Archive for the ‘Joshua’ Category

“14) Now therefore fear the LORD and serve him in sincerity and in faithfulness. Put away the gods that your fathers served beyond the River and in Egypt, and serve the LORD. 15) And if it is evil in your eyes to serve the LORD, choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your fathers served in the region beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.”

We will not be able to take any of our material possessions into heaven. We may not have much to leave behind, but even the smallest amount may help our friends, families, and charities. This can sometimes be used for the glory of God but not always. Those that leave their possessions only to their loved ones for no other reason than that they are now dead and have done nothing to teach them of the love of Christ, their treasures on this earth may be used be for God’s glory but that was never their intention.

We must evaluate how we will spend give away our money or if we should even wait for death. It would be seen as a very loving act to give away all that we have before we die. What if death may be far away from us? Would putting your money into a savings account that would inquire interest over time, which means you, could give more to others in the long run? We don’t know how long we have, and this may

What else will we leave behind besides our money? We will leave beyond the lessons we have taught and the love we have shown, but we will also leave behind the hate we have shown and the ignorance we have displayed. The way we have lived our lives will influence the way other people live their lives. If we shared the gospel with them in a loving and truthful way, then they may be one of God’s chosen saints. If we are constantly hateful and had never experienced the joy found in Christ, then we may have caused others to live this same way.

We might not be with our friends and families on this earth forever, but the lessons we have taught and the love we have shown will remain they will pass on. This love and knowledge will help them grow in Christ and become one of his faithful followers, but if we did not live this way, then they may never follow Christ.

We must live in radical obedience to God in order for our lives to have a meaningful impact on others. There are many non-Christians that have left a very powerful impact on this world, so what about them? They may have impacted people in this temporary world and given them hope for a small amount of time, but they have done nothing to help their souls. There was no preaching of the gospel from them, so they did not offer the one hope that truly matters. The hope they provided will only last on this earth, but we will all go to heaven or hell one day.

This may seem to be pointing at whether or not one is a Christian, but this is not true. One may be a Christian but still not following showing love to others. They may not be living a lifestyle that will truly shape others in a positive way even when they are gone. What lessons will you leave behind? Was the love of Christ displayed through your life? Did you boldly proclaim that you were a follower of Christ or did you hide in shame of his name?

This the last recorded message of Joshua. This is what he leaves the people he lives with. He sums up what God has for them and calls them to come back and serve this God alone. He wants to leave them with this last call because it is the most important call. This is what he left behind on earth for others to grow from and glorify God with.

Joshua is speaking to all of Israel (Joshua 24:1), but that does not mean that all of Israel will obey his call. We see the same thing in many of our churches. The call is made to the entire church, but only a few will adhere to this call. We could say that they are all still Christians, which may be true, but it may be true that those that are not following this call do not follow Christ. This act of unrighteousness reveals that their faith is empty.

1. Fear of the Lord
What we teach others will be very important to the way we live. When I was in elementary school, I remember a schoolmate of mine told that applesauce was made from bat droppings. I hadn’t each much applesauce before then, so after I inspected the texture and consistency, I concluded that they were correct. It was not until years later that I discovered that they were either very misinformed or just flat out lied.

This small bit of information changed the way I looked at applesauce, which affected my life. It was only in a very small way, but what happens with the bigger questions? Does God exist? What kind of a God is He? These kinds of questions go beyond a simple snack food and can determine the way they make decisions for the rest of their lives.

The first part of Joshua’s command in verse 14 is, “Now therefore fear the LORD.” He is calling the nation back to an appropriate fear of the Lord. They seem to have lost this fear and have abandoned God to serve other false gods. If they truly feared what God can do and will do, then they would have not been disobedient. The reason we have so many people that do not serve and follow God is because they do not correctly understand who is, and since they do not understand who is, then they see no reason to fear Him.

The main way this is done when people only understand God as a God love only. This is biblical but does not paint the entire picture of God. Instead, they craft a god into their image so that let’s them do whatever. This god is really himself or herself. When we begin to see the true character of God, this changes our views to the correct view and teaches us the proper way of loving and respect for God.

We do not only teach them lessons like these, but we also teach them the foundation behind these lessons. Proverbs 1:7 says, “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction.” The first lesson we must teach others is the fear of the Lord, and the way this lesson is best taught is by describing the true attributes of God. We tell them that He is a God of love but that He is a God of judgment and wrath. The type of fear speaking of here refers more to a deep reverence and true devotion. Matthew Henry wrote, “Reverence a God of such infinite power, fear to offend him and to forfeit his goodness, keep up an awe of his majesty, a deference to his authority, a dread of his displeasure, and a continual regard to his all-seeing eye upon you” (look up note on Joshua 24:14 in commentary).

True fear does not come mainly from His wrath but from His goodness. John Gill said, “Since he has done such great and good things, fear the Lord and his goodness, fear him for his goodness sake; nothing so influences fear, or a reverential affection for God, as a sense of his goodness; this engages men sensible of it to fear the Lord, that is, to worship him both internally and externally in the exercise of every grace, and in the performance of every duty” (http://www.biblestudytools.com/commentaries/gills-exposition-of-the-bible/joshua-24-14.html).

This must be the first thing we leave behind with others. If they realize the fear they should have of God, then this will help to keep them obedient and away from sinning. We show our fear of the Lord, which will help others to have a fear of the Lord as well.

2. Service to the Lord

Verse 14 continues with, “serve him in sincerity and in faithfulness.” Serving the Lord quickly follows the fear of the Lord. If we know the true attributes of God, then we will both desire to serve Him because of His great love but also work out of fear of what He can do. This idea of service or worship is seen as a dominant theme in Joshua 22-24. It is used at least sixteen times in the chapter 24 and four times in chapters 22 and 23.

Service is usually taught best by leading through example. As others watch you serve, they will learn that serving is important. This is less about just telling others that they may serve but living your lives in service to the Lord. This service is for the Lord specifically, which means that every service we do should be dedicated to His name and for His glory. This does not mean that we are to abandon serving others, but when we serve others, we keep in mind and tell them that this service is done for the glory of God. This will keep the gospel on the tip of our tongues throughout our times of service.

This service is to be done in “sincerity.” All of our service must in honest service to God without seeking earthly rewards for self. If the only reason we are serving other is so that they may look favorably upon us or pay us at some point, then we are not serving the Lord but ourselves. We will be serving selfishly for our names rather than for God’s Holy Name.
Ephesians 6:7 says, “rendering service with a good will as to the Lord and not to man.” Looking out for our interests and our own selfish desires is how we seek to render service to men rather than God. If we serve in order that God may be glorified and storing up future treasures in heaven, then we are serving with true sincerity towards the Lord.

Service can be displayed on the outside, while there is not sincerity in the heart. Doing service with a begrudging attitude is not service done for the Lord. The Lord knows the secret intentions of our heart and will be able to see through the outward works to what we are thinking within. He delights in only the truthful service of His followers. Psalm 51:6 says, “Behold, you delight in truth in the inward being, and you teach me wisdom in the secret heart.”

Our service to the Lord is also to be filled with faithfulness. He only is sufficient to provide our needs. When we are called to go to a foreign nation or serve in a radical way, we look to God as our provider rather than looking at the costs. He is sufficient in providing for all our needs and for giving us all the tools we need in order to accomplish the mission set before us. To serve in Him in faithfulness is to trust that He alone can provide for us even when our checkbooks and bank accounts say that we don’t have anything. This doesn’t mean He will give us an abundance of wealth in order to fulfill selfish desires, but He will give us whatever we need to complete His plan for our lives.

This faithfulness persists even in times of drought. When we begin to think that God is not able to provide for our needs, we must hold fast to His promises and His faithfulness. When we even start to think that He may not exist, we must have faith in Him to bring us through the period of doubt. Showing this kind of faith to others will dramatically shape how they will live. This type of service we show in our lives must be a thing we leave behind for others.
Small times must trust in God as well.

Lacking true faithfulness in God causes us to follow other gods. When we begin to think that God is not sufficient to provide for our needs in all situations, then we begin to look for other gods to help provide for us. Our service must be rooted in faithfulness or else this same service will be rendered as useless because it will be service done in the name of a false god.
We remain faithful because God remains faithful

3. Follow the Lord Alone

Joshua was well aware that much of Israel was not serving the one, true God but foreign gods as well. They had departed from the original covenant and Ten Commandments and were seeking to compensate for what they thought was lacking. They were trying to find fulfillment in other things.

This would pass on for generations throughout Israel. The families that practiced serving more than the one true God would pass this belief onto their children, which was then passed onto their children. The way the first family lived almost determined how the rest of the generations of that family would live.

Joshua address this issue in verse 14 when he says, “Put away the gods that your fathers served beyond the River and in Egypt,” He starts by pointing out that their fathers used to serve this god. Their fathers did not live a lifestyle for God, and those traits were then passed onto their children. They are an example of how we should not live and what we should not be teaching those closest to us. Because of their disobedience, they lead their family astray.

In our postmodern world, many are now claiming that there are many different gods, and they all offer the same thing. They do not worship the one true God and are leading many astray. Others claim belief in one God, but it is in the wrong God. This problem was not just a problem that Joshua and the Israelites faced but is a problem we all face.

Should we just let others live their lifestyles and live our own way? Joshua is speaking to the entire nation of Israel. He is not worried about being offensive, but He is concerned about glorifying God and saving His people. He tells them that they are wrong for serving false gods. He does not let the idea of a false tolerance creep in and say that it is all right for them to live the way they want to as long as they let them live the way he wants to.

If he did not speak out against this, then people would be corrupted and eventually destroyed. He was trying to stop their demise. It wasn’t that he just had to be right, but he saw what would happen if they did not follow the only God. Changing from one god to another with no restraint would lead to Israel’s destruction.

We may not think that this affects us. We do not serve Allah or Buddha. We claim that the only God that we serve is the Christian God, but is this so? Do we serve other gods that do not at first appear to be gods? The truth is that we often serve security, wealth, or our bank accounts. These things do not appear to be gods, which is why it is so easy to give into them. Satan has had a facelift for our times, so he is harder to recognize but just as deadly.

Even if we don’t follow other false gods, we must be careful that we do not make these worldly things into gods. When we do, others will learn that God is something important that we do on Sundays and Wednesdays, but our true trust should be placed partially in things of this world rather than totally in Him.

John ends his first gospel with, “Little children, keep yourselves from idols” (1 John 5:21). There is a great importance in avoiding idols and staying close to following the Lord. If we not serving and following the Lord alone, then the rest of our life will be meaningless and purposelessly. We must remain steadfast in our faith towards God alone.

4. Choices for the Lord
We all make choices everyday. God is sovereign over these choices, but we are still very responsible for them. These choices may be smaller like: what to have for breakfast, what clothes am I going to wear, etc. These choices may also be much more dramatic such as: will I sacrifice my day off of work to study God’s word instead of watching television, am I willing to travel to foreign country and possible die for the spread of the gospel?

Verse 15 starts with, “And if it is evil in your eyes to serve the LORD, choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your fathers served in the region beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you dwell.” Joshua seems to say this in a mocking tone. He has grown tired of their disobedience and is addressing them with great sarcasm. Elijah seems to have this same tone in 1 Kings 18:21, which says, “‘And Elijah came near to all the people and said, “How long will you go limping between two different opinions? If the Lord is God, follow him; but if Baal, then follow him.’ And the people did not answer him a word.”

He starts by addressing how if it is evil in their eyes or not to serve the Lord. This is such an interesting way to start this verse. How do we decide evil if not from God’s Word? I can imagine one of the Israelites thinking that it was evil in their sight to follow God, but how did they arrive at this? Did they see that other gods were more desirable than their own God? How is this a criterion for judging good and bad?

He was also addressing where the authority lies. He was saying that regardless of what they thought or decided, God would still be Lord over them. The same rules still apply whether they adhere to them or not. There would still be punishment for their sins regardless if they thought it was sin or not.

The way we view the Bible will greatly affect others. If we show that we get all authority from the Bible, then they will seek to do the same. Whenever someone asks a question, we must first ponder their question and search for any relevant scripture. This will both provide a great answer and show them to always rely and search scripture first for an answer.

He is not just speaking of if they view God as an evil entity, but if He is the source of their greatest joy and pleasure. If God is not the source of our true pleasure, then we should not serve Him. This does not mean if we are not happy every second of the day then we should give up on Him, but this a far deeper, true joy we are speaking of. He is the very source and creator of joy.

He then proceeds to tell the Israelites to choose whom they will serve. This is not a choice that they are supposed to do over and over again every morning, but he is calling them to a lasting covenant. He is telling them to a make a choice that they will remain committed too and will not change as their troubles change. This choice will define the rest of their lives and even how they will be judged. Joshua 24:22 says, “Then Joshua said to the people, ‘You are witnesses against yourselves that you have chosen the Lord, to serve him.’ And they said, ‘We are witnesses.’”

In the verses prior to this, Joshua speaks of God’s unending faithfulness and kindness through the years. Joshua reminds them of what all God has already done for them and what He will continue to do. He is showing them that this God is greater than any other god they could ask for. Why would they even play with the idea of serving and following another god when they already have such an amazing one? He is saying that the decision has already been made for them. 1 Samuel 12:24 says, “Only fear the Lord and serve him faithfully with all your heart. For consider what great things he has done for you.” When we consider what the Lord has done for us, this will fill our hearts with love and joy for this God.

The apostle Paul would open most of his letters with deep doctrine then give moral exhortations. He would tell them of what Christ had done for them by his death. He would do this before the exhortations because it would cause more joy. Joshua is doing the same thing here. He is reminding them of the great things God has done and gotten them through, and after he tells them of God’s great faithfulness and love, he gives them this admonition to be built of the solid truth of who God is.

Jude 21 says, “keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life.” We have the negative command of staying away from idols, but we also have the positive command to keep ourselves in the love of God. It is not enough to just abandon all false gods, but we must also turn to the one, true God. If we abandon all false gods but do not turn to Him, then we have created a new idol, which is ourselves. The only way to stay away from all idols is to follow God and observe His ways.

Matthew Henry’s Commentary later says, “Let us resolve upon a life of serious godliness, not merely because we know no other way, but because really, upon search, we find no better” (look up reference in book). Choosing to follow Christ ends up being the best possible way.  No other way, path, or god can serve us and give us true joy than God. This joy in God is an important aspect we must display in our lives and show to others. If we follow just a system of rules with no joy, then we may more easily fall away from this system. When we shine the joy of following Christ, then we leave them with the same joy found in following Christ. We teach them that it is less of a responsibility and more of obtaining a greater joy in Christ.

Once again he is coming back to the question of authority when he asks them to choose. How will they decide what god is best to follow? The God they currently serve seem to be the best possible option, but other gods may seem more appealing if they promised more. These gods had not provided anything for them or shown his faithfulness yet, so why should they trust him? How would they make such a choice without a standard to make a decision? Joshua shared with them the great standard that God has lived up to and is challenging them to find such a god as he for they will not be able to.

His mockery continues as he begins to offer them other such gods to look into. He says, “whether the gods your fathers served in the region beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you dwell.” He says what about these gods? Are they not good enough? Then how about you look into these gods? Our God is still greater than these gods? I’ve been saying that all along.

5. Leading the House in the Lord
Verse 15 ends with the famous line, “But as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.” Joshua has just spent all this time trying to convince the people of Israel to turn from their ways and to completely follow God, but now he is saying that regardless of what they do, he will stay faithful to God and that his house will as well. Even if all of Israel abandoned them, they would remain and serve the Lord.

First, he shows his authority over his family. He was saying that they would serve God to the end with all that they were. Deuteronomy 10:12 says, “And now, Israel, what does the Lord your God require of you, but to fear the Lord your God, to walk in all his ways, to love him, to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul.” He knew the commands of God, and he and his house would obey them with all of their heart and soul.

This choice to follow God and lead our household has been chosen by God. Genesis 18:19 says, “For I have chosen him, that he may command his children and his household after him to keep the way of the Lord by doing righteousness and justice, so that the Lord may bring to Abraham what he has promised him.”

This was not just the choosing of Joshua or Abraham but of the entire household. He has chosen them as leaders of the household. We should model our lives around men that are leading their house in a biblical manner. This may sometimes mean making choices and decisions for children (put in the story of talking about Derek and how if we should allow children to decide when they are ready to date). The children do not always understand the consequences of certain actions nor do they see the full picture. When we instruct them to live in a certain way and even restrain some of their freedoms, this will cause them to realize the benefits of obeying and listening to the wisdom of those that are older than they are.

We will often not be able to deeply influence strangers. We may share short moments of displaying the love of God with strangers, but we will have a much greater impact on those that are closest to us. Joshua is leading by example, which is displayed in his life, how he leads his family, and how his family leaves. We may not be able to reach many, but the lessons and love we have left behind with those closest to us will help spread the gospel of Christ.

What was the weight of Joshua’s impact? Joshua 24:31 says, “Israel served the LORD all the days of Joshua, and all the days of the elders who outlived Joshua and had known all the work that the LORD did for Israel.” They listened to his message and were changed. Israel turned from worshipping pagan gods, and they began to worship the God of Israel once again.

Sadly, this devotion to God did not last. Judges 2:10 says, “And all that generation also were gathered to their fathers. And there arose another generation after them who did not know the LORD or the work that he had done for Israel.” The first generation obeyed the call of Joshua, but the second generation did not. I wonder if the first generation may have practiced the ways of the Lord but did not pass on these lessons to their children. They obeyed the commands in their lives but let their children do whatever they felt like doing.

Deuteronomy 4:10 says, “Gather the people to me, that I may let them hear my words, so that they may learn to fear me all the days that they live on the earth, and that they may teach their children so.” It is important that we both live in obedience to the Lord in our life, but we also share with others, especially our household, how we are to be obedient to Him. The things we learn from God we must teach to our children. This is the lesson we must leave behind with our children.


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