By: Ysrael De la Cruz
At the beginning of each year people tend to make resolutions, pledges or promises of what they would like to achieve in the new year. Business, stores take inventory, they evaluate their products; what worked, what didn’t. They do these things in order to improve their quality; to give customers their best compared to their competition. Have you taken an inventory of your life lately? Examine your goals, failures and successes? A new year just began and lots of people will start their resolutions, but you don’t have to wait for the beginning of a year to assess your life in order to make changes. When I think about evaluating or assessing my life, I am reminded of the time Joshua did this for the people of Israel. Right when they were about to enter the Promised Land. It was necessary that people understood how they got there.
Joshua reviews Israel’s history. (Jos.24:1-13) The LORD had Joshua review their ancestral history: Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the patriarchs,
–Moses and Aaron. (vv.5-7)
-Wilderness wandering (v.7-12)
-The possession of the land (v.13)
God’s faithfulness was evident in their history. (vv. 1-13) I took your father Abraham…(v.3) sent…..I brought…I delivered you… I blessed you……gave your enemies into your hands.
In their journeying, God was always there providing for them. Joshua challenged the people to think about the fact that the reason they made it to the land of the promise was because God cared for them, guided them, protected them all the way there. God’s presence was evident in Israel’s history.
Joshua 24:14-27 Joshua’s challenge to the people
–Commit yourself to fear God.
Joshua noticed a lack of commitment from the people during those years they traveled to the land of the promise. Now therefore, fear the LORD and serve him faithfully.
Scriptures teaches us that the fear of God is the beginning of wisdom. The word fear has a range of meanings. Afraid, reverence, stand in awe, frighten, etc. Moses had told the people in Exodus 20:20 that the fear of God would keep them from sinning.
If we truly feared God, we would not do certain things. The reverence for God will keep you from doing stupid things in life. God is a God of love and grace and also justice; you don’t want him to be against you. The Israelites learned this lesson along the way also. We have lost reverence and awe for God. People don’t fear God. A God-fearing person strives to operate by God’s standard. Joshua challenged the people to be God-fearing in their going and enjoying the land. Since they were lacking in their reverence of the past. A new chapter in their lives was near; fear God and serve him faithfully.
-Commit yourself to serve God faithfully.
The people were lacking in their zeal to serve the LORD; they were struggling being faithful to God.
The word for serve is work, labor. This is a way of honoring or worshiping God. You cannot serve God or worship God faithfully when He is competing with other “gods” in your life.
Joshua challenged the people to get rid of the gods (idols) they have been worshiping. God’s people weren’t just devoted to Yahweh, they were also devoted to other gods.
Traditional gods: those your ancestors worshiped, those you grew up worshiping. For 80 years, many of the people of Israel worshiped traditional gods, those they were introduced to by their parents, all the way from Egypt. 40 years wandering in the dessert serving the LORD but also serving other gods. Now Joshua challenged them to put away those gods and faithfully serve God only.
The people had forgotten the commandments, (you must not have other gods but me). They were going to bring them to the Promised Land and Joshua told them that in order to faithfully serve or worship Yahweh, you must put away those gods you grew up worshiping.
This was going to be hard for them to do for they were worshiping idols since childhood. We may not realize we made some things gods and have been worshiping them for quite a while. They compete with the true God in our lives.
What is competing with God in our hearts? What else are you worshipping besides God? Commit to faithfully serve God this year and get rid of those idols in your life.
The choice is yours. This is how Joshua spoke to the people. (v.15) Joshua couldn’t make that decision for the people. I can’t make it for you either.
Choose this day whom you will serve. The traditional gods, those your ancestors worshiped or the gods of the land. (Cultural gods: Canaanites deities, etc.) For us, new age thinking, political correctness, relativism, humanism, etc.)
It’s simple, you will either worship the gods of the past or those of the present. If you want to be a God-fearing person, you must choose to worship the LORD in the midst of so many choices in this world. You must choose to serve God alone.
Joshua made the choice to only worship the LORD: But as for me and my house we will serve the LORD. I don’t know what you are going to do, but I know what choice I am making; me and my family, we will serve the LORD.
The people made a pledge to serve God faithfully (v.16-18)
After they were challenged by Joshua, and they reviewed their history it was Yahweh who has always been there: protecting them, providing, and fighting for them. “We too will serve the LORD because he is our God.” (v.18,)
Joshua reminded the people of the kind of commitment they were making. (v.19) You are not able to serve the LORD, for he is a holy God, He is a jealous God, he will not forgive your transgressions or your sins. If you forsake the LORD, he will turn against you.
God will hold you accountable to the commitment you make.
People committed themselves to serve only God (v.21, we will serve the LORD. V.24. we will serve the LORD
(v.23) Throw away the foreign gods that are among you and yield your hearts to the LORD the God of Israel.
This was the covenant, the pact, the new agreement Joshua made with the people that day.
What do you need to throw away this year in order to fully surrender your heart to the LORD?
Are there other gods, things in your life competing with God? Will you make a commitment to yield your life, your worship to God alone beginning this year?
The people whom Joshua challenged were true to their commitment. They served the LORD throughout the lifetime of Joshua.
To worship the Lord and serve him faithfully is a decision you must make. I can’t make it for you. But I am making it for my family. As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.