Joshua was nearing the end of his life and he wanted to challenge the people to remain faithful to God, who had given them so many victories. The people pledged their determination to serve God only. Joshua challenged them again “You will not have the strength to serve the Eternal” (Joshua 24.19 Louis Segond translation (French)). The people repeated their pledge: “Nay; but we will serve the Lord.” We find the testimony a few chapters later that they were faithful to that promise: “And the people served the Lord all the days of Joshua, and all the days of the elders that outlived Joshua, who had seen all the great works of the Lord, that he did for Israel” (Judges 2.7).
Then in Judges 3 we read that God had a test for the following generation: “Now these are the nations which the Lord left, to prove Israel by them, even as many of Israel as had not known all the wars of Canaan; Only that the generations of the children of Israel might know, to teach them war, at the least such as knew nothing thereof; . . . And they were to prove Israel by them, to know whether they would hearken unto the commandments of the Lord, which he commanded their fathers by the hand of Moses” (Judges 3.1,2 & 4).
This is the challenge facing the people of God today. Past generations have been valiant in fighting the good fight of faith, have won the victory and passed from the scene. However, there are still enemies remaining for this generation to contend with. What will we do with them? We do not have the strength to overcome them. God must fight for us. Still, there will be no victory unless we are fully determined to take up the battle with all our might.
We are being tested today in the same manner as the generation that followed Joshua. The world and the flesh have not been eradicated. They appear to be willing to be our servants. Very subtly they will try to lure us into taking a step or two away from the Shepherd. If we are not on our guard, we will someday find that they have become our masters.
Baal was the god of fertility in Canaan. The Israelites never abandoned the worship of Yahweh, at least they thought they hadn’t. However, they came to believe that their fields, their livestock, even their wives, would be infertile if they did not sacrifice to Baal. So they maintained all the forms of the worship of Yahweh, but trusted Baal for help in all the everyday conduct of their lives. Eventually a day of reckoning came, their land was laid waste, the temple of Yahweh destroyed and the people carried away captive to Babylon.
Today Mammon is the chief rival to Yahweh. Many Christians faithfully maintain the worship of Yahweh, yet look to Mammon for help in their everyday life. Mammon is the god of material things. We worship him by seeking educational credentials that are said to be the keys to success, by accumulating debt to attain a lifestyle that denotes success, by spending lavishly on sports, entertainment and leisure activities so our children will not be left out of anything. We think this is what it takes to be successful in life. Will our judgement be any less severe than that of the Israelites?
“Choose ye this day whom ye will serve.”