In Josh 23.1-16 we learn that Joshua is advanced in years, being 110 at the time. He enjoyed the land for awhile but now it was time to address the people through their elders, heads, judges and officers, to exhort them to follow the Lord in the future if they want to be successful. But Yeshua enjoys endless life and this point is brought out in Heb 7.16. Joshua exhorts the people to follow the Lord in total obedience. He tells them about what God has done and does not brag about his own success.
The Canaanites have not been totally cut off. God has broken the back of these nations but now it will be up to the individual nations to finish the job. The rest will be gradually driven out to teach warfare to those who had not experienced the previous wars in Canaan (Judges 3.1-2). To expel the Canaanites quickly would have left the land desolate. This is a concept in our own life. The Lord has given us an inheritance (Eph 1.3) and we have a part to play in possessing our inheritance. God does not totally deliver us from things in our life all at once. It would be too hard for us, so it is done gradually so that we can learn spiritual warfare.
But, Joshua does tell them to observe the commandments that are written (no oral law), to avoid the idolatry of the nations (v 3-7) and to avoid intermarriage and associate with them (v 17). If they do, the Lord will not drive these nations out from before them and they will succeed. These nations will be a “snare and a trap to you, and a whip on your sides and thorns in your eyes.” A snare is bondage, a trap means to be cut off from the blessing, a whip is chastisement and thorns in the eyes is losing sight spiritually as well as physically (v 13). He tells them that not one word God has spoken has failed, and that applies to believers today (Eph 3.20). However, just as he blesses obedience he will also punish disobedience (v 14.16).
In Josh 24.1-33 we have his farewell address and an account of Joshua’s death. He gathered all the tribes together to Shechem and this is not the same assembly as in Josh 23. Shechem means “shoulder” and this denotes strength. He then gives a historical review of Israel’s history and what the Lord has done for them (v 2.13). He reminds them of their ancestry and how they were involved in idolatry (Terah and Nahor). It’s good to remind ourselves of God’s grace in removing us from our idolatrous practices, too.
He goes on to talk about Esau (type mo unbeliever) and Jacob (type of believer) and how Esau was given Mount Seir but Jacob was taken to Egypt. This teaches that earthly blessings are worthless without the Lord. Then the Lord brought them out of Egypt and were pursued by the army of Egypt. When the Lord brings us out of bondage we will be pursued by the Lord also. He put darkness between the Egyptians and Israel just like he puts darkness between the unbeliever and believer today, in our lives. He covered the Egyptians with the sea , which is a symbol of the wicked (Isa 57.20). In the Birth-pains, nations will rise against Israel, and each other, and come against the False Messiah (Pharaoh) but he will be covered up in defeat.
But the Lord was with them and he brought them into the land of the Amorite (sayer) and they fought with them. Israel took possession of their land and God destroyed them. Then he recounts the story of Balak (destroyer) the king of Moab (seed of the father) and how he tried to stop Israel through Balaam. People will join forces to try and stop us also. They then crossed the Jordan (death) and came to Jericho meaning the “city of palms” and this speaks of righteousness. But in Canaanite hands it speaks of self-righteousness. This is our first fight, too.
Then Israel fought against the Amorites (“sayers, talkers”), the Perizzite (“rustic squaters” or the earthly man occupied with only earthly things), the Canaanites (“merchants, traffickers” peddling the word of God for money), the Hittite (“terror” in spiritual ways), the Girgashites (“stranger drawing near” or the unconverted mingling with the converted), the Hivites (“livers” or those who portray themselves as born again) and the Jebusites (“trodden down” or those who trample on the things of God). In our “Canaan” we will encounter these same enemies.
Then they wrote these words in the Book of the Law (Instruction, guidance) of God written by Moses which was with them because it was put beside the Ark (Deut 31.26). He took a large stone (type pf the risen Messiah) and set it up under the oak (the oak of Moreh by Jewish tradition, the same oak that Jacob hid the idols in Gen 35.4) that was by the sanctuary of God. This does not mean that the Mishkan was brought to Shechem, but the Ark was there. Abraham and Jacob had put up an altar and this area was regarded as a holy place, and place with a kedusha on it. The word for “sanctuary” here is “mikdash” and it means “kedusha” and the Lord’s presence was there.
Josh 24.27 says something very interesting. Joshua says, “This stone shall be a witness against us, for it has heard all the words of the Lord which he spoke to us; thus it shall be for a witness against you, lest you deny your God.” So, let’s look at some concepts related to”the stone.” Notice it says, “for it (the stone) has heard.” The concept of the stone is alluding to the Messiah. In Gen 28.18 Jacob took a stone and anointed it after he rested on it. Messiah means “anointed.” In Gen 49.24 it says, “From there is the Shepherd, the stone of Israel.” The word for stone in Hebrew is “even” and it is spelled with an aleph, bet and nun. The first two letters (aleph, bet) spell “Av” meaning father. The last two letters (bet, nun) spell “ben” meaning son. The father and son are one in this word stone.
In Exo 17.6 we learn that Moses struck a rock and living water came out and saved the people from thirst. In Num 20.8 Moses was to speak to another rock so that it would bring forth water, but he struck the rock in disobedience. The stories teach that the Messiah was struck once (died) in order to bring life. We don’t need to crucify him over and over again. Moses just needed to speak to the rock to be saved from thirst, but he struck the rock ruining the picture God had set up. As a result, Moses could not go into the promised land. In Matt 21.42 is says that whoever falls on “this stone” that the builders rejected (Yeshua as Messiah) will be broken (humbled in repentance-John 12.44-50)), but on whomever if falls will scatter them like dust. In 1 Cor 10.4 we learn that the people drank from a spiritual rock and the “rock was Messiah.”
In Josh 24.29-31 we are told about the death of Joshua. Everyone’s service comes to an end in this world. He was 110 years old. He was buried in the territory of his inheritance in Timnath-serah (extra portion) in the mountain country of Ephraim, which was his city. Josh 24.32-33 tells us that they buried the bones of Joseph in Shechem, in a field. This doesn’t mean they did this at the same time as Joshua but probably as soon as the tribe of Ephraim got possession of the place and found rest.
There is a piece of ground that Jacob bought from the sons of Hamor, the father of Shechem, for 100 pieces of silver. It became the inheritance of the children of Joseph as a gift. There are three pieces of ground that are contested today by the Arabs, and all three pieces of ground are documented in the Bible as belonging to Israel. They are the cave at Machpelah, the tomb of Joseph and the Temple Mount.
We are then told about the death of Eleazar, the son of Aaron. We have seen that Joshua is a type of Yeshua as the “warrior Messiah” who brings his people into the promises, but he died. We also have seen Eleazar as the High Priest serving the spiritual needs of his people, but he dies. But this is not so with Yeshua. We have a warrior-priest who lives on in the Olam Haba and is the captain of our warfare, deliverance and salvation.
The book of Joshua is a sequel to the five books of Moses. We have seen Messiah ass the Creator and seed of the woman in Genesis, We have seen his as the redeemer and Passover lamb in Exodus. He is the high priest who atones in Leviticus. He is the presence of God, the cloud by day and the pillar of fire by night who leads Israel through the wilderness (the world) in Numbers and the prophet like Moses who is to come in Deuteronomy. In our next study we will see him as the judge and deliverer in Judges.