“We shall defend our island, whatever the cost maybe, we shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields, we shall fight in the streets, we shall fight in the hills, we shall never surrender!” – Churchill
“The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” – Roosevelt
“Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country.” – Kennedy
“Give me liberty or give me death!” – Patrick Henry
Great historical figures are often remembered for their memorable leadership in challenging times.
The declaration that Joshua made to the nation of Israel is perhaps the most memorable in the entire Bible. This declaration is the pre-battle speech of William Wallace in “Brave Heart”… this is the “Patton” speech to the troops at the beginning of the movie…this is Churchill addressing England as Nazi bombers prepared to unleash the “Blitzkrieg”.
Joshua 24:14-15 tells us, “Now therefore, fear the LORD, serve Him in sincerity and in truth, and put away the gods which your fathers served on the other side of the River and in Egypt. Serve the LORD! 15And if it seems evil to you to serve the LORD, choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.”
In it, Joshua provides a declaration to the nation of Israel, an expectation to his family and a realization of his own commitment to himself and his God.
With the whole nation assembled, Joshua goes on record and declares that he and his house are going to serve the true and living God…no matter what. His declaration speaks to the goodness and faithfulness of God. He lets all Israel know that he and his family will put their trust in God Almighty and serve Him. He refuses to serve the gods of Egypt or the gods of the Amorites. He took a stand regardless of the consequences!
He also communicates an expectation of service to his family. “as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” His family knew that Joshua meant business with God. He would lead his family in the paths of righteousness, and he would expect them to follow his example. Joshua wanted to make an impact on his family. By telling them that he expected them to walk with God, he communicated to them how important an on-going, personal relationship with the Lord is.
Finally, he solidified his own conscience with the realization, “as for me”. The impact he had on the nation of Israel was due to the choices he made with regard to his personal relationship with God. His choice to serve God enabled him to live a life without compromise. Joshua was a man of personal conviction and stood his ground when the rest of the nation trembled in fear.
Unfortunately, we live in days where men and women of conviction and conscience are in short supply. We are more concerned about what others think than what God thinks. We don’t want to offend anyone today by telling them that they are sinners in need of a Savior. Too many Christians today fail to remember that the “good news” is good! Where is the woman of conscience? Where is the man of conviction? Is the church today an entity without passion, without conviction, without a sense of holiness and purity? Have we abandoned our first love in favor of personal compromise?
Do you realize that Joshua was not always a man of courage and conviction? Six times he was encouraged and exhorted by God, Moses and the people to “be strong and of good courage”. Why? Joshua was weak and afraid.
But Joshua grew into a formidable leader and did succeed in becoming “strong and very courageous.” How did that happen? He heeded the words of Joshua 1:8 – “This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.”
How about you? What kind of impact do you want to have on your nation, your family?
How do you want to be remembered; as a man or woman of conviction? Or as one who violated their conscience through compromise? After all, it is a matter of choice!
“Choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve.”