Joshua had completed the exodus begun under Moses. The inhabitants of Canaan had been conquered, and the land was settled by Israel. Now, as Joshua approached the end of his life, he was aware of the constant danger his people faced from pagan religions. So he gathered all the tribes to Shechem, where he reminded them of the goodness of God. He then drew a line in the sand and challenged the people to serve the Lord.
Serving God Is a Necessary Choice
Joshua said, “Choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve.” He threw down the gauntlet. The verb choose is an imperative. In the form of a command that cannot be avoided, Joshua was saying that when it comes to making a decision about what one will do with God, there is no middle ground, no straddling the line, no neutral zone. Joshua was a military man. He was not making a request; he was giving an order. They had to decide.
Serving God Is a Personal Choice
Joshua said, “Choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve.” Although Joshua was the general of this powerful army, leader of this vast nation, and father of a great family, he could not make them serve God. The people would have to decide for themselves if they were going to be on the Lord’s side.
It’s been said there are three decisions each person must make for him or herself: the choice of a vocation, of a mate, and of a religious faith. Parents and friends at times will try to make these decisions for you, but if you are to be happy and successful in life, they are decisions you alone must make.
Serving God Is an Urgent Choice
Joshua said, “Choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve.” The emphasis of the Bible, when it comes to serving God, is always one of urgency and for good reason: the shortness of life and the certainty of death. In the 18 times the Bible speaks of a person’s life, it describes it as fleeting and uncertain.
At 17, my cousin anxiously was anticipating his senior year in high school. On a rainy Sunday afternoon as he was driving home, a vehicle pulled out in front of his car, and he was killed instantly.
A high school classmate was a tremendous athlete, a natural. He was so incredibly gifted that he returned to college after sitting out for four years and was a college football standout. Awaiting a coaching position the summer after he graduated, he was returning home from a hunting trip when a drunk driver veered into his lane and he was killed at 27.
My brother-in-law was the president of a mortgage company that had branch offices in small- to medium-sized cities throughout the southeast. To save traveling time, he earned his pilot license and flew a small plane. Returning home from a convention in Houston, Texas, his small aircraft crashed while trying to avoid a thunderstorm. All the passengers on the plane died, including my brother-in-law. He was 45.
Whether one is 17, 27 or 45, life seems long, but it passes quickly. That’s why a choice has to be made now.
Serving God Is a Logical Choice
Joshua did not urge Israel to choose blindly. He recounted all the blessings of God in their lives. Joshua reminded them God “gave you a land on which you did not toil and cities you did not build; and you live in them and eat from vineyards and olive groves that you did not plant” (
Consider what God has done for you. He sent His Son to earth to die for your sins; He offers His Son to you as a free gift. In accepting His Son, you receive the forgiveness of sins, the removal of guilt, the promise of heaven and the hope of abundant life.
Why would one not choose to serve the Lord today and every day?