Drawing strength from God
But the people answered Joshua, “No, we will serve the Lord!” “You are a witness to your own decision,” Joshua said. “You have chosen to serve the Lord.” “Yes,” they replied, “we are witnesses to what we have said.” “All right then,” Joshua said, “destroy the idols among you, and turn your hearts to the Lord, the God of Israel.” The people said to Joshua, “We will serve the Lord our God. We will obey him alone.” Joshua 24:21-24 NLT
The Israelites affirmed to Joshua three times that they will be obedient and will serve the Lord (Joshua 24:16-18, 21, 24). Joshua brought the Israelites to Shechem because he wanted to be sure that they will be true to their commitment. And they did pledge their loyalty to God. Joshua knew how easy for people to make a public commitment especially when there is a strong pressure among one another such as this occasion. Then, Joshua said this; “destroy the idols among you, and turn your hearts to the Lord, the God of Israel” (v. 23). He knew that verbal commitments can easily melt when faced with opposition. He was not pressing them in expressing their commitment just so he can have a peace of mind before he leaves them or they go in their own separate ways. He knew that their words will later come back and testify against them if they proved to be unfaithful to God. We sometimes speak of our “mountaintop experiences.” These are the occasions when our consciousness of God is raised to a high level and we are emotionally stirred to take our commitment to God more seriously. But sooner or later we have to come down from the mountain into the valley, where we must face intimidating threats to our faith. There will be the aggressive attacks of Satan and his minions and the monotonous routine of everyday living that can dull our faith. It is easy to declare good intentions in a setting where everyone was on the same side. This is the reason why Joshua was insistent. “The gateway to life is very narrow and the road is difficult, and only a few ever find it” (Matthew 7:14). We have to incline our hearts to God so we could find the strength to draw from His grace and serve Him faithfully.