The Choice Everyone Must Make
“The Choice Everyone Must Make”
The year was 1836. About 200 Texans and Tennesseans were in a Spanish Mission in San Antonio. They were in the path of Gen. Santa Anna who was coming to put down the “Texas Revolution.” The Mexican general sent word to the Alamo: “Surrender or die.” Lt. Col. William Travis called everyone in the Alamo together and drew a line in the sand. “If you will stay, fight, and die with me—step across the line.” Everyone did, except one. They fought bravely for 13 days, giving Sam Houston valuable time to raise an army that would defeat Santa Anna.
Joshua did a similar thing 3,500 years earlier. In his final farewell address, God speaks through Joshua and 17 times uses the word, “I,” (24:1-15). God shows His sovereignty in guiding and protecting the nation of Israel. Based on that, Joshua says the right thing to do is to “Fear God and serve Him in sincerity and truth” (v.14). However, it seems everyone did not step across the line because Joshua says “If it seems evil to you to serve the Lord”—this could be translated: “if you are unwilling to serve the Lord” or “if serving the Lord does not agree or appeal to you” or “if you are turned off about serving the Lord.” This implies some balked at serving and obeying God.
So Joshua says, “You have 4 options.” He laid out the choices for them as to what they could do concerning their spiritual lives. He said they could follow the religion of (1) Mesopotamia, (2) Egypt, (3) Canaan, or (4) Jehovah God. He did not threaten or coerce. He said , “examine the facts and choose.”
The Religion of Mesopotamia. These people believed the world was controlled by supernatural forces of nature: the heavens, earth, and water. They believed that to read the signs of the heavens was to understand the occurrences on earth. They practiced divination through the liver of sacrificial animals. There is good evidence Abraham’s family were moon worshipers and practiced human sacrifice.
The Religion of Egypt. A polytheistic religion with an estimated 2,000 deities. Formal religious practice centered on the Pharaoh who was believed to possess divine qualities and served as an intermediary between the gods and the people. Egypt worshiped the sun (Ra). They worshiped the regular rhythms of nature as typified by the Nile River. Some of their gods were represented as part human and part animal. Their funeral practices included the first form of embalming as they believed the dead person would need food and survival items which they stored in the graves.
The Religion of Canaan. This was the religion of the inhabitants of the Promised Land which God wanted destroyed. The head of the Canaanite religion was Baal (“lord”) which was the god of rain and storm. This religion’s emphasis as on fertility: of crops, animals, and humans. Read Leviticus 18 to see how perverted this religion was with child sacrifice and all sorts of loathsome sexual perversions. No wonder the Canaanite religion was so attractive to the Israelites with its emphasis on perverted sex; the Israelites eventually inter-married and even named their children after the Canaanite gods.
These three religions, to which Joshua referred to the Israelites, all came from the same bolt of cloth. Their common features were: emphasis on nature, polytheistic, perverted sex, and a low view of life. God describes idolatry in Romans 1: the foolish heart becomes darkened; the glory of the incorruptible God is changed into an image; God gives them up to uncleanness; they dishonor their bodies and have vile passions; they commit what is shameful and receive in themselves the penalty of their error.
Idolatry is incurably incubated in man’s heart. He is incurably religious and will always worship someone or something. But we have idolatry in 2015: whatever we give our heart’s affection to or our fervent attention to—becomes our god! It may not be the gods of Mesopotamia, Egypt, or Canaan—but man will always serve some god. What god will rule over you? Many today serve the god of materialism—we see this by the way they treat the Lord’s Day. Many serve the god of pleasure—how America caters to man’s pleasure and the satisfaction of the senses. Many serve the god of appetite or the god of health. Idolatry is alive and well in our society today!
Joshua told the people to “choose for themselves” which god they would serve. He then left no doubt where he stood and which way he would go. “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” He took his stand clearly and courageously. He made his choice before the multitude made their choice—this shows he was not influenced by peer pressure or crowd coercion. He looked back and saw the hand of God clearly in history and in his own life. You have to examine the evidence and make your choice!
You cannot straddle the fence—you cannot serve “God and mammon.” Joshua spoke for his house—our first duty is to our household. Your choice will influence others—are you hot? Cold? Lukewarm? You are going to leave a legacy. Joshua’s choice was public—you cannot be a secret disciple!
Life is a series of choices—every day. Some have far-reaching consequences concerning our character, direction of life, and eternity.
Why I serve the Lord:
He Is the True God. I believe He is the Creator and the Father of the Lord Jesus Christ. I see God in the history of the Jewish nation. I believe the Bible is God’s Word. Answered prayers. Good to me.
His Service Is Satisfying. It is more blessed to give than to receive—I’ve proven this! My life feels clean, enriched, and thrilled in serving Jesus. Try to save your life and you will lose it! Lose it for Christ—find it!
No Bad After Effects in His Service. All other gods have bitter, regretful after-effects. Serve anything but Christ and you’ll regret it! All the millions who’ve served Christ—no one has ever regretted it.
My Influence Will Be Greater. I don’t want anyone to go to Hell because of me. I don’t want any believer to want to live a mediocre or sub-par life because of me. I want my influence to be Christlike.
Rewards Are Greater. There is joy in Jesus that nothing else compares with. All other gods and their benefits are temporary. You will have precious memories when you get old. The devil has no happy old people. There is a glory in Heaven at the end of the way.
Choose this day (now is the accepted time!) whom you will serve. God has a right to demand but He lets us choose. Choose today!