“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.
But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve…
But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.”
-Joshua 24: 14-15
“Don’t be afraid and don’t be discouraged.” These are the words God spoke to Joshua after the Israelite Army was routed by the people of Ai. Once they found the source of disobedience within the Israelite people, they were able to conquer the army of Ai. Joshua is told to be strong and courageous all throughout the book with his name. In those moments when we feel weak and scared, God shows up with power and majesty to protect and provide for us.
The work that Joshua was tasked with was bringing the people of Israel into the Promised Land. This involved many battles to overcome and displace the people who had been living in the land. God made it clear that the reason the people living in the land lost possession of it was not because of Israel’s faithfulness, but because of the disobedience of those living in the land. They had become so wicked in the sight of the Lord, that they were removed and destroyed.
One thing that helps me to understand the call of God to destroy other peoples, is the openness of God to receive people who convert to Judaism. We see early on in Jericho that Rahab and her family were welcomed into the community. Rahab became the grandmother of Boaz (husband of Ruth), and great-grandmother of King David. When people are willing to convert and worship God, they are able to live. Even these foreigners were given the opportunity to answer Joshua’s question, “choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve?”
Whom will we serve? Are we following God faithfully with our lives, our hearts, our habits, and our money? This is the question we explore this week as we read the book of Joshua.
You, Lord, have been our dwelling place in all generations. You free us, you provide for us, you have even given yourself to us. Yet so often we forget that this is your story, and try to take the lead. We confess that we have turned from your way and gone our own ways. We have served other gods. We have loved you with our words but not with our actions. Forgive us, and turn us yet again to your path. Give us courage to follow you, and to proclaim in our lives that we worship and serve only you. Amen.