sodomite, as Mosses had warned and the prophets – and the Prophet – will preach. Already in Joshua, non-Israelites had been incorporated into the people of God: the Canaanite prostitute Rahab, who was converted to faith in the LORD, along with her family, and the Canaanites from the vicinity of Gibeon. But the Israelite covenant violator Achan was exterminated.
“For not all those from Israel are Israel,” as the apostle Paul will elaborate. The true Israel of God is the body of all believers, whose head is Jesus Christ, the Testator whose death and resurrection is the basis for the divine covenant of grace. In breaking the covenant, Israel’s name would be added to the list of nations driven from the land as the LORD’s anger burned. Yet the LORD would always raise up a remnant for His saving purpose. Therefore guard your God-given status! Hold on to it! Keep the covenant! That is the heart of Joshua’s message here and in his final sermon, which appears in the closing chapter.
MEMORY WORK – Shorter Catechism Q/A 64
Q. 64. What is required in the fifth commandment?
A. The fifth commandment requireth the preserving the honor, and performing the duties, belonging to every one in their several places and relations, as superiors, inferiors or equals.