“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.”
Deuteronomy 6: 5
Joshua 22-24 (Psalm 69)
Chapter 22 in reality shows a maturing of the people; some lessons have been learnt. Gad, Reuben and half of Manasseh fulfil a promise in supporting the other tribes. They in turn are released from their obligation and are blessed. The altar they set up, however, caused real concern. The people remember what occurred at Peor where a plague took 25 000 because of idol worship (Numbers 25) and where the sin of one man affected the whole (Achan, Joshua 7). Ten tribes set out to put it right but thankfully listened first. The motives had been good and the placing of the altar an act to actually prevent what was feared. The importance of listening and checking facts before taking offence and acting are clear. The desire to glorify God and please Him needs to be the primary motive.
As the Covenant is renewed the people are reminded of where they came from and given a stark choice to make, they are to choose who they will serve. Joshua reminds them though, that it is by God’s strength not their own, that they have the Promised Land (24: 12). Even more, they cannot fulfil their promise to obey and follow God in their own strength, God has to enable them (24: 19). The people are determined though and renew their commitment. In 23:16 we see that the people had been given a specific warning that breaking the covenant would result in the land being taken from them; we will go on to learn that this is what happened in 586 BC
Through our studies since January we have often seen individuals and the people of God pursue their own way believing they know best. They have chosen self-reliance, listened to others, worshiped gods they made and attributed to themselves works of God. Today we are reminded that it is by God’s strength that we achieve (“Not by might nor by power but by my Spirit,” says the Lord Almighty,’ Zech. 4: 6) and that in serving Him we are blessed and find real freedom.
The Question of Application
How do we love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul and strength (Deut. 6: 5)?
Almighty God, you show to those who are in error the light of your truth, that they may return to the way of righteousness: grant to all those who are admitted into the fellowship of Christ's religion, that they may reject those things that are contrary to their profession, and follow all such things as are agreeable to the same; through our Lord Jesus Christ, who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen
Lord, Whose love in humble service
In 2023, each week's blog is a follow-up reflection written by the preceding Sunday’s preacher to dig deeper into the sermon topic and explore engaging discussion questions.