"Every promise has
been fulfilled; not one has failed. But just as every good promise of
the Lord your God has come true, so the Lord will bring on you all the
evil he has threatened, until he 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." (Josh 23:14-16 NIV)
Joshua was now 110 years old, and in his own words, "I am old and well advanced in years." (Josh 23:2 NIV). The conquest of Canaan had ended some years earlier, and the people had been enjoying rest in the land the Lord our God promised to them. Now Joshua gives one last address to the people, and in this address, he reminds them of three important facts:
*That God has kept all His promises (Jos 23:14);
*That God will help them drive out the remaining Canaanites (Jos 23:5);
*That they are not to mingle with the
remaining Canaanites so that they remain faithful to God.
So what is the lesson for us in this concluding admonition of Joshua?
It is identical to the lesson that Joshua was attempting to drive home for the Israelites!
*God has also kept all of His promises to us, and we do well to remember this fact!
*Just like God promised to help Israel drive out the remaining Canaanites, He is there to help us drive out the impurities in our hearts!
*Just like Israel was admonished to not mingle
with the remaining Canaanites, in order that they remain faithful to
God, we are told to not play with the evil parts of our sinful nature so
that we, too, can remain faithful to God!
Okay, but what does this REALLY mean?
Just this: God has given us victory over sin. This is a gift from Him. But He asks us to not play with sin, and He gives us guidelines so that we can learn how to keep our hearts pure, how to let Him continue to fight our battles. These guidelines can be summed up in two sentences: Love the Lord your God with all of your heart, soul and mind, and love your neighbor as yourself!
You see, love sums up God's law! Love requires forgiveness. Love requires faithfulness. Love requires respect. When we follow these guidelines, we are doing our part so that God can continue to drive the impurities out of our hearts.
However, if we entertain evil - unforgiveness, hatred, anger - then rather than driving out the flesh in our hearts, we are feeding it. And when we do this, we close the door to God's help.
If we truly want to be free from the things that continue to plague us, if we want freedom from addictions and pet sins, then we must ask God to help us follow His commands! We must ask God to reveal to us where, in our lives, we are not following His suggestions to love unconditionally, to forgive unconditionally, to respect, to be faithful!
I suggest that just as those foreign gods and foreign women were, in the end, what brought Israel into apostasy and led to the downfall of the nation, our tendency to hold on to anger and to not love unconditionally will be our downfall as well! These things will stand in the way of our total freedom!
The apostle Paul tells us: "It is for freedom that Christ has set us free." (Gal 5:1a NIV)
Have you ever wondered about the wording of this text? I mean, why doesn't it just say that Christ has set us free?
I would like to propose that it is worded this way because we have to claim that freedom. Just like God miraculously overpowered huge numbers of powerful nations during the initial conquest of Canaan, Christ has already SET US FREE! But just like the people needed to do something to maintain their gift of freedom (not intermarry, not turn to the gods of the nations, not associate with the people left in the land), we also have a role to play in order to fully embrace ours. And our role is to love unconditionally, to forgive, to respect, and to be faithful to God and those around us.
Friends, Christ already set us free! Let's not
throw away that gift by staying entangled in unforgiveness, anger and
hatred! Instead, let's follow Paul's (and Joshua's!) Advice: "Stand
firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of
slavery." (Gal 5:1b NIV)
Remember: "But if you turn away and ally yourselves with the survivors of these nations that remain among you and if you intermarry with them and associate with them, then you may be sure that the Lord your God will no longer drive out these nations before you. Instead, they will become snares and traps for you, whips on your backs and thorns in your eyes, until you perish from this good land, which the Lord your God has given you." (Josh 23:12-13 NIV)
In His love,
Lyn Chaffart, Speech-Language Pathologist, mother of two teens, Author and Moderator for The Nugget, a tri-weekly internet newsletter, and Scriptural Nuggets, a website devoted to Christian devotionals and inspirational poems, www.scripturalnuggets.org, with Answers2Prayer Ministries, www.Answers2Prayer.org.