Joshua was coming to the end of his life. He had led Israel for many years and gained many victories in conquering the land of Canaan. He called all the people together to admonish them. Joshua 24:14-24 “’Now therefore, fear the Lord, serve Him in sincerity and in truth, and put away the gods which your fathers served on the other side of the River and in Egypt. Serve the Lord! And if it seems evil to you to serve the Lord, choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of 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.’ So the people answered and said: ‘Far be it from us that we should forsake the Lord to serve other gods; for the Lord our God is He who brought us and our fathers up out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage, who did those great signs in our sight, and preserved us in all the way that we went and among all the people through whom we passed. And the Lord drove out from before us all the people, including the Amorites who dwelt in the land. We also will serve the Lord, for He is our God.’ But Joshua said to the people, ‘You cannot serve the Lord, for He is a holy God. He is a jealous God; He will not forgive your transgressions nor your sins. If you forsake the Lord and serve foreign gods, then He will turn and do you harm and consume you, after He has done you good.’ And the people said to Joshua, ‘No, but we will serve the Lord!’ So Joshua said to the people, ‘You are witnesses against yourselves that you have chosen the Lord for yourselves, to serve Him.’ And they said, ‘We are witnesses!’ ‘Now therefore,’ he said, ‘put away the foreign gods which are among you, and incline your heart to the Lord God of Israel.’ And the people said to Joshua, ‘The Lord our God we will serve, and His voice we will obey!’” The Lord is a jealous God who will not forgive those who forsake Him and do evil. Just like the Israelites, we must choose who to serve. We must put away whatever modern gods we have that pull us away from Him.
Moses had previously given the Israelites a similar choice. Deuteronomy 30:15-20 “See, I have set before you today life and good, death and evil, in that I command you today to love the Lord your God, to walk in His ways, and to keep His commandments, His statutes, and His judgments, that you may live and multiply; and the Lord your God will bless you in the land which you go to possess. But if your heart turns away so that you do not hear, and are drawn away, and worship other gods and serve them, I announce to you today that you shall surely perish; you shall not prolong your days in the land which you cross over the Jordan to go in and possess. I call heaven and earth as witnesses today against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life, that both you and your descendants may live; that you may love the Lord your God, that you may obey His voice, and that you may cling to Him, for He is your life and the length of your days; and that you may dwell in the land which the Lord swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, to give them.” Just like with the Israelites, we have set before us life and death, blessing and cursing. We must choose life.
Later, the Israelites under King Ahab and Queen Jezebel did turn away from the Lord and worshipped Baal. The prophet Elijah gathered the people together on the top of Mount Carmel. 1 Kings 18:21 “And Elijah came to all the people, and said, ‘How long will you falter between two opinions? If the Lord is God, follow Him; but if Baal, follow him.’ But the people answered him not a word.” Why did the people not answer? Why did they falter between two opinions? Maybe they desired to worship both Baal and the Lord. Maybe they weren’t convinced who was the true God. Whatever their reason, they needed to make a choice. Elijah proposed a contest to prove who was the true God. As the story continues, fire came from the Lord and proved that He is God. 1 Kings 18:39 “Now when all the people saw it, they fell on their faces; and they said, ‘The Lord, He is God! The Lord, He is God!’” We should not need a miraculous sign to convince us that the Lord, He is God. Like the Israelites, we should be convinced to follow the Lord because He is God.
Jesus stated in Matthew 6:24 “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.” You cannot serve God and riches or things of this world; you must make a choice. The apostle Paul wrote in Romans 6:16-18 “Do you not know that to whom you present yourselves slaves to obey, you are that one’s slaves whom you obey, whether of sin leading to death, or of obedience leading to righteousness? But God be thanked that though you were slaves of sin, yet you obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine to which you were delivered. And having been set free from sin, you became slaves of righteousness.” You are either a slave to sin or a slave to righteousness; you must make a choice.
The apostle Paul also wrote in Philippians 2:12-13 “Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure.” You must work out your own salvation with fear and trembling and God will work in you to will and to do for His good pleasure. You work and God works; both are necessary. You must make the decision to do your part and trust that God will do His part.
So, choose this day who you will serve – the Lord God or the god of this world; God or riches; righteousness or sin. Will you choose life or death, blessing or cursing? Don’t falter between two opinions. You can’t do both. Make the right choice.