Many times when we hear a sermon about Joshua 24 the focus is on verse 15, and rightfully so. It is a pivotal moment for the children of Israel: Joshua makes a stand and draws a figurative line in the sand. He tells them to choose but he has already chosen for himself and his family. This is a powerful moment in history, but let’s focus on what led to this moment.
I was recently dealing with a very tough situation and without getting into detail there was not much I could do to control the results. I did my small part but really all I could do was the dreaded W word… WAIT. I had to wait for an answer over which I had no control, and I had to be okay with whatever outcome was given to me. The anxiety was real, but there came a day when I decided I could either be miserable in the waiting period—filled with anxiety to the point that I can not focus on anything let alone enjoy anything—OR I could give it to God and wait in peace. I chose the latter, and I wish I would have done it sooner because peace is a beautiful thing and you can not have it without giving everything over to God.
God is already in control, he is the creator of the universe (Genesis 1:1), but we tend to hold on to burdens that do not belong to us. We have Jesus who told us to give it to him (Matthew 11:28-30). We have Jesus who tells us not to worry about tomorrow (Matthew 6:25-34). We have Jesus who said he will always be with us (Matthew 28:20). So let us strive to choose each day to serve the master because Jesus has our back.
A while ago I wrote an article on anxiety (Be anxious for nothing...but how?). This is not necessarily part 2, but as it is a topic that I have battled with so many times I would say another article is warranted and I hope it is useful to others.
As we look at verse 15 of Joshua chapter 24 we see the famous words from Joshua:
“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.”
What led to this epic stand, and what can be gleaned from it as we seek to choose to serve God? Choosing to give your anxiety to God is parallel to putting our trust in him. We have to trust him to give up control. We have to trust him to have peace. And trusting and serving our God go hand in hand.
This chapter begins with Joshua gathering everyone together and speaking to them the word given to him by God almighty (Joshua 24:1-2a). God then takes them on a journey. God makes stops at pivotal moments where HE took care of them. He mentions how their ancestors served other gods but he sent Abraham to lead them to the land of Cannon (Joshua 24:3). He reminds them of how he plagued Egypt and brought them out of bondage (Joshua 24:5-7). How he delivered the Amorites into their hands (Joshua 24:8). How He saved them from the Moabites (Joshua 24:9-10), and, finally, how he sent hornets to the Amorites, the Perizzites, the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Girgashites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites. (Joshua 24:11-12).
In verse 13 God really breaks it down and leaves no doubt about who he is. Verse 13 says,
“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.”
EVERYTHING they have, God has given them. Sound familiar? God has been so good to us. No matter how you look at it, we are blessed. We live in a country of abundance; I know that America is not perfect, but we have come a long way from where we began in a short time. As Christians, we can worship our God freely and we can speak about him freely. Being a part of the Lord's church we know that all of our basic needs will be taken care of even if we fall on hard times. We are living in a land that we did not labor for.
Another thing we can glean from this is when times are hard, take a walk down memory lane.
What are your Egpyts that God has pulled you out of? Who or what are your Amorites that God has defeated for you?
When we reflect on how God has done it before we will gain confidence in the fact that he WILL do it again.
Finally in verse 14, before the choice is presented, the bible says,
“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!”
Looking at this verse we can see we are approaching a decision. Do we serve the false gods or the one true God who has proven time and time again who he is? Our god is powerful and deserves all of our praise, honor, and respect. But even still he is so gracious to remind us who he is and what he has done in order to gain our trust which should already be his. What a mighty and merciful God we serve!
I pray that when faced with a choice of doubting, fearing and being filled with anxiety we pull ourselves out of that and choose to give it to God. He is more than able and he will give you peace and comfort that only he can.