Exploring the Scripture
After the death of Moses, God commissions Joshua to lead the Israelites to the promised land for which they have long been praying. The story of Joshua begins at the point of Joshua’s commissioning. It describes the journey of the Israelites crossing the river Jordan and the conquest of Canaan. The story also tells about distributing the conquered land among the 12 Israelite tribes, and obedience to God.
Before entering their promised land, however, Joshua (now “well advanced in years” [Joshua 23:1b]) gathered all the Israelites. He wanted to share a reminder about the generous nature and miracles of God in guiding and delivering them. Joshua then further taught the Israelites to put aside the gods of their ancestors and serve only the Lord in sincerity and faithfulness.
After many long years of wandering and bloody battles, one can imagine this eager group rolling their eyes as they impatiently wait for the old man to finish his speech. They were keen to enter their inherited lands. But Joshua presses on with a reminder about God’s covenant to all people, and says directly, “choose this day whom you will serve” (Joshua 24:15). The people agreed to serve the Lord and Joshua recorded this covenant into law.
Sometimes we are too eager to move on to the next exciting project. We often don’t take time to reflect on the journey we’ve just completed and the steadfast presence of God. At the same time, the lure of false gods (money, power, fear, etc.) vying for our attention is a powerful distraction from our relationship with our Creator. This story of Joshua reminds us we are a people of God; he asks us to “incline [our] hearts to the Lord” (v. 23). Joshua calls for personal conviction, not outward conformity, in our faithfulness and service in partnership with God.
Project Zion Podcast
Co-hosts Karin Peter and Blake Smith consider how this week's scripture connects to our lives today.
- We are reminded of the generous love and constant presence of God in our lives.
- We are invited to renew our covenant relationship with God.
- We are called to serve God in faithfulness.
Questions for the Speaker
- Have you ever been tempted by “false gods” as a distraction from your relationship with God? How did you manage that?
- When have you been eager to move ahead to the next exciting adventure and not looked back to reflect on the presence of God along the way? How might this practice of reflection be important?
- What would you say if you were asked today, “Who will you serve?”