The Covenant is God’s Will for Man

THE COVENANT TO MOSES AND JOSHUA: XIX

Joshua! Of all the leaders in Israel, no one was as flawless and without a single mistake than this unique and loyal servant of Moses and of Yahweh. He was the most faultless leader and man in the Old Testament. He was a true representative of the Covenant. What became tragic was that his hope of a “Theocratic Nation” did not remain faithful to the Covenant. And the “Theocratic Nation” did vanish among the nations of the world. Joshua’s work began to die immediately after he passed away.

After these things Joshua the son of Nun, the servant of the Lord, died, being a hundred and ten years old. And they buried him in his own inheritance at Timnath-serah, which is in the hill country of Ephraim, north of the mountain of Gaash.

And 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 which the LORD did for Israel.

The bones of Joseph which the people of Israel brought up from Egypt were buried at Shechem, in the portion of ground which Jacob bought from the sons of Hamor the father of Shechem for a hundred pieces of money; it became an inheritance of the descendants of Joseph.

And Eleazar the son of Aaron died; and they buried him at Gibeah, the town of Phinehas his son, which had been given him in the hill country of Ephraim (Joshua 24:29-33).

There was No One to fill Joshua’s Shoes

The Israelites had begun to fail Joshua while he was still alive. They had not secured Canaan for themselves. After Joshua died, they were undecided who should begin to remove the Canaanites and who should lead them. Judah, the house of Joseph, and the Kenites (Moses in-laws) were able to posses their allotments, but all the other tribes could, no longer, dislocate their Canaanites, and that displeased Yahweh.

When Joshua dismissed the people, the people of Israel went each to his inheritance to take possession of the land. And the people served the LORD all the days of Joshua, and all the days of the elders who outlived Joshua, who had seen all the great work which the LORD had done for Israel. And Joshua the son of Nun, the servant of the LORD, died at the age of one hundred and ten years. And they buried him within the bounds of his inheritance in Timathheres, in the hill country of Ephraim, north of Mount Gaash. And all the generation also were gathered to their fathers; and there arose another generation after them, who did not know the LORD or the work which he had done for Israel (Judges 2:6-10).

Now the angel (messenger) of the Lord went up from Gilgal to Bochim. And he said, “I brought you up from Egypt, and brought you into the land which I swore to give to your fathers. I said, ‘I will never break my covenant with you, and you shall make no covenant with the inhabitants of this land; you shall break down their altars.’ But you have not obeyed my command. What is this you have done? So now I say, I will not drive them out before you; but they shall become adversaries to you, and their gods shall be a snare to you.” When the angel of the LORD spoke these words to all the people of Israel, the people lifted up their voices and wept. And they called the name of that place Bochim; and they sacrifice there to the LORD (Judges 2:1-5).  

Israel Began to Stray from the Covenant

And the people of Israel did what was evil in the sight of the Lord and served the Baals; and they forsook the LORD, the God of their fathers, who had brought them out of the Land of Egypt; they went after other gods of the peoples who were round about them, and bowed down to them; and they provoked the LORD to anger. They forsook the LORD, and served the Baals and the Ashtaroth. So the anger of the LORD was kindled against Israel, and he gave them over to plunderers, who plundered them; and he sold them into the power of their enemies round about, so that they could no longer withstand their enemies. Whenever they marched out, the hand of the LORD was against them for evil, as the LORD had warned, and as the LORD had sworn to them; and they were in sore straits.

Then the LORD raised up judges, who saved them out of the power of those who plundered them. And yet they did not listen to their judges; for they played the harlot after other gods and bowed down to them; they soon turned aside from the way in which their fathers had walked, who had obeyed the commandments of the LORD, and they did not do so. Whenever the LORD raised up judges for them, the LORD was with the judge, and he saved them from the hand of their enemies all the days of the judge; for the LORD was moved to pity by their groaning because of those afflicted and oppressed them. But whenever the judge died, they turned back and behaved worse than their fathers, going after other gods, serving them and bowing down to them; they did not drop any of hem; they did not drop any of their practices or their stubborn ways. So the anger of the LORD was kindled against Israel; and he said, “Because this people have transgressed my covenant which I commanded their fathers, and have not obeyed my voice, I will not henceforth drive out before them any of the nations that Joshua left when he died, that by them I may test Israel, whether they will take care to walk in the way of the LORD as their fathers did, or not.” So the LORD left those nations, not driving them out at once and he did not give them into the power of Joshua (Judges 2:11-23).

Israel Failed the Test and Became More Pagan

Now these are the nations which the Lord left, to test Israel by them, that is, all in Israel by them, that is, all in Israel who had no experience of an war in Canaan; it was only that the generations of the people of Israel might know war, that he might teach war to such at least as had not known it before. These are the nations: the five lords of the Philistines, and all the Canaanites, and the Sidonians, and the Hivites who dwelt on Mount Lebanon, from Mount Baal-hermon as far as the entrance of Hamath. They were for the testing o Israel, to know whether Israel would obey the commandments of the LORD, which he commanded their fathers by Moses. So the people of Israel dwelt among the Amorites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites; and they took their daughters to themselves for wives, and their own daughters they gave to their sons; and they served their gods (Judges 3:1-6).

And the people of Israel did what was evil in the sight of the LORD, forgetting the LORD their God, and serving Baals and the Asheroth. Therefore the anger of the LORD was kindled against Israel, and he sold them into the hand of Cushanrishathaim king of Mesopotamia; and the people of Israel served Cushanrishathaim eight years. But when the people of Israel cried to the LORD, the LORD raised up a deliverer for the people of Israel, who delivered them, Othniel the son of Kenaz, Caleb’s younger brother. The Spirit of the LORD came upon him, and he judged Israel; he went out to war, and the LORD gave Cushanrishathaim king of Mesopotamia into his hand; and his hand prevailed over Cushanrishathaim. So the land had rest forty years. The Othniel the son of Kenaz died (Judges 3:7-11).

The End of the Moses Era

The death of Joshua marked the end of the Moses’ era and ushered in an Israelite form of paganism. It was a mixture of Yahwehism and Baalism. The Hebrews and the Heathens formed an entirely new culture and religion. The Book of Joshua is the end and the conclusion of the five books of Moses. The Hebrews regarded Joshua as the sixth book of the Pentateuch and even called it a “Hexateuch.” It is the eschatology of the promises Moses was called to fulfill, but which Moses never did. The cause was that the people were not ready to occupy Canaan. Their failure to maintain the Covenant ultimately did call for a new people to continue God’s Covenant to man. A strange people called “Not” did replace Israel.

For I will remove the names of the Baals of her mouth, and they shall be mentioned by name no more. And I will make for you a covenant on that day with the beasts of the field, the birds of the air, and the creeping things of the ground; and I will abolish the bow, the sword, and war from the land; and I will make you lie down in safety. And I will betroth you to me for ever; I will betroth you to me in righteousness and in justice, in steadfast love, and in mercy. I will betroth you to me in faithfulness; and you shall know the LORD.

“And in that day, says the LORD, I will answer the heavens and they shall answer the earth; and the earth shall answer the grain, the wine, and the oil, and they shall answer Jezreel; and I will sow him for myself in the land.

And I will have pity on Not pitied, and I will say to Not my people, ‘You are my people’; and he shall say, “Thou are my God’” (Hosea 2:17-23).  

JOSHUA’S FEAR OF NULLIFYING THE COVENANT BECAME REALITY

Joshua’s prediction that it would be hard to serve the Lord dawned quickly. For eighty years, Israel had leaned on two domineering central figures namely Moses and Joshua. Without constant reminders by a strong leader, God became more remote and more easily disobeyed. The historian wrote, “The people served the Lord throughout the lifetime of Joshua and of the elders who outlived him and who had seen all the great things the Lord had done for Israel” (Judges 2:7).

Jacob’s descendants quickly forgot where they came from:

After that whole generation had been gathered to their fathers, another generation grew up, who knew neither the Lord nor what he had done for Israel. Then the Israelites did evil in the eyes of the Lord and served the Baals. They forsook the Lord, the God of their fathers, who had brought them out of Egypt. They followed and worshiped various gods of the people around them. They provoked the Lord to anger because they forsook him and served Baal and Ashtoreths. In his anger against Israel, the Lord handed them over to raiders who plundered them. He sold them to their enemies all around them whom they were no longer able to resist. Whenever Israel went out to fight, the hand of the Lord was against them to defeat them, just as he had sworn to them (Judges 2:10-15).

Apparently, the urging of Moses to teach the people the mighty deeds of God, were neglected. Without the “Presence” of the Lord God, Israel could not drive out the Canaanites, who became “thorns in their side” and “their gods became snares to them”(Judges 2:3). This led to a consistent pattern of obedience and disobedience until the Babylonian captivity. The periods of obedience to God were briefer than the lengthy times of disobedience. From time to time, God raised up Judges who did free Israel from their oppressors and return the people to God. But, as soon as a judge passed on, the people returned to ways more corrupt than before (Judges 2:16-23).