Biblical Truth: When God gives a person an opportunity to lead, He also encourages and empowers the person to lead.
Set an Example: Joshua 24:14-18.
 "Now, therefore, fear the LORD and serve Him in sincerity and truth; and put away the gods which your fathers served beyond the River and in
 The text abruptly changes speakers and mood. The prophetic Joshua now assumes the role of an attorney pleading for the proper verdict for his client. He demands two actions be taken. First, the people are to enter into the proper relationship to Yahweh (fear and serve). Second, they are to rid themselves of all other claimants to lordship over them. The proper relationship includes the proper attitude of reverence and awe in response to the majestic acts of God and the proper action of service in its widest sense. Such service is qualified by a pair of terms. Sincerity is the action expected of the people with their rulers. It is the demand made on the person who would enter into worship. The other word describing service of God is truth or faithfulness. It designates trustworthiness and faithfulness in speech and deed in relationship to other people and to God. Joshua thus demands an attitude and actions which are beyond the normal, expected attitudes and actions of men. He demands the same type of response to God that God has already shown to His covenant people, that of total loyalty and dedication. The attitude and decision for Yahweh always precedes the actions of putting away the gods and building the altars. Joshua calls for proper allegiance, on which basis he can then call for a change of practice. The interesting point is that
 Joshua concludes his case by spelling out the alternatives facing
[16-18] To Joshua’s challenge based on the reality of God, the people affirm that they will serve the Lord, for He is our God. Their answer employs a list of statements describing the salvation history. Each of the statements differs from those of Joshua. Whereas Joshua emphasized the victories of Yahweh against nations who fought
Set High Standards: Joshua 24:19-24.
 Then Joshua said to the people, "You will not be able to serve the LORD, for He is a holy God. He is a jealous God; He will not forgive your transgression or your sins.  If you forsake the LORD and serve foreign gods, then He will turn and do you harm and consume you after He has done good to you."  The people said to Joshua, "No, but we will serve the LORD."  Joshua said to the people, "You are witnesses against yourselves that you have chosen for yourselves the LORD, to serve Him." And they said, "We are witnesses."  "Now therefore, put away the foreign gods which are in your midst, and incline your hearts to the LORD, the God of Israel."  The people said to Joshua, "We will serve the LORD our God and we will obey His voice." [NASU]
 Joshua’s answer is perhaps the most shocking statement in the Old Testament. He denies that the people can do that which he has spent the entire chapter trying to get them to do. Having won their statement of faith and allegiance, he rejects it. Why? The issue at stake in the entire chapter is the service of other gods, presented as a present reality for
 The consequences receive explicit definition.
[21-22] In light of the nature of Yahweh and His demands, the people again respond, more somberly and succinctly, but still positively.
 Having gained
Covenant with God: Joshua 24:25-27.
 So Joshua made a covenant with the people that day, and made for them a statute and an ordinance in Shechem.  And Joshua wrote these words in the book of the law of God; and he took a large stone and set it up there under the oak that was by the sanctuary of the LORD.  Joshua said to all the people, "Behold, this stone shall be for a witness against us, for it has heard all the words of the LORD which He spoke to us; thus it shall be for a witness against you, so that you do not deny your God." [NASU]
 On the basis of
[26-27] An ancient practice underlies this verse. A great stone is set up under a tree within the sanctuary. Details of the ceremony are not given. Perhaps sacrifices or meals were a part of the ceremony. The intention here is not to preserve the ceremony but to impress upon the audience the importance of the basic stipulation. Having completed the ceremony, Joshua explains the significance to the people. The subjective witness of the people  is complemented by the objective witness of the stone. The words of the Lord must be the stipulations of the agreement , but these have been minimized in interest of the call to obedience to the one basic stipulation.
Send Them Out: Joshua 24:28, 31.
28 Then Joshua dismissed the people, each to his inheritance. 31
In verse 29, Joshua is called the servant of the Lord, the same title that was given to Moses [Joshua 1:1]. Joshua’s epitaph was not written on a marble gravestone. It was written in the lives of the leaders he influenced and the people he led. They served Yahweh. Here is the theological climax to the theme introduced in 22:5 and repeated like a chorus in 23:7,16; 24:14,15,16,18,19,20, 21,22,24. The obedience is traced to faithful knowledge of all the deeds of the Lord. As long as men remained alive who could keep the tradition in force,
SUMMARY: Joshua 24 completes the book by giving the theological definition of the people of God. That identity as God’s people hinges on two things. The first is the action of God in the history of His people. Such action is set out as having occurred prior to any service of Yahweh by the people. Salvation history can in no way be connected to God’s reward for the behavior of His people. God sends His leader to assemble the people and remind them of the greatness of God’s actions for them. Here Joshua becomes the courageous religious leader ready to set the example himself with his house and calls his people to follow. Such a call is not a summons seeking recognition and popularity for himself. It is a call issued with stern warning of the responsibility and consequences. It is also a demand for discipleship, a call to hear and obey in faithfulness and loyalty the commands of God. Joshua forces
Questions for Discussion:
1. What kind of relationship with God is Joshua calling the people to seek? What two characteristics must describe our service to God? Note how these two elements protect our service from becoming mainly man-centered. Why must the proper relationship with God precede any attempts on our part to remove idols from our hearts?
2. Why does Joshua reject the peoples’ affirmation that they will serve Yahweh? What important principle for service is Joshua proclaiming here? Why is obey His voice the key thought of the passage?
3. What is
Joshua, Trent Butler, Nelson Publishers.
Gleanings in Joshua, Arthur Pink, Moody Press.