BOOK BY BOOK BIBLE STUDY
BIBLE STUDY LESSON
For the week beginning Sunday September 9, 2012
THE DECISION DARE
(Dare to live a Covenant life in CHRIST)
Through the permissive will of GOD, man is allowed to do many things, and ultimately, through JESUS’ death on the cross, we also receive GOD’s wonderful and abounding grace. Through HIS grace we are given wills that are free, and through our free will, comes our ability to make choices and decisions.
If we choose the Christian walk, we automatically choose to make ourselves strangers to “worldly behavior”. We give up permanent residency on this earth in order to become citizens of Heaven, and therefore, the laws of GOD become paramount in our existence. In order for “wrong things” to cease to fascinate and have power over us, we must ultimately fall in love with goodness. And when we fall in love with goodness, we are thereby compelled to reject the things that are not of GOD.
In Joshua 24, some forty years after Moses received the Ten Commandments from the ALMIGHTY GOD on Mount Sinai, Joshua summoned all the people together, including all of the leaders, elders, judges, and officers of Israel, to meet with him at Shechem, just a few miles northwest of Shiloh. As this book of Joshua comes to a close, and, with Joshua himself, closing in on 110 years of age, he now prepares for his home-going by delivering two farewell addresses to GOD’s chosen people.
The, events of this passage takes place where Abraham first received the promise that GOD would give the land of Canaan to his offspring for an inheritance. Abraham built an altar there as a result, that he might demonstrate his faith in GOD (Genesis 12:6-7). Jacob had also stopped there on his way to Padan-aram, where he buried the idols of his family that they had brought with them under a tree (Genesis 35:4).
The first address, which was to the men who would inherit his leadership role in Israel, also turned out to be his final testimony to GOD’s unwavering faithfulness to HIS followers. However, his speech also contained some stern warnings from GOD, of the dangers of abandoning HIS covenant Laws, once HE had called Joshua home (Chapter 23).
During this convocation at Shechem, Joshua speaks explicitly in the name of GOD, and through him, GOD gives the people an extended review of Israel’s past. Here, GOD takes them back down memory lane, all the way from the time of Abraham’s calling from his father’s house, beyond the Euphrates River, up unto some of their most recent battles with their enemies in Canaan, after crossing the Jordan River.
Joshua goes on to urge them to honor, and to serve GOD wholeheartedly, and, to put away forever, the idols that their ancestors had worshiped back beyond the Euphrates, and even while still in Egypt.
In verse 15, as Joshua finished his divine presentation, he “opens up the doors of the church” and gives all the members a chance to choose sides, as to whom they would serve. Will they choose to serve the ALMIGHTY GOD, WHO had, over the years, carried them on wings like eagles (Exodus 19:4), or, would they continue to try and hold on to their useless idols?
It was a choice that Joshua challenged each and every person to make, and they had to make it, on that day. Joshua then goes on to utter the most famous statement he ever made. In fact, it is one of the most famous declarations of faith, in all the annals of biblical history. Here in verse 15 he declares; “And if it seems evil to you to serve the LORD, choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the river, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you now dwell”. Then Joshua simply tells his congregation the way it really is in his family, when he declares, “But as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD”.
Choice is not offered very often in the bible, and when it is offered, it is somewhat of a privilege. Most of the time, in scripture, it is GOD’s business to do the choosing, just as HE had made Israel HIS chosen people. And sincerely, I think we all do know in our hearts, that choice does properly belong to the ONLY WISE GOD.
The bible both states, and implies, that GOD does not like those who are lukewarm towards HIM. HE much prefers those who are either hot, or cold (Revelation 3:15-16). As far as GOD is concerned, we are either for HIM, or against HIM. There is no “gray area”, and neither can there be a “middle ground”, or “straddling of the fence”.
In biblical times, people worshiped hand carved likenesses of other people (kings, pharaohs, and emperors), animals, or even things. They also indulged themselves in astrology, witchcraft, and sorcery. Most people today worship the “gods of the modern culture” such as people, money, sex, power, jobs, popularity, cars, houses, etc. We also continue to indulge in astrology, witchcraft, sorcery, and magic. Our prospective on life has become scrambled and contaminated. We have either forgotten, or never really known what GOD’s order of importance for mankind is supposed to be. We are made to “worship only GOD”, “love people”, and “use things”, and whenever we get those three things twisted around, we sin against GOD.
And so it is here in this final chapter of Joshua, that, after completing the first phase of their conquest of Canaan, the Israelites, lead by Joshua, chose to worship GOD only, and built an altar to GOD consisting of a huge stone upon which Joshua inscribed the Law of GOD, and rolled it underneath an oak tree that stood beside the “Tabernacle of the LORD”.
Joshua made it very clear what his choice would be. He and his family would “serve the LORD”. Salvation will always be for all mankind, but each individual must “choose freely” to accept it. The right time to come to CHRIST is always “right now”. And the right way to come to CHRIST is always “just as you are”. We only need to make a firm commitment, first with our lips, and ultimately with our heart, soul, and mind, that we will “serve and follow GOD completely”. It’s up to you!
A Sunday school lesson by,
Larry D. Alexander
LARRY D. ALEXANDER- Official Website