No, You Won't
I very nearly titled this article, “As For Me”. But, in reading Joshua 24 something different stood out, taking my attention. The chapter opens with Joshua addressing the nation and reminding them of the power of Adonai. The name of Joshua’s God is used to remind them that many people follow many gods. But the One who is supposed to be the God of Israel is Adonai, and HE saved them from bondage and provided them a promised land. Prevailing power is a theme brought to their fresh memory as Joshua makes proud proclamation, “Now therefore fear the Adonai” (14). He calls on them to choose: “if it is evil in your eyes to serve Adonai, choose this day whom you will serve” (15). The people say they choose Adonai as their God and that they will serve Him! And then something most peculiar is said by Joshua: No, you won’t.
“But Joshua said to the people, ‘You are not able to serve Adonai” (19) because Adonai is El Kaddosh (the Holy God), because Adonai is El Kanna (the consuming God). Joshua looks them in the eye and tells them aren’t good enough to be servants of such a God. And then Joshua tells them why, because they will fall away and do things, not of service to Adonai, but in service of lesser gods; and that will not be tolerated.
My belief is that Joshua is telling Israel’s tribes that he does not trust them to follow Adonai. And why should he? Repeatedly they have had the same issue; supplanting Adonai to make room for the god de jour. Joshua can only answer for his own family, “as for me, and for my house, we will serve Adonai.” Hear that statement the way Joshua believes it, though: ‘You guy’s won’t follow Adonai, but I will!’ all the while believing himself to be alone in his determination for righteousness. I wonder if Joshua has that conversation with his wife, ‘I can only control what is in my power to control’. Joshua has determined in his heart He will be true.
But Israel swears to follow Adonai. They make covenant with Joshua in verse 25. And in verse 31 we read, “Israel served Adonai all the days of Joshua, and all the days of the elders who outlived Joshua and had known all the work that Adonai did for Israel”. Maybe I should change the name of the article to “Yeah, They Will”. Because Joshua chose righteousness, others followed.