Monday, July 17 | With All Faithfulness
Read Joshua 24:1–15
Then Joshua assembled all the tribes of Israel at Shechem. He summoned the elders, leaders, judges and officials of Israel, and they presented themselves before God.
Joshua said to all the people, “This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: ‘Long ago your ancestors, including Terah the father of Abraham and Nahor, lived beyond the Euphrates River and worshiped other gods. But I took your father Abraham from the land beyond the Euphrates and led him throughout Canaan and gave him many descendants. I gave him Isaac, and to Isaac I gave Jacob and Esau. I assigned the hill country of Seir to Esau, but Jacob and his family went down to Egypt.
“ ‘Then I sent Moses and Aaron, and I afflicted the Egyptians by what I did there, and I brought you out. When I brought your people out of Egypt, you came to the sea, and the Egyptians pursued them with chariots and horsemen as far as the Red Sea. But they cried to the Lord for help, and he put darkness between you and the Egyptians; he brought the sea over them and covered them. You saw with your own eyes what I did to the Egyptians. Then you lived in the wilderness for a long time.
“ ‘I brought you to the land of the Amorites who lived east of the Jordan. They fought against you, but I gave them into your hands. I destroyed them from before you, and you took possession of their land. When Balak son of Zippor, the king of Moab, prepared to fight against Israel, he sent for Balaam son of Beor to put a curse on you. But I would not listen to Balaam, so he blessed you again and again, and I delivered you out of his hand.
“ ‘Then you crossed the Jordan and came to Jericho. The citizens of Jericho fought against you, as did also the Amorites, Perizzites, Canaanites, Hittites, Girgashites, Hivites and Jebusites, but I gave them into your hands. I sent the hornet ahead of you, which drove them out before you—also the two Amorite kings. You did not do it with your own sword and bow. So I gave you a land on which you did not toil and cities you did not build; and you live in them and eat from vineyards and olive groves that you did not plant.’
“Now fear the Lord and serve him with all faithfulness. Throw away the gods your ancestors worshiped beyond the Euphrates River and in Egypt, and serve the Lord. But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.”
Near the end of his life, after taking over the leadership of Israel from Moses and leading the Israelites into the land God had promised Abraham generations earlier, faithfulness to God was on Joshua’s mind. He had seen God’s faithfulness—which he catalogued for the gathered tribes of Israel—and he had had many opportunities to remain loyal to God or choose to worship other gods along the way. Undoubtedly, Joshua was pressured by circumstances and the pagan cultures around him to shift his loyalty away from God and toward other gods whom the locals would have believed controlled weather, crops, and fertility. In our day, the “gods” or idols we are pressured to worship instead of God are different, but no less tempting: money, power, security, superstitions, or personal pleasure. We know that we cannot give our full loyalty to God if we are also worshiping the things and values our culture worships. We often find ourselves doing just that, though. God will not force us to worship Him. As Joshua pointed out to the Israelites, we get to decide. But we must decide.
- Take a couple of minutes to chronicle some of the most significant ways God has been faithful to you. As you look over whatever you compiled, why do you think it is that other things still compete with God for your loyalty?
- What practices or disciplines help you remain faithful in your worship and loyalty to God? What relationships or activities tend to undermine your faithfulness? What might you need to turn away from in order to give your full loyalty to God?
God, my deepest desire is to be faithful to You—fully devoted, completely loyal, totally obedient. And yet, other things pull at me, pull me away from You. Help me to be faithful. Show me where my loyalty is divided. Bring to mind the things I need to turn away from and give me the strength and courage to actually say and live the words of Joshua: “as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.” Amen.
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