6 “Be very strong; be careful to obey all that is written in the Book of the Law of Moses, without turning aside to the right or to the left. 7 Do not associate with these nations that remain among you; do not invoke the names of their gods or swear by them. You must not serve them or bow down to them. 8 But you are to hold fast to the Lord your God, as you have until now.
Context for the above verses from the first five of this chapter where Joshua is making a farewell speech to the elders, leaders, judges and officials (v1) of all of Israel as he is very old and soon to die (next chapter) at the age of 110. He is reminding them of how it was the Lord your God who fought for you (v3) when you fought and conquered all the nations of the promised land and further how all the land was allotted to all the tribes.
So Joshua’s primary message is remember what the Lord your God has done for you – the people of Israel – and Be very strong; be careful to obey all that is written in the Book of the Law of Moses, without turning aside to the right or to the left. What does he mean without turning aside to the right or to the left? Remnants of the nations conquered remain within their nation and they are not to associate with these nations that remain among you; do not invoke the names of their gods or swear by them. You must not serve them or bow down to them. It does not matter if they live among your tribes, you must not do anything that would involve you turning aside to the right or to the left from the Lord your God.
To accomplish this they are to hold fast to the Lord your God, as you have until now. Hold fast may be also translated as cleave much as a man shall leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh (Genesis 2:24 KJV) when they are married where cleave is like being glued together. This was how the people of Israel had achieved so much, they had held fast to the Lord their God.
Then comes Joshua’s warning of what will happen if and when they no longer hold fast to the Lord their God
12 “But if you turn away and ally yourselves with the survivors of these nations that remain among you and if you intermarry with them and associate with them, 13 then you may be sure that the Lord your God will no longer drive out these nations before you. Instead, they will become snares and traps for you, whips on your backs and thorns in your eyes, until you perish from this good land, which the Lord your God has given you.
Ever wonder how our own lives have gone astray or those of our children or grandchildren? Sure you have, I know I have. And it surely comes when anyone begins associating with those outside the faith where associating with means taking on their ways. It can be slow and seductive so that we do not even notice until we are in church and all we can thing about is the TV show or sports event that will happen after church is over – finally (!) over. So many things and activities come to replace God in our lives. We forget, not how God conquered nations for us – He did that for Israel, but how He sent His Son to die for our sins. We forget
Jesus paid the price for our sins and we live our lives as if we had never really repented of our sins and accepted Jesus as our Lord and Savior. We forget how for a period of time we could see all our blessings came from God our Father. Now no longer holding fast to Jesus we turn to the left and the right.
When we turned to the right and left all the warnings of Joshua to the people of Israel came to be true for us as well. Still, there is time to turn back to God and say as Joshua said as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord. He gave His Son for us. What shall we do in return?