A person’s last words before he or she dies are monumental. As Joshua neared death at the age of 110, he spoke to the Israelites. Having led them for the last 28 years, Joshua still gave them direction even at the end of his life. His advice? “…choose you this day whom ye will serve…but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD” (Joshua 24:15).
Joshua was a successful leader. He received orders from God and passed them on to the Israelites, who enacted them. In Exodus 19:5, God made a promise to the Israelites: “…if ye shall obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me above all people…” Throughout the book of Joshua, we are told of many battles the Lord enabled the Israelites to win because they obeyed Him.
Both the Israelites and God kept their covenant with each other.
Under Joshua’s leadership, Israel now had a home. Their arrival fulfilled God’s promise to Abraham in Genesis 17:8: “And I will give unto thee, and to thy seed after thee, the land wherein thou art a stranger, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession; and I will be their God.” This home, though a blessing from God, was surrounded by other people groups who served idols and false gods. So right before he died, Joshua challenged the Israelites to choose to serve God.
“Choosing,” as Joshua says, isn’t passive. It is an action, not a happy accident. Jesus says, “He that is not with me is against me…” (Luke 11:23). In Revelation 3:15-16, Jesus tells John to write to the church of Laodicea, “I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth.” If we don’t actively make the decision to serve God, then Christ views us as His adversaries.
If we choose to serve God, then we need to serve Him alone. Mark 3:25 tells us, “And if a house be divided against itself, that house cannot stand.” Joshua made it clear that his household would be united in serving God. Even at the end of his long life, that was the desire of his heart. Joshua’s example leaves behind a legacy of faith and obedience from which we can learn.
We can either serve God or chase the things of this world. What legacy are you going to leave behind?
This week’s blog was inspired by March 18th’s reading from Through the Bible in a Year, a Bible reading guide offered free of charge by Family Radio.