In the last chapter of Joshua, we see Joshua leading Israel to renew their covenant with God before he dies. In this final act of faithfulness, Joshua finishes what he started—bringing Israel into the land—and receives the honorific title Servant of the Lord. Here are 10 things about this covenant renewal and the close of Joshua.
1. Joshua 24 is one of many covenant renewals in the Bible.
Beginning in Deuteronomy (or Exodus 32–34), Israel adopted a practice of renewing their commitment to Yahweh. When there was a transition of power (like from Moses to Joshua), or when there was a sin that broke covenant with God (e.g., the Golden Calf or the sin of Baal-Peor), Israel’s faithful leaders led the nation to renew their covenant.
For instance, when Achan’s sin brought judgment on Israel, Joshua led the nation to renew their covenant with God (Josh. 8:30–35). At the same time, this covenant renewal came at a time when Israel was entering a land filled with idols. So, it also had a positive sense of confessing Israel’s faith to Yahweh in a land filled with idols. For both reasons, it makes sense that we find a covenant renewal in Joshua 8.
Now, in Joshua 24 we find another covenant renewal. Much like Moses, he assembles the people of God as he anticipates death. He presses Israel to be faithful to the covenant Yahweh made with them at Sinai. Joshua is not initiating a “new” covenant; he is calling the people to recommit themselves to the first covenant. And in this way, he repeats and reinforces a model of faithfulness that will be seen throughout the Old Testament. Other examples of covenant renewals in the Bible include:
- Asa leads Israel to renew their commitment to God (2 Chronicles 15)
- Josiah leads Israel to renew the covenant with God when he discovers the book of the Law (2 Kings 23)
- Ezra and Nehemiah work to lead the nation of Israel to recommit themselves to God when the second temple is built (Ezra 10; Nehemiah 9–10)
- The Lord’s Supper is a covenant renewal, as the church remembers Christ’s new covenant every time they take the elements (1 Corinthians 10–11)
This string of covenant renewals helps to set the context of Joshua 24 and its importance in redemptive history. Continue reading