Ellen G. White Writings

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The Youth’s Instructor

June 13, 1901

Joshua's Last Words

For several years the children of Israel had been in possession of the land of Canaan. The wars of conquest ended, Joshua had withdrawn to the peaceful retirement of his home at Timnath-serah.

“And it came to pass a long time after that the Lord had given rest unto Israel from all their enemies round about, that Joshua ... called for all Israel, and for their elders, and for their heads, and for their judges, and for their officers.” The Lord had impressed his faithful servant to do as Moses had done before him,—to recapitulate the history of the people, and call to mind the terms which the Lord had made with them when he gave them his vineyard.

Several years had passed since the people had settled in their possessions, and already could be seen cropping out the same evils that had heretofore brought judgments upon Israel. As Joshua felt the infirmities of age stealing upon him, he was filled with anxiety for the future of his people. It was with more than a father's interest that he addressed them, as they gathered once more about him. “Ye have seen,” he said, “all that the Lord your God hath done unto all these nations because of you; for the Lord your God is he that hath fought for you.” Although the Canaanites had been subdued they still possessed a considerable portion of the land promised to Israel, and Joshua exhorted the people not to settle down at ease, and forget the Lord's commands utterly to dispossess these idolatrous nations.

The people in general were slow to complete the work of driving out the heathen. The tribes had dispersed to their possessions, and it was looked upon as a doubtful and difficult undertaking to renew the war. But Joshua declared: “The Lord your God, he shall expel them from before you, and drive them from out of your sight; and ye shall possess their land, as the Lord your God hath promised unto you. Be ye therefore very courageous to keep and to do all that is written in the book of the law of Moses, that ye turn not aside therefrom to the right hand or to the left.”

Joshua appealed to the people themselves as witnesses that, so far as they had complied with the conditions, God had faithfully fulfilled his promises to them. “Ye know in all your hearts and in all your souls,” he said, “that not one thing hath failed of all the good things which the Lord your God spake concerning you; all are come to pass unto you, and not one thing hath failed thereof.” He declared that as the Lord had fulfilled his promises, so he would fulfill his threatenings. “It shall come to pass,” he said, “that as all good things are come upon you, which the Lord your God promised you; so shall the Lord bring upon you all evil things.... When ye have transgressed the covenant of the Lord, ... then shall the anger of the Lord be kindled against you, and ye shall perish quickly from off the good land which he hath given unto you.”

Satan deceives many with the plausible theory that since God's love for his people is so great, he will excuse sin in them; that while the threatenings of God's word are to serve a certain purpose in his moral government, they are never to be literally fulfilled. But in his dealings with his creatures, God has maintained the principles of righteousness by revealing sin in its true character,—by demonstrating that its sure result is misery and death. The unconditional pardon of sin never has been and never will be. Such pardon would show the abandonment of the principles of righteousness which are the very foundation of the government of God. It would fill the unfallen worlds with consternation. God has faithfully pointed out the results of sin, and if these warnings are not true, how can we be sure that his promises will be fulfilled? That so-called benevolence which would set aside justice, is not benevolence, but weakness. God is the Lifegiver. From the beginning, his laws were ordained to give life. But sin broke in upon the order that God had established, and discord followed. As long as sin exists, suffering and death are inevitable. It is only because the Redeemer has borne the curse of sin in our behalf, that man can hope to escape its dire results.

Mrs. E. G. White

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