1Then Joshua gathered all the tribes of Israel to Shechem and called the elders of Israel and the heads and the judges and the officers, and they presented themselves before God. 2And Joshua said to the people, “Thus says the LORD, the God of Israel: Long ago, your fathers lived beyond the river—Terah, the father of Abraham and the father of Nachor, and they served other gods. 3Then I took your father Abraham from beyond the river and led hi into all the land of Canaan, and multiplied his descendants, and gave him Isaac. 4And I gave to Isaac Jacob and Esau, and I gave to Esau the mountain of Seir to possess it, but Jacob and his sons went down to Egypt. 5And I sent Moses and Aaron and I plagued the Egyptians as I did among them, and afterward I brought you out. 6And I brought your fathers out from Egypt and they came to the sea, and the Egyptians pursued your fathers with chariots and horsemen to the Sea of Reeds. 7And when they cried out to the LORD, He put darkness between you and the Egyptians, and brought the sea upon them, and covered them, and your eyes have seen what I did in Egypt, and you lived in the wilderness a long time. 8Then I brought you to the land of the Amorites who dwelled on the other side of the Jordan, and they fought against you, and I gave them into your hands and you took possession of their land, and I destroyed them from before you. 9Then Balak arose, the son of Zippor, the king of Moab, and fought against Israel, and he sent and called Balaam the son of Beor to curse you. 10But I would not listen to Balaam, and he blessed you instead, and I rescued you from his hand. 11And you passed over Jordan and came to Jericho, and the citizens of Jericho fought against you, and the Amorites, and Perizzites, and the Canaanites, and the Hittites, ad the Girgashites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites, and I delivered them into your hand. 12And I sent before you the hornet, and drove them out from before you—even the two kings of the Amorites—not by sword or bow. 13Then I gave to you a land for which you did not work, and cities you did not build, and you dwell in them, and you ate of vineyards and olive groves you did not plant. 14Therefore, now, fear the LORD and serve Him in sincerity and faithfulness, and put away the gods your fathers served beyond the river and in Egypt, and serve the LORD. 15If it seem evil in your eyes to serve the LORD, choose you this day whom you will serve—whether gods your father served beyond the river, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.” 16But the people said, “God forbid that we should forsake the LORD to serve other gods, 17for the LORD our God—He brought us up and our fathers from the land of Egypt and the house of slavery, and He did in our sight those great signs, and preserved us the whole way we went, and among all the people through whom we passed. 18And the LORD drove out all the people who dwelled in the land before us—even the Amorites—therefore we also will serve the LORD, for He is our God.” 19Then Joshua said to the people, “You are not able to serve the LORD, for He is a holy God; He is jealous—He will not forgive your transgressions or sins. 20If you forsake the LORD and serve foreign gods, He will do you hurt, and will consume you after He has done good to you.” 21Then the people said to Joshua, “No! We will serve the LORD!” 22And Joshua said to the people, “You are witnesses against yourselves that you have chosen the LORD, to serve Him.” And they said, “We are witnesses.” 23“Now, therefore, put away the foreign gods among you, and incline your hearts to the LORD God of Israel.” 24And the people said to Joshua, “We will serve the LORD our God, and His voice we will obey!” 25So Joshua made a covenant with the people that day and he made for them a statute and ordinance in Shechem. 26And Joshua wrote these words in the book of the law of the God, and took a great stone and set it up there under the oak near the sanctuary of the LORD. 27And Joshua said to all the people, “Behold: this stone will be a witness, for it has heard all the words of the LORD which He spoke to us, and it will be a witness to you if you deal falsely with your God.” 28So Joshua let the people depart, each man to his inheritance. 29And it happened after all these things that Joshua the son of Nun, the servant of the LORD, died, being 110 years old. 30And they buried him in his inheritance in Timnath-Serah, in the hill country of Ephraim north of the mountain of Gaash. 31And Israel served the LORD all the days of Joshua and all the days of the elders who outlived Joshua, who knew all the works of the LORD that He had done for Israel. 32And the bones of Joseph, which the sons of Israel had brought up from Egypt, they buried in Shechem in a parcel of land that Jacob had bought from the sons of Hamor the father of Shechem for 100 pieces of silver, and it became an inheritance of the sons of Joseph. 33And Eleazar the son of Aaron died, and they buried him in Gibeah that pertained to Phineas his son, that was given him in Mount Ephraim.
This final chapter is a great summation of the major theme of Joshua. In his famous speech in the Promised Land, Joshua reminds the people of Israel what YHWH has done for them. He recounts all the adventures they’ve undertaken together, and how YHWH has brought them through them all. He charges them with a choice: decide where your loyalties lie. He even reminds them that this is a constant choice…that it must be made over and over again within themselves. They must develop a constancy toward YHWH, as He has demonstrated to them. Joshua reminds them that the commitment they are making is deeper than they even understand at the present moment. And it is a commitment that is made together. They make the promise together, corporately, and they set up a reminder for the whole people so that they never forget. And so, at the end of the book, we can see that what YHWH had originally told Joshua—don’t fear, be of great courage, go in and take possession of what I’m giving you—becomes the lifestyle of the people during his life and after him. YHWH is the true hero, and He developed a leader to teach that trust to His people. Their victory and their righteousness are functions of how deep that trust is.
The theme of Joshua is “trust God.” But the theme of the entire Bible is “trust God,” as well. It is written with such precision in this book that it is hard to miss. Like the people of Israel, we stand and fall corporately as well as individually. We must daily decide where our loyalties lie. The thing about constancy is that it’s….well, constant. Our natural selves, within our hearts, wants to turn back or to the right or to the left, and serve ourselves. We must be reminded of our commitment, which must be renewed with constancy. We are not to be people of fear or shrinking back. We have been commanded to go and take the land. We have been commanded to go and take the community for the gospel of Christ. It is a corporate mission that He has commanded, and for which He will provide and in which He guarantees success. The victory and our righteousness are functions of how well we trust Him, and how consistently we demonstrate that trust with our actions.
Do you trust Him today? What are you doing as a member of your local church to take the land? Don’t fear. Be of great courage and go in…possess it for the Lord.