I stand with them as their great warrior leader bids farewell. He is 110 years old and still his words and spirit inspire those who have just come through years of fighting. He knows them well, their strengths and weaknesses, and is encouraging this prone-to-sinning people to remain faithful.
Joshua has been their leader from the time of the crossing of the Jordan River to this day. It is time for him to leave them. They will have to finish the work he began. The past seven years have brought great victory to this chosen group of people. They have seen God work miracle after miracle on their behalf. There is, however, still work to be done - more enemies to conquer - and Joshua will not be there to lead them.
He reminds them that it is the Lord who has done these great things and urges them to renew their commitment to worship the one true God and obey all that He has told them. Reminding them of God's faithfulness and the certain fate that will be theirs if they abandon Him, He calls them to choose whom they will serve.
With one voice the people declare, "We will serve the Lord!"
In an unbelievably short time their resolve fails, and we find this wayward group
falling away from all they pledged to do. They failed to completely destroy the surrounding inhabitants, settling instead for half-measures. Before long they were drawn in, intermarrying and worshiping foreign gods. Promises were forgotten; the Lord was forsaken; the results were all too predictable.
It is, perhaps, easy to understand how it all happened. They had lost their great leader. Weariness from years of fighting had worn them down. Little by little they compromised not realizing where it would lead them. It must have seemed easier, noble even, to tolerate the beliefs of their enemies than to have to fight and utterly destroy them.
I stand with them and hear Joshua speak the words the Lord had given him, and my heart is touched with their relevance. How often have I begun the journey strong only to find I have, almost without realizing it, wandered from the path He has set before me. One day of being "too tired" or "too busy" multiplies into weeks and months. Compromising just a "little" and tolerating sin in the name of "getting along" begins to carve a deep chasm between the Lord and I.
Woven in and through the history of the Children of Israel is the shining thread of grace. Over and over they sinned; over and over God rescued and forgave them. They were monumentally slow learners, but we can find ourselves in them and learn from their failings.
We have a God who has said He will fight our battles for us. He has given us everything we need in Jesus. There will be times of great victory and times of equally great failure. There is grace for those times. Grace to grow in wisdom and understanding; grace to break the cycle; grace to get back on the path and finish well.
"I have discovered this principle of life - that when I want to do what is right, I inevitably do what is wrong. I love God's law with all my heart. But there is another power within me that is at war with my mind. This power makes me a slave to the sin that is still within me. Oh, what a miserable person I am! Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin and death? Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord..."
Linking to Michelle's blog today:
and Laura's blog