By Russ Ramsey
Have you ever gotten excited about a new thing, and instantly imagined it would be in your life forever from that point forward—maybe a diet, exercise regimen, or a way of keeping a clear inbox? You know the feeling, right? “This is great. I’m gonna do this every day!”
What usually happens? Usually, the plan falls apart. The newness wears off. The difficulty of the task mounts. You get bored, perhaps. And before you know it, you’ve got ten thousand unread emails stacked up in your inbox and you just don’t care anymore. I have good news for you. God knows we are prone to this, and He loves us anyway.
Today we come to the end of the book of Joshua, in which the Lord rehearses for Israel the journey they’ve been on up to this point. It’s been a complex, difficult, glorious road. Joshua walks through the stories of their forefathers—Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph. He reminds them of their slavery in Egypt and the exodus. He recounts their time in the wilderness with Moses, and their conquest of the promised land.
Through it all, the Lord remained faithful to His people, and here at the end of the book, Joshua calls Israel to renew their fidelity to God by loving, serving, and worshipping Him only. They are to purge their cities and homes of idols and set their affection on the Lord.
The people respond like I often do when I get all worked up and excited about something. Joshua says, “Fear the Lord and worship Him in sincerity and truth” (Joshua 24:14), to which the people essentially respond with, “No problem! That’s exactly what we’ll do! Forever.”
Appreciate the honesty about the human condition this chapter shows. When the people swear they will love God fully every day, Joshua says, “No you won’t.” They double down, “Oh, but we will. You wait and see.” And they make a monument to validate their vow to remain faithful, no matter what—a literal promise set in stone.
We know how this turns out. They abandon their commitment before they even make it home, and the monument they’ve built testifies against their empty promises (Joshua 24:25–27). It is important for us all to recognize the truth here about our condition. We are promise-breakers, especially when it comes to doing things perfectly. We just can’t do it.
The infidelity of our hearts is important to see because it shows us that if we are to be in a covenant relationship with God, and we are prone to wander as the old hymn says, then our only hope for salvation is if God keeps hold of us. And that is the reason for the life, ministry, death, and resurrection of Jesus—to bind our wandering hearts to Him. This is what He came to do, and it is what He has done. To God be the glory.