2 gods or One God

We all have a choice.

At the end of his life Joshua stood before the people he had led into the Promised Land.  He reminds of all that God has done for them.  After coming from Egypt, only Joshua and Caleb had the faith that God would deliver the nations of Canaan into their hands. Their faith was rewarded, and after wandering through the desert Joshua was picked by God as the successor to Moses.  Joshua led them against Jericho, and then in a systematic march through the land.  God delivered Israel, just as Joshua said he would.  Now at the end of his life, Joshua reminds the nation of all that God has done.  He doesn't leave it there, though, and in Joshua 24 he recounts the whole history of Israel, starting with Abraham.  God's faithfulness is show through Jacob, Joseph, and his brothers.

The list of nations was impressive.  Pharoah and Egypt, Balak and Moab, Jericho, the Amorites, the Preizzites, the Canaanite's and the Hittite's, the Girgashite's, the Hivite's, the Jebusites.  All of these nations God had defeated before Israel.  In a beautiful picture of the gospel, God tells them that

"gave you a land on which you had not labored, and cities which you had not built, and you have lived in them; you are eating of vineyards and olive groves which you did not plant."  Joshua 24:13

Who could forget God and all his deeds?  How could they choose someone else after all that God has done for them?

But Joshua knew the truth:  We all have a choice about what God we will worship.  God created us with free choice to reject God. The question for every human being is not "Will I worship?" but "What will I worship?"

Joshua offers three options.

"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." Joshua 24:15

You've heard part of that verse no doubt.  Go to your local Christian bookstore and you can find it in every kind of wall art you imagine.  It's good to choose to serve the Lord, but it's not your only option.  Joshua lists three choices that the nation of Israel has: the god's of your fathers, the god's of the Amorite's, or the God of Israel.  We are all faced with these options.

We often makes idols out of the past.  Joshua has just spent many verses reminding Israel of it's past.  It's good and wise to celebrate what God has done in the past, but it's easy to make an idol out of it.  It's not a sin to remember the past. But it is a sin to focus on the past at the expense of the present.  There are multitudes of books and articles making this point about the modern church.  Nevertheless, it is a god that is chosen far too often by churches and individuals.  The churches that make this choice often find they have no choice but to close their doors, as their past is no longer wanted by today's world.

Joshua also tells them they can worship the gods of the land, of the Amorites.  The god's of the present are a powerful pull on the church today.  We might easily see the folly of worshiping the gods of the past, but it's no use if we only exchange the past for the present. The gods of our age are not the gods of the Amorites, but the gods of pleasure, success, power, money, and crowds.  Each of them tells us that if we give in to the current culture, and worship along with them, that things will be easier, that we will be accepted, that we will find our place of prestige is upheld.  It's easy to see the churches that fall in line with the gods of the sexual revolution, of individual freedom at all costs, or of the triumph of science over all else.  The churches that worship the gods of the present close as frequently as the churches that choose the gods of the past.  Different gods, same outcome.  Choosing your pleasure over God's presence always leads to death.

The last choice that Joshua gives is the one that we are familiar with.  "As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord."  Literally, Joshua says that they will choose to follow Yahweh, the eternal one.  The one who was, and is, and is to come is the one that Joshua chooses to worship, the one who will outlast the others.   By choosing to focus on the eternal one, Joshua chooses the presence of God over the comfort of the the past or the pleasures of the present.  The churches that choose to do this today might face backlash when the eternal God clashes with the gods of the present.  But in the end this church and this church only prevail, strengthened up and built by God himself.

This is the choice that all of face, that every church faces.  Who will we worship? The gods of the past, the gods of the present, or Yahweh, the eternal one?  Only one choice leads to life.


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