“Be very careful therefore to …”

Today we came to the end of the book of Joshua, and as Moses had done, Joshua, sensing his approaching death says, “and now I am about to go the way of all the earth” (23:14) – now note what he then said, “… 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” (verses 10,11).

What is the point about Joshua speaking about being “very careful” about their love for the Lord? The point will become fully clear to us in a week or two when we read John’s Epistles, written near the end of his life, “Let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth” (1 John 3:18).

There is a modern saying, ‘talk is cheap’ – and how true that is, especially when it comes to politics, but for those who are truly following Christ – how different their words must be. Peter made the same point in his first Epistle, he wrote, “having purified your souls by your obedience to the truth for a sincere brotherly love, love one another earnestly from a pure heart” (1:22).

The final words of Joshua see him telling the nation, “Now therefore fear the LORD and serve him in sincerity and faithfulness” (24:14). That generation did keep Joshua’s final word’s, just as those of Moses’ generation had heeded his words, but in Isaiah’s generation, that we also read today, we noted the telling words the Lord gave to the people of that time through him: they are, “Because this people draw near with their mouth and honour me with their lips, while their hearts are far from me, and their fear of me is a commandment taught by men therefore … the wisdom of their wise men shall perish” (29:13,14). The point is then made that God is the potter who made all things, but “shall the potter be regarded as the clay, that the thing made should say of its maker, ‘He did not make me’” (verse 16). Human clay is saying this today in almost every situation.

If there was a real prophet today what would God cause him to say? We should have a clear idea of what it would most likely be! Let us therefore “be very careful to …”