Joshua was the leader of Israel who succeeded Moses. Joshua learned much under Moses’ leadership. But in many ways Joshua was his own man.
God used him differently. He led Israel into a new chapter. Joshua took Israel where it had never been. Joshua directed them into their destiny. Joshua took Israel out of the wilderness into their inheritance. At last, Israel claimed their Canaan. It was the inheritance promised to Abraham years earlier.
Finally, Israel entered into a land of abundance that flowed with milk and honey. The Jewish people could sound a victory shout. However, their rejoicing would be short-lived. Immediately upon crossing Jordan into Canaan they would meet with opposition.
In Joshua 24 the scene is Shechem. Joshua gathers all the tribes together and gives them a Jewish history lesson. Joshua reminded the children of Israel about their heritage. A leader reminds his people where they’ve been and where they’re going. Joshua reminds the people of God’s providence since the days of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
God continued to provide in the days of Moses and Aaron. God had delivered His people out of Egyptian bondage. He had given them victories over their enemies. Joshua was quick to point out the goodness of God. He had gone before the people, fought their battles, and met their every need. Joshua said, “Now what? Will you continue to serve God or follow after the strange gods among you?”
Time for a decison
Call for others to make a public commitment to God and set the example.
In his final act of public leadership, Joshua challenges the nation to make a decision of service. It was a time of prosperity but it was also a dangerous time. God’s people were at a vulnerable crossroads. The classic, well-known verse is found in this story: “… [C]hoose you this day whom ye will serve … as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.”
Joshua’s age old statement still rings true today. Leadership is influence. Joshua’s influence is to point Israel to the one and only God. Joshua says, “Don’t forget about the God Who has been with you every step of the way. Don’t turn away from God now! Who will you serve? It’s your decision to make.”
Godly leaders will always guide the people to God. God is to receive all glory. We don’t get where we are on our own. A turtle on a fence post doesn’t get where it is on its own. It had some help.
Israel couldn’t brag on its own accomplishments. God had been their rock. He had sustained them every step of the way. Now they must make a decision for the future. Joshua gives the people a public challenge and asks them to make a public commitment.
Elijah said the same thing to Israel atop Mount Carmel: “How long halt ye between two opinions?” Joshua says, “Make up your mind! There’s no room for fence straddling.”
The God Who had publicly preserved Israel was worthy of public service. Why would they want to serve Canaanite and Egyptian gods? Joshua pressed the people for a decision. The people answered with a resounding YES! They said they would serve the God of Israel and Him alone.
Remind others of God’s actions
Sometimes the best way to prepare for the future is to be reminded of how God has moved in the past. Let us remember that the God Who kept us yesterday is the same God Who will see us through tomorrow.
Israel was strengthened with the memory of past victories in Egypt. Joshua reassures Israel that God will do it again. God had been tested tried and true. With precious memories, the people said, “We will continue to serve the Lord and obey His voice.”
Do you remember when God came through for you right on time? Just know He will again. He’s the same yesterday, today, and forever.
Help them remember
To commemorate their dedication to God, Joshua made a covenant with the people. A covenant is a binding alliance.
God had entered into covenant relationship with Abraham and his descendants years earlier. Now it would be continued with a new generation. Joshua recorded it in a book and took a large stone and placed it under an oak. This would memorialize their accountability to the God of Israel.
Live It Out
Walk. Joshua asked the Jewish people to remember God’s miraculous deliverance. Ask others to recollect all the times God has delivered them in the past. Maybe it could be family members or a Sunday School class. This activity would help strengthen their faith and glorify the Lord. Jesus did this at the Passover meal when He said to His disciples, “This do in remembrance of me.” We need to be reminded.
Run. Call for public commitment in a church or ministry group. Like Joshua, leaders at times should challenge followers publicly and ask for public commitment. It’s been said many times before, “Actions speak louder than words.” Jesus Himself called for public commitment when He said, “Come follow me.” Christianity is personal and private, but also public.
Soar. As a symbol of faithful obedience, perhaps an outward memorial could be displayed. An altar, a book of commitment, or a stone statue could celebrate the people’s relationship with God and their service to Him. The inward covenant between God and Israel was symbolized outwardly. The symbol is not the basis of relationship with the Lord, but an outward sign as a witness for others.