And if it is evil in your eyes to serve the Lord, choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your fathers served in the region beyond 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. Joshua 24:15
In wrapping up the My Favorite Verses series, I wanted to hop back into the Old Testament for a verse I particularly love. Joshua 24:15 is one of my favorites for the simple statement “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” It’s a wonderful declaration of faith and confident trust in the Lord. But what takes place leading up to these words and what is the context behind Joshua saying them?
We have to consider what a watershed moment this was for Israel as we come to the end of the Book of Joshua. Here is a man who is the last direct connection to God’s chosen man, Moses: the deliverer of God’s chosen people. Here is a man (Joshua) who physically brings the people of God into the promise and sees nations defeated and driven out. At this point, Joshua is giving his farewell address. At this point, he is laying everything on the line for the Israelites.
As we dive in today, I want us to consider that just like Israel, we too have choices laid before us. Everyday choices. Choices that will affect us now and choices that could affect us down the road. Those choices are real. Those decisions have consequences. Just like Joshua put it all on the line for the Jewish people, we must also be willing to count the cost and determine the outcome for our lives to either follow and obey the Lord or not. Here we go!
1. We have before us a choice to serve the Lord
And if it is evil in your eyes to serve the Lord, choose this day whom you will serve
This word “evil” in this verse may come across with a strong connotation as we consider the choice Joshua is laying before his audience. Today’s verse is taken from the English Standard Version but looking at other translations we get a fuller picture of what Joshua is trying to say: evil can mean “disagreeable” (NASB), “undesirable” (NIV), or “but if you refuse” (NLT). From this we infer that with the choice between serving God or something else, one can weigh the options and come away thinking this “God stuff” is just too hard. And one can simply walk away.
Whatever the outcome, the point here is that Joshua is saying “You have a choice.” You don’t have to follow in the ways you’ve been taught. You don’t have to keep serving this God. That is up to you. And certainly as I look inward at my own household, I realize my children have this choice as well. We all do. I do not inherit the faith of my parents. Neither do my sons and daughter inherit my faith. They must truly make this faith their own if they are going to stay rooted and grounded in Christ.
2. Some will choose other gods
Whether the gods your fathers served in the region beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you dwell
Joshua starts getting specific here and this helps to solidify the point he is trying to make. He’s already said “Look you have a choice.” Now he’s going further and saying what the choice is. He is making a generational tie and that is important to note. “Your fathers served other gods…you can choose them.” He also makes a regional tie: “You can choose the gods of other nations who dwell in this land.” The reality is, some would go on to serve these other gods. Some would say serving the Lord is undesirable, but serving another god is desirable.
Isn’t this a reflection of our society and our churches today specifically? For many who grew up in church, the desire to stay with the Lord in a lifelong relationship falls off somewhere. It dies at some point because their faith was not made personal; it wasn’t about a true relationship. Joshua is pointing out an obvious truth (it’s a sad one) that some will choose another way besides The Way. Do we pray for these folks? Certainly! Do we allow our hearts to be swayed when we see them fall away? No. We must press in all the more to keep our foundation of faith firm.
3. The stand we make starts in the home
But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.
Joshua says exactly what he will do and it carries a lot of weight at the end of this verse. He was a man respected and looked up to. A man of integrity and character. A true leader. Here he was imparting an important truth — the idea that where all of this starts is in the home. To lead our homes well, we must declare that we are God-followers (capital “G”), not god-followers (lowercase “g”).
As for me and my house is a declarative statement. Have you made it either intentionally or purposefully somehow over your household? If you are single and unmarried, have you taken this stand? I can tell you it matters. It makes all the difference to look at what the world offers and still be able to say, “Nope, that thing has no pull on my heart no matter how good it looks.” What is that “thing”? Could be the god of money, sex, influence/power, acceptance, security…the list goes on and on. The home is the place where we give clear direction and purpose for ourselves and our family. Joshua laid out the options and he made clear the choice he would make. We must be equally intentional.
In closing today’s message I want to share a verse from the previous chapter in Joshua, a passage still part of this farewell speech he gives:
And now I am about to go the way of all the earth, and you know in your hearts and souls, all of you, that not one word has failed of all the good things that the Lord your God promised concerning you. All have come to pass for you; not one of them has failed. Joshua 23:14
I close with this verse because to me, this encapsulates a great deal of why Joshua made the declaration he did in Joshua 24:15. He is imploring the Israelite nation to look back; to recall the promises of the Lord. Not one of them has failed. Not one has gone unfulfilled. God’s track record is impeccable. It is without error or short-comings. If Israel is to move forward in confidence, they must look back and see that God has never failed them.
How about you? If there’s a challenge in today’s verse it’s a simple one: will you serve the Lord or not? Just like the prophet Elijah put a challenge before Israel (And Elijah came near to all the people and said, “How long will you go limping between two different opinions? If the Lord is God, follow him; but if Baal, then follow him.” 1 Kings 18:21), we have a choice to make. Yes the choice might cost us. Yes it might make life harder, at least for a time. But is compromise worth it? Is taking an easier path worth it? In the light of eternity, no. It’s always more desirable to choose the Lord’s way and allow His will to unfold.
I am praying for you today that you will have the strength and endurance through any choice you have to make. I’m in that place too and like Joshua, I want to say my house will serve the Lord. Always.
I love you guys and I thank you for joining me over these last few weeks. These verses have held deep meaning for me. I hope they have blessed you as well. Until next time!
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Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is. Ephesians 5:15-17