Today’s chapters again have more geography than theology. There’s one verse that stands out to me, though – 24:15.
Now 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.
Joshua has fulfilled his commission as leader in succession to Moses. He has brought Israel into the Promised Land, and God has given it into their possession. Now he gives his final charge to the people, and it is one of faithful leadership. He is clear what is the right choice – but he knows that the people of Israel must make it for themselves, as they spread out and live as distinct tribes. Yet the choice must be made still.
We still have the choice to make – who will we serve? For we will serve somebody or something, even if that is an employer, the market or an idealised version of our self-image. Not all of these things are bad – but none is as good as the LORD.
We have to make the choice for ourselves, and perhaps for those who are affected most directly by our choices. Perhaps we should learn from Joshua’s wisdom – he doesn’t harangue the Israelites into making the right decision, but essentially he reminds them of the God who has led them through the desert, then says ‘I’m sticking with him. Are you coming?’
Our witness to God is surely at its strongest when it brings together our shared experience with those to whom we speak, our recognition of God at the heart of that experience, and our wholehearted commitment to follow that God. If others see that our faith is worth following, we won’t walk alone.