Serving GOD or gods
As I was reading in Joshua chapter 24, I had a particular conversation “highlighted” to me.
“And if it is evil in your eyes to serve the Lord, choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your fathers served in the region beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”
This conversation caught my attention in verse 15. This is a verse, or at least a part of this verse, is printed onto many plaques in gift shops, and hanging on walls in homes;
“Choose you this day whom you will serve, as for me and my house we will serve the Lord”.
This time I stopped, thought about the context more, and re-looked at verse 14, wondering why Joshua made this comment. In verse 14 we read the implication that Joshua knew some of the Israelites were serving false gods that their fathers had served, so he follows through by saying a choice needs to be made, and Joshua let’s everyone know what he is going to do, he and his house will serve the Lord.
“Now therefore fear the Lord and serve him in sincerity and in faithfulness. Put away the gods that your fathers served beyond the River and in Egypt, and serve the Lord.
The response of the people to Joshua was basically–there is no way we would serve other gods, there is only one Lord we will serve.
Then the people answered, “Far be it from us that we should forsake the Lord to serve other gods,
At this point Joshua seems to tell the people that it is not possible for them to serve the true God, because God is holy. Also, God is a jealous God who will not forgive their sins. Perhaps Joshua says this to see how truthful the people are being, how strong their love of God is. If the people were just agreeing with Joshua to get on with life, this statement may cause reconsideration.
But Joshua said to the people, “You are not able to serve the Lord, for he is a holy God. He is a jealous God; he will not forgive your transgressions or your sins.
The people again aggressively tell Joshua they will serve the True Lord, and they stand by their statement.
And the people said to Joshua, “No, but we will serve the Lord.” Then Joshua said to the people, “You are witnesses against yourselves that you have chosen the Lord, to serve him.” And they said, “We are witnesses.”
This is the time when the rubber hits the road, and Joshua speaks of what he knew all along. He tells the people to get rid of all the foreign gods they have. Then they must turn their hearts toward the Lord, the God of Israel. As long as anyone is holding onto a false god, the true God cannot be worshiped and served completely.
Now, of course we do not know the kinds of foreign gods that were being carried by the Israelites, and they would be different from false gods that we may have today. Oh yes, there are still some false gods today, some in Christian circles even, that of course may be unknown.
I realize we have all heard of the false gods of wealth, material possessions, power, and others.
There are also a few that are not mentioned too often I believe. How about the possible false god of “church”? This is when a person will always be at “church” for everything, and everybody knows he will be at “church”. He always speaks of “church”, never of Jesus Christ and who Christ is. His goal is to build up the “church” to be honoured.
Or how about a person who follows a leader, Pastor, tv evangelist, and lives totally by what that person says and teaches. This type of false god is looked up to by a person who never / seldom reads the Bible on their own for Holy Spirit to speak directly, and never checks in the Bible to see if what the leader is teaching is correct. Everything taught that this person listens to may be correct, but the error is in the fact that the leader is looked up to as a god falsely, and the leader does not try to be, want to be, or know he / she is.
This is the time then, when Joshua told each of the people to get rid of all false gods, and turn to the True God.
He said, “Then put away the foreign gods that are among you, and incline your heart to the Lord, the God of Israel.”
The people of Israel finally declare that they will serve and obey the Lord their God. As seen, they declare the Lord to be their God.
And the people said to Joshua, “The Lord our God we will serve, and his voice we will obey.”
Questions for pondering.
> Do we have any false gods we hold onto?
>Are we willing to seek the True God, and ask Holy Spirit to shine His Light within us to bring conviction, confession, and correction?
>Are we willing to incline our hearts to the LORD OUR GOD, worshiping and serving Him only?