Three Burials (Josh. 24:29-33) Part 3 of 5

  • Written by James Lee
  • Published: 06 April 2017

The second burial notice is regarding Joseph. Joseph was not Joshua's contemporary, as Eleazar the high priest was. Joseph had died a long time ago in Egypt and was buried there. But when he died, he made the people of Israel swear that they would take his bones and bury him in the Promised Land when God would deliver them from Egypt. So, at the time of Israel's exodus from Egypt, his people brought his bones along with them (Ex. 13:19).

 

Obviously Joseph's request showed his desire for the Promised Land. He knew that he was richly blessed by God. It was not easy to be sold as a slave, and by his brothers at that. It was not easy living away from his family in a faraway country without knowing anyone and having anyone to depend on. But in his loneliness, he learned to depend on God and wait on him. This was the most valuable lesson he could ever attain, worth much more than all the time he spent in slavery and imprisonment, much more than every drop of tear he shed in loneliness and sorrow, much more than all those times he desperately asked, "Why?" and felt no one heard him, not even God.

 

 

We get attached to people and things. We feel like we cannot live without them. Then, they are taken away from us. We are devastated and yet life goes on. We even feel guilty that we can go on living. But we realize that what has been taken away from us is not what has sustained us. It has been God all along. The people that have loved us and cared for us were merely the instruments whom God used to take care of us. The things we have been so attached to were merely the gracious gifts which God blessed us with. It is not the laws of nature, which hold the universe together; it is the power of God. What are the laws of nature anyway? They are the multi-faceted manifestations of the providential power of God, by which He upholds and sustains the universe! It is He whom we should trust and hold on to. His instruments are wonderful and precious gifts. But they will come and go when they have served their purpose as God's gracious instruments. But God is faithful through them all, never leaving us nor forsaking us.

Three Burials (Josh. 24:29-33) Part 2 of 5

  • Written by James Lee
  • Published: 06 April 2017

Joshua died at a ripe age of 110. We don’t feel sorry for his death. Why? Is it simply because he lived a long life? Not really. Rather, it was because his death was a peaceful, blessed ending to a life well lived in service of God and His people: he finished fighting the good fight and running the race set before him. And Joshua left an excellent legacy, too: "Israel served the LORD all the days of Joshua, and all the days of the elders who outlived Joshua and had known all the work that the LORD did for Israel" (v. 31).

 

 

But the most important point of Joshua's death, I believe, is this: "they buried him in his own inheritance at Timnath-serah…" (v. 30). Unlike Moses, Joshua died in the Promised Land and was buried in his own inheritance. Here we have a strong testimony (with a sense of closure) that the land of Canaan has been given to the descendants of Abraham just as God promised them. God is faithful and He has kept His promise to His people and to Joshua particularly. For, along with Caleb, he was the only one in his generation, who was allowed to enter the land and take possession of it.

Three Burials (Josh. 24:29-33) Part 1 of 5

  • Written by James Lee
  • Published: 06 April 2017

The Book of Joshua ends with Joshua's death and burial. This is a natural ending to the book, which bears his name. Such was the way the previous book, Deuteronomy, ended--with Moses' death. Many of you know that Deuteronomy is the last of the Five Books of Moses. As it was appropriate for the Books of Moses to end with the death of Moses, so it was for the Book of Joshua.

 

 

This is not because the Book of Joshua is his autobiography: it is much more than that. In fact, we don't get much biographical information about Joshua in this book. We only know which tribe he belonged to and whose son he was. (And the book says nothing about Nun, Joshua's father, either.) It begins with Joshua's succession to Moses' position as the leader of Israel, not with his birth narrative. And while Joshua is certainly the main human character in this book, it is clear that the true protagonist is God Himself. Joshua's death points to this. Having finished his work, Joshua dies. But the story of God does not end with Joshua's death. It continues on. In fact, his burial is not the final story: it is followed by two more burials. And we are told that the elders who had known all the work that the Lord did for Israel outlived Joshua. They continued to serve the Lord, who cared for Israel before Joshua became the leader of Israel and who would continue to care for Israel long after Joshua passed away.

Joshua Made a Covenant with the People (Josh. 24:1-18) part 5 of 5

  • Written by James Lee
  • Published: 31 March 2017

When as our worship is a covenant renewal, can we just sit back and expect God and others to serve us? As we are reminded of how God first loved us, we are called to renew our love, our first love, to our loving and gracious God. As we are reminded of God's faithfulness to us, we are called to renew our commitment to God. God's goal in saving us is not to just keep us on heaven's social welfare program; rather, it is to enable and empower us to be and live as thriving, productive citizens in the kingdom of heaven. The feeling of being forgiven is so profound and awesome that we wonder whether God can gift us with anything better. Yet, grace upon grace, God wants us to experience the awesome feeling of God working in us, conforming us to the glory and beauty of Christ, allowing us to feel useful and significant as we participate in His work of providence and redemption!

 

 

Joshua Made a Covenant with the People (Josh. 24:1-18) part 4 of 5

  • Written by James Lee
  • Published: 30 March 2017

Does this mean that the old covenant (i.e., the Mosaic Covenant) was a covenant of works? No, we have already pointed out in previous sermons the peculiar feature of the Mosaic Covenant: while it was an administration of the covenant of grace, it included in it the Law and its works principle. Why? Paul explains in Gal. 3 that the law was added to the covenant of promise (i.e., the covenant of grace), which God made with Abraham. Notice: it was added to the covenant of promise, not given to replace the covenant of grace with a covenant of works. So Paul says, "Is the law then contrary to the promises of God? Certainly not! For if a law had been given that could give life, then righteousness would indeed be by the law. But the Scripture imprisoned everything under sin, so that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe" (Gal. 3:21-22).

 

As you can see, the law was added in order to expose Israel's (and the fallen man's) total inability to meet the divine demand for holiness and righteousness. But simply to chide and condemn Israel for its failure was not the ultimate goal. It was actually to drive the people of Israel to what the covenant of promise actually promised: our salvation through faith in Jesus Christ, the promised Offspring of Abraham. The law was a diagnostic tool to expose Israel's true spiritual condition so that it would turn to the divine Physician for healing and life.

 

 

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