You are Not Able (Josh. 14-26) Part 3 of 5

  • Written by James Lee
  • Published: 16 March 2017

The point here is that not everything that is urgent is necessarily important. We often make something out to be urgent when it doesn't have to be because of our obsessive quest for control. You know what I mean. We get stressed out about a lot of (small) things because we want them to be just the way we want, not because they have to be. "Your greatest danger is letting the urgent things crowd out the important" (Charles E. Hummel, "Tyranny of the Urgent").

 

 

There's nothing more important than choosing whom we will serve--God or Satan. A decision of this kind of magnitude carries with it a degree of urgency that surpasses all other choices in life. And this decision is most urgent because it will determine the trajectory of our life in a most significant way. It will affect every other decision we make for the rest of our life--what we will live for and how we will live each and every moment of our life. This choice is the most urgent choice because it is the foundation upon which we build the rest of our life and beyond.

You are Not Able (Josh. 14-26) Part 2 of 5

  • Written by James Lee
  • Published: 14 March 2017

Since Satan fell before us as the prince of the power of the air, we really don't have any other option. No matter what we want to believe, we have only two choices: serving God or serving the evil one. Satan may lure us by saying, "Do whatever you want to do! Don't listen to anybody else, not even God!" But this sly serpent of old knows that, as long as we don't listen to God, we are listening to him! Indeed, how does Paul describe the condition of the fallen man? "You were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience…" (Eph. 2:1-2). We once walked in the trespasses and sins. Did we do this in independence? No. We were "following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience…." Satan allows people to think they are free and independent. But he's got them all wrapped around his finger. The choice between serving God and serving Satan is inevitable and inescapable. And this is by far the most important choice we can make: it determines our eternal destiny.

 

 

Joshua also reminds us that this most important choice is also a most urgent choice--"choose this day whom you will serve." This is a good reminder because what is important doesn't seem very urgent a lot of times. If you were to ask a mom who survived a plane crash what is really important in her life, what do you think she would say? A lady who did survive a plane crash said unequivocally, "I never send my children away without saying, 'I love you.'" This may not seem like a big deal. This is certainly not urgent, like meeting the deadline for your work. Well, meeting that kind of deadline would be both urgent and important. Even so, if your plane were going down and your whole life flashed before your eyes, what would you think was more important--telling your family how much you loved them or meeting the deadline for your work, as important as that is?

You are Not Able (Josh. 24:14-26) Part 1 of 5

  • Written by James Lee
  • Published: 14 March 2017

This is a strange interaction, if there ever was one. It begins with Joshua urging the people of Israel to "fear the LORD and serve him in sincerity and in faithfulness" (v. 14). Then he goes on to reminds them there's a choice they must make: they must choose whom they will serve--whether to serve the Lord their God or the pagan gods of other nations. The two choices Joshua offers are not acceptable to the modern / postmodern man, even offensive. After all, he has moved beyond the religious mindset of the bygone, primitive era of human evolution. He responds in a proud defiance, "Choose whom I will serve? No way! I refuse to serve anyone because I am the pilot of my life, no one else. I march to nobody else's drumbeat but my own.

 

 

That sure sounds heroic and inspiring, doesn't it? Many a people have followed that line of thinking. But it ignores the reality, which the Bible presents. It goes all the way back to the Garden of Eden, to the scene of Satan's temptation. How does Satan tempt Eve? Does he come out and say straightforwardly, "Don't worship God! Worship me instead"? No, it was more like, "You don't have to listen to God! You can do whatever you want!" Indeed, now caught between God and Satan, Eve took matters into her own hands: "the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate" (Gen. 3:6). But what was so ironic about that situation? When Eve decided to take matters into her own hands and did what she wanted to do, she ended up doing exactly what Satan tempted her to do.

Choose This Day Whom You Will Serve (Josh. 24:1-15) Part 5 of 5

  • Written by James Lee
  • Published: 12 March 2017

But even these were a prelude to the ultimate work of redemption He came to accomplish--our eternal salvation, not just our temporary healing; "an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for [us]," not just a plot of land in the Middle East; our eternal life in heaven, not just a long and prosperous life on this earth, only to end in death; God's full, complete forgiveness of all our sins once-for-all, not just a sacrificial system which required many sacrifices to be offered again and again.

 

 

Where are we now because He came to seek and save us, the lost? We are set free from the bondage of sin and rescued from the domain of hell and Satan. The wrath of God cannot consume us and the curses of the law cannot touch us. We who were once strangers and aliens--enemies, indeed--are brought into the kingdom of God's Son. We are now God's adopted children, co-heirs with Christ to all that our heavenly Father owns. No matter what we go through in this life, this truth does not change. We may find ourselves in the valley of humiliation, even on the scaffold of persecution but nothing in this world can take away the dignity God has bestowed upon us in Jesus Christ. That's why so many have chosen to be "mistreated with the people of God than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin," considering "the reproach of Christ greater wealth than the treasures of Egypt" (Heb. 11:25-26). Do you see that the comparison is not between the wealth of Christ and the wealth of Egypt? No, it's between the suffering of Christ and the wealth of Egypt! If the reproach of Christ is better than all the riches of Egypt, how much better will be Christ's riches! Can you imagine? And those who know the joy of Christ know what that means!

Choose This Day Whom You Will Serve (Josh. 24:1-15) Part 4 of 5

  • Written by James Lee
  • Published: 12 March 2017

But most importantly, what do you think God will say about where you are and what it means? What we read in today's passage is only a short prelude to what He really wants to tell you. God calling Abraham was just a shadow of God calling His beloved Son to be the Savior of the world. Growing up in a pagan family, quite possibly worshipping the pagan gods that his father worshipped, Abraham had no merit in himself to be chosen as the father of Israel. If this grace could be extended to him (and to all his children of faith), it was only on account of what Christ would do for their salvation--to take their place as their Substitute and do what they could not do for themselves. So, as Israel went down to Egypt, so did Jesus. As Israel was called out of Egypt, so was Jesus. As Israel was baptized at the Red Sea, so was Jesus at the Jordan River. As Israel lived in the wilderness for forty years, so did Jesus stay in the wilderness for forty days.

 

 

But Jesus did not come into the world to reclaim Canaan as the inheritance of God's people. He came to give us something far better, something to which the land of Canaan pointed as a mere shadow--the kingdom of heaven and our eternal life of glory and joy in it. So His battle was not against the Canaanites or the Romans or even the religious leaders. His battle was not against "flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places" (Eph. 6:12). So He taught about the kingdom of heaven. And He healed the lame and cleansed lepers; He opened the eyes of the blind and the ears of the deaf; He cast out demons and raised the dead. He worked hard, quite often to the point of sheer exhaustion--all this to the major disappointment of many who wanted nothing more than the former glory of David's kingdom restored.

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