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We Will Serve The Lord

Joshua: Faith & Fear  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  25:06
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Introduction

We sure have covered a lot with our study in Joshua. Now that we’re coming to the end of Joshua’s life, it seems as though we are saying goodbye to an old friend. But we still have his wisdom and his advice.
We are picking up the story 25 years after the splitting up of the territory and the departure of the Transjordanian tribes.
We have learned a lot about the core themes of Faith and Fear throughout this lesson. The biblical response in these situations is always to Trust and Obey.
Joshua’s gives his farewell address to the Elders of Israel -

I. Remember God’s Faithfulness & God’s Law - Joshua 23

Joshua’s Farewell Address to the Elders -

Joshua’s Farewell Address to the Elders -

Joshua 23:1–2 NASB95
1 Now it came about after many days, when the Lord had given rest to Israel from all their enemies on every side, and Joshua was old, advanced in years, 2 that Joshua called for all Israel, for their elders and their heads and their judges and their officers, and said to them, “I am old, advanced in years.
Joshua 23:1
Joshua
Joshua 23:1–16 NASB95
1 Now it came about after many days, when the Lord had given rest to Israel from all their enemies on every side, and Joshua was old, advanced in years, 2 that Joshua called for all Israel, for their elders and their heads and their judges and their officers, and said to them, “I am old, advanced in years. 3 “And you have seen all that the Lord your God has done to all these nations because of you, for the Lord your God is He who has been fighting for you. 4 “See, I have apportioned to you these nations which remain as an inheritance for your tribes, with all the nations which I have cut off, from the Jordan even to the Great Sea toward the setting of the sun. 5 “The Lord your God, He will thrust them out from before you and drive them from before you; and you will possess their land, just as the Lord your God promised you. 6 “Be very firm, then, to keep and do all that is written in the book of the law of Moses, so that you may not turn aside from it to the right hand or to the left, 7 so that you will not associate with these nations, these which remain among you, or mention the name of their gods, or make anyone swear by them, or serve them, or bow down to them. 8 “But you are to cling to the Lord your God, as you have done to this day. 9 “For the Lord has driven out great and strong nations from before you; and as for you, no man has stood before you to this day. 10 “One of your men puts to flight a thousand, for the Lord your God is He who fights for you, just as He promised you. 11 “So take diligent heed to yourselves to love the Lord your God. 12 “For if you ever go back and cling to the rest of these nations, these which remain among you, and intermarry with them, so that you associate with them and they with you, 13 know with certainty that the Lord your God will not continue to drive these nations out from before you; but they will be a snare and a trap to you, and a whip on your sides and thorns in your eyes, until you perish from off this good land which the Lord your God has given you. 14 “Now behold, today I am going the way of all the earth, and you know in all your hearts and in all your souls that not one word of all the good words which the Lord your God spoke concerning you has failed; all have been fulfilled for you, not one of them has failed. 15 “It shall come about that just as all the good words which the Lord your God spoke to you have come upon you, so the Lord will bring upon you all the threats, until He has destroyed you from off this good land which the Lord your God has given you. 16 “When you transgress the covenant of the Lord your God, which He commanded you, and go and serve other gods and bow down to them, then the anger of the Lord will burn against you, and you will perish quickly from off the good land which He has given you.”
Joshua reviews Israel’s history before the people -
At first sight history seems a great tangle, a snarl, a confusion; but on looking at it more closely, we perceive that it is only in appearance a maze—but in fact a marvelous piece of arrangement, exhibiting perfect precision and never failing accuracy. - Charles Spurgeon

A. Joshua Sums Up His Work -

Joshua 23:1–5 NASB95
1 Now it came about after many days, when the Lord had given rest to Israel from all their enemies on every side, and Joshua was old, advanced in years, 2 that Joshua called for all Israel, for their elders and their heads and their judges and their officers, and said to them, “I am old, advanced in years. 3 “And you have seen all that the Lord your God has done to all these nations because of you, for the Lord your God is He who has been fighting for you. 4 “See, I have apportioned to you these nations which remain as an inheritance for your tribes, with all the nations which I have cut off, from the Jordan even to the Great Sea toward the setting of the sun. 5 “The Lord your God, He will thrust them out from before you and drive them from before you; and you will possess their land, just as the Lord your God promised you.
Joshua 23:3–5 NASB95
3 “And you have seen all that the Lord your God has done to all these nations because of you, for the Lord your God is He who has been fighting for you. 4 “See, I have apportioned to you these nations which remain as an inheritance for your tribes, with all the nations which I have cut off, from the Jordan even to the Great Sea toward the setting of the sun. 5 “The Lord your God, He will thrust them out from before you and drive them from before you; and you will possess their land, just as the Lord your God promised you.

B. Joshua Reminds the Elders of the Rules of Conduct -

Joshua 23:6–16 NASB95
6 “Be very firm, then, to keep and do all that is written in the book of the law of Moses, so that you may not turn aside from it to the right hand or to the left, 7 so that you will not associate with these nations, these which remain among you, or mention the name of their gods, or make anyone swear by them, or serve them, or bow down to them. 8 “But you are to cling to the Lord your God, as you have done to this day. 9 “For the Lord has driven out great and strong nations from before you; and as for you, no man has stood before you to this day. 10 “One of your men puts to flight a thousand, for the Lord your God is He who fights for you, just as He promised you. 11 “So take diligent heed to yourselves to love the Lord your God. 12 “For if you ever go back and cling to the rest of these nations, these which remain among you, and intermarry with them, so that you associate with them and they with you, 13 know with certainty that the Lord your God will not continue to drive these nations out from before you; but they will be a snare and a trap to you, and a whip on your sides and thorns in your eyes, until you perish from off this good land which the Lord your God has given you. 14 “Now behold, today I am going the way of all the earth, and you know in all your hearts and in all your souls that not one word of all the good words which the Lord your God spoke concerning you has failed; all have been fulfilled for you, not one of them has failed. 15 “It shall come about that just as all the good words which the Lord your God spoke to you have come upon you, so the Lord will bring upon you all the threats, until He has destroyed you from off this good land which the Lord your God has given you. 16 “When you transgress the covenant of the Lord your God, which He commanded you, and go and serve other gods and bow down to them, then the anger of the Lord will burn against you, and you will perish quickly from off the good land which He has given you.”
Joshua 23:6–13 NASB95
6 “Be very firm, then, to keep and do all that is written in the book of the law of Moses, so that you may not turn aside from it to the right hand or to the left, 7 so that you will not associate with these nations, these which remain among you, or mention the name of their gods, or make anyone swear by them, or serve them, or bow down to them. 8 “But you are to cling to the Lord your God, as you have done to this day. 9 “For the Lord has driven out great and strong nations from before you; and as for you, no man has stood before you to this day. 10 “One of your men puts to flight a thousand, for the Lord your God is He who fights for you, just as He promised you. 11 “So take diligent heed to yourselves to love the Lord your God. 12 “For if you ever go back and cling to the rest of these nations, these which remain among you, and intermarry with them, so that you associate with them and they with you, 13 know with certainty that the Lord your God will not continue to drive these nations out from before you; but they will be a snare and a trap to you, and a whip on your sides and thorns in your eyes, until you perish from off this good land which the Lord your God has given you.
We will not dig into all the detail of & 24, but focus on a kind of summary of Joshua’s final instructions to Israel in Joshua 24:14-28.

II. Joshua Reminds the Elders of God’s Blessings and Curses -

Joshua 23:14–16 NASB95
14 “Now behold, today I am going the way of all the earth, and you know in all your hearts and in all your souls that not one word of all the good words which the Lord your God spoke concerning you has failed; all have been fulfilled for you, not one of them has failed. 15 “It shall come about that just as all the good words which the Lord your God spoke to you have come upon you, so the Lord will bring upon you all the threats, until He has destroyed you from off this good land which the Lord your God has given you. 16 “When you transgress the covenant of the Lord your God, which He commanded you, and go and serve other gods and bow down to them, then the anger of the Lord will burn against you, and you will perish quickly from off the good land which He has given you.”
Joshua Reviews Israel’s History -

I. Joshua’s Final Reminders -

Joshua is near death and has called together Israel to remind them of what God wants and to secure their promise to enter into a covenant with the God of Israel. After reviewing the history of Israel, he begins to sum up the expectations that he has of them in verse 14...
Joshua 24:14 NASB95
“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.

A. Fear the Lord and worship (serve) Him in sincerity and truth

The word fear ...
יָרֵא
yare
1. Fear the Lord
to be fearful, to revere or show reverence
… means to regard with reverent worship. It refers to the act of keeping God in a position of respect.
The word serve here...
עָבַד
abad
B. Serve Him in sincerity and truth
to minister, serve, worship
...means literally to serve or worship. It refers to the act of a congregant giving deferential respect to a deity through rituals and ceremonies.
Warren Wiersbe has this to say of word serve, in this context...
To serve God means to fear Him, obey Him, and worship only Him. It means to love Him and fix your heart upon Him, obeying Him because you want to and not because you have to.

B. Put away the gods which your father served

Joshua is encouraging Israel to “put away the gods which your fathers served beyond the River and in Egypt, and serve the Lord.”
This indicates that more than 70 years after Israel fled from Egypt that some were still secretly worshiping the false gods of Egypt—gods that they about from their parents, since none of them were alive under the bondage of Egypt.
…also the gods of the Amorites
This command is continued in verse 15 to include the gods of the Amorites.
Joshua 24:15 NASB95
15 “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.”
Joshua also draws the conclusion that to follow the false gods means that one cannot agreeably serve the God of Israel. It is simply a matter of serving one or another, never both.
Joshua also draws the conclusion that to follow the false gods means that one cannot agreeably serve the God of Israel. It is simply a matter of serving one or another, never both.

C. Choose Whom You Will Serve -

Back to verse 15...
Joshua 24:15 NASB95
15 “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.”

C. Choose Whom You Will Serve -

Josh 24
Joshua was drawing a line in the sand. He wanted for his people to make their choice. He knew that they could not continue to both worship the God of Israel and the false gods, no matter where they were from.
Joshua was drawing a line in the sand. He wanted for his people to make their choice. He knew that they could not continue to both worship the God of Israel and the false gods, no matter where they were from.
You cannot have it both ways because God is a jealous God!
Joshua 24:15 NASB95
“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.”
Exodus 34:14 NASB95
14 —for you shall not worship any other god, for the Lord, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God—
The false gods
Why is God so Jealous?
The gods of Israel
עָבַד
God is jealous because it is part of His character...
abad
to minister, serve, worship
...it means that He is “fiercely protective and unaccepting of disloyalty.”
...means literally to serve or worship. It refers to the act of a congregant giving deferential respect to a deity.
Let me ask you this...
Are you “fiercely protective and unaccepting of disloyalty” in your marriage relationship?
Are you “fiercely protective and unaccepting of disloyalty” in your marriage relationship?
You should be or you may not remain married for very long. Marriage is a living image of our relationship with God...
You don’t want to be caught playing the Hokey Pokey on your spouse. And you don’t want to be caught playing the Hokey Pokey with God, like we talked about last week.
What happens when we do that? We go the way of the Transjordanian tribes.
I have seen it happen time and time again.
We try to put one foot in and one foot out.
But I have seen one person turn back to God. And the difference is night and day.
We try to keep our wife and put something before her that is more important to us than she is.
Business men do it when they put the business before their family.
Business men do it when they put the business before their family.
Single (and married) men do it when keep looking around at women other than the one they’ve chosen to be with.
Pastors do it when they put the church before their wife.
Christians do it when they try to live the Christian life without doing the things that they MUST do to connect with God...
When we put anything other than God first in our lives, we are flirting with the false gods of this world.

II. Israel Responds… “Far Be It From Us” -

Do you know how Israel responds? Exactly like the Transjordanian tribes did in last week’s message...
Joshua 24:16 NASB95
16 The people answered and said, “Far be it from us that we should forsake the Lord to serve other gods;
Do you remember what I said about those who say, “Far be it from me...”? I said not to believe them… It’s just a matter of time before they let you down.
What follows in scripture is kind of a grown up version of what used to happen when I was a kid...
I say, “I’ll be able to do it!”
She says, “No you wont!
I say, “Will too!”
The Israelites answered Joshua saying, “We also will serve the Lord, for He is our God.”
Joshua 24:16–18 NASB95
16 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 “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.”
Joshua says, “No you won’t!” Read in verse 19...

IV. You Cannot Do It -

Joshua 24:19 NASB95
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 24:19
Joshua knew that they didn’t have what it takes to continue to follow God’s Law.
Joshua 24:14–28 NASB95
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. 15 “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.” 16 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 “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.” 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. 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.” 21 The people said to Joshua, “No, but we will serve the Lord.” 22 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.” 23 “Now therefore, put away the foreign gods which are in your midst, and incline your hearts to the Lord, the God of Israel.” 24 The people said to Joshua, “We will serve the Lord our God and we will obey His voice.” 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 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, so that you do not deny your God.” 28 Then Joshua dismissed the people, each to his inheritance.
Charles Spurgeon warned that “unrenewed men cannot serve God.”
That means it takes the forgiveness of God, the active work of the Holy Spirit and the completed work of Christ on the cross to be able to continue serving God.
I first remind you of Spurgeon’s warning that “unrenewed men cannot serve God.” (ref )
Joshua 24:19 NASB95
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.
If we are not renewed by Christ’s work on the cross, there is no way that we will ever be able to draw near to God.
The Holy Spirit draws us to God and gives us what we need to respond to that call in our own free will.
Only then upon hearing of the work that Christ completed on the cross, we may choose to follow him and make him our Lord and Savior.
At that point we may be able to choose to serve God or follow our own way.
And believe you me, many people simply choose to follow their own way. Even people sitting in these very rows will choose to follow their own way. And it doesn’t matter how much we bray at them to return to Christ. They will do what they will do. And in that case, we will pray for the Spirit of God to draw them back to God out of their sin and depravity.
In fact the people of Israel DID continue to serve and worship the God of Israel throughout the leadership of the elders that followed Joshua. But eventually they did fall into sin by mixing with the nations that remained around them worshiping false gods.
Here’s the issue according to Spurgeon:
The nature of God renders perfect service impossible to depraved man.
The best they could render [as service] as unrenewed men would lack heart and intent, and therefore must be unacceptable.
The law

III. So How Do We Choose to Worship/Serve the Lord?

George Whitefield said to serve God is this...
Read God’s Word -
Pray to the Lord
Instruct Your Children in the way of the Lord -
Deuteronomy 6:6–7 NASB95
“These words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart. “You shall teach them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up.
I believe serving and worshiping God is much more than just this...
We ask this question, not as Jews, but as Christians.
We serve God with outward works:
NOTE: Works don’t save us, but that doesn’t mean they are to be ignored. Works make us better Christians and connect us with God and with others...
service toward the Church and the members of the Church
Galatians 6:10 NASB95
10 So then, while we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, and especially to those who are of the household of the faith.
Acts 20:28 NASB95
28 “Be on guard for yourselves and for all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood.
service toward the people in our community
James 1:27 NASB95
27 Pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world.
This includes caring for the refugee and the prisoner.
But also we serve God with inwardly focused works...
But also we serve God with inwardly focused works...
George Whitefield said to serve God is this...
Hebrews 13:2 NASB95
2 Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by this some have entertained angels without knowing it.
But also we serve God with inwardly focused works...
Mark 12:30–31 NASB95
30 and you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ 31 “The second is this, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”
That means we have to take care of ourselves and our connection with God. Then out of the overflow of our hearts, we continue to take care of those around us.
Anything that we can do to connect ourselves and our families to God is an action of service to God.
George Whitefield said to serve God is this...
Read God’s Word - Deuteronomy 6:6
Pray to the Lord
Instruct Your Children in the way of the Lord - Deuteronomy 6:7

Joshua 24:29–33 NASB95
29 It came about after these things that Joshua the son of Nun, the servant of the Lord, died, being one hundred and ten years old. 30 And they buried him in the territory of his inheritance in Timnath-serah, which is in the hill country of Ephraim, on the north of Mount Gaash. 31 Israel served the Lord all the days of Joshua and all the days of the elders who survived Joshua, and had known all the deeds of the Lord which He had done for Israel. 32 Now they buried the bones of Joseph, which the sons of Israel brought up from Egypt, at Shechem, in the piece of ground which Jacob had bought from the sons of Hamor the father of Shechem for one hundred pieces of money; and they became the inheritance of Joseph’s sons. 33 And Eleazar the son of Aaron died; and they buried him at Gibeah of Phinehas his son, which was given him in the hill country of Ephraim.
Deuteronomy 6:6–7 NASB95
6 “These words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart. 7 “You shall teach them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up.
I ask you this...
How are you serving the Lord?
How are you serving this church and the body of believers that sit here around you?
How are you serving Los Fresnos in the name of Jesus Christ?
How do we as a church do this better?
Maybe as you ask these questions you realize that you don’t serve God.
Or maybe you aren’t sure you understand what Jesus Christ has to do with life.
Maybe you realize your connection with God needs some work.
I’ll be down front to receive you as we sing in a moment.
Please come if you feel drawn to connect with Jesus in a better way or if you’d like to unite with this church.
If you want to connect with Jesus
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