Gaebelein's Annotated Bible
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.The Second Address
1. The gathering at Shechem (Joshua 24:1)
2. Historic retrospect and exhortations (Joshua 24:2-15)
3. The answer given by Israel (Joshua 24:16-18)
4. Joshua’s answer (Joshua 24:19-20)
5. The promise made (Joshua 24:21)
6. Joshua’s appeal and the repeated promise (Joshua 24:22-24)
7. The covenant made and Joshua’s final word (Joshua 24:25-28)
In Joshua’s second and last address to the people at Shechem we have first a historic retrospect. It must not be overlooked, that the words of Joshua are not his own, but the words given to him by the Lord. “Thus saith the LORD God of Israel,” is the manner in which he begins. The retrospect is a marvel in terse statements and rehearsal of the entire history of Israel, beginning with the call of Abraham. Its object is to remind the assembled congregation once more of the mercies and faithfulness of Jehovah. How soon they may be forgotten! Yet upon remembering what we are by nature and what the Lord in His infinite grace has done for us, depends a true walk with God. The Spirit of God, through Joshua, shows that Abraham was called away from idolatry and traces all Jehovah did for him and his seed. Notice the different acts of the Lord. I took your father Abraham--I led him--I multiplied his seed--I gave him Isaac--I gave--I sent Moses--I plagued Egypt--I brought you out--I brought you into the land. All the promises made in Exodus and Deuteronomy concerning the possession and conquest of the land had been fulfilled. Read Exodus 23:28 and Deuteronomy 7:20 and compare with verse 12. He gave them a land for which they did not labor.
The covenant is then renewed. Beautiful are Joshua’s words, “As for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.” He had served Him all his life and on the eve of his departure, he renews his vow. With such an enthusiastic, consecrated and successful leader, the people could only answer in the affirmative. They renewed their previous promise to serve the Lord. The answer they gave is an echo of Joshua’s words. They repeat what Jehovah had so graciously done unto them. Joshua’s answer to the enthusiastic reply of the people was “Ye cannot serve the LORD.” He well knew by the light of the Spirit of God that this people, so stiffnecked in the past, would soon depart from this resolution and follow other gods. Besides this, Joshua knew the final words of Moses, the great prophecies concerning the apostasy of the nation, their deep fall into idolatries and their coming dispersion among the Gentiles. With the Word of God before him, he could not believe that the future of the people, whom Jehovah had brought out and brought in, would be a future of obedience and blessing. He is not deceived by the enthusiasm which had taken hold of the assembled congregation. We also have in the New Testament the predictions and the warnings concerning the course of the professing church on earth during the present age. We do well to heed these. If not we shall be deceived in expecting that which is nowhere promised for this age.
“The predictions of the Church’s course have so little ambiguity that it is marvelous that the smooth preaching of peace, and the comforting assurance of progressive blessing, could ever gain credence with those who boast in an ‘open Bible,’ But the Bible can be but little ‘open’ as long as man’s pride and self seeking hang their imaginative veil before it; and the Church, believing herself heir to Israel’s promises, has largely refused to accept the lessons of Israel’s career, which she has so closely followed. Thank God, we are near the end of the strange history of almost two millennia; and for us the end is the coming of the Lord” (F.W. Grant).
The covenant was thus renewed and a great stone set up as a witness. How long did it last? Our next book gives the answer: “And the children of Israel did evil in the sight of the LORD, and served the Baalim” (Judges 2:11). “And they forsook the LORD and served Baal and Ashtaroth” (verse 13).
And it came to pass after these things, that Joshua the son of Nun, the servant of the LORD, died, being an hundred and ten years old.3. The Epilogue
1. Joshua’s death and burial (24:29-31)
2. The bones of Joseph buried (24:32)
3. Eleazar’s death (24:33)
Moses, the instrument through whom the law was given, was buried by the Lord, no doubt a hint that some day the Lord would put away the law, with its curse, as we learn in the New Testament. Joshua was buried by the people in his own inheritance; he died ten years younger than Moses, that is 110 years old. Joseph had reached the same age, having died some 200 years before. Genesis 50:25, Exodus 13:19 and Hebrews 11:22 must be consulted to understand the burial of his bones recorded here. They had carried those bones all through the wilderness and never attempted to bury them till they were settled in the land. The book closes with the account of Eleazar’s death.