Joshua 23 & Acts 3

Joshua 23

    A long time afterward, when the LORD had given rest to Israel from all their surrounding enemies, and Joshua was old and well advanced in years, Joshua summoned all Israel, its elders and heads, its judges and officers, and said to them, “I am now old and well advanced in years. And you have seen all that the LORD your God has done to all these nations for your sake, for it is the LORD your God who has fought for you. Behold, I have allotted to you as an inheritance for your tribes those nations that remain, along with all the nations that I have already cut off, from the Jordan to the Great Sea in the west. The LORD your God will push them back before you and drive them out of your sight. And you shall possess their land, just as the LORD your God promised you. Therefore, be very strong to keep and to do all that is written in the Book of the Law of Moses, turning aside from it neither to the right hand nor to the left, that you may not mix with these nations remaining among you or make mention of the names of their gods or swear by them or serve them or bow down to them, but you shall cling to the LORD your God just as you have done to this day. For the LORD has driven out before you great and strong nations. And as for you, no man has been able to stand before you to this day. One man of you puts to flight a thousand, since it is the LORD your God who fights for you, just as he promised you. Be very careful, therefore, to love the LORD your God. For if you turn back and cling to the remnant of these nations remaining among you and make marriages with them, so that you associate with them and they with you, know for certain that the LORD your God will no longer drive out these nations before you, but they shall be a snare and a trap for you, a whip on your sides and thorns in your eyes, until you perish from off this good ground that the LORD your God has given you.

    “And now I am about to go the way of all the earth, and you know in your hearts and souls, all of you, that not one word has failed of all the good things that the LORD your God promised concerning you. All have come to pass for you; not one of them has failed. But just as all the good things that the LORD your God promised concerning you have been fulfilled for you, so the LORD will bring upon you all the evil things, until he has destroyed you from off this good land that the LORD your God has given you, if you transgress the covenant of the LORD your God, which he commanded you, and go and serve other gods and bow down to them. Then the anger of the LORD will be kindled against you, and you shall perish quickly from off the good land that he has given to you.”

(Joshua 23 ESV)

Acts 3

    Now Peter and John were going up to the temple at the hour of prayer, the ninth hour. And a man lame from birth was being carried, whom they laid daily at the gate of the temple that is called the Beautiful Gate to ask alms of those entering the temple. Seeing Peter and John about to go into the temple, he asked to receive alms. And Peter directed his gaze at him, as did John, and said, “Look at us.” And he fixed his attention on them, expecting to receive something from them. But Peter said, “I have no silver and gold, but what I do have I give to you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk!” And he took him by the right hand and raised him up, and immediately his feet and ankles were made strong. And leaping up he stood and began to walk, and entered the temple with them, walking and leaping and praising God. And all the people saw him walking and praising God, and recognized him as the one who sat at the Beautiful Gate of the temple, asking for alms. And they were filled with wonder and amazement at what had happened to him.

    While he clung to Peter and John, all the people, utterly astounded, ran together to them in the portico called Solomon's. And when Peter saw it he addressed the people: “Men of Israel, why do you wonder at this, or why do you stare at us, as though by our own power or piety we have made him walk? The God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, the God of our fathers, glorified his servant Jesus, whom you delivered over and denied in the presence of Pilate, when he had decided to release him. But you denied the Holy and Righteous One, and asked for a murderer to be granted to you, and you killed the Author of life, whom God raised from the dead. To this we are witnesses. And his name—by faith in his name—has made this man strong whom you see and know, and the faith that is through Jesus has given the man this perfect health in the presence of you all.

    “And now, brothers, I know that you acted in ignorance, as did also your rulers. But what God foretold by the mouth of all the prophets, that his Christ would suffer, he thus fulfilled. Repent therefore, and turn back, that your sins may be blotted out, that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and that he may send the Christ appointed for you, Jesus, whom heaven must receive until the time for restoring all the things about which God spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets long ago. Moses said, ‘The Lord God will raise up for you a prophet like me from your brothers. You shall listen to him in whatever he tells you. And it shall be that every soul who does not listen to that prophet shall be destroyed from the people.’ And all the prophets who have spoken, from Samuel and those who came after him, also proclaimed these days. You are the sons of the prophets and of the covenant that God made with your fathers, saying to Abraham, ‘And in your offspring shall all the families of the earth be blessed.’ God, having raised up his servant, sent him to you first, to bless you by turning every one of you from your wickedness.”

(Acts 3 ESV)

Something to Consider

Joshua 23: The commander of Israel is "well advanced in years" and approaching the end of his life and leadership over God's people. He has faithfully obeyed God's mandate and allotted to the tribes of Israel their inheritance from "those nations that remain, along with all the nations that [the Lord] has already cut off." In passing the leadership role over to the next generation after him, Joshua reminds Israel's elders, heads, judges and officers of the Lord's promise to drive the remaining nations out from before them and Israel's responsibility to possess their land (Joshua 13).

The Lord had given to Israel all the land that He had promised to give to their patriarchs, and He had given them rest on every side. However, there were still "nations that remain" within their land that were to be pushed back and driven out of Israel's sight. The Lord would prove Himself faithful to do this for His people as long as His people remained faithful in their covenant relationship with Him. At this point in their history, the only thing that threatened Israel's peace and possession of the Promised Land was their own unfaithfulness that would lead the Lord to "no longer drive out these nations before [them]".

Our Lord had given His people rest, but it was somewhat of an incomplete rest as Israel remained threatened by the temptations of foreign religions within their midst and the curse of God that would come upon them if they transgressed. So while the Promised Land "had given rest" for the people of God, may we continually press on toward that ultimate and eternal rest that awaits all God's people in the ultimate and eternal Promised Land of the New Heaven and New Earth (Revelation 21-22). God's promise of entering His rest still stands for all His faithful people so may we all strive in faithfulness to enter that rest avoiding the same sort of unfaithfulness that would cost Israel their earthly rest in the Promised Land (Hebrews 9).   

 

Acts 3: Marveling at men of faith who seem to possess some level of spirituality or supernatural power that we just don’t seem to have is clearly condemned here by Peter. We ought to avoid uttering that awkward sentence, “He’s a better Christian than I am.” After healing a man and astonishing everyone around him, Peter diverts glory as if by saying, “You’re missing the point if you stand in awe of me.” Any and all glory always belongs to the Lord. 

We ought to seek forgiveness for looking upon men who exhibit strong faith and accrediting their faith to their own power and personal holiness. Great power is certainly possessed by men who have faith in the Lord, but it is our Lord that imparts this kind of faith to men’s hearts in the first place. Faith in God is a gift from God, and therefore man has no power or piety to claim as his own. It’s an astonishing mystery, but all acts of great faith are done by God and His own greatness working in and through us. Mere man performs no miracles.

May we never look upon ourselves or other men of faith as people who have somehow obtained a higher level of spirituality. All great faith ought to lead us to worship our Lord, the Author of life and the Initiator of faith, rather than the man who possesses that faith. God is the Beginning, and we are the beneficiaries; may all great faith direct our eyes to His throne from which it flows.