Joshua 24: Choose this day whom you will serve

JOSHUA 24:1-3A, 14-25

1Then Joshua gathered all the tribes of Israel to Shechem, and summoned the elders, the heads, the judges, and the officers of Israel; and they presented themselves before God. 2And Joshua said to all the people, “Thus says the LORD, the God of Israel: Long ago your ancestors — Terah and his sons Abraham and Nahor — lived beyond the Euphrates and served other gods. 3aThen I took your father Abraham from beyond the River and led him through all the land of Canaan and made his offspring many.

14“Now therefore revere the LORD, and serve him in sincerity and in faithfulness; put away the gods that your ancestors served beyond the River and in Egypt, and serve the LORD. 15Now if you are unwilling to serve the LORD, choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served in the region beyond the River or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you are living; but as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD.”

16Then the people answered, “Far be it from us that we should forsake the LORD to serve other gods; 17for it is the LORD our God who brought us and our ancestors up from the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery, and who did those great signs in our sight. He protected us along all the way that we went, and among all the peoples through whom we passed; 18and the LORD drove out before us all the peoples, the Amorites who lived in the land. Therefore we also will serve the LORD, for he is our God.”

19But 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 or your sins. 20If you forsake the LORD and serve foreign gods, then he will turn and do you harm, and consume you, after having done you good.” 21And the people said to Joshua, “No, we will serve the LORD!” 22Then Joshua said to the people, “You are witnesses against yourselves that you have chosen the LORD, to serve him.” And they said, “We are witnesses.” 23He said, “Then put away the foreign gods that are among you, and incline your hearts to the LORD, the God of Israel.” 24The people said to Joshua, “The LORD our God we will serve, and him we will obey.” 25So Joshua made a covenant with the people that day, and made statutes and ordinances for them at Shechem.

  • Light a candle to remember Christ’s presence with you.
  • Sit in silent meditation for 5 to 15 minutes, paying attention to the breath.
  • What idol(s) are you worshiping today?
  • How do these idols bring your freedom?
  • How do these idols bring you bondage (unfreedom)
  • What do you need to let go?
  • Invite God into this place where you need to let go.
  • In this midst of this repentance, feel God’s forgiveness wash over you.
  • Feel God’s love embrace you.
  • See God’s path before you.
  • Step out upon this path that have been prepared for you by God.
  • How do you serve the Lord on this path?
  • Give thanks to God for this time to recognized idols, to repent, to receive forgiveness, and to step out on a path that gives glory to God.  Give thanks to God for any new insights you have received.
  • Share as you feel led in the reply box below.

Revised Common Lectionary Readings for Sunday, November 6, 2011,  the Thirty-second Sunday in Ordinary Time Year A
Joshua 24:1-3a, 14-25
Psalm 78:1-7
I Thessalonians: 4:13-18
Matthew 25:1-13
If you use these prayers in other groups, please give credit to author.
Permission to use in not-for-profit settings The Rev. Lil Smith, M.Div., DASD

One thought on “Joshua 24: Choose this day whom you will serve

  1. October’s readings began with the Israelites lost in the desert, betraying Moses and demanding a god they could see and touch. They gave Aaron their jewelry to make them an idol in the form of a Golden Calf.

    Now as November begins, Joshua tells the people “… put away the gods which your fathers served … … … and serve ye the LORD.”

    Jesus showed us the violent origin of those idols, “the gods which your fathers served,” choosing to live His life as a victim of their cultural violence. Gil Bailie writes in “Violence Unveiled” that the Bible reflects humanity’s dawning awareness of the bankruptcy of idols created through violence directed against human victims, violence that fails when we actually see the victim, when we know the victim as a person not as an object useful for furthering some cultural goal.

    Just as Jesus took the place of a victim in His culture, so also do we see God today in the lives of our cultures’ victims. God’s essential being is not visible, and yet the new light of God’s real presence shimmers like the dawn into our lives with the coming of each new day.

    Rainier Maria Rilke wrote his poem “What I Want” in The Book of Hours I:

    You see, I want a lot.
    Maybe I want it all:
    the darkness of each endless fall,
    the shimmering light of each ascent.

    God is present with us in our darkest hour. There is no boundary between “the darkness of each endless fall” and “the shimmering light of each ascent.” Psalm 139:12 tells us that darkness and light are as one to God: “even the darkness is not dark to you; the night is as bright as the day, for darkness is as light to you.”

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