This Post Originally Appeared in 2016
I’ve been reading Joshua this last week and I reached the final two chapters thinking I would move on to the book of Judges rather quickly. The Holy Spirit had other plans. I don’t have a big system that I follow in my Bible reading, but I have one rule to which I adhere. If I’m reading and I zone out, I will go back to the section where I zoned out and re-read it. If I continue to zone out, I know it’s time to slow down and dig into it. I figure if the devil wants to distract me that much, he’s going to do it at a point where God wants my attention the most. Perhaps it isn’t Satan doing it; maybe God uses my natural tendencies as a sign for me. Either way, it’s my rule and I try to stick with it unless the Prince of Peace grants me peace in moving forward.
The final two chapters of Joshua record his farewell speeches. You’ve likely read the famous line from the final chapter, “…but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.” (24:15) As I approached the last two chapters, I planned on seeing that, praying over it, and moving on to another book. However, starting into chapter 23, the writing on the wall became clear. I wasn’t going anywhere, soon. Thus, the pursuit began.
It was verse 8 in the 23rd chapter that just wouldn’t allow me move forward. It reads, “But you are to cling to the LORD your God, as you have done to this day.” I guess you could say I got hung-up on the word, “cling.”
My nerdy self went to the lexicon button on the Bible Hub website. It shows two lexicons: the NASB and the KJV. I’m not enough of a Biblical scholar to tell you why they differ, but they do. Seeing these two lexicons, I learned the Hebrew words for this word, “cling.” Don’t get bogged down trying to pronounce them.
Take a moment and re-read the first part of verse 8. “But you are to cling to the LORD your God…” Now, re-read it three more times replacing “cling” with these words from the lexicons: “cleave,” “keep close,” and “catch by pursuit.”
Let’s add more context to this quote. Verses 6 and 7 read, “Be very firm, then, to keep and do all that is written in the book of the law of Moses, so that you may not turn aside from it to the right hand or to the left, so that you will not associate with these nations, these which remain among you, or mention the name of their gods, or make anyone swear by them, or serve them, or bow down to them.”
Israel had a relatively short history, but it included several instances of serving other gods, creating idols, and forfeiting their God-given identity. Joshua tells the nation in the 24th chapter how this propensity toward distraction is essentially in their DNA, dating back to Abraham’s father, Terah.
As you can see from my opening paragraph, distraction is easily in my DNA as well. But Joshua gives folks like me a great commission, “Cling to the LORD your God…” He tells us, “Keep close, the LORD your God…” He instructs us, “Cleave, to the LORD your God…” He directs us, “Catch by pursuit, the LORD your God…” Joshua knew full well that God was not about to share His glory. Furthermore, God’s Word for His people is too precious to be revealed when our hearts and minds are divided.
I love the words, “catch by pursuit.” Surely, no pursuer overcomes the object of his/her pursuit without focused attention. The beauty of communion is revealed in this phrase. Communion is intentional and it is mutual. It is the ultimate result of a Heavenly Father who runs to meet you as you seek His presence. Surely the one true God could not be caught by mere mortals without desiring that we catch Him.
It is in communion, the moments when we cleave to Him and His Word, that He reveals our true identity and purpose. I leave you with a few words by Skye Jethani regarding this matter of communion. “What brings a person value, significance, and hope is not what he does but with whom he does it. The call to live in continual communion with God means that every person’s life, no matter how mundane, is elevated to sacred heights.”
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