Cling to the Lord.
“But you are to cling to the LORD your God, as you have done to this day.” – Joshua 23:8 NASB
Joshua is growing old. The people are in the land, but have yet to take possession of all that God has given them. Several times in these two chapters Joshua refers to the land “which remains.” God had given them enough land to take over as their numbers grew. He had taken into account their future as well as their present needs. But because they had not yet occupied all the land, there were still other nations remaining in those areas. Joshua warns the people not to grow intimate with these people. “So be strong! Be very careful to follow all the instructions written in the Book of the Law of Moses. Do not deviate from them in any way. Make sure you do not associate with the other people still remaining in the land. Do not even mention the names of their gods, much less swear by them or worship them” (Joshua 23:6-7 NLT). Joshua knew that the people would be tempted to not only allow these other nations to remain, but to grow comfortable with their presence and even learn to accept their ways and their worship. So he strongly warns them of the consequences of their actions.
Joshua spends a good part of his address to the people reminding them of all that God has done for them. The Lord had given them rest from all their enemies on every side. It was the Lord who had been fighting for them all this time. God would continue to give them victory over their enemies as long as they remained faithful to Him, keeping His commands and expressing love to Him through their obedience. God had remained faithful, but He expected Israel to do the same.
“If Israel does not do her part, then God will not do his. Here is the danger of freedom. God seeks man’s free response of love. God does his part to deserve and receive such love. God does not force his attentions upon man. But the man who ignores God’s claims finds God’s punishment.” – Trent C. Butler, Joshua
Because we live in a dispensation of grace, we sometimes fail to realize how serious God is about faithfulness in His people. We relish His grace and count on His constant forgiveness. We love the idea that our future salvation is guaranteed and we can’t do anything to screw it up. But that assurance can lead to a kind of complacence. We can become casual in our obedience and a little too familiar with this world. Joshua warned the Israelites of how dangerous this would be for them. But is it any less dangerous for us? No, we will not lose our salvation, but we can miss out on all that God has promised for us. John warns us as believers, “Stop loving this evil world and all that it offers you, for when you love the world, you show that you do not have the love of the Father in you. or the world offers only the lust for physical pleasure, the lust for everything we see, and pride in our possessions. These are not from the Father. They are from this evil world.” (1 John 2:15-16 NLT). Jesus Himself prayed on our behalf, “I’m not asking you to take them out of the world, but to keep them safe from the evil one. They are not part of this world any more than I am. Make them pure and holy by teaching them your words of truth.” (John 17:15-17 NLT).
We are not to grow cozy with the world in which we live. We are not to take on the characteristics of this world system. Instead, we are to be set apart. We are to be in the world, but not of it. We are to be agents of influence, not the influenced. Like the Israelites, we are to be God’s representatives in a land where He is not worshiped or esteemed. We are to be His people, living according to His will and illustrating what it means to walk according to His way. No, we need not fear His cursing of us, but we should fear living outside of His will. Falling in love with the world should be the farthest thing from our minds when we consider all that He has done, is doing, and has promised to do for us in the future. Even in the midst of all the temptations and influences to be unfaithful, we should cling to the Lord. He is our help, our hope, and our faithful God.
Father, I want to learn to cling to You. But instead I tend to cling to the things this world offers up as replacements for You. Forgive me for my lack of faithfulness and my complacency. I have become far too casual in my relationship with You. I don’t want Your love for me to cause me to lose my respect and awe of You. Never let me grow so casual that I become complacent. Amen
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men