I. JOSHUA HAS COME TO THE END OF HIS LIFE.
A. He is now 110 years old, we read: "He is old and stricken in years."
1. He has been the leader the children of Israel for around 25 years, ever since the death of Moses.
2. He has led them into the conquest of the promised land, and has allotted to each tribe their portion of the land.
3. He has called for all of the tribes to meet with him at Shechem that he might have one final word with them.
B. The Lord was speaking His word to the people through Joshua for the final time. God was first rehearsing their history to them.
1. Your father Terah dwelt on the other side of the Euphrates, in Babylon and he served other gods.
2. I called Abraham to leave his father and journey to a land that I would show to him and would give to his descendants.
3. Jacob the grandson of Abraham went down to Egypt where in time his descendants were greatly persecuted.
4. So I sent Moses and Aaron to demand their release and I sent the plagues against Egypt.
5. I brought you into the land of the Amorites who fought against you and I delivered them into your hands and gave you their land.
6. I brought you into this land and have delivered it into your hands.
C. He speaks of what Jehovah has done for them.
1. He sent hornets into the land to drive out their enemies.
2. He gave them cities that they did not build.
3. Vineyards and olive orchards that they did not plant.
D. He tells them in light of what Jehovah has done for them what they should do in return for Him.
1. Now fear Jehovah and serve Him in sincerity and truth.
2. Put away the gods that your fathers served in Babylon and Egypt and serve Jehovah.
E. He then speaks of the alternatives.
1. Note that not to worship or serve is not an alternative, for that is impossible. Man was created to worship, it is as innate and natural as breathing.
2. If you do not want to serve Jehovah, then choose this day whom you will serve. You've got to serve and worship something.
II. THE CHOICES OF THE GODS THAT YOU MAY SERVE.
A. The gods your fathers served in Babylon.
1. In Babylon they worshipped Tammuz and his mother Semeramis. She was revered as the queen of heaven. She was also known as Ashtarte the goddess of fertility. So it is basically the worship of sex.
2. They worshipped the Zodiac, and here in early Babylon is where looking to your horoscope for guidance began. It is thought that the tower of Babel was built as an observation tower to better follow the movement of the constellations.
a. The prophet Isaiah prophesied against Babylon and the destruction that was coming upon it. He spoke out against the practice of looking to the horoscope for guidance.
Thou art wearied in the multitude of thy counselors. Let now the astrologers, the stargazers, the monthly prognosticators, stand up, and save thee from [these things] that shall come upon thee.
b. Isaiah makes a very valid point here. You may serve another god of your own pleasing and making, but when the times get bad, and you become really desperate, and you cry out to your god for help, you had better hope your god can help you.
c. My father was an outstanding personal witness for Jesus Christ. I do not believe that he ever met a person that he did not witness to, once he was saved.
d. Many times people would curse him.
e. He was fired from a job because of his witness.
f. He worked in a realty office where the owner ordered him never to speak to his wife or him again of Jesus. His wife took seriously ill, and had to have emergency surgery. Who do you think he called for prayer? My dad. My dad had me get in the car with him and we drove to the hospital to pray for her. When we arrived she was desperately needing blood, so they typed me and found out that I had the type she needed and they took a direct transfusion of blood from me for her that they said saved her life. The Lord had come through and healed her, but that story is so typical of so many people, they do not want to have anything to do with the true God until they are in some kind of desperate need, then they want God to come to their rescue. This man's god was money, but with his wife's life on the line all of his money was of no help. It could not save her.
B. The gods your fathers served in Egypt.
1. The Egyptians were pantheistic, they served just about everything imaginable, the sun, the moon, the Nile, the flies. One of their chief gods was the calf. God had directed the plagues against their gods.
a. You remember when the children of Israel came to Aaron after Moses had been on the mount a long time. They asked Aaron to make a god that they might worship it. Aaron had them turn in their gold, and he made a molten calf, and the people began to worship it.
b. In the plagues against the Egyptians, God showed himself stronger than the gods they worshipped.
C. The gods of the Amorites.
1. Their chief gods were:
a. Baal: Intellect
b. Molech: Pleasure
c. Mammon: Possessions
d. Ashtoreth: Abnormal sex
2. What would you say are the chief false gods of the present day that people are worshipping?
III. WHAT A WONDERFUL THING WHEN THE FATHER AS THE HEAD OF THE FAMILY CAN STAND UP AND SAY, "AS FOR ME AND MY HOUSE, WE WILL SERVE THE LORD."
A. So often the father wields the chief influence in a household.
1. He is looked up to for strength.
2. He is looked to as the provider.
3. He sets the standard for good or evil.
4. Usually the rest of the family will follow his lead.
5. What a disaster when the father influences his boys for evil. When he fails to set a Godly example for the rest of the family.
B. You see, which God you serve is a matter of choice.
1. God could force you to serve Him, but that would not be meaningful, and God wants a meaningful relationship with you. We sing, "I will serve you, because I love you." That is exactly what God desires, loving service.
2. You can't force a person to love you. You might be able to force them to go through the motions of love. You might hold a knife to their throat and force your lips against theirs, but that is certainly not a meaningful kiss.
3. The other gods are attractive, they appeal to my flesh. Power, sex, thrills, wealth, are all desirable so that my choice to serve God above these other things becomes a very meaningful choice.
a. It is all right to love to surf, but your love for surfing should not exceed your love for God.
b. You can love to have a beautiful home, but your love for a beautiful home should not exceed your love for God.
c. The true issue is what is first in your life? The law was, "Thou shalt have no other gods before Me."
C. Millenniums have passed since Joshua stood before Israel and commanded them to make their choice. Times have changed, we are no longer B.C. but A.D. but some things never change. They are still fighting in that land, but the weapons are different. Man must still make his choice as to which God he will serve. The basic choices are still the same.
1. A man's false god may have been a chariot, whereas today it is his Harley.
2. Whereas his false god may have been a little multi-breasted idol, today it is a X-rated video.
D. The issue remains the same. will these be first in my life, or will my love and service for God exceed my love and service to these things? Do I begrudge spending an hour in church, but think nothing of sitting for hours watching T.V.?
E. The people responded to Joshua, "We will serve the Lord."
1. Words are meaningless unless backed up by actions.
2. I may say that I love the Lord with all my heart, but my actions and attitudes may say something entirely different.
F. Today, as then, I say to you, "Choose this day whom you will serve, the gods of this world, or our Lord Jesus Christ. You can only be mastered by one true Lord."