THE SLIPPERY SLOPE
Lord, we will follow You till the end.
Read JOSHUA 23:12–16
12 “But if you turn away and ally yourselves with the survivors of these nations that remain among you and if you intermarry with them and associate with them, 13 then you may be sure that the Lord your God will no longer drive out these nations before you. Instead, they will become snares and traps for you, whips on your backs and thorns in your eyes, until you perish from this good land, which the Lord your God has given you.
14 “Now I am about to go the way of all the earth. You know with all your heart and soul that not one of all the good promises the Lord your God gave you has failed. Every promise has been fulfilled; not one has failed. 15 But just as all the good things the Lord your God has promised you have come to you, so he will bring on you all the evil things he has threatened, until the Lord your God has destroyed you from this good land he has given you. 16 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.”
New International Version (NIV)Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
‘The one who stands firm to the end will be saved’ (Matt 24:13).
One of the greatest occasions of sadness in my Christian life is to have seen people who seemed to be strong Christians fall away from the faith. As Joshua continues his final address, he warns the people who have seen God do miracles of that very danger. He uses disturbingly graphic metaphors (13). He puts it in emotive language, warning them that turning away from God would violate their covenant with God (16). The starkness of the consequences of not following God may shock us. Remember Susan’s question about whether Aslan was safe: ‘“Safe?” asked Mr. Beaver … “Who said anything about safe? ’Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you”’ (CS Lewis, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, Geoffrey Bles, 1950, p75). Had Joshua just rehearsed the promises of God without warning of the dire consequences of rejecting God, he would not have been true to God’s message.
Joshua warns the people particularly of the danger of intermarrying with the pagan peoples around them. This is a particular danger because it is not just taking a foreign partner but also becoming part of an alien family and culture. Many young Christians have married a non-Christian intending to remain fully committed to Christ, only to find that different priorities with regard to time and money make it impossible not to compromise.
For us, as in the ancient world, sex, power, and material possessions remain the greatest temptations to our faithful walk with God. It is naïve to think that we are immune to their attraction. The daily battle to choose God is as real for us as for the Israelites. It is the same stark choice that Joshua will give to the people in tomorrow’s reading.
Consider any big decisions you have to make. How do you make sure that your decision draws you closer to God rather than hinders your Christian walk?
Lord, we recognize that the commandments You have issued have a purpose and that we violate them at our own peril.
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