Joshua is commonly thought of as a great soldier, but our reading today depicts him as a good shepherd who has a loving concern for his sheep.
In chapter 23 Joshua calls all the leaders together, probably at Shiloh, for his farewell address to them. He wanted to instill in them a sincere devotion to the Lord. In his message he reviewed the past, reminding them of the wonders of the Lord, from the crossing of Jordan to that present day. Note how he gives God all the glory for what has been accomplished. The Lord fought all the battles; Joshua only divided the land!
Lastly, Joshua reminds the leaders of their present responsibilities as the people of God. What God would do for the people depended on what His people did for Him. Joshua's main concern was that Israel be a separated people and not mingle with the heathen nations.
Following Joshua's message to the leaders, he calls all the people together at Shechem for a final appeal to them before his death. He is concerned that they might lapse into idolatry because of the influence of the heathen nations around them. They were already prone to worship idols, and Joshua knew that idolatry would cause them to forfeit their inheritance. He encourages them to devote their all to the Lord, by reminding them of God's past goodness, of his own faithfulness, of the danger of discipline if they are disobedient, and of the covenant God had made with Israel at Mt. Sinai.
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