“Choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve Yahweh” Joshua 24:15

A very interesting article from North America recently came to my attention and I believe that some of the following excerpts are relevant for all of us.

“We have just witnessed the re-election of George W. Bush, the death of Yasser Arafat, and we await news regarding the final days of the Pope and the next move of the Young Lions, Russia and United Europe. Can the drama be any thicker? Can the prophetic revelation be any clearer? Can the sense of urgency be any greater?”

Having arrested our attention, the writer suggests that our community does not suffer from a lack of revelation: “it suffers from an apathetic reading of it.” He continues:

“ For this we can only blame ourselves, because from this we get a body that is tossed to and fro with every new ‘progressive’ idea, a body that often reacts to the emotional or sensational rather than being guided by the intellectual. A preponderance of ignorance coupled with a spirit of insubordination makes for difficult ground to till and unfortunately provides fertile ground for ‘an idea whose time has come’. Those that are wise to Laodicean doctrine quickly identify its mark, but for many the subtlety, the prosperous addiction and the material opium are simply too great of a distraction to Scriptural development. We lose sight of the Divine roles prescribed for our salvation: men being men, women being women, and the establishment of a nuclear family that stands fast on the words of Joshua, ‘As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord’. As a fellow watchman and steward, I appeal to a stubborn resolve that echoes those words of Joshua: a re-kindling of your fighting spirit and a steadfast commitment to protect and defend the very lives under your care and within your realm of influence. This can only occur with an intelligent defence of truth (via assiduous reading and studying), the courage to proclaim it, and the credibility that only comes from living it, consistently.”

Joshua’s words as recorded in Joshua 24:15 were delivered to the tribes of Israel assembled at Shechem just prior to their leader’s death. The land had been subdued, Israel was victorious and the future looked bright. However, Joshua knew their hearts and he sadly knew that the nation would forsake Yahweh, despite their protestations of devotion and commitment. His own heart was fixed and so his declaration begins, “But as for me and my house we will serve Yahweh.” They had witnessed all the signs and wonders that Yahweh did for them in bringing them out of the land of Egypt and this they acknowledged: “For Yahweh our God, He it is that brought us up and our fathers out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage, and which did those great signs in our sight, and preserved us in all the way wherein we went, and among all the people through whom we passed…therefore will we also serve Yahweh; for He is our God” (Josh 24:17,18). Nevertheless, whilst making such vows with their lips, Joshua—even then—calls upon them to “put away… the strange gods which are among you, and incline your heart unto Yahweh Elohim of Israel”(ch 24:23). The appeal includes both negative and positive aspects. “Put away the strange gods” and “incline your heart unto Yahweh.” Unless the people gave single-hearted worship unto Yahweh, they could not serve Him acceptably, for as Joshua pointed out, He is both holy and jealous (v 19): He desires that we reverently fear Him and worship and serve Him “in sincerity and truth”.

In his exhortation to the people, Joshua had enumerated the manifold blessings which they enjoyed. Apart from their miraculous deliverance from Egypt and then from the nations inhabiting the Promised Land, Yahweh through Joshua had said, “I have given you a land for which ye did not labour, and cities which ye built not, and ye dwell in them; of the vineyards and oliveyards which ye planted not do ye eat. Now therefore fear Yahweh and serve Him in sincerity and in truth: and put away the gods which your fathers served on the other side of the flood… serve ye Yahweh” (Josh 24:13,14).

Is there a parallel in our circumstances of life today? Our previous issue of The Lampstand explored some of the features of our heritage in the Truth. Many of us have entered into an inheritance upon which we expended no labour; an ecclesial environment—the Truth itself—in which we just ‘grew up’; meetings, Bible schools, youth activities, a school and so on, much of which Yahweh has provided through the tireless labours of those who have gone before. And we truly acknowledge all this with our lips! Furthermore, we continue to observe all the wonderful signs which proclaim the advent of our Lord and the prophetic path which is like a chart directing us to the ultimate triumph of Yahweh’s Purpose in the earth and we say, “Yahweh our God will we serve, and His voice will we obey”! We have willingly chosen whom we will serve and so “ye are witnesses against yourselves that ye have chosen you Yahweh, to serve Him” (Josh 24:22).

But… what about the strange gods that are still among us? Some perhaps brought from Egypt; others acquired from the Amorites living about us. (cp Josh 24:14,15). What about the impact of those observable prophetic signs and wonders that tell us we are at the borders of the Promised Land, in accordance with those expectations so faithfully set out by our “fathers” in the Faith? Or are we even intelligently familiar with just what those things are that we should expect to see in these latter days? Are we gathering our families around the Word in preparation to meet our King? Fathers—are you equipping yourselves as the head of the family, guiding and directing the household in Godliness, or does “Pharaoh demand more and more bricks” so that less and less time is spent at home and more and more time at the office or workplace? Fathers certainly are ‘providers’, but the greatest wealth they can provide for their family is the precious Word of Life that they may have an everlasting inheritance. Mothers—are you “keepers at home”, caring for the needs of the family, fulfilled in your role of wife and mother, or are you restless and seeking fulfilment amongst the ‘career women’ of this world? Certainly ‘times change’, but the principles of God’s Word should still direct the lives of His people in whatever dispensation they may find themselves and no more so surely than on the eve of our Lord’s return—“the Divine roles prescribed for our salvation: men being men, women being women, and the establishment of a nuclear family [that is, a family closely gathered around a nucleus] that stands fast on the words of Joshua…”.

Such was the power of Joshua’s influence that we are told that the people remained true to their vow and “served Yahweh all the days of Joshua, and all the days of the elders that overlived Joshua, and which had known all the works of Yahweh, that He had done for Israel” (Josh 24:31). But we know what happened. Unfortunately, human memory is short and it was not long before the people forgot and consequently evil days came upon them as Joshua had predicted.

Again a modern day parallel seems to strike one. The influence of our faithful brethren from times past has been a wonderful factor in the survival of the Truth in these latter days. Perhaps we give lip service to this concept, but are we readers of their works, familiar with their expositions and upholders of the principles by which these brethren lived? Should we forget their heritage and set aside the wise instruction and exposition of the Word to be found from their writings, we may also fall on evil times and lose the unique and precious Scriptural foundation of the Truth so faithfully handed down.

Let us give meaning and substance to our vow—“Yahweh our Elohim will we serve and His voice will we obey” (Josh 24:24)—to set our hearts on all the words of Yahweh “which ye shall command your children to observe to do…For it is not a vain thing for you; because it is your life” (Deut 32:46,47).