The Good Years

This morning I enjoyed a breakfast meeting with my Rotary mentor, Dave Robinson from Loveland. He is actually a “senior power-lifter.” He competes in weight lifting competitions around the country. Later this afternoon, I returned to the fitness center for a workout with my trainer. My nagging cold symptoms stymied my workout to a degree, but at least I made it.

BIBLE VERSE FOR TODAY…  “Israel worshiped Yahweh throughout Joshua’s lifetime and during the lifetimes of the elders who outlived Joshua and who had experienced all the works Yahweh had done for Israel.” Joshua 24:31 HCSB

The Book of Joshua begins with a transition of leadership from Moses to Joshua. The book ends with another transition of leadership from Joshua to the leaders of the tribes of Israel. Three burials take place as the we read the final verses of Joshua. Joshua, Joseph and Eleazar, son of Aaron. Joshua and Eleazar represent the end of the second generation of leaders who brought God’s people into the Promised Land. The burial of Joseph (just think about carrying his body around the last 40 years) represents the fulfillment of God’s faithfulness to Joseph and his anticipation of God bringing His people out of Egypt to the land promised to Abraham, Isaac and  Jacob.

“Joseph said to his brothers, “I am about to die, but God will certainly come to your aid and bring you up from this land to the land He promised Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.” So Joseph made the sons of Israel take an oath: “When God comes to your aid, you are to carry my bones up from here.” (Genesis 50:24,25 HCSB)

As the future unfolds we will read how God’s people failed to completely obey the Lord and as a result, they were oppressed by their enemies until God would raise up a leader (“judge”) to rescue them and bring peace to the land. But until then, we read a short description of the “good years.” The years that were started with the Joshua. That generation and the next, followed the Lord. They had seen and remembered the might acts of the Lord. But in time,  “another generation rose up who did not know the Lord or the works He had done for Israel.” (Judges 2:10 HCSB)

Joshua challenged God’s people as he prepared to die, just as Moses had done before him. “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 worship them or bow down to them.  Instead, remain faithful to the Lord your God, as you have done to this day.” (Joshua 23:6-8 HCSB)

Joshua warned God’s people. “…if you turn away and cling to the rest of these nations remaining among you, and if you intermarry or associate with them and they with you,  know for certain that the Lord your God will not continue to drive these nations out before you. They will become a snare and a trap for you, a scourge for your sides and thorns in your eyes, until you disappear from this good land the Lord your God has given you.” (Joshua 23:12,13 HCSB)

Joshua reminded God’s people of the Lord’s faithfulness. “…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.” (Joshua 23:14 HCSB)

Joshua recounted the journey and the Lord’s faithfulness that had allowed them the success they enjoyed. He did this as a reminder that the Lord who had done all that He had up to this point would continue to honor them and go before them as they served Him.

Joshua calls God’s people to a decision. “…choose for yourselves today the one you will worship: the gods your fathers worshiped beyond the Euphrates River or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you are living. As for me and my family, we will worship Yahweh.” (Joshua 24:15 HCSB)

The people pledge their loyalty and obedience to the Lord. The Lord was faithful to bless and guide them in those years of “faithful following.” However, each individual, family and generation must make that choice, must renew the commitment to follow the Lord. We see that pattern consistently in the lives of individuals and the history of God’s people; following and obeying the Lord brings blessing and disobedience bring hardship. Those lessons still apply in our lives today.