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As For Me and My House, We Will Serve the LORD

By Dr. Jack R. Hodges, Jr.

Burke CountyJack Hodges Morganton Burke County Pleasant Hill Baptist Church


In the final chapter of the Book of Joshua, we find Joshua gathering the tribes of Israel back together after years of conquest and settlement in the “promised land.” Remember, God has taken Israel from captivity in Egypt to freedom. Yet, they languished for 40 years in the wilderness because of their disobedience and sin. A new generation has emerged from the wilderness who seemingly were ready to take up the mantle and prepare to move into the promised land. They had traveled onward from the wilderness and had reached the plains of Moab on the other side of the Jordan River opposite Jericho (present-day Jordon). Peering over from Mt. Nebo, the Lord showed Moses the land and declared, “This is the land which I swore to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, saying, ‘I will give it to your descendants; I have let you see it with your eyes, but you shall not go over there.” (Deuteronomy. 34:4) Moses, himself, had never seen the land. He had been born in Egypt. But, God in His mercy allowed Moses to see what he had hoped and trusted the Lord for. It was, however, Joshua whom God had chosen to lead the people of Israel on the conquest. After seeing the land of promise and hearing God give instructions, we read in Joshua 1:1-9 that Moses laid his hands upon Joshua, blessed him, and told him to be strong and courageous as he led the people to possess the land that God promised as an inheritance. He is to be careful to do all things according to the Word of the Lord. He is to keep the Word of God (the book of the law) forever upon his lips. He is to meditate upon it day and night and he is to be careful to do all that is written in it.

Joshua takes command and faithfully, powerfully, and effectively leads God’s people to conquer and possess the land. The Book of Joshua describes the seven-year conquest of the land and gives the details of the division and settlement of the land. Throughout all of these military campaigns and the settlement of the land, Joshua leads and instructs the people in the ways of God. He teaches them an important lesson: victory comes through faith in God and obedience to His Word, rather than through military might or numerical superiority.

As Joshua calls the people back together, he announces and declares, Now, therefore, fear the Lord and serve Him in sincerity and truth; and put away the gods which your fathers served beyond the River and in Egypt, and serve the Lord. If it is disagreeable in your sight to serve the Lord, choose for yourselves today whom you will serve: whether the gods which your fathers served which were beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you are living; but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” (Joshua 24:14-15)

After the tribes have seen and experienced the goodness of God and have settled in the land, it appears that they have quickly forgotten how they got there and who brought them there. How easy is it to forget the goodness of God! There is something about fallen human nature that makes it easy to forget what we owe God and how much God has done for us. One of the things that Almighty God constantly does throughout His Word is remind us of Who He is, Who we are to Him, and What He has done and why He has done it. God constantly gives reminders—That it is He who gives blessings. It is He who makes our paths straight. It is He who gives directions and guidance. And as the New Covenant children of the Lord, He expects a response from His children.

Here in the last chapter of the Book of Joshua, God gathers the tribes back together at Shechem to remind them that blessings only come from the Lord God as His children obey His Word, His Will, and His ways. The tribes are gathered for a renewal and recommittal of their covenant with God. After reminding them of the history of God’s blessings, Joshua preaches an eloquent sermon reminding them of their responsibility as the children of God to follow in obedience.

Joshua says to the people (v. 14), Now, therefore, fear the Lord and serve Him in sincerity and truth; and put away the gods which your fathers served beyond the River and in Egypt, and serve the Lord.” There are three commands given directly by God that the people are to follow: (1) Fear the Lord; (2) put away the gods of your forefathers; and (3) Serve the Lord.

The truth is that these people had never set foot in the promised land. Their kinfolk had lived all of their lives in Egypt. Outside of Joshua and Caleb, not one single person that Joshua was now preaching to had even been to Egypt, much less the promised land. Yet, look what Joshua is doing! He is still fighting the gods of Egypt. They had been free and clear of Egypt for 40 years. And you would think that by now all signs of Egypt would be erased; that all of the old things and ways of thinking would have been removed from their lives; and that the wilderness experience would have burned away all of that “stinking thinking.” But it hadn’t!

You would think that we, as Christians, would have learned from some of our mistakes and would have learned once and for all the greatest spiritual lesson of all times—victory and blessings only come from the Lord God as His children obey His Word, His Will, and His ways. Maybe we haven’t! And so, perhaps it is time for us to renew and recommit ourselves to a fresh and powerful covenant with God in Christ.

I want you to notice three things from this story: First, Joshua gathered the people and called for the elders, the leaders, the judges, and all of the people assembled, to present themselves before the Lord God. They were called and summoned to gather together as a family of God. Twelve different tribes are reminded that they are one family in God. They had seemingly forgotten that! Dispersed and secure in their own little pockets of inheritance, how quickly they had forgotten that they were one people—God’s people. God had made a covenant with them that needed to be revisited and renewed. That original covenant commanded, Hear, O Israel! The Lord is our God, the Lord is one! You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.”  (Deuteronomy 6:4-9) God said, “If you will be my people (as I am your God), then here is what you shall do…These words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand and they shall be as frontals on your forehead. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and your gates.”

The Body of Christ is one family in Christ Jesus. We gather, as the children and family of God in Christ Jesus, to renew that covenant with Him week after week.

Secondly, Joshua called Israel to present themselves to the Lord. How does one present oneself to the King of kings and Lord of lords? We prostrate ourselves! We bow down before Him and offer all of us to all of Him. The word, “prostrate,” means “to lay stretched out on the ground with our face downward.” This posture signifies total surrender! By doing so, we have emptied ourselves of any pride, arrogance, selfishness, or ambitions. By doing so, we have turned our back on the world and all that it has to offer us. By doing so, we are pouring ourselves onto the mercy and grace of God; knowing full well that we deserve nothing but death on account of our sins. But at the same time, our hearts are given over unto the faithfulness, goodness, and love of God who by His eternal grace, powered by His agapé love, has covered our sins with the shed blood of Christ. By doing so, our faces are buried, hidden from our shame and grief; eyes closed to the temptations and desires of the flesh, the lusts of the eyes, and the pride of life. We are totally at His disposal to do with us as He wills and purposes.

Thirdly, Joshua shows us that after gathering together as One Family and prostrating ourselves before the Lord, we are to rise up to serve our God. In verse 15, Joshua told them what the Lord demanded: “Fear the Lord and serve Him in serenity and truth.” They are to put away the gods which their fathers served beyond the river—and serve the Lord God alone. Our new covenant with God was forged out of the shed blood of Jesus Christ on Calvary’s cross. And we are to serve our Savior and Redeemer alone!

Finally, Joshua called for a decision from among the people. They must make a choice to either follow after other gods or choose to renew the covenant with the Lord God. Joshua gave an invitation and then made his choice known (v. 15), “…choose for yourselves today whom you will serve…But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” The people responded to his invitation, “Far be it from us that we should forsake the Lord to serve other gods…” And then Joshua answered them back (vs. 19-20), You will not be able to serve the Lord, for He is a holy God. He is a jealous God; He will not forgive your transgression or your sins. If you forsake the Lord and serve foreign gods, then He will turn and do you harm and consume you after He has done good to you.” What was Joshua saying? He was accusing them of not taking God seriously; of playing religious; of playing church! Their voices said one thing, but their choices gave them away.

The people said to Joshua, “No, but we will serve the Lord.” Then Joshua answered the people, “You are witnesses against yourselves that you have chosen for yourselves the Lord, to serve Him.” Joshua says in so many words, “Ok! We will certainly see!” And they said, “We are witnesses.” What is your witness today? Each of us must make a choice! Would you today proclaim that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father—and choose this day whom you will serve? “But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”


Dr. Jack Hodges is the Senior Pastor at Pleasant Hill Baptist Church in Morganton, NC. He has served as a pastor, a biblical counselor, and an International Mission Board missionary.

Read more from Dr. Hodges here.