(February 10, 2023) Dr Jim McClure challenges us to make the right choice… 

Joshua was Moses’ ‘right-hand-man’ during the 40 years Israel spent in the wilderness, then he became Israel’s leader when Moses died, led the people into the Promised Land and served them faithfully as their leader for some decades after that until his death at the age of 110.

When the days of his leadership had come to an end, he gathered the people of Israel together and gave them his final charge which was reflective, challenging and called for a response.

His charge is still relevant to us today!

1. Circumstances (Joshua 24:1)
Joshua assembled all the tribes of Israel at Shechem.’ He chose Shechem as the gathering place for this momentous event as it was a place of promise, challenge and commitment from the time of Abraham.

Then he reminded the Israelites that God had enabled them to accomplish amazing things and they had now secured a foothold in the Promised Land. 

They had arrived at a time when a new era was about to begin.

2. History (Joshua 24:2-13)
In these verses we read Joshua’s brief historical summary of the people of Israel from the days of Abraham to their entry into and settlement in the Promised Land.  

He gave this review to demonstrate how gracious and powerful God was and to affirm how critical it was to have Him in their lives and to faithfully follow His directions.

He was indicating that things never remain the same!  Goals are accomplished when God’s people follow God’s directions wherever they may lead. But there were times in the wilderness when life was difficult and the Israelites wanted to go back to the old days, to their time in Egypt. In Numbers 14:3-4 we read that they said, ‘Wouldn’t it be better for us to go back to Egypt? And they said to each other, “We should choose a leader and go back to Egypt.”’

Joshua’s final message was not to encourage the Israelites to long for the ‘old days’ but to look forward to the future God had in store for them – whatever that may be!  While we can learn lessons from the past and celebrate the good things of the past, the past must not be a model for the future.

3. Appeal (Joshua 24:14-15)
Joshua now got to the crux of the matter.  The people had secured a firm base in their new land but there was so much more to be done.  Their enemies were still active and the appeal of the immoral and blasphemous religion of the Canaanites was very enticing to some of the Israelites.

In passing, let me say that this is not so different from the position in which Christians find themselves in Western countries today.  We have entered a new and particularly crooked era in which the corrupt appeal of today’s false secular gods has turned decency into an evil, truth into a lie and Almighty God into a foolish superstition.  That is the challenge that confronts you and me and every Christian today.

Joshua said, ‘Now fear the Lord and serve Him with all faithfulness. Throw away the gods your forefathers worshiped beyond the River and in Egypt, and serve the Lord. But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve…’  

In effect asking, ‘Can you trust God for your future and are you prepared to follow Him wherever He leads?

As Christians living in the midst of ever-changing social and moral values, our faith needs to be strong, positive, practical and proactive in our response to those changes.

4. Response  (Joshua 24:16-24)
The strong response of the Israelites to Joshua’s uncompromising challenge to faithfulness was a vigorous affirmation that they would certainly serve the Lord.  But Joshua had known these people for a very long time and he challenged their impassioned declaration with a comment that had a touch of irony in it. He said, ‘You are not able to serve the Lord. He is a holy God; He is a jealous God.’

True commitment reveals itself in service.  Some Christians like to talk a lot about ‘spiritual’ things but are reluctant to be involved in ‘practical’ things.  There is always practical work to be done in serving God however many Christians find ‘serving God’ to be a problem.  After many decades in pastoring churches I have found that it is often difficult to find committed volunteers to do various things in the life of the church. 

God doesn’t want from His people a  half-hearted relationship or half-hearted worship or half-hearted discipleship or half-hearted service. That was the point Joshua was strongly emphasising. God wants His people to be wholly committed to Him – none of the lukewarm, apathetic or hyper-spiritual stuff that masquerades to be commitment!

Three times the Israelites cried out to Joshua, ‘We will serve Him,’ and on the third time they added, ‘and will obey Him.’  If serving God is hard for some, obeying Him is even harder!

That promise to obey God is the main problem with following God’s leading because it requires going where He wants us to go and doing what He wants us to do! 

Back in the early 1960s when God called me to serve Him in ministry, I was not at all willing. I was happy to serve God in ‘doing things’ for Him in the church and outside the church, but when He made it clear to me that He wanted me to train for the ministry, I was far from happy to obey. You see, I had other plans for my life and they certainly did not include being a pastor. But very reluctantly I said, ‘Yes’ –  and my life and Jean’s life have been truly blessed.

God wants our obedience even if we don’t agree with Him!  Rather than His submitting to our plans, He wants us to follow His plans whether we like them or not!

5. General comment  (Judges 2:10)
Did the people’s fervent  affirmation to Joshua’s challenge inspire some wonderful results?  I would love to be able to say that it did.  But in Judges 2:10 we read, ‘Eventually that entire generation died and was buried. Then another generation grew up that didn’t knowanything of God or the work he had done for Israel’ (Message).

I find that comment very sad.  Despite the people’s strong emotional response to Joshua’s charge, what they actually did reveals a very different picture. Their commitment to the Lord was so inadequate that they passed on nothing to the next generation!

We too have been entrusted with a great responsibility is for the future.  Here’s a sobering question: ‘What inheritance are you and I going to pass on to future generations?’ We have an enormous responsibility for the future generations.

6. End Results (Judges 2:11)
Despite all the enthusiastic declarations of the people who responded to Joshua’s charge, they failed to hand over the baton of godly commitment to the next generation. And so we read in Judges 2:11 the end result, ‘Then the Israelites did evil in the eyes of the Lord and served the Baals.’

There is an urgent lesson that we can learn from this.

We are living at a time when godly values are rapidly fading, respect for Almighty God is disappearing, the Christian faith is under attack and Christians are increasingly being opposedThe prospects do not look very good. But this presents a challenge to us.

  • What level of commitment shall we give? 
  • Will we actively choose total commitment to God, and follow Him along whatever paths He may lead?
  • The end results are in our hands.

And this brings us back again to Joshua’s charge which is just as relevant to us today as it was to those who first heard it so many years ago – ‘Choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve.’

What choice will you make?


Dr Jim McClure, author of several books and Bible studies, offers them free in electronic version in EPUB, Kindle and PDF formats.


Looking for Answers in a Confusing World is particularly recommended. Questions seeking enlightenment on biblical perspectives are welcomed. Link:

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