30 Days in the Bible, Day 4: Joshua 24:14-24
Serving the Lord involves more than doing what pleases Him. It also means putting aside anything that does not please Him. We may not have idols of wood and stone in our contemporary culture, but we certainly may have idols of other kinds. When we are confronted with serving the Lord or serving our job, our family, our success, our finances, our friends, or anything else, we have to make a choice of whom we will serve.
The Israelites were hardly a people fully devoted to God even as they came out of Egypt and ultimately took possession of the Promised Land. Time and time again they defied God, complained about His provision, disobeyed His commandments, and even worshipped other gods. Their choices showed their hearts, and they often faced chastisement from the Lord over their sin. Yet God in His mercy continued to go with them, and to give them the land He had promised.
Joshua here makes the choice clear for Israel. Would they serve the Lord, a holy and jealous God, but also the God who had shown His power on their behalf repeatedly? Or would they return to the idols their ancestors had worshipped, or the gods of the nations around them? They stated their choice strongly here, but the very next book of the Old Testament, Judges, finds them in a cycle of pursuing other gods, then crying out to the Lord for help. Their choice turned out to be a very fickle one.
We read the story of Israel, and wonder how they could be so stubborn and rebellious. But if we take time to examine our own lives, we might find that we are just as stubborn, selfish, and inconsistent as they were. We love to serve the Lord when it’s easy, or to cry out to the Him when we need help. Yet in between, we can easily fall into the trap of setting up our own idols and serving them until we the next time we need God’s help.
Israel lost sight of the amazing redemption they had received from the Lord, when He brought them out of Egypt, demonstrating His power in the plagues and the parting of the Red Sea. Even though He continued to sustain them in the wilderness, the Israelites turned away when they didn’t get their way and wouldn’t follow His way. Christians can also lose sight of just how amazing our own redemption through the blood of Jesus Christ is, taking it for granted and wondering why He doesn’t just satisfy all of our whims. Before we point fingers back at Israel, we should point a few at ourselves.
Serving the Lord is a choice. It’s not just a one-time choice we make when we come to Jesus, but a choice we must make every day. We can look around us at the “gods” that call from our world today, or up at the One who redeemed us, sustains us, and goes with us every step of the way. It’s time to put away everything that would distract us from our service to our Lord, and to choose to serve Him every day.