Promises and Power – Message 9
March 5, 2023
Introduction: We continue our series, Promises and Power.
- When we pursue the promises of God, He provides the power to fulfill them.
A. Today’s title is Clinging. [As in, holding on, to
- We covered the central campaign in Canaan (ch.6-10), including defeats of
Jericho and Ai.
I am skipping over chapters 10-12, the southern and northern campaigns in
the conquest of Canaan, and chapters 13-22, dividing the Promised Land
among the tribes.
Today, we will focus on Joshua’s farewell address to Israel’s leaders.
Joshua 23:1-2 (NLT)—
The years passed, and the Lord had given the people of Israel rest from
all their enemies.
[More than 25 years since Israel crossed the Jordan River into Canaan;
battle had subsided.]
Joshua, who was now very old, 2 called together all the
elders, leaders, judges, and officers of Israel. He said to them, “I am
now a very old man.”
[Likely occurred shortly before his death at 110; Joshua 24:29.]
Joshua desired to inspire sincere devotion for God in his leaders, who
would then communicate their passion for His covenant to the people.
Theme verse: Joshua 23:8 (NLT)— “…cling tightly to the Lord your God as you have done until now.”
To encourage them to follow closely to God, Joshua spoke to the leaders a
description of the nature of God to draw them (and us) to Him.
B. Cling tightly to God by…
1. Considering His goodness.
(Joshua 23:3–4.; C/R: Romans 8:32; 12:1; Philippians 1:6; 4:19)
- Joshua 23:3-4 (NLT)—
“You have seen everything the Lord your God has done for you during my
[Escape from Egypt, provision in the wilderness, protection and conquest in
Promised Land] The Lord your God has fought for you against your enemies.
I have allotted to you as your homeland all the land of the nations yet
unconquered, as well as the land of those we have already
conquered—from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea in the west.”
[Joshua 11:23; 13:1; 15:63; 16:10; 17:12-13]
Joshua’s emphasis was on remembering that God had given the land to them,
then enabled them to take possession of it; he wanted them to enjoy the
blessing of possessing it.
Israel controlled the land (Joshua 21:43-44), but Canaanites continued to
live among them.
The Canaanites posed little threat because they had been subdued, though
not driven out.
There still remained territory to possess and some pockets of resistance to
The task of Israel’s tribes wasn’t finished—but there was much to
These people were freed slaves, without a home, constantly on the move,
living 40 years in a wilderness, but, through Abraham, God had promised
them a permanent place to live, to own, so they went in search of it.
(Genesis 12:1-3, 6-7; 13:14-17; 15; 17:1-14; 22:15-18).
This good God who overcame enemies in the past could help overcome them in
God has been good to us also: we have been saved, forgiven, restored,
granted a permanent home in heaven that awaits us—we’ve entered the
Promised Land of life in the Spirit!
But there is more ahead—challenges, difficulties, and obstacles—but He will
fight these enemies with us and for us; we are never alone!
He will help us battle opposition from our culture that attacks our beliefs
APP.: Consider what our good God done for you in the past; does that help
you hold fast to Him with courage and confidence as you face future
Philippians 1:6 (NLT)—…
I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will
continue His work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ
Cling tightly to God by…
2. Contemplating His promises.
(Joshua 23:5–10. C/R: Jeremiah 29:11; Hebrews 10:23; 2 Peter 1:3–5)
- Joshua 23:5 (NLT)—
“This land will be yours, for the Lord your God will Himself drive out
all the people living there now. You will take possession of their
land, just as the Lord your God promised you.”
[God will empower the conquest; Joshua 13:6; 23:13]
This covenant promise of land was renewed multiple times with Abraham’s
descendants Isaac and Jacob, then communicated to Joseph. (Genesis 12:1–3;
15:1–6,18; 28:13; 35:12; 48:21).
God fulfilled His promises to them—and He does to us—but there are some
Joshua 23:6 (NLT)—
“So be very careful to follow everything Moses wrote in the Book of
. Do not deviate from it, turning either to the right or to the left.”
Israel entered and conquered the land as the fulfillment of God’s covenant
promise, but their enjoyment of the entire land depended on their obedience
to the Law of the Lord.
God would enable them to claim all their inheritance if they would obey Him
with all their hearts; they would if they contemplated the promises He had
already fulfilled for them.
Joshua warned the leaders of a threat they must be aware of.
Joshua 23:7 (NLT)—
“Make sure you do not associate with the other people still remaining
in the land. Do not even mention the names of their gods, much less
swear by them or serve them or worship them.”
[See the progression?]
The great danger was that the people of Israel would gradually change their
attitudes toward the pagan practices around them, start accepting them as
normal, not offensive, then begin imitating them and finally practicing
themselves. (Like our worldly culture.)
10.Joshua warned, through association with the lifestyles and practices of
these people, Israel would be progressively desensitized to the evil of
their culture, particularly their worship.
Israel was called to remain a separated people, by focusing on their faith
and their God.
Joshua 23:8 (NLT)—"Rather, cling tightly [Hebrew dâbaq,
daw-bak´; hold fast, follow close] to the Lord your God as you have done until now.” [Close, binding
relationship between husband and wife; Genesis 2:24; also Deuteronomy 4:4
(faithful); 10:20; 11:22; 13:4.]
Joshua then reminded these leaders again of the wonderful ways God had
fulfilled His promises so they would hold tightly to God and avoid these
Joshua 23:9-10 (NLT)—
“For the Lord has driven out great and powerful nations for you, and no
one has yet been able to defeat you. 10 Each one of you will
put to flight a thousand of the enemy, for the Lord your God fights for
you, just as He has promised.”
[Deuteronomy 3:22; 32:30; Exodus14:14]
APP.: Are you clinging to God or associating with the Canaanites of our
APP. Are we holding fast to God’s Word and ways or indulging in the
immorality of our culture? (Don’t partner with unbelievers, be unequally yoked; 2 Corinthians 6:14–15)
2 Peter 1:3–5 (NLT)—
By His divine power, God has given us everything we need for living a
godly life. We have received all of this by coming to know Him, the one
who called us to Himself by means of His marvelous glory and
excellence. 4 And because of His glory and excellence, He
has given us great and precious promises. These are the promises that
enable you to share His divine nature and escape the world’s corruption
caused by human desires.
In view of all this, make every effort to respond to God’s promises. …
Cling tightly to God by…
3. Carefully loving Him.
(Joshua 23:11–16. C/R: John 14:23; 1 John 2:15; 5:21).
- Joshua 23:11 (NLT)— “So be very careful to love the Lord your God.” [guard, protect]
NASB1995: “So take diligent heed to yourselves [pay close
attention] to love the Lord…”
God loved Israel; chose her as His treasured possession from all
peoples on earth (Deuteronomy 7:6).
Joshua reminded these leaders to love God carefully and encourage
others to also.
Love is a far greater, and more lasting, motivator to obedience than fear
Loving God diligently, thoughtfully, with determination, protects us from
A warning: Joshua 23:12 (NLT)—
“But if you turn away from Him and cling to the customs of the
survivors of these nations remaining among you, and if you intermarry
The Jewish men would marry these pagan women and they would be led astray
by their hearts, their emotional attachments, to their Canaanite wives,
The desire to please a spouse you love is sincere, but dangerous, and can
be a threat to faith, if the loved one worships a different god or no god
at all! (faith incompatibility!)
APP.: Can you love the wrong person? Yes! Love does not conquer all
Joshua 23:13a (NLT)—
then know for certain that the Lord your God will no longer drive them
out of your land.
[God will withdraw his help; Deuteronomy 7:1-6]
Instead, they will be a snare and a trap to you, a whip for your backs
and thorny brambles in your eyes,…”
Canaanites would remain and cause trouble, torment, pain. (Ex.:
The result? Joshua 23:13b (NLT)—"…
and you will vanish from this good land the Lord your God has given
Israel would sin against God through idolatry and even child sacrifice
God would allow Nebuchadnezzar to conquer Judah, destroy Jerusalem, and
take thousands of Jews into exile in Babylon (beg. 607-586 B.C.); they
remained for 70 years.
Joshua 23:14 (NLT)— “Soon I will die, going the way of everything on earth. [All
Deep in your hearts you know that every promise of the Lord your God
has come true. Not a single one has failed!”
He reminded of God’s goodness and fulfilled promises, but closed with a
Joshua 23:15–16 (NLT)—
“But as surely as the Lord your God has given you the good things He
promised, He will also bring disaster on you if you disobey Him. He
will completely destroy you from this good land He has given you.
[God’s Word never fails—both His Words of promise for blessings or for
If you break the covenant of the Lord your God by worshiping and
serving other gods, His anger will burn against you, and you will
quickly vanish from the good land He has given you.”
Charles Spurgeon said, “God will not allow His children to sin
We have a covenant with God—a new covenant with wonderful promises
from our good God, but also expectations that we live, not according to the
law, but led by the Spirit!
APP.: Loving God carefully, is the best defense against sin and
the most effective encouragement to live according to the Spirit; do you
Memory verse: 1 John 5:21 (NLT)—
Dear children, keep away from anything that might take God’s place in