Joshua 23:1-16; Luke 20:27-40; Psalms 89:19-37; Proverbs 21:3
OT: “A long time after the Lord had given Israel rest from all the enemies around them, Joshua was old, advanced in age. So Joshua summoned all Israel, including its elders, leaders, judges, and officers, and said to them, “I am old, advanced in age, and you have seen for yourselves everything the Lord your God did to all these nations on your account, because it was the Lord your God who was fighting for you…. Be very strong and continue obeying all that is written in the book of the law of Moses, so that you do not turn from it to the right or left and so that you do not associate with these nations remaining among you. Do not call on the names of their gods or make an oath to them; do not serve them or bow in worship to them. Instead, be loyal to the Lord your God, as you have been to this day. The Lord has driven out great and powerful nations before you, and no one is able to stand against you to this day. One of you routed a thousand because the Lord your God was fighting for you, as he promised. So diligently watch yourselves! Love the Lord your God! …I am now going the way of the whole earth, and you know with all your heart and all your soul that none of the good promises the Lord your God made to you has failed. Everything was fulfilled for you; not one promise has failed. Since every good thing the Lord your God promised you has come about, so he will bring on you every bad thing until he has annihilated you from this good land the Lord your God has given you. If you break the covenant of the Lord your God, which he commanded you, and go and serve other gods, and bow in worship to them, the Lord’s anger will burn against you, and you will quickly disappear from this good land he has given you.”” (Joshua 23:1-3, 6-11, 14-16 CSB)
Similar to Moses before him, as Joshua’s life neared the end, he reviewed God’s faithfulness to the people of Israel and charged them to remain faithful to the Lord. Israel had seen, first hand, how God had remained faithful to His promises of blessing. The people of Israel were able to victoriously route adversaries that were much larger than they because God was with them and was fighting for them. But Joshua also reminded them of the consequences that would come if they became unfaithful to the Lord and rejected Him for the gods and idols of the land. True, God had promised victory and blessing if they remained faithful to Him – but He also assured loss and destruction if they turned away from Him. Just as faithful as God had been in His promises, He would also be faithful in allowing the consequences.
Psalms: “You once spoke in a vision to your faithful ones and said, “I have granted help to a warrior; I have exalted one chosen from the people. I have found David my servant; I have anointed him with my sacred oil. My hand will always be with him, and my arm will strengthen him… My faithfulness and love will be with him, and through my name his horn will be exalted… He will call to me, ‘You are my Father, my God, the rock of my salvation.’ I will also make him my firstborn, greatest of the kings of the earth. I will always preserve my faithful love for him, and my covenant with him will endure. I will establish his line forever, his throne as long as heaven lasts. If his sons abandon my instruction and do not live by my ordinances, if they dishonor my statutes and do not keep my commands, then I will call their rebellion to account with the rod, their iniquity with blows. But I will not withdraw my faithful love from him or betray my faithfulness. I will not violate my covenant or change what my lips have said.” (Psalms 89:19-21, 24, 26-34 CSB)
With great detail, Ethan recounted the promise that God had made to King David many years before… that God would bless David’s line of descendants and would establish with David a kingdom that would never end. Then Ethan also recounted the warning that God gave: that if David’s sons abandoned the Lord, then consequences would come… but even then, God would always remember His promise. Interestingly, right after this eloquent reciting of God’s grand promise, Ethan then began to complain about the crisis that the nation was facing and then wondered why God was forgetting His promise. So often, we love to recite the promises of blessing, but when we are unfaithful to the terms of God’s promise, we get angry and blame God when He upholds the other side of His covenant. We must remember that God is always faithful and He never lies or misleads. We, however, are notoriously unfaithful. The question we ask should never be, “Lord, why have you forgotten your promise?” Instead the question we should ask is, “Lord, how have I been unfaithful to you… what have I done to bring about your discipline?” When God “removes” His hand of blessing – that is not the time to get mad at God. That is the time to repent, turn to the Lord, and come back under His hand of blessing. God is always ready to forgive and show mercy… He will not withdraw His faithful love or betray His faithfulness. We just need to repent, obey, and be restored.
Proverbs: “Doing what is righteous and just is more acceptable to the Lord than sacrifice.” (Proverbs 21:3 CSB)
God is more concerned with the state of our heart that our external practice of religious ritual. King Saul of old was chastised by the Lord through Samuel because he disobeyed the specific directions from the Lord in the name of offering a religious sacrifice. Samuel’s words to Saul was, “Obedience is better than sacrifice.” Behaving according to religious ritual doesn’t please the Lord. Being faithful to the Lord and lovingly living your life according to His word, will, and ways is what pleases the Lord.