Joshua 24:1-20 (NIV)
1 Then Joshua assembled all the tribes of Israel at Shechem. He summoned the elders, leaders, judges and officials of Israel, and they presented themselves before God.
2 Joshua said to all the people, “This is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says: ‘Long ago your forefathers, including Terah the father of Abraham and Nahor, lived beyond the River and worshiped other gods. 3 But I took your father Abraham from the land beyond the River and led him throughout Canaan and gave him many descendants. I gave him Isaac, 4 and to Isaac I gave Jacob and Esau. I assigned the hill country of Seir to Esau, but Jacob and his sons went down to Egypt.
5 “‘Then I sent Moses and Aaron, and I afflicted the Egyptians by what I did there, and I brought you out. 6 When I brought your fathers out of Egypt, you came to the sea, and the Egyptians pursued them with chariots and horsemen as far as the Red Sea. 7 But they cried to the LORD for help, and he put darkness between you and the Egyptians; he brought the sea over them and covered them. You saw with your own eyes what I did to the Egyptians. Then you lived in the desert for a long time.
8 “‘I brought you to the land of the Amorites who lived east of the Jordan. They fought against you, but I gave them into your hands. I destroyed them from before you, and you took possession of their land. 9 When Balak son of Zippor, the king of Moab, prepared to fight against Israel, he sent for Balaam son of Beor to put a curse on you. 10 But I would not listen to Balaam, so he blessed you again and again, and I delivered you out of his hand.
11 “‘Then you crossed the Jordan and came to Jericho. The citizens of Jericho fought against you, as did also the Amorites, Perizzites, Canaanites, Hittites, Girgashites, Hivites and Jebusites, but I gave them into your hands. 12 I sent the hornet ahead of you, which drove them out before you—also the two Amorite kings. You did not do it with your own sword and bow. 13 So I gave you a land on which you did not toil and cities you did not build; and you live in them and eat from vineyards and olive groves that you did not plant.’
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.”
16 Then the people answered, “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.”
19 Joshua said to the people, “You are not able to serve the LORD. He is a holy God; he is a jealous God. He will not forgive your rebellion and your sins. 20 If you forsake the LORD and serve foreign gods, he will turn and bring disaster on you and make an end of you, after he has been good to you.”
Commentary & Questions
God’s words for the Israelites highlight their dependence on Him. Notice how Joshua speaks for the Lord in the verses preceding verse 14: “I gave,” “I sent,” “I took,” “I brought…” He removes any thoughts that the Israelites did anything for themselves when He says, “You did not do it with your own sword and bow,” and “you live in them and eat from vineyards and olive groves that you did not plant.” It is amazing to think that while the Israelites were wandering the desert and fighting armies, God was there constantly delivering, blessing, and protecting the Israelites. I wonder how often I go on with my daily life, attributing my successes to my own abilities, when really they were from God. God may say to me, “Ryan, you did not solve that difficult problem at work,” or “Ryan, you did not make that amazing basketball shot.” He would add, “It was me. I did it for you.” It completely changes how accomplishments are viewed. Even in the little accomplishments, God is present and He deserves all the glory. I pray that as I go through my day I constantly thank God for the amazing blessings and aid that He provides.
1. Thank God for how He has blessed you and provided for you.
Joshua adds his own, wise commentary to God’s words. He says, “Serve and fear the Lord! But if you don’t want to serve the Lord, decide who you do want to serve. But as for me and my family, we WILL serve the Lord.” It is absolutely amazing for Joshua, at over 100 years old, still stands firm that his family will serve the Lord. Joshua is a prime example of a male spiritual leader. He doesn’t just say “I will,” but says “my family and I will.” He doesn’t give his family an option to whom they will serve; they will serve the Lord. For all of us males, we need to take a huge lesson here from Joshua. We are responsible for the spiritual leadership of our families. I need to dedicate my family life to providing a living example of what it means to live for God. Joshua tells the Israelites to choose whom they will serve. He tells them to quit saying they will serve the Lord but then worship idols, but to choose right now. I ask the Lord to remind me of Joshua’s call. Oftentimes, I live in the middle. I praise God at church, read my Bible at home, but while at work I live for the idols in my heart. I need to remember to choose to serve the Lord.
2. Do you find yourself living in the middle at times? In what circumstances do you need to remember to choose to serve the Lord?
Just like I do at church, the Israelites immediately affirm that they choose the Lord. They say, “We see the signs that the Lord performs and we see his provisions.” I know when I’m at church I often think and say, “Wow I saw the Lord this week at work,” or “God definitely provided financially during this hard time.” But, I have idols hidden in my heart just as the Israelites had idols hidden in their homes. Joshua knew this. He tells them that they can’t serve the Lord. The idols that I have in my heart, whether it is love of money or love of passion, prohibit me from serving the Lord. Joshua is not saying that God will punish or hurt the Israelites; he does, however, imply that God will remove his blessings and protection if the Israelites serve other gods. Thus, the Israelites would be destroyed by the multitude of surrounding nations without the protection of the Lord’s presence. I think I need to be very wary about any idols in my life. I know that my life seems to self-destruct when I begin to live for other things beside for God. It’s not by God’s hand but the lack of God’s grace. I pray I always remember God’s presence and His blessings.
3. Ask the Holy Spirit to soften your heart, to remind you of God’s presence, and to allow you to live for Him today.
Devotional Author: Ryan Knuth