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Sharing Catholic Social Teaching: Challenges and Directions
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The Prophet Penguin Modern Classics. Item Added: In His Face. View Wishlist. Joshua didn't have in mind mere imperfections or peccadilloes.
Rather, he meant the rank apostasy of idolatry, or as he put it here, the devastating sin of serving other gods. It's clear even from the text of that he's warning the people that they are not to go and serve other gods. So, in this case, transgressing the covenant of the Lord would involve breaking the first two commandments, which thereby would entail breaking the covenant. And this is what Moses warned the people not to do in the blessings and curses of the covenant in Leviticus 26, and it's what he has urged them not to do in places like Deuteronomy and Deuteronomy 28— And so, Joshua is continuing the instruction of his mentor, Moses.
And he's urging the people — now that they have crossed into the land and subdued the land — that they are not to break the commandments and thereby transgress the covenant of the Lord. And Moses warned what would happen: if they did so, they would be exiled from the land. And so, in a sense, Joshua is urging them to have a long life in the land by keeping the covenant.
James M. With the basic structure and content of Joshua's covenant warnings in mind, we're in a position to consider the original meaning of this chapter. In general terms, it isn't difficult to imagine the impact that the author of Joshua hoped this chapter would have on his audience.
By the period of the judges, Israel had already begun to experience covenant curses because they had been drawn into Canaanite idolatry. At different times during the monarchy, even worse consequences had come on Israel because of their involvement in the worship of Baal and other gods. And of course, the Babylonian exile eventually came on Israel just as Joshua had said.
So, rather than allowing his audience to blame their troubling circumstances on God's failure to be faithful to his people, our author expressly told his original audience that their trials resulted from their failure to remain faithful to God. To convince his audience of their responsibility for their circumstances, our author wove into his covenant warnings the five main themes that we've seen throughout his book.
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In the first place, in Joshua's summons, he revealed the divine authority behind the assembly. In a, he mentioned that it was Joshua who summoned the people. As we know, our author repeatedly emphasized that God had authorized Joshua as Moses' authoritative successor. So, by stating that it was Joshua who summoned the people, and then that it was Joshua who gave the speech that followed in verses 2b, our author emphasized the divine authority behind both.
As we've already hinted, this chapter of our book presented a point of view that was difficult for many in the original audience to accept.
Many did not want to accept responsibility for the consequences of their failure to keep covenant. So, our author addressed the reticence of his original audience by making it clear that Joshua himself had spoken these words. In the second place, it's not surprising that the covenant warnings in Joshua's speech are devoted to the theme of God's covenant. In , the author alluded to God's covenant when he described Cisjordan as Israel's "inheritance. We should also recall that in , Joshua summed up his speech by warning Israel not to "transgress the covenant of the Lord your God.
Our author's concentration on God's covenant called his original audience to express gratitude for the many benevolences God had shown them and their ancestors. And Joshua warned of the severe consequences of divine curses if they did not.
In the third place, Joshua's covenant warnings also highlighted the standard of Moses' law in a number of ways. In Joshua's speech, in , he ordered Israel to "do all that is written in the Book of the Law of Moses. These, and similar instructions in verses 8, 12 drew from passages like Deuteronomy and Our author noted how Joshua had referred to Moses' law to remind his original audience of a point of view that appears time and again in his book.
The only hope they had for receiving the blessings of God was to reaffirm their loyalty to the standard of Moses' law. In the fourth place, this chapter detailing Joshua's covenant warnings also draws attention to God's supernatural power. For example, in , the record of Joshua's summons refers to God's great power when it states that, "The Lord had given rest to Israel from all their surrounding enemies.
As he put it in verse 15, "The Lord will bring upon you all the evil things, until he has destroyed you. As we can see, our author repeatedly pointed out how Joshua had reminded Israel of God's supernatural power. He intended Joshua's words to move his original audience toward gratitude and blessings. And, along the same lines, he designed every warning of supernatural curses for disloyalty to strike fear into their hearts and lead them to repentance.
And in the fifth place, the covenant warnings in chapter 23 also stressed the participation of all Israel. In Joshua's summons, verse 2 notes that Joshua had assembled "all Israel. The future of the entire nation of Israel would be determined according to the principles Joshua declared in this chapter.
The Book of Joshua: Covenant Loyalty ( - ) (high definition video)
Without a doubt, the author of Joshua focused on this major theme in chapter 23 to call everyone in Israel to pay attention to what Joshua had said. As in the days of Joshua, the entire nation in our author's day needed to give heed to Joshua's warnings. Only then could they hope to find the blessings of God. God instructed the Israelites the things that they should do and should not do… But they were going to be with neighbors who worshipped other gods and with other horrible and terrible practices. So, God wanted Israelites to remain faithful in the covenant with him. And he promised that if they would stay faithful in the covenant with God, things would go well with them.
But if they violate his covenant, something wrong will happen to them. This is the same even in our lives. If we remain faithful to God's covenant, God will be with us, will lead us, and will continue to work in us as he promised Joshua. Now that we've seen how the book of Joshua deals with Israel's covenant loyalty by reporting Joshua's covenant warnings, we're in a position to turn to our second main topic in this lesson: Joshua's ceremony of covenant renewal. In many ways, the drama of chapter 23 leaves us in suspense.
Joshua gave a speech that warned Israel of terrible things that would happen if they broke their covenant with God. But there's no indication of how Israel responded. Our author omitted any record of their response to prepare his audience for what he was about to write in chapter In this last chapter, Joshua held a second assembly.
Here, in a ceremony of renewal, the Israelites recommitted themselves to keeping covenant with God.
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And this ceremony modeled how the original audience was to respond to everything they learned from the book of Joshua. We'll look at Joshua's ceremony of covenant renewal in our usual fashion. We'll note its structure and content and then its original meaning. Let's consider first the structure and content of Joshua's covenant renewal. As we've seen, after the tribes of Israel had settled in their various inheritances, Joshua called them to assemble, probably in Shiloh.
But in this chapter, we find another assembly — this time in Shechem. Shechem was a special sacred place for Israel. And, in this final chapter of our book, Shechem is where we come to the culmination of Joshua's service as the leader of Israel. Israel's covenant renewal at Shechem is a seamless narrative that divides into four main parts. We first read Joshua's second summons to the assembly in This summons is balanced in the end of the book by Joshua's dismissal of the assembly in Between these two, the main narrative consists of Joshua's second speech and Israel's responses in verses , followed by the ratification of the covenant in verses Consider first the opening summons in verse 1.
The record of Joshua's summons to this assembly is both similar to and different from his summons in chapter Like the previous assembly, tells us that Joshua brought together "all the tribes of Israel" as well as "the elders, the heads, the judges, and the officers of Israel.
This is the first of several times when our author highlighted the significance of this event by drawing parallels to Exodus 19— In these chapters, Israel made a covenant before God's visible presence on Mount Sinai.