The people replied, “We would never abandon the Lord and serve other gods. For the Lord our God is the one who rescued us and our ancestors from slavery in the land of Egypt. He performed mighty miracles before our very eyes. As we traveled through the wilderness among our enemies, he preserved us. It was the Lord who drove out the Amorites and the other nations living here in the land. So we, too, will serve the Lord, for he alone is our God.” Then Joshua warned the people, “You are not able to serve the Lord, for he is a holy and jealous God. He will not forgive your rebellion and your sins. If you abandon the Lord and serve other gods, he will turn against you and destroy you, even though he has been so good to you.” Joshua 24:16-20 NLT
Joshua knew that he cannot be soft in calling out the Israelites regarding their allegiance to God. This was why they were startled when Joshua told them that they were “not able to serve the Lord, for he is a holy and jealous God.” Joshua knew the propensity by the Israelites to turn to idols. They told Joshua, “We would never abandon the Lord and serve other gods. For the Lord our God is the one who rescued us and our ancestors from slavery in the land of Egypt.” The thought of falling away from God was scary. How dare Joshua raise such indictment to the Israelites? They have to reaffirm their commitment that they will not forsake their worship of Yahweh. Joshua has to raise the bar of commitment when he told them that Yahweh is a holy and jealous God. God is the one that looks at our hearts and we cannot hide anything from Him. Joshua has to prod deeply into their senses. If they are serious about their relationship with God, there should be nothing that should interfere in their commitment with Him. To serve Him is to discard all other gods! They must give their all to God. Joshua’s objective was not to have the Israelites turn away from God but to have them look within their lives if they can follow through with their commitment. Joshua knew that God does not take disobedience lightly; “If you abandon the Lord and serve other gods, he will turn against you and destroy you, even though he has been so good to you” (v. 20). What is it that is holding you back that prevents you to make a solid commitment to God? No matter what it is and who it is, that is your idol. And if you are so attached to your idols, it will be difficult for you to serve God.