Sometimes it is called the “penultimate,” the next-to-last chapter of a book. In Latin (of course) the term means “almost the last.” And that’s a good description of Joshua 23, with only 16 verses.
Here’s the first verse, which supplies us with a ton of meaning, when studied carefully, a plethora of thoughts. “And it came to pass a long time after that the LORD had given rest unto Israel from all their enemies round about, that Joshua waxed old and stricken in age.” Joshua 23:1
Notice first that God is the Giver of rest!
Jesus graciously promised in Matthew 11:28 … “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you REST.”
God even built into the calendar of Israel (of the whole world) a day of rest, one in seven! What an Example is this: “And on the seventh day God ended his work which he had made; and HE RESTED on the seventh day from all his work which he had made.” Genesis 2:2
God even gives the sleep that makes possible (generally) rest. The last clause in Psalm 127:2 says … “For so he (the Lord) giveth his beloved SLEEP.”
And now in Joshua 23:1 we learn God can even give “land” such “rest!” Leviticus 26:34 … “Then shall the land enjoy her Sabbaths … even then shall THE LAND REST, and enjoy her sabbaths.”
Notice next from our verse that it was a “while” (“a long time”) after the land had such rest … that Joshua grew old. “And it came to pass A LONG TIME AFTER that the LORD had given rest unto Israel from all their enemies round about, that Joshua waxed old and stricken in age.”
To me this indicates faithfulness on the part of Joshua. A LONG TIME, and the man is still leading Israel. Still pointing them in a godly direction! Still not having shamed the Name of God!
Then look with me at the verb used to describe Joshua’s age, “waxed old.” It’s Hebrew “zaqen,” only found 27 times in the Bible, Old Testament. And it is a Qal perfect stem, meaning active voice and a point-of-time happening. God did not force Joshua to grow old, not in any miraculous sense. His body did so naturally, obeying laws God had put into place (after man sinned it appears.) Plus the “perfect” sense of timing indicates one day Joshua (seems like) woke up and “was old!” That happens to everyone, in a measure!
Old, Joshua, the once young “minister” of Moses!
This descriptor also reminds me of Paul. In the 9th verse of Philemon the great Apostle writes/admits … “Yet for love’s sake I rather beseech thee (Philemon), being such an one as PAUL THE AGED, and now also a prisoner of Jesus Christ.”
Old … but still serving Jesus!
Not like Methuselah (aged 969 at death) the godly patriarch, but still old.
Not like Noah (930 at death), but still old for his generation (Joshua, at 110 years).
All his years, unswervingly following God!
What a testimony.
What a challenge.
I fell encouraged this morning, via the example left us by Joshua the man of God.
— Dr. Mike Bagwell