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29 May 2020 – Joshua 24:1-13

Then Joshua assembled all the tribes of Israel at Shechem. He summoned the elders, leaders, judges and officials of Israel, and they presented themselves before God. Joshua said to all the people, “This is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says: ‘Long ago your ancestors, including Terah the father of Abraham and Nahor, lived beyond the Euphrates River and worshiped other gods. But I took your father Abraham from the land beyond the Euphrates and led him throughout Canaan and gave him many descendants. I gave him Isaac, and to Isaac I gave Jacob and Esau. I assigned the hill country of Seir to Esau, but Jacob and his family went down to Egypt. “‘Then I sent Moses and Aaron, and I afflicted the Egyptians by what I did there, and I brought you out. When I brought your people out of Egypt, you came to the sea, and the Egyptians pursued them with chariots and horsemen as far as the Red Sea. But they cried to the LORD for help, and he put darkness between you and the Egyptians; he brought the sea over them and covered them. You saw with your own eyes what I did to the Egyptians. Then you lived in the wilderness for a long time. “‘I brought you to the land of the Amorites who lived east of the Jordan. They fought against you, but I gave them into your hands. I destroyed them from before you, and you took possession of their land. When Balak son of Zippor, the king of Moab, prepared to fight against Israel, he sent for Balaam son of Beor to put a curse on you. But I would not listen to Balaam, so he blessed you again and again, and I delivered you out of his hand. “‘Then you crossed the Jordan and came to Jericho. The citizens of Jericho fought against you, as did also the Amorites, Perizzites, Canaanites, Hittites, Girgashites, Hivites and Jebusites, but I gave them into your hands. I sent the hornet ahead of you, which drove them out before you—also the two Amorite kings. You did not do it with your own sword and bow. So I gave you a land on which you did not toil and cities you did not build; and you live in them and eat from vineyards and olive groves that you did not plant.’ – Joshua 24:1-13

Adolph Harstad writes:

In chapter 23 Joshua had recalled God’s acts in the immediate past during the years of Israel’s conquest of Canaan. His sweep here in 24:2b-13 is much broader. He begins his survey of grace history by going back over six hundred years to God’s selection of Abram (later named Abraham) when he lived beyond the Euphrates River.

It is clear that Abraham and his offspring became the chosen nation only by God’s gracious choice, and not because of any superior quality of their own. After all, says the LORD in 24:2, Abraham and the other fathers of Israel “served other gods.” The wording of 24:2 implies that Abraham himself was an idolater before God called him. Luther also thought so and expressed this often and with force. The traditional Jewish view that Abraham did not worship idols, and even rebuked his relatives for venerating other deities, is based on a theology of works righteousness; it assumes that God saw some special goodness in Abraham and that is why God chose him as the father of His special nation. It is allied with the traditional Jewish view that God chose Israel as His people because He knew that they would obey His covenant, whereas other nations would not.

The theology of Joshua 23-24 is just the opposite. Joshua himself foresees that Israel will transgress the divine covenant. In chapter 24, the LORD’s continuing favor toward those who do not merit His grace is in the spotlight. The Israelites have no cause for personal pride, but every reason to glory in the covenant LORD. He chose their forefathers by pure grace when they were no different from their pagan neighbors. … This is rich Gospel! In spite of the fact that Israel’s fathers “served other gods,” God declaes, “But I took you father Abraham from across the River, and I caused him to walk through all the land of Canaan. Abraham did not choose the LORD, nor did he make his own decision to travel to Canaan. The LORD in pure love “took” him and “caused him to walk” to the land that He graciously promised.

MEMORY WORK – Shorter Catechism Q/A 65
Q. 65. What is forbidden in the fifth commandment?
A. The fifth commandment forbiddeth the neglecting of, or doing anything against, the honor and duty which belongeth to every one in their several places and relations.