Reflections: As we see the end of the leadership of Joshua, he gives the Israelites a clear challenge. Choose this day who you will serve! The choice is fairly simple: either you are going to serve the gods that their ancestors worshipped in Egypt and in the land of the Amorites, or the Lord. Joshua makes his stand, “As for me and my house (which included many people including servants) I will serve the Lord!” It was “make it or break it” time for the people of Israel, as they came into the land God had promised!
As they came into this land, God knew there would be many temptations for them to succumb to worshipping the gods that dominated this region in stronghold for many generations. As Joshua challenges the people with this charge they all in unison say, “Yes we will serve the Lord!” But Joshua, as the instinctive and discerning leader, knows their hearts and further admonishes them by saying, “You are not able to serve the Lord for He is jealous and will hold you accountable for your actions.” (my paraphrase)
Finally, because Joshua knows the people’s propensity to forget what God has done, he erects an altar for the Israelites as a witness to their promise. It reminds us that when we have similar experiences it is good to do something concrete to seal the experience and carry it forward. Having just gone to an inspiring ministry conference, I know how pumped up I was at the conference. Fortunately I took copious notes and purchased some of the talks so I can listen to them again. Also the pastor gave a prayer that those gathered to commit to praying each day for 30 days. This is another way to remember the commitments we have made in our hearts.
Have you remembered the things God has called you to do? What are some ways that you can stay on track to these precious holy moments, where God gives us a glimpse of how things should be on earth as they are in heaven! God gives us the privilege of serving Him in humility and each of our call is different, yet the same. We will be accountable for what God has called us to do, not someone else. Give thanks to God for the privilege of serving Him and bringing His love to those who need it the most! As the Word Jesus has become flesh and lived among us, He calls us to be His hands and feet to incarnate the same sacrificial love while we are left here on earth!
1 The Lord reigns,
let the nations tremble;
he sits enthroned between the cherubim,
let the earth shake.
2 Great is the Lord in Zion;
he is exalted over all the nations.
3 Let them praise your great and awesome name —
he is holy.
4 The King is mighty, he loves justice —
you have established equity;
in Jacob you have done
what is just and right.
5 Exalt the Lord our God
and worship at his footstool;
he is holy.
6 Moses and Aaron were among his priests,
Samuel was among those who called on his name;
they called on the Lord
and he answered them.
7 He spoke to them from the pillar of cloud;
they kept his statutes and the decrees he gave them.
8 Lord our God,
you answered them;
you were to Israel a forgiving God,
though you punished their misdeeds.
9 Exalt the Lord our God
and worship at his holy mountain,
for the Lord our God is holy.
Joshua 24:14-Judges 1:16
14 “Now fear the Lord and serve him with all faithfulness. Throw away the gods your ancestors worshiped beyond the Euphrates River and in Egypt, and serve the Lord. 15 But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.”16 Then the people answered, “Far be it from us to forsake the Lord to serve other gods! 17 It was the Lord our God himself who brought us and our parents up out of Egypt, from that land of slavery, and performed those great signs before our eyes. He protected us on our entire journey and among all the nations through which we traveled. 18 And the Lord drove out before us all the nations, including the Amorites, who lived in the land. We too will serve the Lord, because he is our God. ” 19 Joshua said to the people, “You are not able to serve the Lord. He is a holy God; he is a jealous God. He will not forgive your rebellion and your sins. 20 If you forsake the Lord and serve foreign gods, he will turn and bring disaster on you and make an end of you, after he has been good to you.” 21 But the people said to Joshua, “No! We will serve the Lord.” 22 Then Joshua said, “You are witnesses against yourselves that you have chosen to serve the Lord.” “Yes, we are witnesses, ” they replied. 23 “Now then,” said Joshua, “throw away the foreign gods that are among you and yield your hearts to the Lord, the God of Israel.” 24 And the people said to Joshua, “We will serve the Lord our God and obey him.” 25 On that day Joshua made a covenant for the people, and there at Shechem he reaffirmed for them decrees and laws. 26 And Joshua recorded these things in the Book of the Law of God. Then he took a large stone and set it up there under the oak near the holy place of the Lord. 27 “See!” he said to all the people. “This stone will be a witness against us. It has heard all the words the Lord has said to us. It will be a witness against you if you are untrue to your God.” 28 Then Joshua dismissed the people, each to their own inheritance.
The Parable of the Persistent Widow
18 Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up. 2 He said: “In a certain town there was a judge who neither feared God nor cared what people thought. 3 And there was a widow in that town who kept coming to him with the plea, ‘Grant me justice against my adversary.’ 4 “For some time he refused. But finally he said to himself, ‘Even though I don’t fear God or care what people think, 5 yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will see that she gets justice, so that she won’t eventually come and attack me!’”6 And the Lord said, “Listen to what the unjust judge says. 7 And will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off? 8 I tell you, he will see that they get justice, and quickly. However, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?”
The Parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector
9 To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everyone else, Jesus told this parable: 10 “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11 The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector. 12 I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’ 13 “But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’14 “I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”
The Little Children and Jesus
15 People were also bringing babies to Jesus for him to place his hands on them. When the disciples saw this, they rebuked them. 16 But Jesus called the children to him and said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. 17 Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.”
As for me, I shall behold your face in righteousness; when I awake I shall be satisfied, beholding your likeness. Psalm 17:15
The Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory. John 1:14
We see your face, risen Savior, in the smile of a loved one, in the eyes of one we have helped, in the hands of one who offers aid. May they also see your face in us as we perform our daily tasks. Amen.