After Moses' final warnings to Israel, the blessing and the cursing, he passed away. Joshua now heads Israel, and specifically its military advancement into the promised land. But Joshua's hardest battle is one greater than the military conquest over the occupying forces--it is the battle for the faithfulness of the hearts and minds of the people. He knew that he was sending the Children of Israel into the hands of the world. Would they remain strong without his leadership?
Now on the other side, in the promised land, the Tribes of Israel are gathered one last time. Joshua, as was Moses, is well-schooled in the Israelites' unsteadiness and unfaithfulness.
Because of their unsteady hearts, at that gathering he speaks to them one of the most famous ultimatums in scripture:
Joshua 24:15 And if it seem evil unto you to serve the Lord, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell; but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.
Joshua, as Moses, reminds them that they did not 'earn' the land for their goodness, but because of the covenants God made with their forefathers, and that it is imperative they remain faithful to the true God who led and saved them.
To this admonition, the people respond:
Joshua 24:16 And the people answered and said, God forbid that we should forsake the Lord, to serve other gods;
24:17 For the Lord our God, he it is that brought us up and our fathers out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage, and which did those great signs in our sight, and preserved us in all the way wherein we went, and among all the people through whom we passed;
24:18 And the Lord drave out from before us all the people, even the Amorites which dwelt in the land; therefore will we also serve the Lord; for he is our God.
But Joshua, still wise to their unfaithful tendencies, pushes the issue by reminding them:
24:19 And Joshua said unto the people, Ye cannot serve the Lord; for he is a holy God; he is a jealous God; he will not forgive your transgressions nor your sins.
24:20 If ye forsake the Lord, and serve strange gods, then he will turn and do you hurt, and consume you, after that he hath done you good.
Mortified that Joshua would suggest them to be impetuous, they respond with dismay and determination (imagine Joshua simultaneously whispering to himself '...Yeah, right...').
He says: 'You're Sure?'
They say, 'Of Course we are sure!':
24:21 And the people said unto Joshua, Nay; but we will serve the Lord.
24:22 And Joshua said unto the people, Ye are witnesses against yourselves that ye have chosen you the Lord, to serve him. And they said, We are witnesses.
So Joshua, already realizing there is corruption brewing among them, sets a covenant in stone and prepares to send the Israelite tribes out to occupy the lands of their inheritance:
24:23 Now therefore put away, said he, the strange gods which are among you, and incline your heart unto the Lord God of Israel.
24:24 And the people said unto Joshua, The Lord our God will we serve, and his voice will we obey.
24:25 So Joshua made a covenant with the people that day, and set them a statute and an ordinance in Shechem
Still wary, Joshua's final words to His people:
24:27 And Joshua said unto all the people, Behold, this stone shall be a witness unto us; for it hath heard all the words of the Lord which he spake unto us; it shall be therefore a witness unto you, lest ye deny your God.
24:28 So Joshua let the people depart, every man unto his inheritance.
The covenant to stay on the 'straight and narrow' barely lasts into the next chapter of the bible. The Israelites' religion, beliefs, morals all stray within that very generation and centuries pass before they return to God.
Also, in our day, consider this single question: is it possible for God's people to make erroneous choices? What causes people to fall away? What happened to Joshua's people in Joshua's day? Can that happen in our day?
Read the next lesson at First They Strayed...
Searching for scriptures regarding sexuality and homosexuality? It is a popular search topic, and with good reason: people want to know what God's word says about it.
While our culture has produced new words in our day describing issues of sexuality, the spiritual and moral issues regarding sexuality are are age-old, and are dealt with directly in scripture. Click Here To Find The Words Used in Scripture Regarding Sexuality
The topic of Sexuality and Homosexuality has faced the Christian Church in New ways. What does the world teach? What does the Word of God teach?
|Watch your Thoughts,|
|They become Words...|
|Watch your Words,|
|They become Habits...|
|Watch your Habits,|
|They become Character...|
|Watch your Character,|
|It becomes your Destiny.|