A great love story - Joshua 24:13-18
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In our preparation to understand and enjoy the greatest love story, we continue with the farewell words of Joshua. If you wish, you can read this chapter from the beginning. In its first part, Joshua reminds them of the great blessings they have received from God with a discourse from the Lord, which ends this way: ‘So I gave you a land on which you did not toil and cities you did not build; and you live in them and eat from vineyards and olive groves that you did not plant.’ (v. 13). In God's land, God's people must not forget their origins and the Lord who has cared for them since he committed himself to Abraham to bless him with descendants and a place to live. Joshua now challenges them to live honoring the Lord.
1. God has spoken. Because of all that God has given them, what does Joshua ask of them in v. 14?
Here is an eternal lesson: the only way to honor the Lord is by giving yourself to him in a life of faithful service. What Joshua has in mind is serving God through an exclusive relationship. The 'surrender' to God is even more radical if we understand it as 'fearing' the Lord. The author of Hebrews explains it this way: Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, for our “God is a consuming fire.” (Hebrews 12:28-29).
2. They must decide (v. 15). How do the people respond (vv. 16, 18)?
This is a call for an honest commitment. There is nothing more destructive to a relationship than dishonesty. They had to choose who they would serve: God or the gods of the nations. Joshua is a leader who leads by example: "my family and I will serve the Lord." Today we also live days of decisions and explicit commitments. The church, the people of God, needs from its leaders this exhortation to serve God reverently, an exhortation that must be accompanied by healthy models. May your life be a model to others of commitment to the God who called you. When the exhortation is clear and the model is appropriate, it will be easier for the people to say, "We will also serve the Lord, because he is our God."
3. What do they acknowledge before God (v. 17)?
The people, encouraged by the challenge and the example of Joshua, endorse the words of their old leader. Here is a lesson: Joshua has conveyed, in word and deed, the great acts of God. That is what every generation of believers must do: prepare those who come after them for a life of service. Today we talk about discipleship. May our communities be places where the testimony is "passed on" to the generation that follows. Remember the following advice from Paul: Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ. 1 Corinthians 11:1
Think: For the Israelites, it is decision time. God rescued them from slavery and has given them everything they have. They repeatedly assure that they will continue to serve the Lord. What should accompany your words of commitment to God?
Ideas for prayer time: Thank God for giving you everything you have. Ask Him that you can serve Him, not only with your words, but also with your deeds.
Chilean Book of Common Prayer, page 130
Our God and Creator, who in Christ Jesus has given us life for good works and who says that faith without works is dead, make us to express in our deeds the genuineness of our faith, to the glory of your name and to the encouragement of your people; through our Savior Jesus Christ, your Son. Amen.