This is the final sermon of the prophet Joshua, to the Israelite people. Joshua had been one who had walked with Moses during the wanderings in the wilderness. He had remained to see and enter the promised land while the rest of his generation had passed away. He was a man of faith and courage, and was called to be the prophet to conquer and settle the promised land. He trusted the Lord, and the Lord was there to help him. His words to the Israelites follow:
1 And Joshua gathered all the tribes of Israel to Shechem, and called for the elders of Israel, and for their heads, and for their judges, and for their officers; and they presented themselves before God.
2 And Joshua said unto all the people, Thus saith the Lord God of Israel, Your fathers dwelt on the other side of the flood in old time, even Terah, the father of Abraham, and the father of Nachor: and they served other gods.
3 And I took your father Abraham from the other side of the flood, and led him throughout all the land of Canaan, and multiplied his seed, and gave him Isaac.
4 And I gave unto Isaac Jacob and Esau: and I gave unto Esau mount Seir, to possess it; but Jacob and his children went down into Egypt.
5 I sent Moses also and Aaron, and I plagued Egypt, according to that which I did among them: and afterward I brought you out.
6 And I brought your fathers out of Egypt: and ye came unto the sea; and the Egyptians pursued after your fathers with chariots and horsemen unto the Red sea.
7 And when they cried unto the Lord, he put darkness between you and the Egyptians, and brought the sea upon them, and covered them; and your eyes have seen what I have done in Egypt: and ye dwelt in the wilderness a long season.
8 And I brought you into the land of the Amorites, which dwelt on the other side Jordan; and they fought with you: and I gave them into your hand, that ye might possess their land; and I destroyed them from before you.
9 Then Balak the son of Zippor, king of Moab, arose and warred against Israel, and sent and called Balaam the son of Beor to curse you:
10 But I would not hearken unto Balaam; therefore he blessed you still: so I delivered you out of his hand.
11 And ye went over Jordan, and came unto Jericho: and the men of Jericho fought against you, the Amorites, and the Perizzites, and the Canaanites, and the Hittites, and the Girgashites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites; and I delivered them into your hand.
12 And I sent the hornet before you, which drave them out from before you, even the two kings of the Amorites; but not with thy sword, nor with thy bow.
13 And I have given you a land for which ye did not labour, and cities which ye built not, and ye dwell in them; of the vineyards and oliveyards which ye planted not do ye eat.
Joshua gathered the people to hear his words, and then called the elders of Israel and other leaders, to present themselves. He begins to speak to them of their history. The family of Abraham had lived in a foreign land and worshipped the gods of that land. Abraham was led away from the idolatry, by the Lord, to the land of Canaan and was blessed with his son Isaac. The Lord blessed Isaac with two sons, even Jacob and Esau. He told them how Jacob’s family went to Egypt, and that the Lord sent Moses and Aaron and gave plagues there. Then the Israelites were led out of Egypt by the Lord. Then when they were chased by the Egyptians, the Lord protected them and destroyed their enemy in the sea. Then they wandered in the wilderness, and the Lord led them into the land of the Amorites and delivered their enemies into their hands. The Lord stopped Balaam from cursing the Israelites, and caused that he should bless them instead. Finally, the Israelites were led into the land of Canaan, to Jericho, and the Lord delivered their enemies into their hands again. The Lord helped them to gain the promised land, where they had plenty, but they had not prepared it for themselves.
14 Now therefore fear the Lord, and serve him in sincerity and in truth: and put away the gods which your fathers served on the other side of the flood, and in Egypt; and serve ye the Lord.
15 And if it seem evil unto you to serve the Lord, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.
16 And the people answered and said, God forbid that we should forsake the Lord, to serve other gods;
17 For the Lord our God, he it is that brought us up and our fathers out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage, and which did those great signs in our sight, and preserved us in all the way wherein we went, and among all the people through whom we passed:
18 And the Lord drave out from before us all the people, even the Amorites which dwelt in the land: therefore will we also serve the Lord; for he is our God.
19 And Joshua said unto the people, Ye cannot serve the Lord: for he is an holy God; he is a jealous God; he will not forgive your transgressions nor your sins.
20 If ye forsake the Lord, and serve strange gods, then he will turn and do you hurt, and consume you, after that he hath done you good.
21 And the people said unto Joshua, Nay; but we will serve the Lord.
22 And Joshua said unto the people, Ye are witnesses against yourselves that ye have chosen you the Lord, to serve him. And they said, We are witnesses.
23 Now therefore put away, said he, the strange gods which are among you, and incline your heart unto the Lord God of Israel.
24 And the people said unto Joshua, The Lord our God will we serve, and his voice will we obey.
25 So Joshua made a covenant with the people that day, and set them a statute and an ordinance in Shechem.
Joshua called the people to honor and serve the Lord, and to put away the practice of worshipping false gods, or idolatry, as their ancestors had. He reminded the people that they were free to choose whom they would serve, but they needed to make their choice. Joshua, their prophet and leader, declared that he had chosen to serve the Lord. In response, the people spoke of the commandment God had given them to serve Him alone and to forsake other gods. The congregation of Israel recognized the hand of the Lord in bringing them out of bondage, and preserving them in their wanderings. They knew that the Lord had delivered their enemies into their hands and had driven them out of the land. The Israelites chose to serve the Lord as well. Joshua told them that if they would follow after other gods, they could not serve the Lord and would not be forgiven of their transgressions or sins. The Lord would destroy them if they turned against Him. The people wanted to choose the Lord still, and so Joshua said they were witnesses against themselves, which they agreed to. He called on them again, to put away other gods and turn to the Lord, to which they made a covenant to serve and obey the Lord.
We have the same obligation to choose if we will strive to serve the Lord, or if we will serve other gods. We cannot stand on both sides of the fence, but if we choose to serve the Lord, we will be held to His standard. It is our privilege, to be able to stand and firmly say we will serve the Lord. When we make covenants of baptism, we promise to serve the Lord all our days. If after making covenants, we go against the Lord, destruction will eventually come upon us as well. I hope to be able to remain steadfast and firm all the days of my life, and continually serve God.
26 And Joshua wrote these words in the book of the law of God, and took a great stone, and set it up there under an oak, that was by the sanctuary of the Lord.
27 And Joshua said unto all the people, Behold, this stone shall be a witness unto us; for it hath heard all the words of the Lord which he spake unto us: it shall be therefore a witness unto you, lest ye deny your God.
28 So Joshua let the people depart, every man unto his inheritance.
A record was made of these things, and a stone was raised as a reminder to the people, of the covenant they had made with the Lord. Then all the people were sent back to their homes.
29 And it came to pass after these things, that Joshua the son of Nun, the servant of the Lord, died, being an hundred and ten years old.
30 And they buried him in the border of his inheritance in Timnath-serah, which is in mount Ephraim, on the north side of the hill of Gaash.
31 And Israel served the Lord all the days of Joshua, and all the days of the elders that overlived Joshua, and which had known all the works of the Lord, that he had done for Israel.
Joshua died at the age of 110. In the days of Joshua, the host of Israel had server the Lord, as well as in the days of all the elders that served with him.
32 And the bones of Joseph, which the children of Israel brought up out of Egypt, buried they in Shechem, in a parcel of ground which Jacob bought of the sons of Hamor the father of Shechem for an hundred pieces of silver: and it became the inheritance of the children of Joseph.
33 And Eleazar the son of Aaron died; and they buried him in a hill that pertained to Phinehas his son, which was given him in mount Ephraim.
The bones of Joseph were buried in the land that his father Jacob had purchased many years before. This was a fulfillment of the request of Joseph which he made while in Egypt, because he knew that God would one day deliver the people of Israel and led them to the land of promise. Then, Eleazar, the priest and son of Aaron, died and was buried in the land of his son, Phinehas.
Idolatry was a sin which plagued the children of Israel in their time. This is why there was a need to continually remind them to love and serve the Lord alone. In our time, we have idolatry of other forms, which plague our generation. We need to be continually reminded to live in the world, but not be of the world. I feel like the greatest reminder we have from our current prophets, is that our focus must be on the family or Satan will destroy us. The strength of the Lord’s people, as a whole, depends upon the strength of our family units. If we allow Satan to break down the family, we will each stand alone and we will fall. It was so important for the congregation of Israel to heed the words of the prophet Joshua, as they heeded the words of Moses before him. Is is just as important for us to heed the words of our own modern prophets, because they speak the word of the Lord for us today. I am so grateful for the prophets which the Lord has called in our day. I am grateful for times when I can hear their words and apply them to my life. I know that they are true and can help us to be strong and courageous in our day.
(If you are interested in listening to the modern prophets and apostles, you can watch or listen to the General Conference of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Click here for more information.)