Summary: Joshua challenges the Israelites to serve the LORD - the Jealous God.
2.9.20 Joshua 24:14-24
14 “Now fear the LORD and serve him with all faithfulness. Throw away the gods your forefathers worshiped beyond the River and in Egypt, and serve the LORD. 15 But if serving the LORD seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your forefathers served beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD.”
The Service Challenge
Do you like a challenge? Remember the ice bucket challenge years ago? My aunt challenges herself to do something new every ten years. I think one time she set a goal of getting another degree in college. I think that’s kind of a neat thing to do, to set a goal and challenge yourself. Some people do tough mudders: probably not for me.
It was a challenge, to say the least, for God to get two million of Moses’ descendants into the Promised Land. He used Joshua to cross the Jordan and get them settled. Now Joshua was about ready to die, but he would have had a sense of great satisfaction looking back on life. No more struggling in the wilderness. No more dependence on manna every day. They would be able to build houses, plant vineyards, and get settled. However, it would be easy for them to backslide in their faith and forget how they got there. So Joshua challenged them in their faith. He offered them a choice. Recommit yourselves to the LORD and serve Him, or serve some other gods. Joshua led the way. He felt confident in how he had led his house and he said, “As for me and my household, we will serve the LORD.”
There are major crossroads in life when it is good for you to do a spiritual gut check and make sure you are spiritually ready for the challenge. Before a surgery, after someone near to you dies, when contemplating marriage, moving to a new job, having children, entering a nursing home, getting a promotion: sometimes difficult and sometimes exciting: these are times to make sure you have a firm grip on Jesus. Sometimes you might be afraid of it, and you might need to be challenged, especially when you are tempted to give up.
Joshua called on them to FEAR the LORD and SERVE Him. We don’t think of our faith in this way very often. Wouldn’t it seem that we treat God more like our servant? We get angry at Him when He doesn’t do what WE want. People threaten to leave church and never come back. In reality, we are the slaves, (willing slaves albeit,) and HE is the Master. Here Joshua flips the script. Remember to FEAR the LORD and SERVE Him. Remember who YOU are and remember who HE is.
The Israelites respond quickly. “Far be it from us to forsake the LORD to serve other gods! 17 It was the LORD our God himself who brought us and our fathers up out of Egypt, from that land of slavery, and performed those great signs before our eyes. He protected us on our entire journey and among all the nations through which we traveled. 18 And the LORD drove out before us all the nations, including the Amorites, who lived in the land. We too will serve the LORD, because he is our God.”
This was good! The Israelites remembered all of the good things God had done for them to rescue them from slavery. They were glad to talk about it. It was obvious to everyone that they didn’t get to the Promised Land by their own work. God had clearly rescued them with the plagues and the splitting of the Red Sea. God had clearly fed them with manna and led them with a pillar of cloud and fire over them. God had been good to them. Even a blind man could see that. So they were ready to commit themselves to the LORD because of His goodness to them.
Isn’t that a good thing to remember to do: to think about the goodness of God and talk about it often? That’s why we always go back to the death of Jesus, which rescued us from sin and God’s wrath. That’s why we start our services going back to our FORGIVENESS in Jesus. We couldn’t stand before God as holy on Judgment Day were it not for Jesus’ death on the cross for us. We couldn’t have a hope of rising from the dead if Jesus hadn’t conquered death through His resurrection. God is also the One who gives us food and drink and clothing. It is good for us to remember the LORD’s goodness to us, especially when we are living blessed lives. Ecclesiastes 12:1 says, “Remember your Creator in the days of your youth, before the days of trouble come and the years approach when you will say, “I find no pleasure in them.” The more you remember the source of your blessings and talk about them, the more you will find yourself right here in worship. He doesn’t owe us ANYTHING. In reality, we owe HIM!