No Choice but to Choose

chooseNow therefore fear the Lord and serve him in sincerity and in faithfulness. Put away the gods that your fathers served beyond the River and in Egypt, and serve the Lord. And if it is evil in your eyes to serve the Lord, choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your fathers served in the region beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” Joshua 24:14-15

In this voting season, let us look at our freedom of choice. Take voting for example, if I choose to vote for one candidate over another, there is an outcome. If I vote for the opposing candidate, there is an outcome. If I do not vote there is an outcome and I must settle for what others voted for in their expression of choice. In this example, the person does not have “FREE” choice. If they did, not voting would have no outcome and no resolve. Therefore and as a voter, I have no choice but to choose. I either vote for one candidate, or the other, or do not vote. All produce and outcome. Make no mistake, the above passage is about making a choice on whom you will serve and not only whom but which god/God. I find it beyond interesting the wording used by Joshua in verse 15: “And if it is evil in your eyes to serve the Lord…” Here and in the above verses Joshua makes several assumptions:

  1. Everyone “serves” something or someone
  2. God the Father is real and there are people who serve Him
  3. Evil is real and introduced here as subjective and a part of choice
  4. Other gods exist as acknowledged by man
  5. There is a method to serving God the Father; namely, in sincerity and faithfulness

Then the people answered, ‘Far be it from us that we should forsake the Lord to serve other gods, for it is the Lord our God who brought us and our fathers up from the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery, and who did those great signs in our sight and preserved us in all the way that we went, and among all the peoples through whom we passed. And the Lord drove out before us all the peoples, the Amorites who lived in the land. Therefore we also will serve the Lord, for he is our God.’” Joshua 24:16-18

In their response to Joshua, the Israelites affirm their dedication to the Lord but not according to sincerity and faithfulness but in regard to what God did for them. Notice the general response and almost vague application made by the people of Israel. They were responding as much out of fear and uncertainty than anything else. At least they claimed Him as their God.

But Joshua said to the people, ‘You are not able to serve the Lord, for he is a holy God. He is a jealous God; he will not forgive your transgressions or your sins. If you forsake the Lord and serve foreign gods, then he will turn and do you harm and consume you, after having done you good.’ And the people said to Joshua, ‘No, but we will serve the Lord.’ Then Joshua said to the people, ‘You are witnesses against yourselves that you have chosen the Lord, to serve him.’ And they said, ‘We are witnesses.’ He said, ‘Then put away the foreign gods that are among you, and incline your heart to the Lord, the God of Israel.’ And the people said to Joshua, ‘The Lord our God we will serve, and his voice we will obey.’ So Joshua made a covenant with the people that day, and put in place statutes and rules for them at Shechem. And Joshua wrote these words in the Book of the Law of God. And he took a large stone and set it up there under the terebinth that was by the sanctuary of the Lord. And Joshua said to all the people, ‘Behold, this stone shall be a witness against us, for it has heard all the words of the Lord that he spoke to us. Therefore it shall be a witness against you, lest you deal falsely with your God.’ So Joshua sent the people away, every man to his inheritance.”Joshua 24:19-28

pid_48572-As-For-Me-And-My-House-Inspirational-Plaque---Made-in-USA--50Joshua was not fooled by the lack of sincerity and faithfulness of the Israelites. Judging from his response to their proclamation, he knew full well that they either did not understand what he was saying or had little knowledge of God’s holiness as compared to the false gods of their past and the land they were currently living. Even though he warned them, they “VOTED” with their voices to serve the Lord. Their testimony on this behalf became a witness against them should they falter and if that wasn’t good enough, he strategically placed a boulder near the sanctuary as a visual witness and reminder. The last verse reminds me of another story in the New Testament. You know, the one where we all stand before the Judgment seat of Christ and He separates the Sheep from the Goats? Only in that story it is God’s words of “Well done good and faithful servant” that carry the most weight and the inheritance He provides for His followers not man’s words, choices, empty promises and his relatives assets. Thankfully, the Grace of God made available to each of us through the sacrifice of Christ has made it possible for us to experience His holiness. Without this substitution, we too would hear the words of Joshua: “You are not able to serve the Lord, for he is a Holy God.” We must acknowledge and accept God’s gift to us in order to avoid hearing the other phrase mentioned at the Judgment Seat of Christ: “Depart from me for I never knew you.”

Not long after Joshua spoke these words to the Israelites, he died and was buried. What do you think will be the words Joshua hears at the Judgment Seat of Christ? Be sincere and faithful in your response. Your attitude may reflect your choices and all of them have an outcome. Who will you choose to serve?

Mijikai Mason
Disclaimer: The thoughts and views published on the Veterans to Christ blog are those of Mijikai Mason and in no way are meant to represent the United States Army or the Armed Forces.

Bio: Mijikai Mason is an Ordained Southern Baptist minister and Chaplain in the United States Army. He has been in the Army for 26 years both as an enlisted Soldier and now as an Officer. He has been stationed at various bases in the United States and in United States Army Garrison Schweinfurt, Germany. He holds an undergraduate degree in Religion from the University of Mobile, a Master of Divinity degree from New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary in Theology and Evangelism and a Master of Arts degree in Marriage and Family Therapy from Webster University. Chaplain (MAJ) Mijikai Mason was selected by the Army in 2013, to become a Family Life Chaplain and began his service in this field starting 15 May 2015. He is the Deputy ESC Chaplain and Family Life Chaplain for the 593 Expeditionary Support Command at Joint Base Lewis McCord. He has deployed four times: Desert Storm (1991), Iraq twice (2005-2006; 2007-2008), and Afghanistan (2012-2013). He has a total of 42 months deployed in combat and logistics operations. Mijikai and his wife, Ashley, have been married for 17 years this May and live near Joint Base Lewis McChord, Washington with their four daughters.