Scripture Focus: Joshua 23.1-2, 11
1After a long time had passed and the Lord had given Israel rest from all their enemies around them, Joshua, by then a very old man, 2 summoned all Israel—their elders, leaders, judges and officials—and said to them . . . 11 “So be very careful to love the Lord your God.”
Student Writers Month:
This month, The Park Forum welcomes college and seminary student writers pursuing ministry careers. For more info about our yearly Student Writer program, see our website.
Reflection: Resting without Regressing
By João Moraes
Rest is precisely what we need at the end of a hard season. That is what the people of Israel receive from God after long years of battles and turmoil. At the end of his life, Joshua tells the people that it’s time to look back and see “all that the Lord your God has done” for their sake (v. 3). Joshua then moves sharply from encouragements to warnings.
In verse 11, Joshua exhorts them to “attentively guard [their] heart to love the LORD” (my translation). In this season of rest, Joshua is concerned that the people will turn away from the Lord. Now that the battles have stopped, he is afraid that Israel will be influenced by the survivors of the defeated nations and end up trapped.
Seasons of rest lack the sense of urgency that comes with times of crisis. As they expose our vulnerability, crises often force us to an extreme choice. We can either despair or cling hopefully to something. When that ‘something’ is God, our faith is strengthened beyond measure as we hold steadfastly to the Lord and trust His provision. By contrast, in seasons of rest we don’t feel pushed either way, we can relax. But if relaxation means abandoning sanctification, we are passively turning away from God. This makes us vulnerable to traps from the Enemy. When we are not actively seeking the Lord, we are open to all the gods of our era: fame, lust, success, money, etc.
Mid-2021 feels like a time of rest in many places around the world. After more than a year of uncertainties, isolation, and constant deaths as we battled COVID-19, the vaccine finally made its way to a significant number of people. As we remember, empathize, and pray for the several places that are still struggling, we may sigh in relief as we rest from this battle. But Joshua reminds us to question ourselves and stay attentive.
What will I do now that life is going back to normal? How will I continue the practices of prayer and meditation that I developed during isolation? How will I make sure that this season of rest is an opportunity for growth and not a snare for stumbling?
Divine Hours Prayer: The Refrain for the Morning Lessons
Gracious is the Lord and righteous; our God is full of compassion. — Psalm 116.4
– Divine Hours prayers from The Divine Hours: Prayers for Springtime by Phyllis Tickle
Joshua 23 (Listen – 2:31)
Acts 3 (Listen – 3:33)
This Weekend’s Readings
Joshua 24 (Listen– 5:39), Acts 4 (Listen – 5:15)
Judges 1 (Listen – 5:08), Acts 5 (Listen – 6:49)
Read More about Readers’ Choice 2021
It is time to hear from you about the posts from the past eleven months (September 2020 – July 2021) that have challenged, comforted, and helped you find new meaning in the scriptures.
Read more about Hearts God Moves
May God move in our hearts…making his dwelling place with us and shining brightly through us…