“Now therefore fear the Lord and serve him in sincerity and in faithfulness. Put away the gods that your fathers served beyond the River and in Egypt, and serve the Lord.
And if it is evil in your eyes to serve the Lord, choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your fathers served in the region beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”
But Joshua said to the people, “You are not able to serve the Lord, for he is a holy God. He is a jealous God; he will not forgive your transgressions or your sins.
If you forsake the Lord and serve foreign gods, then he will turn and do you harm and consume you, after having done you good.”
And the people said to Joshua, “No, but we will serve the Lord.”Joshua 24:14-15, 19-21
Joshua divides up the land, gives to each tribe their allotment, charges them to serve God, tells them to continue taking possession of the land, and then, he dies. In my reading today, I finished the book of Joshua and began Judges. As I turned the page from Joshua 24 to Judges 1, I found myself hesitating, mourning over what I know will happen not only through the book of Judges, but the continued downward spiral as the people of God do not look or act like the people of God.
The hope and faith of Joshua’s generation is palpable as he nears the end of his life and his term as their leader. When you consider all they’ve been through with Joshua at the helm, the weight of his death is truly significant and quite devastating. These grown-up children who walked the desert with their unbelieving parents, stand in the Promised Land with renewed hope and steadfast faith in their hearts. They want to do right. They want to serve the LORD God. They believe, in this moment, that they will continue as God’s people who worship and obey God.
Joshua’s death is the ending of an era, an era of faith and new beginnings. He led them into the Promised Land. He fought as their Warrior-Captain. He wasn’t perfect by any means. He made mistakes and took wrong turns, but here they were. They were in the very tangible promise that God had made to their ancestors, milk and honey dripping from their mouths.
At the beginning of a New Year, we can’t help but think of fresh starts and new beginnings. We tend to consider our mistakes and build new goals. We evaluate our missteps and look to new plans. A fresh clean calendar. A new planner. New workout clothes. New running shoes. A fresh budget. A new one year Bible plan. A new journal. All the things! There is hope and a sense of a clean slate. It is encouraging, right? We proclaim with Joshua’s generation, We will serve the Lord. We will do better. We will do right. Hallelujah and amen.
But… grouchy Mondays still come. The bills still need to be paid. The house still gets messy. The car still needs fuel. And, even in the new year, a cinnamon roll with a large frappe is still not the best choice for helping us in our health journey. We falter. We oversleep. We skip our session at the gym. We get bored reading through the genealogies, and grossed out reading Leviticus. And, low and behold, we are still sinners this year just like we were last year.
Wow! Thanks, April. This is so uplifting for a New Year’s blog post, encouragement from The Word.
Here’s the good news. Our lives in many ways, resemble the habits of those Israelites who will live and die during the times of the Judges.
We, like them, will forget the goodness of God.
We, like them, will neglect our worship of God.
We, like them, will worship other things besides Almighty God.
Where’s the hope? Why can’t we keep it together? Why do I falter? Why do I still sin?
Well, Hope is on His way. The Truth is coming.
Joshua, in all his integrity, was not perfect. He was a great leader. He was a powerful warrior. He was obedient to what Moses had instructed. But he was not Jesus Christ. He could not remain perfect. He could not fully and completely follow the Law without fault. He grew weary in his old age. He could not completely conquer the land. He fell short. All the things we need, all the things Joshua and his people needed, only Jesus Christ could be.
This year, when you find yourself setting a few new goals and pursuing new habits, and then falling back into old patterns all over again, look to Jesus. He’s the only One who can enable you to truly serve the LORD.