Summary: Today is an historic day... today we get to choose whom we will serve and how we will serve.
Title: Today We Get to Vote!
Text: Joshua 24:1-3 and 14-24
The Big Idea: Today is an historic day… today we get to vote. Today we get to choose.
On Tuesday the absentee ballots, the mail-In ballots, the early-voting ballots, and the ballots cast that day will be counted and a new president-elect will be named. The citizens of our democracy will have expressed their preferences and a new leader will be chosen to lead our country into the next four- year term. We cherish the privilege of voting. We like to have our say and we like having our way even more… so we vote, we choose.
After all the ballots are counted and the winner is announced… there will be many who are
very pleased and there will likely be nearly as many who are equally disappointed. There will be some whose hearts are filled with hope and anticipation and there will be some whose hearts are filled with despair and dread… in either case, we will all step across the line in 2009 and the onset of the next four years.
At least we get to choose every four years… not so in the Old Testament story of the Children of Israel on their epic journey from Egypt to the Promised Land. They were given their leadership and their terms were for life… unless God, as God did on occasion, impose term limits. The first was leader was Moses and Joshua was the second.
Interestingly enough, neither Moses nor Joshua seemed all that concerned about whether the Israelites were big personal fans of their leadership. Rather, they were concerned that the people be committed to following God.
At the end of his term of leadership, Moses called the people together in Deuteronomy 28-30, and challenged them to choose to follow God.
“Today I give you the choice between life and death, between blessings and curses. I call on heaven and earth to witness the choice you make. Oh, that you would choose life, that you and your descendants might live! Choose to love the Lord your God and to obey him and commit yourself to him, for he is your life. Then you will live long in the land the Lord swore to give you…” Deuteronomy 30:19-24
Moses went on to assure the people of Israel that if they would commit to following God, they would discover that God is absolutely faithful.
“Do not be afraid… the Lord your God will neither fail you nor forsake you. Do not be discouraged, for the Lord will be with you; he will neither fail your nor forsake you.” Deuteronomy 31:6 and 8
After Moses died, Joshua became the designated leader of the people of Israel. Their journey continued into the land God had promised to give them… then when Joshua neared the end of his term of office and death, he, after the manner of Moses, called the people together and gave them a similar challenge.
He said, “Honor the Lord and serve him wholeheartedly… but if you are unwilling to serve the Lord, then choose today whom you will serve. But as for me and my family, we will serve the Lord.” Joshua 24:14-15
What followed was a three-fold affirmation of their desire and determination to follow God:
• “We would never forsake the Lord and worship other gods…” 24:16
The people replied, “We would never forsake the Lord and worship other gods. For the Lord our God is the one who rescued us and our ancestors from slavery in Egypt.” Joshua 24:16
• “We are determined to serve the Lord!” 24:21
Joshua challenged them again, questioning their willingness to do as they had pledged and they answered again, “No, we are determined to serve the Lord!” Joshua 24:21
• “We will serve the Lord our God and obey him alone.” 24:24
And again in Joshua 24:24, the people said to Joshua, “We will serve the Lord our God. We will obey him alone.”
I’m not sure Joshua was all that comfortable with their boisterous declaration of loyalty to God. In contemporary terms, they were getting settled in their new land. They had moved out of their tents into nicely appointed tract homes. They were gainfully employed, living comfortably, and able to put a little aside for a rainy day. Their investments were working and their retirement seemed secure. Every family had a late model automobile or two and the kids were all attending Charter Schools and playing in the Department of Parks and Recreation Soccer League. Plus, they had a nice mega-synagogue in every community to minister to their spiritual needs, should any arise. He wasn’t sure they were feeling much need for God now that things were going so well.
It was as if Joshua, wanting to make sure they knew what they were voting for said, “Okay, now all in favor of following the Lord our God, say, “Aye.’” “Okay then,” he said, “just to make sure, all in favor of serving the Lord our God say, “Aye.’” And then the third time being a charm, he repeated himself once again, “Okay then… I just want to make sure that you really want to follow God. All in favor of following the Lord our God say, “Aye.’”