2017 Spring Bible Conference

JOHN 1:19-34

FEBRUARY 26 / MARCH 5, 2017

THE THREEFOLD WITNESS OF JOHN THE BAPTIST

INTRODUCTION:

1. The great theme of the Gospel of John is “The Person of The Word made flesh.” This grand truth is the very foundation of John’s concept of regeneration or the new birth, through which faith comes, enabling a man born of flesh to become a child of God. This is possible because faith has as its object the Word who became flesh.
2. This coming of Christ in flesh was declared early on by John in the prologue to his Gospel. The Light which shineth in darkness speaks of the incarnation. (Verse 5) the incarnation was surely presented in relationship to the nation of Israel (Vs. 11); but he also plainly declared Christ coming in the flesh in relationship to the entire world of believers. (Vs. 14)
3. In our present study we will be considering the first manifestations of the Word made flesh. In this, we will see the opening of faith in the lives of the first apostles through the three testimonies of John the Baptist. John’s three testimonies were essentially these: He is here; there He is; follow Him. (Verses 26, 29, 36)

I. JOHN FIRST WITNESSED CHRIST AS PRESENT. (VERSES 19-28)

A. THIS WAS AN OFFICIAL ANNOUNCEMENT. (VERSE 19; CH. 5:33)

1. John was the heaven-sent official messenger who was to go before and announce the Messiah to the nation of Israel. His coming was predicted by the holy prophets. (Isa. 40:33ff; Mal. 3:1; 4:5) John was the harbinger for whom the nation was to be watching, one who would be easily identifiable. “Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet,” which is to say, a prophet like unto Elijah, for he came “in the spirit and power of Elias.” (Luke 1:17)
2. This announcement was spoken in the presence of an official deputation sent to represent the Sanhedrin. The Sanhedrin was composed of seventy-one members, comprised of chief priests, elders of the people, and scribes. It made up the ruling body. Jesus was speaking of them when He said, “The scribes and Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat.” Moses hid himself established a tribunal of seventy-two elders, and it seems that such a body remained in the days of Joshua, and through the period of the kings. (Josh. 1:10; 23:2; 24:1, 31; II Chron. 19:8)
3. Here in the nineteenth verse we meet with the term “Jews” for the first time. While it is a designation of the people of Israel (Ch. 2:13; 3:1), but it oftentimes designates the nation as an unbelieving community, contrasted with the true people of God. (Rev. 3:9; Mark 7:3)

B. THIS ANNOUNCEMENT CAME IN RESPONSE TO AN INTERROGATION BY THE JEWISH DELEGATION. (VERSES 19c, 20)

1. The direct question reveals that there was an expectation of Messiah. “Who art thou?” Clearly, John’s ministry had aroused great curiosity and concern. (See Matt. 3:1-6)
2. John’s answers convey simplicity and humility. (Verse 20)

a) He confessed, and denied not. He being asked openly and plainly, professed, and did not try to conceal it. In Scripture negatives are sometimes added to affirmatives to exclude all exceptions. (See Job 5:17; Psa. 40:10-12) He confessed, and did not even begin to deny what was true.
b) He confessed, not once, but again and again, because many were musing about it. (Luke 3:15) This was his honest and official declaration.
c) “I am not the Christ.” He very firmly denied that he was that great Messiah which God had promised, and in the expectation of whom they lived. (Luke 2:25, 25; John 4:25)

C. JOHN’S ANSWER PROMPTED SOME FOLLOW-UP QUESTIONS BY THE DELEGATION. (VSES. 21-23)

1. They enquired, “Are thou Elias?” Are you Elijah, whom the prophet Malachi said would precede Christ? (Verse 21; Mal. 4:5)
2. They then asked, “Art thou that prophet?” Are you the prophet of whom Moses spoke? (Verse 21; Deut. 18:18)
3. John’s answer to both enquiries was that he was not. Since they meant the very persons, and not their spiritual personifications, John answered honestly.

a) John was a prophet like unto Elijah, not Elijah himself.
b) John was not “that prophet” of whom Moses spoke; that would be Christ Himself.

4. John, when pressed, responded by saying, “I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness.” (Verses 22, 23)

a) He was only a preparatory “voice.” (Isa. 40:3) See here the humility and self-abasement of this man. This was an essential part of his true greatness. (See Ch. 3:30; Matt. 11:11; Luke 7:28)
b) John owned that his role, as foretold by Isaiah, was to “make straight the way of the Lord.” As it was customary in the East to straighten and repair the roads for an approaching monarch, so John was preparing the way for Christ. This represented the spiritual condition of Israel at the time of His coming.

5. They particularly wanted to know about John’s baptism. (Verses 24, 25)

a) The majority of this delegation was of the sect of the Pharisees (Vse 24), the group most concerned about rites.
b) Since they understood him to deny being Messiah’s forerunner, why then did he baptize, since he seemed to lack authority to institute a new rite?

6. John gave them a most significant answer. (Verses 26, 27)

a) John defended his right to baptize by the fact that Messiah was present among them. (Verse 26)
b) The great shame was that they did not know Him.
c) John testified of Jesus’ absolute preeminence. (Verse 27)

7. John documents that this significant exchange took place “in Bethabara beyond Jordan where John was baptizing.”
8. This concludes the first of John’s three testimonies, which were given on three consecutive days. He first testified that “Christ was present.” He is here.

II. IN JOHN’S SECOND WITNESS HE POINTS OUT CHRIST ESSENTIALLY SAYING, THERE HE IS. (VERSES 19-28)

A. JOHN POINTED OUT CHRIST, AND, AT THE SAME TIME, INTRODUCED HIM AS GOD’S SACRIFICIAL LAMB. (VERSE 29)

1. This testimony was occasioned by Jesus coming to where John was. “John seeth Jesus coming unto him.”

a) Clearly this was not happenstance; the time had come for the “porter” to open to the true Messiah. (Ch. 10:3)
b) This was not the first time Jesus had come to where John was baptizing. He had come before to be baptized of him. (Matt. 3:13ff)
c) It was because of that previous meeting, when Jesus was baptized of him, that John could point to Him with absolute certainty and say “this is indeed the Christ.” (Compare Verses 31-34; Matt. 3:16, 17)

2. John pointed out Jesus by a certain designation, which declared his divine purpose in coming. “Behold the Lamb of God.”

a) He did not call Him The Christ, or the Son of God, or The King of Israel; but he called Him The Lamb.
b) He pointed to Him as God’s sacrificial Lamb, the Passover Lamb (our Passover – I Cor. 5:7); as the sin bearer of His people (Isa. 53:4-12). For this reason He took human flesh. (Heb. 10:5, 7)
c) Notice, He is God’s Lamb, of His provision, of His designation. (See Gen. 22:8, 13, 14)

3. John introduced Christ as He would expiate sin. “…which taketh away the sin of the world.”

a) This is to lift up and to carry off. This sets forth the complete expiation of sin.
b) The work is vast and extensive. “…the sin of the world.”

(1) It includes all men without distinction; Jew and Gentile.
(2) It includes every believer without exception.

B. JOHN POINTED TO CHRIST, THIS IDENTIFYING HIM AS THE ONE OF WHOM HE HAD BEFORE SPOKEN. (VERSE 30)

1. Here John explains the mystery which he spoke of on the day before. (Verse 15)
2. John refers to Jesus as “a man,” but one who was preferred before him, and indeed, before all men.
3. He was “a man,” and yet, before He was born, He already was. Though He was born after John, he was before him. Not only was He before John, but He would later declare, “Before Abraham was I am.” (John 8:58)
4. Clearly, Jesus was “a man,” but He was also eternal God. He was the God-Man and the Messiah.

C. JOHN NEXT RELATED HOW HE HAD ATTAINED THIS KNOWLEDGE OF HIM. (VERSES 31-33)

1. He disclaims any prior knowledge of Jesus, so how could he have such boldness to testify that this One was from eternity, and had now appeared in order to be the Redeemer, and to put away sin? (Verse 31)

a) John was in the wilderness until the time of his public ministry.
b) He states that his mission to baptize was expressly in order for him to know who Jesus was.
c) So it may not simply be that John didn’t’ know Him as Messiah before this, but possibly he didn’t know Him at all.

2. He was made aware of who Jesus was at His baptism. (Verses 32, 33)

a) This was manifested by the descent of the Spirit upon Him, and His abiding on Him.
b) John knew that this One could baptize, not merely with water, as himself, but with the Holy Ghost. (Verse 33)
c) Water baptism is very important, in that it is a symbol of Spirit baptism which is the reality.
d) When Jesus was baptized He was filled with the Holy Ghost without measure.
e) By the power of the Holy Spirit, and not by His innate deity, the Son of God would do all that He did.

D. JOHN THEN POINTED OUT THE IMPORTANCE OF THE ACT THAT HE HAD PERFORMED. (VS. 34)

1. John was satisfied that he had witnessed the truth. The facts recorded were established and would abide forever.
2. He bare record that this is the Son of God!
3. This concludes John’s second testimony. “There He is!”

III. JOHN’S THIRD WITNESS, WHICH OCCURRED THE NEXT DAY, WAS ESSENTIALLY, FOLLOW HIM. (VERSES 35-37) This witness resulted in the first disciples following Christ. We will consider these verses with our next study in which we will have The Calling of Christ’s First Disciples.

JOHN 1:1-18

FEBRUARY 12 / FEBRUARY 19, 2017

CHRIST THE ETERNAL WORD

INTRODUCTION:

1. We fully believe that the author of the fourth Gospel is the Apostle John, the son of Zebedee, who was an eyewitness of many of the things which he recorded. (See John 19:35; 21:24) Even though John does not mention himself by name, there is little doubt that he is the writer of the Gospel which bears his name. (John 19:26; 20:2; 21:7, 20)
2. To the reader it soon becomes clear that John is different from the other three (Synoptic) Gospels. The aim of the Synoptic Gospels is to recount the events of Jesus’ ministry, and give something of a consecutive history. John, on the other hand, though he too writes of the life of Jesus, has an aim that is more theological than historical.
3. Two of the Synoptics (Matthew and Luke) begin with the birth and genealogy of Jesus. Matthew, in presenting Him to Israel as the King Messiah, wishes to connect Him to the Abrahamic and Davidic covenants as the hereditary heir to the throne of David. Luke, by tracing His genealogy back even to Adam, wishes to present Jesus as the Son of Man, and Savior of all mankind.
4. The great theme of John’s Gospel is The Person of the Word made flesh, Who not only dwelt on earth (Ch. 1:14), but as He ever since has dwelt on earth in the hearts of all believers.
5. In Verses 1-18 we have a prologue to the narrative in which John sets forth the grandeur and importance of the subject.

I. JOHN PRESENTS THE WORD AS ETERNALLY ONE WITH GOD AND THE ACTIVE AND EFFICIENT CAUSE IN THE DIVINE WORK. (VERSES 1-4)

A. THE WORD POSSESSES FULL DEITY. (VERSES 1, 2)

1. Three assertions are made in this marvelous first verse with respect to Christ, who is the Word.
a) The Word is eternal. (Verse 1a) “In the beginning was the Word,…” At the beginning of creation, i.e. the temporal beginning of all things (See Gen. 1:1), the Word already was. He is eternal, as God is eternal.
b) The Word is co-equal with God. (Verse 1b) “…and the Word was with God,…” (See Gen. 1:26: “Let us make man…”) The phrase, “with God” tells us that He was a distinct Person from the Father; that the Word was in intimate communion with the Father, and that there was complete equality of the Word with God.
c) The word was Himself God. (Verse 1c) “…and the Word was God.” This indicates much more than that the Word was divine. It means that the Word possessed in Himself true deity. The Word, though a distinct Person, was of the same essence as God the Father.
2. A powerful confirmation that the Word was eternal with the Father. (Verse 2) “The same was in the beginning with God.”
a) Of whatever beginning one might conceive, the Word was there.
b) Here, however, John is speaking of the beginning of the creation.
c) This confirms that “the Word was God,” for God alone is eternal.

B. THE WORD WAS ACTIVE IN THE CREATION OF ALL THINGS. (VERSE 3)

1. The Word was the agent of the divine creation. “All things were made by Him.” Literally, “all things became by Him.”
a) He Who was did not come into existence, for He was before all things. (Col. 1:17)
b) All else came to exist by Him.
c) Those who claim that He was a created being, deny His eternality, and therefore, His deity. The gross error of all who do so is a fatal one, for it rejects that which John sets forth as being of vital importance in man’s redemption.
2. This gives the foundation for the Word being the agent of divine redemption.

C. THE WORD WAS LIFE AND LIGHT. (VERSE 4) “In Him was life; and the life was the light of men.”

1. All created things receive their existence from Him, but life is more than existence, it is a quality of being. Every living thing receives its life from Him.
2. Every manifestation of life in the world whether spiritual of physical is owing to the Person of the Word.
3. By means of this life, men, that is, all moral beings, obtain light.
a) This is all Gospel light progressively given before Christ came.
b) This is all the moral and rational light given to mankind.

II. JOHN PRESENTS THE WORD AS REJECTED BY AN UNBELIEVING WORLD. (VERSES 5-11)

A. THE WORD, BY WHOM ALL THINGS WERE MADE, CAME INTO HIS OWN CREATION. (VERSE 5) “The light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.”

1. The marvelous creation which shone with the light of its Creator became “darkness” by the fall.
2. The beginning in John 1:1 is the same as the beginning in Gen. 1:1. John is writing to those familiar with the book of Genesis.
3. The state of darkness here is that which was brought about by man’s betrayal of His Creator, falling prey to Satan’s lie, and through disobedience, becoming subject to sin and falsehood. As soon as man ceased to live in Him Who is life, there was darkness.
4. The light shining is the ministry of the Word down through human history, and culminating in the Incarnation.
a) This light shined through the patriarchs and the prophets, and was realized in the ministry of our Lord. The hostility of the darkness in all of its resistance and persecution is not able to snuff out the light.
b) The active hostility against the light was due to the incapacity and unwillingness of the darkness to recognize and understand the light. “And the darkness comprehended it not.”
c) There is a twofold indictment against fallen mankind. First, men of darkness are unwilling to hear Moses and the Prophets, neither will they hear Christ. Second, they are in love with darkness and prefer darkness to light. (Luke 16:29, 31; John 3:19; 5:39, 40, 46, 47)

B. GOD SENT ONE BEFORE AS A WITNESS TO PREPARE THE WAY FOR THE APPEARANCE OF THE WORD. (VERSES 6-8)

1. God sent a man named John for a witness to bear witness of the true light. (Verse 6)
a) Notice the contrast: He was a man; the Word was God. He came to bear witness of the Light; the Word was the Light.
b) He was the last in a long line of witnesses, yet he broke a long silence. He was sent to prepare the way for Jesus. (Verse 6; Isa. 40:3-5; Mal. 3:1)
c) “His name was John,” which means “God shows grace.” He came not only to announce the Messiah, but to announce the nature of the coming age. “The law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.” (Verse 17)
2. This man came as a witness to the Eternal Word as the Light, so that all men in darkness might believe. (Verse 7)
a) Only through faith in Christ is the darkness dispelled. (Matt. 4:16; Col. 1:12, 13)
b) John’s witness was necessary because of the form in which the Light was to appear. (Verse 14)
c) The objective was “that all men through him might believe.” John bore “witness,” “testimony” of which the correlative is faith. The reciprocal response to a faithful witness is belief. “…that all men through him might believe.”
3. The witness himself was not the Light. (Verse 8)

C. DESPITE THE OVERWHELMING FACTS IN EVIDENCE, THERE REMAINED INCREDIBLE UNBELIEF WITH MANKIND. (VERSES 9-11)

1. The Word was rejected even though He was the Light of men. (Verse 9; Verse 4)
2. The Word was rejected even though He was the world’s Creator. (Verse 10; Verse 3)
3. The Word was rejected by Israel even though He was their Messiah. (Verse 11; Verse 5)
a) Jesus came “unto His own.” Literally, His own things: His home; His own land; His own temple.
b) Jesus came to His own people, i.e. the Jews, the natural children of Abraham.
c) “His own received Him not.” They did not welcome Him, but rather hated Him, and even slew Him.

III. JOHN PRESENTS THE WORD RECEIVED BY THE ACT OF FAITH. (VERSES 12-18) John holds up the Person of the Word to the eye of faith as the true hope of all mankind.

A. THERE IS A SHARP CONTRAST DRAWN BETWEEN THE SHOCKING UNBELIEF SEEN IN VERSE 11, AND THE RECEPTION OF FAITH IN VERSE 12.

1. Mankind, generally, and Israel, particularly, did not welcome Him. (Verse 11)
a) He was not received by His own, that is, He was not welcomed, literally.
b) Israel officially did not welcome Christ, Whom they should have received with open arms.
c) The leaders who sat in Moses’ seat should have flung the door open wide but instead, they slammed it shut.
2. Believers, individually and particularly did receive Him. (Vse. 12) That word, “receive,” refers to an individual, personal act, in contrast to the official, corporate act seen in Verse 11. Saving faith is always individual and personal.
3. Receivers were given authority to become God’s sons.
a) This faith is the product of regeneration, as the next verse will show. “…which were born…” that is, born before this receiving act of faith occurred.
b) As many as received Him were granted authority to become part of the family as adopted sons. (Gal. 4:6, 7)

B. THEREFORE, FAITH MANIFESTS THE REGENERATING POWER OF THE HOLY SPIRIT. (VSE. 13)

1. Here are three things to which the new birth cannot be attributed.
a) It is not by natural, hereditary descent, as the Jews were prone to think. “not of blood…”
b) It is not by virtue of man’s free will as so many groups are want to believe. “…nor of the will of the flesh.”
c) If is not by the force of human determination. “…nor of the will of man.”
2. Here is the one and only effectual source for credit, as to both its means and accomplishment. “…but of God.”

C. THE POWER OF FAITH IS EXPLAINED. (VERSE 14a) “The word was made flesh and dwelt among us.”

1. The power does not lie in faith itself.
2. It lies in the object of faith, which is, “the word made flesh.”

D. FAITH RESTS UPON A THREE-FOLD TESTIMONY. (VERSES 14-18) Notwithstanding the unbelief of the majority of mankind, the mission of the Word made flesh is certain.

1. It is certain because of the testimony of eyewitnesses, of whom John is one. (Verse 14)
2. It is certain because He was pointed out by the one sent by God to bear witness to the Light. (Verse 15)
3. It is certain because of the witness of the whole church. (Verses 16-18)
a) We have all received our fullness from Christ. (Verse 16a)
b) Grace upon grace is the experiences of Christ’s people.
(1) The law could only partially reveal God. (Verse 17a)
(2) The Gospel fully reveals Him (Who is grace and truth) through Jesus Christ.
c) The only begotten Son is the true revealer of the Father. (Verse 18)

JOHN 1:1-4

FEBRUARY 5, 2017

AN INTRODUCTION TO JOHN’S GOSPEL

INTRODUCTION:

1. The Book of John was, we believe, the last of the four Gospels to be written.

a) Mark is generally taken as the first.
b) Matthew was the second.
c) Luke was written third.

2. H. C. Thiessen, in his Introduction to the New Testament, explains that John is placed last in order in our New Testament not simply because it was the last to be written, but because, as he writes, “Most writers hold that in John we have the result of reflections of the Church on the facts contained in the Synoptics at the beginning of the second century.” He also notes that in early versions John appears in each of the four possible positions.

I. THE AUTHOR OF THE FOURTH GOSPEL IS GENERALLY BELIEVED TO BE JOHN THE APOSTLE.

1. Even though John does not name himself as the author, considering the internal evidence coupled with almost unanimous attestation of the early writers, many of whom were either contemporaries of John, or were acquainted with men who were, one might wonder how there could exist a serious opposing view. Yet some critics are greatly impressed with the “discovery” of Eusebius that there were two Johns at Ephesus at the time, one, John the Apostle, and the other, John the Presbyter. The fallacy of Eusebius’ reasoning is evident. He ignores the fact that John, along with other apostles, is called both a presbyter and a disciple of the Lord. Can we doubt that the Apostle John, who wrote I John, also wrote II John and III John in which he refers to himself as “the elder?” (II John 1; III John 1) Can we then doubt that the author of I John is the same as he to whom Peter referred as “the disciple whom Jesus loved, who also leaned back on his breast at supper” (John 21:20); the same disciple that Jesus identified as “the disciple which testifieth of these things, and wrote these things?” (John 21:24)
2. The Gospel of John was written from the eye-witness perception of one who was with Jesus throughout the entirety of His earthly ministry. Not only was John with the Lord from the very beginning, but his relationship was more intimate than that of any of the other disciples. The closeness which Peter referred to in John 21:20; John himself repeatedly acknowledged in this Gospel. (Ch. 13:23; 19:26) John’s devotion to his Lord continued unbroken to the very end. (Ch. 19:26, 27)

a) Matthew, the writer of the first Gospel in our New Testament, was also an eye-witness, but he did not join Christ until Chapter 9 of his Gospel; plus, he did not accompany his Lord into the judgment hall like John did. He was scattered with the others, and did not see Christ again until the day of the resurrection.
b) Mark and Luke both received their information from other sources.

(1) Mark from Peter.
(2) Luke from Paul.

c) John, however, was there to witness everything that he recorded pertaining to the earthly life and ministry of his Lord.

3. John never referred to himself by name. It was no doubt out of modesty and humility that he withheld his name, always referring to himself in the third person. He used phrases like “the disciple that Jesus loved,” or “that other disciple,” etc.
4. John had long thought upon the things that he had seen and known. He did not write until near the end of the first century.

a) Having had the care of Mary placed in his trust (Ch. 19:26, 27), John was kept from much of the earlier Gospel work. However, because of that arrangement, he, no doubt, became even better acquainted with Jesus’ life at Nazareth, from birth until age 30, of which precious little was written.
b) After the death of Mary and the destruction of Jerusalem, John migrated to Ephesus as the last surviving apostle. From there he labored, strengthening the churches which Paul had established.
c) It was from Ephesus that John wrote his Gospel.

5. Some believe that John was urged to write by those about him, who heard him speak of these things, so many of which are unique to his gospel.

II. THERE IS A WONDERFUL UNIQUENESS TO THE GOSPEL OF JOHN.

1. This is not to deny that each of the other gospels bear a certain quality of uniqueness.

a) Matthew, for example, is called the Gospel of the Kingdom, because he presents Jesus Christ as the King of Israel. He, therefore, traces His lineage back through the royal line all the way to father Abraham. (Matt. 1:1-16)
b) Mark sets Jesus forth as the Servant of Jehovah, the one of whom the prophets, especially Isaiah, had spoken. Mark gives no account of His genealogy, or of His birth and early life. He introduces Christ as He is entering public life and service, after taking the torch from His forerunner, John the Baptist. (Mark 1:1ff)
c) Luke presents Christ as the Son of Man, and traces his lineage back, not to Abraham merely, but all the way back to Adam, the first man. (Luke 3:23-38)

2. John, however, gives no genealogy, for he sets forth Christ as the Son of God, and one with the Father, Who is without generation. (Ch. 1:1-4)
3. The Gospel of John is different from the other three Gospels, though there is certainly no disagreement between John and the others. John simply writes from a different perspective.

a) The aim of Matthew, Mark, and Luke, which are called Synoptics, is to recount the events of Jesus’ life and ministry, though not necessarily in the same order. As we have already noted, the particular purpose was not the same in each case. Matthew, writing to Jews, proclaims Jesus as their King Messiah. Mark presents Him not as the King Royal, but as the lowly and humble Servant. Luke, a Gentile, presents Christ as the Son of Man and Savior not only of the Jews, but of the whole world.
b) The purpose of the Synoptic Gospels is to connect Christ to the Abrahamic and Davidic covenants as the hereditary heir of the throne of David. (Matt. 1:1) They demonstrate that Jesus fulfilled the Old Testament prophesies as the rightful Messiah, and present Him as the true Hope of Israel.
c) John, however, does not focus on those things per se. Though he also writes of the life of Jesus, his interest is not so much historical but rather theological.

(1) Though John undoubtedly had all of the intimate details of Jesus’ birth and early life (being the custodian of Mary), he leaves all of that to the other evangelists, and begins with the Person of the Word in eternity. (Ch. 1:1)
(2) He begins higher because he would reach further, even to the spiritual Kingdom of God, in which all believers, regardless of nationality, are sons and heirs of God.
(3) John intends to demonstrate that Jesus, as the eternal Word, is the fulfillment of the original Creation of God. He presents Him to the eye of faith as the true hope of all mankind.
(4) The True Light has come into the world; how will the world receive Him? How will men be either attracted to Him, or repelled by Him, and so reveal themselves in their true character? (Ch. 1:4, 5; 3:18-21)

JOSHUA 24:29-33

JANUARY 15, 2017

THE DEATH OF JOSHUA

INTRODUCTION:

1. At the end of Joshua’s full and active life, he called all of the tribes back again to Shechem, there to present themselves before the Lord. (Verse 1) Thirty years before, the same people had gathered unto the same place in order to renew their covenant with God. (Ch. 8:30-35) They had now gathered there to hear the final charge that their great warrior-governor and leader would deliver to them before his death. The people unanimously responded to Joshua’s charge with a solemn pledge that they would not forsake the Lord to serve other gods; that they would put away all strange gods, and serve only the Lord Jehovah, Who had delivered them out of Egypt, and had kept His covenant with them by driving out the Canaanites and giving to them the Land of Promise.
2. Therefore, it was once again, at Shechem that, the covenant was renewed. Each of these renewals was most solemnly done, which is reminiscent of the fact that it was there that Abraham built the first altar to the Lord within the land, and it was there that God appeared to him and promised, “Unto thy seen will I give this land.” (Gen. 12:7) This ancient city was situated near the entrance, with Mount Ebal and Mount Gerizim forming the respective walls.
3. When the covenant was renewed before, Joshua built an altar of great unhewed stones upon which the Law (the Ten Commandments) was written. (Ch. 8:31, 32) On this second occasion we read that “Joshua wrote these words in the book of the law of God.” (Ch. 24:16) There have been various conjectures as to what exactly Joshua wrote in the Book of the Law of God. Some believe he added this book that bears his name (of which it seems logical to consider him the author) to those already written by Moses. Joshua forms the necessary link between the Pentateuch and the historical books of the Old Testament, and it is definitely a complement to the Books of Moses, as it demonstrates God’s power in the performance of that which was promised.
4. Obviously, these closing verses of the book were not written by Joshua, since they contain the record of his death and burial. Who might have appended the account of the great hero’s death we do not know, but it provides an appropriate conclusion to the book.
5. In this final lesson we will consider the burial of three wonderful leaders.

I. THE DEATH AND BURIAL OF JOSHUA. (VERSES 29-31)

A. JOSHUA, HAVING FINISHED HIS COURSE, DIED AFTER THE MANNER OF MEN. (VERSE 29)
1. Joshua could sense that he was coming to the grave. His body was telling him that he was going the way of all flesh. (Ch. 23:1, 2, 14)
2. Joshua’s death was, in this way, different than the death of his predecessor. Of Moses, who was 120 years old at the time of his death, it is written, “His eye was not dim, nor his natural force abated.” (Deut. 34:7) But of Joshua, who was 110 years of age, we read, “Joshua waxed old and stricken in age.” (Josh. 23:1)
a) Moses, even at the age of 120 did not die of old age, as we say, but rather, because God took him prior to Israel entering the land. (See Num. 20:7-12; 27:12-14; Deut. 34:1-4)
b) Joshua, on the other hand, the man chosen of God to succeed Moses and lead the people over Jordan and into possession of the Land of Promise, having finished his course, died of natural causes.
c) Whether the Lord preserves a person in a miraculous way, as in the case of Moses, until his appointed service is completed; or whether He allows nature to take its course, as in the case of Joshua, is entirely within His own wisdom and power.
d) Knowing that our lives are entirely in God’s hands to do with as He wills, may we learn to say, “If the Lord will, we will live and do this or that.” (James 4:15)

B. IT WAS A SAD DAY WHEN THE NATION GATHERED TO HONOR AND BURY THEIR GREAT LEADER TO WHOM THEY OWED SO MUCH. (VERSE 30)
1. They gathered in the city for which he had asked, and which they had given him according to the word of the Lord. (Ch. 19:50)
2. Just as Caleb had requested Mount Hebron for his inheritance, Joshua had asked for Timnath-Serah, and it was there that he was buried.
3. It is noteworthy that throughout scripture we find emphasis given to the matter of burial for these bodies.
4. The burial of Joshua in the border of his beloved inheritance was done as a means of paying their last respects to the memory of a truly great man to whom they owed so much.

C. THE GREATEST HONOR SHOWN TO JOSHUA WAS HIS LEGACY. (VERSE 31)
1. We have noticed the influence that Joshua had wielded during his lifetime; it is gratifying to notice also that the beneficial influence remained upon that generation after his decease. “Surely the righteous shall be had in everlasting remembrance.”
2. John wrote, “Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth; yea saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labours, and their works do follow them.” (Rev. 14:13)
3. That the people did indeed revere and honor their departed leader is seen in the fact that they honored the covenant that he had renewed with them just prior to his death. “And Israel served the Lord…all the days of the elders that overlived Joshua…”
4. The show of love and respect here manifested would have meant very little if afterward they had ceased to walk in the ways of the Lord as Joshua had commanded them. Sadly, many a sacred promise made to a dying saint has come to nothing, but happily that was not the case here.

II. THE BURIAL OF JOSEPH’S REMAINS. (VERSE 32)

A. THE INTERMENT OF JOSEPH’S BONES IN THE LAND OF PROMISE WAS DONE ACCORDING TO HIS DYING REQUEST. (GEN. 50:24, 25)
1. Joseph died in Egypt, but as he was dying, he put his brethren under oath that when God brought them out they would carry up his bones with them.
a) In this request, Joseph was declaring his absolute confidence that the promise made to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, God would fulfill. Of all the great examples of Joseph’s faith, the Holy Spirit, in Heb. 11:22 pointed to this “commandment concerning his bones” as the choicest of them all.
b) In this request, Joseph was declaring his oneness with the people of God, and his part in the nation of Israel, which, at the time, was yet to be developed.
c) This request proved that, like Moses, Joseph’s hopes and dreams were not tied to any of the power, fame, and fortune that his exalted position in Egypt afforded him. (See Heb. 11:22-26)
2. Joseph’s bones were kept in a coffin in Egypt until the Exodus, at which time “Moses took the bones of Joseph with him.” (Gen. 50:26; Exo. 13:19)
3. Joseph did not want to remain in a permanent grave until his people had come to permanent rest in the Land of Promise.

B. THE INSPIRED WRITER OF THIS APPENDAGE WAS MOVED TO ADD THE BURIAL OF JOSEPH’S BONES TO THE RECORD.
1. As before noted, Joshua was very likely the author of the book bearing his name, but clearly, he did not write this appendage. (Verses 29-33)
2. The account of Joseph’s burial, though recorded here along with Joshua’s burial, most likely took place at an earlier time.
a) Since Joseph’s coffin had been with the people from the time they left Egypt awaiting burial in the Promised Land, it would make no sense had they waited so long to perform the burial.
b) It is believed by many that the burial took place much earlier, probably at the time of the renewing of the covenant mentioned in Ch. 8:30-35. Joseph’s bones were laid to rest near to the place where his grandfather Abraham first entered the land, and where he built his first altar, and where God appeared to him, the place of Shechem.
c) If that be so, Joseph’s burying place was within his family inheritance; near the border between Manasseh and Ephraim, his two sons.

III. THE DEATH AND BURIAL OF ELEAZAR. (VERSE 33)

A. ELEAZAR HAD BEEN VERY CLOSELY ASSOCIATED WITH JOSHUA AND HIS ADMINISTRATION.
1. He had succeeded to the office upon the death of his father, Aaron.
2. He had conducted the inaugural ceremony for Joshua.
3. He had assisted Joshua in the division of the land.

B. THE TIME OF HIS DEATH IS UNCERTAIN, BUT PROBABLY ABOUT THE SAME TIME AS JOSHUA. (JOSEPHUS)

CONCLUSION:

1. The account of the burial of these three wonderful leaders forms a very befitting close to the Book of Joshua.
2. One by one they had served their generation and had fallen asleep, but their very names direct the attention to the One who remains forever.
a) Joshua means “Jehovah is salvation.”
b) Joseph means “Jehovah may add.”
c) Eleazar means “God is help.”
3. History is ever in the making; time changes, as do conditions and people. Amidst all that is mutable, how good to know that there is One Who never changes. “I am the Lord, I change not.” (Mal. 3:6) “Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and today, and forever.” (Heb. 11:8)