Joshua 24:1-2a ESV
Joshua gathered all the tribes of Israel to Shechem and summoned the elders, the heads, the judges, and the officers of Israel. And they presented themselves before God. And Joshua said to all the people, “Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel…”
We read in the Bible that “All scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work” (2 Tim. 3:16-17 NIV). So, even though these words in Joshua were spoken to people a very long time ago, and they were meant for specific people then, we can learn from these words something that is applicable to our lives today.
Basically, what God did was account for them some of their history as a people and as a nation and all the things they went through, and all that God did for them during those times. But, he also reminded them of all the times their ancestors had rebelled against God, too, even after God had blessed them and provided for them abundantly. And, he told them of how their forefathers had worshipped other gods instead of the one true God.
But, then he went on to tell how he had used Moses to deliver them from their slavery in Egypt, and then how, after they had wandered in the wilderness for a very long time, God had brought them out of that wilderness, and how he then brought them into the Promised Land (summary vv. 2b-13).
But, not everyone made it out of the wilderness, and not everyone made it into the Promised Land, for the vast majority of their ancestors refused to obey God, and thus be saved. Thus, they did not enter into God’s rest.
This is truly a picture of our lives as humans on this earth. We were all born in slavery to sin, and thus God the Father sent Jesus Christ to deliver us from our slavery to sin. Thus, Jesus Christ, God the Son, came to earth, humbled himself, took on our humanity, suffered, and was tempted, but did not sin, and then was crucified on a cross although he had done no wrong.
But, it was God’s will that he should suffer and die in this way, for in his death he put our sin to death, and in his resurrection, he rose victorious over sin and the grave. So, when we trust in Jesus Christ to be Lord and Savior of our lives, we die with Christ to sin that we might live with Christ to his righteousness, in his power and strength at work within us.
Joshua 24:14-15 ESV
“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. 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.”
Faith in Jesus Christ, though, is not just some intellectual assent to who he is and to what he did for us on that cross. It is not some one-time emotional decision we make or some prayer we pray, either. Faith in Jesus Christ, according to scripture, is present tense and it is continuous to the end. It is obedient to God’s Word and it submits to his will for our lives. As well, true faith in Jesus Christ leaves our lives of sin and our idols behind us in order to follow our Lord and his will and his ways for our lives. Amen!
To walk in the fear of the Lord means that we honor, respect, obey and submit to him. We walk in faithfulness to him, not necessarily in absolute sinless perfection, but as a matter of course (of lifestyle). We are not hypocritical in our faith, either, pretending to be spiritual while we hide secret sins and engage in all manner of evil where no one can see us.
Regarding this putting aside our idols, our idols can be anything which take precedence over God in our lives. In and of themselves, they don’t have to be anything sinful, but are only sinful when we give them priority over God and we end up worshipping and giving them all our praise, heart, time and passion over and above God or in place of Him.
But, they can be what is sinful, too, like lust, pride, immorality, hate, greed, adultery, gossip, and gluttony, and the like. Whenever we choose to sin willfully, despite God’s warnings and his promptings, and despite what we know is wrong and what is the right thing to do, and we do it in God’s face, because we want that sin more than we want God, we have made those sins our idols.
Obedience is a choice of the will. We have to choose if we are going to serve God or our flesh; if we are going to serve God or our idols. When we are tempted to sin we have to make a conscious choice of our will to say “No!” to that sin and to say “Yes!” to God. And, this is what we must make our practice, if we are going to choose to serve God instead of the flesh.
Joshua 24:16-18 ESV
Then the people answered, “Far be it from us that we should forsake the Lord to serve other gods, for it is the Lord our God who brought us and our fathers up from the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery, and who did those great signs in our sight and preserved us in all the way that we went, and among all the peoples through whom we passed. And the Lord drove out before us all the peoples, the Amorites who lived in the land. Therefore we also will serve the Lord, for he is our God.”
The people had the right response. They listened to God’s Words. They took his words seriously, and they chose to serve the one and only true God with their lives and to forsake serving their idols. They realized the truth of what God was saying here, and that is that holding on to our idols is forsaking God. It is spiritual adultery. And, if we don’t repent of it, it will not go well for us in the end, as it did not go well for those who disobeyed God in the wilderness, and who refused to submit to and obey their Lord.
The people here recognized, too, the reality of their salvation, and all that God did for them in delivering them out of their slavery, and how he provided for them, and how he preserved them in all the ways in which they went. And, this, too, is a picture of our salvation, and of what Jesus Christ did for us when he died on that cross, and we, as well, need to acknowledge to God that we accept what he did for us by turning from our idols to make him truly the only God of our lives; the only one we serve with our lives.
So many are teaching a cheap grace gospel which requires nothing of us and that despises what Jesus did for us on that cross. They make a mockery of his grace by how freely they engage in sinful practices and follow their idols while claiming heaven as their eternal destiny. And, they need to come to this place that these people of old did, and realize what Jesus did for us.
He died that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. He said that if anyone would come after him, he must deny self and take up his cross daily and follow Jesus. And, to follow means to obey. He said, too, that if we hold on to our old lives (of living for sin and self) that we will lose them for eternity, but if we lose our lives (die to sin and self), we will have eternal life. And, Paul reiterated Jesus’ words, too, when he said that if we live to the flesh, we will die in our sins, but if by the Spirit we are putting to death the deeds of the flesh, then we will live (Lu. 9:23-25; Rom. 8:1-17).
We need to take God and His Word seriously, and not have this idea that we can live however we want and still go to heaven when we die. That is not what the Bible teaches. In fact, it teaches that we will reap what we sow. If we sow to the flesh, from the flesh we will reap destruction (decay). But, if we sow to the Spirit, then we will reap eternal life (Gal. 6:7-8).
So, don’t take God’s grace for granted. And, don’t be fooled into thinking that your sinful lifestyles or your idolatry mean nothing to God. He is very patient with us, because he is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.
But, one day we are all going to have to stand before God and give an account of what we did with him and his salvation. And, many on that day are going to hear, “Depart from me. I never knew you.” So, don’t be one of those. Turn from your idols today and obey your Lord. Choose this day whom you will serve, because you may not have tomorrow.
For Our Nation
An Original Work / September 11, 2012
Bombs are bursting. Night is falling.
Jesus Christ is gently calling
You to follow Him in all ways.
Trust Him with your life today.
Make Him your Lord and your Savior.
Turn from your sin. Follow Jesus.
He will forgive you of your sin;
Cleanse your heart, made new within.
Men betraying: Our trust fraying.
On our knees to God we’re praying,
Seeking God to give us answers
That are only found in Him.
God is sovereign over all things.
Nothing from His mind escaping.
He has all things under His command,
And will work all for good.
Jesus Christ is gently calling
You to follow Him in all ways.
Men deceiving: we’re believing
In our Lord, and interceding
For our nation and its people
To obey their God today.
He is our hope for our future.
For our wounds He offers suture.
He is all we need for this life.
Trust Him with your life today.
Thursday, November 8, 2018