Day 88: Joshua's Last Words to Israel

Joshua 22:1-8 The tribes of Transjordan were encouraged to remain faithful to the Lord and to his Commandments just as they had been faithful in their promises to engage in battle alongside the other tribes of Israel.

Ch 22:9-34 A misunderstanding broke out after the Transjordan tribes erected an altar along the Jordan on the border with the rest of Israel. They were accused by other tribes of adding another place of sacrifice in violation of the Law, which called for one place of sacrifice. This problem was resolved when the three tribes clearly explained that the altar was not designated for sacrificial offerings but was simply a symbol of their unity with the rest of Israel across the Jordan to ensure that future generations dwelling in the Transjordan would never forget their inclusion among the Chosen People. (CCC 212)

Ch 24:29-31 At Joshua’s death, he was reckoned as “the servant of the Lord,” a title of honor previously applied only to Moses. Today, in the canonization process of the Catholic Church, the title “Servant of God” is given to one whose cause is being considered, and “Venerable Servant of God,” for those determined to have demonstrated heroic virtue.

Psalm 132 This psalm celebrates the transfer of the Ark of the Covenant-the ornate structure that held the tablets of the Commandments and other artifacts, representing the presence of God-to the city of Jerusalem. With this powerful reminder and sign of God’s presence among his people, they were confident to be blessed richly with ample harvests, salvation from their foes, and a life of joy. Furthermore, from David through his descendants, the Anointed One (Messiah, or Christ) would be born. The ark of your might: This verse has long been seen in Church tradition as a figure of Mary (TYPOLOGY!!), who conceived and bore the protagonist of the New Covenant, Jesus Christ, our Savior. (Cf. Pope Benedict XVI, General Audience, September 21, 2005)

(*The Didache Bible RSV-CE Ignatius Edition, 2006)

Joshua’s Last Advice

  • The book of Joshua closes with two important speeches given by Joshua at the end of his life.

  • Here, Joshua imparts the wisdom of his life and warns Israel of the road ahead.

  • He encourages Israel to be steadfast and loyal to “all that is written in the book of the law of Moses, turning aside from it neither to the right hand nor to the left, that you may not be mixed with these nations left here among you” (Jos 23:6), i.e., lest Israel call upon the pagan gods of these nations and intermarry with the pagans.

  • Joshua warns them that although Israel now dwells in the land, they dwell there with the remnant of the nations they defeated (Jos 23:12).

  • Their fidelity to God is key to their security, for if they abandon God, he will in turn no longer protect them, and they will fall into the hands of their enemies.

  • Then their enemies will be “a snare and a trap for you, a scourge on your sides, and thorns in your eye till you perish from off this good land which the Lord your God has given you” (Jos 23:13).

  • Israel, like Adam, is warned that “thorns” await rebellion against God and his law.

  • Adam found his dominion of the land hindered by thorn and thistle.

  • So, too, Israel finds its dominion challenged by the thorn of the pagan nations, a fitting chastisement for disobedience.

  • Joshua concludes his warnings with a reminder of the covenant promises of Deuteronomy (Dt 28).

  • Joshua observes that God has been faithful to all his promises and blessed their covenant obedience.

  • But God’s covenant curses will likewise come true if Israel abandons God and serves false gods.

Back to Shechem

  • Joshua delivers his final speech in Shechem, which is no accident, for it was here that Jacob gave a similar speech, instructing his wives and family to put away the idols they had taken from their father’s house and to bury these idols under an oak tree in Shechem (Gn 35:1-4).

  • Joshua appeals to this sacred family memory, much like an American president might appeal for courage by speaking from Valley Forge or Gettysburg.

  • The key word—repeated almost to the point of monotony in the speech—is “SERVE.”

  • This word should be very familiar from the Exodus story, where “serve,” AVAD in Hebrew, could mean either “work” or “worship.”

  • Joshua exhorts Israel to keep the charge given to them at Sinai—serving the Lord their God.

  • He issues the resounding challenge: Now therefore fear the Lord, and serve him in sincerity and in faithfulness; put away the gods which your father served beyond the River, and in Egypt, and serve the Lord.

  • And if you be unwilling to serve the Lord, choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your fathers served in the region beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you dwell; but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord. (Jos 24:14-15)

  • Early in the conquest, after the victories against Jericho and Ai (Jos 8), Joshua administered the covenant ceremony outlined in Deuteronomy, bringing the new generation leaving the wilderness into a solemn covenant with God.

  • Now, at the end of his life, Joshua again renews the covenant and initiates the next generation into the covenant life of Israel.

(*Walking With God: A Journey Through The Bible by Tim Gray and Jeff Cavins)

  • This is the last day of the Book of Joshua

  • This last chapter is one of Fr. Mike’s favorites


  • Just like Moses before him, Joshua’s last words are WORDS OF CHALLENGE

  • Joshua is saying, just like Moses said, “Listen, I know you. I know that you are fickle. I know that you will fall away. I know that you will probably fail to follow the Lord. You will probably fail to belong to Him. But, I know this too: I know that God WILL NOT FAIL. I know that God WILL NOT FALTER in His love and His choice of you.”


  • We have heard the lessons

  • We know what happened

  • Joshua is speaking these words and he is INVITING AND CHALLENGING these people to “Now, therefore, Fear the Lord. Serve Him in SINCERITY and in FAITHFULNESS. Put away the gods which your fathers served beyond the river and in Egypt and SERVE THE LORD. And if you be UNWILLING to serve the Lord, then CHOOSE THIS DAY WHOM YOU WILL SERVE.”

  • That is SO KEY for us

  • Sometimes, we just put off deciding

  • We put off deciding that WE BELONG TO JESUS CHRIST, OUR LORD

  • We have other false “gods”

  • We have other false idols in our lives

  • If you are UNWILLING to serve The Lord, then CHOOSE THIS DAY

  • WHOM WILL YOU SERVE? (Please don’t say Saruman! 🤓)

  • Is it going to be MONEY?

  • Is it going to be FAME?

  • Is it going to be COMFORT?

  • Whatever it is, CHOOSE TODAY, so you can stop pretending


  • This is NOT just a nice set of words to put on a plaque (although I hear it is very popular to do so)


  • Yeah, it’s wonderful to sew them on a pillow or to put them on a plaque over the door in your home

  • They are certainly great words to live with in your sight



  • What a GIFT!

  • WOW!

  • It has been a GIFT to journey with all of you through The Bible so far along with Fr. Mike

  • We are 10 days away from The Gospel of John (which contains my personal favorite verse in the ENTIRE BIBLE! Can you guess what that verse is? Take a guess in the facebook post comments 😉)

  • Pray for Fr. Mike

  • Pray for EACH OTHER

Prayer by Fr. Mike: “Father in Heaven we give you praise and glory. We thank you so much for bringing us through the Book of Joshua, and bringing us through this story, this history of the way in which you have fought for your people, and the way in which you are calling us to faithfulness, the way you are reminding us of the dignity of being your sons and daughters, the dignity of being chosen by you, but also the responsibility of being chosen by you, to be faithful, to trust in you. Father, we ask you to please help us. Help us to trust in you. Help us to be faithful to you, because you are faithful. Your love is unstoppable. And we ask you to please help us to live and walk in that love every day. Especially this day. We make this prayer in the mighty name of Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.”