“And the Walls Came Tumbling Down”
Joshua 24:1-2a,14-18, Psalm 34:15-22, Ephesians 6:10-20, John 6:56-59
Whenever I hear Joshua’s name, my mind automatically goes into this little singsong:
Joshua fought the battle of Jericho, Jericho, Jericho.
Joshua fought the battle of Jericho and the walls came tumbling down…(remember that song?)
Joshua was Moses assistant, and upon Moses’ death, God spoke to Joshua and commissioned the prophet to pick up where Moses left off. That is, to take the Israelites into the Promised Land. God tells Joshua that everyplace he puts the sole of his foot; God will give to him. God assures Joshua that just as God was with Moses, so shall God be with Joshua and the Israelites. God promises never to fail or forsake them. The same promises that God made to Moses, apply to Joshua. God reminds Joshua to act in accordance with the law that was passed down to Moses, and that he should not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, so that they would be successful wherever they went. In the first chapter of Joshua alone, God tells Joshua “be strong and be courageous” three times. When Joshua relays God’s message to the Israelites, they pledge their allegiance to Joshua and agree to do whatever Joshua says. The people themselves commission Joshua with the words: “be strong and be courageous”
It was Joshua who led the Israelites into the Promised Land, and Joshua did lead the Israelites into battle, not only with Jericho, but many battles. And each step of the way, God told Jericho what Joshua should do, and exactly how the Israelites would win. God kept God’s promise and delivered the enemies into the Israelites hands. God kept God’s promise of not failing or forsaking Israel. God promised and God delivered.
And so, the battles are won. The land is divided up between the 12 tribes of Israel, and this is where we find ourselves the reading this morning. Joshua has gathered the Israelites all together in one place and tells them that they should revere the Lord because of all that the Lord has done for them. He then asks them to make a decision: basically, make up your minds if you are going to serve the Lord or not. He wants to know whether they are going to serve the Lord that their ancestors served, or whether they are going to serve the gods that the Amorites served. He immediately lets them know who he and his family will be serving. He says as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord. The Israelites response sounds like they are even surprised that Joshua would ask such a question. They remember all that the Lord has done for them. Not only for them, but they also remember all that the lord has done for their ancestors. They know that God is a keeper of promises. They know that God is a God who delivers.
As I read through the texts for this week. I prayed for a message that I could deliver to you. I think the apostle Paul says it best: “I pray that when I speak, a message may be given to me to make known with boldness the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I declare it boldly, as I must speak.”