Nepaug Bible Church - - Pastor's Prayer Meeting Lesson Notes -

Part XVIII: Overcoming A "Drift" Into Apostasy By Reminding God's People Of Their Roots
(Joshua 24:1-33)
  1. Introduction
    1. As long as the sin nature resides in the unglorified believer, he runs the risk of "drifting" ever so slowly into apostasy. This is why Paul warned Timothy to watch himself and his doctrine in 1 Tim. 4:15-16 & 4:1-3!
    2. In the last lesson, we learned of steps overseers can take to keep subordinates on track with God. However, Joshua 24:1-33 supplies a final, powerful vehicle for leaders to use for this same purpose.
  2. Overcoming A "Drift" Into Apostasy By Reminding God's People Of Their Roots, Jos. 24:1-33.
    1. Following Joshua's address to Israel's leaders in Joshua 23:1-16, Joshua addressed the entire nation, 24:1.
    2. Just how he did this, and what he said in this gathering show us the importance of keeping subordinates on track by reminding them of their GODLY SPIRITUAL ROOTS as follows:
      1. Joshua gathered the nation together for his address at the city of Shechem, Jos. 24:1a. This location was highly significant as it spoke volumes from Israel's heritage to the importance of her obeying God:
        1. At Shechem, in the valley between Mount Ebal and Mount Gerizim, Israel's first patriarch, Abraham first received the promise from God that his seed would inherit the land of Canaan, cf. Gen. 12:6-7.
        2. At this location, his grandson, Jacob reconsecrated himself to God by burying the false idols his family had brought with them from Paddan Aram in their flight from Laban, cf. Gen. 35:1-4.
        3. At the same location Joshua obeyed Moses' former command to rehearse the Law's curses and blessings for respective disobedience and obedience to it to impress Israel to heed God's Law. He also built an altar on Mount Ebal and inscribed the word's of the Law on its stones, Jos. 8:30-35.
        4. It was at the same location where Joseph's mummified body was finally laid to rest after the Children of Israel had taken it with them from Egypt into the Promised Land, Jos. 24:32! This transfer of Joseph's body had acted as Joseph's posthumous ministry to encourage Israel to follow the Lord and thus finally arrive in Canaan, cf. Heb. 11:22.
      2. The literary form Joshua used in this address was the Hittite suzerain treaty genre, the same used by Moses in his end-of-life Deuteronomy sermon to impress Israel to obey God!
        1. When Moses gave his great end-of-ministry sermon to Israel, a message that constitutes the book of Deuteronomy, he organized his delivery according to the Hittite suzerain treaty format, Meredith Kline, Treaty of the Great King, p. 13-44, a Ph.D. dissertation, Westminster Theol. Sem., 1962. The significance of such a treaty was this: since such a format included an overlord (suzerain) vowing to protect some vassals from marauding bands providing they obeyed him (otherwise, he would let them get trounced), so God, as Israel's Suzerain Overlord would bless and protect Israel, His vassals, providing they heeded His law and obeyed it.
        2. Now, Joshua's final address to Israel in Joshua 24:1-28, is an abbreviated suzerain treaty to remind Israel of her obligation to God as Moses had reminded Israel shortly before his passing, cf. Bible Knowledge Commentary, Old Testament, p. 369. Accordingly, the treaty preamble constitutes Joshua 24:1-2a, its historical prologue verses 2b-13, stipulations and consequences of disobedience to the suzerain verses 14-24 and the writing of agre ement between suzerain and vassals, v. 25-28!
      3. In this context, Joshua uniquely added a motivating element: in Joshua 24:15c, this aged, respected leader told the people that regardless of what they would do, he and his household would obey God for what days on earth he had left! Thus, this elderly leader's testimony further influenced Israel to heed her HERITAGE, and desire to obey God's law, Jos. 24:16-18.
      4. Finally, discovering that some had already tolerated false gods in their midst, elderly Joshua used his heritage influence and commanded them to destroy those idols, Jos. 24:22-24!
Lesson: Since a spiritual group's heritage defines its purpose, an important vehicle an overseer must use to keep his subordinates from apostasy is to remind the group of its HERITAGE.

Application: (1) This truth is one reason why the pastor reminds the congregation every Sunday of our HERITAGE of beliefs and goals given us from the founding fathers! (2) A family, Bible study class and marriage can benefit from repeated exposure to their spiritual roots as well!