Monday, October 25, 2010

Joshua 22, 23, 24 It's a matter of Choice

The Genealogy of Noah after the flood up to Ab...Image via Wikipedia
Initially, after I read these chapters, nothing jumped out at me in a new or fresh way.  It's a re-cap, a summary of the preceding books.  Ho-hum.  I didn't feel inspired to write at all. While I could have forced something, it would have been in the wrong spirit.  So, I waited. Everything that I have posted so far has been a reflection on what God has highlighted for me.

 As I prayed about what God wanted me to notice, the famous passage "But as for me and my and my household, we will serve the Lord", popped into my mind.  I immediately looked up Joshua 24:15.   Although this is a landmark quote, I was riveted by the first part, which I never really paid attention to before.

           Joshua 24:15.  But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day  whom you will serve, whether the gods your forefathers served beyond the River, or the gods of the Ammonites, in whose land you are living.  But as for me and my household, we will serve the  Lord.
The thread of making choices has really been a dominant and consistent  color throughout these first six books.  God chose Noah; God chose Abraham; God chose Isaac not Ishmael; God chose Jacob not Esau;  God chose the Levites to administer His Law; God chose leaders from the twelves tribes while they were wandering in the desert, etc.  In Deuteronomy 7:7, God states that He, out of all of the nations on the earth, chose Israel to be His "treasured possession".  In Hebrew, choose, בָּחַר (bachar), carries the idea of selecting what is best; of examining a variety of options and then making the best choice.  The significance of choosing is that you pick something that you love, desire, and for which you yearn; it is something to which you attribute great value.

When God chose Israel, He professed His love for a people.  When Joshua exhorted Israel to choose for themselves whom they will serve, he linked serving the Lord with desire for the Lord, implying that service springs out of love and not out of obligation.   If Israel could not choose God and then express this choice through obedience to God's Law, which in itself was also an expression of love, Joshua said that they may as well serve the pagan gods and live in the land of the Ammonites.  Even though God had chosen Israel, the fulness of the relationship could not be realized until Israel reciprocated by choosing God.   A man may love a woman and propose, but there is no wedding until the woman accepts .

When Israel served God and sought His counsel in everything they did, they conquered and lived in the land of Promise, the land of Canaan.  But, should Israel choose to serve the pagan gods, they would be relegated to living in a land which is, by world consensus, not theirs.  Without God, Israel would live in the land of the Ammonites.  

The import of Joshua's words was not wasted on the people he addressed, because Israel responded that they chose to serve God.  

On a slightly different note, I think that it is interesting that Joshua assembled Israel in Shechem, a Levitical city which also doubled as a city of refuge.  Perhaps symbolically, Israel chose to serve God while meeting where the blood avenger had no authority.  Israel chose to take refuge in God's love and in His provision for mercy.  And that is indeed a good choice - the best selection.

Blue Letter Bible. "Dictionary and Word Search for bachar (Strong's 977)". Blue Letter Bible. 1996-2010. 25 Oct 2010. < http://
Strongs=H977&t=KJV >

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