Yesterday someone sent us an email filled with woe concerning a people group who are determined to rule the world. It appears to the author that we are without hope, and while the entire ‘book’ was not quoted, I wondered what his statistics were supposed to do — motivate Christians to fear, to hate, to evangelism?
After some reflection, my response was that this author forgot a strong reality promised by the Lord God: JESUS WINS!
Today’s Scripture is from the Old Testament during the time Joshua had led the people of God to victory and into the land He had promised them. Then he challenged them to serve God rather than the gods “your fathers served in the region beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you dwell.” He declared his own intention to serve the Lord. The people answered,
“Far be it from us that we should forsake the Lord to serve other gods, for it is the Lord our God who brought us and our fathers up from the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery, and who did those great signs in our sight and preserved us in all the way that we went, and among all the peoples through whom we passed. And the Lord drove out before us all the peoples, the Amorites who lived in the land. Therefore we also will serve the Lord, for he is our God.” (Joshua 24:15–18)
Then Joshua gave a strange answer . . .
“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. (Joshua 24:19)
In context, this was a test. Joshua knew that the people were zealous on the surface but had hearts that easily drifted to idolatry. His words and this test might well be directed to anyone and everyone who claims willingness to serve the Lord without examining themselves to any great depth.
I know how easy it is to rely on other ‘gods.’ For one thing, anytime I am critical of others I am exposing what I rely on or am proud of in myself. If I say someone is foolish, I’m relying on my own wisdom. If I say someone is ignorant, I am relying on my own knowledge.
Chambers asks if I rely on any natural virtue, or depend on certain sets of circumstances. Am I depending on my own estimation of what I can or cannot do? Do I hide a disobedient heart behind a false humility of “Who? Me?” as if God cannot use me when the problem is being unwilling to be used?
The Israelites said they would serve the Lord, yet it sounded more like an impulse than a deliberate commitment. Only those who have nothing else to trust can say this and truly mean it.
Chambers says such a commitment is about faith, about choosing to believe what God says. I can be afraid of our land being overrun, or I can believe Psalm 37. I can be determined to fight against immigration policies, or I can trust God as He brings the world to my door. I can hate people different than I am, or I can love my enemies as Jesus commands.
What do I really believe? Joshua repeats his question with the warning not to forsake the Lord and serve foreign gods — gods like fear, or my own faculties — because if I do, my life will be wasted. That is foolish and sad, but nevertheless, Jesus still wins.