Study Notes

Joshua 22:1-24:33

22:1-5 Time To Go

Back in Numbers 32, you may recall, we read that the tribes of Reuben and Gad, along with the half-tribe of Manasseh asked if they could stay on the other side of the Jordan. They had a lot of livestock, and the land seemed ideal to them.

Moses rebuked them, saying,

Num. 32:6 ..."Shall your brothers go to war while you yourselves sit here?"

They agreed that their warriors would go into the land of Canaan and fight for the Israelites as long as they could leave the rest of their people behind. Moses agreed.

Now, after all these years (estimated between 7 and 14), the time has come to return - back to the other side of the Jordan River.

22:6-9 Joshua Sends Them Home

The men of these two and a half tribes are returning rich. It would be very tempting to them to go home and lord their battle-won wealth over the others. But Joshua tells them to divide the spoil with those who remained at home. This is a temptation that godly men will resist.

Remember David's story in 1Samuel 30. He and 600 men came home to Ziklag, but found that the Amalekites had captured their women and children and burnt down the city. They gave chase to the Amalekites, but by the time they got to the brook Besor, 200 of his men were too exhausted to take another step. David, along with the remaining 400 kept going. They caught the Amalekites and got everything back: the people, the livestock, and all the goods that had been taken.

1Sam. 30:21-25 When David came to the two hundred men who were too exhausted to follow David, who had also been left at the brook Besor, and they went out to meet David and to meet the people who were with him, then David approached the people and greeted them. Then all the wicked and worthless men among those who went with David answered and said, "Because they did not go with us, we will not give them any of the spoil that we have recovered, except to every man his wife and his children, that they may lead {them} away and depart." Then David said, "You must not do so, my brothers, with what the LORD has given us, who has kept us and delivered into our hand the band that came against us. And who will listen to you in this matter? For as his share is who goes down to the battle, so shall his share be who stays by the baggage; they shall share alike." And so it has been from that day forward, that he made it a statute and an ordinance for Israel to this day.

Joshua encourages the warriors of the Reubenites, the Gadites, and the half-tribe of Manasseh to also share the spoils with those who remained behind.

22:10-20 An Altar Causes Problems

When the 2 1/2 tribes got to the river, they built a huge altar - a scaled-up version of the altar of sacrifice that was in the courts of the Tabernacle. When the other tribes heard about this altar, they were incensed. They thought, "those reprobates have fallen into idolatry already! They'll bring a curse of God upon the entire nation of Israel!"

So they gathered together to make war with the 2 1/2 tribes. But before rushing in and slaughtering them all, they sent in Pee-nekh-AWS, the high priest's son, and ten chiefs of Israel to find out what was going on.

Too often, we ourselves see one piece of evidence and jump to a terrible conclusion. We go to war without attempting to find out what someone's motive was or why they did a certain thing. When you make a decision after hearing only one side, you are forgetting the proverb which says,

Prov. 18:17 The first to plead his case {seems} just, {Until} another comes and examines him.

Instead, we must refrain from making rash decisions about statements and situations. James tells us,

James 1:19-20 ...Let everyone be quick to hear, slow to speak {and} slow to anger; for the anger of man does not achieve the righteousness of God.

Prov. 29:20 Do you see a man who is hasty in his words? There is more hope for a fool than for him.

I respect the fact that even though the Israelites were up in arms, they first sending in Pee-nekh-AWS and the ten chiefs to find out what was really going on.

22:21-29 The Explanation

The 2 1/2 tribes explain that they have not been in rebellion or idolatry. They explain that this altar was not built to present offerings or sacrifices on. This altar was built as a reminder to their people that they were to continue to go up to the tabernacle and offer their sacrifices on the true altar. It was simply a memorial. No harm, no foul.

22:30-34 The Acceptance

Because the altar was a witness that the 9 1/2 tribes and the 2 1/2 tribes were one nation, divided only by the river Jordan, it was called, "Witness." The King James keeps the original Hebrew word, saying,

Josh. 22:34(KJV) And the children of Reuben and the children of Gad called the altar Ed: for it shall be a witness between us that the LORD is God.

They called it "Ed."

23:1-11 Joshua's Farewell

Joshua is 110 years old and about to die. He calls the nation's elders together to give them a final word. He reminds them that their success in the land of Canaan has been the Lord's strength, not their own, so they must continue to be obedient and close to the Lord.

23:12-13 A Warning Against Intermarrying

Although God's blessings have been upon them, Joshua warns that a sure way to lose those blessings will be to intermarry with the unbelieving and idolatrous people of the other nations.

This same rule applies to us as believers today. The Bible strictly warns us:

2Cor. 6:14-17 Do not be bound together with unbelievers; for what partnership have righteousness and lawlessness, or what fellowship has light with darkness? Or what harmony has Christ with Belial, or what has a believer in common with an unbeliever? Or what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; just as God said, I WILL DWELL IN THEM AND WALK AMONG THEM; AND I WILL BE THEIR GOD, AND THEY SHALL BE MY PEOPLE. Therefore, COME OUT FROM THEIR MIDST AND BE SEPARATE," says the Lord. AND DO NOT TOUCH WHAT IS UNCLEAN; And I will welcome you.

Intermarrying with an unbeliever will bring you nothing but grief. Many of the Christian people I've met and counseled with that married unbelievers would affirm this as an accurate description of being married to a non-Christian: "a snare, a trap, a whip on their sides and thorns in their eyes."

23:14-16 The Way Of All The Earth

Joshua says, "I am going the way of all the earth." This is the same expression David used when he told his son Solomon that he was dying:

1Kgs. 2:1-2 As David's time to die drew near, he charged Solomon his son, saying, "I am going the way of all the earth. Be strong, therefore, and show yourself a man.

This is a good perspective on death. Indeed, earth itself and everything on it are passing away. People die, grass withers, and rocks erode. Because of the curse of sin upon creation, everything goes downhill from life to death, from order to chaos.

The only thing that doesn't deteriorate is the Word of God. Jesus said,

Matt. 24:35 "Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words shall not pass away.

Joshua tells them, "I'm dying just like all the earth, but not one good word of God has failed." And just as the good words of God have not failed, neither will His threats if we rebel against Him.

And Joshua begins to prophesy, saying, "When you transgress..." The people of Israel will transgress the covenant, they will serve and bow down to other gods.

As a pastor, it is interesting to me to watch people's faces when I teach of the good things of God. On a Sunday morning, I can speak of the faithfulness of God, His mercy, His love, and His grace, His blessings and abundant goodness. And I see the faces of people respond to that. Smiles, looks of comfort, glow all over the sanctuary.

But last Sunday morning, as I spoke of the Day of the Lord - when Jesus Christ will return in power - physically coming to the Mount of Olives, splitting it in two - slaughtering the armies that rise up against Him, I saw frowns of doubt on several people. Their faces were saying, "Come on! You don't really expect me to believe that Jesus is going to kill people, do you? That He's really coming back physically to earth in to judge? No, I don't believe it."

And I say to you as Joshua said to them: If God was truthful about the good, then He's truthful about the bad as well.

24:1-14 Their History Reviewed

Joshua has all the people assemble at Shechem, and reminds them of what God has done: He called Abraham out of an idol-worshipping family into the land that they are now living in. His descendants spend 400 years in Egypt, until God raised up Moses to lead them out across the Red Sea, and into the wilderness. Now He has miraculously given them the Promised Land.

Josh. 24:13 ...a land on which you had not labored, and cities which you had not built, and you have lived in them; you are eating of vineyards and olive groves which you did not plant.

Because God has done all of this, the people of Israel are being called to serve Him in sincerity and truth, not falling into idolatry.

24:15 Choose Ye This Day

A lot of us have quoted this verse in the context of "choose who you're gonna serve: God, or something else." But the real context is, "if you don't wanna serve God, then choose what you're going to serve." Are you going to serve money? Are you going to serve pleasure? Are you going to serve fame? Are you going to serve power? Joshua is saying, "If you don't want to serve the Lord, then pick now what you're going to serve and go for it. As for me and my house, we're serving God."

24:16-27 We Will Also Serve The Lord

The people affirm to Joshua that they will serve God.

24:28-31 The Death Of Joshua

Joshua died and was buried in Tim-nath KHEH-res, on the north of Mt. GA-ash.

24:32 Joseph's Bones Buried

At the end of the book of Genesis we read,

Gen. 50:24-26 And Joseph said to his brothers, "I am about to die, but God will surely take care of you, and bring you up from this land to the land which He promised on oath to Abraham, to Isaac and to Jacob." Then Joseph made the sons of Israel swear, saying, "God will surely take care of you, and you shall carry my bones up from here." So Joseph died at the age of one hundred and ten years; and he was embalmed and placed in a coffin in Egypt.

Later, in Exodus 13 we saw,

Exod. 13:19 And Moses took the bones of Joseph with him, for he had made the sons of Israel solemnly swear, saying, "God shall surely take care of you; and you shall carry my bones from here with you."

The book of Hebrews commends Joseph for his faith, saying,

Hebr. 11:22 By faith Joseph, when he was dying, made mention of the exodus of the sons of Israel, and gave orders concerning his bones.

Joseph believed God that His descendants would be given the Promised Land, and ordered that when it happened, he wanted his bones to be buried up there.

24:33 The Death Of Eleazar

As the book of Joshua closes, we see the death of the second high priest, El-aw-ZAWR, and that he is also buried in his inheritance.

Three godly men die, all are buried in the place of their inheritance. What is the place of your inheritance?

1Pet. 1:3-9 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to {obtain} an inheritance {which is} imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, who are protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials, that the proof of your faith, {being} more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ; and though you have not seen Him, you love Him, and though you do not see Him now, but believe in Him, you greatly rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, obtaining as the outcome of your faith the salvation of your souls.

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