But take careful heed to do the commandment and the law which Moses the servant of the Lord commanded you, to love the Lord your God, to walk in all His ways, to keep His commandments, to hold fast to Him, and to serve Him with all your heart and with all your soul.”
What a power packed verse this is. Consider all of the things Joshua is exhorting the people to do; heed to do the commandments, love the Lord your God, walk in His ways, keep His commandments, hold fast to Him and serve Him with all your heart and with all your soul. Just imagine how wonderful life would be if we were to focus all of our attention on these things. We would do well to spend some time meditating on these great verses.
10 And when they came to the region of the Jordan which is in the land of Canaan, the children of Reuben, the children of Gad, and half the tribe of Manasseh built an altar there by the Jordan—a great, impressive altar.
The only altars that were to be built were plain altars with nothing ornate about them. There was to be no engravings or anything special about them. God knew, that building any other altar, would be a tribute to man, and false gods rather than to the One true God.
but you shall hold fast to the Lord your God, as you have done to this day. 9 For the Lord has driven out from before you great and strong nations; but as for you, no one has been able to stand against you to this day.
It is hard for me to understand why anyone would ever want to stray from the Lord. I know that people do, but I still cannot understand it. Especially in light of the many blessings He pours out upon us. I suppose that one of the reasons is, they fail to consider all the Lord has done for them on a regular basis. When I reflect on HIs goodness towards me, I desire to cling to Him all the more!
And Joshua said to all the people, “Thus says the Lord God of Israel: ‘Your fathers, including Terah, the father of Abraham and the father of Nahor, dwelt on the other side of the River in old times; and they served other gods.
I love chapters like this, chapters that review all of the things the Lord had done for them. Again, another reminder of how good and faithful our God is towards His beloved, even in spite of our disobedience.
“Now therefore, fear the Lord, serve Him in sincerity and in truth, and put away the gods which your fathers served on the other side of the River and in Egypt. Serve the Lord!
It is possible to serve the Lord from ill motives, rather than in ‘sincerity and truth’. We must guard our hearts from attitudes in our service that would suggest that our service is anything less than sincere and true.
But Joshua said to the people, “You cannot serve the Lord, for He is a holy God. He is a jealous God; He will not forgive your transgressions nor your sins.
Joshua is not saying that forgiveness is unavailable, but rather that forgiveness is unavailable in our own strength, with any other attitude other than a fully surrendered heart.
7 Then he said to the multitudes that came out to be baptized by him, “Brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come?
This has always been an interesting interaction here. I imagine these religious rulers, all prim and proper in their religiosity strolling down to the river to see what the ‘new kid on the block’ was doing, when all of a sudden they hear John’s greeting, “Brood of vipers!” John the Baptist established early on, that anyone trying to come to God with anything less than a repetitive heart, is nothing more than a viper.
Then tax collectors also came to be baptized, and said to him, “Teacher, what shall we do?”
In contrast to the Pharisees, here is an example of a repentant heart. The tax collectors were people most despised, because they cheated the people. When they came to John, they came with a clear understanding that they were sinners, which prompted the question, “Teacher, what shall we do?” This is the heart the Lord looks for in those who come to Him.
21 When all the people were baptized, it came to pass that Jesus also was baptized; and while He prayed, the heaven was opened.
I love that Jesus never asks us to do anything that He did not do himself, except die for the sins of the world. That is something that only He could do.