2018-12-05 / Religion

Mankind is here to love and serve God

Sunday School Lesson
Rev. James Temples

Joshua 24

Memory can “play tricks” with personal and national history. Time can color events in a way that will glorify or dim the “real facts.” One of the things that we learn from history is that “we do not learn from history.” Some individuals seem to think that they must, individually, make all of the mistakes of life. No one lives long enough for this situation to be the case. We are better off, if we “learn from the mistakes of the others.”

The children of Israel,the offspring of the man, Abraham, were made slaves by the Pharaoh of Egypt. See Exodus 1:8-14. They remained slaves for nearly four centuries. At the end of this period, God, Jehovah, sent Moses to (1) deliver the chosen people from bondage, and (2) to lead them to the Promised Land. Exodus 3:7-10.

This deliverance journey was through a wilderness. divine provisions were made for these travels. After refusing to accept the fulfillment of the divine promise (Numbers 14:1- 25), that delivered generation would die in the wilderness. The “second generation” would enter the Promised Land.

The entrance into the land of promise was under the leadership of the man, Joshua. Deuteronomy 31:1-8. Their miraculous crossing of the flooded Jordan River was complete. Joshua 3:17. The entrance into the land was only the beginning of this phase of their history.

The Promised Land, also known as Canaan, was occupied by many pagan nations. This land had been promised to Abraham. See Genesis 15:18, 19. From the divine perspective, these nations were considered to be “squatters,” and needed to be removed. Many victories were granted to the chosen nation, as the conquest progressed. However, there was not a “complete takeover” of the land. However, there was a division made, allotting the areas of each tribe. Joshua gave these groups the command to “take their own land.” Some of the groups were successful, others were not. This fact led to much open conflict.

The tribes of Reuben, and Gad, and one-half of the tribe of Manasseh had asked for, and received, their inheritance on the east side of the Jordan River. Numbers 32:1-33. Even though their families were “safe” during the conquest, the men of those tribes were required to fight for their brethren. They were faithful to this directive. Joshua 1:12- 15.

Near the end of his life, Joshua called the congregation together to “review” their history. “Joshua called for all Israel, and for the elders, and for their heads, and for their judges, and for their officers, and said unto them, I am old and stricken in age: And ye have seen all that the Lord your God hath done unto all these nations because of you; for the Lord your God is he that hath fought for you.” Joshua 23:2, 3. He reminded them of the specific divine acts that were now part of their history. He gave them a directive, “Be ye therefore very courageous to keep and to do all that is written in the book of the law of Moses, that ye turn not aside therefrom to the right hand or to the left. But cleave unto the Lord your God, as ye have done unto this day.” Joshua 23:6, 8.

The courage of these leaders would be the main factor in future victories. Joshua warned these men, “Know for a certainty that the Lord your God will no more drive out any of these nations from before you; but they shall be snares (nets) and traps (nooses) unto you, and scourges (whips) in your sides, and thorns (prickles) in your eyes, until ye perish (cease to be) from off the good land which the Lord your God hath given you.” Joshua 23:13. He, also, gave a second warning. Joshua 23:16.

Joshua called another meeting with the leaders of the people, “they presented themselves before God.” Joshua 24:1c. The faithful leader reminded these people of the mighty hand of God that had guided them throughout their journeys. Joshua 24:2-10. After they entered the Promised Land, God did not forsake them. These people had experienced help that they had not realized, God “sent the hornet before you, which drave them [the enemies] out from before you, even the two kings of the Amorites: but not with thy sword, nor thy bow.” Joshua 24:12. These people, also, were given provisions that had been produced the labor of the pagans. God had provided!

The aged leader gave a directive to his hearers, “Now therefore fear (reverence) the Lord, and serve (be subject to) him in sincerity (whole-minded) and truth (faithfulness): and put away the gods which your fathers served on the other side of the flood (refers to the River Euphrates), and in the land of Egypt; and serve ye the Lord (Jehovah).” Joshua 24:14. It seems that some of these people had kept certain idols that had been part of their slavery in Egypt.

The challenge presented that day has echoed down the corridors of time, “And if it seem evil unto you to serve the Lord, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell.” Joshua 24:15a, b. His personal commitment continues as an example to our day, “but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” Joshua 24:15c.

Their history pointed to a fickleness of their spiritual life. Joshua said, “Ye cannot serve the Lord: for he is an holy God; he is a jealous (intolerant of rivalry) God; he will not forgive your transgressions nor your sins.” Joshua 24:19. We know that their “history repeated itself.”

The warning continued in a direct manner, “If ye forsake the Lord, and serve strange gods, then he (Jehovah) will turn and do your hurt, and consume you, after that he hath done you good.” Joshua 24:20. The response of these leaders was open and sincere, “And the people said unto Joshua, the Lord our God will we serve, and his voice will we obey.” Joshua 24:24. This national commitment was “ratified,” “So Joshua made a covenant with the people that day, and set them a statute and an ordinance in Shechem,” Joshua 24:25.

Do we remember the “vows” that we have made to God? Are we faithful to Him? We have divine assurance! I John 1:9.

Rev. James C. Temples’ Sunday School Lesson has appeared in the Early County News each week since 1967. A native of Early County, Rev. Temples taught in public schools 32 years and 10 years at Southeastern College of Assemblies of God, in Lakeland, Fla. He also served as pastor and evangelist during those years. He can be contacted at P. O. Box 1484, Swainsboro, GA 30401; 478- 299- 2068. Email: temples_james@yahoo.com

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