People love to talk about their difficulties. Think, for a moment, about a difficult season in your life. Trouble seems to follow you everywhere. Your trials are always on your mind, weighing you down. You talk with other people about them, strategize for solutions and even complain. They consume our prayers. In fact, these trials and tribulations can lead us to our most intimate moments with God. You see, it is our desperation, not our success that creates the most dependence on God. Why? I have no idea but apparently, it was no different for Israel.
Consider this, Israel is experiencing a long period of peace. They are, according to verse 1, at “rest.” Mirriam-Webster defines rest as both freedom from activity or labor, and peace of mind. I’m sure both are true for Israel here. They had no threats from surrounding enemies and they are living in the land of milk and honey. Not only that, they live under the promise that God will push back all of their enemies. It seems everything is going their way. I’ll bet that they feel invincible. Eat, drink and be merry, right? This is exactly why Joshua called them together. But Joshua did not call them to celebration. Instead, he offers up warnings.
Joshua knew that good times can be very destructive. Why? Because humans have short memories. We quickly forget how our victory was secured, often downplaying the difficulty and challenges that led us to our current success. In fact, when our circumstances are positive, we take credit. We convince ourselves that our strength and might, enabled us to conquer and achieve victory. Furthermore, we believe that we are all we need to continue. Joshua, however, remembered. Wisely, he calls the Israelites back to reality, emphasizing that it was the Lord that fought for them (v3). In fact, God is still fighting for you (v5). And, if you want it to continue, Joshua chides, “you must be very strong to keep and to do all that is written in the Book of the Law of Moses” (Joshua 23:6).
As I read through Joshua 23, I wonder how faithful they really were. More importantly, I wonder how faithful we really are. For example, rare is the occasion that I stop and remember why I am here. Scarcely do I recall the battle that was fought and the blood that was shed on my behalf. Hardly ever do i think about God’s ongoing promises of protection, provision and pardon. As i think about them, just now, my heart is filled with love and peace. Thank you, Joshua, for the reminder about the good times and who is responsible for them. Thank you, Jesus, for making them a reality.