Verses 1-13: Joshua begins his parting message to the children of Israel. Much time has passed since all of the indigenous nations of Canaan were conquered and Joshua is very old. Even though they physically fought the previous inhabitants, Joshua reminds them that it was actually God that fought for them. He reminds them not to turn to the right or left, but to keep God in the center, to remain focused on Him. The warning from Joshua consists of three elements:
1. Hold fast to the one true God
2. Do not worship the idols of the former nations
3. Do not intermarry with the people of the former nations
To succinctly summarize, avoid corruption.
By remaining true to the Lord and completely avoiding idols, the Israelites would maintain their essential relationship with God. By not intermarrying, the temptation to worship idols would remain removed from daily life.
Am I as careful with my soul and spirit as Joshua’s advice would have me to be? Idol worship and temptation have an infinite number of forms. We need to make sure we guard ourselves from the attraction of sin, for exposure to our temptations weakens our resolve and resistance increases it.
Verses 14-16: Joshua uses the phrase “I am going the way of all the earth,” which means he is dying. This phrase is memorable because it reminds us that one day the earth will no longer exist and that we will one day pass away too. Looking deeper, it is also a testament to the fact that our eternal souls will never die, and the earth, made by God, is finite, where God, maker of all things, is eternal.
Joshua’s warning to the children of Israel ends with the contrast of what He did for them while they obeyed compared with what He will take away from them if they transgress the covenant. The promise of the Lord’s anger is one that, one would think, would be sufficient to keep the people from straying from God, particularly when they have seen His marvelous works. These warnings are a kind of foreshadowing of what is to come, and also a reminder that there are consequences for not having totally eradicated all of the people and their customs that inhabited Canaan before.
Do I pay enough attention to the warnings I receive? Do I think I can handle “it” even though I know better? Every day is an opportunity to trust in and rely on God. Am I taking advantage of that opportunity today?