JOSHUA 23 - 24
In chapter 24 of Joshua we see three burials taking place. The first is of the body of Joseph who died all the way back in Genesis 50:24,25. Joseph's story begins in Genesis 30 when he is born to Jacob and his beloved wife, Rachel. Joseph, if you will recall, was one of twelve sons born to Jacob, but the firstborn of Rachel's two sons. Because he was the son of Rachel, the favored wife, and a "son of Jacob's old age" and probably because of his character, Jacob loved his son Joseph more than his other sons.
After Joseph brings an ill report to his father about some of his brothers, and has some prophetic dreams of his own prominence that he shares with his brothers, and after Jacob gives Joseph a coat of many colors, the jealous brothers sell Joseph into slavery at the age of 17 and convince his father that Joseph had been killed by a wild beast. Joseph becomes the slave of Potiphar in Egypt where he serves well, but is accused of misconduct and thrown in jail where he again serves the jailer well.
After several years, Joseph is given the opportunity to interpret the dreams of Pharaoh. The dreams were so ominous about seven years of plenty and seven years of famine, and Joseph so impressed Pharaoh and his counselors with his wisdom and his spirit of God, that Pharaoh exalts Joseph and sets him up over all the land of Egypt. As ruler of Egypt, Joseph sets up a plan to store all extra food during the seven years of plenty so that there is food aplenty during the following seven years of famine for Egypt and the affected surrounding regions.
The land of Canaan is also affected by the famine, and its inhabitants are forced to look for food elsewhere. The sons of Jacob end up going to Egypt to seek food, unknowingly from their own brother Joseph whom they had sold into slavery. After he reveals himself to his brothers, Jacob's entire family moves to Egypt to be with Joseph.
Joseph's life is often compared to Jesus:
Another burial we see in our lesson today is of Eleazar, the High Priest. As High Priest, Eleazar can be likened to Christ. Hebrews 9 calls Jesus our High Priest.
The third burial in our lesson today is that of the beloved leader Joshua. We can liken Joshua to Jesus also.
These men all are symbolic of Christ, but none of them were perfect. They were only humans attempting to do God's will among humans influenced by Satan. When Joshua challenges the Israelites to choose whom they will serve and they choose God, don't be surprised when they quickly fall away. After all, they did leave people in their land who did become snares to them.
Christ has won our battle for us, but we leave things in our lives that we have to battle. For some, that battle may be as obvious as criminal wrong doing, or for others as covert as a lying tongue or just indifference. As with the case of the Israelites that we will see in the book of Judges, our snares can cause us to lose what God has given us.
As soldiers of Christ, we fight alongside God, but sometimes we end up fighting against Him. Some Christians want to give God all the physical support they can in attendance and good works, but maybe they don't want to support Him financially - which ends up being counterproductive to God's work. Others may have the opposite problem of wanting all their support to be monetary, but leave the actual labor to others with more time on their hands. But God wants us all - heart, soul and pocketbook. To do otherwise is leaving snares for us to constantly battle.
James Hastings says, "We are bound, if we have any life in us, to fight in God's constant battle. But if we fight as volunteers, we are free to choose our side." We may end up fighting against God. We may do it through ignorance--not knowing what is right, through wickedness--preferring evil to good, or through indifference--just not caring. It may be hard to convince the indifferent that since they are not doing anything active they are still actually in a fight. Their inactivity becomes a wall behind which God's opponents can fortify themselves.
"When faith is no more than an opinion, failing to reach the affections and desires, and kindling no hope; when it is but a creed-belief, reached by proofs and evidences like some conclusion in mathematics, and lying as far away from our real interests as a theory regarding the rings of Saturn - then it is what St. James calls a 'dead faith.' It has nothing to do with the man who would not be different had he never formed that opinion at all." I'm sure we have all complained in our groups about the lack of morality in our country. But can we not say that that is so because too many Christians have been going to that segment of their lives called religion and saying their prayers, while in other segments of their lives they have been fighting against God?
We as children of God must learn to recognize when we are fighting against God. We must also learn how to fight for God and to keep on fighting. Rest assured, Satan will continue his battle for your soul till your very end. Like the Israelites, we have all made the major choice of fighting for and serving God, but the choice is an everyday, every moment choice. At any time we may choose to fight against God. That choice may be a permanent decision or it may be only momentary. (Waffling.) But damage will be done- if not in your life, then in someone else's life who saw your choice. Let's make a conscience effort to choose this day, and every day to Serve the Lord.
West-Ark Church of Christ, Fort Smith, AR