Choose This Day Whom You Will Serve (Josh. 24:1-15) Part 3 of 5

  • Written by James Lee
  • Published: 08 March 2017

This review of Israel's history was to show how they were what they were, and where they were, and enjoyed what they enjoyed only on account of God and His gracious dealings with them. The pagan gods their fathers served beyond the Euphrates River or the gods of Egypt or the gods of Canaan had nothing to do with all the blessings they enjoyed. In this forceful way he places upon Israel their moral, covenantal obligation to worship and serve YHWH alone.

 

 

It's important to stop from time to time, even daily, and take stock of where we are and how we got here. Where are you now? Are you happy where you are in your life? Or does your life seem like a bad dream and you wonder how you got yourself into this mess? But we must go deeper in our inquiry. If you are happy and content, what is the reason? Is it because your life is for now free of any big problems--because your job is pretty secure and rewarding, there are no major relational issues and you are relatively healthy? Or maybe other people might be surprised to find out that you are actually happy and thankful because they know you are going through some major trials in life. On the other hand, you may be feeling miserable precisely because you are in the midst of a serious trial or simply because you are disappointed by where you are now. Or other people might be puzzled to find out that you are unhappy because you seem to be in an enviable place in life in terms of your family and career and health and finances. This may be due to the fact that you forgot to be grateful for what God has given you and you think you deserve more. Or this may be due to a godly hunger and thirst, coming from an acute awareness of the utter inadequacy of material abundance to satisfy your soul.

Choose This Day Whom You Will Serve (Josh. 24:1-15) Part 2 of 5

  • Written by James Lee
  • Published: 07 March 2017

In this historical review, we see the usual, expected highlights of Israel's history. There is an interesting piece of information given here. It is in regard to Abraham's background: "Long ago, your fathers lived beyond the Euphrates, Terah, the father of Abraham and of Nahor; and they served other gods" (v. 2). We see here that Abraham grew up in a family that worshipped pagan gods. In a way this shouldn't surprise us. In Gen. 11, the chapter right before God's calling of Abraham in Gen. 12, we read of the Tower of Babel incident. The whole world had gone bad again, including Abraham's father's family, it seems. This was a truly sad turn of events. At the end of Ch. 11, we learn that Abraham's father, Terah, was a descendant of Shem. Many of you know about Noah's prophecies concerning his three sons, Shem, Ham and Japheth. Ham was cursed because of the disrespect he showed to Noah. Shem was blessed most of all to have God as his God. Japheth was blessed to share in Shem's blessings. Isn't it sad that Abraham's father, Terah, served pagan gods even as a descendant of God's chosen one, Shem? Abraham was delivered from that pagan environment and influence when God called him.

 

 

Why this information, other than the fact that it was true? To emphasize what Israel was saved from, even from the very beginning. This also shows what the goal of God's redemption is. Being set free from their slavery in Egypt was not it. Being delivered out of Egypt and taking possession of the land of Canaan and dwelling in it was not it. From the very beginning it was to bring His people into a saving, covenant relationship with the one and only true God. That is why Joshua's words are so urgent even though Israel was now in possession of the Promised Land. He challenges them to make a decisive commitment to worship and serve the Lord their God and Him alone!

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

  • Written by James Lee
  • Published: 07 March 2017

When he gave this address, Joshua was at the end of his life (v. 29). What is so difficult about dying, no matter what age you are? It's leaving your loved ones behind, isn't it? If you are a parent, you are naturally concerned about the welfare of your children, especially if they are young. What would be your final words to them? So many things to say but so little time. Would we waste our precious last breaths with insignificant chitchats and naggings? We'd choose to speak what is most important. As the undisputed leader of Israel, I'm sure Joshua felt like a father to the people of Israel. And as he faced his imminent departure from this life, he wanted to direct their attention to the most important issue, I'm sure.

 

 

What do you think it was? This was a man who lived to be 110 years old. And how eventful those years were! He began his life as a Hebrew slave in Egypt. Then the Lord delivered him and his people from their slavery with His mighty hand! Then he lived in the wilderness for forty years. After those forty years of wilderness wandering, he succeeded Moses whom he had served faithfully for all those years. Under his leadership, Israel was able to take possession of the Promised Land. What would be the final words of such a man to his people, out of all the wisdom and life experience he gained in his long, eventful life? Joshua used this final address to call the people of Israel not to forsake the Lord but remain loyal to their God. That's it. Life can seem quite complicated. But it may very well be quite simple in the end. He did this in two main ways: 1) by reviewing how they got to where they were; 2) by challenging them to make a decision whether to serve their God or other pagan gods.

If You Cling to These Nations-3 (Joshua 23:9-13) part 5 of 5

  • Written by James Lee
  • Published: 03 March 2017

If so, how could the people of Israel see that they needed something much better than the Levitical system of sacrifice? It would be when the covenant curses overtake them despite the sacrifices being offered at the temple. There were times in Israel's history when the temple was neglected: the animals ceased to be slaughtered in the temple court and the soothing aroma stopped rising from the altar. But even when the priests offered their sacrifices in the morning and in the evening and many more times in between, Israel was not free from the various covenant curses afflicting them--from the plagues and droughts that ravaged the nation to the frequent invasions from the surrounding nations. In the end, the temple itself was leveled and pulverized by the Babylonians in 586 B.C.! You see, this was what the conditional sanctions of blessings and curses in the Mosaic Covenant were there to do--to show that no amount of animal sacrifices could shield Israel from the horrifying consequences of their repeated sins against the Lord! They needed something better and greater than the Levitical sacrifices.

If You Cling to These Nations-3 (Joshua 23:9-13) part 4 of 5

  • Written by James Lee
  • Published: 02 March 2017

Even in the Old Testament, there were hints of the inadequacy of the sacrificial system. God said in Isaiah, "What to me is the multitude of your sacrifices? says the LORD; I have had enough of burnt offerings of rams and the fat of well-fed beasts; I do not delight in the blood of bulls, or of lambs, or of goats" (Isa. 1:11). Also, David confessed In one of his prayers, "[Y]ou will not delight in sacrifice, or I would give it; you will not be pleased with a burnt offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise" (Ps. 51:16-17). Isn't this remarkable? David wrote these words after Nathan exposed his adultery with the wife of his loyal servant, Uriah, and his murder of him. When he recognized the gravity of his sin, he saw that the blood of animals, no matter how many, could not remove the guilt of his sin! But such an insight was not common. David, too, said only two verses later, "[Y]ou delight in right sacrifices, in burnt offerings and whole burnt offerings; then bulls will be offered on your altar" (Ps. 51:19). Under the Mosaic Covenant, one could not simply do away with the sacrificial system just because he saw its inadequacy. Even though it could not wash away guilt on its own, it was a type, or a sign, of the one and only true Sacrifice of Jesus Christ, which alone could. As such, it was the channel through which God granted forgiveness to the Old Testament saints, who offered them in true faith.

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