Wednesday, September 20, 2017

A Decisive Message for the Nation

Read Joshua 24.

In the previous chapter, Joshua addressed the nation's leaders.  Here in his final words, he spoke to all of Israel.  He began with a history lesson.  It is a walk through the first five books of the Bible.  His message had three parts and then a most interesting back and forth about the challenge.

1. How God has led us? (vv.1-12)
Notice how Joshua is actually presenting this on behalf of God Himself, "Thus says the LORD."  Beginning with God's call of Abraham, Joshua recounted their family lineage.  Next, he reminded them of the days in Egypt and how God miraculously delivered them.  He mentioned the wilderness wandering and how God gave them victory over enemies along the way.  Then, God brought them into the land and gave it to them, just as he had promised Abraham centuries before.

2. How God has blessed us? (v.13)
God said, "I gave you a land" with cities they did not build and crops they did not plant.  This was their inheritance from the LORD.  They were to enjoy it all.

3. How should we respond? (vv.14-28)
Fear the LORD.  This is more than just a reverential awe of the Almighty.  If anything, one should have learned through Israel's journey that God knows how to mete out judgment here and now.  Sin has consequences.  Respect and right responses to what God has made clear is a matter of life and death.  Paul wrote, "Knowing the fear (terror in KJV) of the Lord we persuade others." (2 Corinthians 5:11)

Serve the LORD.  Joshua said this is to be done "in sincerity and in faithfulness."  Integrity is demonstrated in how we live out what we say we believe.  This is not referring to a job as much as how we demonstrate of our faith.  "So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God." (1 Corinthians 10:31)

Incline your heart to the LORD.  Which way are you leaning; toward the LORD or away from Him?  One translation puts it, "make up your mind."  Joshua's challenge to the nation was, "Choose this day whom you will serve." (v.15b)

His conclusion is the famous quotation, "But as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD."

The exchange that followed is a curious one indeed.  The people responded with agreement, "We also will serve the LORD."  Then, the preacher, if you will, said, "You are not able."  The people responded again, "No, but we will serve the LORD."  All this proved to test the seriousness of their commitment.  Joshua made it a national covenant, wrote it down, and dedicated a monument for it so they would remember what they promised.

These are serious reminders for all of us.

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