Jump Start # 1964
Joshua 24:15 “If it is disagreeable in your sight to serve the Lord, choose for yourselves today whom you will serve: whether the gods which your fathers served which were beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you are living; but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”
We love the confidence and conviction of Joshua that comes from this verse. His statement is oft quoted in sermons. We will serve the Lord! It is the front of this verse that I want us to consider today. “If it is disagreeable in your sight to serve the Lord…”
First, Joshua understood that everyone serves some god. If it was not the Lord, then it would be the gods of the River or the Amorite gods. He didn’t present any other options. He didn’t say, “atheism” is an option. No god. He didn’t say, “serve yourself.” We are part of something much larger than we are. Joshua understood what the world denies, it’s either the Lord or Satan.
Second, Joshua was not implying that these other gods were equal to the Lord or that they were even real. He was wanting the nation to make a commitment. Which direction are we going? Who are we following? The 10 Commandments made it clear that there were to be no other gods. Joshua is not opening the door for disobeying those commandments. Who was it that took them out of Egypt? Who was it that kept them alive for a generation in the wilderness? Now, who are we going to serve?
Third, the Bible isn’t just for folks who want to follow God. The Bible is for everyone, whether or not they read it, believe it, or follow it. The “whosoever” passages found throughout the N.T. are just that, for whoso ever. Some have this idea that if I want to be religious, then I ought to follow the Bible. But if I decide not to have faith and God in my life, then the Bible doesn’t apply to me. They are mistaken. Jesus said that the person who rejects Him and does not receive His sayings will be judged by that very word (Jn 12:48). We will all stand before God. We will all be judged by God. God’s word is for all.
Fourth, “if it is disagreeable in your sight to serve the Lord,” as this passage begins, there are consequences that come with that decision. I am not on my own. I am made by God. I am responsible to God. I can’t walk away from God without some serious and eternal consequences. It’s a choice that I make, but it’s a choice that comes with responsibilities, blessings and consequences.
Fifth, God’s word is written in such a way that everyone can understand it. God spoke the language of the people. He communicated, not in feelings, but in words. Words that have specific meaning and definitions. Words that can be studied, memorized and taught to others. One doesn’t have to have a “pre-Bible” course in order to be able to understand the Bible. It’s not like “pre-law,” or, “pre-med.” The common fisherman was the first to hear the Gospel message of Jesus Christ. The simple medieval laborer could hear and understand the message. The thought for many centuries was that only elite and educated could understand the Bible. The clergy, alone, it was taught, had all the insights and understanding in God’s word. So powerful was this thought, that it was against the law for a common person to even have the Bible. But all of that changed. The mass producing of the Bible during the reformation days put God’s word into the hands of many people. They could read it. They could understand it. Access to the Bible opened the door for faith and commitment to God.
Sixth, every person is responsible for their own decisions. Joshua was speaking to the nation, but individually, they had to decide. Joshua chose to serve the Lord. Others may have made different decisions. No one was going to make the decision for them. The same remains true today. In a home, mom and dad may decide to have nothing to do with the Lord. Sundays are for sleeping in. The Bible isn’t opened. Prayers are only offered at Thanksgiving time. But those children grow up and move out. And they may, on their own, decide to open that Bible, read it and follow it. They may become believers. This story is repeated over and over. It may be found within a marriage. A wife decides to worship and follow the Lord. The husband doesn’t. He doesn’t stop her, but he simply doesn’t go along with her. Each person must decide on their own.
Finally, Joshua was willing to let others know where he stood. He declared his faith in the Lord. He wasn’t ashamed nor embarrassed to announce to the nation where he was with the Lord. Me and my house, we will serve the Lord. A stake was placed in the ground. He is where we stand. That wouldn’t go well today in many circles. You can hear someone saying, “I don’t want to offend those who disagree.” “We shouldn’t push our faith upon others.” “Stay neutral.” Not Joshua. He proudly stood under the banner of the Lord. Maybe if more were vocal, others would be persuaded to do the same. Maybe some on the fence would get off the fence if they saw and heard others making a stand for the Lord. We can be so fearful of offending others that we forget that we may offend the Lord by hiding in the shadows. There are times when being silent is nothing more than being a coward. Certainly there are consequences that comes with standing up for what is right. Not everyone will agree. Some will take pot shots at you. Some will try to defeat you. And, some will wish that they had the nerve that you do.
There is an old saying, “if you stand for nothing, you’ll fall for anything.” I think of Peter declaring to the authorities that we cannot stop speaking about what we have seen and heard. Or, Paul stating, “I know whom I have believed,” and, “I am not ashamed of the Gospel.” The fear of being accused of being narrow and offensive may have kept our mouths silent. Satan never silences his mouth. His people are loud and in your face. They try to silence the people of God.
Put that stake in the ground. Stand tall. As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord!