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Most of the articles on these WebPages have been written by godly men with a central belief in the Lord Jesus Christ. However as with most of us, they may have different beliefs concerning some particular doctrines. These articles have been made available for the purpose of “gleaning the good” where good can be found. I do not necessarily endorse all that is written by others, anymore than I expect others to endorse all that I write.

   Morning Thoughts by Elder Philip Conley

Joshua 24:19, "And Joshua said unto the people, Ye cannot serve the LORD: for he is an holy God; he is a jealous God; he will not forgive your transgressions nor your sins."

This morning, we ponder a very vital point of our Christian service that today is much neglected. As we read Old Testament accounts of idolatry (specifically of the children of Israel), we are prone to wonder how they could bow down and worship something made of metal, stone, or wood when the invisible God had delivered them so many times in the past. One of the pivotal points of worshipping God in spirit (or sincerity) and in truth (Joshua 24:14) is that He alone be worshipped. The children of Israel in the northern kingdom (10 tribes that split from Judah under Rehoboam's reign) mixed in the worship of God with the gods of the Assyrians. (II Kings 17) The Athenians at Mars' Hill had alter after alter when Paul preached to them to every god known to them. They even had one to the invisible God to go along with all the rest. (Acts 17) Our true test of worship to God is that we singularly reserve Him in our hearts and minds to be adored above all else. While we may ponder with great perplexity how the children of Israel bowed down to graven images, let us then follow that thought with our own actions of reserving the majority of our time and effort to other things besides our God. That, in a nutshell, is idolatry when something other than God and His righteousness is sought by us first. (Matthew 6:33-34)

Joshua is bidding farewell to the people that God had blessed him to lead and serve after Moses. Under Joshua's leadership, they had gone over Jordan into Canaan with a mighty hand to drive out the inhabitants, burn their cities, conquer their armies, and dwell in that good land of milk and honey. Joshua's departure from them is coupled with a strong warning and exhortation to remain faithful to the God that delivered them thus far into this good land. The very famous verse above ours shows Joshua's challenge to them. (Joshua 24:15) He basically says that if they choose some other god besides the LORD God, it does not really matter. They are all the same. Whether one is serving the gods of Egypt, Canaan, etc, they are all nothing and amount to nothing with no ability to help, save, or deliver. Joshua declares his desire for his house to serve the LORD.

Right before our verse, the people respond to Joshua's declaration, and when reading Joshua's response, there might be cause for pause. The people's reaction is strong and vigorous to their zeal to follow after God. Joshua responds that their zeal cannot accomplish what they say. Why such a response in our verse? What would prompt Joshua to declare their inability to do what they have said? If we read the people's response to Joshua's choice very closely (Verses 16-18), we find much to commend in their speaking. They start by saying "God forbid" which is Biblical language employed by Paul on many occasions. However, there is one word in their response that Joshua keys on: "also." The people's declaration, no matter how noble and zealous in many different ways includes the word "also" in their course to worship God.

God has not ever nor will ever be worshipped properly "also." Joshua's language shows God's righteous jealousy. He will not be placed alongside all our little gods to serve as time and opportunity are convenient. He alone will be worshipped properly, for His praise will not go to graven images or the works of man's hands. (Isaiah 42:8) He does not give or share His glory with another. Too many times, the children of Israel showed after this that they were content to serve God in conjunction with other things. Joshua says it cannot be done and be glorifying to God. In addition to God's jealousy over His glory and praise, Joshua also speaks of His holiness. When we place an unholy thing on the same level as God, we are, by our actions, impeaching His holy nature in our minds. Mind you, we cannot impeach His holiness in reality, but our minds do not show the correct reverence and respect that He deserves. Our heart and soul needs to be in prostration before Him and nothing else. Not Him and other things that we deem important.

So, looking at them in that day, what is the lesson for us today? We are told unequivocally that they (the children of Israel) in all their good points and bad points are examples for us today. (I Corinthians 10) They are not an example every time of how we should behave, but their actions do serve to give us example of what we can expect as a consequence. Since God has not changed, the way in which He deals with His people will not change. He was pleased then for them to serve Him and no other, and today He is pleased with the same. He chastised them (sometimes to the point of bondage and servitude) for their disobedience, and He today can and does do the same.

Let us try (as painful as it may be) to get down to where the "rubber meets the road." How much time in every day do we spend in thinking of Him? How much time is spent in prayer? How much time is spent in study, meditation, walking with Him, etc? How much time is spent in front of a computer screen, the television, hobbies, sports, hunting, fishing, etc? If your list looks like mine, the scales are tipped in the wrong direction. At the end of the day, what we spend more time in is really what we worship. Sad to say, if our family and friends absorb the lion's share of our time, they are idols. If our job occupies our time and thoughts above all others, it too is an idol. While there is, of necessity, room in our lives for jobs, families, and friends, they should not garner the majority of our thoughts, efforts, and certainly our affection. Our heart's affection needs to be solely upon Him who inhabiteth eternity. (Colossians 3:2)

We today are no better suited or able to serve God "also" than they were. Joshua declares, in essence, the impossibility of serving God and mammon. (Matthew 6:24) Our lives have different areas of necessity, but our lives can only have one realm that necessitates worship, praise, and adoration. If God is not solely fixed in that position in our lives, then really and truly let us pick whatever we wish from the list. Whether we pick family, friends, jobs, hobbies, etc, they are all the same in the sole respect that they are no better than a graven image of any kind. Any god that we replace or serve also with God is the same: nothing. Perhaps the children of Israel could say, "Well we don't serve the gods of the Egyptians." If they were serving any other god from any other nation besides or alongside God, they are in the same boat as the Egyptians in the sense of being idolaters. We today might say, "Well I don't bow down and worship a graven image." If we devote more time to something other than God, we are just as guilty of idolatry. Therefore, let us throw off the shackles of bondage that weigh us down in our race of life. Let our patience in looking unto Jesus shine forth in more ways, time segments, and areas than any other endeavor of life. As any project we have to complete in life cannot succeed without keeping the main thing the main thing, let us never be forgetful to keep the main thing the main thing in our daily lives.

In Hope,

Bro Philip