A Choice in 2015: Who Will You Serve?
Many people make resolutions at the start of a new year. In the past I have made some myself. some of them I carried through with, some I did not.
Perhaps you have made some resolutions for the coming year:
- Resolve to start going to church
- Resolve to read Bible through in the year
- Resolve to spend more time with your family
- Resolve to stop drinking, lose weight, or start exercising.
A resolution is a decision we choose to make, no one forces it upon us. Decisions of this nature often are made at critical points in our lives. Many times at the beginning of a new year or perhaps when a child is born or when we have faced some great tragedy or trial.
Today I challenge you in the presence of the God of Heaven to make a choice. Mark it down, each one of us will make respond, and that response will mark the choice that you make.
I am glad for the Bible. It gives me a chance to see how other men chose – and the results:
Adam’s choice cost him Eden; Esau’s, his birthright; Achan’s, his life. Lot’s decision cost him his home and his herds; Absolom’s, his father’s throne. The rich young ruler’s choice cost him the companionship of Christ. Judas’ choice cost him his Apostleship; Demas, his discipleship. Pilate, Agrippa and Felix chose wrong and missed heaven.
On the other hand, Moses chose the affliction of his people rather than the riches of Egypt. Joseph chose the prison house of Potiphar rather than the bed of his mistress. Daniel chose the Lion’s den rather than disobedience to God. The three Hebrew children chose the fiery furnace rather than Emperor worship. Christ made the marvelous choice when he set his face toward Jerusalem, at the Garden of Gethsemene and in the Judgment Hall. (Copied, Source Unknown)
Mothers and fathers: What would your answer be if God should say to you, “Ask what I shall make of these young people?” Would your answer prove you know how to choose the things that matter most?
And this brings us to our text in the Book of Joshua chapter 24, verses 1-25. In the historical narrative of Joshua two truths stand out:
- God is a God of war! He continually wars against sin. Though gracious, He is also just. Though Savior to some (Rahab) He is judge to others (Jericho). In this war God uses both those who are loyal to Him and he uses the evil forces to carry out justice. (Gen 15:16 – “the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet full.”)
- Faith is required to live justly before God. What we believe and what we value must be God this affects the direction of our life.
Before I bring before you the decision I am calling you to make, let us pause and look back:
REMEMBER GOD’S FAITHFULNESS (1-13)
Joshua runs the leaders of Israel through a synopsis of the last 900+ years of their history.
Remember where God took you FROM (1-4)
Their ancestors on the “other side of the river” worshipped idols. The ancient Mesopotamian peoples worshiped the moon god; Sin. Mass graves have been uncovered from this period. One site contained 7 men, 68 women and animals that are traced to ancient worship rituals.
We all have a history! You may not be able to trace your history back multiple generations, but that doesn’t change the fact that you have a history. We are descendants of those who did not serve the LORD GOD!
My great-grandfather died at at the age of 55 in a road accident in northern Maine, USA. What I know of my great-grandfather was that he was a hard-working, hard-drinking man non-religious man. That is my heritage. My ancestors did not know God, they did not believe in Jesus as Lord and Savior.
Joshua reminds the leaders of Israel that God sought out Abraham from the land “across the river” and led him out. God revealed Himself to Abraham, and Abraham became the “father of the faithful.”
My great-grandfather was killed when my grandfather was two years old. As a young man, someone shared Christ with my Granddad and he put his faith in Jesus Christ. My grandfather’s decision of faith resulted in:
- Children – 2 pastors, 2 missionaries.
- Grand-children – 1 pastor, 3 full time Christian service, 3 missionaries.
- Great grandchildren – 15 on mission field.
Remember when God brought you OUT (5-7)
Joshua reminded them that God brought them out from Egypt. Often Egypt in Scripture is a type of the world. We were all slaves to Pharaoh (Satan). In anguish we cried out, God heard our cry and sent a Deliverer, Jesus Christ!
The Passover was key to their deliverance (Ex 12). In the Passover the innocent lamb died as a substitute for the firstborn in the family. This pointed to the coming day when the lamb of God would come and shed His blood for the sins of the people of the world. Just as the blood of the passover lamb had to be applied, so Christ sacrifice is not good for YOU unless the blood has been applied to your life! “When I see the blood, I will pass over you” (Ex. 12:13). When God sees the blood of Christ over your life passes over that person because their sins have already been punished in Jesus Christ. “There is therefore no condemnation to those who are in Christ” covered in His blood.
Remember where God has brought you TO (8-13)
After being delivered from Egypt they passed through the wilderness and came to the Jordan River. We all pass through the wilderness of spiritual maturity with the goal of complete surrender to God. Many enemies will try to stop our progress. If we are to experience victory it requires conflict.
God provides deliverance, notice what he says, “I gave them into your hand” (8), “I destroyed them” (8), “I delivered you” (10). It was Jesus Christ who defeated our enemies at the cross!
God brings us out of the world, through the path of spiritual growth into the promised land of the victorious christian life (8a,13).
REQUIREMENT GOD DEMANDS (14-21)
The Charge (14)
The first thirteen verses culminate with the words, “NOW THEREFORE.” Whenever we see “therefore” we should pause to ask, “What is it there-fore?” Joshua is telling these leaders that because of God’s work throughout out their history. He called them when their ancestors across the river were still idol worshippers. He sustained them and brought them out of Egypt and through the wilderness. Now they are living in they did not build, houses they did not construct and they were eating from vineyards they did not plant. All of this should cause them to:
“Fear the Lord!”
Fear means to stand in awe of something, to revere. This awe should motivate us to proper actions!
Our action toward God – “Serve the Lord.”
This means that we are to serve Him as His subjects. We are to acknowledge Him as our Lord! How do we serve Him?
Sincerely is to walk openly and honestly, hiding nothing. The word ‘sincere’ comes from two words meaning “without wax.” It was a common practice for a potter to hide tiny defects in their work by melting hot wax into the crack. After painting the buyer could not tell there was a defect. After the pot had been purchased and when heat was applied the crack appeared rendering the vessel useless for its intended purpose. Potters would stamp their work as being sincere, meaning there were no hidden cracks.
We are to not serve hypocritically! It is not enough to say you are the genuine article. It is not enough to look like the genuine article. It is that when the heat is applied you are exposed as being genuine.
Without blemish. This word in Hebrew is translated 44x as ‘without blemish’.
We are to walk in the right way. This word is translated “faithful” in Neh. 7:2, “He was a faithful man.” This word is translated “right” in Gen 24:48, “led me in the right way.”
We are to walk in the right way without hypocrisy!
Our action toward “other gods.” –
We must put them away! An idol is anything we trust in more than we trust God. It is anything we put ahead of God. That could be ourselves, our business, sports, money, business, or even our family.
Ezk 14:3 Son of man, these men have set up their idols in their heart, and put the stumbling block of their iniquity before their face: should I be enquired of at all by them?
The Challenge (15a)
“Choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve!”
They were to chose service to the demon inspired idols of your ancestors (15b) or the Caananite gods of the people in whose land they now dwelt.
One of the most known Canaanite gods was Baal. It was believed that during dry season Baal went to the underworld. He would return and sleep with his mistress Asthoroth. So that rains would return to the land and to encourage Baal’s return, worshippers would sacrifice their firstborn infant sons alive by fire. Priests and priestesses would engage worshippers in public sexual relations.
Today we worship the god of materialism, the god of power and the god of fame. The challenge of Joshua’s day is the same challenge issued to our generation – to you and to me! Choose whom you will serve with your money, with your abilities, and with your time.
Joshua made it very clear that his choice was to serve God the Lord! (15d).
The Choice (15d-21)
This was a personal choice! The decision of one man (15d) “As for me and my house” impacted his life and the lives of those he was responsible for!
This was also a corporate choice! The decision of the congregation (16-18,21) was, we to will serve the Lord God!
At this point you would think that Joshua would warmly affirm their decision and welcome them to the fraternity! Instead he issues to them a sever warning. (19,20)
He warns them of God’s character (19).
God is Holy
I Pt. 1:15-17 15* But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; 16 Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy.
God is Jealous
Num. 25:11 * Phinehas, the son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron the priest, hath turned my wrath away from the children of Israel, while he was zealous for my sake among them, that I consumed not the children of Israel in my jealousy.
God is unforgiving. In other words, He cannot, will not let the sin of idolatry go unpunished. God will chasten those who say that they are serving the Lord yet worship idols! (20). Joshua warns that God will do them harm – this word is also translated hurt (Num. 11:10); afflicted (Num 11:11, Ruth 1:21, Jer. 31:28); to break in pieces (Job 34:24, Ps. 2:9); and broken (Jer. 11:16).
God will consume them. This is likened to a hot fire that consumes everything in its path. “Our God is a consuming fire!” (See: Ex. 32:10-12 – God wanted to consume Israel for the sin of the golden calf.)
RESOLUTION WE MUST MAKE (22-25)
This resolution was publicly affirmed (22).
This resolution required that they put priorities in action (23-24).
Put away the foreign gods (23a) – don’t just take about serving God, actually put away the idols that exist in their homes and in their lives.
Bow your heart to the Lord (23b) “incline your heart.” God desires worship from the heart! “These honor me with their lips, but their heart is far from me.” Worship always results in obedience! (24) Find out what God wants you to do and do it!
So there you have it – the choice that you must make at the beginning of this new year: “Choose YOU this day whom you will serve!”
Serving the Lord God begins by allowing Jesus Christ to apply the blood to your life. You must be saved!
I Jn. 1:7 and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanses us from all sin.
“As for me and my house WE WILL SERVE THE LORD!”