A great battle is raging. It is not fought today with bullets or bombs, nor was it fought in the past with swords or spears. Rather, it has been fought throughout human history – and is still fought today – with choices.
Questions are presented, and choices are made – one man, one woman, or one family at a time.
The issues and resulting courses of action can affect an entire tribe, community, or nation – or even the world itself – but they are still determined one human heart at a time.
Today, as in the past, matters of significance are raised and resolved by others sociologically, economically, politically, militarily, and even religiously. At times, it all seems beyond the grasp, and certainly beyond the power, of any one person. After all, you are only one voter or one soldier or one believer, right? What can you possibly do, or achieve, by yourself?
The answer is “plenty.” Just look at Joshua.
Joshua, son of Nun
Joshua, the son of Nun (Numbers 13:8, 16), was one of the greatest figures of the Old Testament. When it came time to reconnoiter the Promised Land for Moses and Aaron, only Joshua and Caleb trusted God rather than trembling with fear at the size and strength of the local inhabitants (Numbers 13:25-14:9). When Moses died before entering the Promised Land, Joshua was appointed to lead the twelve tribes (Deuteronomy 34:1-9, Joshua 1:1-2). And when the Israelites finally crossed the Jordan River, Joshua took control of the entire land, just as the Lord had instructed Moses (Joshua 6:1-27, 8:1-29, 10:1-12:24).
Joshua was a great man, not because he amassed wealth or achieved popularity but because he made important choices based on his faith in God.
In time, Joshua grew to be a very old man, and, as his life drew to a close, he knew that the future of the children of Israel depended on the choices they would make. Joshua therefore summoned all the tribes of Israel, including their elders, leaders, judges, and officers, and he told them what was at stake:
This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: Long ago your ancestors, including Terah, the father of Abraham and Nahor, lived beyond the Euphrates River, and they worshiped other gods. But I took your ancestor Abraham from the land beyond the Euphrates and led him into the land of Canaan. I gave him many descendants through his son Isaac. To Isaac I gave Jacob and Esau. To Esau I gave the mountains of Seir, while Jacob and his children went down into Egypt.
Then I sent Moses and Aaron, and I brought terrible plagues on Egypt; and afterward I brought you out as a free people. But when your ancestors arrived at the Red Sea, the Egyptians chased after you with chariots and charioteers. When your ancestors cried out to the Lord, I put darkness between you and the Egyptians. I brought the sea crashing down on the Egyptians, drowning them. With your very own eyes you saw what I did. Then you lived in the wilderness for many years.
Finally, I brought you into the land of the Amorites on the east side of the Jordan. They fought against you, but I destroyed them before you. I gave you victory over them, and you took possession of their land. Then Balak son of Zippor, king of Moab, started a war against Israel. He summoned Balaam son of Beor to curse you, but I would not listen to him. Instead, I made Balaam bless you, and so I rescued you from Balak.
When you crossed the Jordan River and came to Jericho, the men of Jericho fought against you, as did the Amorites, the Perizzites, the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Girgashites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites. But I gave you victory over them. And I sent terror ahead of you to drive out the two kings of the Amorites. It was not your swords or bows that brought you victory. I gave you land you had not worked on, and I gave you towns you did not build – the towns where you are now living. I gave you vineyards and olive groves for food, though you did not plant them.
Joshua 24:1-13, NLT
Then Joshua continued, saying:
So fear the Lord and serve him wholeheartedly. Put away forever the idols your ancestors worshiped when they lived beyond the Euphrates River and in Egypt. Serve the Lord alone. 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 family, we will serve the Lord.
Joshua 24:14-15, NLT
Making your future by making your choice
Joshua placed on each person’s shoulders the single most important decision he or she would make for the future. The consequences would affect family and tribe as well as the nation of Israel as a whole, but the choice had to be made one person, and one heart, at a time.
The matter at hand that day was not about land or crops or wealth or prosperity. It was about God, because the most significant choices in life are always about Him.
Choices and consequences
The remaining books of the Old Testament, and even the books of the New Testament, reveal the choices made by human hearts during the next thirteen hundred years – and the consequences of those decisions. The world was still a fallen world, and bad things still happened to good people, but often the deepest and most profound suffering was the result of a choice to serve self rather than God.
Today, you and I face the same questions posed by Joshua more than three thousand years ago. The historical backdrop has changed, and the competing gods are no longer made of wood, metal, or stone, but the bottom line remains the same: will you serve the Lord? If not, then whom will you serve? Will you prefer the gods of power and pride? Will it be the gods of greed and self-gratification in whose land you now live?
You must choose for yourself, but you do not have to choose by yourself. God is with you through His Son Jesus Christ and by the power of the Holy Spirit.
The Lord, and the world, awaits your decision. Whom will you serve? Whom will you choose?
-- Dr. John Morris