Choose Ye This Day  

Joshua 24:14-18

 

14“Now therefore, fear the Lord, serve Him in sincerity and in truth, and put away the gods which your fathers served on the other side of the River and in Egypt. Serve the Lord! 15“And if it seems evil to you to serve the Lord, choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of 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.” 16So the people answered and said: “Far be it from us that we should forsake the Lord to serve other gods; 17“for the Lord our God is He who brought us and our fathers up out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage, who did those great signs in our sight, and preserved us in all the way that we went and among all the people through whom we passed. 18“And the Lord drove out from before us all the people, including the Amorites who dwelt in the land. We also will serve the Lord, for He is our God.”

 

The practical message of our text is invaluable. There comes a point in everyone’s life where a decision to serve or not serve God is  made. That decision has an impact upon the rest of a person’s earthly life and ultimately upon where we will spend eternity when this life is over.

 

 This farewell address of Joshua recorded in chapter 23-24 is a declaration of the Lord’s  goodness towards this nation of Israel.  This great leader sets forth the exhortation to choose,  and is proactive in letting the people know where he and his family stand.    Notice from our text    & Joshua 24:14-15

 

14“Now therefore, fear the Lord, serve Him in sincerity and in truth, and put away the gods which your fathers served on the other side of the River and in Egypt. Serve the Lord! 15“And if it seems evil to you to serve the Lord, choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of 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.”

 

Joshua is standing here and giving perhaps the very last exhortation to his people Israel.  In the previous chapter Joshua   reveals his advanced age at this point of his life. Read with me in        Joshua 23:2-3

2And Joshua called for all Israel, for their elders, for their heads, for their judges, and for their officers, and said to them: “I am old, advanced in age. 3“You have seen all that the Lord your God has done to all these nations because of you, for the Lord your God is He who has fought for you.

 

It is interesting that the heart of this message to the elders, judges and elders of Israel is: The work of God in their conquest of the nations. Therefore, Joshua exhorts them to hold to God while he states concerning himself, “behold, this day I am going the way of all the earth:” &Josh. 23:14.

 

 He thus calls for loving faithfulness to God and shunning the influences of the idolatrous nations.  & Joshua 23:6-8

 

6“Therefore be very courageous to keep and to do all that is written in the Book of the Law of Moses, lest you turn aside from it to the right hand or to the left, 7and lest you go among these nations, these who remain among you. You shall not make mention of the name of their gods, nor cause anyone to swear by them; you shall not serve them nor bow down to them, 8“but you shall hold fast to the Lord your God, as you have done to this day.

 

Again,  in Josh. 23:11

 

“Take good heed therefore unto yourselves, that ye love the Lord your God”

 

No persuasive speech is of any lasting value if it doesn’t address the needs of the people. Their need as they began their new life in Canaan is the words recorded verse11  

Take good heed therefore unto yourselves, that ye love the Lord your God”

 

Chapter 24 is now an address for all the people. They have “presented themselves before God” Joshua 24:1  to hear the “message of God”. Joshua’s words are a lesson in the history of the nation from Abraham’s father Terah, to the time of the settling of the land of Canaan by the Israelites. It is likely that this discourse was very soon after his meeting with the leaders Joshua 23

 

They are reminded first of the idolatry of Abraham’s family.  & Joshua 24:2

           

2And 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 Nahor: and they served other gods.

 This is ultimately to drive home the point of their need to be like Abraham and not  like Abraham’s fleshly heritage.  Joshua will ultimately tell these people of God

           

“Now therefore put away, said he, the strange gods which are among you, and incline your heart unto the Lord God of Israel(Josh. 24:23).

 

 Next he reminds them that their spiritual heritage is from Abraham. God chose him to fulfill His promises. He states:  

& Joshua 24:3

 

3‘Then I took your father Abraham from the other side of the River, led him throughout all the land of Canaan, and multiplied his descendants and gave him Isaac          4‘To Isaac I gave Jacob and Esau. To Esau I gave the mountains of Seir to possess, but Jacob and his children went down to Egypt.

 

The promises of God are seen here as coming through the illustrious patriarchs:  Abraham, Isaac and Jacob —  notice He states in verse 4 “To Esau I gave the mountains of Seir to possess,” This was to point out the distinction God has made in His  work in His  call of Abraham Isaac and Jacob and the separation of the descendants from Esau or Edom.

 

 Romans chapter 9 is a lesson in God’s Sovereignty of election. God chose Jacob not Esau for the work of redemption. 

& Romans 9:6-13

 

Third he reminds them of the Lord God’s deliverance out of Egypt  & Joshua 24:5-7

 

5‘Also I sent Moses and Aaron, and I plagued Egypt, according to what I did among them. Afterward I brought you out. 6‘Then I brought your fathers out of Egypt, and you came to the sea; and the Egyptians pursued your fathers with chariots and horsemen to the Red Sea. 7‘So they cried out to the Lord; and He put darkness between you and the Egyptians, brought the sea upon them, and covered them. And your eyes saw what I did in Egypt. Then you dwelt in the wilderness a long time.

 

It is interesting that God mentions the fact that they were eyewitnesses of God’s work. Though they would have been very young at the time of the exodus.

 

Fourth they are reminded of their preservation from the  threat of the Moabites when king Balak rose up to make war

& Josh. 24:9-10

9‘Then Balak the son of Zippor, king of Moab, arose to make war against Israel, and sent and called Balaam the son of Beor to curse you. 10‘But I would not listen to Balaam; therefore he continued to bless you. So I delivered you out of his hand.

 

God turned the curse unto a blessing.  This was done without any negotiations between Israel and Moab.

 

Next, they are reminded of the victories over the Amorites and the Canaanites of the land, especially of Jericho

 & Josh. 24:8,  11

 

8‘And I brought you into the land of the Amorites, who dwelt on the other side of the Jordan, and they fought with you. But I gave them into your hand, that you might possess their land, and I destroyed them from before you....... 11‘Then you went over the Jordan and came to Jericho. And the men of Jericho fought against you — also the Amorites, the Perizzites, the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Girgashites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites. But I delivered them into your hand.

 

 They are told of God’s use of the hornet to do battle with the Amorite kings and especially are reminded that victory was not “with thy sword, nor with thy bow” (Josh. 24:12).

 

And finally, they were told that the land was a gift from God. 

& Joshua 24:13

 

13‘I have given you a land for which you did not labor, and cities which you did not build, and you dwell in them; you eat of the vineyards and olive groves which you did not plant.’

 

They were living during a time of restful peace and prosperity.  - This entire discourse is a reminder of what God had done for them and their ancestors.

 

 The practical application for today from this exhortation can be seen in the parallel passages of the New Testament of God’s goodness for His people. John gives us one of the great passages of love in the words of John 3:16-17

 

16“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. 17“For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved          

 

 During the ministry and preaching of our Lord, we are reminded over and over of God’s Goodness toward His children..      

 Matthew 6:25-34

 

James will later write,  James 1:17

Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning 

 

 In our preaching and teaching today, we need to remind our hearers of God’s love and providential love for us, and that our Salvation like Israel’s is a gift from God. Eph.2:8-9

 

 All great sermons call for a response.   Preaching is not just giving the facts to convict the mind but is also a persuasive means to touch man’s hearts out of God’s goodness for them.  

 

The nation of Israel that day was called to make a decision. Joshua proclaimed & Josh 24:14-15

 

14“Now therefore, fear the Lord, serve Him in sincerity and in truth, and put away the gods which your fathers served on the other side of the River and in Egypt. Serve the Lord! 15“And if it seems evil to you to serve the Lord, choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of 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.”

 

The facts had been presented. God had followed and blessed them in their way... Their wills were to be challenged  by the persuasive words of Joshua and it is clear from the text that some in the nation had embraced some form of idolatry in view of the exhortation “put away the gods” (Josh. 24:14).

 

Regardless of the decision made by the nation, Joshua points to their need for a clear break with either the Lord or idolatry. There are several thoughts in Joshua’s emphasis for a decision.

 

 First, Man cannot serve both the Lord and idols Jesus Himself gave emphasis as to why this is the case. Matthew 6:24

           

24“No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.

 

 God, by definition, means the supreme object of devotion and service.  To serve two objects as God (or more than two as idolatry was prone to have it) is to make one (or more) less than supreme.  This is why Jesus said that man cannot serve God and another.

 

Further, the nature of God is such that there can be no rival.  To make anything or anyone besides God an object of single-minded affection and devotion is to manifest a lack of appreciation for God as God.

 

The prohibitions to have no other gods before God and not to make or bow down to any image (cf. Exod. 20:3-5) points to this very fact. There is no God besides the Lord (cf. Isa. 45:21).

 

 Man is given a choice, placing responsibility and accountability upon him. The free moral agency of man is declared throughout the scriptures.   The Lord said to Cain, Genesis 4:7

 

 “If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin lies at the door. And its desire is for you, but you should rule over it”    

 

 Moses stated in his  final discourse recorded in                               & Deut. 30:19-20.

19“I call heaven and earth as witnesses today against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life, that both you and your descendants may live; 20“that you may love the Lord your God, that you may obey His voice, and that you may cling to Him, for He is your life and the length of your days; and that you may dwell in the land which the Lord swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, to give them.”     

 

The choice made should be weighed in view of the evidence given.  When Joshua stated: Josh. 24:13,

 

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    

 

He was giving the appropriate response by the evidence he had presented to them.   All great sermons should do this very thing. Paul’s proclamation to the Athenians concerning God was, 

Acts 17:29-30.

 

29Forasmuch then as we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Godhead is like unto gold, or silver, or stone, graven by art and man’s device. 30And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent:

 

 Peter’s sermon recorded by Luke in Acts 2 moved the hearts of the hearers. (Acts 2:37).

Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do? 

 

After Philip preached Jesus to the eunuch, it is recorded,  Acts 8:36   And as they went on their way, they came unto a certain water: and the eunuch said, See, here is water; what doth hinder me to be baptized? 

 

When Paul preached the faith in Christ to Felix, the text states, 

“And as he reasoned of righteousness, temperance, and judgment to come, Felix trembled,” (Acts 24:25). While man is permitted to choose even a wrong choice, he  needs to know what is  fully required of him.

 

Joshua’s final appeal is seen in his decision to openly declare where his loyalty lies. He states, “but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord”           (Josh. 24:15).

 

A closing practical thought is seen in the words of our text Joshua 25:14-15

 

 14Now therefore, fear the Lord, serve Him in sincerity and in truth, and put away the gods which your fathers served on the other side of the River and in Egypt. Serve the Lord! 15“And if it seems evil to you to serve the Lord, choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve,

 

This is equally true of men in the Lord’s church today.  We need this congregation “Chestnut Mt. Church of Christ to choose this day   Choose to:  love God with all our hearts, minds and souls, and love our neighbors as our selves. Matthew 22:37-40   

 

We need to “33“But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.

Matthew 6:33

 

And finally — We read in Hebrews 3:15

 

To day if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts,

contact:

Ron Cope Minister churches of Christ

email:  RonCope@chestnutmtchurchofchrist.com

phone:  (678)617-9658