A study of Y'hoshua 23 and beyond: Obey YHWH or suffer the consequences!
Y'hoshua (Joshua) was the son of Nun, the assistant of Moshe (Moses) who became leader of the Israelite tribes after the death of Moshe. The Book of Joshua discusses the entry of YHWH's people into Canaan, its conquest and division under the leadership of Joshua, and of serving God in the land.
At the beginning of Y'hoshua 23 we see Y'hoshua imparting words of wisdom as his time on earth is coming to an end. Note that he gives YHWH (Yahweh) all the credit for Israel's successes.
Y'hoshua 23: 1 A long time afterwards, when ADONAI had given Isra'el rest from all their surrounding enemies, and Y'hoshua was old, with age taking its toll, 2 Y'hoshua summoned all Isra'el - their leaders, heads, judges and officials - and said to them, "I am old; age is taking its toll. 3 You have seen everything that ADONAI your God has done to all these nations because of you, for it is ADONAI your God who has fought on your behalf. 4 Here, I have allotted to you land for inheritance according to your tribes between the Yarden and the Great Sea to the west; it includes the land of the nations I have destroyed and the nations which remain.
Then he goes on to warn that obedience to YHWH will continue to keep Israel in His Perfect Will, covering them with grace and mercy wherever they go and whatever they do.
We must remember that Israel isn't comprised of just "the Jews" but of ALL who believe in the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob! Gentiles are "grafted in" and thus become "adopted children" (Romans 11:17-18), and as "grafted in/adopted" they cannot change the rules. Remember, the Gentiles who followed Moshe out of Egypt were told that if they wanted to accept the God of the Hebrews, they were to do "exactly as" His people did:
Numbers 15: 13 "'Everyone who is native-born must do these things in this way when he brings an offering made by fire as an aroma pleasing to the LORD. 14 For the generations to come, whenever an alien or anyone else living among you presents an offering made by fire as an aroma pleasing to the LORD, he must do exactly as you do. 15 The community is to have the same rules for you and for the alien living among you; this is a lasting ordinance for the generations to come. You and the alien shall be the same before the LORD: 16 The same laws and regulations will apply both to you and to the alien living among you.'"
Believe it or not, this has never changed! Those who insist this was "just for the Jews," need to remember that there were no "Jews" until after Jacob begat the Tribe of Yehudah (Judah) (Genesis 29:35; Matthew 1:1-2). Adam and Eve (Gen. 2) weren't Jews; Cain and Abel (Gen. 4) who knew to offer sacrifices weren't Jews; and neither was Noah (Gen. 6) who knew the difference between "clean and unclean" animals; and neither were Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. And yet, ALL believers in the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob up until that time were Torah observant! The Tanach (OT) shows that His Chosen were called Hebrews (Genesis 12), which means "to cross over." (See the lives of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the Tanach).
ANYONE who believes in the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob is to be Torah observant, and God even said so FOUR TIMES IN A ROW in Numbers 15:13-16! YHWH chose Abraham because He wanted to (Deut. 7:6-8) and He reiterated this in Jeremiah 31:32 by making His New Covenant with the Houses of Israel and Judah - both of whom were Torah observant.
Meanwhile, back in Y'hoshua 23....
...We see Israel's leader telling his people to be "very firm about keeping and doing everything written in the book of the Torah of Moshe and not turning aside from it either to the right or to the left." And then he goes on to show why!
Y'hoshua 23: 5 ADONAI your God will thrust them out ahead of you and drive them out of your sight, so that you will possess their land, as ADONAI your God told you. 6 "Therefore be very firm about keeping and doing everything written in the book of the Torah of Moshe and not turning aside from it either to the right or to the left. 7 Then you won't become like those nations remaining among you. Don't even mention the name of their gods, let alone have people swear by them, serve them or worship them; 8 but cling to ADONAI your God, as you have done to this day. 9 This is why ADONAI has driven out great, strong nations ahead of you; and it explains why no one has prevailed against you to this day, 10 why one man of you has chased a thousand - it is because ADONAI your God has fought on your behalf, as he said to you.
One must ask: When were the instructions above superseded? Where did God ever suggest HIS people were to intermingle with the pagans or accept their customs for the sake of "tolerance" or "political correctness?" With the death of Yeshua (whom Christians call Jesus)? NO! Yeshua came NOT to start any "religion" but to proclaim the Kingdom of YHWH and do everything His Father commanded:
Luke 4: 43 "But he (Yeshua/Jesus) said, "I must preach the good news of the Kingdom of God to the other towns also, because that is why I was sent."
Luke 8: 1. And it happened after these things that Y'shua was going around in the cities and in the villages and was preaching and declaring the Kingdom of Elohim.
Acts 28: 23 "From morning till evening the Apostle Paul explained and declared the Kingdom of God and tried to convince people about Yeshua from the Law of Moses and from the Prophets."
Acts 24: 14. But this indeed I (Paul) acknowledge, that in that same doctrine of which they speak, I do serve the Elohim of my fathers, believing all the things written in Torah and in the prophets.
YHWH has, since the very beginning, from the first command given to Adam, been telling His Creation to obey so we can be set apart (holy). We will receive His blessings only when we do that. When He says "Do this and don't do that," our job is to obey; not to ask questions or pretend He never said it.
How can we be "set apart" if we, for instance, ignore that He called homosexuality "an abomination?"
Leviticus 18: 22 - You are not to go to bed with a man as with a woman; it is an abomination.
Those trying to pick and choose which scriptures they wish to adhere to might say, "Well, that was just Old Testament stuff; it doesn't pertain to us!" Really? Then how come the "New Testament" carries on the "abomination" theme concerning same-sex intimacy?
1 Corinthians 6: 9. Or don't you know, that the unrighteous will not inherit the Kingdom of Elohim? Make no mistake! Neither sexual sinners, nor idol-worshippers, nor adulterers, nor the corrupt, nor men who lay down with other men, 10. Nor the oppressors, nor thieves, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, will inherit the Kingdom of Elohim. (Aramaic English New Testament)
Revelation 22: 14 How blessed are those who wash their robes, so that they have the right to eat from the Tree of Life and go through the gates into the city! 15 Outside are the homosexuals, those who misuse drugs in connection with the occult, the sexually immoral, murderers, idol-worshippers, and everyone who loves and practices falsehood.
Continuing with our study of Y'hoshua 23:
Y'hoshua 23: 11 "Therefore take great care to love ADONAI your God. 12 Otherwise, if you retreat and cling to the remnant of these other nations remaining among you, if you make marriages with them and have children with them and they with you, 13 know for certain that ADONAI your God will stop driving out these nations from your sight. Instead, they will become a snare and a trap for you, whipping your sides and pricking your eyes, until you perish from this good land which ADONAI your God has given you.
YHWH didn't make commands like the above because He was a mean God; He knew that man with his "fallen nature", when "hanging out" with pagans, was prone to fall into bad and "ungodly" habits that would ultimately take us away from God and cause us to sin.
This is exactly why in the time of Y'hoshua, YHWH's people were ordered to KILL the pagans in the lands YHWH had told them to occupy. Our sin natures are drawn to sin, and "the world" today is living proof that most are involved in the debauchery of pagan ways and customs. Even many who proclaim to be "believers" are actually "in the world" committing all manner of sin against YHWH - while erroneously believing that "Jesus forgives all my sins, regardless." But is that what the Bible really tells us? Let's take a look:
Hebrews 10: 26 For if we deliberately continue to sin after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, 27 but only the terrifying prospect of Judgment, or raging fire that will consume the enemies.
Please re-read the above: If you are a born-again believer and you know what God considers "sin" but you continue sinning, anyway, then you do NOT have the Holy Spirit residing within, and you do NOT belong to God! This is not just "one interpretation" of the Bible; it is what God said and Yeshua and His Apostles continued to reiterate.
2 Peter 2: 19 They promise them freedom, but they themselves are slaves of corruption; for a person is slave to whatever has defeated him. 20 Indeed, if they have once escaped the pollutions of the world through knowing our Lord and Deliverer, Yeshua the Messiah, and then have again become entangled and defeated by them, their latter condition has become worse than their former. 21 It would have been better for them not to have known the Way of righteousness than, fully knowing, to turn from the holy command delivered to them.
Y'hoshua 23 - The conclusion:
In the conclusion of Y'hoshua 23, we see Y'hoshua, nearing the time of his death, proclaiming the truth that if His people veer from YHWH's Torah, they will be destroyed:
Y'hoshua 23: 14 "Today I am going the way of all the earth. Therefore consider in all your heart and being that not one of all the good things ADONAI your God said concerning you has failed to happen; it has all come to pass; nothing of it has failed. 15 Nevertheless, just as all the good things ADONAI your God promised you have come upon you, likewise ADONAI will bring upon you all the bad things too, until he has destroyed you from this good land which ADONAI your God has given you.
16 When you violate the covenant of ADONAI your God, which he ordered you to obey, and go and serve other gods and worship them, then the anger of ADONAI will blaze up against you; and you will perish quickly from the good land which he has given you!"
HALLELUYAH! Y'hoshua is reiterating YHWH's command to obey and to "be holy because I am holy!"
Leviticus 11: 44 For I am YAHWEH your God; therefore, consecrate yourselves and be holy, for I am holy;
Leviticus 11: 45 For I am YAHWEH, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt to be your God. Therefore you are to be holy, because I am holy.
Leviticus 20: 8 Observe my regulations, and obey them; I am YAHWEH, who sets you apart to be holy.
Leviticus 20: 25 Therefore you are to distinguish between clean and unclean animals and between clean and unclean birds; do not make yourselves detestable with an animal, bird or reptile that I have set apart for you to regard as unclean. 26 Rather, you people are to be holy for me; because I, YAHWEH, am holy; and I have set you apart from the other peoples, so that you can belong to me.
Just look at the world today where decadence, violence and ungodliness reign! Everything that YHWH ever considered "good" is now considered "bad" and vice-versa! Those who believe in YHWH/Yeshua are scoffed, ostracized and ridiculed. Many who believe in God are "half-hearted fence straddlers" who never bother to crack their Bibles until their pastors tell them to turn to Chapter So-and-so on Sunday mornings - and afterwards, instead of honoring the Sabbath REST as YHWH commanded (Sunday, by the way, is NOT YHWH's Sabbath!), they head out to lunch with their friends, or go to the movies (thus causing others to "work" on the Sabbath); or they head to their office to finish up a project, or do whatever else they want instead of consecrating the Sabbath to Him.
Ezekiel 20: 11 I gave them my laws and showed them my rulings; if a person obeys them, he will have life through them. 12 I gave them my shabbats as a sign between me and them, so that they would know that I, ADONAI, am the one who makes them holy.
Isaiah 66: 23 And it shall be that from one New Moon to another New Moon and from one Sabbath to another Sabbath, all flesh shall come to worship before Me, says the Lord.
Isaiah 58: 13 If you hold back your foot on Shabbat from pursuing your own interests on my holy day; if you call Shabbat a delight, ADONAI'S holy day, worth honoring; then honor it by not doing your usual things or pursuing your interests or speaking about them. If you do, you will find delight in ADONAI - I will make you ride on the heights of the land and feed you with the heritage of your ancestor Ya'akov, for the mouth of ADONAI has spoken."
Question to ponder: Was the Seventh Day Sabbath meant only for "the Jews?" Were His Appointed Times/Feasts only for "the Jews?" Was "holiness" and being "set apart" meant only for "the Jews?"
I would urge everyone to read both Y'hoshua 23 and 24 in which we are shown the history of Israel up until that point. In those days, although the people grumbled and complained, YHWH put leaders in charge who ruled with an iron hand and kept Israel centered on Torah. As you know, only the Tribe of Yehudah (Judah) continued to be a cohesive people who carried Torah into the future (as foretold in Genesis 49:10 and Micah 4:2). But little by little ALL His people are beginning to come together once more and soon all prophecy concerning Israel will be fulfilled - and everyone alive in those days will be living under Torah rule in the Millennium when Yeshua reigns for a thousand years!
The bottom line is: We can only call ourselves YHWH's people if we obey Him to the best of our ability according to the confines of His Torah. As Y'hoshua said in Chapter 24:
Y'hoshua 24: 15 If it seems bad to you to serve ADONAI, then choose today whom you are going to serve! Will it be the gods your ancestors served beyond the River? or the gods of the Emori, in whose land you are living? As for me and my household, we will serve ADONAI!"