The Lord Desires Us to Maintain the Pillars of Sustainable Faithfulness.

As we prepare to "re-enter" society following shutdowns on a national and international level, we are preparing ourselves for more change. Though the natural rhythms of life remain the same, they may look different from what we were used to before the pandemic. But we will be okay by God's grace. Our circumstances and cultures may change, but God's beauty and order do not. Some of our spiritual habits should never change either.

Farewell Addresses

This morning, we will look at two final speeches from one of Israel's most spotless leaders, Joshua. In Joshua 23, he speaks about Israel's immediate future. The name "the Lord your God" appears 13 times in this chapter. This name hearkens back to Deuteronomy and emphasizes the character of God that is immutably loyal. He keeps His promises.

Joshua 24 repeats the name "Yahweh." This speech is a covenant renewal. Joshua speaks from Shechem, which reminds Israel of their history with their covenant-keeping God. Ancient covenants had 7 characteristics that God's covenant with His people also reflected:

  • Preamble (Joshua 24:1)
  • Historic prologue (Joshua 24:2-13)
  • Stipulations (Joshua 24:13)
  • People's response (Joshua 24:16-25)
  • Witnesses (Joshua 24:22)
  • Curses and blessings (Joshua 24:19-20)

This covenant renewal was held "before God," indicating that the Ark of the Covenant had probably been moved from Shiloah to Shechem to remind Israel of God's past faithfulness.

How should we remain faithful based on what was expected of the Israelites? Let's look at 4 disciplines of maintaining faithfulness from these 2 chapters.

Maintain a Grasp on the Word of God

Joshua 23:6 gives a strong imperative that reminds hearers of Moses' final speech in Deuteronomy 31:1-13. Both leaders reviewed God's past faithfulness and urged the people to hold firm to God's Word. God's Word will forever be our sanctifying agent. It is sufficient and eternally reliable. The immediate fruit is a love for God (Joshua 23:11).

A Holy Distinction

Exclusive love for God leads to separation. Those who love God will show fidelity to Bible doctrine and practice. Joshua 23:12-13 gives a warning to the Israelites about uniting to those who are not loyal to God. Our whole life is to be worship (Romans 12:1-2).

Undistracted Service

A reverent lifestyle allows us to be undistracted in service to the Lord (Joshua 24:15). This is how we show our appreciation for God's past faithfulness in our present. The way we demonstrate that may look differently from time to time.

Confident Trust

We can trust God that He will make us a faithful example to the next generation. Joshua faced his own death confidently (Joshua 24:27-31). He built a monument to recount God's past faithfulness as a reminder to the people who survived him.

Joshua hid himself and exalted God. His concern was to keep God's legacy at the forefront, not to leave his own. Joshua used over 40 different names of God in these 2 chapters. He shows a godly humility while emphasizing God's strength. This is how he could be confident in facing death, knowing that God would always be faithful to His people. Similarly, God will be with us as we go forward in pursuit of His purpose for the church (Matthew 28:19-20).

Application Points

  • Our history experiencing God's faithfulness is a sacred gift to treasure. Recount the Lord's faithfulness in your past. Will you give attention to this in your personal and family devotional time? Because of His past faithfulness, we can confidently face change in our future! God will be faithful in the future as He has been in the past. Are you trusting Him? How do you demonstrate that confidence?
  • Our love for God must be demonstrated in a holy distinction from the world's patterns of sin. This is demonstrated as we seek to replicate Christ's character in every part of our lives. What area is the Word of God changing in you?
  • Serving the Lord remains the most significant way to maintain faithfulness. The way God gifted you to serve does not change. How can you keep using your spiritual gift under differing circumstances? Contact a pastor or your discipler to talk about this.

Tools for Further Study

Cross References to Explore
  • 1 Thessalonians 5:24, Philippians 1:6 – God's faithfulness.
  • 1 Thessalonians 2:13, James 1:25, John 17:17 – embracing God's Word leads to blessing.
  • 1 Timothy 4:13-15, 2 Timothy 4:1-2 – corporate responsibility to adhere to the revealed truth of God.
  • John 13:35 – the distinction of God's people.
  • 1 Corinthians 10:6 – learning from the past.
A Hymn to Encourage: "Be Still, My Soul"

Be still, my soul: the Lord is on your side;
bear patiently the cross of grief or pain;
leave to your God to order and provide;
in ev'ry change he faithful will remain.
Be still, my soul: your best, your heav'nly Friend
through thorny ways leads to a joyful end.

Be still, my soul: your God will undertake
to guide the future as he has the past.
Your hope, your confidence let nothing shake;
all now mysterious shall be bright at last.
Be still, my soul: the waves and winds still know
his voice who ruled them while he dwelt below.

Be still, my soul: when dearest friends depart,
and all is darkened in the vale of tears,
then shall you better know his love, his heart,
who comes to soothe your sorrow and your fears.
Be still, my soul: your Jesus can repay
from his own fullness all he takes away.

Be still, my soul: the hour is hast'ning on
when we shall be forever with the Lord,
when disappointment, grief, and fear are gone,
sorrow forgot, love's purest joys restored.
Be still, my soul: when change and tears are past,
all safe and blessed we shall meet at last.