Joshua spent the lion’s share of two chapters giving his final sermon to the children of Israel. Most of his points simply reiterate principles that he had previously shared with the people. For example, in chapter 23 verse 6, Joshua reminded the people to be careful to follow the book of instruction given to them by Moses. “So be careful to follow everything Moses wrote in the Book of Instruction. Do not deviate from it, turning either to the right or the left” (NLT). If those words sound familiar you’re right. They are almost a verbatim the same words that were shared in Joshua 1:7.
Baptists share a longstanding reputation of being a “people of the Book.” Though thousands of years have passed between Joshua’s words and today, we still place a high value on the words of God as preserved through the Bible. Why such value? I believe its because the words of God reveal the living Word of God. The Bible reveals to us who God is, what He is like, and what He expects of His created ones. It also tells us how we can know Him and relate to Him through our worship and prayer. It is an authoritative source for faith and life.
Its unfortunate that people have made the Bible such a battlefield, often reducing it to nothing more than a litmus test for orthodox faith. I suppose some are even guilty of Bible-olatry, where the Scripture is worshipped more than the One it reveals. Being serious about the Bible means so much more than stockpiling trivial knowledge that puffs us up with pride. Its purpose is higher than serving as a billy club to beat others into submission with proof texts. It is the self disclosure of God to a fallen world. Within its pages we find help, hope, and ultimately, the way to eternal life.
What kind of relationship do you have with the Bible? What function does it serve to strengthen your faith? Tomorrow I’ll continue with the second part of Joshua’s closing words.