But as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD. (Joshua 24.15)
This past Sunday I preached on Joshua 24. The above quote was made by Joshua, near the end of his life, the old general who had spied out the land 47 years earlier, spent 40 years in the desert because of the unbelief of Israel, then by faith led Israel for the last 7 years of his life in conquering the tribes who lived in the promised land.
Joshua is 110 years old. A few paragraphs later in Joshua 24 we see that he dies. But here at the end of his life he expresses his commitment to serve the Lord. He challenges his people to choose between the false gods their forefathers served and the idols of the tribes of the land and the Lord, the living God. And at 110 years old he affirms the decision he made many years before to serve the Lord wholeheartedly. The Pulpit commentary says this:
“Here speaks the sturdy old warrior, who had led them to victory in many a battle. He invites them…to make their choice between the false worship and the true, between the present and the future, between the indulgence of their lusts and the approval of their conscience. But as for himself, his choice is already made. No desire to stand well with the children of Israel obscures the clearness of his vision. No temptations of this lower world pervert his sense of truth. The experience of a life spent in His service has convinced him that Jehovah is the true God. And from that conviction he does not intend to swerve.”
A few weeks ago, I spoke at a small group leaders retreat in a beautiful Christian retreat center built and run by Christians in the military. Most of the staff were former military personnel. Some had served our nation recently. But all were serving the two groups having retreats that weekend. I noticed in particular an old man with white hair who looked to be in his 80’s or older going around the room every meal pouring coffee, in one hand a pot of regular and the other a pot of decaf. With a big smile and shaking hands, he poured cup after cup, meal after meal. There was also an elderly lady serving her heart out as well.
Before every meal in the cafeteria, one of the military men would lead us all in a short hymn or praise chorus, then pray before the meal. On the last morning after the prayer before breakfast the host said, “I’d like the General to come up please.” As everyone looked around, the old man with white hair who’d been pouring coffee slowly made his way to the front. The General! This was the guy who’d been pouring coffee. Serving everyone there. A General! When the General got to the front he said he’d like his wife to join him, because it was their 62nd wedding anniversary. The elderly lady who’d been serving us all weekend made her way to the front and he took her hand.
Then the General began to tell us how they met. I can’t remember the details, but he said how much she loved Jesus and loved others and how that initially attracted him. He added, “And the fact that she was drop-dead good lookin’ didn’t hurt none either!” When he said that, she started to cry and fell into his arms and they kissed and hugged each other to our standing applause.
I had tears in my eyes. I thought, “I want to be like them. I hope I can be like them. If God allows me to live that long, I want to be like the General – loving my wife and serving others till the end of my days.”
I don’t know what the General accomplished in his military career, but I could see his love for Jesus and his love for others and I could almost audibly hear the Lord saying, “Well done, General, good and faithful servant!”
The General. Joshua. Near the end of their lives. They had made the choice many years ago and lived it out.
“But as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.”
Lord Jesus, help us to serve you with all our hearts as long as we have breath.