The Rev. Peter Marshall said in a prayer before the Senate in 1947, “Unless we stand for something, we shall fall for anything.” I don’t know what the issue of that particular day was, but the statement still rings true today.

We are concluding our series in the book of Joshua this weekend in worship. I can’t think of a better way to end this series than a strong proclamation of standing on God’s Word and Promises.

We have moved quite a bit from the place we were the last week. We are in the last chapter of the book where we find Joshua towards the end of his life. As it happens in life today, people who are in their last season of life begin to think about the legacy they will leave behind. Joshua has seen and experienced a lot in his lifetime. He has rejoiced in the good times and wept in the bad. He has ridden the roller coaster with the people of Israel as they have been dedicated to God and then fallen away. He is now ready to address all the people one last time. Let’s listen to hear what he has to say:

“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 then goes on for 12 verses and reminds them of where they have come from) He continues, “Now fear the Lord and serve him with all faithfulness. Throw away the gods your forefathers worshiped beyond the River and in Egypt, and serve the Lord. But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your forefathers served beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.”

Joshua lays it out as plainly as possible to a stick-necked people. These people have witnessed the hand of God on an up close and personal basis and yet Joshua still sees a people dabbling with other gods. I can almost see this as a preacher standing up and speaking the truth to an idolatrous generation. I picture him standing up and saying, “You all need to stop it with this idol worship. You can’t claim to be a follower of the one true God, and serve all these other gods. Stop acting like a hypocrite and let the world know where you stand.” He then follows that up with, “If this doesn’t seem desirable to you (I hear sarcasm in his voice), then go serve the other gods solely. But me and my household, we will be serving the Lord till we have no breath left.”

Joshua has chosen to take a stand for what he believes. He can’t sit back any longer and watch these people selling themselves out to other gods while they proclaim allegiance to God. He is hoping that people will listen and rise up to take a stand along with him, but one thing is for sure he will stand even if he stands alone.

Every culture is dominated by its own set of idols. Each culture has its shrines, whether office towers, spas and gyms, studios, or stadiums. We have gods of beauty, power, money and achievement. We may not kneel before a statue, or burn incense to a god, or perform child sacrifice…but people are driven to depression by an obsessive concern over image, money and career are raised to highest importance and we neglect family and community to achieve higher status through wealth and prestige. In ancient times the deities were bloodthirsty and impossible to please… Guess what? Nothing has changed.

In our day we must shine a light on our cultures idolatry problem because we are blissfully unaware of the problem that exists, and it is as strong as it ever has been. What is an idol? I like the way Thomas Oden explains it, “It is anything that has more importance to you than God, anything that absorbs your heart and imagination more than God, anything you seek to give you what only God can give.”

Each person should take a look at that and ask themselves if there are idols in their life. Understand this, no one will be innocent or left standing to judge. Once identified, ask God to help you put those idols where they belong. We can then place our trust in God to forgive us by the blood of Jesus Christ of our idolatry, so that we can stand and declare along with Joshua, “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”

Isn’t it time for Christians to take a stand upon God’s Word, turn away from false idols and hypocrisy? What is holding you back? Take a moment and write out your declaration and then tell someone about it today.

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