Joshua 24:1-3, 14-28
Serving God helps free creation from corruption, which includes ending
all the warring madness, cruelty, injustice, and indifference that causes so
much pain, suffering, bloodshed, and death to millions of human beings and
billions of other animals every year.
All of these problems we have in the world are caused by our fellow human beings, for they are the ones who cause all the suffering and death, and they are the ones the children of God must take a peaceful stand against and eventually overcome.
In Joshua 24:1-3, 14-28 he talks about some of the problems that rest in the hearts and souls of our fellow human beings, beginning with Godís call to us to separate ourselves from the ways of the world.
1. Then Joshua gathered all the tribes of Israel to Shechem, and called for
the elders of Israel and for their heads and their judges and their
officers; and they presented themselves before God.
2. And Joshua said to all the people, "Thus says the LORD, the God of Israel, 'From ancient times your fathers lived beyond the River, namely, Terah, the father of Abraham and the father of Nahor, and they served other gods.
3. 'Then I took your father Abraham from beyond the River, and led him through all the land of Canaan, and multiplied his descendants and gave him Isaac.
The Lord expected Abraham and all his descendants to be the ones serving God
to help free creation from the corrupt ways of the world, but they failed to
live up to His expectation; in fact, for the most part, they continued to
contribute to the corruption.
So Joshua has the following conversation with the Israelites.
14. "Now, therefore, fear the LORD and serve Him in sincerity and truth; and put away the gods which your fathers served beyond the River and in Egypt, and serve the LORD.
Here again the Lord calls upon the people to be the ones serving God, unlike
their ancestors who lived in the corrupt ways of the world.
And, as part of this call, the people are given a choice, which is really part of our free will.
15. And if it is disagreeable in your sight to serve the LORD, choose for yourselves today whom you will serve: whether the gods which your fathers served which were beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you are living; but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD."
Can we say in truth with all our heart and soul that we will be the ones
serving God as His peacemaking children, and help free creation from its
The first step in this commitment is stopping the eating, wearing, and using animals, for they must also be freed to live their lives as God created them to be.
Only the corrupt ways of the world cause pain, suffering, and death.
Letís return to the conversation between Joshua and the people.
16. And the people answered and said, "Far be it from us that we should
forsake the LORD to serve other gods;
17. for the LORD our God is He who brought us and our fathers up out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage, and who did these great signs in our sight and preserved us through all the way in which we went and among all the peoples through whose midst we passed.
18. "And the LORD drove out from before us all the peoples, even the Amorites who lived in the land. We also will serve the LORD, for He is our God."
We have heard a lot of people make similar commitments, but we have seen
relatively few people actually serving God and changing their way of life to
actually do so; most continue to live in the corrupt ways of the world.
So Joshua responds and warns the peopleÖ
19. Then Joshua said to the people, "You will not be able to serve the LORD, for He is a holy God. He is a jealous God; He will not forgive your transgression or your sins.
Joshua knows the corrupt ways of these people, just as we have seen all around us, including most church leaders and their parishioners.
20. If you forsake the LORD and serve foreign gods, then He will turn and do you harm and consume you after He has done good to you."
This seems to be what is happening in the world around us.
Itís not that the people are actually going out and worshiping other gods, but they are making so-called gods of the demonic ways of this world that cause so much pain, suffering, and bloodshed.
In addition these people present lies, corrupt laws, and refuse to follow the ways of the peacemaking children of God.
21. And the people said to Joshua, "No, but we will serve the LORD."
We have heard many people in the church say similar things, and then they go
out and live in the world, and promote the violent corrupt ways that cause
so much suffering.
Joshua knows all too well that the people of his day are going to do the same things that we have observed.
Without truly serving God with all their hearts and souls, people will go along with peer pressure and the corrupt ways of the world.
22. And Joshua said to the people, "You are witnesses against yourselves that you have chosen for yourselves the LORD, to serve Him." And they said, "We are witnesses."
It seems that people throughout time donít want to admit before God that
they really do prefer living in the ungodly ways of the world.
They donít want the limitations that come with truly serving God.
So, Joshua continuesÖ
23. "Now therefore, put away the foreign gods which are in your midst, and incline your hearts to the LORD, the God of Israel."
Even in the midst of the people saying that they are going to serve the Lord their God, they still have idols and practices that are not of God.
24. And the people said to Joshua, "We will serve the LORD our God and we will obey His voice."
They are still denying the truth about themselves.
If they had admitted their ungodly ways, and asked the Lord to help them change into the people He wants them to be, we are sure that the Lord would have helped them.
25. So Joshua made a covenant with the people that day, and made for them a
statute and an ordinance in Shechem.
26. And Joshua wrote these words in the book of the law of God; and he took a large stone and set it up there under the oak that was by the sanctuary of the LORD.
27. And Joshua said to all the people, "Behold, this stone shall be for a witness against us, for it has heard all the words of the LORD which He spoke to us; thus it shall be for a witness against you, lest you deny your God."
28. Then Joshua dismissed the people, each to his inheritance.
This is similar to the way that most church services end, but relatively few
people, including most pastors, really follow in the heavenly will of God.
The world is full of deceptions and lies, and the people go along with it.
Letís look at a couple of examples.
We recently saw an ad that had a cartoon pig saying that he wanted to grow up to be somebodyís bacon, which is a total lie, because pigs want to live just as much as we do; but to make people feel good about killing and eating animals, the people believe, or pretend to believe, these lies.
Perhaps a decade or so ago, an immune-contraceptive vaccine was developed to humanely control animal overpopulations, and the vaccine proved to be very successful in all the trials, but because of pressure from the 4% of the population who are deer killers, and the income the state conservation departments derived, the states passed laws to prevent its use on deer.
It is also a well-known fact that killing male deer never really reduces deer populations, for the population rebounds the following year due to multiple births, but to appease the killers and to get their money, they sell out to the evil ways of the devil.
Such actions prove how corrupt and ungodly our political system is; they are far from serving God.
Jesus talks about this concept of serving God in a special way in Matthew 25:1-13Ö
1. "Then the kingdom of heaven will be comparable to ten virgins, who took their lamps, and went out to meet the bridegroom.
Letís look at these people and things in a spiritual way; for us to be truly
serving God, it must be done in a heavenly spiritual manner.
The virgins are those who are undefiled by the worldly ways around them, just as there are both men and women who are worldly, but who have not been sexually intimate, but this does not mean that they are children of God.
Their lamps could be compared to the visible presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives, and the bridegroom is the Lord.
2. "And five of them were foolish, and five were prudent.
The foolish ones are those who are still living in the worldly ways of the devil, and the prudent ones are the true children of the Lord who are serving God.
3. "For when the foolish took their lamps, they took no oil with them,
In other words, they had no infilling of the Holy Spirit.
4. but the prudent took oil in flasks along with their lamps.
These children of God had the infilling of the Holy Spirit.
5. "Now while the bridegroom was delaying, they all got drowsy and began to sleep.
The world is asleep to the presence of the Holy Spirit, but the few Godly ones are infilled even as they sleep.
6. "But at midnight there was a shout, 'Behold, the bridegroom! Come out to
7. "Then all those virgins rose, and trimmed their lamps.
If we use the church as an example, almost everyone goes through the motions of looking godly, but they are still in the dark when it comes to spiritual matters.
8. "And the foolish said to the prudent, 'Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.'
When it comes down to having to make a decision about remaining in the ways of the world or truly deciding to change our ways and become children of God, the foolish ones always want help from the prudent ones, but it is too late, for at this point in our lives we must stand on our own feet and be accountable, which is exactly what is happening to these virgins.
9. "But the prudent answered, saying, 'No, there will not be enough for us and you too; go instead to the dealers and buy some for yourselves.'
We cannot give others the infilling of the Holy Spirit that the Lord gave us; each and every one of us must make our own decision whether or not we are willing to be serving God the rest of our lives.
10. "And while they were going away to make the purchase, the bridegroom
came, and those who were ready went in with him to the wedding feast; and
the door was shut.
11. "And later the other virgins also came, saying, 'Lord, lord, open up for us.'
This will happen in the not too distant future, and all of us have to decide which ones we will be.
12. "But he answered and said, 'Truly I say to you, I do not know you.'
13. "Be on the alert then, for you do not know the day nor the hour.
We hope and pray that none of us will be among the foolish ones, but the
decision is ours alone.
Have we wholly committed to being the peacemaking children of God who do everything in their power to be serving God and live lovingly and compassionately for the benefit of the whole of creation?
If we have, then we are the prudent ones of this parable.
Serving God is our own personal commitment.
We hope and pray that each of us has made this commitment.
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