I have a tendency to skim over these types of passages, the ones that basically repeat the events recorded in previous chapters. In my defense, it's not like they tell me anything new.
However, they do give us a pattern to follow.
Joshua gathers the people together, and he begins to recall the past. Abraham. Isaac. Jacob. Egypt and slavery. Moses and the Exodus. Balaam and Balak. And battles. God demonstrated his love for the people over and over, through acts of deliverance, through acts of provision.
The point is to remember. Because they are prone to amnesia.
As are we.
That's why I journal. The written word reminds me of God's goodness.
That's why I crave spiritual community. These people of God remind me what God has done in the past, what God has called me to.
That's why I go to church on Sunday mornings. Gathering together with God's people to worship and learn challenges me to remember God's truths.
Like the people of Israel, we need to take time to remember. It's a choice really, because sometimes it's easier to keep moving than to stop and take note of the past.
At the end of the remembering, Joshua issues a challenge. He says, "Worship the Lord and serve him faithfully. Throw away anything that distracts you from worshiping the one and only God." (24:14, Erin's paraphrase)
"Choose," he says.
But as for me and my household, we will choose the Lord.
They people answer quickly.
"Of course we choose God," they say. "He's been so good to us, so of course we choose him."
Joshua challenges them again because he knows this has to be a conscious, deliberate, daily choice. And it's not always easy.
He says, "You are not able to serve God. He's holy. Are you willing to surrender to his purposes? To put away your idols, the things that you place before him? Do you REALLY choose the one true God?"
And so today I am asking the same question of myself. And, like the people, I answer quickly. "Of course I choose God. He's been so good to me."
But do I REALLY choose God? What idols have I accumulated in my life, things that I put ahead of God's purposes? What do I need to throw away?