Let’s jump right in to today’s scripture passage, as there is so much to discuss.
Today’s scripture reading: Joshua, chapters 22-24, the final chapters
First of all, I’m sure you noticed as I did the repetition within the first five verses of today’s reading of Moses’ descriptor: Moses the servant of the Lord. Moses is mentioned like that three times within the first five verses of chapter 22, and every Bible translation I checked had the verbiage exactly like that: Moses the servant of the Lord.
Wouldn’t you love to be described that way, as a servant of the Lord? Of course, enjoying that may hinge on pride, but really I’m just speaking hypothetically. If we are on this journey together, likelihood is that we all consider ourselves servants of the Lord, but do others see that servant-hood in us? If they do not, it is my opinion that we need to work harder. We don’t need to boast about our servant-hood but those around us should see the Lord as Master of our lives, just by knowing and living in close proximity with us. Can they see it? Is it there? Is there more we can each still do?
Try it out for size:
Marilyn, servant of the Lord.
Lisa, servant of the Lord.
Alice, servant of the Lord.
Katherine, servant of the Lord.
(Insert your name here), servant of the Lord.
Has a nice ring to it, doesn’t it? Now, let’s back up our titles with action!
Next, the business with the alternate altar struck me as more than a bit odd, and I would really love to hear some educated guesses on this one; hopefully you can help me get my mind around this whole story.
Thus says the whole congregation of the Lord, “What is this unfaithful act you have committed against the God of Israel, turning away from following the Lord this day, by building yourselves an altar, to rebel against the Lord this day?” (22:16, NASB)
“Did not Achan the son of Zerah act unfaithfully in the things under the ban, and wrath fall on all the congregation of Israel? And that man did not perish alone in his iniquity.” (22:20, NASB)
Then the sons of Reuben and the sons of Gad and the half-tribe of Manasseh answered and spoke to the heads of the families of Israel. (22:21, NASB)
“Far be it from us that we should rebel against the Lord and turn away from following the Lord this day, by building an altar for burnt offering, for grain offering or for sacrifice, besides the altar of the Lord our God which is before His tabernacle.” (22:29, NASB)
The sons of Reuben and the sons of Gad called the altar Witness; “For,” they said, “it is a witness between us that the Lord is God.” (22:34, NASB)
I can see from a logical standpoint where the tribes of Reuben, Gad, and the half-tribe of Manasseh were coming from, but the feeling side of me can’t get the rationale behind having a copy of the tabernacle altar. I truly look forward to researching this topic further at a later date–as I am working through this year purposefully avoiding the outside influences that come with doing reading and research to accompany each day’s Bible in a Year passage of scripture; this year is about opening my own mind and understanding. Until then, I would love to know your thoughts or what you have studied about this particular portion of scripture.
As we come to the end of Joshua’s life, and therefore the end of the book of Joshua, I enjoy his sort of parting words and reminders and tying up loose ends. Joshua, being older and certainly of a natural age to pass, seemed to know that he was not long for this earth, though it is not written that the Lord told him as much directly as He had Moses before him.
But Joshua tells the people of Israel: “Be very careful to love the Lord your God.” (23: 11, NIV)
“You know in your hearts and in all your souls that not one word of all the good words with the Lord your God spoke concerning you has failed; all have been fulfilled for you, not one of them has failed.” (23:14, NASB)
Then, my favorite part, the recap (my husband says I am queen of the recap, which is not necessarily a compliment in his book, but is in mine):
Joshua said to all the people, “This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: ‘Long ago your forefathers, including Terah the father of Abraham and Nahor, lived beyond the River and worshiped other gods. But I took your father Abraham from the land beyond the river and led him throughout Canaan and gave him many descendants. I gave him Isaac, and to Isaac I gave Jacob and Esau. I assigned the hill country of Seir to Esau, but Jacob and his sons went down to Egypt.
“‘Then I sent Moses and Aaron, and I afflicted the Egyptians by what I did there, and I brought you out. When I brought your fathers out of Egypt, you cam to the sea, and the Egyptians pursued them with chariots and horsemen as far as the Red Sea. But they cried to the Lord for help, and he put darkness between you and the Egyptians; he brought the sea over them and covered them. You saw with your own eyes what I did to the Egyptians. Then you lived in the desert for a long time.
“‘I brought you to the land of the Amorites who lived east of the Jordan. They fought against you, but I gave them into your hands. I destroyed them from before you, and y0u took possession of their land. When Balak son of Zippor, the kind of Moab, prepared to fight against Israel, he sent for Balaam son of Beor to put a curse on you. But I would not listen to Balaam, so he blessed you again and again, and I delivered you out of his hand.
“‘Then you crossed the Jordan and came to Jericho. The citizens of Jericho fought against you, as did also the Amorites, Perizzites, Canaanites, Hittites, Girgashites, Hivites and Jebusites, but I gave them into your hands. I sent the hornet ahead of you, which drove them out before you–also the two Amorite kings. You did not do it with your own sword and bow. So I gave you a land on which you did not toil and cities you did not build; and you live in them and eat from vineyards and olive groves that you did not plant.’
“Now fear the Lord and serve him with all faithfulness. Throw away the gods of your forefathers worshiped beyond the River and in Egypt, and serve the Lord. But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods of your forefathers served beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.” (24:2-15, NIV)
Here’s what I love about this particular recap: this is your’s and my story, as well. Our versions have different details, but in the end, we are all on the same path to the Lord. My version would go something like this:
For generations, your family has served the Lord faithfully, acting in kind and serving the Lord in many ways. Through Eli and Ellen, Jack and Sherlie, the Lord has blessed your life, giving you Gary and Susan as faithful parents and role models to follow on your path. It is because of their faithfulness and good deeds in the Lord’s name that your life has been richly blessed, and through your service, your children’s lives will continue to be blessed, as well.
You have been sent around the country, meeting people and being introduced to cultures and people who you may not have ever been exposed to otherwise, with less faithful forefathers, but those experiences will serve you well as long as you walk the earth in service.
Then, through your husband’s family, you were blessed with a God-fearing husband, and through trials and tests, the Lord has been with you and protected you from the enemy, and brought you closer to Him. Together with your family, He brought you to a place where you would walk closer to God than ever before, as you progress down the path in faith, His grace is there with you always. He is leading you and directing you and your family continually, and as long as you listen to His guidance, you will continue to be blessed servants of the Lord.
Make it a great day,
As for me and my household, we will serve the Lord. (24:15, NIV)
Day 88 reading: Judges, chapters 1-2