Now therefore fear the LORD and serve him in sincerity and in faithfulness. Put away the gods that your fathers served beyond the River and in Egypt, and serve the LORD.

Joshua 24: 14

 

History matters. There is something to be gained by taking a good look at it from time to time, and that is exactly what Joshua has just been doing at this point in his narrative. He has gone over the highlights of all that God has done for himself and for the Israelite people. This is a long and complex tale of the Lord’s faithfulness to them that has remained true despite the fact that the people have frequently wandered away from His path and have far too often needed to be rescued from the consequences of those side trips and sinful excursions. So, Joshua is summing up the Lord’s engagement with the Israelites by directing them to respond to the Lord’s commitment to them by being singularly faithful to God and by following His will in all things. The Lord was to be the sole and total object of their worship and the recipient of their love and devotion.

 

Each of us has a history that is different from the one that shaped the lives of Joshua and the people of Israel. Yet, each of us does possess a story that tells of where we have been, the influences that have shaped us, and that also contains an element of God’s involvement with us and in shaping the way that life has gone. As I see it, God does actively seek out everyone, and He pursues each of us in order to demonstrate His unfailing love for us and to grant to us the opportunity to enter into the gift of His redemptive grace and perfect will for our lives. This is not all that different from what the Lord had done for the Israelites. In our stories the locations have different names, our Egypt of captivity might have another shape or form, and the gods that we have served will probably require other forms of sacrifice and worship than did those of the Amorites or that were found in other lands of the Middle East. Yet, almost everyone has gone through the stresses and the struggles of a journey through life with its times in the desert and its challenges of faith and loyalty to God.

 

Thus, the call to give our total respect, love, and devoted worship to the Lord is not very far off track for anyone today. This is something that we purpose to do, but it is also something that God provides the way and the means to accomplish. We have been granted an advantage over what the Israelites had received in that Christ has come and become the final sacrifice in payment for our sinfulness, our wandering. As we seek to enter into Joshua’s command to fear the Lord and to serve Him with our whole beings, in Christ we have the presence of the Spirit to empower and to guide the process of that commitment. We also possess God’s Word in its entirety to inform our thinking and to influence our actions. So, we are granted the gift of the presence of the Lord in our lives and with us in its journey in ways that are even greater and more powerful than the miraculous and wonderful ways that the Lord was with and among the Israelites during their travels. However, just as it was for them, it is also up to us to decide that we will listen to the voice of the Lord and commit all that we are and every aspect of our lives to Him and to serving His will for us.