Rev. Ronald C. Purkey, an ordained Baptist minister, claims no originality for this Bible study outline.
However, every Bible study posted on this website has been taught by Rev. Purkey.
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AND SERVE GOD
December 9, 2018
SCRIPTURE: Joshua 24:1-3a, 13-15, 21-24
KEY VERSE: 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. (Joshua 24:15)
INTRODUCTION: We are now looking at the end of the book of Joshua.
· One thing that we learn when we study the Word of God is that God uses people who are not perfect.
Every person has victories and failures just like Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joshua, you, and me. If we read the Word of God, we will observe great victories and some great failures in the life of Joshua. But in spite of his failures, he was still a godly man. Unfortunately, many of the characters in the Scriptures begin well, but finish badly. That was not the case with Joshua; he is an example to all of us of how to stay the course and finish strong.
Remember, that was Paul's testimony. “I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith” (2 Timothy 4:7).
· In his last days, Joshua assembled Israel together to share one last encouragement before passing on.
Joshua's burden at that gathering was twofold. (1) He had a burden for that present generation, and (2) he also had a burden for future generations to come. He wanted to make sure that his generation lived in such a manner so as to pass their spiritual heritage on to generations to come.
· Joshua gives to Israel God's formula for remaining in the land under God's blessing.
God wanted to bless Israel. God wanted his people to succeed. God still wants all His people to succeed. From a biblical perspective, success is doing God's will and staying with it (i.e., being faithful).
The only way for Israel to do that would be for them to stay the course. God taught them how to remain faithful for the long haul. These principles are certainly applicable to us today.
I. REMEMBERING: BRINGING ABRAHAM TO CANAAN. (Joshua 24:1-3)
(Joshua 24:1-3) 1 And Joshua gathered all the tribes of Israel to Shechem, and called for the elders of Israel, and for their heads, and for their judges, and for their officers; and they presented themselves before God. 2 And Joshua said unto all the people, 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 Nachor: and they served other gods. 3 And I took your father Abraham from the other side of the flood, and led him throughout all the land of Canaan, and multiplied his seed, and gave him Isaac.
· Joshua's first act was to recount God's blessings in their lives.
1. He prefaces what he is about to say with the words, “…Thus saith the Lord God of Israel…”
2. His account of God's blessings is filled with verbs that are preceded by the personal pronoun "I" (referring to “God”).
“And I took your father Abraham from the other side of the flood, and I led him throughout all the land of Canaan, and I multiplied his seed, and I gave him Isaac” (Joshua 24:3).
3. Thirteen times God reminds them of what He has done for His people.
4. These verbs reveal that God is active and involved in the lives of His people.
5. It is good for us to remember that! (Don’t forget God’s BLESSINGS!)
II. REPENTING: ABANDONING IDOLS. (Joshua 24:13-15)
INSIGHT: The early Jews sinned by turning to idols, and God punished them for it. Anything that WE put ahead of the LORD is our idol. Our priorities ought to be, “Jesus first, others second, and ourselves last!”
A. Joshua told Israel to remember that God cared for them! (Joshua 24:13)
(Joshua 24:13) 13 And 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.
1. He had provided for them by supernatural means.
2. He had preceded them in battle.
3. He had protected them in conflict.
4. He had prospered them in measure beyond description.
INSIGHT: One very important element for staying the course is a good memory related to God's past blessings in our lives. This is one of the reasons that God established the ordinance of the Lord's Supper. “…This do in remembrance of me." Remembering that we serve a God (1) who is active in our lives, and (2) who has blessed us greatly. This will keep us from drifting from God's chosen course for us – God’s will for our lives.
B. Joshua called Israel to serve the Lord. (Joshua 24:14-15)
1. Give whole-hearted service "…in sincerity and in truth…" (See Joshua 24:14).
(Joshua 24:14) 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, and in Egypt; and serve ye the Lord.
2. Model an example of service "…as for me and my house…" (See Joshua 24:15)
(Joshua 24:15) 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.
a. A choice must be made.
(Joshua 24:16-18) 16 And the people answered and said, God forbid that we should forsake the Lord, to serve other gods; 17 For the Lord our God, he it is that brought us up and our fathers out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage, and which did those great signs in our sight, and preserved us in all the way wherein we went, and among all the people through whom we passed: 18 And the Lord drave out from before us all the people, even the Amorites which dwelt in the land: therefore will we also serve the Lord; for he is our God.
b. In the words of an old song, "You gotta serve somebody"
c. God will not force us to serve Him.
d. We are called upon to make that choice, and Joshua served as a great example to his family and to the rest of God's people.
3. God’s people responded. "…we will serve the Lord…" (See Joshua 24:18)
INSIGHT: The warning concerning service. (See Joshua 24:19-20)
(Joshua 24:19-20) 19 And Joshua said unto the people, Ye cannot serve the Lord: for he is an holy God; he is a jealous God; he will not forgive your transgressions nor your sins. 20 If ye forsake the Lord, and serve strange gods, then he will turn and do you hurt, and consume you, after that he hath done you good.
1. What does this mean? Was Joshua telling the people to do something that they couldn't do?
2. No, Joshua was telling them that they could NOT continue in their own ways and still serve God.
3. There were already those among them worshipping the false idol gods.
a. The people probably thought they were keeping this false worship secret, and the elders were likely pretending that such worship did not exist.
b. How foolishly we behave toward the Sovereign God of the universe…We think we can keep secrets!
c. Joshua knew of their sin, and certainly, the Lord knew of it!
d. The reason Joshua told them they could not serve the Lord was because they were harboring this false religion among them!
Influence of Our Convictions
By Dr. Charles Stanley
Read: 2 Timothy 1:8-14
We usually think of influential people as those who have authority, position, or power in the world, but in reality, we all have influence to one degree or another. The term describes the capacity to have an effect on someone else’s character, development, or behavior.
This is exactly what Christ has called believers to do by proclaiming the gospel and encouraging one another in the faith. However, in order to have a godly impact on others, we must first be convinced that the Bible is true. Then as we grow in knowledge of the truth, we can help others know Jesus, understand scriptural principles, and live obediently by them.
Paul advised Timothy to “retain the standard of sound words” in the faith (2 Timothy 1:13), and these same truths have been delivered to us.
1. The Bible is the inspired, infallible Word of God. There are no mistakes in it, and it is wholly true (See 2 Timothy 3:16; John 17:17).
2. There is one God, and He exists in three persons. The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are all members of the triune Godhead (See Matthew 28:19).
3. Eternal life is received only through faith in Jesus Christ. Salvation cannot be earned by good works (See John 14:6; Ephesians 2:8-9).
4. Christ will one day return for those who believe in Him, and He’ll take them to heaven (See John 14:2-3). But unbelievers will remain under divine wrath.
As the culture around us becomes more resistant to Christian influence, holding to these convictions will require solid commitment and steady courage. So determine not to let compromise steal your godly influence.
-- Adapted from By Dr. Charles Stanley, In Touch Ministries, November 27, 2018
III. DOING: SERVING THE LORD. (Joshua 24:21-24)
(Joshua 24:21-24) 21 And the people said unto Joshua, Nay; but we will serve the Lord. 22 And 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. 23 Now therefore put away, said he, the strange gods which are among you, and incline your heart unto the Lord God of Israel. 24 And the people said unto Joshua, The Lord our God will we serve, and his voice will we obey.
· Their covenant of service.
1. The people said they were determined to serve the Lord.
2. God takes seriously the statements that we make.
“When thou vowest a vow unto God, defer not to pay it; for he hath no pleasure in fools: pay that which thou hast vowed. Better is it that thou shouldest not vow, than that thou shouldest vow and not pay” (Ecclesiastes 5:4-5).
3. Joshua told them that they were to be witnesses to what they were claiming.
4. He tells them to not just say they would serve God…but calls on them to prove it by their actions!
5. Their response was a repeat of what they had said previously. And the people said unto Joshua, “The Lord our God will we serve, and his voice will we obey” (Joshua 24:24).
6. God establishes a covenant with the people, and they set up a stone to remind them of their commitment.
INSIGHT: Joshua 24:31 is a testimony to Joshua's faithfulness and his example to others. “And Israel served the Lord all the days of Joshua, and all the days of the elders that overlived Joshua, and which had known all the works of the Lord, that he had done for Israel” (Joshua 24:31).
By Dave Branon
Now therefore put away, said he, the strange gods which are among you, and incline your heart unto the Lord God of Israel. (Joshua 24:23)
1. Call it the Showdown at Shechem. Joshua gathered the people of Israel at this town so he could give them the challenge of their lives.
2. Aware of their interest in the history of their forefathers, Joshua began with a dramatic recounting of things past. He told how God had spared them from Terah’s homeland to Jericho.
3. As Joshua talked, the people must have relived in their minds the exciting stories they had heard from their grandparents -- the plagues in Egypt, the crossing of the Red Sea, and all the battles with surrounding enemies.
4. But more humbling than all those instances of God’s intervention must have been the reminder that despite God’s goodness, the people were still worshiping the false gods of their forefathers.
Joshua’s challenge to the Israelites was not about the past. It was about the future. He challenged them to worship only the one true God. Because “He is a jealous God” (Josh. 24:19), the Lord will not tolerate worship of any other.
5. We too have seen God work -- both miraculously in giving us eternal life, and more routinely in His daily care. So in gratitude to the Lord, let’s cast aside our “false gods”—anything that competes with our devotion to Him -- and incline our heart toward the only true God.
O Lord, help us to recognize
Your sole authority;
And may our worship of You be
A high priority. -- Sper
-- Adapted from Dave Branon, Our Daily Bread, March 18, 1996
CONCLUSION: This is the teaching of Joshua chapter 24:
· We must know that if we stay the course and not drift from what God would have us do, He will bless us.
· We must never forget what God has done for us.
· We must realize that empty promises are of no importance to God.
· We must understand that God desires total, whole-hearted commitment to Him.
· We must leave good examples for the future generations.
THOUGHT TO REMEMBER: “Choose you this day whom ye will serve…but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord” (Joshua 24:15).
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REFERENCES: References used in these Bible studies are the King James Bible (KJV), The Moody Bible Commentary, Dr. J. Vernon McGee © Thru the Bible Radio Network (www.ttb.org), the Scofield Study Bible, the Believer’s Bible Commentary, Dr. Charles J. Woodbridge Bible Outlines, Dr. Lee Roberson’s Sermons, Dr. Charles Stanley: (http://www.intouch.org/), Don Robinson’s Bible Outlines, Women’s Study Bible, The Bible Reader’s Companion Ed. 3, The Nelson Study Bible: New King James Version, KJV Bible Commentary, Wiersbe’s Expository Outlines of the New Testament ed. 4, Dr. David Jeremiah: (http://www.davidjeremiah.org/site/), Dr. Cliff Robinson’s Bible Outlines, Wiersbe’s Expository Outlines of the Old Testament, Dr. Alan Carr’s The Sermon Notebook (www.sermonnotebook.org), With the Word Bible Commentary, Wiersbe’s “Be” Series: Old & New Testaments, RBC Ministries (http://rbc.org/), selected illustrations, and other references.
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E-mail: Ronald Purkey