Hunkered Down Devotion

Joshua 24:16-24 (Voice)  
People of Israel (responding): 16 Nothing could be further from our minds than abandoning the Eternal to serve other gods. 17 We know that the Eternal One our God rescued us and our ancestors from slavery in the land of Egypt. We remember that He performed all those great signs in front of us. He protected us from the people we passed as we traveled. 18 And we know that He removed the Amorites and all the peoples who lived in Canaan. We, too, will serve the Eternal One, for He is our True God.

Joshua (warning them): 19 If you think you will be able to serve the Eternal, you are wrong. He is a holy God and a jealous God; He will not tolerate your shortcomings and your sins. 20 If you desert Him and worship these foreign gods, He will fall upon you and totally consume you, even though He has done all this great good for you.

People of Israel: 21 All the same, we choose to serve the Eternal.

Joshua: 22 All right, then. You are witnesses—against yourselves, if it comes to that—that you have made this choice to serve the Eternal.

Israel: We are witnesses to it.

Joshua (repeating): 23 Then you must put all other gods away from you and turn your hearts to the Eternal God of Israel.

Israel: 24 We will serve the Eternal One, our God, and we will obey His voice.

This passage of Joshua comes just before the end of Joshua’s life.  He is trying to make sure that the Israelites that he has led into the promised land, remain as true and faithful to God, now that he was about to leave them happy and well fed in the promised land.

He remembers how quick they were to turn and question God when things got hard in the desert and he is warning them against the temptation to turn to other ‘gods’ in both good times and bad.

Unfortunately, we know from the rest of the Biblical narrative that Joshua’s fears were well founded as the Israelites would continue their cycle of straying from God – suffering the consequences – repenting – and eventual rescue over and over again throughout scripture.

That is a devotion for another day, what I want us to look at this morning is the content of Joshua’s advice to the Israelites.  He first asks them if they are planning on being faithful to God or abandoning him and following other gods.  When they assure him, they want to serve God, he warns them again and even tells them they won’t be faithful.

At this point, the people proclaim their desire to be faithful to God.  Joshua then essentially says, if you are serious about following God, then this is what you need to do: Then you must put all other gods away from you and turn your hearts to the Eternal God of Israel.

Joshua’s point to the Israelite’s is one that is just as relevant to us today: talk is cheap.  Joshua pushes the Israelites, challenging and warning them that simply saying they believe in God, saying that they plan to follow and be faithful isn’t enough.

This is what Joshua means when he tells them – and us – to ‘put all other gods away’.  Following God means putting aside and letting go of the other things that we allow to occupy the primary place in our hearts and in our lives that only God should have.

How do we ‘turn our hearts to God’?  By living in a way that reflects God’s heart and God’s values.  By truly following Jesus, by living sacrificial lives of love in his model.  By sharing God’s love not only with our words, but with our actions as well.

Sharing God’s Love,

Prayer: Lord, it isn’t always easy to follow you.  We are often tempted by the flash of the many false gods that swirl around us.  Fill us with your Spirit, so that we might fix our eyes on you.  Amen.

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