And so we reach the end of Joshua, the book and the man.
In many ways, this feels like the end of the Torah: The “end” of the story that began in Genesis with Abraham and continued with Moses in Egypt and through the desert wandering.
Seeing this as a significant moment, Joshua chooses his words carefully and delivers them forcefully. The first thing he does, and this should surprise no one, is remind the people of their story. Storytelling has to be one of the most important things for these people. You can’t seem to go more than a few chapters without reading it again.
But what else does Joshua say?
We DIDN’T Build That
Look people, I can’t control when I will read a chapter of Scripture. Did I intentionally read the last chapter of Joshua at this time so it would almost line up with the Republican National Convention? No.
Is it the only thing I could think of when I read this?
I gave you a land on which you had not laboured, and towns that you had not built, and you live in them; you eat the fruit of vineyards and olive groves that you did not plant.
It is crucially important that Israel remember they had very little to do with creating the infrastructure of the land they have just inherited. If they forget that piece, they are in danger of rewriting their entire history. Every time they go to a town and every time they plant their crops, they must remember “who built that.”
Hint: It wasn’t them.
Good thing we have a solid grip on who builds our own infrastructure. Am I right?!
Choose This Day . . .
Now if you are unwilling to serve the Lord, choose this day whom you will serve . . . but as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.’
If you have a cross-stitch of this verse somewhere in your house, will you please email me a picture? Does it hang over your doorway? Does it greet you in the hall every time you come home?
I don’t mean to make fun. In reality, it is a great verse to have hanging in your home.
Joshua knows something about people. He knows they are going to serve SOMETHING. Nobody is neutral. Everyone has a master.
I once met with a student who wasn’t sure he wanted to follow Jesus anymore. So I asked him, “Well, what do you want to do instead?”
He didn’t answer. I don’t think he had thought that far ahead. But he was going to serve something. If it wasn’t going to be Jesus it was going to be himself. Or his friends. Or whatever.
If we ever decide to do the same, maybe a big question we ought to ask ourselves is, “well, if I’m not going to serve God, who or what AM I going to serve?”
What a different conversation you might have.