Joshua 24: Teaching Notes

Ralph Yost

August 23, 2000



  1. OVERVIEW: Joshua 24 completes the book of Joshua by providing us with the theological defnition of the people of God, the Israelites. Here we have the definitions of God and the relationship between God and man.

·        Some Biblical theologians consider this chapter to be one of the most important chapters in the OT

·        The chapter covers the roots of Israel when their fathers were constantly tempted with other god worship, many times succumbing to that temptation

·        The chapter has played an important role for historians of Israel and Judaism.


  1. TIME FRAME: This chapter spears to have validity for Israel for all times. It does not belong to the period immediately after the conquest, nor to the period immediately after the distribution of the land. It does not belong to the ceremony celebrating Joshua’s final speech to Isreal before he dies (Chapter 23). Instead, it belongs to no specific time. Thus we are left to conclude that it belongs to all times.
  2. The chapter is a call to the people of God to examine their identity over against the true identity of people God as defined within this chapter. Thus, the modern day Christian can find application within it.
  3. The identity of God’s people is dependant upon the action of God in the history of His people:

·        Salvation history is never tied to God’s reward for the behavior of His people

·        God chose to act in His own freedom in the hope that the people He delivered from slavery would respond in the same freedom and choose to serve Him.

·        The chapter implies that this choice was not easily made by the Israelites

·        In the wilderness, the people of God easily turned to murmuring and complaining, and eventually to serving other gods.

·        God sends His leader, Joshua, to gather the people and remind them of the greatness of God’s actions for their behalf. Only when Israel has such a leader as Joshua do they respond properly in this way.

  1. Joshua The Leader: Joshua is an obedient, hero of the faith, a conquering hero of war, and an arbiter of legal disputes. In this chapter, we see Joshua as the courageous religious leader ready and eager to set the example himself with his household and calls his people to follow suit. The call to follow suit is issued out of Joshua’s personal conviction with a stern warning of the responsibility and consequences (of not following).
  2. JOSHUA DEFINES GOD FOR THE PEOPLE : Joshua recalls the history of Israel for purposes of demanding discipleship of the people. He calls them to hear and obey with faithfulness and loyalty the commands of God.

·        Joshua demands that Israel understand the difference between their (human) concept of god(s) and the true nature of Yahweh, the one true God.

·        God is a holy, jealous God, who expects His people to be satisfied with nothing less than perfection.

·        God cannot be bribed by men.

·        God does not wait around patiently while Israel flirts around with other gods.

·        God does not govern one small part of the world.

·        God is the only God, who has all the power and might, and along with that, all responsibility.

·        Most of all, He is the God who loves so much that He looks for the same genuine, sincere love in return.

  1. ISRAEL REFUSES TO TRY: The saddest part of the history of Israel is how quickly she turned away from God. Immediately following the generation of Joshua, she slipped into the way of her neighbors, as she had been warned previously to avoid. The years that follow has God calling leaders to call Israel back to Himself through judges, kings and prophets, as Joshua had done. However, none had the success of Joshua.

·        Never again did the entire people of God unite as they did under the leadership of Joshua. When a 2nd Joshua arose, it was too late (2Kings 23:24-25)

·        God had already begun to fulfill his promise by bringing upon them the evil that this disobedient people had previously been warned of.


8. APPLICATION FOR TODAY: Today we are called by Jesus to come to the Holy Place of God, hear the Gospel and accept it, to take it upon themselves in their hearts. Jesus call us to commit ourselves to Him, that He be our Lord and Master, and not ourselves. So often we answer this call as Israel did, by pledging our hearts to Him, but quickly forgetting that promise at the first temptation of the world. Thus, men are called to choose whom they will serve. The choice continues to hold serious responsibility and consequences. God remains the same: a jealous God who will not stand to be worship-shared with any other.