12/14/16 The Final Challenge XLI

Wednesday, December 14, 2016


Part 41

Joshua 24:14-25

Morning Meditation 12/14/16

Verses 14-24 say, “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. 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. And the people answered and said, God forbid that we should forsake the LORD, to serve other gods; 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: 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. And Joshua said unto the people, Ye cannot serve the LORD: for he is an holy God; he is a jealous God; he will not forgive your transgressions nor your sins. 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. And the people said unto Joshua, Nay; but we will serve the LORD. 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. Now therefore put away, said he, the strange gods which are among you, and incline your heart unto the LORD God of Israel. And the people said unto Joshua, The LORD our God will we serve, and his voice will we obey.”

Joshua has come to the end of his earthly life. He has been a faithful leader. He has experienced the joys of victory and the disappointments of defeat. He can say when He came to the end that God had never failed to keep His word: “And, behold, this day I am going the way of all the earth: and ye know in all your hearts and in all your souls, that not one thing hath failed of all the good things which the LORD your God spake concerning you; all are come to pass unto you, and not one thing hath failed thereof” ( Josh. 23:14).

When Joshua gives this final challenge, he rehearses what God had done for them. One of the things that should cause us to make a firm commitment for the future is to remember what God had done for us in the past. Unless you are one of those who think God really got a good deal when He got you, you won’t have any trouble finding things to be very very thankful for. When I think of what God has done for me, there is no price to great for me to pay as I commit my life to Him for the future. This is what Joshua is saying.

Joshua challenges Israel to choose. Serving the Lord is a choice. It always has been. No one is forced to be saved. No one is tricked into being saved. The Lord puts the way of life and death before us and allows us to choose. Joshua said, “ . . . And if it seem evil unto you to serve the LORD, choose you this day whom ye will serve . . .” You would think that this choice had already been made. They had certainly made a choice when they followed Moses out of Egypt. This was the choice of salvation. They had definitely made a choice when they crossed over Jordan and entered the promised land. This choice was a commitment to life-time service. This was a commitment to keep God’s covenant (Word) and practice it in their national and every day life. It was a commitment that involved putting away all false gods (vs. 14). Joshua tells them that God is a Jealous God and will not be One of many gods in their lives. With God it is either Him or the others. He will not share the place of God in a man’s life with an idol. He has to be first. He has not changed His mind or His Word about this. We are to “Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness” (Matt. 6:33). There are many who have followed Him in salvation and have seen His mighty works and have followed Him through wilderness experiences who have not yet made a once for all commitment to the Lord.. They are not sold out. They may teach Sunday School, work a bus route, be on a committee in the church, sing in the choir, or even be the pastor, but they have never made a commitment to the Lord what is deep enough to make the difference in the face of severe trials or worldly and fleshly lusts. They are the kind that will just go so far and then abandon ship.

For these, Joshua gives an example to follow. He says, “. . . but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.” I wonder if Joshua got his family together and discussed what he was going to say here before he said it? What do you think? It may have been that he got his family together and went over this final speech to Israel. It is not unreasonable to think that he did. Then after he had read his speech to them (using the language of our day), he said, “Is it ok with you that I represent my whole family in declaring our commitment to the LORD and His covenant in this matter? Are all of you as committed to the LORD in this matter as I?” Joshua hearing no objection, said, “Ok, you do understand that this is a commitment that the LORD will recognize. It is a commitment that you will keep no matter what. You do understand this?” Or, it could have been that Joshua was so in touch with his family that he knew exactly how they felt and he could make this commitment for the entire family because he knew this is what they would do if they were standing in his place. A father should know his family. He should know them well enough to know how they feel about the Lord and a quality commitment to Him.

I think that there are too many fathers who THINK their families share their convictions. In thirty three years of preaching, I have seen some shocked fathers. They just could not believe that their sons and daughters made the decision they did after they got out on their own. Let me say right here that I have absolutely no criticism for families who have children who go wrong. If this applies to you, then take it and use it to help and not hinder in your Christian life. If it doesn’t apply to you, then pray for the ones to whom it does. I love my brethren and I only mean to help. But there are father’s who do not spend enough time with their children to know what they believe or how they apply what they believe to real life situations. There are some children who have very little use for the Bible because it has been an instrument of discipline. They have been whacked over the head and heart with it over and over again. When dad picks up the Bible, they think the same thing that other children think when their dad picks up a belt. Some kids don’t know that a belt is what holds up dad’s pants. They think the belt loops on men’s pants are just hangers on which to hang the instrument of discipline! Some children think that the only real use for the Bible is to correct them when they are wrong.

I can just hear some of my preacher brethren say, “I can’t spend all my time at a family alter and pastor and do the work God has called me to do.” Let me tell you something. YOU DON’T HAVE A MINISTRY IF YOU LOOSE YOUR FAMILY. Our first responsibility in ministry is to have a model in the preacher’s home of how it is supposed to work. I believe Joshua had that. He did not take his family for granted. He knew when he committed his home, they were behind him saying amen. Joshua made a choice and went on record.

Then he gave them a caution to consider. This is brought out in verses 19-20. When he says in verse 19 that they cannot serve the LORD, what he means is brought out in verse 20. One cannot serve the LORD and “serve strange gods” at the same time. When you come before God and seek his forgiveness for sins, you will not get that forgiveness, if you have strange gods in your life. David said, “If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me” (Ps 66:18). Joshua challenges them to make a commitment and not turn back. It is a quality commitment. But he cautions them before they make it to consider what it means. It means that the LORD is going to be THEIR ONLY GOD. This commitment will exclude all other god’s from their lives in a once for all act. If they make the commitment and later break it, God will hold them accountable. You know we are so used to telling one another we will do something and break our word that we do this with the Lord. The Lord is not one you promise something then later take it back. Solomon said, “When thou vowest a vow unto God, defer not to pay it; for he hath no pleasure in fools: pay that which thou hast vowed. Better is it that thou shouldest not vow, than that thou shouldest vow and not pay” (Eccl. 5:4-5).. We should not be pressured into commitment. We should definitely make a quality commitment. But it should be our choice after having considered that it must be kept, that it is what we want to do, and that it means that their will only be ONE JESUS THAT WE WILL FOLLOW THE REST OF OUR LIVES AND ONE BOOK THAT WE ACCEPT AS THE ONLY RULE OF FAITH AND PRACTICE.

Joshua brought them to the place of commitment and gave them a way out. They didn’t take the way out but committed themselves to the Lord. So Joshua said in verses 22-24, “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. Now therefore put away, said he, the strange gods which are among you, and incline your heart unto the LORD God of Israel. And the people said unto Joshua, The LORD our God will we serve, and his voice will we obey.”

This was Joshua’s final challenge to Israel after they entered the land. It is a challenge after salvation and after several years of inconsistent service. There is a time in the Christian’s life when he needs to recognize, if he has not made a quality commitment to the Lord, he needs to make one. A commitment from which he will never turn back. It involves getting rid of any thing (false gods, even things that appear to be evil) that will come between you an Him. Only when you do this will you truly feel like a pilgrim and a stranger in this world. Your life in it’s entirety will truly be His and your hope of true fulfilment is in His glorious return. So you serve and wait with a longing look in your eye for His glorious return.

May the Lord bless these words to out hearts.

In Christ

Bro. White

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