Monday, November 26, 2012

The Death Of Joshua

Joshua 24:29-33

“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.  And they buried him in the border of his inheritance in Timnathserah, which is in mount Ephraim, on the north side of the hill of Gaash.” (Joshua 24:29-30)

For forty years, before taking leadership of Israel, Joshua had been their top general under Moses.  After Moses‘ death, Joshua assumed the political leadership as well.  Under his leadership, they transitioned from a homeless nomadic group to a stable agrarian society with clearly defined boundaries and property.  During his seventy years of leading the army, they had defeated some of the most powerful countries and alliances of their day, suffering only two minor defeats.

Despite his long and devoted service and great accomplishments, Joshua was not held in nearly the esteem Moses had been.  It was not necessary for God to hide Joshua’s burial place to prevent their worshipping him as he had done with Moses’.   He was simply buried on his family property.

“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 24:31) 

Moses had been Israel’s first leader, leading them out of Egypt, and teaching them to serve God.  Joshua’s leadership of the army and efforts to assist Moses played a major role in Moses’ success.  After Moses’ death, it had been Joshua’s efforts that kept Israel on track, both in following what Moses had commanded and in defeating their enemies.

Assuming Joshua was about the same age as Caleb, we realize that they were at least twenty years older than any other of the people who had survived the forty years in the wilderness, implying that at least some of those who had been born in Egypt lived at least twenty and possibly forty years after Joshua’s death.   Joshua’s impact was such that they served the Lord as long as any of those survived.

Today, many pastors try to eliminate every vestige of the previous pastors work in an effort to focus attention on their own efforts.  Unlike Joshua, they do not understand the ministry is not about them, but about God.  They seldom have a lasting impact for God like Joshua had.

“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.” (Joshua 24:32) 

Joseph had instructed his children to bury him in the land of Canaan. Genesis 50:24-26.  “And Joseph said unto his brethren, I die: and God will surely visit you, and bring you out of this land unto the land which he sware to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob.  And Joseph took an oath of the children of Israel, saying, God will surely visit you, and ye shall carry up my bones from hence.  So Joseph died, being an hundred and ten years old: and they embalmed him, and he was put in a coffin in Egypt.”  His remains had been kept for about four hundred thirty years, but finally were buried on the land where Jacob had lived before Simeon and Levi destroyed the city of Shechem.

“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.” (Joshua 24:33)

Aaron’s son Eleazar had assumed the High Priest’s office after Aaron’s death while Moses was still leading, and had served throughout Joshua’s leadership, teaching the people what God had said.  He was the last of the leaders to have served under Moses.  His death marks a turning point in Israel’s history.

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