Lent Devotional: Joshua 24:16-18
by Jonathan Haefs
Today’s devotional is authored by SVCC intern Allison Davis
Then the people answered, “Far be it from us that we should forsake the LORD to serve other gods, for it is the LORD our God who brought us and our fathers up from the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery, and who did those great signs in our sight and preserved us in all the way that we went, and among all the peoples through whom we passed. And the LORD drove out before us all the peoples, the Amorites who lived in the land. Therefore we also will serve the LORD, for he is our God.”
Have you ever made a promise you knew you couldn’t keep? When I was in school, friends would share the latest gossip with me, saying, “Don’t tell anyone, but…”
I promised to keep a secret knowing full well I would run home and tell my mom, my confidant and closest friend, everything I was told. I made a promise I couldn’t keep.
I feel that is Israel’s situation in today’s reading. They are making a promise that is impossible to keep: “Far be it from us that we should forsake the Lord to serve other gods.” If you know the history of Israel in the Old Testament, you know that they end up serving other gods! Quite often! Even Israel’s leaders, their kings, forsake the God that brought their people out of Egypt and worship foreign gods.
But before we point the finger at Israel, before we roll our eyes at their foolish optimism and shame them for their unfaithfulness to their promise…do we not do the same thing?
Our gods look a little different in the 21st century. We may not literally bow down to idols made of gold or bronze, but we metaphorically “bow down” to our idols of money, power, and acceptance. We forsake the Lord and serve our own schedules and our own desires. We crave success and pleasure more than we crave holiness. Far be it from us that we should worship something else…but we do.
You may be saying, “well, Allison, you’re laying it on a little thick today. Is there any hope here for us?”
Yes. Of course there is hope. There is hope because “if we are faithless, he remains faithful –for he cannot deny himself” (2 Tim 2:13). In spite of Israel’s continued failure, past and future, God rescued them from slavery. He drove out the Canaanites so they would receive the promised land. He ultimately sent his Son into the world to save humanity from their sins. God in Christ is eager to forgive us when we come to him with repentant hearts.
God’s faithfulness in the past should give us the courage to press on into the future. You and I will mess up, but our God is faithful and just to forgive us and cleanse us from our unrighteousness. Is the enemy hounding you with shame over something you’ve already confessed to God and turned from? Are you believing the lie that you are too broken, too much of a failure for the Lord to love you? Remember today that God has preserved you in all the ways that you’ve gone. He’s not done with you. In light of his faithfulness to us, let us forsake those other “gods” that clamor for our attention. In the power of the Holy Spirit, who makes obedience possible, let us serve the Lord, for he is our God.