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Claiming You Canaan Series #12

Joshua 23:1-8


Intro: Verse one of our text tells the story. Israel has acquired the land that God had promised them and their faithful leader, Joshua, is old and is preparing to die, v. 14. Before he leaves them, however, he has something to tells them about serving the Lord. To do this, he calls two meetings. The first, in chapter 23, is held with the elders and leaders of the people. The second, recorded in chapter 24, involves all the people of Israel.

As Joshua, the faithful old soldier, prepares to break camp, he wants to encourage Israel to stay the course for God. He knows that the old guard, that is, those who knew Moses and Joshua are swiftly dying off. He knows that a new generation is coming along that did not see all the miracles and all the wonders of the Lord in their midst. Before he dies, he just wants to remind them of the God they serve.

In these 2 chapters, there are some valuable lessons for us as well. We live in a day when many have forgotten about the glory and power of God, and those who have known about such things are becoming fewer by the day. We need to be reminded of the power and glory of our God. Our children need to be exposed to His power!

These verses tells us what we need to know this morning about keeping God's work alive. As we look through them today, allow the Lord to speak to your heart and allow Him to make whatever changes are necessary in your life so that this dying world might see the glory and power of God at work in His church and in the lives of His people. Let's look in on the scene as An Old Soldier Prepares To Break Camp.


(Ill. As Joshua nears the time of his departure, he sees some things beginning to happen in the lives of the people of Israel. He sees things that he does not like. So, like any good leader, he feels duty bound to point out these things to the people before he departs.)

(Ill. Joshua had the same duty that preachers of the Word have in our day. When we see error in the lives of people, we have a duty before God to tell people about those errors. Why? Because we love them and only want God's best for their lives.)

There are three things that Joshua fears:

A. V. 6 He Fears Complacency - Joshua is afraid that the people of Israel might begin to take the Law of God for granted. He fears that they might become complacent in their walk with the Lord and begin to let things slide in their lives. Sadly, he was right, this is exactly what they did!

(Ill. It is my conviction that the sin of complacency is one of the most common sins there is among the people of God! We have allowed ourselves to adopt a Laodicean attitude - Rev. 3:14-22. We have allowed ourselves to be satisfied with our spiritual condition and as a result, we are allowing thing to go unchallenged in our lives that are leading us away from God and deeper into sin! Like the Laodicean Christians, we are neither hot or cold. (Ill. The water situation in Laodicea. Cold water was piped down the mountains Colossae, and hot water was piped in from Hieropolis. By the time each of these waters reached Laodicea, they were lukewarm. Just like this water, the modern church is neither refreshing like a drink of cool water, nor is she stimulating like a hot bath. We are lukewarm and good for nothing, but to trigger a gag reflex in those acquainted with us!)

(Ill. This is a genuine situation in the lives of many people today! Many here at Gilead have been bitten by the complacency bug. No longer do people strive to serve the Lord, win the lost and live holy, consecrated lives to the glory of God. Instead, we are self-satisfied and sure that we have arrived spiritually! That, my friends, is a dangerous condition to be in!)

B. V. 7 He Fears Compromise - Another fear Joshua possesses is that the people of Israel will decide to follow the dead God's of Canaan. He fears that they will compromise their standards and bow down to idols. Again, it is as if the man could see into the future! What he was afraid would happen, did happen!

(Ill. What about us? Aren't we just as guilty as the Israelites? Have not the people of God given their affection to other gods? Certainly, many worship the gods of self, success, materialism, career, etc. The truth is, many are guilty of compromise in their lives. We allow ourselves to indulge in activities that we know God disproves of. We do things that we know are wrong and try to justify it by saying, "Well, so and so does it!" All the while we smile and sing, "Oh how I love Jesus!" It has a hollow ring to it my friend! Oh, how we need to avoid the trap of compromise! Isn't it true that some of you are doing things today that you used to thing were wrong? God hasn't changed! You have! You have compromised you standards to the will of the flesh! Remember 1 Thes. 5:22? "Abstain from all appearance of evil.")

C. V. 8 He Fears Commitment - It is not that Joshua fears that they will be committed to the Lord. Rather, he fears that their commitment will become slack and that they will not cleave to the Lord as they should. Once again, we see, from the history of the nation of Israel, that Joshua was right to be concerned.

(Ill. As with these two other problem areas, there is a word here for the church as well. It has become painfully obvious in recent days that the commitment of many is not where it should be! Note the Lord Jesus' idea of commitment: "He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me." Matt 10:38. Do you see what the Lord is saying? He is telling us very clearly that if He is not number one in our hearts and in our lives, then we are not worthy of Him! Also, according to Jesus, the ultimate expression of love for Him is in the willingness to bear one's cross. This simply means that you are willing to make a total commitment to the Lord Jesus. That you are holding nothing back. You are His completely! How would you describe you commitment to Him this morning?)

I. Joshua's Concern


(Ill. In this section, Joshua challenges the elders and the people to observe certain truths concerning God. His challenge is for them to look at what the Lord has done and is doing in their lives. If they will just consider the Lord, they are more likely to live the right kind of lives!)

A. 23:9-16 To Consider God's Wrath - While there are many challenges given here, the primary idea that Joshua is trying to convey is this: If you will serve the Lord, He will bless you. If you disobey Him, He will chastise you! (Note: The challenge in verse 11 in the crux of the matter! How Israel responded to the Lord, was a perfect indicator of her love for Him.)

(Ill. This challenge still applies to the people of God today. That admonition is very simple: You play; you pay! As a child of God, you have two possible ways of living your life. You can either live it within the confines of God's will and be blessed, or you can live it outside the will of God and be chastised, Heb. 12:5-11! The choice is entirely your's to make! And, the choice you make will be determined by your love for Jesus Christ and for the Heavenly Father, John 14:15.)

(Ill. Rev. 2:1-7 - The church at Ephesus had many commendable traits, but they lacked deep, abiding love for Jesus. We can say what we want to say, but out live proves the level of our love for Him!)

B. 24:1-13 To Consider God's Works - In this section, Joshua reminds the nation of all the many great things the Lord has done for them. His challenge is for the to remember all the works of the Lord on their behalf. If they will remember His goodness, they will be more likely to serve Him faithfully.

(Ill. The works of the Lord on our behalf are a great motivator for service! When we stop to think of all He has done, it should challenge us to go deeper in our relationship with Him. Think of: how He died; how He loved us when we were lost; how He came to us in our sins; how He called us unto Himself; how He saved us when we asked Him to; how He forgave all our sins and failures; how He adopted us into His family; how He has promised us a home in Heaven; how He has met our needs; how He has blessed our lives; how He has never left us nor forsaken us, even though, at times, we have forsaken Him. Think on His greatness and goodness toward you. Let those things be the motivator for you to renew you relationship with Him this morning!)

C. 24:14-18 To Consider God's Will - Joshua tells the people that it is the Lord's will for them to clean up their lives and to serve the Lord faithfully. He makes the statement that he and his family will do just that, v. 15! The people respond by expressing their desire to serve God because of His greatness and His blessings!

(Ill. I just want to challenge you this morning by reminding you that talk about serving the Lord is not just good preaching material, it is the will of God for your life! He wants you to search your life and destroy anything in it that hinders you walk with Him. He wants you to be clean and to make that commitment to serve Him only!)

(Ill. Notice Joshua's attitude toward the situation, v. 15. He tells them what they should be doing, then he tells that regardless of what they do, he is going to serve God! What a lesson for us as individuals! The sad fact of the mater is that not everyone is going to serve the Lord with total commitment. There will always be those who will remain on the fringe of things. These people will have no desire to sell out completely to the will of God for their lives. However, the whole church does not have to get right with God for you to! We need to lose the mind set that looks at others and measures ourselves against how they are doing. My friend, your relatives, your fellow church members, your friends you neighbors, etc, are not the standard you are to reach for! Out standard is none other that the Lord Jesus Christ! God saved us to be like Him and that is what we should strive for, Phil. 3:4-14.)

D. 24:19-24 To Consider God's Witness - Joshua makes a strange statement to the people. He tells them that they cannot serve the Lord! His meaning is clear. He is reminding them that the Lord witnesses their lives and they cannot have things both ways. That is ,they cannot serve the Lord on the one have hand, and serve false God's on the other! His reminder is that judgment will accompany such an action. Again, the people proclaim their desire to follow the Lord.

(Ill. May I remind you that the Lord is also watching your life today, Pro. 15:3. My friends, you cannot have things both ways! Either you are serving the Lord with absolute commitment, or you are living a life of hypocrisy! Many in our day are like the Israelites were during Elijah's day. Many are trying to walk the fence between devotion to God and living for themselves, 1 Kings 18:21! When we warn the people today, we get the same response that Elijah got from the people on Mt. Carmel.)

I. Joshua's Concern

II. Joshua's Challenge


A. 24:25-28 It Involved A Great Stone - Before Joshua dies, he erects a great stone as a monument to the fact that the people have sworn to follow the Lord. Thereafter, whenever they passed by that place they would remember their oath and be certain that their lives were pleasing to the Lord their God.

(Ill. Friends, we do not erect stone markers to memorialize our oaths to the Lord, but still, we remember them don't we? Do you remember when you were saved? Did you promise the Lord that you would faithfully serve Him all the days of your life? Well, along the way, have you forgotten that promise? If you have, you can rest assured that God hasn't! Some of you have promised to be more faithful to the Lord, to pray more, to read your Bibles, to witness for Him. You made the promise, but have you carried it out? You may have forgotten about it, but He hasn't! It is far better to never make a promise to God, than it is to make it and then break it, "Keep thy foot when thou goest to the house of God, and be more ready to hear, than to give the sacrifice of fools: for they consider not that they do evil. Be not rash with thy mouth, and let not thine heart be hasty to utter any thing before God: for God is in heaven, and thou upon earth: therefore let thy words be few. For a dream cometh through the multitude of business; and a fool's voice is known by multitude of words. When thou vowest a vow unto God, defer not to pay it; for he hath no pleasure in fools: pay that which thou hast vowed. Better is it that thou shouldest not vow, than that thou shouldest vow and not pay." Eccl 5:1-5. Are you doing all the things you told the Lord you would do? If not, today would be a good day to make that thing right with the Lord! You see, even not doing good is a sin, James 4:17. Thankfully, God still forgives sin when it is confessed before Him - 1 John 1:9.

B. 24:29-33 It Involved Some Grave Stones - This book closes with three funerals. These funerals speak to us today.

1. V. 29-31 The Gravestone Of Faithfulness - The first grave stone that is mentioned is that of Joshua himself. His tombstone spoke about the faithfulness of God to His people! God had used this man Joshua to bring the people in the Promised Land and God had used Joshua to lead the people in the right way. Through the life of Joshua, God had proven Himself to be a faithful God.

(Ill. Those who serve the Lord will learn the truth that God is faithful! He will keep His Word and He will fulfill His promises to you, Rom. 4:21. If you will walk in His will and serve Him, then He will in turn bless you life beyond measure. Our God is a faithful God!)

2. V. 32 The Gravestone Of Fulfillment - The second gravestone mentioned belonged to a man who had died many centuries before in the land of Egypt. While Joseph was on his deathbed, he made the following prediction, "And Joseph said unto his brethren, I die: and God will surely visit you, and bring you out of this land unto the land which he sware to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob. And Joseph took an oath of the children of Israel, saying, God will surely visit you, and ye shall carry up my bones from hence. So Joseph died, being an hundred and ten years old: and they embalmed him, and he was put in a coffin in Egypt." Gen 50:24-26

Now, several hundred years later, a grave is dug, a coffin is lowered and body is placed in the ground that was promised hundreds of years before. I can almost imagine that if you listened very carefully to the grave of Joseph after he was buried there, you might have heard that old pile of bones sigh and say, "I told you do, I told you so!"

(Ill. The lesson here is that we serve a God Who is able to make that which seems impossible a reality for His children, Eph. 3:20. When He makes a promise to use and bless you if you will serve Him, then you can count on Him being able to do just what He has promised!)

3. V. 33 The Gravestone Of Finality - The last gravestone marks the gave of Eleazar. He was the son of Aaron the first High Priest. His grave is the grave of finality. The death of Eleazar marks the changing of the guard in Israel. All the old timers are gone! All those who came out of Egypt and out of the wilderness have passed from the scene. All those God used in such a mighty fashion are dead. Now, it is time for a new generation to pick up the mantle of service and do something for the Lord.

(Ill. It is a shame when old soldiers of Jesus pass from the scene. But, it is an even greater shame when those who are left behind do not lift the mantle and carry on for the Lord. Israel turned to idols after the deaths of their great leaders. So too, the modern church has forsaken the path laid down by those who have gone before. God help us to be like Elisha, who lifted the mantle of Elijah and cried out to God, "You did it for Elijah, now do it for me!", 2 Kings 2:12-14!

Conc: Where are our Elishas this morning? Where are those who will stand up and be counted for Jesus? Where are those who are tires of business as usual and want to see God moving in power in th midst of His people? Where are those who are willing to pay the price of personal sacrifice and holiness that they might be bright torches in the hand of God?

When those who had known the glory of God died out in Israel, those who were left behind turned to other gods and to wickedness. My friends, there is a generation in our midst who know nothing of the power of God. They know a church filled with people who claim to love Jesus, but who deny Him by the lives they live. They no longer see Him moving in power in the services. We need some this morning who are willing to pay the price for the power of God who will step forward and get themselves in these altars and call on God until He moves in their lives, forever changing them and their world. The God of Elijah is not dead! The God of Moses and of Joshua is not dead! He is alive and well! The problem with our generation is that there are no Elijahs, no Moses' and no Joshuas. God is still willing to use anyone who will make himself or herself available to Him. Is that person you? (Ill. D.L. Moody, as a young man heard Henry Varley say, "The world has yet to see what God can do with a life that is totally surrendered to Him." Moody said, "I will be that man!" And he was! God used him to touch two continents for Jesus. God is still looking for someone who will come to Him and say, "I will be that man!" I ask again, is that person you?

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