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October 24, 2021 | Doug Sauder
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“And the people said to Joshua, ‘The Lord our God we will serve, and His voice we will obey! ’”—Joshua 24:24 (NKJV)
The twenty-third and twenty-fourth chapters of the Book of Joshua read very similarly, with one very important distinction. In the twenty-third chapter, it’s just Joshua talking as he calls Israel to remain faithful to God. But in Joshua’s separate and final address in the twenty-fourth chapter, Israel gets involved by giving a verbal response. Speaking with one voice, they pledge to serve and obey the Lord.
If only it had happened that way! You see, though we can be sure the children of Israel had every intention of making good on this promise . . . they didn’t. The Book of Joshua is followed by the Book of Judges, which recounts their history as a spiritual roller coaster ride marked by disobedience and wickedness. Beyond Judges, we see the same sinful pattern play out as each century rolls into the next.
Nobody is perfect, much less an entire nation. But it’s a gross understatement to say that Israel didn’t keep the commitment they made before Joshua.
Yet this shouldn’t surprise us, because we know ourselves all too well. How many times have we, with the sincerest of intentions, committed to do something right, only to fall and fail at it? If we’re honest, a bit of Israel’s example exists in all of us.
But there is something we need to understand that can set us free from this sin cycle. It’s not a matter of being more earnest or trying to be better. Those efforts will only go so far. Instead, we need to understand that the closer we are to the Lord, the more His strength will enable us to do what Israel didn’t do. It’s not by our own might or power that we live righteously, it’s only by God’s Spirit that we are able to walk our talk (Zechariah 4:6, Galatians 5:16).
The truth is this: As Christians, we are no better than the people of Israel that we read about, we are simply better off because of the relationship with God that Jesus has secured for us through His death on the cross! We have been given something utterly unthinkable to those living in Joshua’s day, the very presence of God’s Spirit dwelling inside of us (John 14:17). And with His presence, we have access to every spiritual blessing that He bestows (Ephesians 1:3)!
This changes everything. It enables us to serve and obey God, because He is actually the One working in us to that end. Our history can read much differently than Israel’s and it will as we draw closer to the Lord by understanding and allowing His Spirit to be our strength . . . our better way!
DIG: What was the outcome of Israel’s commitment?
DISCOVER: How can the Christian relate to yet avoid Israel’s example?
DO: Spend time today thinking about how you can cultivate a deeper understanding and dependence on the Holy Spirit.
Pastor Dan Hickling serves our online community, also known as the Calvary Chapel Online Campus. He and his wife Becky have been married for 22 years and have two children, Lauren and Danny. Both Dan and Becky have been part of the CCFL church family for 22 years and have served in full time ministry for 20 of those years.