【Bible Study】Joshua 24: You Shall Serve God Wholeheartedly
Bible Study: Joshua
- 【Bible Study】Joshua 00: Introduction
- 【Bible Study】Joshua 01: You Will Lead The People To Inherit The Promised Land
- 【Bible Study】Joshua 02: Anyone Who Seek God Will Also Inherit The Promised Land
- 【Bible Study】Joshua 03: God Will Honour His Established Leaders On The Way of Possessing the Land
- 【Bible Study】Joshua 04: Commemorating the Works of Our God
- 【Bible Study】Joshua 05: God is Our Victorious Marshal
- 【Bible Study】Joshua 06: God Has Already Put the Enemy in Our Hands
- 【Bible Study】Joshua 07: The Devoted Things are the Cause of Failure in Spiritual Warfare
- 【Bible Study】Joshua 08: Blessings and Curses Determine Victory and Defeat
- 【Bible Study】Joshua 09: All Who Do Not Resist God Will Survive
- 【Bible Study】Joshua 10: All Those Who Are Enemies of God Will Perish
- 【Bible Study】Joshua 11: Left Nothing Undone
- 【Bible Study】Joshua 12: Live Victoriously on Earth
- 【Bible Study】Joshua 13: There Are Still Very Large Areas of Land to be Taken Over
- 【Bible Study】Joshua 14: Follow God Wholeheartedly, and You Will Acquire the Promises
- 【Bible Study】Joshua 15: Be Bold Enough to Ask God
- 【Bible Study】Joshua 16: Enter the Promise Land Need a Resolute Attitude
- 【Bible Study】Joshua 17: Properties are Obtained Through Striving and Seizing it
- 【Bible Study】Joshua 18-19: Inheriting the Promised Land
- 【Bible Study】Joshua 20: Designate the Cities of Refuge
- 【Bible Study】Joshua 21: Not One of All God's Good Promises Will Fail
- 【Bible Study】Joshua 22: Do you truly trust in God?
- 【Bible Study】Joshua 23: Warning the Israelites the Consequences of Turning Away from God
- 【Bible Study】Joshua 24: You Shall Serve God Wholeheartedly
- 【Bible Study】Joshua 25 Conclusion: Serve God Wholeheartedly
We are going to look at Joshua 24, the last chapter of the Book of Joshua. Under what circumstances was this chapter written? Joshua is about to leave this world, and he has many concerns. He hopes that people will serve God with devotion. Devoted people are not many. In Joshua's time, many years ago, they left the land of Egypt. In the second year, they should have entered the promised land. However, in the second year, Moses sent twelve spies to Canaan, and they came back with a bad report. Only Joshua and Caleb returned with faith, telling the Israelites that they can indeed possess the land.
As a result, all the Israelites were afraid of the giants in the land, and God became angry and swore that they would wander in the wilderness for forty years. The entire generation capable of fighting and waging war died out, leaving only women and children. By the time of the Book of Joshua, when the Israelites entered the land of Canaan, only Joshua and Caleb from that generation were left, who could enter the promised land. Even Moses did not have the opportunity.
However, Joshua is about to leave this world. He is a devoted person, and he knows very well that there aren’t many devoted people in this generation. After he leaves this world, how will the Israelites be? This is hard to say. Actually, people are not naturally devoted. In my years of service, I have found that devoted people are not many. But to serve our God, one must be devoted!
To serve God, you must be devoted. Our God is holy and righteous. He is a jealous God. It’s hard to serve God ff we serve God without devotion, half-heartedly, sometimes with enthusiasm but then cooling off when faced with challenges. Therefore, I give this chapter the title: 'You Shall Serve God Wholeheartedly.'
How does this chapter begin?
Then Joshua assembled all the tribes of Israel at Shechem. He summoned the elders, leaders, judges and officials of Israel, and they presented themselves before God.
Joshua said to all the people, “This is what the LORD , the God of Israel, says: ‘Long ago your ancestors, including Terah the father of Abraham and Nahor, lived beyond the Euphrates River and worshiped other gods. But I took your father Abraham from the land beyond the Euphrates and led him throughout Canaan and gave him many descendants. I gave him Isaac, and to Isaac I gave Jacob and Esau. I assigned the hill country of Seir to Esau, but Jacob and his family went down to Egypt.
“ ‘Then I sent Moses and Aaron, and I afflicted the Egyptians by what I did there, and I brought you out. When I brought your people out of Egypt, you came to the sea, and the Egyptians pursued them with chariots and horsemen as far as the Red Sea. But they cried to the LORD for help, and he put darkness between you and the Egyptians; he brought the sea over them and covered them. You saw with your own eyes what I did to the Egyptians. Then you lived in the wilderness for a long time.
“ ‘I brought you to the land of the Amorites who lived east of the Jordan. They fought against you, but I gave them into your hands. I destroyed them from before you, and you took possession of their land. When Balak son of Zippor, the king of Moab, prepared to fight against Israel, he sent for Balaam son of Beor to put a curse on you. But I would not listen to Balaam, so he blessed you again and again, and I delivered you out of his hand.
“ ‘Then you crossed the Jordan and came to Jericho. The citizens of Jericho fought against you, as did also the Amorites, Perizzites, Canaanites, Hittites, Girgashites, Hivites and Jebusites, but I gave them into your hands. I sent the hornet ahead of you, which drove them out before you—also the two Amorite kings. You did not do it with your own sword and bow. So I gave you a land on which you did not toil and cities you did not build; and you live in them and eat from vineyards and olive groves that you did not plant.’ (Joshua 24:1-13 NIV)
Here is what God said to the people of Israel, and what did God enumerate to them? He enumerated a mass of grace. Within this grace, there is a very remarkable attribute. God chose the ancestor of Israel, making their numbers numerous. Later, Jacob and his descendants went down to Egypt. What was the result? God sent Moses and Aaron to bring the people of Israel out of Egypt. God brought the people of Israel out of Egypt, blessed them, but brought calamity upon the Egyptians.
This is an exceedingly marvelous thing; God gave the Promised Land to the Israelites and delivered the Canaanites into their hands. Our God struck down some and blessed others. This piece of land originally belonged to the Canaanites, yet God took it away and gave it to the Israelites. The Israelites did not win their battles by their swords or bows.
Later, there was a man named Balaam who intended to curse Israel. However, it wasn't that Balaam didn't want to curse Israel; he simply couldn't curse them. What was the outcome of Balaam's attempt to curse Israel? God said:
But I would not listen to Balaam, so he blessed you again and again, and I delivered you out of his hand. (Joshua 24:10 NIV)
This means that God protected the Israelites, defeated their enemies, and took the Promised Land from others to give it to them. Through this incident, can you see the acts of God? If you can see the acts of God, you will discover a remarkable thing: God bestows blessings and calamities; the whole earth belongs to God. He gives to whomever He wishes, blesses whomever He desires, and shows mercy to whomever He chooses. We need to carefully observe our current generation as well; God still reigns in the nations on Earth. The question is whether we are people who serve God wholeheartedly.
If we are people who wholeheartedly serve God, we will receive blessings, protection, the Promised Land, and God's choosing. Whether we serve God wholeheartedly out of force or reluctance, the answer is neither; it's our choice. God has spoken so much to the people of Israel, why? Joshua puts it this way:
"Now fear the Lord and serve him with all faithfulness. Throw away the gods your ancestors worshiped beyond the Euphrates River and in Egypt, and serve the Lord." (Joshua 24:14)
What does Joshua mean by these words? In the hearts of these Israelites, there are still gods they served beyond the Euphrates River and in Egypt, because Abraham's father worshiped those gods.
These matters are intriguing. Why do people like to worship other gods? Why do people find it so difficult to serve the Lord God? With such a good God, why are people unwilling to serve Him, yet they are willing to serve other gods? This is a perplexing issue.
If one's inner logic system is based on the world, you will find that serving other gods are reasonable. If your inner logic system is based on God's perspective, you will find that serving God wholeheartedly makes sense. Everyone believes their choices are logical, but the problem is that it might not align with God's reasoning. The key lies in where we set our focus: on worldly matters or on something greater? Are we focusing on carnal matters or spiritual matters?
The Doctrine of Destiny has made several foundational assertions, and the most fundamental one is that the spiritual realm is real. If the spiritual realm is real, the matters within it determine our earthly affairs. Our assertion is that we must have a spiritual perspective and see through all worldly matters with it. When we communicate with those aligned with worldly logic, we will discover their arguments are full of flaws. Many things they consider reasonable are actually quite unreasonable, because the results are not favorable.
Joshua said to the Israelites:
But if serving the LORD seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD .” (Joshua24:15 NIV)
Joshua asked the Israelites to make a choice, and not only the Israelites but also those of us who have received promises must make a choice. If you've experienced many miraculous acts, today you need to make a choice. We often say that if you've come among us and received healing, we don't morally pressure you. You have to make a choice for yourself: whether to wholeheartedly serve God or continue serving the gods lived beyond the Euphrates River, the gods of your ancestors, the gods of this land, the gods of the Chinese, or various other gods?
Serving God must be a choice from within our hearts, a choice not out of fear, but the wisest choice. wholeheartedly or not is crucial. A person whose not wholehearted wanders, and they can't see God when they encounter problems. Does this mean they don't know God at all? Not exactly, they do experience God often. Among the people I serve, there are many like this. Deep down, I look down on those people, and it's painful for me to see them. I wonder, how can they be so foolish? After experiencing so much grace from God, how can they still not make the right choice?
Wholeheartedly or not is a choice for us, whether or not we serve God is a choice. Every person must make this kind of choice. When you come among us, I won't morally pressure you. But what I say, the teachings I give, all encourage you to make a wise choice.
There's a sister who was well off financially. She walked proudly when things were good, as if she had billions. But when financial problems arose, she became meek. Later, she found a job and got busy. For people like us, if a job would interfere with our service to God, we'd rather earn less money and free up time to serve.
I won't explain with a lot of reasons, and my journey hasn't been much easier than theirs. This sister worked seven days a week, feeling miserable, and she'd get angry if you mentioned it. Yet she thought she was doing the right thing. I often tell her, can't you change the foolishness inside you? Can't you reflect on yourself? But she can't reflect because people always think their actions are right. She thinks, who wouldn't choose this path given the circumstances?
If you ask me to choose, in any situation, serving God is the most important thing in my life. I'd rather eat less, spend less, that's okay. I want to serve my God because I'm alive for the purpose of serving God.
Many people lack a wholehearted heart and mind. Even after experiencing God's tremendous miracles, just like the Israelites who personally witnessed God's great power and grace. When they left Egypt, God struck down the Egyptians, and they saw it with their own eyes. So why would they choose to be among those whom God struck down, who provoked His anger, instead of being those who wholeheartedly love God and please Him? I encourage you all, you've all experienced God, can you wholeheartedly serve God? It's a crucial choice in our lives!
God narrates His actions, telling how He blessed the Israelites and brought calamity upon the Egyptians, how He preserved the Israelites and struck down their enemies. Finally, He reclaimed the lands from the hands of the Canaanites and gave them to the Israelites. The purpose was to show the Israelites His action, allowing them to make a choice for themselves - whether to wholeheartedly trust in God?
People have choices, no one is forcing you, no one is compelling you, you need to observe and make a wise choice. But what are the reasons for our choices? When we serve God, we often have various reasons for our service. Some people serve for this reason, some for that. What did the Israelites say in the scripture?
Then the people answered, “Far be it from us to forsake the LORD to serve other gods! (Joshua24:16 NIV)
This response sounds awkward. What does "far be it from us" mean? Understanding it, it's like saying, actually, we really want to forsake the Lord, but we don't dare. We really want to steal, but we don't dare. We really want to commit sins, but we don't dare. This statement is clearly not something a wise person would say. Then what did the Israelites say next?
It was the LORD our God himself who brought us and our parents up out of Egypt, from that land of slavery, and performed those great signs before our eyes. He protected us on our entire journey and among all the nations through which we traveled. And the LORD drove out before us all the nations, including the Amorites, who lived in the land. We too will serve the LORD , because he is our God.” (Joshua 24:17-18 NIV)
Because He is our God, He brought us out of the land of slavery in Egypt, preserved us in our journey, drove out our enemies from the land we live in, so we will serve the Lord. Can we say that? Then Joshua said something that left the Israelites bewildered. What did he say?
Joshua said to the people, “You are not able to serve the LORD . He is a holy God; he is a jealous God. He will not forgive your rebellion and your sins. If you forsake the LORD and serve foreign gods, he will turn and bring disaster on you and make an end of you, after he has been good to you.” (Joshua 24:19-20 NIV)
What is the true reason for our service to God? Let me tell you, the reason I serve God is not because of the benefits I receive from God, not out of gratitude for leading me out of slavery, not because God helped me, blessed my work, healed my sickness, not because God did many good things for me... It's not about those things.
The only reason I serve God is that He is God.
The purpose of my life in this world is to serve Him. Therefore, no matter what circumstances, challenges, or problems I encounter, I choose to serve Him with all my heart, as this is my purpose for being in this world. Hence, we should carefully consider: Are we living for our parents? Our siblings? Our spouses, husbands, wives, or children?
What exactly is our reason for being in this world? Actually, if we fail to grasp these matters, we cannot truly be wholehearted. For instance, our reasoning might go like this: because God has blessed our work, we should serve Him. But let me tell you, this line of thinking doesn't hold up at all.
Why did Jacob and Joseph not waver even through tests that greatly exceeded our understanding? Jacob's entire life pursuit was to gain God's blessing, yet after obtaining it, he was left with just a stick. If you were faced with this situation, what conclusions would you draw? Would you say, "Oh, what kind of blessing is this? Look at my brother, he didn't get the blessing, but he's doing just fine..."
Are our perspectives too narrow? If our perspective is this shallow, we can't serve God wholeheartedly, for our God is holy, and He is jealous. He won't pardon your transgressions and sins. Your transgressions and sins stem from your worldly, fleshly nature. In that case, you're living only for this present life, and all your pursuits revolve around this.
When many people get cancer, they don't want to die. Death can be extremely despairing for many. But isn't it better to become despair sooner? By becoming despair earlier, you'll turn to seek God sooner. Without God, we're all given a death sentence in this world. Whether you like it or not, it's just a deferred sentence by seven or eight decades, or even less for some. Many people are endlessly preoccupied with worldly affairs. Is that really necessary?
Isn't it a simple thing to live? How could a person not live well with God? Look at the incredible grace God prepares for those who delight in Him! Observe those who serve God wholeheartedly, who follow Him. What are their outcomes? When you see their outcomes, what will your choice be?
The purpose of our existence is to serve Him, with nothing else beyond that. If you find life joyful, then live it fully! I believe there's no meaning to life other than serving God. Life is essentially waiting for death.
I carefully examined the reasons for human existence. Some desperately pursue stable jobs in state-owned enterprises or government positions. They don't realize that in the end, all that remains is a funerary casket. And even achieving that funerary casket isn't easy. Who knows how you'll die?
If people can't please God and just live for the sake of living, use all their energy on this world. They can't love God wholeheartedly. But those who wholeheartedly serve God live well because the whole earth belongs to God. He blesses people but also sends calamities. If you are a Canaanite, God will take everything you have and give it to the person who loves Him.
Recently, I led everyone to study the Book of Ecclesiastes again. I wrote a book titled "Understanding the Life of Emptiness" because life is empty, yet people live in earnest within that emptiness. Consider this: if a 70-year-old can live to 90, there are just over 7,000 days left, yet they continue struggling and toiling, making life difficult.
This world is full of sorrow. All tragedies occur because some people, in their struggle to survive, sacrifice others. Like Cain, Lamech—anyone who threatened them, they killed. Similar to Cao Cao's logic: "Better to rule the world than let the world rule me." The result? A headache. The headache demon tortured him to near death, and he ultimately died anyway.
If we truly grasp the conclusion of human life and understand its essence, we'll know that our purpose in living is to serve God. Without this insight, it's all the same when you die—some are struck down by God, some die of cancer, some from strokes... because they all served other gods, living for this world, for this lifetime's purpose. What foolish and ignorant practices, not recognizing God!
We must firmly recognize God's attributes. Our God blesses, but also sends calamities. It depends on who you are. If you're like Joseph, even if you're sold into slavery in Egypt, God will be with you, and everything will go well for you.
Just like Joseph, no matter how great the hardships he endured, he always had joy from God within him. Later, Joseph became the ruler of all Egypt. God makes us forget our pain because we live to serve Him.
If our purpose in life is to serve God, then our hearts will be filled with Him. We'll offer ourselves entirely to God. Many people can't perceive this. Some cling to the notion that "I don't care if the sky falls, as long as I am fine." How pitiful!
emulate God, possess God's attributes, and spread His blessings. Our life's purpose will be exceedingly clear. We should understand God's attributes: He is holy and jealous.
If you forsake the LORD and serve foreign gods, he will turn and bring disaster on you and make an end of you, after he has been good to you.” (Joshua24:20 NIV)
I've personally witnessed this many times. Why do many pastors lack God's glory? From what I've learned about them privately, there's no trace of wholeheartedness. No devotion. They are skilled at tending their carnal desires but struggle to deal with their carnal.
Those who live according to the flesh cannot receive God's blessings and grace. The fleshly person incurs God's wrath. No matter what, we must rely on the Holy Spirit to subdue the fleshly evil deeds, for these deeds invite demons and disasters.
Even now, many people live according to the flesh, so we must recognize that God is holy and jealous. He blesses and sends calamities. How should we make the wise choice? 88We choose to live for God, to love Him wholeheartedly, and to serve Him alone.**
If the devil tries to tempt us, just as it tempted Jesus, for example, the Bible says:
The tempter came to him and said, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.” (Matthew4:3 NIV)
Is food really that important? The scripture says, "Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God." Isn't living a simple thing? Living by every word that proceeds from God's mouth, do you truly believe in this? Can God's words be eaten like food? Can guarding and obeying God's words be sustenance? Let me tell you, not only can they sustain, but they can also sustain well. Man does not live by bread alone; by relying on God's words, you can resist the devil.
Then the devil took him to the holy city and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. “If you are the Son of God,” he said, “throw yourself down. For it is written:
“ ‘He will command his angels concerning you,
and they will lift you up in their hands,
so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.’ ”
Jesus answered him, “It is also written: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’ ” (Matthew 4:5-7 NIV)
Do we truly understand God's attributes in our understanding? If we understand God's attributes, as Jesus Christ did, the devil cannot deceive you. The devil always sought to deceive Jesus; all Christians experience these deceptions and lies, but Jesus conquered. How about you?
Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. “All this I will give you,” he said, “if you will bow down and worship me.”
Jesus said to him, “Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.’ ” (Matthew 4:8-10 NIV)
This is how Jesus Christ dealt with the devil's logic. If our logic is aligned with Jesus's, even if we die on the cross, we will be resurrected, ascend to heaven, and sit at the right hand of the Father with a crown of glory. If Jesus lived for this life, He wouldn't have gone to the cross. If we also live for this life, we won't go to the cross either. We won't emulate Jesus Christ; we won't face everything and keep moving forward without hesitation.
Abandoning God is no joke. In the face of any situation, can we hold on, saying, "I will serve God wholeheartedly"? No one, no thing can take away our determination to serve God. Some time ago, a sister was struggling. Her husband threatened me on QQ every day. I didn't force his wife to believe in Christ; I didn't do anything. Yet her husband continued these actions. Although the sister is no longer among us, she still follows online. I was deeply moved; that's what it means to serve God wholeheartedly!
Recently, there have been changes in this sister's family. Her husband's relative became seriously ill. They spent hundreds of thousands of yuan, but there was no improvement. Suddenly, her husband remembered and told his wife, "You better pray!" In this generation, people have said enough blasphemous words; it's truly abhorrent. When disaster strikes, what can be done? Nothing can be done. What was originally very severe coercion from her husband to his wife has now reversed, with him asking his wife to pray for him. People are that foolish.
Love and Serve God Wholeheartedly is a Wise Choice
Each person should carefully ask themselves, without God, what can you truly control? Recently, among us, the parents of a sister came to visit. They felt that believing in the Lord was embarrassing. In reality, they themselves couldn't explain anything clearly. As a result, they were deceived into a silk shop during their travels and were taken advantage of.
People are just that foolish. What can people truly manage? I believe this sister of ours needs to transform her family and make her relatives wiser. She has a long journey ahead. Choosing to serve God, to wholeheartedly serve Him, wouldn't that be a very wise choice? People are so small in the long human history. What can we hold onto?
If we don't realize that in our lifetime, we need to know God, we will go on to serve other gods because these other gods are extremely considerate of our flesh, very concerned about our current life. These other gods also love to corrupt our flesh, to destroy our lives. This is a very strange paradox.
So let's make a wise choice, choose to serve God, to wholeheartedly serve Him! To be someone who is wholehearted can enter the promised land. To be wholehearted enables us to serve this holy and jealous God.
In the days to come, God will do even more amazing things through us, because among us, there is a large group of brothers and sisters who wholeheartedly love God. I believe that in this generation, God's intention is to manifest through us. God will raise up a group of people who wholeheartedly love and serve Him. He will continuously add people who wholeheartedly love and serve God to our midst.
If you were to ask me, "Why does God manifest His presence so greatly among you? Why does God perform healing and salvation among you? Why is it that in that church, I didn't receive healing, but when I came to your midst, I received healing?"
I would tell you: it's because here, there is a group of people like Joshua and Caleb, a large group of people who emulate Joshua and Caleb, who wholeheartedly serve God! When they see our service, waking up at five in the morning, praying through the night, completely disregarding their own bodies, no matter how they are as people, they would exclaim, "You serve in such a way!"
Yes, that's how we serve, because it's our destiny! We came into this world for this purpose. May God remember our service. In fact, God has already been remembering our service. In the days to come, we will spread this powerful Gospel, the good news of wholehearted service to God, all over the world. A great multitude of people who wholeheartedly love and serve God will rise up everywhere.
God wants to raise up people like this throughout the world in this generation! Let this era, because of your service and mine, witness the glory of God, experience His great power, receive His grace, enter into the promised land. Just like Joshua, who served his generation and then rested, isn't this a meaningful way to live? Our service, our toil, the fruits of our service will accompany us into eternity!
May God bless everyone!