Joshua 24:1-3a, 14-25
Peace be with you!
Joshua and the Israelites have conquered the Canaanites, Hittities, Hivities, Perizzites, Girgashites, Amorites, and Jebusites and are now in possession of the Promised Land. They are settling in as a nation in the land God promised them.
Now the Israelites are given a choice: to serve God or to serve other gods (Joshua 24:14-15, 19-20, 23-24). God set the Israelites free from the Egyptian Pharaoh who forced them to do backbreaking labor. The Israelites are given the choice to serve God. It is a decision left entirely to the Israelites. God asks the Israelites to freely serve him, whereas the Pharaoh forced them to serve him.
The Israelites confirm their decision to serve God over gods (Joshua 24:16-18, 21, 24). They praise God for leading their ancestors out of Egypt and out of slavery, doing great signs, and protecting them in the wilderness (Joshua 24:17). The Israelites also praise God up for driving out the other nations out of the Promised Land (Joshua 24:18).
Each time Joshua asks the Israelites who they will serve, he reminds them of God’s wrath and the consequences of not keeping their promise (Joshua 24:15, 19-20). Joshua wants the Israelites to understand the commitment they are making to God. If the Israelites turn away from God in the future, he will not forgive them and he will consume and harm them. To the New Testament reader, this seems extreme, because we know God forgives through Jesus Christ. However, when we turn against God, we allow other things to consume and harm us. It is not ultimately God who consumes and harms the Israelites but themselves, because God chooses when, how, and if at all to stop us from harming ourselves.
God gives us the choice: to serve him or to serve idols and/or ourselves. When we serve anyone or anything other than God, we become vulnerable to the dangers of our decision. God chooses when and how to save us when we turn away from him, but he is always there to catch us when we turn back to him, like the Prodigal Son whose father welcomes him back home (Luke 15:11-32. God shows his unconditional commitment to the Israelites by sending numerous prophets to bring them back into a relationship with him. God never gives up on his chosen people, even when he sends his only begotten son to die for their sins. I feel so blessed to know God will lift me back up and plant me in his love when I am done trying to figure it out on my own.
Thanks be to God!
Dear Heavenly Father, Thank you for giving us the choice to serve you. Help us to recognize our need to serve you and to allow you to guide us. Be with us as we go out into the world and protect us from all idols. Lift us up when we fall and plant us in your love and grace again. Thank you for catching us when we fall. Amen.
Please answer the following reflective questions in the comments below. Please agree to disagree and be respectful to each other. (If you have not already done so, please also take a moment, to sign the behavior covenant by commenting on it.) You can answer as many questions as you would like.
- When have you turned away from God? How did you find your way back?
- When has God planted you back in his love and grace again?