What decision should I make when relating God's kingdom. What's right, what's wrong, good, evil strong, weak, wise, foolish what builds, what destroys, what's faith, what's unbelief, what's success, what's failure. What is God's will and what is my will. This question is one that is asked by all and whether you know it or not we all make decisions that will effect our course in life to good or evil. Our minds will trick us and lie to us and our conscious will put things in check but we must make a decision on what coarse we will choose
1. Korah's Choice (Num 16:1-35)
· We need to examine passed events in God's word to set a foundation of truth, one may call it a scale
· Looking at Korah's life it is one of rebellion against Moses and the commandments of God
· It is interesting to know that he also came out of Egypt with the children of Israel, in other words he to had a place in God's great salvation
· Yet we all see him as a villain in the word of God as one who was wicked and lead many to paths of destruction
· What causes one to rebel and lose sight of God - Satan, Adam and Eve, Cain, Saul, Samson and us
· (Duet 25:13-16 - Proverbs 11:1 & 16:11) God has called us to make righteous judgment when balancing his word
I. (Luke 1:79) The Gospel is one of guidance from evil to light of God, this is for salvation
ii. (II Cor. 4:1-6) We are not a people that walk after sin and desire darkness but the truth and light of our Lord Jesus Christ
iii. (Psalms 1:1-2) We are different in the fact that we as Christian delight in his word
iv. (Psalms 40:8-11) There is joy in serving God and his will abides in our hearts, expound about conviction and walking in God
v. Korah was a man of self interest - what can Korah attain from God and his people - power for the building of one's kingdom
vi. Don't deceive yourself there is a Korah in you and he will challenge God and God's law in your heart
· (Romans 7:14-20) I am bound to bad things though I desire to do good, this does not change especially with us or YOU
· There is rebellion in all of us and yes I said all, I don't care who you are, all are wicked this is why we need salvation
· Korah was not alone in rebellion many lost their lives that day
· Korah lived in the church and in your heart also, he has not changed consider Satan he abided at the throne of God and yet rebelled, why
· He to had a different plan from God's - it's all very innocent at first - skipping services - not doing God's will - doing something for us and the family - not sin but not his will, so it's justified
* The Acrobat or balancing act begins
2. Conviction, the spirit of the flesh (Jude 1:1-11)
· Jude warns us about those that creep unaware, not just speaking of actual people but a spiritual attack
· We need to understand that this world is our testing ground and our decision will determine eternity
· People to include the saints of God do not understand the long picture we live in the present
- Seeking after money and carnal pleasures, cars, boats, bikes,
- It will lead you to a life of fleshly desires, note not sin but the flesh
- Your affection will not be the kingdom but perhaps family, career or money
- Not everything comes down to sinning in Korah's case it was position in the church - self interest
- God's word, the church, labor, contending, burden, the harvest field (God's Will)
- Are not replaced rest, vacations, possession, not sin but the flesh
- (Romans 8:6-8) The spiritual man against the carnal man, you can not please God
- There will always be conflict in your walk with God but the choice is your
- Who will win the spiritual battle, the one you feed the most - spirit or flesh
- God sets in us conviction but we interpret this as guilt
- The brother try to make me feel quilt for not serving God their way
- The saints, church, pastors etc. are there for you to allow God's dealing with your life
- This is why it's so important to read your bibles and pray get God's mind in all this for your life
- It will hit all your life like service to God, evangelism, love, peace list goes on forever
- The balancing act begins the flesh, the spirit, sacrifice, gain, love, hate, faithfulness, flaking out you get the picture
- I'm confused what should I do?
3. The Altar choice (Joshua 24:1-16)
· This occurs in many places in scripture man is always given a choice in salvation, conviction reminds us of sin and salvation like Joshua
· Korah had the same opportunity and so do we
· To many times we begin in the spirit by end up in the flesh, the spiritual choices you made before are now in question, are you serving God or not?
- The price has change, NO you heart has if you struggling with this
- The balancing act will end soon enough because God at point will require it and so will sin, the devil
- The balancing act is a call for your soul. little foxes the break down wall, good walls or bad walls
- (James 4:1-7) You are in spiritual adultery when in this state, it is not a question of the will of god but of the will of man to serve God or the devil
- Right now your not sinning but that ugly cynical feeling when you come to church or are doing something for God will affect you soon enough
- You can not survive in this state you will by design choose
- God instruct us to submit or force yourself to serve God and resist the devil
- This choice is on your lap
16:1 Now Korah, the son of Izhar, the son of Kohath, the son of Levi, and Dathan and Abiram, the sons of Eliab, and On, the son of Peleth, sons of Reuben, took men:
2 And they rose up before Moses, with certain of the children of Israel, two hundred and fifty princes of the assembly, famous in the congregation, men of renown:
3 And they gathered themselves together against Moses and against Aaron, and said unto them, Ye take too much upon you, seeing all the congregation are holy, every one of them, and the LORD is among them: wherefore then lift ye up yourselves above the congregation of the LORD?
4 And when Moses heard it, he fell upon his face:
5 And he spake unto Korah and unto all his company, saying, Even to morrow the LORD will shew who are his, and who is holy; and will cause him to come near unto him: even him whom he hath chosen will he cause to come near unto him.
6 This do; Take you censers, Korah, and all his company;
7 And put fire therein, and put incense in them before the LORD to morrow: and it shall be that the man whom the LORD doth choose, he shall be holy: ye take too much upon you, ye sons of Levi.
8 And Moses said unto Korah, Hear, I pray you, ye sons of Levi:
9 Seemeth it but a small thing unto you, that the God of Israel hath separated you from the congregation of Israel, to bring you near to himself to do the service of the tabernacle of the LORD, and to stand before the congregation to minister unto them?
10 And he hath brought thee near to him, and all thy brethren the sons of Levi with thee: and seek ye the priesthood also?
11 For which cause both thou and all thy company are gathered together against the LORD: and what is Aaron, that ye murmur against him?
12 And Moses sent to call Dathan and Abiram, the sons of Eliab: which said, We will not come up:
13 Is it a small thing that thou hast brought us up out of a land that floweth with milk and honey, to kill us in the wilderness, except thou make thyself altogether a prince over us?
14 Moreover thou hast not brought us into a land that floweth with milk and honey, or given us inheritance of fields and vineyards: wilt thou put out the eyes of these men? we will not come up.
15 And Moses was very wroth, and said unto the LORD, Respect not thou their offering: I have not taken one ass from them, neither have I hurt one of them.
16 And Moses said unto Korah, Be thou and all thy company before the LORD, thou, and they, and Aaron, to morrow:
17 And take every man his censer, and put incense in them, and bring ye before the LORD every man his censer, two hundred and fifty censers; thou also, and Aaron, each of you his censer.
18 And they took every man his censer, and put fire in them, and laid incense thereon, and stood in the door of the tabernacle of the congregation with Moses and Aaron.
19 And Korah gathered all the congregation against them unto the door of the tabernacle of the congregation: and the glory of the LORD appeared unto all the congregation.
20 And the LORD spake unto Moses and unto Aaron, saying,
21 Separate yourselves from among this congregation, that I may consume them in a moment.
22 And they fell upon their faces, and said, O God, the God of the spirits of all flesh, shall one man sin, and wilt thou be wroth with all the congregation?
23 And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,
24 Speak unto the congregation, saying, Get you up from about the tabernacle of Korah, Dathan, and Abiram.
25 And Moses rose up and went unto Dathan and Abiram; and the elders of Israel followed him.
26 And he spake unto the congregation, saying, Depart, I pray you, from the tents of these wicked men, and touch nothing of theirs, lest ye be consumed in all their sins.
27 So they gat up from the tabernacle of Korah, Dathan, and Abiram, on every side: and Dathan and Abiram came out, and stood in the door of their tents, and their wives, and their sons, and their little children.
28 And Moses said, Hereby ye shall know that the LORD hath sent me to do all these works; for I have not done them of mine own mind.
29 If these men die the common death of all men, or if they be visited after the visitation of all men; then the LORD hath not sent me.
30 But if the LORD make a new thing, and the earth open her mouth, and swallow them up, with all that appertain unto them, and they go down quick into the pit; then ye shall understand that these men have provoked the LORD.
31 And it came to pass, as he had made an end of speaking all these words, that the ground clave asunder that was under them:
32 And the earth opened her mouth, and swallowed them up, and their houses, and all the men that appertained unto Korah, and all their goods.
33 They, and all that appertained to them, went down alive into the pit, and the earth closed upon them: and they perished from among the congregation.
34 And all Israel that were round about them fled at the cry of them: for they said, Lest the earth swallow us up also.
35 And there came out a fire from the LORD, and consumed the two hundred and fifty men that offered incense.
13 Thou shalt not have in thy bag divers weights, a great and a small.
14 Thou shalt not have in thine house divers measures, a great and a small.
15 But thou shalt have a perfect and just weight, a perfect and just measure shalt thou have: that thy days may be lengthened in the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee.
16 For all that do such things, and all that do unrighteously, are an abomination unto the LORD thy God.
11:1 A false balance is abomination to the LORD: but a just weight is his delight.
11 A just weight and balance are the LORD's: all the weights of the bag are his work.
79 To give light to them that sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.
2 Cor 4:1-6
4:1 Therefore seeing we have this ministry, as we have received mercy, we faint not;
2 But have renounced the hidden things of dishonesty, not walking in craftiness, nor handling the word of God deceitfully; but by manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to every man's conscience in the sight of God.
3 But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost:
4 In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.
5 For we preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord; and ourselves your servants for Jesus' sake.
6 For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.
1:1 Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful.
2 But his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night.
8 I delight to do thy will, O my God: yea, thy law is within my heart.
9 I have preached righteousness in the great congregation: lo, I have not refrained my lips, O LORD, thou knowest.
10 I have not hid thy righteousness within my heart; I have declared thy faithfulness and thy salvation: I have not concealed thy lovingkindness and thy truth from the great congregation.
11 Withhold not thou thy tender mercies from me, O LORD: let thy lovingkindness and thy truth continually preserve me.
14 For we know that the law is spiritual: but I am carnal, sold under sin.
15 For that which I do I allow not: for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I.
16 If then I do that which I would not, I consent unto the law that it is good.
17 Now then it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me.
18 For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not.
19 For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do.
20 Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me.
1:1 Jude, the servant of Jesus Christ, and brother of James, to them that are sanctified by God the Father, and preserved in Jesus Christ, and called:
2 Mercy unto you, and peace, and love, be multiplied.
3 Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints.
4 For there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ.
5 I will therefore put you in remembrance, though ye once knew this, how that the Lord, having saved the people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed them that believed not.
6 And the angels which kept not their first estate, but left their own habitation, he hath reserved in everlasting chains under darkness unto the judgment of the great day.
7 Even as Sodom and Gomorrha, and the cities about them in like manner, giving themselves over to fornication, and going after strange flesh, are set forth for an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire.
8 Likewise also these filthy dreamers defile the flesh, despise dominion, and speak evil of dignities.
9 Yet Michael the archangel, when contending with the devil he disputed about the body of Moses, durst not bring against him a railing accusation, but said, The Lord rebuke thee.
10 But these speak evil of those things which they know not: but what they know naturally, as brute beasts, in those things they corrupt themselves.
11 Woe unto them! for they have gone in the way of Cain, and ran greedily after the error of Balaam for reward, and perished in the gainsaying of Core.
6 For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.
7 Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.
8 So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God.
24:1 And Joshua gathered all the tribes of Israel to Shechem, and called for the elders of Israel, and for their heads, and for their judges, and for their officers; and they presented themselves before God.
2 And Joshua said unto all the people, Thus saith the LORD God of Israel, Your fathers dwelt on the other side of the flood in old time, even Terah, the father of Abraham, and the father of Nachor: and they served other gods.
3 And I took your father Abraham from the other side of the flood, and led him throughout all the land of Canaan, and multiplied his seed, and gave him Isaac.
4 And I gave unto Isaac Jacob and Esau: and I gave unto Esau mount Seir, to possess it; but Jacob and his children went down into Egypt.
5 I sent Moses also and Aaron, and I plagued Egypt, according to that which I did among them: and afterward I brought you out.
6 And I brought your fathers out of Egypt: and ye came unto the sea; and the Egyptians pursued after your fathers with chariots and horsemen unto the Red sea.
7 And when they cried unto the LORD, he put darkness between you and the Egyptians, and brought the sea upon them, and covered them; and your eyes have seen what I have done in Egypt: and ye dwelt in the wilderness a long season.
8 And I brought you into the land of the Amorites, which dwelt on the other side Jordan; and they fought with you: and I gave them into your hand, that ye might possess their land; and I destroyed them from before you.
9 Then Balak the son of Zippor, king of Moab, arose and warred against Israel, and sent and called Balaam the son of Beor to curse you:
10 But I would not hearken unto Balaam; therefore he blessed you still: so I delivered you out of his hand.
11 And ye went over Jordan, and came unto Jericho: and the men of Jericho fought against you, the Amorites, and the Perizzites, and the Canaanites, and the Hittites, and the Girgashites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites; and I delivered them into your hand.
12 And I sent the hornet before you, which drave them out from before you, even the two kings of the Amorites; but not with thy sword, nor with thy bow.
13 And I have given you a land for which ye did not labour, and cities which ye built not, and ye dwell in them; of the vineyards and oliveyards which ye planted not do ye eat.
14 Now therefore fear the LORD, and serve him in sincerity and in truth: and put away the gods which your fathers served on the other side of the flood, and in Egypt; and serve ye the LORD.
15 And if it seem evil unto you to serve the LORD, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.
16 And the people answered and said, God forbid that we should forsake the LORD, to serve other gods;
4:1 From whence come wars and fightings among you? come they not hence, even of your lusts that war in your members?
2 Ye lust, and have not: ye kill, and desire to have, and cannot obtain: ye fight and war, yet ye have not, because ye ask not.
3 Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts.
4 Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God.
5 Do ye think that the scripture saith in vain, The spirit that dwelleth in us lusteth to envy?
6 But he giveth more grace. Wherefore he saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble.
7 Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.
1. The third son of Esau by his Canaanite wife Oholibamah (Gen 36:5,14,18; 1 Chron 1:35), about 1950 BC He was born in Canaan before Esau migrated to Mt. Seir (Gen 36:5-9), and became the chief of an Edomite tribe (36:18). "Korah, in Gen 36:16 has probably been copied by mistake from v. 18 " (K. D., Com., ad loc.).
2. The Levite who conspired with Dathan and Abiram against Moses. Korah was the son of Izhar, the brother of Amram, the father of Moses and Aaron, making him cousin to these leaders of Israel (Ex 6:21; Num 16:1-49). About all that we know of Korah is in connection with the conspiracy of which he was one of the leaders.
Korah was probably influenced by jealousy because the high honors and privileges of the priesthood had been exclusively appropriated by the family of Aaron. Moses having supreme authority in civil affairs, the whole power over the nation would seem to have been taken by him and Aaron. The particular grievance that rankled in the minds of Korah and his company was their exclusion from the office of priesthood and their being confined-those among them who were Levites-to the inferior service of the Tabernacle.
Having joined to himself Dathan and Abiram and 250 "leaders of the congregation," Korah appeared with them before Moses and Aaron and charged them with usurpation of privileges and offices rightfully belonging to others. Moses no sooner heard this charge than he "fell on his face," as if to refer the matter to the Lord (cf. Num 14:5) and declared that the decision should be left to Jehovah. He told them to appear the next day with censers and incense.
The next day the rebels presented themselves before the Tabernacle, along with Moses and Aaron, and the whole congregation gathered at the instigation of Korah. The Lord appeared, and a voice commanded Moses and Aaron to separate themselves from the congregation, that they might not share in its destruction for making common cause with the conspirators. The two leaders prayed that the people might be spared and that Jehovah would confine His wrath to the leaders of the rebellion. The congregation, instructed by Moses, withdrew, and after Moses had appealed to what was about to happen as a proof of the authority by which he had acted, the earth opened and then closed over the fallen tents of Korah, Dathan, and Abiram. The other 250 rebels, who were probably in front of the Tabernacle, were then consumed by fire "from the Lord," about 1430 BC The incense burners of the rebels were made into plates to form an outer covering to the altar, a warning of the just judgment of God (vv. 38-40). The next morning the whole congregation murmured against Moses and Aaron and charged them with having slain the people of Jehovah. Notwithstanding the prayers of Moses and his brother, they could not avert the bursting forth of wrathful judgment. A plague destroyed 14,700 (vv. 41-50), and the high priesthood of Aaron was confirmed (chap. 17). As the descendants of Korah afterward became eminent in the Levitical service, it is clear that his sons were spared. They were probably living in separate tents or had separated themselves from the conspirators at the command of Moses. He is referred to in Num 26:9-11; 1 Chron 6:22,37. In Jude 11 Korah is coupled with Cain and Balaam, and is held up as a warning to presumptuous and self-seeking teachers.
3. Son of Hebron. The eldest of the four sons of Hebron, of the family of Caleb and tribe of Judah (1 Chron 2:43), considerably after 1380 BC
BIBLIOGRAPHY: R. K. Harrison, Introduction to the Old Testament (1969), pp. 628-30.
(From The New Unger's Bible Dictionary. Originally published by Moody Press of Chicago, Illinois. Copyright (c) 1988.)
Joshua's farewell address to Israel
Never was any treaty carried on with better management, nor brought to a better issue, than this of Joshua with the people, to engage them to serve God. The manner of his dealing with them shows him to have been in earnest, and that his heart was much upon it, to leave them under all possible obligations to cleave to him, particularly the obligation of a choice and of a covenant.
I. Would it be any obligation upon them if they made the service of God their choice?-he here puts them to their choice, not as if it were antecedently indifferent whether they served God or nor, or as if they were at liberty to refuse his service, but because it would have a great influence upon their perseverance in religion if they embraced it with the reason of men and with the resolution of men. These two things he here brings them to.
1. He brings them to embrace their religion rationally and intelligently, for it is a reasonable service. The will of man is apt to glory in its native liberty, and, in a jealousy for the honour of this, adheres with most pleasure to that which is its own choice and is not imposed upon it; therefore it is God's will that this service should be, not our chance, or a force upon us, but our choice. Accordingly,
(1.) Joshua fairly puts the matter to their choice, v. 15. Here,
[1.] He proposes the candidates that stand for the election. The Lord, Jehovah, on one side, and on the other side either the gods of their ancestors, which would pretend to recommend themselves to those that were fond of antiquity, and that which was received by tradition from their fathers, or the gods of their neighbours, the Amorites, in whose land they dwelt, which would insinuate themselves into the affections of those that were complaisant and fond of good fellowship.
[2.] He supposes there were those to whom, upon some account or other, it would seem evil to serve the Lord. There are prejudices and objections which some people raise against religion, which, with those that are inclined to the world and the flesh, have great force. It seems evil to them, hard and unreasonable, to be obliged to deny themselves, mortify the flesh, take up their cross, etc. But, being in a state of probation, it is fit there should be some difficulties in the way, else there were no trial.
[3.] He refers it to themselves: "Choose you whom you will serve, choose this day, now that the matter is laid thus plainly before you, speedily bring it to a head, and do not stand hesitating." Elijah, long after this, referred the decision of the controversy between Jehovah and Baal to the consciences of those with whom he was treating, 1 Kings 18:21. Joshua's putting the matter here to this issue plainly intimates two things: - First, That it is the will of God we should every one of us make religion our serious and deliberate choice. Let us state the matter impartially to ourselves, weigh things in an even balance, and then determine for that which we find to be really true and good. Let us resolve upon a life of serious godliness, not merely because we know no other way, but because really, upon search, we find no better. Secondly, That religion has so much self-evident reason and righteousness on its side that it may safely be referred to every man that allows himself a free thought either to choose or refuse it; for the merits of the cause are so plain that no considerate man can do otherwise but choose it. The case is so clear that it determines itself. Perhaps Joshua designed, by putting them to their choice, thus to try if there were any among them who, upon so fair an occasion given, would show a coolness and indifference towards the service of God, whether they would desire time to consider and consult their friends before they gave in an answer, and if any such should appear he might set a mark upon them, and warn the rest to avoid them.
[4.] He directs their choice in this matter by an open declaration of his own resolutions: "But as for me and my house, whatever you do, we will serve the Lord, and I hope you will all be of the same mind." Here he resolves, First, For himself: As for me, I will serve the Lord. Note, The service of God is nothing below the greatest of men; it is so far from being a diminution and disparagement to princes and those of the first rank to be religious that it is their greatest honour, and adds the brightest crown of glory to them. Observe how positive he is: "I will serve God." It is no abridgment of our liberty to bind ourselves with a bond to God. Secondly, For his house, that is, his family, his children and servants, such as were immediately under his eye and care, his inspection and influence. Joshua was a ruler, a judge in Israel, yet he did not make his necessary application to public affairs an excuse for the neglect of family religion. Those that have the charge of many families, as magistrates and ministers, must take special care of their own (1 Tim 3:4,5): I and my house will serve God.
1. "Not my house, without me." He would not engage them to that work which he would not set his own hand to. As some who would have their children and servants good, but will not be so themselves; that is, they would have them go to heaven, but intend to go to hell themselves.
2. "Not I, without my house." He supposes he might be forsaken by his people, but in his house, where his authority was greater and more immediate, there he would over-rule. Note, When we cannot bring as many as we would to the service of God we must bring as many as we can, and extend our endeavours to the utmost sphere of our activity; if we cannot reform the land, let us put away iniquity far from our own tabernacle.
3. "First I, and then my house." Note, Those that lead and rule in other things should be first in the service of God, and go before in the best things. Thirdly, He resolves to do this whatever others did. Though all the families of Israel should revolt from God, and serve idols, yet Joshua and his family will stedfastly adhere to the God of Israel. Note, Those that resolve to serve God must not mind being singular in it, nor be drawn by the crowd to forsake his service. Those that are bound for heaven must be willing to swim against the stream, and must not do as the most do, but as the best do.
(2.) The matter being thus put to their choice, they immediately determine it by a free, rational, and intelligent declaration, for the God of Israel, against all competitors whatsoever, v. 16-18. Here,
[1.] They concur with Joshua in his resolution, being influenced by the example of so great a man, who had been so great a blessing to them (v. 18): We also will serve the Lord. See how much good great men might do, if they were but zealous in religion, by their influence on their inferiors.
[2.] They startle at the thought of apostatizing from God (v. 16): God forbid; the word intimates the greatest dread and detestation imaginable. "Far be it, far be it from us, that we or ours should ever forsake the Lord to serve other gods. We must be perfectly lost to all sense of justice, gratitude, and honour, ere we can harbour the least thought of such a thing." Thus must our hearts rise against all temptations to desert the service of God. Get thee behind me, Satan.
[3.] They give very substantial reasons for their choice, to show that they did not make it purely in compliance to Joshua, but from a full conviction of the reasonableness and equity of it. They make this choice for, and in consideration, First, Of the many great and very kind things God had done for them, bringing them out of Egypt through the wilderness into Canaan, v. 17, 18. Thus they repeat to themselves Joshua's sermon, and then express their sincere compliance with the intentions of it. Secondly, Of the relation they stood in to God, and his covenant with them: "We will serve the Lord (v. 18), for he is our God, who has graciously engaged himself by promise to us, and to whom we have by solemn vow engaged ourselves."
2. He brings them to embrace their religion resolutely, and to express a full purpose of heart to cleave to the Lord. Now that he has them in a good mind he follows his blow, and drives the nail to the head, that it might, if possible, be a nail in a sure place. Fast bind, fast find.
(1.) In order to this he sets before them the difficulties of religion, and that in it which might be thought discouraging (v. 19-20): You cannot serve the Lord, for he is a holy God, or, as it is in the Hebrew, he is the holy Gods, intimating the mystery of the Trinity, three in one; holy, holy, holy, holy Father, holy Son, holy Spirit. He will not forgive. And, if you forsake him, he will do you hurt. Certainly Joshua does not intend hereby to deter them from the service of God as impracticable and dangerous. But,
[1.] He perhaps intends to represent here the suggestions of seducers, who tempted Israel from their God, and from the service of him; with such insinuations as these, that he was a hard master, his work impossible to be done, and he not to be pleased, and, if displeased, implacable and revengeful,-that he would confine their respects to himself only, and would not suffer them to show the least kindness for any other,-and that herein he was very unlike the gods of the nations, which were easy, and neither holy nor jealous. It is probable that this was then commonly objected against the Jewish religion, as it has all along been the artifice of Satan every since he tempted our first parents thus to misrepresent God and his laws, as harsh and severe; and Joshua by his tone and manner of speaking might make them perceive he intended it as an objection, and would put it to them how they would keep their ground against the force of it. Or,
[2.] He thus expresses his godly jealousy over them, and his fear concerning them, that, notwithstanding the profession they now made of zeal for God and his service, they would afterwards draw back, and if they did they would find him just and jealous to avenge it. Or,
[3.] He resolves to let them know the worst of it, and what strict terms they must expect to stand upon with God, that they might sit down and count the cost. "You cannot serve the Lord, except you put away all other gods for he is holy and jealous, and will by no means admit a rival, and therefore you must be very watchful and careful, for it is at your peril if you desert his service; better you had never known it." Thus, though our Master has assured us that his yoke is easy, yet lest, upon the presumption of this, we should grow remiss and careless, he has also told us that the gate is strait, and the way narrow, that leads to life, that we may therefore strive to enter, and not seek only. "You cannot serve God and Mammon; therefore, if you resolve to serve God, you must renounce all competitors with him. You cannot serve God in your own strength, nor will he forgive your transgressions for any righteousness of your own; but all the seed of Israel must be justified and must glory in the Lord alone as their righteousness and strength," Isa 45:24-25. They must therefore come off from all confidence in their own sufficiency, else their purposes would be to no purpose. Or,
[4.] Joshua thus urges on them the seeming discouragements which lay in their way, that he might sharpen their resolutions, and draw from them a promise yet more express and solemn that they would continue faithful to God and their religion. He draws it form them that they might catch at it the more earnestly and hold it the faster.
(2.) Notwithstanding this statement of the difficulties of religion, they declare a firm and fixed resolution to continue and persevere therein (v. 21): "Nay, but we will serve the Lord. We will think never the worse of him for his being a holy and jealous God, nor for his confining his servants to worship himself only. Justly will he consume those that forsake him, but we never will forsake him; not only we have a good mind to serve him, and we hope we shall, but we are at a point, we cannot bear to hear any entreaties to leave him or to turn from following after him (Ruth 1:16); in the strength of divine grace we are resolved that we will serve the Lord." This resolution they repeat with an explication (v. 24): "The Lord our God will we serve, not only be called his servants and wear his livery, but our religion shall rule us in every thing, and his voice will we obey." And in vain do we call him Master and Lord, if we do not the things which he saith, Luke 6:46. This last promise they make in answer to the charge Joshua gave them (v. 23), that, in order to their perseverance, they should,
[1.] Put away the images and relics of the strange gods, and not keep any of the tokens of those other lovers in their custody, if they resolved their Maker should be their husband; they promise, in this, to obey his voice.
[2.] That they should incline their hearts to the God of Israel, use their authority over their own hearts to engage them for God, not only to set their affections upon him, but to settle them so. These terms they agree to, and thus, as Joshua explains the bargain, they strike it: The Lord our God will we serve.
II. The service of God being thus made their deliberate choice, Joshua binds them to it by a solemn covenant, v. 25. Moses had twice publicly ratified this covenant between God and Israel, at Mount Sinai (Ex 24) and in the plains of Moab, Deut 29:1. Joshua had likewise done it once (Josh 8:31, etc.) and now the second time. It is here called a statute and an ordinance, because of the strength and perpetuity of its obligation, and because even this covenant bound them to no more than what they were antecedently bound to by the divine command. Now, to give it the formalities of a covenant,
1. He calls witnesses, no other than themselves (v. 22): You are witnesses that you have chosen the Lord. He promises himself that they would never forget the solemnities of this day; but, if hereafter they should break this covenant, he assures them that the professions and promises they had now made would certainly rise up in judgment against them and condemn them; and they agreed to it: "We are witnesses; let us be judged out of our own mouths if ever we be false to our God."
2. He put it in writing, and inserted it, as we find it here, in the sacred canon: He wrote it in the book of the law (v. 26), in that original which was laid up in the side of the ark, and thence, probably, it was transcribed into the several copies which the princes had for the use of each tribe. There it was written, that their obligation to religion by the divine precept, and that by their own promise, might remain on record together.
3. He erected a memorandum of it, for the benefit of those who perhaps were not conversant with writings, v. 26, 27. He set up a great stone under an oak, as a monument of this covenant, and perhaps wrote an inscription upon it (by which stones are made to speak) signifying the intention of it. When he says, It hath heard what was past, he tacitly upbraids the people with the hardness of their hearts, as if this stone had heard to as good purpose as some of them; and, if they should forget what was no done, this stone would so far preserve the remembrance of it as to reproach them for their stupidity and carelessness, and be a witness against them.
The matter being thus settled, Joshua dismissed this assembly of the grandees of Israel (v. 28), and took his last leave of them, well satisfied in having done his part, by which he had delivered his soul; if they perished, their blood would be upon their own heads.
(from Matthew Henry's Commentary on the Whole Bible: New Modern Edition, Electronic Database. Copyright (c) 1991 by Hendrickson Publishers, Inc.)