Project Timothy, Joshua 24:
After a good time of break over refreshments, we went back for part 2 of the talk. This time, it was based on Joshua 24 and entitled “The Choice We Face”.
First, Richard talked about idolatry, mentioning that there were 3 ways of committing idolatry: making other gods, worshipping a false god, and giving worship meant for God alone to something or someone else. For example our work, or ourselves. There is nothing God hates more than idolatry and repetitions of God’s people falling into idolatry can be found throughout the Bible, especially in Judges. How then can you tell if you are falling into idolatry? Richard gave us 4 telling signs. Firstly, what do you daydream about? These are the things that you actually long for. Secondly, how do you spend your money? Do you spend it on the material or the immaterial? Thirdly, how do you make your decisions? Lastly, what are your reactions to certain things? These are telling signs that you may or may not value something more than the Lord God.
In Joshua 24, God spoke to the people through Joshua. He tells them to remember His grace in calling them- by taking Abraham from the land beyond the Euphrates and into Canaan.
Next, He tells them to remember His grace in redeeming them- out of slavery in Egypt. Even more today, Christ has redeemed us from slavery to sin and death. More reason to rejoice and remember!
The Israelites are then told to remember God’s grace in protecting them! In the passage, God gave the Amorites who lived east of the Jordan to the Israelites and the latter took possession of the land. Even in the New Testament where Jesus drives out the legion from the possessed man, the legion represents all that sin brings us- antisocial behaviour, self-destructive behaviour, misery and so on. However, Jesus has power over Satan, and we are safe in Him. Remember God’s grace in protecting you.
As the story progressed to the Israelites crossing the Jordan and into Jericho, the Israelites are told to remember God’s grace in blessing them with ‘land on which [they] did not toil and cities [they] did not build; and [they] live in them and eat from vineyards and olive groves [they] did not plant’. As they were given physical blessings in the form of land and a well-built and well-maintained city, we too have been given spiritual blessings in the heavenly realm of Christ Jesus. He is storing up blessings for us in heaven- our inheritance.
Here, the story takes a pause as Joshua tells the Israelites that they will have to choose if they want to serve the Lord God Almighty because if they did so, they will have to throw away all other idols. The only way we can be saved is if we throw away our lives by throwing away anything that is functioning as God but is not God. As demonstrated by the story of famous Scottish runner Eric Liddle’s life, “total surrender” is the key here. For Eric, who had such a bright future ahead of him after having won an event in the Olympics (400m, if I remember correctly), he decided to go to China to be a missionary. Even as war came into China, he remained where he was although his wife and children went back to Canada. He finally dies in an internment camp, never seeing his wife or children again. Truly a story of total surrender to me! Imagine how many of us will forsake one of the highest forms of self-glory (a medal at the Olympics!) and stop and give God all the glory. Really amazing guy, with a really amazing testimony.
Although Joshua 24 seems to end on a bizarre note, it is in fact, an ending indicating that everyone received their inheritance in the end. As the people of Israel chose to worship God and forsake all idols, they received their inheritance in the end. Now, its time for us to make the same choice because God will keep His gospel promise to give us our inheritance in the Kingdom of God. The choice we face is here and now, we need to choose for ourselves this day who we will serve- the True Living God, or that pair of really pretty shoes you’ve seen on display and really want to get?