Only be very careful to observe the commandment and the law that Moses the servant of the LORD commanded you, to love the LORD your God, and to walk in all his ways and to keep his commandments and to cling to him and to serve him with all your heart and with all your soul.

Joshua 22: 5


This is the way that Joshua charged the people who were to dwell beyond the Jordan with their primary tasks in governing the lands that God had provided for them. Please note what is included and what is left out of these instructions. There is no mention of loyalty to the nation as their primary concern, and there is also no mandate to set up a strong civil government as a first task. This might seem odd in that these people would be living far away from the center of their civil and national leadership. This was the remote portion of the nation where the former inhabitants had been both hostile to the Israelites and had also been very different in manners, customs, and especially in religious beliefs. Yet, the key point that Joshua makes to them is related to their observance of their own faith in God and the way that they would conduct themselves in their daily lives as a result of that relationship to the Lord.


It doesn’t seem to me to be an impossible stretch of application to consider these same directions as something to apply to our own place and times. I think that God is still instructing His people to dwell in the lands that He has given to us in a manner like that of the Israelites in Joshua’s day. Our primary objective is still to love God, to walk in His ways, keep His commandments while clinging to Him with all of our being, and to serve the Lord with the totality of our beings and resources. This charge or calling is very inclusive and truly comprehensive in its scope, for there is little left out. There is no room left over for service to a national agenda or a political objective if they deviate from God’s will. There is no mention of seeking after personal gain, glory, or power if that seeking takes us outside of God’s mission of redemption and reconciliation of all of creation to Him. In these instructions regarding life in this land of God’s choosing, the Lord’s people are given the primary task of bringing His presence to light in each and every thing that they do and say.


As followers of Christ, we are to be the same sort of emissaries of God’s love, grace, mercy, justice, and peace in the foreign places where we are granted the opportunity to dwell. We do that by following the instructions that Joshua gave to these people. We make love of God primary in all of life. He is to be the foremost and the most significant object for all of our love and devotion in this world. His will is to be our primary guide when we consider what to do in every aspect of life. There can be no deviation from this if we truly desire to be Christ’s disciples. This generally means that we will need to change some important priorities in life. We will be required to set aside some of the things that we may have held as very important and to reevaluate the way that we make decisions regarding the uses of our time, money, and resources. Christ demands all of our loyalty and every ounce of our commitment to enter into serving His kingdom come into this world. Yet, this is the sort of devotion and service to God that brings the light of His presence into our neighborhoods, communities, nations, and world.