You Cannot Serve the Lord!
But Joshua said to the people, “You cannot serve the LORD, for He is a holy God. He is a jealous God; He will not forgive your transgressions nor your sins. If you forsake the LORD and serve foreign gods, then He will turn and do you harm and consume you, after He has done you good.” (Joshua 24:19-20)
- Israel had been delivered from the oppression of Egypt.
- They had been miraculously sustained during 40 years of wilderness wanderings.
- They’d had incredible victories against Amorite and Canaanite kings, and had begun to possess the land God had promised them.
- They’d even partitioned the land among the 12 tribes, having been given the command to possess what they possessed.
To possess what they possessed, they would need to trust God … that He would continue to give them victory after victory until the job was done.
To possess what they possessed, they would need to obey God—avoiding idolatry and the temptation to settle for the status quo—and finish the task of driving out every trace of the depraved Canaanite culture and people. Although they were in the land, their work was far from being done.
It was at the end of his life that their commander Joshua gave them this sobering message. The message was not without hope, in that if they kept God’s commands they would most certainly be successful (see Deuteronomy 28:1-14). But it was so, so easy for the people to revert back to their own carnal selves, and cease fearing the Lord. If they ceased fearing the Lord, they’d quickly become careless, lazy, disobedient, unfaithful, and unbelieving.
Unfortunately, all of that eventually became their history and legacy. Joshua, knowing these sinful and idolatrous tendencies, issued them these harsh words of warning.
We too need to fear the Lord and be sober about what the Lord has put before us as believers in Christ.
On an individual basis, we need to possess what we already possess (Ephesians 1:3-14).
On a congregational basis, each fellowship of believers needs to discover Jesus’ purpose for them and go after it with all their hearts. Each church needs to do its part in fulfilling the Great Commission.
Therefore, we must fear the Lord. We must know Him as the Holy One. We must remember that He is jealous with regard to His relationship with us … He will not share Himself with other gods that may come into our lives (1 John 5:21).
We must not be sloppy about His grace. Yes, He loves us. Yes, the work of Christ in paying for all of our sins was finished at Calvary. Yes, He has promised us eternal life, and rose from the dead to assure us of it. But none of these great truths allow us to receive the grace of God in vain (2 Corinthians 6:1; 1 Corinthians 15:10).
It’s time to walk closely—very closely—to the Lord.
Luke 12:1-5 In the meantime, when an innumerable multitude of people had gathered together, so that they trampled one another, He began to say to His disciples first of all, “Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy. For there is nothing covered that will not be revealed, nor hidden that will not be known. Therefore whatever you have spoken in the dark will be heard in the light, and what you have spoken in the ear in inner rooms will be proclaimed on the housetops. And I say to you, My friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body, and after that have no more that they can do. But I will show you whom you should fear: Fear Him who, after He has killed, has power to cast into hell; yes, I say to you, fear Him!”
Thanks for reading.