- We first meet Joshua in Exodus 17:9 where at the urging of Moses, he leads the famous battle against the Amelekites at which it was necessary to have Moses' arms supported in order for the people of Israel to prevail. He chose to fight for God.
- Exodus 24:13 first refers to Joshua as Moses' servant. It goes on to say that it was he that accompanied Moses to the mountain of God so that Moses could receive the ten commandments. In that Joshua was not actually a slave, it is clear that he chose to serve and support the man of God.
- Having been chosen as one of the 12 spies to investigate the promised land in Numbers 14:6-9, it was only Joshua and Caleb that brought back a good report and encouraged the people to, with God's help, go and take the land promised to them. He chose to have faith in God.
- As a result of his choices, Moses chose to groom him for leadership. God chose to allow him into the promised land, even when Moses was prohibited along with nearly every other person of his time. And God chose him to lead his people.
The exploits of Joshua are many, but I want to guide you to the thrust of this discussion. In the 24th chapter of the book that bears his name, he outlines a brief history of God's relationship with the people of Israel. He then issues the following challenge:
- "Now therefore fear the Lord and serve him in sincerity and in truth; and put away the gods which your fathers served on the other side of the flood in Egypt; and serve ye the Lord. And if it seems evil unto you to serve the Lord, choose you this day whom ye will serve: whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell..." Joshua 24:14,15
Brothers, sisters and friends, we all have choices. Man has been making choices since he was first brought to consciousness. Some of the decisions have been good; the pursuit of cures for disease, assisting one another in time of need, acting as peace makers, and ultimately, choosing God, for example. Some of them have been phenomenally bad; the decision to eat the forbidden fruit, robbing, murdering and all manner of other sinful behavior.
The bottom line however, is that we DO HAVE CHOICE. God made us that way, ultimately for His glory. I've said many times from the pulpit that it would have been easy for God to make us into automatons that did whatever he commanded. However it is clear from studying scripture that God wants us to choose to love Him as He chooses to love and provide for us. Even in our personal relationships, who among us does not want our love requited? Who does not want to be loved by the ones that we love.
God has provided greatly for us. It is up to each individual to decide whether he/she will serve Him. How does one serve Him? We serve Him and show our love to Him by being obedient to His word (John 14:15). We know that this pleases God and contributes to our growing closer to him, which in turn contributes to his coming closer to us (James 4:8). Our goal is to return to the relationship with Him that was originally intended. You've read about it in the first couple of chapters of Genesis.
I'll close with what Joshua said at the end of 24:15:
- "...but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord."
Each one reach one.
Each one teach one.