【Bible Study】Joshua 23: Warning the Israelites the Consequences of Turning Away from God
Bible Study: Joshua
- 【Bible Study】Joshua 00: Introduction
- 【Bible Study】Joshua 01: You Will Lead The People To Inherit The Promised Land
- 【Bible Study】Joshua 02: Anyone Who Seek God Will Also Inherit The Promised Land
- 【Bible Study】Joshua 03: God Will Honour His Established Leaders On The Way of Possessing the Land
- 【Bible Study】Joshua 04: Commemorating the Works of Our God
- 【Bible Study】Joshua 05: God is Our Victorious Marshal
- 【Bible Study】Joshua 06: God Has Already Put the Enemy in Our Hands
- 【Bible Study】Joshua 07: The Devoted Things are the Cause of Failure in Spiritual Warfare
- 【Bible Study】Joshua 08: Blessings and Curses Determine Victory and Defeat
- 【Bible Study】Joshua 09: All Who Do Not Resist God Will Survive
- 【Bible Study】Joshua 10: All Those Who Are Enemies of God Will Perish
- 【Bible Study】Joshua 11: Left Nothing Undone
- 【Bible Study】Joshua 12: Live Victoriously on Earth
- 【Bible Study】Joshua 13: There Are Still Very Large Areas of Land to be Taken Over
- 【Bible Study】Joshua 14: Follow God Wholeheartedly, and You Will Acquire the Promises
- 【Bible Study】Joshua 15: Be Bold Enough to Ask God
- 【Bible Study】Joshua 16: Enter the Promise Land Need a Resolute Attitude
- 【Bible Study】Joshua 17: Properties are Obtained Through Striving and Seizing it
- 【Bible Study】Joshua 18-19: Inheriting the Promised Land
- 【Bible Study】Joshua 20: Designate the Cities of Refuge
- 【Bible Study】Joshua 21: Not One of All God's Good Promises Will Fail
- 【Bible Study】Joshua 22: Do you truly trust in God?
- 【Bible Study】Joshua 23: Warning the Israelites the Consequences of Turning Away from God
- 【Bible Study】Joshua 24: You Shall Serve God Wholeheartedly
- 【Bible Study】Joshua 25 Conclusion: Serve God Wholeheartedly
Let's look at Chapter 23 of the Book of Joshua. The words spoken in Chapter 23 of the Book of Joshua are a warning about the consequences of turning away from God. The warning about the consequences of turning away from God is not a prophecy that we will turn away from God, but rather it is meant to make us aware of how to be devoted Christians and how to be extra cautious.
In Christianity, we all read the same "Bible," regardless of whether it's in English or Chinese. There isn't much difference, as long as we don't nitpick the words. The meaning we derive from reading is the same. Nitpicking the words is not being extra cautious. Nitpicking the words often leads to neglecting the main point and focusing on a minor, insignificant detail, which makes us like Pharisees. Therefore, today we need to be very careful to get one thing right, and that is truly loving God with all our hearts, which is being devoted.
In the previous chapter, two and a half tribes of the Israelites crossed the Jordan River and returned to the east side of the Jordan because there was a Jordan River separating the twelve tribes of Israel. On the west side of the Jordan, there was the Ark of the Covenant and the tabernacle of the Lord, which was the only place for worshiping God.
However, after crossing the Jordan River, the Israelites, for some unknown reason, built an altar named A Witness Between Us. They were afraid that the descendants of the tribes on the west side of the Jordan would not accept the descendants of the two and a half tribes on the east side in the future, so they built the altar.
“No! We did it for fear that some day your descendants might say to ours, ‘What do you have to do with the LORD , the God of Israel? (Joshua 22:24)
This thing is ineffective. In the New Testament, we rarely hear Jesus or the Apostle Paul mention the "A Witness Between Us." This altar is ineffective. So, what is the most effective thing? It's very simple: being devoted to loving God with all our hearts and being extra cautious. Then, we will see the results.
##Wholeheartedly Loving God Brings the Fruit of Our Service
In Christianity, there are not many who love God wholeheartedly, and I say this based on my interactions with some individuals. People often focus on formalities, thinking that those things are impressive. However, if they genuinely pursued what is effective, simply to love God wholeheartedly would be enough. Some people's prayers are effective because they are wholeheartedly devoted to loving God. On the other hand, some people's prayers are not effective because they lack this devotion. It all comes down to an attitude, whether you are a pastor or a church leader, the effectiveness of your service is evident.
So, how difficult is it to be devoted to loving God? In fact, it is not difficult at all; it's a matter of choice. Therefore, my brothers and sisters, I think the title of this chapter could be: "Warning the Israelites the Consequences of Turning Away from God." When does this conversation take place? In Joshua Chapter 23, Joshua, who led the Israelites through the Jordan River in their battles, is already old. He gathered all the leaders of Israel and warned them about the severe consequences of turning away from God.
##Overcome God’s Appointed Tests
How did he start speaking to them? He began by telling them that they had witnessed with their eyes what their God had done to those nations because of them. They had seen that it was the Lord, their God, who fought for them. He warned them not to think that their victories were a result of their own strength or efforts. So, what happened next?
You yourselves have seen everything the LORD your God has done to all these nations for your sake; it was the LORD your God who fought for you. (Joshua 23:3)
Remember how I have allotted as an inheritance for your tribes all the land of the nations that remain—the nations I conquered—between the Jordan and the Mediterranean Sea in the west. (Joshua 23:4)
This statement is quite intriguing. What does it mean? I've conquered a portion, leaving another part. Why did they leave a part behind? Why didn't Joshua conquer all of them? This is where the wisdom of our God lies; our God often tests us. Joshua had undergone testing, and if he had continued to live, he would surely have eliminated those remaining nations.
But here comes the question: Why did Joshua leave some of them behind? The remaining nations were left for the people who came after Joshua to conquer. Because God wanted the future generations to rise up and completely eradicate these remaining people.
After a long time had passed and the LORD had given Israel rest from all their enemies around them, Joshua, by then a very old man, (Joshua 23:1)
In other words, as Christians today, we must be very careful in our battles. Even if we have not been at war with all the surrounding enemies for many days, and the Lord our God has granted us peace. However, this does not mean that we can now rest; we must continue to fight and drive out those who remain. Only then can we possess the land that has been allotted to us.
In reality, a Christian's entire life is a continuous battle. It's a never-ending process. Don't think that we have already won the battle, that everything is good now, and that we have driven out demons well. As Christians, we must continually strive and pursue. Why did Joshua leave those remaining people? God wanted to test the remaining Israelites.
##The Character of Wholeheartedly Loving God and Keep and Follow Carefully
Actually, being a Christian today is not easy. Why? Because we often experience tests, and these tests often come from God.
You might think it was Joshua's fault, right? No, it wasn't. Was it the fault of the Israelites? No, it wasn't. In reality, it was a test from God. Today, many of us heal the sick and cast out demons among our brothers and sisters. We are enthusiastic but let me tell you something I often say: You should inherit my character. The reason the church has come this far today is that I have a heart that is devoted to loving God, and I faithfully follow and obey God's words.
Although I am cautious and wholeheartedly love God, it does not mean that I will live forever. In fact, I have a concern. What is my concern? If God takes me away in the future, will you remaining ones be diligently cautious in loving the Lord your God? Will you not deviate and be led astray?
This concern often weighs on my heart because among us, many brothers and sisters are not as cautious, and they easily drift away. I can probably feel what Joshua must have thought at that time. When Joshua led them, they were able to follow, but they might get involved in political matters or other things... they may not fully grasp the concept of wholeheartedly loving God, which is actually quite simple. Wholeheartedly loving God means not looking at the environment, not looking at anything else, but solely relying on God, for it is God who fights for us.
Since God fights for us, He will also help us drive away our enemies, give us the land as our inheritance, and fulfill His promises to us. Even when facing strong and numerous nations, we can still routs a thousand enemies, and no one can stand against us. We can routs a thousand enemies!
Because our God fights for us as He promised, that is the key! Do we truly believe in God? If we do, then one of us can indeed routss a thousand enemies! Truly believe in God, wholeheartedly love Him, and remain diligently cautious, loving the Lord our God, faithfully obeying His commands, and not being contaminated by impurity is the key.
##Wholeheartedly Love God, Not Even a Little can be Lacking.
Actually, I want everyone to understand that it's not okay to be just a little less; it must not be off track at all! You should know that the path we have walked has not been easy; it has been filled with sweat and tears.
Some pastors come to me wanting to learn how to do what we do. When they see the results of our work and how no devil or enemy can stand before us, they are eager to learn a method: "Hey, how exactly do you do it? What kind of group chat do you use? What kind of videos? What kind of tools?" But are these things really important? No, they are not.
Sometimes I tell them, "You won't be able to learn it." They ask, "Why can't we learn it?" And I say, "This thing cannot be learned because looking for a method in the first place is already wrong; it is flawed!" In reality, this method is not difficult; it's about wholeheartedly loving God. You should know that if you can wholeheartedly love God, how difficult can it be!
Why is that? When a person wholeheartedly loves God, they will inevitably leave things behind. For example, in the New Testament, Jesus said:
“Truly I tell you,” Jesus said to them, “no one who has left home or wife or brothers or sisters or parents or children for the sake of the kingdom of God (Luke18:29)
Can you truly leave everything behind to wholeheartedly love God? This is a very difficult matter, indeed, very difficult.
People are very good at finding a bunch of excuses not to wholeheartedly love God, and then they start to lack the necessary caution. In fact, Joshua 23 is not a warning for those who have not entered the promised land; it is a warning for us, those who have already entered the promised land.
##Striving to Fight the Good Fight
Today, although we haven't fully obtained all the promises, we have already seen that we truly entered the promised land. Among us, we have personally witnessed how God manifests His power, performing healing and deliverance. Truly, we can witness the greatness of God's might. Those who struggled in prayer in other churches found their prayers answered when they came to us.
A few days ago, I personally saw one of our sisters serving someone. She served for about 50 hours and couldn't even walk afterward due to leg pain. But she persisted in serving, and the person was healed. I wondered, what was the reason behind this? It was because God fought for us.
Why does God fight for us? It is because we wholeheartedly love God, we keep His commandments, and we are exceedingly cautious. Even until today, we remain extremely cautious. This battle is far from over because there are still many to be cut off and driven out.
God's intention is to lead us to keep moving forward until they are completely driven out. I believe our ability to cast out demons is among the best in all the churches, at least from what I know. When it comes to healing, deliverance, and driving out demons, there are few who are better than us.
Today, we are gradually forming a logical system for healing and deliverance, creating a system for casting out demons and healing diseases. It is a faith with a complete system, not just a method. The key lies in being extremely cautious and loving the Lord our God.
In this chapter 23, Joshua warns the Israelites about what? Even in such a situation, they must be exceedingly cautious because Joshua is getting old and will soon walk the path that all humans must walk, leaving this world. Whether he returns to God or to his ancestors, he wants to tell the Israelites to be extremely cautious and love the Lord their God.
In fact, the path I am leading you today is similar to how Joshua led the Israelites into the promised land. We have witnessed what God has done among us, and it has been truly astonishing, surpassing our imaginations! But today, we absolutely have not completely driven out all enemies.
There are still remaining enemies, and we, as brothers and sisters, must continue to love the Lord our God, and be exceedingly cautious, not allowing even the slightest deviation. Because among us, there are still many demons that have not been cast out, and wave after wave of people are coming to us, and we must continue to heal and cast out demons for them.
So, where is the problem? The problem lies in one thing: there are still remaining enemies that have not been cut off. Therefore, in the church, some people still carry the influence of spiritual darkness. Their thoughts, intentions, and speech are more or less influenced by worldly culture.
Do not associate with these nations that remain among you; do not invoke the names of their gods or swear by them. You must not serve them or bow down to them. But you are to hold fast to the LORD your God, as you have until now. (Joshua 23:7-8)
What did Joshua say?
“But if you turn away and ally yourselves with the survivors of these nations that remain among you and if you intermarry with them and associate with them, then you may be sure that the LORD your God will no longer drive out these nations before you. Instead, they will become snares and traps for you, whips on your backs and thorns in your eyes, until you perish from this good land, which the LORD your God has given you. (Joshua 23:12-13)
Look at Joshua 23:12, if you turn away and ally yourselves with the survivors of these nations that remain among you and if you intermarry with them and associate with them, you will end up worshiping their gods. Do not think that you are strong-willed enough to resist. If you possess the wisdom of Solomon, but you turn away and ally yourselves with the survivors of these nations that remain among you and if you intermarry with them and associate with them, you will end up worshiping their gods.
Remember Solomon's history, although it is not mentioned in this chapter, it comes later. Solomon became king of Israel, and Israel prospered under his rule. He was also very wise. However, he married many foreign women and formed alliances with them. What happened in the end? Even Solomon couldn't escape this pitfall, he ended up worshiping their gods. The result? It became a snare, a whip on his back, a thorn in his eyes, and eventually led to his downfall.
The history of the Israelites is a warning for us. When they abandoned God and turned away from Him, and started mingling with the filth of the world, what happened? I am worried that we might not continue to inherit my character - to love God wholeheartedly and be exceedingly cautious. This path is not easy to walk.
##Willing to Pay the Price to Love God Wholeheartedly
For the sake of serving God, I have forsaken many things. Anything that hindered me from wholeheartedly loving God, I abandoned. I don't care who or what tries to stop me from loving God and serving Him, I disregard them all.
But what is the result? The result is that you will receive a hundredfold in this life and eternal life in the world to come. Today, when you see the condition of the church, you must know for sure that someone has paid a heavy price for you. Now it is your turn. Have you paid a heavy price for others? Have you learned to love the Lord your God with all your heart and soul?
If you consider Jesus Christ as your ultimate treasure, you will undoubtedly forsake many things for God. If there are still things you cannot forsake, then you have a problem. Later, I discovered that what Joshua said is true. Among us, some girls come to the church looking for boyfriends. But what happens? They don't find a boyfriend here, so they go outside the church. They follow the path others take and leave the church.
What will happen next? They may not perceive any signs of destruction, of course, they go on with their lives. However, we clearly see that once they start to be contaminated by the filth of the world and form connections and alliances with worldly people, they will no longer serve the Lord our God. They will not be able to continue on this path.
You must know for sure that what Joshua said is not a threat. We must understand that if we contaminate ourselves and receive all the blessings God has promised, but then walk on the path of the world, I tell you, the results will be disastrous.
I have heard of people who used to heal the sick and cast out demons with me and serve God in many ways. But later, they fell in love with the world and abandoned God. At first, everything seemed fine - three days, five days, ten days, or half a month. But what happened after some time, a longer period? You will see the wrath of God coming upon them.
We once received blessings from God, but we also received His covenant. We must keep the covenant and closely follow our God, loving Him wholeheartedly. If we forsake Him to serve other gods and worship them, the wrath of God will surely come upon them.
Do you understand? Then they will be quickly destroyed in the beautiful land God has given us. This is what God wants to convey in this passage, which may be a little heavy. But you must understand that this is the word of God.
But just as all the good things the LORD your God has promised you have come to you, so he will bring on you all the evil things he has threatened, until the LORD your God has destroyed you from this good land he has given you. If you violate the covenant of the LORD your God, which he commanded you, and go and serve other gods and bow down to them, the LORD ’s anger will burn against you, and you will quickly perish from the good land he has given you.” (Joshua 23:15-16)
##God's Wrath Will Come Upon Those Who Forsake Him
This is what Joshua told the people of Israel, and I want to encourage everyone. I encourage everyone to inherit this kind of character, to inherit Joshua's character, to inherit my character, so that we can all love God wholeheartedly. Although this war is an endless battle, with God on our side, one of us can routs a thousand enemies, because it is our God who fights for us.
As long as we rely on Him wholeheartedly and love Him with all our hearts, our God will fight for us. The road ahead is still long. Will our brothers and sisters among us be contaminated by various filths? Will you turn away and ally yourselves with the survivors of these nations that remain among you and intermarry with them and associate with them? Soon, you will find yourself getting contaminated by impurity. Even if it's a slight deviation, you will quickly find yourself walking along the path of the worldly system.
On the path of faith, we must know that our God is a jealous God. If we deviate from Him, the blessings we receive from Him will turn into calamities. Then we will be quickly destroyed in the beautiful land that God has given us. This is the theological system of our Doctrine of Destiny.
We know that God brings both blessings and calamities. We know that our God is not Santa Claus; He is a jealous God, as it was in the Old Testament, and it remains the same in the New Testament. So today, we must be especially cautious and love the Lord our God. It's that simple.
Don't complicate such a simple matter by building testimonies or other unnecessary things. Just trust Him wholeheartedly, love Him wholeheartedly, and let me tell you, God's promises to us will not fail. They will be fulfilled in our lives, and no enemy can stand before us in our lifetime, just as in the time of Joshua, and just as we experience it today!
May God bless you all.