Parting Challenge: Choose Whom You Will Serve! (Joshua 24)

Scripture reading – Joshua 24

Our study of the Book of Joshua concludes with today’s Scripture reading. We have journeyed with Israel through forty years of wanderings in the wilderness, and followed that nation’s battles with the inhabitants of the land the LORD had promised Abraham for an inheritance (Genesis 12:1).

With the land conquered, and divided among the tribes, Joshua gathered the children of Israel at Shechem (24:1) for a final challenge. Why Shechem? Shechem was the place Abraham had received the LORD’S promise that his lineage would inherit the land (Genesis 12:6-7).

Joshua rehearsed with the people how the LORD had chosen Abraham (24:2-4), delivered Israel out of Egypt (24:5-7), and guided them through the wilderness (24:7-10).  He reminded them that God had given them the land, as He had promised (24:11-13), and challenged them to revere and serve the LORD (24:14-28).

Showing his passion for serving the LORD had not waned in his old age, and thus, Joshua exhorted the nation: “If it seem evil unto you to serve the Lord, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord” (24:15).

With one voice, the nation renewed its covenant with the LORD, saying, “We will serve the LORD… The Lord our God will we serve, and his voice will we obey.” (24:21, 24).

Joshua then memorialized the nation’s covenant with the LORD, “and took a great stone, and set it up there under an oak, [and said to the people]…Behold, this stone shall be a witness [a memorial; a testament] unto us; for it hath heard all the words of the Lord which he spake unto us: it shall be therefore a witness unto you, lest ye deny your God” (24:26-27).

Three burials conclude our study of the Book of Joshua.

The first, with the vow of the people etched in stone, the people departed, and soon after “Joshua the son of Nun, the servant of the Lord, died, being an hundred and ten years old. 30And they buried him in the border of his inheritance in Timnath-serah, which is in mount Ephraim” (24:29-30). He was the last of his generation to go up out of Egypt.

Fulfilling Joseph’s dying request (Genesis 50:25), his bones were buried on the land purchased by his father Jacob (24:32).  Lastly, Eleazar the high priest, the son of Aaron, died and was buried (24:33).

A closing exhortation: Don’t take lightly an opportunity of a spiritual decision when the Holy Spirit stirs your heart to submit your will, or bow your knee to the LORD. As it was with Joshua and his house, so it is with you and me:

We must individually decide whether or not we will serve the LORD with our whole heart (24:14-24). Choose you this day whom you will serve.

Copyright 2021 – Travis D. Smith