At the time we come to chapter 23, Joshua is an old man and he wishes to give spiritual advice to the leaders of the people. Therefore, we can learn from what a good man says.
He warns that they would not always have someone to be responsible for them. Likewise, in all the dealings of our life we may find ourselves in a position in which we feel there is no one that can help us or no one to whom we can turn. Regardless of this feeling, we always have the Lord God on our side.
The Israelites did not drive out all the enemies from the promise land. They may became content to have them as neighbors. It is easy to be satisfied with status quo. It is easy to accept what seems comfortable instead of taking a further step the hard way.
We always have choices virtually every minute of our lives. Sometimes those choices are quite natural and appropriate. Sometimes they linger before us and we ignore them. It is possible for us to convince ourselves that we do not have choices. Whatever rationalization we do, does not overcome the fact that we have choices. Those choices may be hard, but deep in our heart we know they need to be made. A choice could be simply the difference between right or wrong. It could be what is ethical versus what we desire for an outcome.
It is significant that we remind ourselves that evil is always among us, around us, and seeking to influence us. It could be that the Israelites convinced themselves that there was no harm in allowing their enemies to live as neighbors when, in fact, they have the potential to lead us astray. It might be one person is charming and with a simple touch destroy our lives. Sometimes on the job or within the family there lurks an evil influence that can only bring hurt. As we look back at history, this came true for the Israelites when they intermarried and intermingled with those who were previously considered enemies.
When Joshua spoke these words, he distinguished the options for the people to experience God’s blessing or anger. Thousands of years later we stand at that same threshold of obedience or disobedience. It does not matter whether it be ancient people or today. We are the ones that cause ourselves to know good things from God or bad things. If we choose the bad, it is not God’s fault what happens to us. We generate the consequences under which we live.
In verse six of this chapter Joshua says, “be very courageous to keep and do what God has said.” When it comes time to being obedient to God, it may not feel convenient or desirable, because the wrestling is between our carnal self and our spiritual self. God does not follow us around like a helium filled balloon on a string. We may think we can pull down on that string and God is readily there. Instead, what is before us on the path to come is our selection, as hard as it may seem, to follow obedience and receive God’s blessing.
That blessing that God would put upon us matches with our obedience and can cause us to accomplish great things. These great things are not spectacular before others. The great things entail new joy and a new satisfaction for how we live. Accomplishing something great is best described as how we decide to accept the reality of our lives and embrace what is there.