No, but we did it from fear that in time to come your children might say to our children, ‘What have you to do with the LORD, the God of Israel? For the LORD has made the Jordan a boundary between us and you, you people of Reuben and people of Gad. You have no portion in the LORD.’ So your children might make our children cease to worship the LORD. Joshua 22:24–25 (ESV)
The tribes living across the Jordan did not build the Altar in rebellion against God as the rest of Israel had feared. Israel expressed their fear of this based on their recent experience of corporate responsibility meaning all members of the community suffer when just one breaks faith. A concept we have forgotten in the west.
The tribes explain that they are innocent before God as the structure was built as a witness. However the reason they built it was out of fear, they feared being cut of in future generations and that as a result their children would not fear the Lord.
So fear has a large part to play… they acted out of fear in building the witness, Israel reacted in fear and went to do battle and both parties did this because they feared the Lord. The missing element in all this is faith, all the tribes should put their trust in God’s covenant keeping love and not be driven by fear.
Let us act out of faith and love not fear. See 2 Corinthians 5:7 and 1 John 4:18-21
but you shall cling to the LORD your God just as you have done to this day. Joshua 23:8 (ESV)
We too must cling to the Lord, looking at the word “Cling” in this context and in the original Hebrew will be help us meditate on what it means to cling to the Lord.
In Hebrew the word is dābaq. Cling is used in this sense, to cling to. It is a verb meaning to hold firmly or tenaciously, usually with one’s hands.
The word is defined in hebrew as the following: to stick to; cling, cleave to; cling to, stick to; hold to, overtake; cause to stick to; pursue closely; keep close; to adhere, to be glued; join; follow; hold onto; fasten; catch up with; follow hard; joined fast; be made to cleave; stay close; be united; be associated; to stay with.
If we do not cling to the Lord we will cling to something else. Luke 16:13
Be very careful, therefore, to love the LORD your God. Joshua 23:11 (ESV)
This would almost seem strange with our modern concepts of love, we would not think to use careful and love in the same context but love is in fact a very thoughtful and deliberate thing involving our volition more than we often acknowledge. As we are reminded in 1 John 3:18 Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.
I gave you a land on which you had not labored and cities that you had not built, and you dwell in them. You eat the fruit of vineyards and olive orchards that you did not plant.’ Joshua 24:13 (ESV)
This is a picture of Gods grace which should encourage us to serve the Lord with gladness. Jesus alludes to this in John 4:36–38
And if it is evil in your eyes to serve the LORD, choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your fathers served in the region 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.” Joshua 24:15 (ESV)
In today’s society “choice” has been exalted as an idol and has become the rationale of the people for all manner of sin and abomination (abortion, same sex marriage etc).
God did not give us the ability to choose to abuse ourselves or dishonor him, choice should not be our God. Joshua turns the worship of choice around by saying he takes the power he has to choose to choose to serve the Lord.
The choices we are presented with are often false options, the fact is whoever we submit ourselves to we are servants / slaves to obey, so choose your master.
This is illustrated well in Romans 6:16 which states “Do you not know that if you present yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness?”
Lets choose to serve the Lord today!
Finally, brothers, rejoice. Aim for restoration, comfort one another, agree with one another, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you. 2 Corinthians 13:11 (ESV)
The assurance, “And the God of love and peace will be with you,” is dependent on each of the five admonitions made earlier about joy, restoration, submission, unity, and peace.
We have this promise today too as we actively seek to do Gods will he will impart to us his love and peace. Let’s mediate on these five admonitions today.
Oh, grant us help against the foe, for vain is the salvation of man! With God we shall do valiantly; it is he who will tread down our foes. Psalm 60:11–12 (ESV)
The salvation provided by man is vain, we need to trust in God as we fight the spiritual battles around us today.
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