9. Joshua’s Last Words: The Challenge of Faith (Josh. 23:1-24:28)Related Media
We can learn much from the last words of friends, family members, and influential leaders. Sometimes a person’s last words review their life, or reminiscence about their experiences, or repair relationships, or give the next generation wisdom as to how to live. Last words can either affirm the person’s faith or reveal the lack of faith. A Christian friend of mine died recently. Shortly before he died another friend asked him about his faith in the light of his health condition and impending death. He replied: “I am either a man of faith, or I am not. And I am a man of faith.” I thought that was a profound testimony to his faith at the end of his life, after having followed the Lord for many years.
It is incumbent on us to pay attention to those who have learned much from their experience and from their relationship with God over their lifetime. As with other last words (e. g. Jacob, Moses), these last words of Joshua demand our attention. As an old man now, Joshua’s memory is full of the experiences and lessons that he had learned over the course of his lifetime and, specifically, during his period of leadership.
Many years have passed since the Israelites first entered Canaan under Joshua’s leadership, during which time they had eliminated or subdued their enemies such that they now had rest from all their enemies (23:1). In view of his advanced age, Joshua summoned all Israel, including its elders, leaders, judges, and officers and said to them, “I am old, advanced in age” (23:2) and he passes on to them his last words of wisdom and warning. In his last words, Joshua reminisces about God’s faithfulness and challenges Israel to remain loyal to God and obedient to His word, failing which they would face dire consequences. The structure of these last two chapters of the book of Joshua is as follows:
1. A reminder (chapter 23). Joshua reminds the Israelites of God’s covenant faithfulness to them in the past and counsels them about the future.
2. An exhortation (chapter 24). Here, Joshua reviews God’s faithfulness to his people and calls them to a renewed commitment to their covenant relationship with Him.
In these two chapters, the abiding theological principle is that just as God is absolutely faithful to us, so must we be to Him if we want to continue to enjoy his blessings.
I. A Reminder About Covenant Faithfulness (Josh. 23:3-11)
Faithfulness to God is a prerequisite for blessing. In this case, it is a prerequisite for the Israelites to take full possession of the land. Persistence in faithfulness to God is the issue here. The question is, “Will the Israelites keep on being faithful to God, especially after Joshua, their leader, is no longer with them? Will they complete their task of possessing the land?”
This speech divides itself into two parts…
Part 1: A Reminder About Continued Obedience And Loyalty To God (23:3-8).
A. Remember God’s covenant faithfulness (23:3-5). First, as to the past, all their successes were due to God alone. Israel’s possession of the land to date was a gift from God: “You have seen for yourselves everything the Lord your God did to all these nations on your account, because it was the Lord your God who was fighting for you” (23:3). Though Joshua had faithfully led their military campaigns and “destroyed” the nations west of the Jordan (23:4), nonetheless, their successes could only be attributed to “the Lord your God who was fighting for you.”
Just as everything they had experienced, achieved, and now possessed was due to God’s gracious gift to them in fulfillment of his promise to Abraham, so for us everything that we have and are is from God (1 Chron. 29:10-19; James 1:17; 2 Corinthians 9:10–11; Rom. 11:36). We need to acknowledge this on a regular basis and govern ourselves accordingly.
Second, as to the future, the Lord God will continue to help them take possession of the land. God himself will enable them to drive out their enemies “so that you can take possession of their land, as the Lord your God promised you” (23:5). Just as in the past, so in the future, they could only accomplish their God-given purpose of dispossessing the land of their enemies through the Lord’s power and according to his promises.
Sometimes, I think, we forget this when we make plans for our own future. We can only secure success in achieving certain goals as long as those goals are from the Lord and we conduct ourselves in submission to him, recognizing his sovereignty over every aspect of our lives. We need to remember that a person’s heart plans his way, but the LORD determines his steps (Prov. 16:9). We may make plans for the future (and that is right and proper), but those plans must always be subject to the Lord’s determination of each step we take.
These two reminders of God’s faithfulness in the past and the future are followed by a warning…
B. Remember God’s covenant requirements (23:6-8). In order to remain faithful to God and avoid his judgement, Joshua urges the Israelites, first, to obey God’s word (23:6-7). “Be very strong and continue obeying all that is written in the book of the law of Moses, so that you do not turn from it to the right or the left” (23:6). Obedience to God’s word is the foundation of faithfulness to God.
Second, to be loyal to the Lord your God (23:7-8). Stated in negative terms, this means in practice: “Do not associate with these nations remaining among you. Do not call on the names of their gods or make an oath to them; do not serve them or bow in worship to them” (23:7). Faithfulness to God demands exclusive obedience to, and worship of, him. There can be no contamination with the gods of the Canaanites. Our God is a jealous God and demands our absolute and exclusive worship, loyalty, and obedience (24:19).
From a N.T. perspective, the apostle Paul says the same thing: Do not be yoked together with those who do not believe. For what partnership is there between righteousness and lawlessness? Or what fellowship does light have with darkness? What agreement does Christ have with Belial? Or what does a believer have in common with an unbeliever? And what agreement does the temple of God have with idols?... Therefore, come out from among them and be separate, says the Lord; do not touch any unclean thing, and I will welcome you (2 Cor. 6:14-17). Separation from the world is evidence of our love for God, our obedience to God, and our loyalty to God.
Stated in positive terms (instead of negative as in v. 7), this means, “Instead, be loyal to the Lord your God, as you have been to this day” (23:8). Today, most people do not think in terms of loyalty – neither to their employer, to their wife and family, to the church, nor to God. Loyalty is an undervalued characteristic. For the people of God, loyalty to God is of paramount importance. This means being steadfast in our allegiance to God, holding on to Him, being joined inseparably to Him. Our God brooks no divided affections from his people.
Thus, Joshua’s primary message here for the Israelites is a reminder about continued obedience and loyalty to God. These are the foundations for faithfulness to God and are the primary substance of Joshua’s final words to the Israelites.
Part 2: A Reminder About Covenant Faithfulness To God (23:9-16).
A. A reminder about their successes to date (23:9-10). Joshua reminds them of two reasons for their success so far in taking possession of the land. First, “the Lord has driven out great and powerful nations before you” (23:9a). They could not have done it on their own, as the defeat at Ai proves (ch. 7). When Israel failed to consult the Lord and acted in independence and arrogance, they failed miserably. The people who previously had miraculously defeated the city of Jericho were unable to defeat even the small town of Ai. Why? Because they left God out of their plans.
We can only defeat the enemy of our souls if we depend upon the Lord. He alone can drive away wicked opponents who are far more powerful than we ourselves.
Second, “no one is able to stand against you to this day…because the Lord your God was fighting for you as he promised” (23:9b-10). It wasn’t simply that they won certain battles. It was that no opposing army, no matter how big or strong, was able to stand up against them. Why? Because of the Lord’s power and his faithfulness to them. They had invaded Canaan in the confidence that God was on their side in accordance with his promise to Moses (Deut. 31:6-8) and to Joshua himself (Josh. 1:5). Indeed, God’s power was made so great and so evident that “one of you routed a thousand because the Lord your God was fighting for you, as he promised” (23:10). With God on their side, each person was able to accomplish far more than they could otherwise achieve. Thus, Joshua is really encouraging them that, as in the past so in the future, God would be with them, enabling them to finish the task of driving out their enemies.
As Christians, we also have the assurance from God’s word that he will never leave us nor forsake us (Heb. 13:5). He is fighting for us on our side such that no enemy can defeat us, for he has given us spiritual armor for our protection and power in withstanding the schemes and fiery arrows of the evil one (Eph. 6:11, 16). Indeed, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us (Rom. 8:37).
B. A warning about their relationship to Yahweh (23:11-16). First, pay attention to your spiritual life. “Diligently watch yourselves! Love the Lord your God!” (23:11). Here is a much-needed warning, for the Israelites (and for us) about faithfulness to Yahweh. To preserve their relationship with Yahweh, they must pay attention to their spiritual lives.
Don’t become comfortable based on your past successes. Don’t think that past successes are a guarantee of future successes. No, we need to constantly pay attention to ourselves in the sense of examining and being aware of our relationship with God (our spirituality), our desires, our thoughts, our diligence in the work of the Lord. Don’t become distracted by secular activities. Be like a good soldier who does not get entangled with civilian life but always seeks to please his commanding officer (2 Tim. 2:4).
The apostle Paul’s exhortation to the Ephesian elders follows the same pattern: “Be on guard for yourselves and for all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has appointed you as overseers” (Acts 20:28). The idolatry of Ephesus could easily have become a distraction and an enticement to them. To withstand such temptations, the elders needed to pay careful attention to their personal relationship with the Lord and with the people over whom God had called them to be overseers.
Again, Paul exhorted Timothy, 12 Don’t let anyone despise your youth, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, and in purity. 13 Until I come, give your attention to public reading, exhortation, and teaching. 14 Don’t neglect the gift that is in you; it was given to you through prophecy, with the laying on of hands by the council of elders. 15 Practice these things; be committed to them, so that your progress may be evident to all. 16 Pay close attention to your life and your teaching; persevere in these things, for in doing this you will save both yourself and your hearers (1 Tim. 1:4:12-16). This matter of paying attention to yourself has nothing to do with self-centredness or self-promotion. Rather, this is a spiritual matter about guarding your heart, your mind, your relationships, and your desires such that you are focussed on serving the Lord with diligence and faithfulness. Don’t lose focus. Don’t drift away from the Lord. Be diligent in maintaining holiness of life so that your communion with God is not broken. Your connectedness with God is of paramount importance if you are going to remain faithful to him.
This also follows the same pattern as Jesus’ teaching: “If anyone wants to follow after me, let him deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me” (Matt. 16:24). Whole-hearted devotion to serving and following Jesus is required, in order to guard yourself against unfaithfulness to God, disloyalty to Jesus, and forgetfulness of your calling.
So, first, pay attention to your spiritual life…
Second, be aware of God’s judgement (23:12-16). Unfaithfulness to God incurs the threat of His punishment. “12 If you ever turn away and become loyal to the rest of these nations remaining among you, and if you intermarry or associate with them and they with you, 13 know for certain that the Lord your God will not continue to drive these nations out before you” (23:12-13a). If the Israelites fail to love and obey God exclusively (cf. 23:6-8), if they turn away from God and become loyal to the nations around them, then God will no longer “drive out these nations before you.” On the contrary, the nations would “become a snare and a trap for you, a sharp stick for your sides and thorns in your eyes, until you disappear from this good land the Lord your God has given you” (23:13b). Such would be the consequence if they became like the nations around them and turned their back on God. They would only have themselves to blame if they were disloyal to God and became integrated into the pagan life and people of Canaan.
Indeed, any punishment they may face in the future would not be because of any failure on God’s part to keep and fulfill his promises to them concerning their possession of the land, for throughout their history God has remained utterly faithful to his word: “14 I am now going the way of the whole earth, and you know with all your heart and all your soul that none of the good promises the Lord you God made to you has failed. Everything was fulfilled for you; not one promise has failed” (23:14). They would never be able to point the finger at God and accuse him of failing them.
Here’s the bottom line of Joshua’s closing argument in this section: “15 Since every good thing the Lord your God promised you has come about, so he will bring on you every bad thing until he has annihilated you from this good land the Lord your God has given you. 16 If you break the covenant of the Lord your God, which he commanded you, and go and serve other gods, and bow in worship to them, the Lord’s anger will burn against you, and you will quickly disappear from this good land he has given you” (23:15-16). A strong warning from Joshua! If Israel broke the covenant and worshipped other gods, they would lose their inheritance in the land. Not only would they face defeat and expulsion from the land by the nations, but they would face annihilation by God himself such that “you will quickly disappear from this good land he has given you.” Remember, just as obedience brings “good things” (i.e. blessings), so disobedience brings “bad things” (i.e. punishment).
Again, this follows the same pattern as Jesus’ teaching: “For whoever is ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will also be ashamed of him when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels” (Mark 8:38). There is abundant instruction and warning in the Scriptures about the consequences of unfaithfulness to God.
So, in Joshua’s farewell address, first we find a reminder about covenant faithfulness to God. Second…
II. An Exhortation To Covenant Renewal (Josh 24:1-28)
A. Israel’s Covenant History Reviewed (24:1-13). Joshua communicates to all Israel “what the Lord, the God of Israel, says” (24:2). What follows is a truncated recounting of what God did for the Israelites throughout their history to date, starting with (1) the call of Abraham and his descendants (24:2-3); (2) the sending of Moses and Aaron to lead them out of captivity in Egypt (24:4-10); and (3) the conquest of Canaan (24:11-13).
The story appropriately begins with God’s choice of their pagan-worshipping ancestors from Mesopotamia from where God sovereignly led Abraham to Canaan where He “multiplied his descendants” (24:2-3). The story quickly progresses to Abraham’s descendants – Isaac, Jacob, and Esau (24:3b-4) - with Esau receiving his land possession in Seir while Jacob and his sons “went down to Egypt” (24:4) in the days when Joseph was prime minister there.
The text says nothing about their long years of slavery but focuses on what God did to deliver them from Egypt. God sent to them Moses and Aaron under whose leadership He “defeated Egypt” (24:5) and brought the Israelites out by way of the Red Sea, with the Egyptians in hot pursuit (24:6). In response to the Israelites’ cry, He delivered them from the Egyptians at the Red Sea by (1) the cover of darkness, and (2) drowning the Egyptians in the Red Sea (24:7a).
In addition, nothing is said about their wilderness wanderings, except that they “lived in the wilderness a long time” (24:7b). While this historical review concerns previous generations, nonetheless, the repetition of “you” and “your” indicates the personal identification of the present generation with their people of the past. Also, it implies that some of the present generation may have been survivors of the wilderness wanderings (Num. 14:29-33), in which case they may have had personal memory of that event.
The story moves on to what God did on their behalf before crossing the Jordan (24:8-10). As to the Amorites, “I handed them over to you. You possessed their land, and I annihilated them before you” (24:8). As to Balak the king of Moab, God “rescued” them from him by turning Balaam from cursing them to blessing them (24:9-10; cf. Num. 22:10-12).
Now the story moves on to what God did for them after crossing the Jordan (24:11-13). Jericho’s citizens - along with the Amorites, Perizzites, Canaanites, Hethites, Girgashites, Hivites, and Jebusites – all “fought against you, but I (God) handed them over to you” (24:11), just as He had promised. “I sent hornets ahead of you, and they drove out the two Amorite kings before you. It was not by your sword or bow” (24:12). There is some debate amongst scholars as to whether these “hornets” were literal wasps (cf. Ex. 23:28-30; Deut. 7:17-21) or a metaphor for the terror that the nations experienced when confronted by the Israelites (cf. Josh. 2:9-11, 24; 5:1). Since God used other insects like gnats and flies and locusts to plague Pharaoh and the Egyptians, it seems to me that there is no reason to interpret these hornets as anything but literal insects.
In any event, what is clear is that the entire process of bringing them to the Promised Land, and everything they now had, is all attributed to God. “I gave you a land you did not labor for, and cities you did not build, though you live in them; you are eating from the vineyards and olive groves you did not plant” (24:13). Their possession of Canaan and the defeat of their enemies was all God’s work. It was not by the power of their swords or bows, but God’s power. On their own, their weapons would have been useless. It was not by their own labor by which they possessed the land where they built cities to live in and farmed vineyards and olive groves for fruit. The emphasis is completely on God – his power, his provision – just as He promised (Deut. 6:10-11).
God is faithful to his word which never fails. Let us remember this essential principle: Everything we have and are is all a gift from God – our salvation, our spiritual gifts, our possessions, our daily food, our jobs, our families, our successes, our blessings.
B. Israel’s Covenant with God Renewed (24:14-28). First, Joshua calls the Israelites to worship the Lord exclusively (24:14-18). “Therefore” – on the basis of all that God has done for you and his faithfulness to you throughout your history - “fear the Lord and worship / serve him in sincerity and truth (24:14a). Joshua’s challenge to the Israelites is, first, to “fear the Lord.” Solomon’s counsel is that “the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom” (Prov. 1:7).
A true “fear” of the Lord is our response to him out of the awareness of who he is - his power and his holiness, which are so far beyond us and are so demanding of us that we “fear” him. We “fear” him, not in the sense of being afraid of eternal condemnation (for we are secure in Christ), but out of a sense of our finiteness, frailty, and fallenness in comparison to his divine sovereignty, absolute supremacy, and utter sinlessness. He is the mighty God who created us and who holds the world in his hand. He is above all and through all and in all (Eph. 4:6). This surely should cause us to fear him in the sense that He is the Creator, we are his creatures; He is the one to be worshipped and we are his worshippers. This is not the fear of a scared puppy, but the fear of disobeying him, of dishonoring him, of disappointing him, and of incurring his discipline. Anyone who divides their affections between the one true God and the pagan gods simply does not “fear” the Lord.
The outcome of true fear of the Lord is to “worship him in sincerity and truth.” This is to worship and serve him in total devotion and utter transparency – no hidden or ulterior motives but complete commitment. The practical expression of such devotion is to “get rid of the gods of your ancestors worshiped beyond the Euphrates River and in Egypt, and worship the Lord” (24:14b). The choice is theirs: “If it doesn’t please you to worship the Lord, choose for yourselves today: Which will you worship – the gods your ancestors worshiped beyond the Euphrates River or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you are living?” (24:15a). There is an urgency to this choice – “today.” Don’t put it off since we do not know what tomorrow may bring forth (Prov. 27:1).
The alternative to worshipping and serving the Lord is to worship the pagan gods of Mesopotamia, Egypt, and Canaan. Every human being worships someone or something. Which will it be? Evidently, the worship of pagan gods had been a protracted practice among the Israelites from the time of Abraham up to the present. Otherwise, Joshua would not have needed to call them to fidelity to the one true God. They needed once and for all to rid themselves of false worship and commit themselves to the God of Israel exclusively. The choice for Joshua and his household was clear and unequivocal, as he had demonstrated throughout his lifetime: “As for me and my family, we will worship the Lord” (24:15b).
How appropriate and relevant is this for us today? In similar fashion, in the light of God’s goodness to us the apostle Paul calls us, just as Joshua called the Israelites, to an exclusive, life-transforming commitment to God: 1 Therefore, brothers and sisters, in view of the mercies of God, I urge you to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God; this is your true worship. 2 Do not be conformed to this age, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may discern what is the good, pleasing, and perfect will of God (Rom. 12:1-2).
In response to Joshua’s call, the Israelites respond with a vow of commitment (24:16-18). The earlier review of their history caused them to remember what God had done for them. They recognized the faithfulness of God in delivering them from slavery, performing miracles, providing for their needs, leading them through the wilderness, enabling them to take possession of the Promised Land, and protecting them from their enemies. Hence, their commitment: “16 We will certainly not abandon the Lord to worship other gods! 17 For the Lord our God brought us and our ancestors out of the land of Egypt, out of the place of slavery, and performed these great signs before our eyes. He also protected us all along the way we went and among all the peoples whose lands we traveled through. 18 The Lord drove out before us all the peoples, including the Amorites who lived in the land. We too will worship the Lord, because he is our God” (24:16-18).
Second, Joshua challenges the Israelites with a warning (24:19-21). Having put the charge and the choice to them, Joshua now articulates the challenge – can they live up to their commitment, particularly given their history of fickleness? “19 You will not be able to worship the Lord, because he is a holy God. He is a jealous God; he will not forgive your transgressions and sins. 20 If you abandon the Lord and worship foreign gods, he will turn against you, harm you, and completely destroy you, after he has been good to you” (24:19-20). It seems that Joshua wants to shock them into realizing the seriousness of their commitment by reminding them of God’s holiness and his exclusive, jealous claims on them. This kind of commitment to God cannot be made lightly. God’s holiness bars any defilement in his presence (cf. Lev. 19:2) and God’s jealousy for his people bars any competition from other gods. It is all or nothing. Devotion to God demands separation from any defilement, whether in behavior, thought, or association. Their choice, therefore, is very serious. They cannot presume on God’s grace, even though they (and we) know from experience that God is a forgiving God. I think Joshua is trying to tell them that there is no room for nominal religion, just as there is no room today for “nominal Christianity” (i.e. profession without reality).
In this case, the people affirmed their pledge of allegiance to the Lord: “No!” the people answered Joshua. “We will worship the Lord” (24:21).
Lastly, the renewed covenant is finalized (24:22-28). By denying Joshua’s warning and affirming their pledge of allegiance, the people witnessed against themselves: 22 Joshua then told the people, “You are witnesses against yourselves that you yourselves have chosen to worship the Lord.” “We are witnesses,” they said (24:22). They would be responsible for their decision. They could never claim that Joshua talked them into it. Nor could they ever claim that they didn’t know the consequences. Thus, the renewed covenant was ratified by the people.
But words are not enough. Their commitment requires appropriate action that confirms a change of heart. “Then get rid of the foreign gods that are among you and turn your hearts to the Lord, the God of Israel” (24:23). Evidently, even as they made this commitment, there were still “foreign gods” among them that needed to be destroyed. So the people said to Joshua, “We will worship the Lord our God and obey him” (24:24). The two go together – worship and obedience. There can be no true worship without obedience.
Thus, the covenant was finalized and Joshua made a binding covenant for the people to worship, serve, and obey the Lord, drawing up its terms in a statue and ordinance: 25 On that day Joshua made a covenant for the people at Shechem and established a statute and ordinance for them (24:25). Furthermore, the agreement was documented and memorialized: 26 Joshua recorded these things in the book of the law of God; he also took a large stone and set it up there under the oak at the sanctuary of the Lord. 27 And Joshua said to all the people, “You see this stone—it will be a witness against us, for it has heard all the words the Lord said to us, and it will be a witness against you, so that you will not deny your God.” 28 Then Joshua sent the people away, each to his own inheritance (24:26-28). The stone would be a permanent, public marker, reminding them of their covenant with God and God’s faithfulness to them.
Remember our thesis statement for this study: Just as God is absolutely faithful to us, so must we be to Him if we want to continue to enjoy his blessings. The book of Joshua closes in the last two chapters with a vivid reminder of this principle and a warning if it is not obeyed.
Fittingly, the book concludes with a memorial to Joshua’s legacy. First, Joshua’s history and accomplishments. Joshua was, first and foremost, the LORD’s servant (24:29). He was God’s spokesperson, appointed by God to be Moses’ substitute and successor. He was God’s servant, who, as a faithful warrior, led Israel in taking possession of their land (ch. 6-12). He was God’s servant, who faithfully assigned the land inheritances to the various tribes and clans according to Moses’ instructions (ch. 13-21). He was God’s servant, who faithfully reminded Israel about covenant faithfulness (23:3-11) – God’s faithfulness to them and their faithfulness to God – and faithfully exhorted and induced them to renew their covenant commitment (24:1-28).
There is an air of finality here: 29 After these things, the Lord’s servant, Joshua son of Nun, died at the age of 110. 30 They buried him in his allotted territory at Timnath-serah, in the hill country of Ephraim north of Mount Gaash (24:29-30). The assignment of the territories is complete (24:28), including, at the last, Joshua’s own inheritance in the hill country of Ephraim (24:30).
Second, Israel’s continued dedication to the Lord. Clearly, the author is trying to convey to us that Joshua’s testimony lived on among the Israelites long after his death: Israel worshiped the Lord throughout Joshua’s lifetime and during the lifetimes of the elders who outlived Joshua and who had experienced all the works the Lord had done for Israel (24:31). Israel served the Lord all Joshua’s days and the days of his successors. Clearly, they carried out their renewed commitment to the Lord (24:24). Considering Israel’s many failures, it is noteworthy how the book ends on such a positive note. They continued to worship God based on their experience and knowledge of what God had done for them under Joshua’s leadership. Joshua’s godly influence carried on among his elders and the people. What a legacy!
Third, the Israelites faithfully fulfilled Joseph’s dying request (see Gen. 50:25-26). Joseph’s bones, which the Israelites had brought up from Egypt, were buried at Shechem in the parcel of land Jacob had purchased from the sons of Hamor, Shechem’s father, for a hundred pieces of silver. It was an inheritance for Joseph’s descendants (24:32). In this way we see that the story and development of the covenant people of God which began in Genesis comes full circle and conclusion in Joshua.
Finally, the record of the burial of Eleazar. Eleazar son of Aaron died, and they buried him at Gibeah, which had been given to his son Phinehas in the hill country of Ephraim (24:33). The last recorded allotment of land is assigned to Eleazar, the high priest, who played such a leading and important role in the life of Israel.
What giants of faith God has recorded in his word! They had their failures, after all they were human. But the permanent and final testimony to Joshua is full of praise for who he was and what he did among the Israelites. May his example and legacy influence us to courageously fight on through the battles we face in this world, until that great and glorious day when 16 the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the archangel’s voice, and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 Then we who are still alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord. 18 Therefore encourage one another with these words (1 Thess. 4:16-18).