Why Joshua’s Famous Last Words Still Resonate
“But if you refuse to serve the Lord, then choose today whom you will serve. Would you prefer the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates? Or will it be the gods of the Amorites in whose land you now live? But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”Joshua 24:15
It never occurred to me until recently that when Joshua said these words, they were his last.
I always read these words that grace the walls of so many Christian homes as though they were coming from a young Joshua, a guy in charge of the big congregation that had recently arrived in the Land of Promise. I imagined him with his wife at his side and his children surrounding him as he gave the talk. On behalf of his house, he was declaring family loyalty to God.
But actually, when Joshua provided this one last act of leadership, he was a ripe 110 years old and about to breathe his last breath.
With that detail aside, let’s get to the point: What was true over 3,000 years ago in Joshua’s day is still true today...when it comes to religions to choose from, you have options.
There has always been a menu of belief systems from which to choose. You could go with monotheism (one God), polytheism (multiple gods), and even atheism (no god) if you were so inclined. The ancients had choices way back when, and so do we.
But just in case you haven’t made up your mind yet, or if you’re re-thinking a previous choice, here’s something to consider: Christianity is more about a personal relationship with God than it is about religion.
How so? Well, if you take Joshua’s most famous statement (quoted above) for example, you’ll notice something personal about it. Joshua was talking about the Lord as if He were a God that is real and nearby – not far away and detached.
In context, Joshua was helping the people renew their covenant with God. What other gods offered a covenant? What other gods were willing to commit themselves to the worshiper?
Like us, the children of Israel had a tendency to be unfaithful to God and chase after pseudo-gods. So, before he died, Joshua helped them sort out their commitments. He kindly reminded them that it was God who had personally rescued them when they were slaves in Egypt and that He was the one who had guided, protected, and provided for their entire journey home. He was the One they should choose.
“…as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.”Joshua 24:15
Fast forward to today and because of Jesus, there is a new covenant. Very simply, the terms go like this: In exchange for your acceptance that Jesus is the Son of God who gave His life for you on a cross and then rose again from the dead, God gifts you with a relationship, a relationship with Himself that will never lapse or expire. It’s a relationship that guarantees forgiveness of sins, life purpose, and soul security even when everything around you is coming unhinged. It’s a relationship that holds steady even on the days when you are not steady. It’s a relationship that involves talking, listening, learning, and waiting.
It is a relationship that is sustained by the goodness and grace of God – not by your performance as a human being. It is a relationship in which God is not just watching you, He also makes Himself known to you. And by His Spirit, He is with you.
So, what’s your choice? Religion, or relationship?
As for me, I’ll go with Joshua on this one. I choose the God revealed in the Bible and in His Son, Jesus. I choose Him because He wants more than religiousness from me. He wants a relationship with me.
It’s a new day with God. Run with it.