The Last Words of Joshua
Joshua 23:14
And, behold, this day I am going the way of all the earth: and you know in all your hearts and in all your souls…

You can hardly overdraw the character of the patriarch warrior who is about to surrender his command. He is one of the rare men of either economy of whom inspiration, always faithful, has preserved no record of blemish. And if you ask wherein lay the main charm of his character, we find it in the fact that he himself is so much concealed behind the grandeur of his own exploits. That is the highest order of excellence — to be self. concealed by the glory of events whereof we are the authors. "I have sent for you," said a great man of modern days, from his death-bed to a youth who stood beside him, "that you may see how a Christian can die." Let us see how a "servant of the Lord" can die who only saw the day of Christ from a distance. We might dwell, for a warrant in favour of repetition, on the fact that Joshua spends his last breath in telling something to the children of Israel which he himself admits they know already "in all their hearts and in all their souls." Old-fashioned doctrines never look so new, never so precious, as when seen from the edge of the grave. But what absorbs the interest of this spectacle is not so much the triteness of the discussion as the motive Chat moved to its delivery. If Joshua does not say, he implies, that because the chills of death are at the very moment creeping round his heart and the tongue will not serve him much longer, on that very account he stirs them up to remembrance that "the Lord has not been slack concerning His promise." Oh, surely, this is something new in the treatment of an old doctrine! The last faculties of the mind before it ceases to act and move amongst the living, turned upon the character and the honour of the great God, and that not so much towards the man himself, but towards the other men addressed. That a human being should be so able to forget himself, if not in the very struggles, in the nearest prospect, of mortality, as to busy himself entirely with the credit and the character of his Creator, that he should gather around him the thousands who will survive him, for nothing but to wring from them the acknowledgment that God is true — oh! you may fairly enough conclude that the speaker is not far off the world where God will be all in all. There is no test of a man's chief good like death. The miser will ask for his old strong-box to be placed beside him on the bed that he may see the last of the deity he has worshipped whilst he lived. The husband will turn his latest, fondest look, amongst all bystanders, towards the one sad face that belongs to her who has weathered with him so many a storm, and proved her love through evil and through good report. The statesman wanders in his last delirium on the future of the country, the helm of whose affairs he is quitting for ever. The scholar, too, seems reluctant to die till that one great work, the study of years, has received its finishing touch; and the mechanician, or the chemist, or the astronomer, is startled by the grim summons from the busy calculation, or the tiresome experiment, or the sweeping survey of the stars. And if each of these were to leave a witness from the death-bed, that witness would turn for a topic to the favourite and the darling of the life that is leaving him. Joshua does the same. "What will they think of my God when I am gathered to the grave? I know Him, but do they? They do; but will they remember what they know? Will they serve my God as if they recollected that He has never failed them? It is not certain hearts that know forget: souls that have learned love their own lessons. Therefore will I make this work, the honour of Jehovah, at least as perfect as I can make it by hallowing in its behalf the faltering of the dying lip and the clouding of the dying brain." "I must," says the dying hero, "spend the last sands in the glass in putting the glory of the Divine administration beyond all reach of reproach. Are my warriors and myself at one upon the doctrine that the whole of an inheritance promised is as good, to faith, as the whole of it conferred? Are we going to part agreed that Palestine is already as truly the property of the sons of Abraham as Timnath-Serah, in Mount Ephraim, belongs to me?" And so the good man could not rest in his grave till he had exchanged with his brethren in arms a new vow of allegiance to Him who has not, even in our day, with absolutely literal truth, accomplished the fulness of what is here taken as done. Here is faith for you The captain of the army will not die till he has overleapt centuries by a faith of his own, and carried all his squadrons with him in the leap. One of our great warriors ordered his ships into action with the shout of "Victory, or Westminster Abbey!" But what should we have thought had the cry been "Victory and Westminster Abbey!" Joshua foresaw that his own death, and the death of whole generations of soldiers, would make no difference to the conquest of Canaan. Millenniums are shorter than moments to "him that believeth." This then was Joshua's judgment of the right business for a dying day. Beautiful ministry for last moments, to strengthen bystanders in their trust upon God's word. It was to Israel almost as if a spectre spoke. You contract heavy responsibilities — you who stand, from time to time, in the chambers of dying believers. Next to hearing voices from heaven comes the hearing of voices from those who are just stepping from earth. Books are nothing to the last whispers-even the last smiles — of warriors laying down their swords, and of pilgrims sinking into rest. I pray that we may all die leaving some witness to the faithfulness of Christ.

(H. Christopherson.)

Parallel Verses
KJV: And, behold, this day I am going the way of all the earth: and ye know in all your hearts and in all your souls, that not one thing hath failed of all the good things which the LORD your God spake concerning you; all are come to pass unto you, and not one thing hath failed thereof.

WEB: "Behold, today I am going the way of all the earth. You know in all your hearts and in all your souls that not one thing has failed of all the good things which Yahweh your God spoke concerning you. All have happened to you. Not one thing has failed of it.

Premonitions of Death
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