Wednesday Reflections – November 4, 2020 – Joshua 24: 1-3, 14-25- The World of the Text

This week we are looking at Joshua 24: 1-3, 14-25.  Today we are looking at the world of the text; what is happening on the page.  Every time I read this passage, I think of a wedding.  In a wedding, the first part of the ceremony is what’s called the declaration of intent.  This is the part where the bride is given away.  At that point, after the bride’s given away, I look at the husband and wife and I say, Okay,  do you? Do you promise to keep each other, to have, and to hold this day forward? for richer for poorer? That’s not the vow.  This is what is called the Declaration of Intent.  

The declaration of intent is saying,, yes, I declare that I’m going to do these things I’m going to have and hold from this day forward, for better, for worse, richer and poor, I’m declaring my intention to enter into this covenant with you. That’s what Joshua was doing here. He’s making the Israelites declare their intent to enter into union with God. It’s much like a marriage. And so let’s look at the text what we see here, what we see is we see a summation of the history or the history of Israel and their idolatry in many ways because we see that he calls them one together, all the elders, the heads, the judges, everyone, all not just the people but the leadership.  

He reminds them of how God called Abraham out and gave him his promises.  Now your ancestors, they served false gods beyond the river, the Egyptian gods, and now your neighbor’s gods.  That’s a consistent theme throughout your story. Your ancestors did it. Your ancestors in Egypt did it. Your parents did it, you’ve done it. So choose that path. choose that path if you desire. Or he says I’m put away these gods and serve the Lord. But if you’re unwilling to do it, me and my house, we’re going to serve the Lord.  

Here’s the interesting thing, he says, the people say they are going to do it, and Joshua says you can’t serve the Lord, He’s a holy God is a jealous God, He will not forgive the trespass into your sins. If you forsake the Lord and serve foreign gods, he will do you harm. They say, no, we’re gonna do it. Joshua was pushing them in this text over and over and over and over again, to mean what they said.  Don’t just say it, mean.  Joshua was pushing the people here to make a choice. What would you choose to do?

And finally, they say we will serve the Lord.  He had pushed them multiple times to think about what they’re doing. And finally, they say, we will serve God.  The text says that Joshua said, you were witnesses against yourselves. You’ve chosen the Lord.  . They said, We are witnesses. We agree that we’ve chosen to do this and we bear the blame for the day if we disobey. We bear the mind we serve the consequences. Joshua wanted them to truly and honestly, and frankly,

not rush into a decision  but to ponder

I don’t want you to serve God today because you feel pressured.

I don’t want to serve God the day because your neighbors do. 

I don’t want you to serve God today because you feel like it’s an expectation that you serve God. 

No, that’s, that’s very emotional, near trivial. I want each of us today to do what Josh was doing here with the people and to consider why we serve.  If we say it, we have to mean it. That’s what is happening here. Our actions must match our words.  

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