Joshua Chapter 23

Keep On Loving God


Intro: Here in Ch. 23 we see Joshua is at the end of his life – in his old age  110 yrs old / V. 2 old & advanced in yrs – v. 14 Behold I am going the way of all the earth

A)In essence -We are all going to die – that is where I am headed now !!!


 B) 20 yrs have passed since they crossed the Jordan entered the land:

7yrs fighting/ 13yrs settling:

1)   We noted in our study on Wed night that after everyone had been given their land – that Joshua choose a place to go settle – Built a city


C) So The Warrior became a Builder & here at the end of His life – He becomes a Preacher: He gathers together the people & Preaches a Sermon 

1)Last 2 Chap. of this BOOK deal w/ His last words to People of God


D) I admire this in Joshua – Going strong until the very end !!! – Not slowing down – not kicking back / not shrinking from his responsibility

1) But being able to say like Paul - 2 Tim 4:7

7 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.


E) Folks it should be our desire to have that same testimony – fought the good fight – finished the race – kept the faith!!! 


I was reading this week about John Wesley:

A)John Wesley traveled over 250,000 miles on horseback traveling from town to town preaching the Gospel


B) AFER traveling 250,000 miles on horseback and Preaching 40,000

Sermons: writing 400 books and mastering 10 languages,

1) He complained at the age of 83 that he was frustrated that he could not write for more than 15 hours a day without his eyes beginning to hurt


C)At 86 he had to reduce his preaching to 2 times a day / At 88 he complained that he had a tendency to SLEEP IN until 5:30 A.M.

Well Joshua was of that same mold – taking care of his responsibilities until his dying day: He is still Preaching / Still Proclaiming the truth

A)He begins by exalting God – Proclaiming how the Lord had brought them into this land & how he delivered their enemies into their hands


B) But after Exalting God – He begins to exhort the People –

1)Notice the Order here: He first EXALTS God – then He EXHORTS the people


C) The order is important – Before telling people what to do – they need to have a good picture of Who God is & what God has done for them

1) One reason why is our Services that we Praise before we Preach – There is that need to get our hearts in line w/ Who He is / what He has done


D) It is then & only then that we are ready to hear from Him: Receive a difficult word – Because we understand the heart it is coming from

1)   I want to encourage you don’t take lightly the time of Worship – It is not the warm up / not the dead time – filler – waiting people to get here


E) It is Vital to everything else that takes place in this building – in our Services – It is our time to See the Lord – Remember His goodness

1)   Celebrate His Works & Deeds – So EXALTING needs to Proceed EXHORTING  -


Now the basic theme of Joshua’s EXHORTATION here in ch.23 an encouragement to go forward in the Lord / not turn back from the Path

A)To not turn from God’s way / God’s Plan / for them as individuals or as a nation:


B) This passage is crucial concerning the possibility of BACKSLIDING

1) NOTE: It does NOT matter how old you are in the Lord, this is a potential problem for you


D) There is the potential in each of us to go back – Known people who have been greatly used by God have ended up with their lives a mess{ Lon/ Lead.

1Co 10:12 Wherefore let him that thinks he stands take heed lest he fall.

A)Realize that The MORE mature you are....... The MORE fruitful/effective   

     you are...... The more you will be attacked!!!!


B) BUT - Praise the Lord, the more you move on in the Lord, the more of the Lord's strength and power and grace are there for you too.

1) Now IF you are NOT being attacked, THEN there is a reason why Satan is NOT   wasting his efforts on you { No Threat – should be concerned


C) Now in his message JOSHUA mentions 3 Consequences of turning Back and  3 ways to avoid doing so.

1) That is what I want to concentrate on today: 1st the Consequences /


Consequence #1 Defeat is inescapable v.13 "know for certain that the LORD your God will no longer drive out these nations from before you.

A)How true this – this has been Israel’s history :

1) The Assyrians came from the east and led the 10 northern tribes into captivity because they had turned away from the LORD


B) The Babylonians came from the north and led into captivity the southern kingdom of Judah

1) The Medes and the Persians also came in and butchered the Jews that remained in the land


C) In the Spanish Inquisition they were slaughtered & In the ovens of Nazi death camps they were slaughtered


D) Because of their rebellion : God’s hand of Protection was lifted & they were subject to the cruelty of the neighboring nations /

1) Scary for U.S. – we as a nation have forsaken God – Our days our numbered – [ Saving Grace is Israel – Bless those who bless You]


E) SO the result of their Apostasy – was they became a defeated people and what was true of Israel Corporately is true of us Personally


The person who walks away from Christ – will soon find themselves living a defeated existence:

A)Where those same elements of their flesh that controlled their lives before coming to Christ –Begin to rule them again


B) They find themselves being again ruled by the desires & Passions of their flesh:  things like Pride / Anger / Selfishness / fear

1)Being Judgmental – Unloving – Critical of others - Things like the  Bondage of Alcohol or drug addiction / Pornography


C) Those things will begin to take a foothold  in that persons life again sometimes to an even greater degree than before

1) They are defeated having no power to control those habits or passions


D) So the First Consequence of turning Back is it will lead to Defeat:


#2 Consequence: Going back causes discomfort !  V. 13b   But they shall be snares and traps to you, and scourges on your sides and thorns in your eyes, until you perish from this good land which the LORD your God has given you.

A)The imagery of this verse is interesting: Consider a few words –


B) The word Snares & Traps  – speaks of a Net or even a thick Sheet that a hunter might use for catching animals –

1)Animal is walking along thinks that everything is just fine – suddenly they are trapped in this  net that they can’t get out of A Web –

2)[Internet – WWW]


C) The Word Scourge speaks of being beaten: Whipped – Pain is inflicted

1)   Scourged on the side & Thorns in your eyes – { Painful picture


D) Reminded of Samson: Bound him  trapped { Grinding at the mill – Beaten

1) Gouged out his eyes – Sin does:  Binds / grinds you / Blinds you

1)If they allowed the enemy to dwell w/ them – if they tolerated this worldly influence among them – it would cause them TOTAL DISCOMFORT

Now I think this is something that we need to desperately drive home to our bros & sisters who are on the verge of going back into the world

A)Yes Sin is Pleasurable for  a season – but the end of it is DEATH


B) If you have Ever been around someone – compromising – Miserable / Frustrated - The Compromising Christian is an unhappy person:

1)   Too much of Jesus to be happy in the world – but too much of the world to be comfortable in the Lord – { Conversation is shallow


D) Problem is their sin becomes like a thorn Pricks at their conscience – but if they don’t repent – the point of the thorn becomes dull

1)   Their hearts begin to harden & then they are in a really bad place


E) SO BACKSLIDING results in Defeat / Causes Discomfort


Consequence #3 Going back causes Disgrace V 16 "When you have transgressed the covenant of the LORD your God, which He commanded you, and have gone and served other gods, and bowed down to them, then the anger of the LORD will burn against you, and you shall perish quickly from the good land which He has given you."


A)One of the saddest things in the world is to see someone who was once vibrant for the Lord –  become a shell of what they once were .


B) Where - The results of their sin are all over the place their life is WASTED - They are like the Vessel that has become MARRED


C) PTL – when there is Repentance – God is able to restore the yrs that the Locust have eaten – Restore & Rebuild{ Remake into something new

1)   But there is always a season of Disgrace that follows when Backsliding occurs


D) SO those are the Consequences IF you are thinking of going back, you can count on that:

1)You WILL experience DEFEAT and DISCOMFORT and DISGRACE /

But now lets consider what Joshua says here about how to avoid going back – 3 Things he points out that will help us

A)#1 Obedience to the Word  V.6 "Therefore be very courageous to keep and to do all that is written in the Book of the Law of Moses, lest you turn aside from it to the right hand or to the left,


B)This is an exhortation to Keep your daily and weekly priorities centered around the Word of God !!!


C) This book that we are holding in our hands is God’s Love letter to us

1)   It expresses His Heart – tells us who He is / How He thinks – what


D) It is our Playbook that tells us how to live –

1)   It is a Mirror that shows us what we are to be – what God is seeking to mold us into – if we are willing & Yielding to its work


E) It is a Sword that equips us to fight & do battle against the enemy & the elements of this world system –

1)   It is a Well of water that refreshes our Spirit & Sustains our Soul –


Our calling is to Know it & to do it !!!  Our lives are to revolve around God’s word –

A)Decisions that we make for our lives / Priorities / Parenting / marriage how we are going to run our Businesses / what we do for entertainment

1) All of that needs to be filtered thru the word of God


B) Now I find it note worthy that Joshua says to them – Be very courageous to Keep & Do …..

1) Because it takes a certain to degree of Courage to live your life according to the Word of God – Because: Go against the Grain of this world


C) The more our society moves away from the Principles in God’s word the more we who are living according to God’s word are going to be considered as being Radical or Fanatical – LINES ARE BEING DRAWN


The 2nd way to avoid backsliding is to Cling to the Lord V.8 but you shall hold fast to the LORD your God, as you have done to this day.

A)The Phrase to hold fast – literally means to stick like Glue – to trust God and don’t depend on any other resources


B) As the nation Israel had to contend with the influence of the Canaanite population around them,

1)we also have many other philosophies in the world competing for our attention, Philosophies that Undermine the Word of God


C) Paul Rom 12 Don’t be conformed to this world – [squeeze us into it’s mold ] but be transformed by the renewing of your mind –

1)   Mind renewed by the word of God – back to the word


D) So all of us are faced w/ a decision: Are we going to be Conformers – what is the world doing – or transformers – Allowing God to shape us

1)   That will be decided by what we are Clinging to: THE LORD or this WORLD


THE 3RD WAY TO AVOID BACKSLIDING: Keep on Loving the Lord:

v. 11 Therefore take careful heed to yourselves, that you love the LORD your God.

A)Now this is the most important of all – Joshua knows that everything else will fall into place if our Love is growing & deepening for the Lord


B) And this is also why Joshua starts off  his message & mentions several times w/ in his message what God had done for them

1)   Because He knows that our love for God in it’s healthiest form is when it is a response to His love for us


C) The more I understand who He is / the more I understand – His heart for me / His patience in my Life / His sacrifice to bring me into His family

1)   The more my love grows & deepens –


D)And the more that my love grows & deepens – The more I will stay in His word – Because I love God I need to & want to hear his heart

E) The more I understand his love The less desire I will have for the things of this world –

1) because I love Him & I know that in comparison to him this world has nothing to offer me


F) I will find myself clinging to the Lord – because I love Him so much I want to be nearer to Him – Longing for Intimacy

1)   And I realize deep down in my heart that I can’t live w/ out Him


So when Joshua makes this statement – we need to recognize this is the most important of all – because everything stems from & flows from this

A)Jude makes the same statement in his epistle – Keep yourself in the love of God


B) Now it is this exhortation that Joshua & Jude both make to keep on Loving God – that I think has great relevance for the Church today


C)See in Matt 24:12 speaking of the last days – Jesus declared that the Love of many would grow COLD –- Decline in peoples passion for God

1) First step toward backsliding: When a Christians love for God starts to lessen – Why?


D) Paul answered that question: In 2 Tim 3:1-4 Paul declared in the last days difficult days would come –

1) Men would be lovers of themselves : [ Self love would be Prominent – You deserve a Break today – You need to feel good about yourself – You need to do what is best for you – no consideration to who that hurts  ]


E)Lovers of money  [Longing after materialism ] lovers of pleasure rather than …. Of God 

1)   Now that not only describes our Society today – but unfortunately it also describes many who would call themselves Christians today


F) Their passion for God & Desire to Please God has been replaced by a desire to please themselves First 

But this is the thing that we must understand – A person doesn’t go from being on fire to their love growing cold over night – gradual

A) So what is it that can cause our love w/ the Lord to begin to grow cold – what can cause the Passion to diminish


B)Well I want to close by using the marriage relationship as an example of what can happen between us & the Lord

1)   Common problems that cause the Love w/ in the marriage relationship to grow cold –   4 things quickly note


C) 1st of all is Routineness: When you have been married a while the newness of the relationship wears off –

1)   It is easy to slip into a Routine mode w/ your spouse – Just going thru the weekly grind


D) But w/in us there is this longing for something exciting – So in a marriage relationship there is a need to do things to break the routine

1)   Get away alone – Day off do something different – something Spontaneous – Spark that Passion


Well the same thing is true in our relationship w/ the Lord – There is such an excitement when we are first saved – New : God is working

A)The Bible becomes a live – we just want to devour it – But after we have walked w/ the Lord a while – Newness wears off


B) Our Christian walk can begin to resemble a weekly grind – Church / work / ball games / Spark can diminish – lessen

1) Just like in the marriage relationship there is the need to get away there is that need to do the same w/ Jesus { early morning at the beach


C) A week retreat – Get involved in New Ministry

1)   Let the Lord – Shake you up – Trials


2nd Thing in a Marriage is Compromise { Drives a Wedge


3rd Busyness Ephesus – Slow down regroup –


4th Holding Back – Hurt – Hinders that relationship from growing –


So too hinders the work of God in our lives C) Now the very fact that Jude & Joshua both give this command & exhortation is proof enough that it is possible to stop loving God

1) Or to do what the Church of Ephesus did – They left their first love

They became side tracked by other things


D) In fact if you consider the Churches mentioned there in Revelation: Several of them suffered from this problem but for Different reasons

1)   For Ephesus they became distracted by Ministry – For Pergamos it was the things of the world

2)   For Thyratira it was religion – & For Laodecia it was Wealth & Pride


E) Churches congregations that started well – in love w/ God – serving God / who left their first love –

1)   Who became distracted from their Passion for one reason or another