Joshua 24:14 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.
15 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.
16 And the people answered and said, God forbid that we should forsake the LORD, to serve other gods;
17 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:
18 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.
19 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.
20 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.
21 And the people said unto Joshua, Nay; but we will serve the LORD.
22 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.
23 Now therefore put away, said he, the strange gods which are among you, and incline your heart unto the LORD God of Israel.
24 And the people said unto Joshua, The LORD our God will we serve, and his voice will we obey.
25 So Joshua made a covenant with the people that day, and set them a statute and an ordinance in Shechem.
26 And Joshua wrote these words in the book of the law of God, and took a great stone, and set it up there under an oak, that was by the sanctuary of the LORD.
27 And Joshua said unto all the people, Behold, this stone shall be a witness unto us; for it hath heard all the words of the LORD which he spake unto us: it shall be therefore a witness unto you, lest ye deny your God.
28 So Joshua let the people depart, every man unto his inheritance.
In my time as an adult, I have witnessed a large number of adult men who are quite fickle. I have heard of many men who want to see someone stand up for that which is right. However, when it comes to actually supporting such a man, few will choose to follow such a man.
It has been my experience that we can get verbal agreement on what the Bible says, but obedience to God’s Word is another matter. There is a greater fear of man, than the necessary fear of God.
When we read the Word of God, we find many people that have chosen to reject God because He is too holy. Adam chose to reject God’s firm and clear command given to him. Cain accused God of being unjust in His dealing with him when he repeatedly rejected God’s wise counsel given to him. Enoch was one man noted by God, in his generation. He was taken out of the world because he walked with God and God took him. Enoch was rewarded for faithfulness to God. Noah was a preacher of righteousness yet only 8 people were welcomed into the Ark before God shut the door. The examples are many.
As our text shows us, Joshua gave a challenge to the nation of Israel just prior to his death. He was led by God to give that challenge. He had witnessed the nature of the nation for more than 70 years. He served under Moses for 40 years and then led the nation of Israel for 30 years. He knew what they were like. He did not know them as well as God did, but he saw the fickle and weak nature of the men of Israel.
In verse 15 of our text, Joshua laid out his final challenge to the nation. The book of Judges shows us that Joshua knew these people better than they wanted to admit. Of course God showed Joshua the nature of the people. Joshua did not put his finger to the wind to see which way the spiritual climate was going. He had learned some important lessons in his years as leader. He knew that any time he doubted God, he always lost. He knew that when he trusted God, he succeeded and the nation succeeded.
The key to Joshua’s success was laid out for him in Joshua 1:8:
Joshua 1:8 This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success.
That was the key then, and it was still the key as Joshua came to the end of his life. In our time today, the key to success is still found in keeping “this book of the law”. You will notice that God was very specific with Joshua in chapter 1. He pointed directly to a specific book. He did not leave it for Joshua to choose which book he would choose to follow.
Joshua learned the importance of God’s Word as he led the nation of Israel. Now as his life was coming to an end, he needed to challenge the next generation with the imperative of knowing and following the true God. We see that true spirituality cannot be bought. It is also not something that we are born with. It is something that a person receives after he is truly saved and then builds upon the truth.
Paul asked the question:
Galatians 3:3 Are ye so foolish? having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh?
Those who are saved need to be challenged by the Word of God daily. We also need godly men who will humbly submit to God’s Word and be willing to “sharpen iron”. I trust that there are some on this devotional list who are taking up the challenge that Joshua left for the nation of Israel, on a daily basis. We cannot make the claim once and think it will stand. We need to be challenged regularly. We need to see the importance of carefully considering our answer. We know that the men of Joshua’s day did not consider the answer carefully. They gave the right answer in front of him, but they did not have what was needed to keep that promise. That “something” that we need cannot be built up with vitamins or with jogging, etc. It is something that only God can do in the heart and life of the repentant sinner who is truly born again. It is possible to have blinders on and assume we are faithful when there are markings that indicate the opposite. We need to be careful on what basis we determine our walk with God. Those who are men, need to be saved first of all and then ask God to direct us that we would be faithful men of God. Our wives and children need this. Our communities need this. We can see that our country is in dire need of some Godly men who will speak the truth. God has equipped us with all we need to be successful. He has given us His sure Word. He has blessed each born again Christian with the gift of the Holy Spirit. What we need is to humbly submit to God’s authority and ask for boldness to be a blessing in our day.