Love and Serve God
Lesson: Joshua 24.1-3a, 13-15, 21-24
Then the people answered, “Far be it from us that we should forsake the LORD to serve other gods . . . Therefore we also will serve the LORD, for he is our God.”
Joshua 24.16, 18b (NRSV)
In the Book of Joshua, Chapter 24, there is a Covenant Renewal Ceremony. It comes as the culmination of the conquest of the Promised Land and the division of the territories amongst every tribe, clan and family. The ceremony was an opportunity for the people of Israel to remember their history and reaffirm their purpose.
Joshua began the ceremony by reminding the Israelites that their ancestors did not start out worshiping the LORD. Terah and his sons Abraham and Nahor-- lived beyond the Euphrates and served other gods (Joshua 24.2). The LORD took Abraham from that land to Canaan but later, during a famine, Jacob and his children left Canaan and went to Egypt. Unfortunately, they became enslaved there and were exposed to the gods of Egypt. But the LORD brought them out with a mighty hand. God brought them through the wilderness to Canaan. God defeated their enemies and provided cities to live in and groves they did not plant. Now, As they prepared to settle in Canaan, Joshua challenged the Israelites. Make a choice. The gods of Haran, of Egypt or even the gods of Canaan. But, said Joshua, as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD (v. 15). The people responded, we also will serve the LORD (v. 18). Joshua warned the people that the Lord was a jealous God and would not permit them to serve other gods. Joshua knew the people were accustomed to including the LORD in the list of the many gods they would worship. Joshua, however, was calling for total devotion. ”You shall have other gods before me” (Exodus 20.3).
Joshua’s challenge is ever present. He does not ask us to serve the Lord because of our grandparents or out of tradition. He simply asks that we look over our lives and identify the One who found us, walking in darkness, and brought us out. Find the One who has never forsaken us even when we have been untrue. It is none other than the LORD. Let us love and serve God.
Reverend Steven B. Lawrence