July 16, 2019 Evening Verse Of The Day

15. And if it seem evil unto you, &c. It seems here as if Joshua were paying little regard to what becomes an honest and right-hearted leader. If the people had forsaken God and gone after idols, it was his duty to inflict punishment on their impious and abominable revolt. But now, by giving them the option to serve God or not, just as they choose, he loosens the reins, and gives them license to rush audaciously into sin. What follows is still more absurd, when he tells them that they cannot serve the Lord, as if he were actually desirous of set purpose to impel them to shake off the yoke. But there is no doubt that his tongue was guided by the inspiration of the Spirit, in stirring up and disclosing their feelings. For when the Lord brings men under his authority, they are usually willing enough to profess zeal for piety, though they instantly fall away from it. Thus they build without a foundation. This happens because they neither distrust their own weakness so much as they ought, nor consider how difficult it is to bind themselves wholly to the Lord. There is need, therefore, of serious examination, lest we be carried aloft by some giddy movement, and so fail of success in our very first attempts. With this design, Joshua, by way of probation, emancipates the Jews, making them, as it were, their own masters, and free to choose what God they are willing to serve, not with the view of withdrawing them from the true religion, as they were already too much inclined to do, but to prevent them from making inconsiderate promises, which they would shortly after violate. For the real object of Joshua was, as we shall see, to renew and confirm the covenant which had already been made with God. Not without cause, therefore, does he give them freedom of choice, that they may not afterwards pretend to have been under compulsion, when they bound themselves by their own consent. Meanwhile, to impress them with a feeling of shame, he declares that he and his house will persevere in the worship of God.[1]

15 The choice which Joshua presents to Israel (either the gods beyond the River or the gods of the Amorites) can hardly be regarded a real choice in the light of the Bible’s resolute rejection of all deities except the Lord. On the other hand, the choice between serving the Lord and the serving of all other deities was real, and that is Joshua’s main concern. If the service of the Lord does not look good to you (lit. “is evil in your eyes”), then the way is open to that other choice which really is no choice, even though the possibilities are many and seemingly a choice is there. Local and regional gods, or ancestral gods, the Israelites may choose to their hearts’ content. Joshua himself, however, wants it to be known that as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord,[2]

Ver. 15.—Or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell. There is a reductio ad absurdum here. “Had ye served those gods ye would never have been here, nor would the Amorites have been driven out before you.” The reference to the gods of their fathers seems to be intended to suggest the idea of an era long since lost in the past, and thrown into the background by the splendid deliverances and wonders which Jehovah had wrought among them. But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord. Or, Jehovah. Here speaks the sturdy old warrior, who had led them to victory in many a battle. He invites them, as Elijah did on another even more memorable occasion, to make their choice between the false worship and the true, between the present and the future, between the indulgence of their lusts and the approval of their conscience. But as for himself, his choice is already made. No desire to stand well with the children of Israel obscures the clearness of his vision. No temptations of this lower world pervert his sense of truth. The experience of a life spent in His service has convinced him that Jehovah is the true God. And from that conviction he does not intend to swerve. In days when faith is weak and compromise has become general, when the sense of duty is slight or the definitions of duty vague, it is well that the spirit of Joshua should be displayed among the leaders in Israel, and that there should be those who will take their stand boldly upon the declaration, “But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”[3]

15 Joshua concludes his case by spelling out the alternatives facing Israel, with the language “in your eyes” connecting back to v 7. The call for Israel to choose is unique in several respects. 1) God is normally the subject, having chosen Israel (Deut 4:37; 7:6, 7; 10:15; 14:2; 1 Kgs 3:8; Isa 41:8–9; 43:10; 44:1–2; 49:7; Ezek 20:5; Ps 33:12; 47:5 [=Eng 47:4]; 135:4; Neh 9:7). Yet his very choice forces a decision on Israel, for it is made in the midst of many attractive “religions.” The doctrine of election may well have been formulated precisely in the battle against the Canaanite religion (cf. Seebass, TDOT 2 [1975] 83–84. 2) The only choice for Israel’s neighbors was which god to serve at the moment, in the present crisis. Polytheism, the worship of many gods, was the natural presupposition in Israel’s environment. Ultimate choice was unnecessary, heretical, basically stupid. 3) Cultic activities presupposed that the god of the cult was known and chosen before cultic worship began. The task of the cult was celebration, not choice.

Joshua thus forced Israel to make a choice which never confronted her neighbors, a choice which would determine the nature of her cult from that moment on, a choice which spotlighted as no other the unique quality and demand of Yahweh. In the hour of choice, Israel’s freedom remains totally protected. No prophetic threats thunder down upon her (cf. Schmitt, Landtag, 37). She is simply asked to view God’s history and determine if it proves his superiority over other claims to deity. The decision is not one to be made in isolation, for Joshua leads the way, proclaiming that his family has already chosen Yahweh. When Israel chooses Yahweh, she has a leader to show her the way.[4]

24:15 The choice here was not between the Lord and idols: Joshua assumed that the people had already decided against serving God. So he challenged them to choose between the gods which their ancestors had served in Mesopotamia and the gods of the Amorites that they had found in Canaan. Joshua’s noble decision for himself and his household has been an inspiration to succeeding generations of believers: “But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”[5]

[1] Calvin, J., & Beveridge, H. (2010). Commentary on the Book of Joshua (pp. 276–277). Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

[2] Woudstra, M. H. (1981). The Book of Joshua (p. 352). Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.

[3] Spence-Jones, H. D. M. (Ed.). (1909). Joshua (p. 350). London; New York: Funk & Wagnalls Company.

[4] Butler, T. C. (1984). Joshua (Vol. 7, pp. 273–274). Dallas: Word, Incorporated.

[5] MacDonald, W. (1995). Believer’s Bible Commentary: Old and New Testaments. (A. Farstad, Ed.) (pp. 256–257). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

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