(3) Joshua and Eleazar Die
After his farewell message it is recorded that Joshua died at age 110 years . It is also recorded that Israel served the Lord their God throughout the lifetime of Joshua and the elders of Israel; “who had experienced everything the LORD had done for Israel.” , and as we follow the progress of the nation after Joshua’s death we find that they enter a downward spiral of continued disobedience to the Word of God until they are taken captive by their enemies and finally dispersed throughout the other nations on the earth.
This leads to the question: Why does a new generation fail and history is repeated? Let us examine the meaning of the word experience which, according to the dictionary, is: “a personal encounter; a lifetime occurrence; practical wisdom”. All of these were true to the current generation of people and the leaders, for Joshua himself reminded them of it: “You yourselves have seen everything the LORD your God has done to all these nations for your sake; it was the LORD your God who fought for you….. You saw with your own eyes what I did to the Egyptians. Then you lived in the desert for a long time.”
So then, why was there such failure in the new generation of people? Some of the reasons that could be given are:
· First-hand experience was lacking. Those that had the experience were passing away and the children only knew what they were told, and eventually there were none of the generation that had the experience.
· Historical experience is difficult to grasp. This is evident in our present Western Society as we observe that our children cannot appreciate the difficulties that we experienced as we have lived through wars and the results of the war-years, difficult times when we barely survived because of limited resources. Currently, life to them is good, they can obtain all necessities with little or no difficulty, they enjoy the peace that others before them have fought and died for, so to them history is something that is far removed and meaningless. “Those who cannot remember the past, are condemned to repeat it” (George Santayana)
· Failure to learn from the experience of others. People today do not appreciate the experiences of others, and in most cases are reluctant to accept such experiences, they prefer to have their own experience; consequently they are doomed to repeat the mistakes that others before them have made.
· So it is with spiritual experiences. Israel failed to remember the commands of Moses and the Words of God because the new generations thought that it was better for them to adopt the customs of their ungodly neighbours because maybe they were more exciting and appealing than the customs of their forefathers. God had warned them of this through Moses and Joshua; “..the LORD. He is a holy God; he is a jealous God. He will not forgive your rebellion and your sins. If you forsake the LORD and serve foreign gods, he will turn and bring disaster on you and make an end of you, after he has been good to you.” .
As believers in Christ it is our duty as parents, like all Israelites, to instruct our children in the teachings of the Scriptures, but unfortunately, sometimes our children go their own way as they fail to experience for themselves the way that God has led us in our lifetime, but like Joshua and Moses we need to be faithful to God in being obedient to His commands and try to instruct our children to do the same.
So the account ends with another promise being fulfilled, the oath that was made to Joseph back in Egypt before his death: “And Joseph’s bones… were buried at Shechem…” .
(This completes our study in Joshua)