Looking at the time when Joshua calls the Israelites to repentance and sets the example with the now famous verse “as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord”, Vicki Cripps challenges us that we need to make the same step over the line in the sand that Jesus draws today.
About ten years ago, we decided that we were going to move house. And I’m sure most people have had the experience where you think it’s going to be simple. You put your house on the market, and people come and look at it. Well, actually everything went pretty well. Until the day, my husband had said “I don’t want to move unless I know for certain that I need a clear sign. I need a really obvious sign that that’s the house we’re meant to have. If not, I’m staying put”. Fair enough.
So at that point, I asked God that we needed a really clear sign. We walked into the house that we now live in. And the verse, “as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord” was on this really little wooden cross in the centre of this house. And as we walked in and I saw it and I thought, please Steve, see the sign! So he’s walking around and I’m sort of watching his eyes because I’ve walked in and I’m like, that’s it, this is ours! I’m thinking, he hasn’t spotted the sign – he’s not spotted it, but I cannot say anything. And as we walked out of the house, he looked at me and went, did you see that cross? Hallelujah, he saw that cross!
Well, I had to remember that because the moving day arrived and first of all, our lorry was too small. Then we get a phone call from the estate agent saying, “well, your paperwork says this amount that you’re selling it for, the contract that your solicitor says this amount.” And I was like, “what does that actually mean? Can we still move?”, “Yes, but you’re going to lose some money on your house.” I don’t care, we’re moving!
I remember getting into the house, everything was unloaded, I’m surrounded by boxes, and I’m thinking, what now? Like, I’ve had all this drama, I’ve made it, but what now? And fair enough, not having a big enough lorry and having to lose a bit of money on the house is probably not the same as what Joshua felt having beaten all those armies. But I wonder if Joshua at that point thought, we’re done, we’re in, what now?
And it’s at this point that we see that verse. I’m going to read it for you again. I’m going to read verses 14 and 15.
Now fear the Lord and serve him with all faithfulness. Throw away the gods your forefathers worshipped 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 house, we will serve the Lord.Joshua 24:14-15
And this is a kind of line-in-the-sand moment. This was Joshua saying, look at what God has done for you. And you’ve got to make a choice. Are you in or are you out of the house? But I want to draw your attention to chapter 23, verses 15 to 16. Because he says,
But just as every good promise of the Lord your God has come true, so the Lord will bring on you all the evil he has threatened until he has destroyed you from this good land he has given you. If you violate the covenant of the Lord your God, which he commanded you and go and serve other gods and bow down to them, the Lord’s anger will burn against you and you will quickly perish from the good land he has given you.Joshua 23:15-16
There’s no middle ground here. You’re in the house, you’ve got the faithfulness of God, you stay in the promised land that was promised to you. But you will acknowledge that he is sovereign over your life and you will give your life to him and serve him. You can go the other way. You can serve yourself, you can please yourself, you can do what you like. But the consequences are still there. So, no cake and eating it here. And he says, “choose for yourselves this day”. There is a choice to be made.
We’re going to take communion soon. And I just want to revisit communion and go through what it is about. So this is where we remember another line in the sand moment. Now Romans 3 verse 12 reminds us of what it says in Psalms. It says that all have turned away. We all need saving from the consequences of turning our back on God. Maybe the times when we’ve chosen to step outside the house. Maybe the times when we’ve chosen that actually serving ourselves is more important and that’s what we’re going to focus on. And we need to be rescued from the consequences of serving ourselves. And the good news is that we have that. John 3 verse 16 which I’m sure most people know.
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only son. That whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.John 3:16
But verse 18 also says
whoever believes in him is not condemned. But whoever does not believe stands condemned already. He believed in the name of God’s one and only son.John 3:18
So again here we have a choice. If you accept Jesus as your saviour then come on in. You’re in the house and you get that redemption and you get that reward of being able to go to heaven. But if you don’t then there are consequences just as there were consequences for the Israelites in Joshua. So here we have that wonderful beautiful thing about our Bible that shows us that God is unchanging.
Because here we have two lines in the sand. In the Old Testament, we had Joshua telling his people that they have a choice to make. You want to be in my house, you want to serve the Lord then you’re going to get that promised land and you’re going to be able to live with God as your king and in response to that, you’re going to serve him. In the New Testament, we have that line in the sand. If you want to accept Jesus as your saviour then you get to come into the promised land, you get to come into heaven with me, God.
But here we have two lines in the sand and both of them require a choice. We’re told in the New Testament that we have a choice to make. And as I say, Communion is coming soon. In remembering Jesus’ sacrifice we acknowledge our need for it, we acknowledge our acceptance of Jesus’ sacrifice and we recommit our lives to God, to serve him as thanks.
I want you to see that line in the sand in front of you, that line that the Israelites had. You can be in my house but you’re going to serve God. And the line that John gives us, you can accept Jesus, you can be in the house. But as thanks, you’re going to serve God, you’re going to give your life to him. And maybe for you today this is a step of affirmation. Maybe today you think, yes, I made that choice a long time ago and I still make that choice, I still am stepping into the house of God through the blood of Jesus. Maybe you’re somebody today who thinks, I’ve been at this line for a while, I just don’t know whether I’m ready to step over it. I want to encourage you today to take that step.
Jesus died so that you could take that step into the house of God. Maybe you still have questions, maybe today you think, I’m not ready to cross that line yet, I’m not ready to step into that house. That’s okay too, as long as you’re then going to investigate. Maybe you want to speak to somebody.
Father God, we thank you that you invite us into your house, into your family. We thank you that through the blood of your son, we have access to the house. And Lord, for those of us that have taken today as a chance to recommit, a chance to reaffirm that yes, we are in that house. Lord, let our lives be a servitude to you. Let our lives be used by you. And Lord, for those who perhaps have taken that step for the first time today, Lord, let them hear the celebration in heaven over their commitment to you. And Lord, for those who perhaps aren’t ready to take that step, Lord, would you bring people alongside them who can help them to see the love that you have for them and the longing that you have for them to come into your house. Amen.