We Will Worship
1Joshua called the tribes of Israel together for a meeting at Shechem. He asked the leaders, including the old men, the judges, and the officials, to come up and stand near the sacred tent. 2 Then Joshua told everyone to listen to this message from the Lord, the God of Israel:
Long ago your ancestors lived on the other side of the Euphrates River, and they worshiped other gods. This continued until the time of your ancestor Terah and his two sons, Abraham and Nahor. 3 But I brought Abraham across the Euphrates River and led him through the land of Canaan. I blessed him by giving him Isaac, the first in a line of many descendants. 4 Then I gave Isaac two sons, Jacob and Esau. I gave Esau the hill country of Mount Seir, but your ancestor Jacob and his children went to live in Egypt.
5-6 Later I sent Moses and his brother Aaron to help your people, and I made all those horrible things happen to the Egyptians. I brought your ancestors out of Egypt, but the Egyptians got in their chariots and on their horses and chased your ancestors, catching up with them at the Red Sea. 7Your people cried to me for help, so I put a dark cloud between them and the Egyptians. Then I opened up the sea and let your people walk across on dry ground. But when the Egyptians tried to follow, I commanded the sea to swallow them, and they drowned while you watched.
You lived in the desert for a long time, 8 then I brought you into the land east of the Jordan River. The Amorites were living there, and they fought you. But with my help, you defeated them, wiped them out, and took their land. 9 King Balak decided that his nation Moab would go to war against you, so he asked Balaam to come and put a curse on you. 10But I wouldn't listen to Balaam, and I rescued you by making him bless you instead of curse you.
11 You crossed the Jordan River and came to Jericho. The rulers of Jericho fought you, and so did the Amorites, the Perizzites, the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Girgashites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites. I helped you defeat them all. 12 Your enemies ran from you, but not because you had swords and bows and arrows. I made your enemies panic and run away, as I had done with the two Amorite kings east of the Jordan River.
13 You didn't have to work for this land—I gave it to you. Now you live in towns you didn't build, and you eat grapes and olives from vineyards and trees you didn't plant.
14Then Joshua told the people:
Worship the Lord, obey him, and always be faithful. Get rid of the idols your ancestors worshiped when they lived on the other side of the Euphrates River and in Egypt. 15But if you don't want to worship the Lord, then choose here and now! Will you worship the same idols your ancestors did? Or since you're living on land that once belonged to the Amorites, maybe you'll worship their gods. I won't. My family and I are going to worship and obey the Lord!
There are certain times in life when we gather together as communities to remember or celebrate certain events, be they graduations, weddings, anniversaries and even funerals. It is a time to celebrate accomplishment or remember a life well lived. Once the land has been conquered in Israel, Joshua calls the people together. Joshua understands human nature. He has led the Israelites for many years and has seen how quickly they turn against God and blame him when things don’t seem to be going their way. He takes this moment to remember all that God has brought them through as a community. At momentous times in our lives, it is affirming to remember times when God has answered prayers or clearly intervened in your life.
After Joshua lists all the miraculous works of God in their lives, the Israelites cannot but help desiring to affirm with Joshua, “My family and I are going to worship and obey the Lord!” We all need to take time to remember God’s work in our lives and reaffirm our commitment to him.
It is also great to worship God as a family. Maybe some members of your family don’t follow Jesus in their lives. Pray for them and don’t give up inviting them to church, particularly when your family gathers for important events and holidays.
Dear Father God,
Thank you for your goodness to me. Thank you that Jesus died for me and that my sins are forgiven. Thank you for times that you have been active in my life. I reaffirm my wholehearted commitment to you. I pray in the name of Jesus Christ, whose life inspires me to follow you. Amen.
Janet Epp Buckingham
Janet lives in Ottawa, Canada and has served as the Director of Global Advocacy for the World Evangelical Alliance since July 2021. She is also the Executive Editor of the International Journal for Religious Freedom, the flagship publication of the International Institute for Religious Freedom. Books: Donald E. Buckingham, Carolyn Marcotte, Janet L. Epp Buckingham, Bonnie Manning, and Lee Thompson, Learning About Law, (McGraw-Hill Ryerson: Toronto, 1997); Janet Epp Buckingham, Withering Rights: Religious Freedom in Canada, (The Evangelical Fellowship of Canada: 2004