Joshua 24:1-27 gives us a re-statement of the Mosaic Covenant between God and His people as they take possession of the Promised Land at long last. As I mentioned yesterday, its structure is very similar to that of the seven letters in Revelation 2-3. As we look at Joshua, I’ll give you equivalent passage from the letter to Ephesus for comparison. Let’s take a look now:
First, there is a preamble in which the king is identified:
Joshua said to all the people, “This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: (Josh. 24:2a)
These are the words of him who holds the seven stars in his right hand and walks among the seven golden lampstands. (Rev. 2:1b)
Second, there is a historical prologue that reviews what the relationship between God and Israel has been up to this point, including all that God has done for His people.
I know your deeds, your hard work and your perseverance. I know that you cannot tolerate wicked people, that you have tested those who claim to be apostles but are not, and have found them false You have persevered and have endured hardships for my name, and have not grown weary.
Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken the love you had at first.
… But you have this in your favor: You hate the practices of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate. (Rev. 2:2-4, 6)
Third, Joshua sets out a stipulation for the people to follow if they wanted their special relationship with God to continue:
“Now fear the Lord and serve him with all faithfulness. Throw away the gods your ancestors worshiped beyond the Euphrates River and in Egypt, and serve the Lord. (Josh. 24:14)
Consider how far you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first. (2:5a)
It would be helpful to remember that Jesus had rebuked them for having lost their first love in 2:4.
Fourth: Joshua warned the people of the curse that would befall then if they should fail to keep the stipulation:
If you forsake the Lord and serve foreign gods, he will turn and bring disaster on you and make an end of you, after he has been good to you (Josh. 24:20)
If you do not repent, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place. (Rev. 2:5n)
The Joshua passage does not contain a blessing for keeping the stipulation, thus the only promise given here is the negative one. The blessings of keeping the Old Covenant are spelled out in Deut. 27-28, as Moses goes through this same sort of covenant re-statement in a longer format.
Revelation does contain a blessing for Ephesus in 2:7b:
To the one who is victorious, I will give the right to eat from the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God.
Fifth, Joshua names the people themselves as the witnesses to the covenant:
Then Joshua said, “You are witnesses against yourselves that you have chosen to serve the Lord.”
“Yes, we are witnesses,” they replied. (Josh. 24:22)
Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches.