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Chapter 10




Joshua 24


Time to Look from Beginning to End in the Grace of the Lord,

with  Gratitude




There comes a time when one's life work is nearly done. Such a time came to Joshua. He had been tried to the uttermost: not in his case by torture or fire, but by the profound need of patience. It was only after his own  obedience to the call to proceed into and possess the Promised Land, one in which the people would not follow, almost isolating him, that he had to wait a whole 40 years for the moment to take a practical step, with the people, and do it! The fault was not his at all: it was that of the people. But he waited, and waited ... until sent in as their leader, under the Lord (Joshua 5:13ff.).

If Joshua had had to wait long, yet when the time came, how gloriously beautiful and how intimately gracious was the way in which the Lord signalled to Him His own presence, worth more than many years, than life itself; for in His presence is holiness and joy, strength and vision, vigour and virtue.

Moreover the time came, and the years that preceded faded into the mist of things passed, while the spiritual suns shone brightly on the blessing for the people, the fulfilment and the forwarding of their mission. It was not in vain that he had waited, nor did the Lord fail him, but preparing him, used him, and using him blessed all in one of the most amazing ventures of faith ever undertaken, in the midst of miracles of profundity and point, as the divine purpose so long announced, at last was fulfilled.

In this, not only did he perform what the Lord wanted, not merely did he anoint with leadership and security his own people, but he has given to all for all time the blessed lesson of patience and WAITING on the Lord. He is very deep, and does not forget His servants; but it is HE who leads, for it is He who is Lord.

Look back a moment to the time when Joshua, then quite young, has been WILLING to proceed at once in the promised land, just as they had been led to do, but had been despised and rejected in his advice by a rebellious nation.

With profound perception, young Joshua at that fateful time of testing faith as noted in Numbers 14, following the high profile years of the confrontation with Pharaoh in Egypt, and the deliverance of the Exodus, as they were led to the frontiers, had done his work as spy, before entry (Numbers 14:6ff.). He was not dashed but dynamised by the obstacles to entry. He looked to the Lord who had led them in the tempestuous years UNTIL that moment, and not to the sea of people to be their opponents. What more clear: God had taken special pains in redeeming the nation from Egyptian horror and menace, and now was bringing them AS He had said WHERE He had said (right from the day of Abraham as in Genesis 15).

On the way, when miracle and divine power had interwoven an entire pattern in the lives of the people, like that atmosphere trail of some super-sonic jet in the heights of the atmosphere, he had not failed to be impressed and to rest in the power of the living God. He had seen clearly the issues when entering the land with the other spies. So too had one other of the spies, Caleb. He yielded nothing but spoke in faith as he came back to report.

To be sure the people of the land to be taken were strong; and were not even the sample fruits of that land, brought back, impressive! It seems their nature was, like that of the people in that land, impressive. This was shown to indicate the scale of things, by the returning spies who had pondered the program of invasion! This however merely indicated that the land was indeed good. Do you expect what God has promised to be other, or that a land 'flowing with milk and honey' to be barren! Yet the majority of the spies, indeed all but two of them, allowed psychological fastidiousness to inflame timidity, saying that they were like grasshoppers in the presence of such people as those of the land to be invaded.

Thus the spies tended to dismiss the idea of that entry to which they had been divinely called, with fear; and the people agreed with them, considering the safer seeming option of stoning those who spoke by faith. It reminds one of a similar incident when  one had to speak,as noted earlier, in the apostasing moment of untruth for the Presbyterian Church of New Zealand, in 1966. Calling to the Assembly to cease the assault on the faith in terms of the refusal to affirm the bodily resurrection, and demanding that this be done in the name of the Lord, one met only with hostility and menace. "The Presbytery will take care of you!" was the Mafia-like response of the senior Church official in the Assembly,  to the cry of faith which one had to make in that Assembly.

The Presbytery DID come with great fanfare, and sought to remove one from office; but the stones this time were not lithological, rather of a different kind of hardness, to be found in hearts. The people would not listen, though a majority of the elders did, for a time, and they continued till the time came when one leaving, no longer was a majority left. So did that Church as it then was, cease to be a faithful body, and so did they flee from a profound challenge and opportunity, to join the ranks of unbelief in the midst of twentieth century confusion. But the challenge was recorded in the vote of dissent and in the Overture from the pastorate where one had been placed!

There was at that time and in that place, a passionate willingness to proceed in the truth, but the people and the national Assembly had apostasised, despising the clear will of God, so bringing in prolonged shame, and failing in faithful testimony. Later, even the pastorate would divide. The cost was high, though the testimony was true, and will always remain so, immutable in the heavens, attested on the earth, that of the resurrection of the body of Christ, and its centrality to the faith, which may as well omit it, as the people whom it covers! (cf. Isaiah 26:19, when the intrusive and added words are removed: “My dead body will they arise!”).

Alas, the moment of untruth is common; and one should always be prepared for it, never to accommodate, whatever the price, always to be faithful in word and deed.

Thus when the call of Caleb and Joshua had been despised, Moses sought the Lord in view of this popular revolt, one wrought in the very face of a vast array of miracles of mercy and care. It was ingratitude in its very essence and unfaith in its bowels, with which that great prince who had left all for the Lord was confronted. What would he do ? In fact,  Moses interceded for the people, and his heart being tested with its shepherding love, he prevailed in prayer with the Lord for their lives to be spared, even those of a people who had so insulted the Spirit of grace. In fact, shortly they decided to go in after all, but the Lord had judged their condition, and this effervescence was not accepted; they had to experience the results of their spiritual fraud.

At last, the 40 year interval had past and the new time came: ENTRY. What was it like in our present day terms ?

It was like a reforming denomination returning to the faith, or a new segment continuing as the Orthodox Presbyerian Church in the USA sought to do, in the nineteen thirties, as did the Evangelical Presbyterian Church of that era, one which later joined with another body to become the Reformed Presbyterian Church, Evangelical Synod, only most tragically, to be swallowed up by an all but incredible laxity, into the only partly separated Presbyterian Church in America.

This,  not surprisingly, later showed the weakness of its position, revising creation in its own litany of the 1990s and failing in the ecumenical purging needed. Not only was this done, but the manner of it was confusion: there was a saddening seeming complexity of Assembly orders and rebellions against them, followed by Church conformity to the refusal. Such wearisome equivocation proceeded until the spearhead of the RPCES was blunted, and the 'mixed multitude' compromised more and more.

To the contrary, it is necessary to be vigilant, and one cannot remain where rebellion persists. It is as necessary today as in the time of Joshua; and the fruits of compromise and rebellion are as seedy now as they were then; and what loves the people of the Lord would see them delivered from such dangerous play and perilous proceedings.

It is a matter of millenia, such pulsations of betrayal: truth and rebellion, innovation and exposition of the word of God, one or the other. To go back further: the ark was a small enterprise in terms of people, if a large one in terms of timber. There is always a residue. What then of Joshua ?

It was for Joshua a 40 year span before the people, a new generation were ready for his leadership: in those days the nation was a theocracy, and so it was a matter of awaiting the readiness when it came, divinely instilled by the gracious Lord.

That was then. Now it is a matter of awaiting prayerfully, in this fallen Age which shows its teeth and temper continually, the time when the Lord will gather His people in new and creative modes, on the same Rock as foundation, and the same word as foundational without compromise or the folly of addition of an equally regarded tradition; and then acting. Patience is at times harder than courage; and Joshua had to show it.

Doubtless it taught him many things; for the Lord is a profound teacher, not only of mind, but of heart and an instructor of Spirit. From the first he was keenly aware of the grandeur of the grace and the relentless reliability of the Lord, as you see from his exhortation to a timid people when they sought to be brave enough to stone him, instead of listening: as is found in Numbers 14:6-10. What is found in the tenor of his message ? There is here a sense of gratitude for grace, deep, abiding, passionate, undeterred; and it is simple, practical, trusting in the One who having called, always does, having programmed, performs, who act s for those who wait upon Him, to whom He has shown His ways.

As Isaiah 64:4-5 puts, He is the God who ACTS for THE ONE WHO WAITS FOR HIM.


"You meet him who rejoices and does righteousness, who remembers You in Your ways." 

This is the Lord "who did awesome things, for which we did not look!"

He is the same now just as He was then. Consider then the testimony of young Joshua and let us attend to his own words.

"But Joshua the son of Nun and Caleb the son of Jephunneh, who were among those who had spied out the land, tore their clothes    

         {note the passion},

and they spoke to all the congregation of the children of Israel, saying:

'The land we passed through to spy out is an exceedingly good land.
If the Lord delights in us, then He will bring us into this land and give it to us,
‘a land which flows with milk and honey.’ 

  {note the reliance and the personal assurance},

'Only do not rebel against the Lord, nor fear the people of the land, for they are our bread; their protection has departed from them, and the Lord is with us.
Do not fear them.'

   {note the assurance concerning the project of faith to which they were called, and
    notice the divine response},

 "And all the congregation said to stone them with stones.
Now the glory of the Lord appeared in the tabernacle of meeting
before all the children of Israel."

{note what might appear the 'cussedness, the brazen and obstreperous obstinacy of heart of a people who had travelled to THIS VERY ENTRY for many months!}

They would not do in, and while the people were stilled by the presence of the Lord, who appeared to Moses in a way they could not ignore, yet this was Joshua's entry into the land, not of Canaan but of patience, which has its own mountains and challenge!

All these things, then, the courage, the character formation, the practical willingness and the patience, having passed in Joshua's life, the day eventually came when NOW, it IS at last time enter the land. Empathise a little with Joshua: You were willing, God is able; and the time having come, ACT!

This preparation for immediate action,  you see in Joshua 1 and in the visionary impact of the LORD as COMMANDER of the Army, of Joshua 5:13ff..



Let us then summarise as we see it as it might have seemed then to this leader.

Joshua was undaunted by his task - to bring a recalcitrant people into the promised land; for he had himself been willing to enter from the first, had urged the others to do so, but instead in fear they had shrunk from the cost, withered in faith, and so the whole nation had waited till that generation died, and waited - mind you, in the desert, until the next one, the children grown, was ready. Had not God Himself appeared to Joshua as the COMMANDER of the host, giving to him the assurance; and had not Joshua, first seeing Him armed, been willing to fight Him, before realising it was no enemy but the Lord, their Protector (Joshua 5:13ff.)!

What admirable courage, what many-ringed determination, wrought over forty years of preparation! When however he realised it was the Lord revealing His own hand as Commander of the army, how readily Joshua worshipped before Him. He went as seeing Him who is invisible, a criterion of faith (Hebrews 11).

Joshua had seen the power of God in the Exodus, that He can scatter any enemy, and enemies were not to the point for him: it was the Lord who was to the point,  and in His grace, was to be seen, the task which needing doing. It had been made eminently clear:  for they were sent NOT because of their virtue or goodness (Deuteronomy 9:5ff.), but because of the wickedness of the inhabitants of the land, for whom God Himself had waited some 400 years as their evil grew (Genesis 15:13-16), before being willing to act.

There is a time when the sins of the fathers visited on the children, and the social, political, ecclesiastical or religious situation is so torrid, so oppressive, so corrupt, involves such all but incredible abuse and such consolidation of iniquity that to end it becomes less grievous than to continue its corruption (cf. Genesis 15 and 18:16ff.). Even so, the Lord is very merciful, and even some who still stand can hold back that ultimate. Such did Abraham learn from the Lord.

It is a decision SOLELY in the hands of God; and at that time, it became ONE of His methods of teaching the world, that He acted, and did so in the way He had for centuries before, announced would be the case. Canaan in its day, like Sodom before it, was to become a marked land, playing its part in the entire program and conspectus by which God taught this world the way of salvation, where both pity and judgment, both patience and principle worked, and where only return to the Lord could bring strength or health or peace.

It was all prepared, planned, and now it was to be executed, this historic phase - now at last!

Thus, before using His prepared plan to bring judgment on them through another people, God had waited, for He is slow to anger and of great compassion. Now the time for the judgment of the people of Canaan, archeologically exposed as immersed in immortality, like a bath style baptism in corruption: it had come. The invasion was not to force faith, a contradiction in terms; it was not to make second class citizens of them, as Islam so often has done, even in its dealings with the Jews. It was not this; but rather was it to bring judgment on them, and remove them as by a storm from the earth. It was a special procedure, just as the Flood had been. (Cf. SMR pp. 1186A, *3.)

God had Noah also, to show great PATIENCE and PRACTICAL PERFORMANCE combined, in building the ark before the judgment of that day; and He had Joshua likewise show great patience before this new venture, not into the sea, but into the land. Each part was a phase of the total revelation of the patience, power and planning of the Lord, culminating in the Plan of Salvation, exposed in symbol in the Exodus, in the Jordan crossing, as with the Flood before this, in the ark. In that last case, it had been a symbol for the saving power of the Messiah, who would conduct through the very storms of judgment, to bring the people to the desired haven! So do preliminaries activate the mind, illustrate the principles and typify the eventual outcome. So does God teach, so does He act, whose counsel can receive no supplement and whose mind is made clear (Isaiah 40).

What then do we find ? It is this. In different ways God has instituted judgment, but never without indisputable grounds; and He teaches in many ways, a people dissolute in temper and defiled in heart. Sin is the curse; evil is the result; but mercy is the method by which the hand of God reaches in the end, into the turmoil with truth, to bring man back to Himself.

In the case where Joshua was personally involved, there had been a multitude of preliminaries. There was the prior Call of Moses, of the people, the Exodus and the conduit to this earth of all the miraculous power which made a small people dominate over  their former slave drivers and humiliate Egypt, the greatest power on earth in that day! It had been transformed into a leading TO the promised land, and MERCIES WHEN they failed to enter, until they were willing in a new generation, to do so. It had included the personal patience test for Joshua, whose faith was clearly distinguished from mere youthful exuberance by the long wait! It did not omit the use of that very Joshua so despised and threatened even with stoning, to lead them! The ways of God are deep, and blessed are those who wait for Him.

But for what were this people to go, even when their hearts were ready ? What precisely was the invasion mission ?



It was not to lord it over peoples that they were sent, as in some Islamic features, making servile citizens with circumscribed and threatened lives. It was not in trying to force them to faith in battles, or constraining them by violence into submission to the religion. Rather was it to SHOW the ways of the Lord (Isaiah 43:21, 42:6, 49:6, Psalm 67, cf. Exodus 11:9.12-13,12:48,14:18, 15:11) to all.

It was so show first His judgment, as on the people of Canaan whom He had spared for centuries till their evil was so great that continuation could be construed as cruelty - for consider the successive perversions of the young, in spirit, mind or body, and the infamous practices! It was no less to show the ways of godliness and the reverence for the living God of all power and grace, mercy and truth, through Israel as SENT. God is far from inactive, though as with a vast river, the tumultuous passage may on the surface seem so still.

So was His action, in each of its parts, and in all the parts as they were successively shown,  to give a light to the world, one which had escaped extinction in the flood, and had the vast plan and awaited the vast panorama of salvation to come, as promised in the protevangelion, that first intimation of the Gospel to man, exposed in Genesis 3:15. 

If then the action of God with Moses and Joshua was not impetuous but spiritually imperial, nor was it one to reward Israel for its own marvellous qualities. It was not a reward for their own righteousness, for said Moses (Deuteronomy 9), they were a stiff-necked people; it was rather to reward by the invasion, the wickedness of those who had for so long asked for judgment, this being the way God chose, as He brought His plan of salvation first to one people, Israel, and then through them to the world. The intention was merciful; the scope was global; the step was a constituent in a divinely constructed whole.

Moreover, God who knows all things in advance (Isaiah 46:8-10), had already provided in His plan as Isaiah so greatly stresses (Isaiah 41-42, 51-53 cf. Revelation 14:6, 13:8, Ephesians 1:4), the SERVANT who would actually perform perfectly the work of identifying Him, showing His power in purity and indeed exposing the very heart of God. That ? it was  His only begotten Son, the Word of Eternity, who would when He came, declare that indeed, HE was the Lord (John 8:58). God did not do things by halves, but put His whole heart into the work of salvation.

You see the situation at the end of Isaiah 41, where God exposes the complete uselessness of Israel FOR salvation's action, and in Isaiah 42, where He contrasts HIS servant, HIS chosen, in whom HE delighted, who would BE His salvation to all the earth (49:6), whom He focussed as PERSONAL and performing in person the works needed to display His power, His compassion and His authenticity as Lord.

These works enshrined  MORE than patience, but not less, as you see in Isaiah 42, where He brings with mercy and compassion, His work to the world, sparing the bruised reed, and not extinguishing the smoking flax. You see it again in Isaiah 51:18ff., where God laments the lack of counsellors and qualified people to bring deliverance to His people, and then in Isaiah 52-53 shows WHO is sent. As to that, it is as in 48:16, God the Sender who gives God the sent, who by His Spirit works in the hearts of men, the exact parallel to John 3:16.

So did God plan to act, proclaim He WOULD act, and act; and with what RESULT. It is then that this same Messiah (as in Psalm 2, 16), occupies the promised land of the hearts of His elect, those whom He seeks, even every one who will make of His soul, His life an offering for sin, a sacrifice sufficient, effectual and available, and believe in Him as revealed on earth, the definitive image of the living God (Hebrews 1).

Thus it is impossible to over-emphasise that there was a PLACE in the Plan of Salvation, for this early work of Joshua. Like the flood, it came and it went, having taken its place. In symbol in the sacrificial system given through Moses, it had been traced; and in action now it was shown, that God has a plan, has a place, has a mission, provides commission, works out the wonder of His truth in the midst of rebellion, and yet secures, not by violence by to faith, what is to be found, and presents it TO faith as a gift. But it must BE faith, and not mere words.

As to God, He does not change. Let us therefore look again, up to our own so blessed Age, when given so much, we can see so far.

NOW the plan of  salvation, in our 21st century, has reached the last phases (Answers to Questions Ch. 5), of its APPLICATION. The work of Joshua SYMBOLISED it, in the power of the judgment, the provision for the Lord's people, the certainty of the covenant, the rest in the Promised Land (Christ for the people is symbolised here, just as the hearts of His people are a place for Him to dwell in - it is reciprocal). The work of Jesus Christ PAID for it, and made it freely available, by Him who covered the cost, so completing what had long applied (Isaiah 55), at the practical end of the matter.

Thus when He cried "It is finished!" (as in John19's account), it was indeed the finish of a long day, a matter of millenia!

Now in our own day,  we come near to the RETURN of this same Lord, and it is this for which one must prepare, as Christ so strongly exhorted, a fact seen in Matthew 24,  as the chapter ends. What for the new generation under Joshua's leadership was a beginning step INTO the land, is for us a consummatory travel, to the Lord upon His return! (I Thessalonians 4, Matthew 24:29ff., Mark 14:62, 13:22-37,  Revelation 19:8, 11:1ff., I Corinthians 15:47-58, 11:26, Acts 1:7ff.). That was their preliminary phase, and this is for the Christians of today, our eventual phase, when the Commander is no longer invisible as in Joshua 5, but to be One whom every eye will see! (Mark 13:26, Revelation 1:7).

There is always venture, always a travel, a mission, a commission; each in his own day must be found faithful; and how otherwise if you have faith ? for as a man believes in his heart, so he is.





Having looked ahead to see the plan now exposed in its completion, we may now the better savour the significance of the earlier work of Joshua. In some  ways, it is almost like building a car: EVERY PART needs attention, consecration. In the end, it shows! We must in our day, perform our part: HE DID, in his own day.

Thus we return to the Joshua phase, in its own way as dramatic as that of Moses, the same Lord taking him and the people on to the next step leading to the consummation in the Messiah, Jesus Christ.

Now the time had come, as it does in every Age; and in the book of Joshua you see the new phase of miraculous interventions of the Lord, disciplines and directions, as the promised land comes to be possessed. That is to be seen as preliminary to the words of Joshua which ring down the centuries. It is at this time that Joshua makes, at the very end of his life, this SPEECH in which we have interest. Indeed, he is VERY OLD,  in fact some 110 years of life have passed for him.

We turn now to the end of Joshua's life, as he speaks to the people, before he departs (Joshua 24). What did he have to say ? What is the message from that phase, and how can we learn from it, in terms of the abiding, unchanging principles of the Lord, whose word is secure, whose salvation is immutable, whose ways are wise and who never, as a matter of empirical fact, fails!


IV THE CHALLENGE of the SPEECH - Joshua 24


In his terminal speech, starting with direct statement from the Lord, and with many applications, as the Lord inspired him, swiftly Joshua took them over the background from Abraham to Egypt, where they had in fact suffered bondage, to the Exodus with its multiple attestations of divine power and grace, and the entrance to the promised land by divine oversight and provision.

He noted the spiritual attack which they had suffered (almost the most dangerous like radioactive nuclear bombs, which though with vast power to unleash, are small in significance in comparison with this). This spiritual assault was made by Balaam, the false prophet, who though knowing something of God, was willing to be tempted to look for reward while still making reverent type noises (Numbers 24). Would he curse Israel for the King of Moab, so making that prince of a corrupt country, secure ? Would Moses do this ? Joshua surveyed that scene in his speech.

No, God would not LET Balaam curse them, as Balak King of Moab had desired. In a similar, indeed partly parallel way, using spiritual weapons to stop the will of God is rather naive, but it can be costly where disobedience enters in, as in so many once sound churches today.

So, hired to curse Israel, Balaam ended by blessing them (24:9-10). In fact, one might add, Balaam, in the process of his equivocal procedures, delivered one of the great prophecies concerning the Messiah, showing how God can use whom and what He will (Numbers 24:17); for that false prophet is found predicting a Star would arise from Jacob and a Sceptre from Israel.

It was not a very good curse, but it was a very good exposure of coming fact. God can mock even the mockers!

The Lord, Joshua continued, took them over the Jordan River, and "sent a hornet before you which drove out" many peoples (Joshua 24:12), and brought them to a prepared land for their own.

FEAR (that is have reverential and realistic trust in), fear the Lord! he counselled (24:14). Does that not please ? Very well, if this seems bad, then choose THIS DAY, WHOM you WILL serve, the gods of your fathers (remember the golden calf episode! and what followed), those of the Amorites to whose land you have come, or the Lord. You choose;  but as for ME and MY HOUSE, said Joshua, WE will serve the LORD.

You may notice the way in which the people responded to this challenge.

"God forbid that we should forsake the Lord to serve other gods."

The LORD had brought them out of Egypt's enslavement with marvels and wonders of power and protection, and led them with mercy into their now occupied land. It was, you see, an occupation right enough, but the one authorising it was the MAKER OF ALL LAND! Where God assigns, other designs are not mere obstreperous contention with Him*3, they are a very marvel of arrogance and invitation to disaster. God is patient; but He can hear... as you see when you read Micah 7 concerning things to come, Ezekiel 38-39 and Isaiah 66, indeed to go yet further, II Thessalonians 1!

What then of the answer of the people, when Joshua delivered his charge, and applied the thrust of his speech ? There is perhaps a certain lack of personal passion in their answer; it tends to sound formal, and the history of the Judges which followed, may reflect this, for it was a pantomime of errors and evils: yet in the immediate future, with the elders of Joshua when he himself passed on, things for the time, went much better.

Faith does not merely note facts; it has a fashion of courage and conviction which baulks at nothing!





Joshua proceeded to press his challenge. He was not satisfied with mere mouthings, for he had seen the ways of the people, and their trends to synthesise and combine with the follies of other peoples, wavering and wandering. YOU CANNOT SERVE THE LORD, he announced, because He is a holy God, zealous in zest for purity, like a husband with his wife. If they in folly should forsake the Lord, as shown in serving foreign, alien gods, then the light of glory which was protective, could consume them! It would remind them of Mount Sinai and the fire and awe that was there when the word of God came to Moses.

Thus, in general, we may muse: if you know God, His power is great; but if you turn away, tasting, testing and moving away, then this same power and purity is awesome and fearful.

At the time of Joshua, however, the people replied (a most important historical fact, showing their freedom and commitment as a nation):

"No, but we will serve the LORD."

SERVING the Lord is part of believing in Him, since He is Lord.

"WHY," asked Jesus, "do you call Me Lord, Lord and not do the things I say" (Luke 6:46).

Very well, Joshua indicated,

"You are witnesses against yourselves, that you have chosen to serve Him."

They agreed:

"We are witnesses!"

If you marry, there are results;  there is a manner of it, and it is free! There are results if you play the fool: it is special, not like just knowing someone.

Thus Joshua then brought in this result: He made a COVENANT with the people (Joshua 24:25), and he wrote it. Ours ijn the New Covenant is written in blood, and it can neither be altered nor manipulated, reconceived or revised. It is there, written, set not in stone, but in flesh, that of the Lord's own body, ratified in the resurrection, immutable as beautiful; and when it IS received, then the entry to the better than promised land of personal knowledge of the Lord, as citizens of the Kingdom of Heaven, becomes sure, steadfast; and in its grace, there is this feature, that this too cannot be altered. This is wrought in heaven and attended on earth, and nothing can abort or abut into it (John 10;27-28).

We do, as the reader may see, continually bring up the parallels to our own time, as we also consider the preliminary steps of the Lord's act ions over time, in this case, those of Moses and Joshua, and now, what Joshua DID in the day of his speech.

Indeed, Joshua added something. He actually made a stone of witness. This reminds us that it was as if on a stone that the Lord wrote the sins of the people, as He delivered them from sin in His salvation. That is attested in Zechariah 3:9, in terms of another Joshua, the High Priest of the day of Israel's return after exile.

Alas, it was not too long before Israel began to violate the national covenant. You see the intense pathos of this in Isaiah 48:17-19.

"Thus says the Lord, your Redeemer,

The Holy One of Israel:

'I am the Lord your God,

Who teaches you to profit,

Who leads you by the way you should go.


'Oh, that you had heeded My commandments!

Then your peace would have been like a river,

And your righteousness like the waves of the sea.


'Your descendants also would have been like the sand,

And the offspring of your body like the grains of sand;

His name would not have been cut off

Nor destroyed from before Me.'

                          " Go forth from Babylon!"


If only they had followed what God gave; but they did not, and although many prophets and wise men for centuries spoke in the name of the Lord to them, and foretold the central phase of the Messiah coming to the crucifixion and resurrection (Psalm 2, 16, Isaiah 49-55 cf. Joyful Jottings 22-25), and although some kings of Judah brought in wisdom and revival, and much of the Lord's beauty was shown, yet the drift came to its Falls, not at Niagara, but at Calvary, at the false accusations and the murder wrought by the authorities of the nation, prodding Pilate, governor from Rome, seditiously and sedulously until they got the blood. That ? it is called in Acts 20:28, in reference to GOD, "His own blood" !



As to this Israel, the witness came, the Bible in the Old Testament came through them (cf. Romans 10), the Lord came, the crucifixion came, the resurrection came just as the Exodus had come, prefiguring it with the Passover Lamb; but Israel the nation, despite the wonderful coming of many thousands: it fell. That is not the end of its history, for to come is that vast repentance foretold in Zechariah 12-13, concerning "Me whom they pierced", as the Lord foretold in that prophet.

To come is there confirmation in the land, for God is neither mocked nor manipulable, and whether  it be Egypt or Islam or any other force, the UN*1, for example, which opposes, yet His divine word and work does not bend. He is LORD, and despite the sure appearance of His patience, this is not mulishly to be misconstrued; for He has a program of total blessedness into which those who are His come, and to which all are  cordially invited by grace. His love is profound, and the way is narrow. He has His own ways, His own real estate component, His own ways of illustrating, of demonstrating truth, mercy and management in the very midst of liberty (cf. Ezekiel 37:22,28).

Nor is the road wholly closed as yet to the Gentiles. This SAME Jesus with this SAME Gospel in this SAME plan of salvation, with this SAME power of God to salvation (Romans 1:16) is sending out the SAME invitation (cf. Matthew 22:1ff.), to ALL. If many like the people in Joshua's young day, wish to depart and leave it, so be it. If some like Joshua wish to enter, then ENTER! Let the one who is thirsty come! says Revelation 22:17, right at the end of the account!

People come and go. In the case of Israel, at the crucial central phase of the plan of salvation they went, and one's heart almost breaks for them. But they will come yet, in large numbers (Romans 11:25ff., Zechariah 12), even to the Lord whose payments are greater by far than the entire debt in trillions of the USA, than the treasuries of Islam with its bountiful contributions to violence, than the works of darkness in all their desires and designs. His payment is without limit; though its application is without faith, never made. He does not ram food into shut mouths, any more than He neglects to use His own grace in the hearts of those who are stiff of lip and jaw.

It is not a national elevation, for who would want the history of Israel in the last two millenia! It is a direct divine apportionment of times and procedures, in which Israel has specific promises and has endured specific and pre-announced results (as in Deuteronomy 30-33, Leviticus 26). It is God who plans; and it is folly to defile His actions, for it is as possible for water to defile stainless steel, as for the will of man to prevail against the counsel of the Lord; yes and more so, for in that the elements all depart in the end, but the mercy and the will of God, and His word, these do not depart.

Volubly now, whether within or outside Israel, individuals, churches and nations may assert this or that religiously, and wander, even those who name the name of the Lord, even some of those who assert as did Israel in Joshua's day, that they want the covenant.

 Words and actions  are not always a substantial identity (Isaiah 29:13). They can move like the clouds. It is, however, rock that is needed, and  as to that, a foundation in rock, and as to Him who IS the Rock (I Samuel 22:32), it is in HIM who is the Lord (I Corinthians 3:10), that is to be found that foundation who never  moves and always supports.

What however of churches or groups using the name of Christ,  when they even begin not only to DO, but to SAY the wrong things! This is becoming so common that it is sound faith which is becoming the exception. What then ? then the impudent arrogance is truly tempestuous. Then the tornadoes against truth and from judgment expand beyond anything in the day of aged Joshua; for then the people were only sometimes rebellious; but these new gospels and distortions, contemporary to our own times, they  are  becoming endemic for many.

Imagine if the people had told this to Joshua: NO, we will keep those parts of the covenant we really like, such as those parts which speak of blessings, and ignore the condemned parts.

It would be like now declaring this: we will be driving on any side of the road, maul minors or be using rockets to space if we please.  Imagine if they had, in the ways of their own day, said and then done just that! There is indeed development in this field, but it is in regress, not progress, in rebellion not realism. That of course is the phase of our day, the rebellious end-time of volatile non-faith and spurious substitutes and confusion (II Timothy 3, 4, I Timothy 4, II Peter 2, Matthew 24:24).

Whatever happened after Joshua in the beginning of Judges, there is more now; there is a more acute form of rebellion and a more sophisticated form of dissent, mockingly masquerading as faith.

Bad enough was hypocrisy; but as for rebellion as a sauce, that is a tart one indeed, to make one screw up the face! You must follow on to KNOW the Lord (Hosea 6:1-3), not hesitating as they did at the promised land, not straying as they did with calves of idolatry, not setting limits to the Lord as they did, when they feared the strength of the opposition they foresaw. God has given us these things as examples (cf. I Corinthians 10), and what sort of student ignores examples!

Thus the example of Joshua speaks to the formal churchgoer today.

Let us then be realistic and fear the Lord, rejoice with trembling as Psalm 2 puts it: for in His favour is life, is blessing in the midst of glory, and in folly is remorse, guilt and a clugging of the wheels, making trouble for the spiritual differential!

Israel's promise is already partly fulfilled*2, in the word of Isaiah 27:2-6, where the land responds (as it has already done) to the presence of its appointees; who yet must respond in the land to the Lord! (Bold  is added.)

"In that day sing to her,

'A vineyard of red wine!

I, the Lord, keep it,

I water it every moment;

Lest any hurt it,

I keep it night and day.

Fury is not in Me.


"Who would set briers and thorns

Against Me in battle?

I would go through them,

I would burn them together.

Or let him take hold of My strength,

That he may make peace with Me;

And he shall make peace with Me.'


"Those who come He shall cause to take root in Jacob;

Israel shall blossom and bud,

                  And fill the face of the world with fruit."

No less fulfilled is Isaiah 56:13, Isaiah 35:1. Consider meanwhile the use of such realities in symbolic form in Hosea 14! There is rich and enduring beauty of reality and truth, mercy and holiness, soundness and stability, cleanness and cleansing, care and joy in the presence of the Lord. It is not a place to visit as perpetual enquirers, but to reside as citizens by faith (cf. The Kingdom of Heaven Ch. 3).

Avoid making God an extra: it is one's own desires are an extra, to be put confidently to the Lord who will perform the good, and may warn of the evil; for living in spirit is not less definite than in the body. Stress it and you ask for trouble; be patient and loving, and there is no limit to the wonders the Lord is able to perform. Again the message is this: ABIDE in Him, for the Lord is good, and we need the good He does to keep us functioning, just as flowers need water and soil nutrition.

FEED on Him, WAIT on the Lord, DRAW NEAR to God. He is not bunch of flowers for the spiritual table; HE is the house and the room in it. It is YOU who live in Him. Then you find the house is not empty: you are FILLED with the Spirit as you walk in the Spirit (Ephesians 5, Galatians 5).

It is hypocrisy which Joshua condemned, emptiness, thoughtlessness, formalism, tradition without the commanding passion for truth. It is with THIS that you CANNOT serve God. That was the force of the exclusion which was so forcefully made in Joshua's words, in Ch. 24.

It is JESUS who is the better than Joshua, and the work of Joshua was in some ways a geographical example of coming to Christ.

The STRESS ? Don't dabble, do it.

Not only so: let us be grateful that the Gospel has always held the same message, is defined, determinative, and has had millenia in which to be applied, just as it had millenia in which it was moved into full place, from the day of the Fall in Eden, to that of the flood, to that of Abraham, to that of Moses and the sacrificial system, and to ONE PLACE where alone sacrifice should be made (cf. SMR pp. 823-824; and for overview TMR Ch. 3, Barbs ... 17).

This was the highway to the Cross: just as Calvary is one place, the site for consummation of all the preparation, for payment for the truth of justice and the reality of total judgment accordingly, where in love redemption was made and paid, by Christ.


There is no other place,


nor any other  time,


nor any other way;


and the simplicity of it all is a fragrance of fulness,
like a walk in a garden of multiplied blooms, roses, wisteria and daphne:


not to be seen as a warrant for arrest -
though if you are driving at 200 mph on a public highway,
it may be just as well if you are arrested!


It is rather a relish for your deliverance and a portrait for your vision and a ground for your inheritance. For this, if gratitude does not well up as clouds of mist to the skies, as from the Victoria Falls, where is the heart ? If the fall of man should be so covered in grace with the rainbow of deliverance, as may gleam above the falling waters, gratitude is like opening the eyes to see the light. It is the most natural thing in the world. It is only sin which makes it seem unnatural, for blindness can see nothing.

On opening the eyes to reality,  clearly seen is the full complement of the spectrum of life,  the arising splendour of the magnificence of the washing (Titus 3:3-5), so costly, so competent, so complete, so vast in conception so realistic in performance, and the work of salvation to its very end, in the purity of heaven where joy has its end, and peace its site.

If this light is not rejoiced in, this splendour is subdued in heart, and if one even names the name of the Lord, then where is the life in the heart!

Yet if life is there, gratitude knows no bounds, for grace and gratitude are like the two eyes: they see together. They dance, they hold each other in a close embrace, they rejoice together as a walk in the spreading woods, the spirit in quietness, with the silence of beauty and the sights of peace, like companions of joy.







Divine Agenda Ch.    3 (including the axle of the axis of evil, Darwin, Nietzsche, Hegel, and the violence violators of peace, religious and other),

Ch.     5 (from Isaiah 7-10 to the present, in perspective to the point in view);  
It Bubbles Ch.   11;

Red Heart, Dead Heart and Pure Heart Ch.   10 (the evacuation of justice and the consignment of nations, Israel and the calling of names), 

News 152 (more generally) , 

Of the Earth, Earthy
... Ch.   13 (the UN and Israel ... and others! broad coverage;  and unity moves).



See SMR pp. 790ff..



See Galloping Events Ch. 4, It Bubbles ... Ch. 11, Ch. 10,

Of the Earth, Earthy ... Ch. 13.