Today we finish Joshua! (If you are keeping count, that's seven books.) The nation of Israel is at last at peace. Tomorrow we begin the interesting time of the Judges.
Thought to Guide Your ReadingIsrael is now willing to punish anyone not willing to worship God alone—even their own people.
Summary in 100 Words or LessJoshua dismissed the three tribes to return across the Jordan. They were very rich from the spoils of war.
On their way, they built a large altar by the Jordan. It was built to symbolize the common history of the tribes on both sides.
Many peaceful years later, Joshua warned Israel of the surrounding nations' gods and reminded them of their history with God from the time of Abraham. He repeated the harsh penalties for cheating on God. He called Israel to choose who they would worship. Joshua and all Israel chose to worship God.
Joshua and Eleazar died.
How Today’s Reading Contributes to the Gospel: God is Setting All Things Right
The Reubenites, Gadites, and the half-tribe of Manasseh have followed through on their promise.To receive land east of the Jordan River these three tribes promised to go with their brothers into Canaan until all of that land was conquered. Their job was completed. Now, roughly eight years later, they are able to go home—rich from what was salvaged from the Canaanites. God can set things right on the earth when His Chosen People fulfill their promises.
For all of its drama, the story of the altar, "A Witness Between Us," gives a great example of conflict resolution.Phinehas is a man willing to bring God's punishment on anyone who worships another god—even his own countrymen. Yet he does not run among the three tribes "guns a-blazing." He openly and forcefully tells the tribes why he opposes their actions and allows them to give their rationale in constructing this massive altar. At the end of their explanation Phinehas has changed his mind. This altar served as a sign of peace and unity. Because Phinehas was willing to be open about his feelings of hurt and listen (and believe) to the three tribes' feelings peace was preserved. When a person is open about their hurts and listen to the other side's intentions God can set things right on this earth.
Joshua repeats the warnings against the influence of the surrounding nations.In yet another example of the leader of the Israelites warning them to stay free from the harmful influence of the nations around them Joshua tells his people to stay away from the other nations' gods.
Don't get mixed up with the nations that are still around. Don't so much as speak the names of their gods or swear by them. And by all means don't worship or pray to them. Hold tight to God, your God, just as you've done up to now. God has driven out superpower nations before you. And up to now, no one has been able to stand up to you. Think of it - one of you, single-handedly, putting a thousand on the run! Because God is God, your God. Because he fights for you, just as he promised you. (23:7-10, The Message)God's Chosen People must be wholly for God!
Joshua gives Israel a choice in who they will worship.After he repeats how God called Israel, liberated Israel, and gave land to Israel, Joshua gives Israel a choice: the gods of their ancestors (that did not call, liberate, or give land to them), the gods of the people who lived in Canaan (that did not call, liberate, or give land to them), or God (the god that called, liberated, and gave land to them).
The fact that Joshua can give Israel a choice, "If you decide that it's a bad thing to worship God, then choose a god you'd rather serve - and do it today" (24:15, The Message) shows how God is a benevolent god. God gives us a choice in what god we choose to worship. Make sure it is the God who liberates and protect you!
Be strong and courageous!
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