Awesome Hands – part 171: “The Covenant Renewal”

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Awesome Hands – Part 171

“The Covenant Renewal”

[Study Posted August 26, 2020]

Today’s study finds us nearing the end of the Awesome Hands series pertaining to “hands” mentioned in the book of Joshua.

Though we will span several of the last chapters in Joshua, most of the study will be a recap on what the Lord has done for Israel in the context of the book of Joshua.

First, we have the Levites coming to the leaders of Israel to request that the lands promised to them be given to them. This is the first mentioning of the word hand for this study which is found in Joshua 21.

Jos 21:1  Then came near the heads of the fathers of the Levites unto Eleazar the priest, and unto Joshua the son of Nun, and unto the heads of the fathers of the tribes of the children of Israel;
Jos 21:2  And they spake unto them at Shiloh in the land of Canaan, saying, The LORD commanded by the hand of Moses to give us cities to dwell in, with the suburbs thereof for our cattle.
Jos 21:3  And the children of Israel gave unto the Levites out of their inheritance, at the commandment of the LORD, these cities and their suburbs.

The Levites requested the land that have been promised, and this sets up the rest of the chapter to be an inventory of sorts of all the dividing up of the lands to the respective tribes to whom the Lord has promised land.

Jos 21:8  And the children of Israel gave by lot unto the Levites these cities with their suburbs, as the LORD commanded by the hand of Moses.

Jos 21:41  All the cities of the Levites within the possession of the children of Israel were forty and eight cities with their suburbs.
Jos 21:42  These cities were every one with their suburbs round about them: thus were all these cities.
Jos 21:43  And the LORD gave unto Israel all the land which he sware to give unto their fathers; and they possessed it, and dwelt therein.
Jos 21:44  And the LORD gave them rest round about, according to all that he sware unto their fathers: and there stood not a man of all their enemies before them; the LORD delivered all their enemies into their hand.
Jos 21:45  There failed not ought of any good thing which the LORD had spoken unto the house of Israel; all came to pass.

Obviously all that is transpiring here in this chapter is the culmination of all the events that happened up until this point.

This is the bookend on a very long and arduous process the Lord started Israel on when He first called forth Abraham and promised Abraham a people coming forth from him to serve the Lord.

What we need to note is that this had to be a big event for the people. Even if everyone wasn’t at this event or attentive to it, this was an event that would change the way Israel lived as Israel forevermore.

Next, we move to chapter 22, and we continue the story of the dividing of the lands, but we do so from the perspective of dealing with the tribes that were left on the other side of the Jordan. Remember, not all of the tribes crossed over the Jordan.

Jos 22:1  Then Joshua called the Reubenites, and the Gadites, and the half tribe of Manasseh,
Jos 22:2  And said unto them, Ye have kept all that Moses the servant of the LORD commanded you, and have obeyed my voice in all that I commanded you:
Jos 22:3  Ye have not left your brethren these many days unto this day, but have kept the charge of the commandment of the LORD your God.
Jos 22:4  And now the LORD your God hath given rest unto your brethren, as he promised them: therefore now return ye, and get you unto your tents, and unto the land of your possession, which Moses the servant of the LORD gave you on the other side Jordan.
Jos 22:5  But take diligent heed to do the commandment and the law, which Moses the servant of the LORD charged you, to love the LORD your God, and to walk in all his ways, and to keep his commandments, and to cleave unto him, and to serve him with all your heart and with all your soul.
Jos 22:6  So Joshua blessed them, and sent them away: and they went unto their tents.
Jos 22:7  Now to the one half of the tribe of Manasseh Moses had given possession in Bashan: but unto the other half thereof gave Joshua among their brethren on this side Jordan westward. And when Joshua sent them away also unto their tents, then he blessed them,
Jos 22:8  And he spake unto them, saying, Return with much riches unto your tents, and with very much cattle, with silver, and with gold, and with brass, and with iron, and with very much raiment: divide the spoil of your enemies with your brethren.
Jos 22:9  And the children of Reuben and the children of Gad and the half tribe of Manasseh returned, and departed from the children of Israel out of Shiloh, which is in the land of Canaan, to go unto the country of Gilead, to the land of their possession, whereof they were possessed, according to the word of the LORD by the hand of Moses.

After this meeting takes place, the eastern tribes on the “other side of Jordan” depart and go back to their lands. However, on their way over to cross the river back home, they erect an altar. This does not go very well. I will read these next verses from the ESV translation.

Jos 22:10 ESV  And when they came to the region of the Jordan that is in the land of Canaan, the people of Reuben and the people of Gad and the half-tribe of Manasseh built there an altar by the Jordan, an altar of imposing size.
Jos 22:11 ESV  And the people of Israel heard it said, “Behold, the people of Reuben and the people of Gad and the half-tribe of Manasseh have built the altar at the frontier of the land of Canaan, in the region about the Jordan, on the side that belongs to the people of Israel.”
Jos 22:12 ESV  And when the people of Israel heard of it, the whole assembly of the people of Israel gathered at Shiloh to make war against them.
Jos 22:13 ESV  Then the people of Israel sent to the people of Reuben and the people of Gad and the half-tribe of Manasseh, in the land of Gilead, Phinehas the son of Eleazar the priest,
Jos 22:14 ESV  and with him ten chiefs, one from each of the tribal families of Israel, every one of them the head of a family among the clans of Israel.
Jos 22:15 ESV  And they came to the people of Reuben, the people of Gad, and the half-tribe of Manasseh, in the land of Gilead, and they said to them,
Jos 22:16 ESV  “Thus says the whole congregation of the LORD, ‘What is this breach of faith that you have committed against the God of Israel in turning away this day from following the LORD by building yourselves an altar this day in rebellion against the LORD?

What I find interesting is that the tribes on “this side of Jordan” find it a “breach of faith” that has been committed against God and Israel for building an altar. So strong is this belief that they were ready to go to war no sooner than the Lord had given them rest and peace. This is right after the end of chapter 21.

Jos 21:44  And the LORD gave them rest round about, according to all that he sware unto their fathers: and there stood not a man of all their enemies before them; the LORD delivered all their enemies into their hand.
Jos 21:45  There failed not ought of any good thing which the LORD had spoken unto the house of Israel; all came to pass.

It tells us a lot about the state of the church and how we act initially after being given peace and life in the Lord. We immediately want to lord it over others and declare ourselves as speakers on the Lord’s behalf.

Aren’t the eastern tribes part of Israel? Therefore, are they calling war on themselves as claimed by these other tribes?

Continuing in verse 17, we see some of the details of the concerns of the western tribes:

Jos 22:17 ESV  Have we not had enough of the sin at Peor from which even yet we have not cleansed ourselves, and for which there came a plague upon the congregation of the LORD,
Jos 22:18 ESV  that you too must turn away this day from following the LORD? And if you too rebel against the LORD today then tomorrow he will be angry with the whole congregation of Israel.
Jos 22:19 ESV  But now, if the land of your possession is unclean, pass over into the LORD’s land where the LORD’s tabernacle stands, and take for yourselves a possession among us. Only do not rebel against the LORD or make us as rebels by building for yourselves an altar other than the altar of the LORD our God.
Jos 22:20 ESV  Did not Achan the son of Zerah break faith in the matter of the devoted things, and wrath fell upon all the congregation of Israel? And he did not perish alone for his iniquity.’”
Jos 22:21 ESV  Then the people of Reuben, the people of Gad, and the half-tribe of Manasseh said in answer to the heads of the families of Israel,
Jos 22:22 ESV  “The Mighty One, God, the LORD! The Mighty One, God, the LORD! He knows; and let Israel itself know! If it was in rebellion or in breach of faith against the LORD, do not spare us today
Jos 22:23 ESV  for building an altar to turn away from following the LORD. Or if we did so to offer burnt offerings or grain offerings or peace offerings on it, may the LORD himself take vengeance.
Jos 22:24 ESV  No, but we did it from fear that in time to come your children might say to our children, ‘What have you to do with the LORD, the God of Israel?
Jos 22:25 ESV  For the LORD has made the Jordan a boundary between us and you, you people of Reuben and people of Gad. You have no portion in the LORD.’ So your children might make our children cease to worship the LORD.
Jos 22:26 ESV  Therefore we said, ‘Let us now build an altar, not for burnt offering, nor for sacrifice,
Jos 22:27 ESV  but to be a witness between us and you, and between our generations after us, that we do perform the service of the LORD in his presence with our burnt offerings and sacrifices and peace offerings, so your children will not say to our children in time to come, “You have no portion in the LORD.”’
Jos 22:28 ESV  And we thought, ‘If this should be said to us or to our descendants in time to come, we should say, “Behold, the copy of the altar of the LORD, which our fathers made, not for burnt offerings, nor for sacrifice, but to be a witness between us and you.”’
Jos 22:29 ESV  Far be it from us that we should rebel against the LORD and turn away this day from following the LORD by building an altar for burnt offering, grain offering, or sacrifice, other than the altar of the LORD our God that stands before his tabernacle!”

I know those are a lot of verses to read, but one can’t get the same feel for the intensity of what is happening by just saying it in one’s own words as to what was inspired to be written down by the Lord.

It is revealing that the first instinct of the larger group of Israel was to assume that the smaller group, made up of the eastern tribes of Israel, was rebelling against the Lord.

It is quite apparent that these eastern tribes were very wise and right on the money with what would be said about them in the future. It is being said about them right here in this story!

In a nutshell, these eastern tribes feared that the Jordan would serve as both a physical and MENTAL boundary to the western tribes as to whether the eastern tribes were really a part of Israel, and they were right to be concerned as proven with this very story.

They simply did something that was not understood by the rest of the tribes, and immediately the western tribes prepared for war.

In truth, the eastern tribes were wanting to make sure that Israel was always united.

Jos 22:30 ESV  When Phinehas the priest and the chiefs of the congregation, the heads of the families of Israel who were with him, heard the words that the people of Reuben and the people of Gad and the people of Manasseh spoke, it was good in their eyes.
Jos 22:31 ESV  And Phinehas the son of Eleazar the priest said to the people of Reuben and the people of Gad and the people of Manasseh, “Today we know that the LORD is in our midst, because you have not committed this breach of faith against the LORD. Now you have delivered the people of Israel from the hand of the LORD.”
Jos 22:32 ESV  Then Phinehas the son of Eleazar the priest, and the chiefs, returned from the people of Reuben and the people of Gad in the land of Gilead to the land of Canaan, to the people of Israel, and brought back word to them.
Jos 22:33 ESV  And the report was good in the eyes of the people of Israel. And the people of Israel blessed God and spoke no more of making war against them to destroy the land where the people of Reuben and the people of Gad were settled.
Jos 22:34 ESV  The people of Reuben and the people of Gad called the altar Witness, “For,” they said, “it is a witness between us that the LORD is God.”

This story is a great example of why jumping to conclusions can be so devastating. The Lord has ultimately caused these eastern tribes to build this altar. Phinehas concludes that the hand of the Lord is stayed because the breach of faith they ASSUMED happened had not HAPPENED.

However, the staying of the Lord’s hand happened because the western tribes heard out what the eastern tribes had to say. The eastern tribes NEVER INTENDED to build the altar for the purposes the western tribes accused them. Even with the altar built, the hand of the Lord would not have come against Israel.

We know this to be true because it is recorded as such:

Jos 22:22 ESV  “The Mighty One, God, the LORD! The Mighty One, God, the LORD! He knows; and let Israel itself know! If it was in rebellion or in breach of faith against the LORD, do not spare us today

We find ourselves in the last chapter of Joshua that has “hand” or “hands” mentioned in it. This chapter is a good reminder of where it is we have come from, and as a result, what it is we are to do as a result of our remembrance of who delivered us. However, just remembering the work of the Lord in our lives is not enough.

Idle hands are the devil’s playground, as it is said, so let us not be spiritually idle. While this phrase is not exactly found in the KJV or other translations, the concept very much is active throughout scripture.

2Th 3:10 ESV  For even when we were with you, we would give you this command: If anyone is not willing to work, let him not eat.
2Th 3:11 ESV  For we hear that some among you walk in idleness, not busy at work, but busybodies.
2Th 3:12 ESV  Now such persons we command and encourage in the Lord Jesus Christ to do their work quietly and to earn their own living.

1Ti 5:8 KJV  But if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel.
1Ti 5:9 KJV  Let not a widow be taken into the number under threescore years old, having been the wife of one man,
1Ti 5:10 KJV  Well reported of for good works; if she have brought up children, if she have lodged strangers, if she have washed the saints’ feet, if she have relieved the afflicted, if she have diligently followed every good work.
1Ti 5:11 KJV  But the younger widows refuse: for when they have begun to wax wanton against Christ, they will marry;
1Ti 5:12 KJV  Having damnation, because they have cast off their first faith.
1Ti 5:13 KJV  And withal they learn to be idle, wandering about from house to house; and not only idle, but tattlers also and busybodies, speaking things which they ought not.

Pro 10:4 KJV  He becometh poor that dealeth with a slack hand: but the hand of the diligent maketh rich.
Pro 10:5 KJV  He that gathereth in summer is a wise son: but he that sleepeth in harvest is a son that causeth shame.

Pro 18:9 KJV  He also that is slothful in his work is brother to him that is a great waster.

Ecc 10:18 KJV  By much slothfulness the building decayeth; and through idleness of the hands the house droppeth through.

Joshua is now going to remind Israel of where they have been brought and what they are to do with this newly found peace and freedom in the Lord.

Jos 24:1 ESV  Joshua gathered all the tribes of Israel to Shechem and summoned the elders, the heads, the judges, and the officers of Israel. And they presented themselves before God.
Jos 24:2 ESV  And Joshua said to all the people, “Thus says the LORD, the God of Israel, ‘Long ago, your fathers lived beyond the Euphrates, Terah, the father of Abraham and of Nahor; and they served other gods.
Jos 24:3 ESV  Then I took your father Abraham from beyond the River and led him through all the land of Canaan, and made his offspring many. I gave him Isaac.
Jos 24:4 ESV  And to Isaac I gave Jacob and Esau. And I gave Esau the hill country of Seir to possess, but Jacob and his children went down to Egypt.
Jos 24:5 ESV  And I sent Moses and Aaron, and I plagued Egypt with what I did in the midst of it, and afterward I brought you out.
Jos 24:6 ESV  “‘Then I brought your fathers out of Egypt, and you came to the sea. And the Egyptians pursued your fathers with chariots and horsemen to the Red Sea.
Jos 24:7 ESV  And when they cried to the LORD, he put darkness between you and the Egyptians and made the sea come upon them and cover them; and your eyes saw what I did in Egypt. And you lived in the wilderness a long time.
Jos 24:8 ESV  Then I brought you to the land of the Amorites, who lived on the other side of the Jordan. They fought with you, and I gave them into your hand, and you took possession of their land, and I destroyed them before you.
Jos 24:9 ESV  Then Balak the son of Zippor, king of Moab, arose and fought against Israel. And he sent and invited Balaam the son of Beor to curse you,
Jos 24:10 ESV  but I would not listen to Balaam. Indeed, he blessed you. So I delivered you out of his hand.
Jos 24:11 ESV  And you went over the Jordan and came to Jericho, and the leaders of Jericho fought against you, and also the Amorites, the Perizzites, the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Girgashites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites. And I gave them into your hand.
Jos 24:12 ESV  And I sent the hornet before you, which drove them out before you, the two kings of the Amorites; it was not by your sword or by your bow.
Jos 24:13 ESV  I gave you a land on which you had not labored and cities that you had not built, and you dwell in them. You eat the fruit of vineyards and olive orchards that you did not plant.’

Fear of the Lord means a lot of things, and there has been much written on this topic. Indeed, we have lost brothers and sisters in this fellowship because of this very topic of fearing the Lord.

Nonetheless, the scripture does not say to fear the Lord in vain. We should be concerned with our standing in the Lord above all other things if we desire to be among the faithful elect of God.

The truth is, as we covered in the last study, that the Lord gives the gift of Faith. It is also the Lord that removes His gift as He wills it. So, those that are called, chosen and faithful to the end are only full of faith, to the end because the Lord has caused them to overcome their TRIALS OF FAITH with the faith the Lord has granted them!

Rev 2:14 KJV  But I have a few things against thee, because thou hast there them that hold the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balac to cast a stumblingblock before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed unto idols, and to commit fornication.

Heb 3:1 KJV  Wherefore, holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling, consider the Apostle and High Priest of our profession, Christ Jesus;
Heb 3:2 KJV  Who was faithful to him that appointed him, as also Moses was faithful in all his house.

Rev 17:14 KJV  These shall make war with the Lamb, and the Lamb shall overcome them: for he is Lord of lords, and King of kings: and they that are with him are called, and chosen, and faithful.

Heb 12:2 KJV  Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.

Here then is our instruction, coming by way of the example set for us by Joshua to the Israelites:

Jos 24:14 KJV  Now therefore fear the LORD, and serve him in sincerity and in truth: and put away the gods which your fathers served on the other side of the flood, and in Egypt; and serve ye the LORD.
Jos 24:15 KJV  And if it seem evil unto you to serve the LORD, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.

Joshua starts off by telling the people to put away the gods they are worshipping. Those gods are from their forefathers and from those that came before them. For us, we came from the old man in us. We came from that, but we have also been born again. That way of worshipping the old man is dead and buried in spiritual baptism.

Jos 24:16 KJV  And the people answered and said, God forbid that we should forsake the LORD, to serve other gods;
Jos 24:17 KJV  For the LORD our God, he it is that brought us up and our fathers out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage, and which did those great signs in our sight, and preserved us in all the way wherein we went, and among all the people through whom we passed:
Jos 24:18 KJV  And the LORD drave out from before us all the people, even the Amorites which dwelt in the land: therefore will we also serve the LORD; for he is our God.
Jos 24:19 KJV  And Joshua said unto the people, Ye cannot serve the LORD: for he is an holy God; he is a jealous God; he will not forgive your transgressions nor your sins.

Joshua is telling Israel they cannot serve the Lord because they are obviously STILL serving other gods. Isn’t that amazing?

So, if after ALL that we have known to happen in the bible, up to this chapter of Joshua, has happened and the people still worship others gods, what should our conclusion be about the possibility that we, too, are being warned to “choose this day whom you will serve”?

Jos 24:20 KJV  If ye forsake the LORD, and serve strange gods, then he will turn and do you hurt, and consume you, after that he hath done you good.
Jos 24:21 KJV  And the people said unto Joshua, Nay; but we will serve the LORD.
Jos 24:22 KJV  And Joshua said unto the people, Ye are witnesses against yourselves that ye have chosen you the LORD, to serve him. And they said, We are witnesses.
Jos 24:23 KJV  Now therefore put away, said he, the strange gods which are among you, and incline your heart unto the LORD God of Israel.
Jos 24:24 KJV  And the people said unto Joshua, The LORD our God will we serve, and his voice will we obey.
Jos 24:25 KJV  So Joshua made a covenant with the people that day, and set them a statute and an ordinance in Shechem.

The place this covenant is made is in Shechem, which means ridge. The root word in Hebrew is neck, or specifically, the place the burden is placed on.


The same as H7926; ridge; Shekem, a place in Palestine: – Shechem.
Total KJV occurrences: 49


From H7925; the neck (between the shoulders) as the place of burdens; figuratively the spur of a hill: – back, X consent, portion, shoulder.
Total KJV occurrences: 22


A primitive root; properly to incline (the shoulder to a burden); but used only as denominative from H7926; literally to load up (on the back of man or beast), that is, to start early in the morning: – (arise, be up, get [oneself] up, rise up) early (betimes), morning.

Total KJV occurrences: 65

The place that Joshua tells Israel to ‘choose this day whom you will serve’ is in the place of ‘burden’, but it also means to literally load up and start early in the morning. This doesn’t sound like someone who is spiritually idle. This sounds like someone who is ready to fear the Lord and do the service of the house of God.

Joshua’s call was to put strange gods away. For us, we don’t have to worry about worshiping false gods of the Romans or the Greeks or any other religions or culture because that would obviously be wrong.

Our true concern is much more subtle and is with worshiping the god who sits on the throne of God showing himself to be God.

2Th 2:1 KJV  Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto him,
2Th 2:2 KJV  That ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us, as that the day of Christ is at hand.
2Th 2:3 KJV  Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition;
2Th 2:4 KJV  Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God.

We must be diligent to examine ourselves daily to confirm that we are fearing the Lord and putting away any other god that exalts itself against the one True God. That is our covenant and calling.

Other related posts