June 25 | Waking with The Word | Joshua 24 1-15
Joshua 24:1 And Joshua gathered all the tribes of Israel to Shechem, and called for the elders of Israel, and for their heads, and for their judges, and for their officers; and they presented themselves before God. :2 And Joshua said unto all the people, Thus saith the LORD God of Israel, Your fathers dwelt on the other side of the flood in old time, even Terah, the father of Abraham, and the father of Nachor: and they served other gods. :3 And I took your father Abraham from the other side of the flood, and led him throughout all the land of Canaan, and multiplied his seed, and gave him Isaac. :4 And I gave unto Isaac Jacob and Esau: and I gave unto Esau mount Seir, to possess it; but Jacob and his children went down into Egypt.
Joshua 24:14 Now therefore fear the LORD, and serve him in sincerity and in truth: and put away the gods which your fathers served on the other side of the flood, and in Egypt; and serve ye the LORD. :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.
We've come to the very last chapter of the book of Joshua and I want to urge you to read the chapter for yourself and not just the portions at the top of the page. I've not included the entirety of it for the sake of space but the history of Israel from Abraham to where they are now is laid out in detail. I thought it very interesting that in the end of the book more is said about their history than about their future. Note as well that this isn't Joshua's address to Israel but God speaking directly to them through Joshua. Most of the instruction from God had been given to Joshua and it was his duty to carry out and relay the instructions given but in this chapter we see God directly addressing Israel. Notice the personal pronouns used throughout the speech. What God had to say was of the utmost importance and an indirect address wouldn't suffice.
God reminds them at the beginning of the address of when their father Abraham was serving false gods in Ur of the Chaldea's and at the end of the address he warns them not to turn back to those old gods. After all, experience had taught them they they had a tendency to turn to false gods, remember the golden calf? The latter history of Israel teaches us that they had the same tendency for centuries after Joshua's rule. False gods were the thing God was warning them about. Reminding them of their past was how He felt was best to combat their sinful tendency. He told them of their History of deliverance and how at every turn He had been there. Near the end of the address he mentions that they are reaping from fields they didn't sow and eating of vines they didn't plant. They are in the most blessed time of Israels history thus far and God wanted them to remember how they got there and that sin would wreck all the progress they had made.
The address is ended with instruction and a decision to be made. They are told to fear the Lord and serve Him in sincerity and put away the gods which your fathers served on the other side of the flood. Then the decision presented was to serve God or gods. Joshua so boldly stated "As for me and my house we will serve The Lord." I want to notice also the family aspect that is throughout this chapter. It is important to remember that Israel was a family and not only a nation and God seems to be addressing them as such. Then Joshua said as for me and my house, again bringing to mind the family aspect. God reminds them all of their fathers Abraham, Issac and Jacob, there again something that ties them all together as a family. I said all that to make a point, we, the born again, are part of the family of God. We all have the same birth, we've been born of God and we all have the same birthrights to the inheritance of God, joint-heirs with Christ. With that thought in mind let us consider God's address to Israel and glean instruction from it.
Often we need to be reminded of where we were before God pulled us out of the sinful life we were living. This happens on a personal level for all believers and each one has a story to tell of when God saved them but I want to move through this with the family in mind. You may be the first in your family to be saved and if that be the case I pray that you won't be the last. From your testimony and the sharing of the gospel we pray that God will save other members of your family as well and you can be the patriarch of your family like Abraham was to Israel. I and many others like me were not the first to be saved but there were ones before me that were faithful to share their testimony and stories of when God so miraculously delivered our family from false religion and from years of sin and shame. One lesson to learn is that we have a duty to share our testimony with all but especially with our families. They need to know about when you were saved, they need to know about the marvelous change God made and all the things He has done. If you are the leader of your family then you especially have a responsibility to do so. Fathers, Mothers, Grandfathers, Grandmothers don't let these opportunities pass you by to share the wonderful testimony of God's grace in your life. If they are never told how will they know, if you don't remind them they have a greater chance of forgetting and turning to the previous state that God found your family in. How sad to see the families of saints fall by the wayside. May the circle be unbroken by and by!! Don't let your life pass you by without being a constant reminder of God's grace and mercy.
Lastly we need to start placing instruction before the ones we love. If you love someone then love them enough to place instruction before them. This instruction is only useful if it is followed by demonstration which is what Joshua did. He told them to forsake the old gods and follow The Lord and then he followed up his instruction with obedience to his own command. Dear leaders, Do as I say and not as I do has never worked and never will. If we hope for our families to follow God then we will have to show them how. You can never expect a child to do what your not willing to do yourself. Instruction is useless without example. Fathers, Mothers, Grandfathers, Grandmothers, Pastors and leaders, let us never instruct without obedience to our own instruction, to do that is to become a hypocrite. We'll close today with the words of Joshua "As for me and my house we will serve The Lord."
Be ye an example to the believers!!
Onward Christian Soldier!!