Joshua was a good leader. This is true for several reasons, but the main reason is that Joshua always knew where he was going. As successor to Moses, he knew what his role was; and he performed his work admirably. He didn't push God's people into the Promised Land, he led them. Listen to his challenge. "Now therefore fear Jehovah, and serve Him in sincerity and in truth; and put away the gods which your fathers served beyond the River, and in Egypt; and serve ye Jehovah. And if it seem evil unto you to serve Jehovah, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell; but as for me and my house, we will serve Jehovah" (Jos. 24:14,15). Joshua's words call for a strong personal commitment. He says YOU must choose.
Patrick Henry said: "I care not what course others may take. But as for me, give me liberty or give me death." He knew decision time had come. He knew there could be no further compromise with King George III. There could be no more discussion, and there would be no retreat. There is a parallel between this event in American history and an incident in ancient Isreael's history. As the Israelites fled from Egypt, their pursuers bore down on them quickly closing the gap. Israel comes to the brink of the Red Sea and falls into a panic. "What will we do?" "We are doomed!" It was then the Lord said: "Wherefore criest thou unto me? speak unto the children of Israel, that they go forward" (Exo. 14:15).
There is a common thread in the words of the Lord and those spoken by Joshua and Patrick Henry. Choices have to be made every day. Decisions that affect both time and eternity must be confronted. Everyday we engage in actions that materially affect ourselves and those around us. How will we respond to personal choices that come our way? How do we handle the personal crises that can weigh us down and defeat us spiritually? Joshua said: "I have made up my mind to serve God." Patrick Henry said: "I will act upon principles of honor and loyalty to my newfound country, even if it means I must die." The Israelites were reluctant participants in "going forward," but they did go forward with the Lord's help. So can we.
In a very real sense, we
choose the God we will serve everyday. We do this by our actions and attitudes,
and by our devotion to the particular choices we make. Not only did Joshua challenge
Israel to serve the true God of heaven, but he also menitoned that they had
several alternatives. The could choose to serve Jehovah, the ancestral gods
of Mesopotamia, or the more up-to-date gods of the Amorites. But, they had to
choose! Joshua challenged the children of Israel to get off the fence. Someone
once said, that the Lord would rather see a man be on the wrong side of the
fence than on the fence! Whether that is true or not, I do not know. What I
do know is that God calls upon me to decide one way or the other. Jesus refers
to choosing in His Sermon on the Mount (Matt. 7:13,14). The broad way or the
narrow way, which will it be? The apostle Peter refers to those who thought
it strange that once spiritual renegades now lived for Christ (1 Pet. 4:1-4).
choice to rebel was replaced by a choice to serve the Lord, and this had far-reaching implications for conduct and service. That is what Joshua told Israel. If Israel decided to serve Jehovah, they would have to put away the false gods of the land (Jos. 24:23). Service to the Lord is exclusive. We can belong only to Him.
When other people disobey God, I must still do what is right. Joshua and his counterpart, Caleb, are sterling examples of persevering in the midst of rebellion and dishonor. Of the generation of Israelites leaving Egypt, only Joshua and Caleb entered the promised land. These two faithful spies chose to stand against the majority and say: "We can do it!" Oh yes, they ahd their critics, as do the people of God today who choose to live counter to those around them. While popular opinion may differ, we must serve the Lord.
By Randy Harshbarger via
Gospel Power, Vol. 12, No. 35,
August 28, 2005.
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