Love and obedience

“Be very strong; be careful to obey all that is written in the Book of the Law of Moses, without turning aside to the right or to the left. Do not associate with these nations that remain among you; do not invoke the names of their gods or swear by them. You must not serve them or bow down to them. But you are to hold fast to the Lord your God, as you have until now.…So be very careful to love the Lord your God” (Joshua 23:6-11 NIV).

Joshua had led the Israelites into the Promised Land and they had conquered the land. Each tribe had been allocated their inheritance and they had settled into their homes. Joshua was now a very old man (Joshua 23:1) at 110 years of age (Joshua 24:29). He called the leaders of the tribes together one last time to remind them of what God had done for them and what God required of them. “Now I am about to go the way of all the earth. You know with all your heart and soul that not one of all the good promises the Lord your God gave you has failed. Every promise has been fulfilled; not one has failed” (Joshua 23:14).

God had kept all his promises. He had led the Israelites out of Egypt, had kept them safe through the wilderness, and had conquered the land of Canaan. He had given the Israelites the land as their possession. Because of God, when they went into battle, “one of you routs a thousand, because the Lord your God fights for you, just as he promised” (Joshua 23:9). All of God’s promises had been fulfilled.

But if they wanted to continue to receive God’s blessings they had to do something, as well. They needed to be careful to obey all of God’s commands. They couldn’t change them, get rid of them, or add to them. They needed to hold fast to God and what he had commanded them. They had to be very careful to love God.

There is a connection between loving God and obeying him. Jesus made this same connection as he was giving some final teaching to his disciples the night before he was crucified. He told them: “If you love me, you will obey my commandments…Just as the Father has loved me, I have also loved you; remain in my love. If you obey my commandments, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father’s commandments and remain in his love” (John 14:15; 15:9-10 NET). Love and obedience – you can’t have one without the other.

Jesus has also given us promises. Peter expressed it this way: “His divine power has given us everything required for life and godliness through the knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. By these he has given us very great and precious promises, so that through them you may share in the divine nature, escaping the corruption that is in the world because of evil desire” (2 Peter 1:3-4 CSV).

Everything we need to live for God has been given to us by God’s power through the knowledge of Jesus. These give us great and precious promises that will help us escape the temptations that we face each day. May we learn to truly love Jesus!

Readings for next week:
19 June – Joshua 22
20 June – Joshua 23
21 June – Joshua 24
22 June – free days to catch up if you are behind
23 June – if you want to read ahead, we will begin Matthew in July

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