Thursday, March 30th, 2023
the Fifth Week of Lent
the Fifth Week of Lent
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Wells of Living Water Commentary Wells of Living Water
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Neighbour, Robert E. "Wells of Living Water Commentary on Joshua 24". "Living Water". https://studylight.org/
commentaries/ eng/ lwc/ joshua-24.html.
Neighbour, Robert E. "Wells of Living Water Commentary on Joshua 24". "Living Water". https://studylight.org/
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Joshua's Farewell Words
Before Joshua died he reviewed the history of Israel and in so doing he brought out the four great patriarchs who were so prominently aligned to Israel's call and life.
1. There is the remembrance of Abraham. The Bible has, in the New Testament, many backward glances at the life and words of Abraham. The Jews delighted in saying, "We have Abraham to our father."
Abraham was a great and worthy follower of Christ. Christ said of Abraham, "Your father Abraham rejoiced to see My day: and he saw it, and was glad." He was known as 'The Friend of God."
When Abraham was old and well stricken in years he sent his aged servant of Damascus to seek a bride for his son, Isaac, with the same faith in God that he had manifested when, in his youth, he left his home to go out into a way that he knew not. He said to his servant, "The Lord God of Heaven, which took me from my father's house, * * and that swear unto me, saying, Unto thy seed will I give this land; He shall send His angel before thee."
Thus it was that Abraham believed God. He lived, looking for a City whose Builder and Maker is God. He reckoned himself as but a stranger and a pilgrim among men. Before he died he gave all that he had unto Isaac, because Isaac was a child of promise, and an heir to all that God had promised to Abraham.
It is good to keep before us therefore such an one as Abraham, the servant of the Lord, who became known centuries afterward by the Church as an exemplar of faith.
2. There is the remembrance of Isaac. Isaac may not have reached the zenith of his father's faith or faithfulness, however, he was a servant of Jehovah and died as he had lived, faithful to the promises of God. Therefore it is written, "By faith Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau concerning things to come."
Isaac was blessed with much riches because he followed God, and obeyed Him, dwelling where God told him to dwell.
When the time came for Isaac to die Jacob came unto him in the plain of Mamre (the place of fatness), where both Abraham and Isaac had sojourned, and there Isaac died full of years and was buried by Esau and Jacob.
3. There is the remembrance of Jacob. What a marvelous life was Jacob's. He was, for a while, a "supplanter," and a maker of contracts, yet withal, he lived and died as a true worshiper of God. Joseph was his greatly beloved son, because Joseph was so true to Jacob's Lord, and walked by faith.
When Jacob came to die at a good old age, he called his twelve sons around him, and, in blessing them, he spoke words which will live through all ages as exemplars of a great faith, and large vision.
4. There is the remembrance of Moses. We would like to speak of Joseph and of his seed. We must, however, hasten to Moses, as the great deliverer of Jacob's twelve sons, and of the race which bore the name "Israel," after God had changed Jacob's name on that memorable night when God strove with him, and conquered him.
Moses was one of God's great men. The Bible gives an epitome of his life: "By faith Moses * * refused to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter; choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures, of sin for a season." God honored Moses' faith, and Moses led the Children of Israel out of their land of captivity. Through forty years of wilderness journeyings he proved himself faithful to God and the people. When at last he gave his final message, he demonstrated an unwavering trust, and gave a faithful testimony.
I. A MESSAGE ON SEPARATION (Joshua 24:6 )
1. We are called out of the world. In Joshua 24:2-5 Joshua had made mention of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and Moses. Now he begins to emphasize God's call of separation. Here are God's words (Joshua 24:6 ): "I brought your fathers out of Egypt."
Egypt, in the Word of God, stands for the world. We have just suggested how Moses left Egypt. Here is the way Hebrews 11:1-40 reads: "By faith he. (Moses) forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king." Egypt was the place where Moses could have enjoyed the pleasures of sin, where he could have been made rich with worldly treasures, Moses, however, esteemed the reproach of Christ as greater than Egypt's riches, and affliction with the people of God as greater than Egypt's pleasures.
The reason for it all was that Moses looked beyond the pleasures of this world, and saw Him who was invisible.
2. We are not of the world. Abraham and Isaac and Jacob gave us real examples in separation. We read of Abraham that he dwelt in "a strange country, * * with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise." He confessed himself a tent dweller because he looked for a City whose Builder and Maker is God. He was in the world, but he was not of it. We, too, are not of this world, although we are in it.
We should set our affections on the things above, not on the things beneath. Our citizenship is in Heaven, and our treasures should be there. We are other-worldly.
3. The world hateth us. If we were of the world, the world would love its own; but because we are not of the world but are called out of the world, therefore, the world hateth us. The word "church," ecclesia, means "called out." Alas, alas, when we find a church mixing and mingling with the world!
II. WHY THE WORLD SEEKS TO HOLD A GRASP ON SAINTS (Joshua 24:6 )
1. It would keep us from our rightful inheritances. The Children of Israel had come up to the Red Sea, and then the Egyptians pursued after them with chariots and horsemen. Joshua is reminding them of these things that they might realize that Satan, if possible, would now keep them from inheriting all of the land.
This is true today. It is written: "The God of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious Gospel of Christ * * should shine unto them" and convert them.
The believer's blessings are described in the Epistle to the Ephesians as being in the Heavenly places. At the close of that Epistle we are plainly reminded that we have a conflict in the Heavenlies against Satan and against his hordes. Satan will rob us of every blessing which is ours in Christ, if we will allow him so to do.
2. It would spoil our spiritual testimony. Had the Children of Israel refused to follow Joshua into the land, then they had lost their testimony to the power and glory of the Christ whom they served.
We need, as Christians, to remember that we are giving testimony not only to men, but before principalities and powers. When, in the early history of Joshua's leadership, the Children of Israel were defeated at Ai, Joshua cried out unto the Lord, "What wilt Thou do unto Thy great Name?" We wonder if the Christians of today have not spoiled their testimony by their frequent defeat before the powers of darkness. For God's sake we must press through to victory.
3. It would rob us of our fellowship with God. Here is a picture, darker in its consequences than the other. To be kept from our rightful inheritance, is sad; to lose our spiritual testimony is sadder; but to be robbed of our walk with God, is the worst of all. Whenever saints refuse to go through with their Lord, they lose His smile and forfeit His fellowship. If, however, "we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship one with another."
III. JOURNEYING FROM EGYPT TO CANAAN (Joshua 24:7-8 )
1. A victorious deliverance. When the Children of Israel, in crossing the Red Sea, saw Pharaoh With his chariots and horsemen in pursuit, they were filled with fear. Then they cried unto the Lord, and the Lord put darkness between them and the Egyptians, and brought the sea upon the enemy, and covered them. Thus they were delivered with a mighty deliverance.
We can remember the time when we were delivered. The powers of darkness sought to carry us into eternal night, but we cried unto the Lord and He heard our voice. It was a happy day, when Christ's victory on the Cross became our victory, and the principalities and powers which sought to slay us were overwhelmed. Christ's triumph became ours.
2. A wilderness testing. There is a tremendous statement in Joshua 24:7 , "Ye dwelt in the wilderness a long season." That season was a period of testing. Oftentimes their feet had well nigh slipped. More than once they lusted after evil things; they tempted God; they murmured; and they were overthrown in the wilderness.
How many times during the period of our testings do we fall, and often fail! We are buffeted, cast down, and all but overthrown. Beloved, let us fear lest we fall after the same manner of unbelief. If the Children of Israel lost their Canaan, we also may lose our Millennial rest. It is one thing to be saved and to inherit eternal life this is all by grace: it is another thing to be more than conquerors, and to inherit the Kingdom.
3. A glorious possession. At last the Children of Israel went into the land and God gave the nations into their hands. Beloved, it will be a glorious day when we too enter into those things which God hath promised to the faithful who overcome in His Name.
IV. THE STORY OF BALAK AND BALAAM (Joshua 24:9-10 )
1. A tented people. The Lord through Joshua goes on to remind the Children of Israel concerning Balak the son of Zippor, king of Moab, who arose and warred against Israel, and who sent and called for Balaam to come and curse them.
When we think of Balak and Balaam we remember Balaam's words: "How goodly are thy tents, O Jacob, and thy tabernacles, O Israel!" Thus, Israel was a tented people. They were wanderers, journeying through earth's wilderness. Are we not the same?
2. A troubled king. When Balak saw Israel he was troubled. He warred against Israel, but to no avail. He sought to have Balaam curse Israel, but God took hold of Balaam's lips and caused him to bless instead of curse.
Whenever the people of this world fight against God they find themselves overcome. The kings of the earth may gather together against the Lord and against His Anointed, but He who sitteth in the Heavens will laugh at them.
3. A bungling prophet. Balaam sinned, first of all, in accepting Balak's invitation to come down to curse the people of God.
Balaam sinned the second time when he rejected the warning, of God, as an anger withstood him in the way, and went on to fulfill Balak's request.
Balaam sinned the third time in that he cared more for honor and riches than he cared to please the Lord. It was Balak's pledges of advancement that appealed to the prophet Balaam sinned the fourth time when, hindered by God in his effort to curse Israel, he advised Balak to marry and intermarry with the Israelites until God Himself would curse them. God pity the present-day Balaams.
V. A SOLEMN BESEECHING (Joshua 24:14 )
1. "By the mercies of God." After God had rehearsed before Israel His mercies in their behalf, Joshua said: "Now therefore fear the Lord, and serve Him in sincerity and in truth." Our minds go to the 12th chapter of Romans where it is written: "I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service."
The appeal in Romans 12:1-21 is the same as the appeal in Joshua 24:14 .
2. "Be not conformed to this world." The second thing we find in Joshua 24:14 is this statement: "And put away the gods which your fathers served on the other side of the flood, and in Egypt." The second thing in Romans 12:1-21 is: "And be not conformed to this world." In both cases the appeal is the same. There is first the call to consecration by "the mercies of God." There follows the appeal to nonconformity to the world.
If we are going to serve the Lord in all sincerity, we must refuse to listen to the voice of men, for no man can serve two masters.
3. "Be ye transformed" unto God. The third thing in our verse is: "And serve ye the Lord." The third thing in Romans 12:1-21 is: "Present your bodies a living sacrifice." When we have brought our all to Christ on the one hand, and separated ourselves from the world in nonconformity on the other hand, then we are ready to enter into the service of our Master.
The 6th chapter of Romans calls upon us to yield not our members as the instruments of unrighteousness unto sin, but to yield them as the instruments of righteousness unto God.
VI. A NECESSARY CHOICE (Joshua 24:15 )
1. "No man can serve two masters." Joshua 24:15 is one of the greatest decision verses, in the Bible. It reads: "If it seem evil unto you to serve the Lord, choose you this day whom ye will serve." With them it was either service to the gods of the Amorites, or else it was a service unto the Lord.
Jesus Christ taught plainly that no man can serve two masters, for, either he will love the one and hate the other, or else he will hold to the one and despise the other. Christ also said: "He that is not with Me is against Me; and he that gathereth not with Me scattereth abroad." There can be no middle-of-the-roaders in the camps of Jehovah.
2. "How long halt ye between two opinions?" Our mind now goes to another matter: the Prophet Elijah's call to the Children of Israel in a later day. Elijah said unto all the people: "How long halt ye between two opinions? if the Lord be God, follow Him: but if Baal, then follow him."
If we cannot serve two masters, we need immediately to make up our opinion as to which one we will serve. The day in which we live proffers no change. We must make our decision. If the God of our fathers is the True God, let us quickly put upon ourselves the priestly robes, and acclaim ourselves His servants. If the devil is the true god, let us follow him.
3. "To day if ye will hear His voice." God calls for not only a decision, but for an immediate decision. It is today, and not tomorrow when we are told to make our choice. Joshua used these very words, in Joshua 24:15 , when he said: "Choose you this day whom you will serve."
Make your decision without delay. We trust that your choice will be a true-hearted, full-fledged service to God.
VII. A CONSECRATION HOUR (Joshua 24:18 )
1. The Lord is God. Here is a willing acknowledgment. The people said: "Therefore will we also serve the Lord; for He is our God." Do we need further proof that our Lord is God? Perhaps one reason that many professors in the churches of today are so lax in serving God is because they are so weak in their assertion that the Lord is God. The spirit of the age is a spirit which seeks to humanize Christ and to Deify man.
The Lord Jesus is being robbed of His Deity on every hand. Thus the world needs a renewed vision of the Son of God. He is either very God of very God and all that He claimed as God, or else He is the greatest imposter who ever walked among men. For our part, we acclaim Him God.
2. The Lord drave out all the people. Our verse not only acknowledges the Lord as God, but it also acknowledges Him as a God who loves and cares. Our key verse says: "The Lord drave out from before us all the people, even the Amorites which dwelt in the land."
Are we not willing to acknowledge that our God is also our Conqueror? Has He not gone before us to Calvary, and met the enemy? Has He not saved us by His power? Has He not watched over us, and cared for us by the way? In all of this we have another reason for acknowledging Him, and serving Him.
3. The Lord brought us out, and up. Here is a glorious conception which is set forth in Joshua 24:17 , "The Lord our God, He it is that brought us up and our fathers out of the land of Egypt." Thank God that He did not only bring us out, but He brought us up. He not only saved us out of Egypt, but He led us into His rest.
Abraham came out of Ur of the Chaldees, he also came into the land which God gave him. No matter from what God saved us, and from what He calls us; He always leads us into something better, something higher, and something holier.
George Muller has given us a beautiful resume of his own dealings with God, that will fit in well, as we study Joshua's farewell words.
"Cast thy burden upon the Lord, and He shall sustain thee" (Psalms 55:22 ).
"It is not only permission, but positive command that He gives us to cast the burden upon Him. Oh, let us do it, my beloved brothers and sisters in Christ, * * Day by day I do it. This morning again, sixty matters in connection with the church of which I am pastor, I brought before the Lord, and thus it is day by day, and year by year; ten years, twenty years, thirty years, forty years. And now, my beloved brothers and sisters, come with your burdens, the burdens of your business, your profession, your trials and difficulties, and you will find help. Many persons suppose that it is only about money that I trust the Lord in prayer. I do bring this money question before the Lord, but it is only one out of many things I speak to God about, and I find He helps. Often I have perplexity in finding persons of ability and fitness for the various posts I have to have supplied. Sometimes weeks and months pass, and day by day, day by day, I bring the matter before the Lord, and invariably He helps. It is so about the conversion of persons; prayer, sooner or later, is turned into praise. After a while God helps. It is so about the needs of our work in sending out tracts and books, and missionary efforts. After a while God helps. We're never left, we're never confounded."
The Consecration of the People
The time comes sooner, or later, when we must all lay down the yoke which we have been wearing for God. We cannot always serve, no matter how faithful we may have been, nor how successfully we may have wrought our task.
Joshua had been a valiant leader, and he had been faithful in all things. Now, at the end of his days he saw fit to gather all Israel together that they might present themselves before God. When they were all assembled he said, "Thus saith the Lord God of Israel, Your fathers dwelt on the other side of the flood in old time, even Terah, the father of Abraham, and the father of Nahor: and they served other gods."
As we recount, step by step, the events of the time which led up to the present moment when Joshua stood before them, let us remember that it is God who is speaking and that Joshua is only His mouthpiece.
1. God's statement concerning Abraham. Joshua reminded the gathered elders, the heads, and the judges of Israel that God had taken their father Abraham from the other side of the flood, that He had led him through all the land of Canaan, that He had multiplied his seed, and that He had given him Isaac.
If you will observe these words carefully, you will see how God shows that it was He who had done these things.
We might ask if Abraham did not leave on his own volition, if he did not pass through the land of Canaan of his own choice, and if he was not the father of his own son, even of Isaac. From the human viewpoint we may see a great deal of Abraham's self-assertiveness, yet, we must fully recognize that Abraham was walking by faith in obedience to the command of God. When he went out of Ur of the Chaldees, he went not knowing whither he went.
The fact of God's leadership is, perhaps, more plainly seen in the statement, "[I] gave him Isaac." We remember that Isaac was the son of Abraham's old age and of Sarah's old age. He was the son of promise begotten under the miraculous power of God.
2. God's statement concerning Isaac, Jacob, and Esau. God says that it was He who gave two sons to Isaac. He says it was He who gave Esau Mount Seir to possess it. It was He who led Jacob and his children down into Egypt.
Beloved, we need to recognize God's hand in all that we are, and all that we do. It is not in a man to order his own steps.
3. God's statement concerning Moses and Aaron and the plagues. The Lord positively states that HE sent Moses and Aaron, that HE plagued Egypt, that HE brought Israel out from the land of bondage, that HE put darkness between His people and; the Egyptians, that HE brought the sea upon them and covered them, that HE brought them into the land of the Amorites.
Perhaps, each one of us would do well to ponder God's leading. As in the past, can we not see how He has gone before us? He has chosen the place for us to pitch our tents. He has sheltered us, protected us, provided for us, and led us.
The Lord will direct all your pathway,
Go where He leads;
He'll never forsake, never leave you,
He'll meet your needs.
He'll be with your mouth, and will teach you
What you shall say;
He'll crown all your labor with blessing,
Up, then, away.
I. UNADULTERATED GRACE (Joshua 24:13 )
God has now finished speaking of the olden time, and has come to the present moment in which Joshua speaks unto the people. God says, "I have given you a land for which ye did not labour, and cities which ye built not, and ye dwell in them; of the vineyards and oliveyards which ye planted not do ye eat."
Where is there a verse in the Bible more pregnant with the grace of God than this? They had entered into these riches, not through anything of their own worth, or because of anything they had done. It was all the gift of God.
1. "Ye did not labour." We sing, "Not the labor of my hands can fulfill the law's demands." "Nothing in my hands I bring, simply to Thy Cross I cling."
2. "Ye built not." The houses they entered were there when they arrived. There is a house which we one day will enter, which we have not, and could not build. Our Lord has said, "I go to prepare a place for you."
3. "Ye planted not." The vineyards and oliveyards were already there in the land of Canaan when they entered. Nor were these to be despised, for it was a land of great vegetation and fruit.
It is still true that everything we eat is the gift of God. We may plant, and we may sow, and we may harvest, but it is God, and God alone, who gives the increase.
Let us bow the knee before Him, the Author and the Finisher of our faith. Let us acknowledge Him as the Giver of all good things. What do we have that He has not given us?
II. APPRECIATIVE SERVICE (Joshua 24:14 )
Joshua in the Spirit now says to Israel, "Now therefore fear the Lord, and serve Him in sincerity and in truth: and put away the gods which your fathers served on the other side of the flood."
1. The appeal. "Therefore." The word carries our minds back to all that God said about how He led Abraham, and multiplied him. How He sent Moses, and delivered Israel, and how He had brought them into the land, a good land.
Is there not another "therefore"? Have we not read, "I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God"? Surely the mercy of God is the Spirit's reason, upon which He asks us in full consecration to present our bodies as living sacrifices our reasonable, or rational service.
2. The method. "Serve Him in sincerity." The word "sincerity" means without any mixture of hypocrisy. God does not care for the worship of the lips if the heart is far from Him. We might give Him all kinds of silver and gold, but that would not satisfy our God if we were giving our love to another,
3. In fear. Joshua said, "Now therefore fear the Lord." To fear the Lord does not mean to be afraid of Him, but rather to be afraid to disobey Him. Therefore, the call is made, "Put away the gods which your fathers served * * and serve ye the Lord."
Let us all seek to examine our own hearts: in the light of all that God has done for us, what are we doing for Him? In the light of all that He is giving us, what do we give back to Him? Even now we can hear Him say, "I gave My life for thee, what hast thou given for Me?"
III. A CALL TO CHOOSE (Joshua 24:15 )
We have before us now one of the outstanding verses of the Bible. It is one which most believers have memorized, at least, in part. "And if it seem evil unto you to serve the Lord, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord."
1. The responsibility of choice. Neither Joshua nor the Lord demanded that the Children of Israel should choose to serve the Lord. God did not take a whip and drive them to obedience. He rather said, "Choose you this day whom ye will serve." This power of choice is given to every life. We are not Christians because we are forced so to be. We are Christians because we come to Him voluntarily. Moses had said before he died, "I have set before you life and death, * * therefore choose life."
2. A good example. Joshua did not command them to choose God, but he did say, "As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord." He did, therefore, offer the strongest possible plea to them to follow the Lord in the way that he himself was fully persuaded to follow.
It is of little use for us to try to encourage others to do what we are unwilling to do. We must lead the way. We must show by our deeds as well as by our words that it is good to serve the Lord.
We might dwell at length on family Christianity. Joshua spoke for himself, and for his house. God give us more families where every member serves and loves the Saviour.
IV. A NOTE OF THANKSGIVING (Joshua 24:16-18 )
We are made to rejoice at the response of the people. They answered with one accord, and seemingly with all sincerity. "God forbid that we should forsake the Lord, to serve other gods." Their decision was made, and the reason for it is now given.
1. "The Lord our God, * * brought us * * out of the land of Egypt." They are praising God for what He had done for them, acknowledging in this their former bondage, the days of their taskmasters, sorrows, and sighs. It was out of all this that God had brought them.
2. "The Lord our God, * * which did those great signs in our sight." They had not forgotten the ten plagues. They had not forgotten the sight of the Egyptians being overthrown in the flood. They still remembered how everyone who looked up to the serpent was saved, and how the water was brought out of the flinty rock; how the quails were sent that they might have meat.
Would that we might all remember the wonderful signs and marvelous miracles which God has wrought before our eyes.
3. "The Lord our God, * * preserved us in all the way." They did not think that it was their own wisdom or power that had kept them. They were kept in the hand of the Almighty. So it is that we have been kept. We should never speak of the perseverance of the saints, but rather of "their preservation." Our security is in Him, not in ourselves.
4. "The Lord drave out from before us all the people." Here would be a great opportunity for boasting. They could have said that they conquered Jericho, but they did not feel that way about it. They recognized that their victories were God's, that they overcame because they were led In the train of the triumphs of the Most High.
V. THE WEAKNESS OF THE FLESH (Joshua 24:19-21 )
Joshua had heard all their words with evident rejoicing, and yet he continued to advise them.
1. He discovered to them what the flesh could not do. He said, "Ye cannot serve the Lord: for He is an holy God; He is a jealous God."
Beloved, if we think that we of ourselves can serve God acceptably, we are altogether wrong. It is impossible for the flesh to please the Lord. The flesh is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, and God is holy. If, therefore, we would, in our consecration, find ourselves acceptable, we must come confessing our sins, and our own weaknesses, and claim God's healing and cleansing power.
2. A determined "Yes" and "No." When the people said this, they were saying "Yes" to God, and "No" to every power that might turn them from Him. Beloved, there are many consecration meetings which are full of promises and halfhearted surrenders. None of these things please God. We must speak emphatically, positively, and with unmistakable sincerity. If we are going to yield to God with a great big "Yes" to all He asks of us, we must at the same time utter a great big "No" to every power of Satan and sin. "No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other." The Word goes on to say that we must either serve "God or mammon."
Let this day be the day of our choice, and of our decision, and may God grant that it will be the day in which we unreservedly yield to God.
VI. A PRACTICAL CONSECRATION (Joshua 24:22-24 )
1. We have before us an acknowledged witness. Joshua said unto the people, "Ye are witnesses against yourselves that ye have chosen you the Lord, to serve Him. And they said, "We are witnesses."
We wonder if the young people realize that when they, in the quiet of their own room, tell God that all they are, and all they have, belongs to Him, that there they make a witness against themselves if, perchance, they break that vow. It is better never to have given ourselves to God, than to have publicly acclaimed Him Lord, and then turn to other gods.
2. A necessary aftermath. Since the people had sealed their witness, Joshua made this call, "Now therefore put away, * * the strange gods which are among you." If we have given our life to the Master, we must put from us everything that is contrary to His will. Consecration of the lips and of the life must be followed by obedience. There are some who say, "I will go," but they go not. They say, "I will do this," but they do it not.
Let each one of us examine our hearts to see whether there is a sincere, unimpeachable desire in our religious profession. God grant that none of us may be professors until we are possessors.
When we do confess Christ and when we do affirm our allegiance and entire consecration, let us then put away all the evil from our lips and lives.
"The dearest idol we have known,
Whate'er that idol be,
Help us to tear it from its throne,
And follow only Thee."
VII. THE STONE OF WITNESS (Joshua 24:26-27 )
When this wonderful time of consecration had passed, it was consummated by a setting up of a great stone. That day Joshua made a covenant with the people and set them a statute and an ordinance writing these words in the Book of the Law of God. This being done, Joshua took the stone and set it under an oak that was by the sanctuary of the Lord.
1. The stone set up. We do not know all that that stone may have had written upon it. We do know that it stood as a public declaration of the vow of Israel to serve the Lord.
In the church there is likewise a method by which our salvation and dedication are symbolized and publicly acclaimed. When we are baptized, we acclaim before the world that we are dead with Christ and risen with Him to walk in newness of life. If the Children of Israel sinned following their setting up of the stone of witness, their sin was doubly great. If believers sin after openly declaring their faith by their baptism, their sin is also doubly great. To Israel Joshua said of the stone of witness, "It shall be therefore a witness unto you, lest ye deny your God."
Let our baptism also be a witness unto us lest we deny our God. If we are tempted to go astray, and tempted to forget the Lord, let us immediately remember that hour when we acclaimed ourselves His own. Let us remember that other hour when upon the call of some "Joshua," some evangelist, or pastor, we went to the front and openly dedicated ourselves unto Christ and His service. With this accomplished, Joshua let the people depart "every man unto his inheritance."
Mrs. Howard Taylor said in an address at a convention of Student Volunteers at Toronto: "My cry had always been, 'O God, anywhere in the world I will go for You, but not to China; don't let it be China!' But it was China, and for the first time in my life I left home, my father and mother, and sailed with other missionaries. But I was alone as far as my heart was concerned. There came a moment when we weighed anchor, and the great ship moved slowly over the Bay of Naples, the shores of Europe growing dim in the distance. I was standing alone clasping to my heart the first home letters, I cannot tell you of the waves that overwhelmed my soul. Just then a sailor on the prow of the ship called to the captain on the bridge, 'All is clear now, sir; all is clear.' And the captain answered, "Full steam ahead!' The words rang through my heart, and I looked up into His face and said to Him, 'O Christ, all is clear now between my heart and Thee; all is clear now!" If you want to know something of the deeper joy of life you must go through a moment like that Edward B. Bagby.