Joshua 23The Message (MSG)
23 1-2 A long time later, after God had given Israel rest from all their surrounding enemies, and Joshua was a venerable old man, Joshua called all Israel together—elders, chiefs, judges, and officers. Then he spoke to them:
2-3 “I’m an old man. I’ve lived a long time. You have seen everything that God has done to these nations because of you. He did it because he’s God, your God. He fought for you.
4-5 “Stay alert: I have assigned to you by lot these nations that remain as an inheritance to your tribes—these in addition to the nations I have already cut down—from the Jordan to the Great Sea in the west. God, your God, will drive them out of your path until there’s nothing left of them and you’ll take over their land just as God, your God, promised you.
6-8 “Now, stay strong and steady. Obediently do everything written in the Book of The Revelation of Moses—don’t miss a detail. Don’t get mixed up with the nations that are still around. Don’t so much as speak the names of their gods or swear by them. And by all means don’t worship or pray to them. Hold tight to God, your God, just as you’ve done up to now.
9-10 “God has driven out superpower nations before you. And up to now, no one has been able to stand up to you. Think of it—one of you, single-handedly, putting a thousand on the run! Because God is God, your God. Because he fights for you, just as he promised you.
11-13 “Now, vigilantly guard your souls: Love God, your God. Because if you wander off and start taking up with these remaining nations still among you (intermarry, say, and have other dealings with them), know for certain that God, your God, will not get rid of these nations for you. They’ll be nothing but trouble to you—horsewhips on your backs and sand in your eyes—until you’re the ones who will be driven out of this good land that God, your God, has given you.
14 “As you can see, I’m about to go the way we all end up going. Know this with all your heart, with everything in you, that not one detail has failed of all the good things God, your God, promised you. It has all happened. Nothing’s left undone—not so much as a word.
15-16 “But just as sure as everything good that God, your God, has promised has come true, so also God will bring to pass every bad thing until there’s nothing left of you in this good land that God has given you. If you leave the path of the Covenant of God, your God, that he commanded you, go off and serve and worship other gods, God’s anger will blaze out against you. In no time at all there’ll be nothing left of you, no sign that you’ve ever been in this good land he gave you.”
Joshua 24The Message (MSG)
The Covenant at Shechem
24 1-2 Joshua called together all the tribes of Israel at Shechem. He called in the elders, chiefs, judges, and officers. They presented themselves before God. Then Joshua addressed all the people:
2-6 “This is what God, the God of Israel, says: A long time ago your ancestors, Terah and his sons Abraham and Nahor, lived to the east of the River Euphrates. They worshiped other gods. I took your ancestor Abraham from the far side of The River. I led him all over the land of Canaan and multiplied his descendants. I gave him Isaac. Then I gave Isaac Jacob and Esau. I let Esau have the mountains of Seir as home, but Jacob and his sons ended up in Egypt. I sent Moses and Aaron. I hit Egypt hard with plagues and then led you out of there. I brought your ancestors out of Egypt. You came to the sea, the Egyptians in hot pursuit with chariots and cavalry, to the very edge of the Red Sea!
7-10 “Then they cried out for help to God. He put a cloud between you and the Egyptians and then let the sea loose on them. It drowned them.
“You watched the whole thing with your own eyes, what I did to Egypt. And then you lived in the wilderness for a long time. I brought you to the country of the Amorites, who lived east of the Jordan, and they fought you. But I fought for you and you took their land. I destroyed them for you. Then Balak son of Zippor made his appearance. He was the king of Moab. He got ready to fight Israel by sending for Balaam son of Beor to come and curse you. But I wouldn’t listen to Balaam—he ended up blessing you over and over! I saved you from him.
11 “You then crossed the Jordan and came to Jericho. The Jericho leaders ganged up on you as well as the Amorites, Perizzites, Canaanites, Hittites, Girgashites, Hivites, and Jebusites, but I turned them over to you.
12 “I sent the Hornet ahead of you. It drove out the two Amorite kings—did your work for you. You didn’t have to do a thing, not so much as raise a finger.
13 “I handed you a land for which you did not work, towns you did not build. And here you are now living in them and eating from vineyards and olive groves you did not plant.
14 “So now: Fear God. Worship him in total commitment. Get rid of the gods your ancestors worshiped on the far side of The River (the Euphrates) and in Egypt. You, worship God.
15 “If you decide that it’s a bad thing to worship God, then choose a god you’d rather serve—and do it today. Choose one of the gods your ancestors worshiped from the country beyond The River, or one of the gods of the Amorites, on whose land you’re now living. As for me and my family, we’ll worship God.”
16 The people answered, “We’d never forsake God! Never! We’d never leave God to worship other gods.
17-18 “God is our God! He brought up our ancestors from Egypt and from slave conditions. He did all those great signs while we watched. He has kept his eye on us all along the roads we’ve traveled and among the nations we’ve passed through. Just for us he drove out all the nations, Amorites and all, who lived in the land.
“Count us in: We too are going to worship God. He’s our God.”
19-20 Then Joshua told the people: “You can’t do it; you’re not able to worship God. He is a holy God. He is a jealous God. He won’t put up with your fooling around and sinning. When you leave God and take up the worship of foreign gods, he’ll turn right around and come down on you hard. He’ll put an end to you—and after all the good he has done for you!”
21 But the people told Joshua: “No! No! We worship God!”
22 And so Joshua addressed the people: “You are witnesses against yourselves that you have chosen God for yourselves—to worship him.”
And they said, “We are witnesses.”
23 Joshua said, “Now get rid of all the foreign gods you have with you. Say an unqualified Yes to God, the God of Israel.”
24 The people answered Joshua, “We will worship God. What he says, we’ll do.”
25-26 Joshua completed a Covenant for the people that day there at Shechem. He made it official, spelling it out in detail. Joshua wrote out all the directions and regulations into the Book of The Revelation of God. Then he took a large stone and set it up under the oak that was in the holy place of God.
27 Joshua spoke to all the people: “This stone is a witness against us. It has heard every word that God has said to us. It is a standing witness against you lest you cheat on your God.”
28 Then Joshua dismissed the people, each to his own place of inheritance.
29-30 After all this, Joshua son of Nun, the servant of God, died. He was 110 years old. They buried him in the land of his inheritance at Timnath Serah in the mountains of Ephraim, north of Mount Gaash.
31 Israel served God through the lifetime of Joshua and of the elders who outlived him, who had themselves experienced all that God had done for Israel.
32 Joseph’s bones, which the People of Israel had brought from Egypt, they buried in Shechem in the plot of ground that Jacob had purchased from the sons of Hamor (who was the father of Shechem). He paid a hundred silver coins for it. It belongs to the inheritance of the family of Joseph.
33 Eleazar son of Aaron died. They buried him at Gibeah, which had been allotted to his son Phinehas in the mountains of Ephraim.
Psalm 44The Message (MSG)
A Psalm of the Sons of Korah
44 1-3 We’ve been hearing about this, God,
4-8 You’re my King, O God—
9-12 But now you’ve walked off and left us,
13-16 You made people on the street,
17-19 All this came down on us,
20-22 If we had forgotten to pray to our God
23-26 Get up, God! Are you going to sleep all day?
1 Corinthians 11The Message (MSG)
To Honor God
11 1-2 It pleases me that you continue to remember and honor me by keeping up the traditions of the faith I taught you. All actual authority stems from Christ.
3-9 In a marriage relationship, there is authority from Christ to husband, and from husband to wife. The authority of Christ is the authority of God. Any man who speaks with God or about God in a way that shows a lack of respect for the authority of Christ, dishonors Christ. In the same way, a wife who speaks with God in a way that shows a lack of respect for the authority of her husband, dishonors her husband. Worse, she dishonors herself—an ugly sight, like a woman with her head shaved. This is basically the origin of these customs we have of women wearing head coverings in worship, while men take their hats off. By these symbolic acts, men and women, who far too often butt heads with each other, submit their “heads” to the Head: God.
10-12 Don’t, by the way, read too much into the differences here between men and women. Neither man nor woman can go it alone or claim priority. Man was created first, as a beautiful shining reflection of God—that is true. But the head on a woman’s body clearly outshines in beauty the head of her “head,” her husband. The first woman came from man, true—but ever since then, every man comes from a woman! And since virtually everything comes from God anyway, let’s quit going through these “who’s first” routines.
13-16 Don’t you agree there is something naturally powerful in the symbolism—a woman, her beautiful hair reminiscent of angels, praying in adoration; a man, his head bared in reverence, praying in submission? I hope you’re not going to be argumentative about this. All God’s churches see it this way; I don’t want you standing out as an exception.
17-19 Regarding this next item, I’m not at all pleased. I am getting the picture that when you meet together it brings out your worst side instead of your best! First, I get this report on your divisiveness, competing with and criticizing each other. I’m reluctant to believe it, but there it is. The best that can be said for it is that the testing process will bring truth into the open and confirm it.
20-22 And then I find that you bring your divisions to worship—you come together, and instead of eating the Lord’s Supper, you bring in a lot of food from the outside and make pigs of yourselves. Some are left out, and go home hungry. Others have to be carried out, too drunk to walk. I can’t believe it! Don’t you have your own homes to eat and drink in? Why would you stoop to desecrating God’s church? Why would you actually shame God’s poor? I never would have believed you would stoop to this. And I’m not going to stand by and say nothing.
23-26 Let me go over with you again exactly what goes on in the Lord’s Supper and why it is so centrally important. I received my instructions from the Master himself and passed them on to you. The Master, Jesus, on the night of his betrayal, took bread. Having given thanks, he broke it and said,
This is my body, broken for you.
After supper, he did the same thing with the cup:
This cup is my blood, my new covenant with you.
What you must solemnly realize is that every time you eat this bread and every time you drink this cup, you reenact in your words and actions the death of the Master. You will be drawn back to this meal again and again until the Master returns. You must never let familiarity breed contempt.
27-28 Anyone who eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Master irreverently is like part of the crowd that jeered and spit on him at his death. Is that the kind of “remembrance” you want to be part of? Examine your motives, test your heart, come to this meal in holy awe.
29-32 If you give no thought (or worse, don’t care) about the broken body of the Master when you eat and drink, you’re running the risk of serious consequences. That’s why so many of you even now are listless and sick, and others have gone to an early grave. If we get this straight now, we won’t have to be straightened out later on. Better to be confronted by the Master now than to face a fiery confrontation later.
33-34 So, my friends, when you come together to the Lord’s Table, be reverent and courteous with one another. If you’re so hungry that you can’t wait to be served, go home and get a sandwich. But by no means risk turning this Meal into an eating and drinking binge or a family squabble. It is a spiritual meal—a love feast.
The other things you asked about, I’ll respond to in person when I make my next visit.