JOSHUA knew that the people who surrounded him, while ostensibly serving Jehovah, were many of them secretly worshipping the ancient idols of their Mesopotamian fathers, those teraphim which were once hidden in Rachel’s tent, and were never quite purged from Jacob’s family. Some of them also harboured the Egyptian emblems, and some had even fallen into the worship of the gods of the people whom they had displaced, and were setting up the images of Baalim in their habitations. The people were nominally worshippers of Jehovah. Joshua could not endure double-mindedness, and therefore he pushed the people to decision, urging them to serve the Lord with sincerity, and, if they did so, to put away altogether all their graven images. He shut them up to a present choice, between the true God and the idols, and gave them no rest in their half-heartedness. Anticipating the cry of Elias upon Carmel, he demanded in effect, “How long halt ye between two opinions? If God be God, serve Him, but if Baal be God, serve him.”
Hear the grand old man. He cries, “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” So far as myself and my sons and my daughters are concerned, the die is cast, and Jehovah alone will we serve. He had always been a man of firm step and determined mind. His firmness comes out very clearly in his conduct as one of the twelve spies. The others brought up an evil report of the land, but not so Joshua and Caleb; though they were only two against ten, yet they maintained their testimony boldly, and when the people spoke of stoning them they did not falter for an instant, but remained faithful to their consciences. These two men alone survived the graves of the wilderness, because they alone were untainted with the wilderness sins. Take Joshua as a warrior too, for he was called to fight the Lord’s battle, and you find him ever a good soldier of the Lord. What a soldier he was! He belonged to Jehovah, heart and soul, and mind, and strength. He was strong and of good courage, and the Lord was with him.
Take your stand
In all times it is imperative upon men to take their stand for God and truth. Enoch, when all around walked according to the course of this world, dared to be singular, and walked with God. Noah believed God amid universal wickedness, and persevered for long years in preparing the ark, though all men mocked his warnings. Abraham forsook country and home at the command of God, and became a pilgrim and a stranger, dwelling alone, and not numbered among the peoples. Each age had its man whose heart was fixed, trusting in the Lord to serve as a landmark for weaker saints to steer by, and a rock against which the tumult of the people raged in vain. To-day the like firmness is needed. We too must take our stand, and, taking it, must hold it as though we were rooted to the ground. O blessed Spirit give us grace for this!
Decision implies first, that all hesitation is gone. Dear friends, it is surely time with each one of us, especially with those of us who have reached the prime of life, that we too had done with the fickleness of irresolution. Have we not had enough of hesitation, deliberating, and trifling, and delaying? The time past may suffice for these; has it not been already far too long? Our own understandings should now be exercised, or else why are they given to us?
The great guide of the world is fashion, and its god is respectability. How many of you look around on society to know what to do; you watch the general current, and then float upon it; you study the popular breeze and shift your sails to suit it. Fashion is the law of multitudes, but it is nothing more than the common consent of fools. The world has its fashions in religion as well as in dress, and many of you feel the influence of it. God has given to each man a conscience, to each man a heart, and He will not allow men to quench their personal consciences and yield up their hearts to be moulded by others; He will hold them personally responsible for the right use of judgment, reason, and heart; be ye sure of this.
Right decision for God is deep, calm, clear, fixed, well grounded, and solemnly made. Joshua does not speak his determination lightly. “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord” is as much as if he had said, “I have known my God too many years to forsake Him now. I have not dwelt under the shadow of the Almighty forty years in the wilderness, and all these years in Canaan that I might seek to idols at last. The golden calf is not for me, I saw it ground to powder long ago.” He speaks with immoveable resolve: his soul is anchored and defies all storms, — “As for me and my house we will, despite crowds and customs, we will, despite temptations and trials, we will despite idols or devils, to the end of the chapter serve Jehovah.” Such ought the decision of every one of us to be, and I earnestly wish that so it were. If any man is at war with Jesus he is at war with us: let earth and hell know this once for all.
A Christian soldier
Joshua was a soldier, and if any one had asked him, “whose soldier are you, Joshua?” he would have answered, “I am God’s soldier.” “Whose battles do you fight?” “I fight the battles of Jehovah.” “And what is your object in fighting?” “To glorify Jehovah.” He was committed to the Lord’s cause from head to foot. Many professors do not understand what this means; they view religion as a kind of off-hand farm, they have another estate, which is their home and main care, and the kingdom of God is an off-hand farm. Their religion gets their spare time and odd thoughts; Jesus comes in for the cold meat that is left over, and the world has the hot joints.
Joshua’s decision was adhered to throughout the whole of his life. He had begun early in the service of God, and he never repented of it. A hundred years rolled over his head, but we never discover in him any desire to take up with the service of Baal. He who decides aright for God decides for eternity.
A little piety
In religion nothing is more desirable than to be out and out in it. A little piety is a dangerous thing. To enjoy religion you must plunge into it. To wade into it up to the ancles may make you shiver with anxieties, doubts, and questionings. those of you who make short trips upon the sea of piety, and do a little coasting religion now and then, are sick with doubts and fears, but if you sailed always on that sea , you would gain full assurance, and see the glories of the Lord and his wonders in the deep. The nearer to God the sweeter the joy.
If you are a Christian, be a Christian. If you serve the devil, serve him out and out; and if you serve the Lord, serve Him with your whole heart and soul and strength. Decision is required because the Lord deserves to have it. He who made us ought not to be served hesitatingly; He who gave his Son to die for us ought not to be trifled with. Mock not the majesty of heaven. Every man is on one side or the other. You are either dead or alive, either justified or condemned, either in the gall of bitterness or enjoying the sweets of liberty. No man can serve two masters, and no man can be without a master. God will not have half the soul, and the world will not have half the soul.
Put Christ into the heart and He will chase sin out, or keep sin in the soul and sin will put down every better thought till the man is altogether vile. When you get home write this down if you can, “As for me, I will serve the Lord.” Put your name to it in earnest. Or, if this is not to your mind, write “As for me, I will serve the world,” and put your name to it. I long to drive you to decision. If God be God, serve Him; if Baal be God, serve him. Oh, may the Spirit of God lead you to decide for God and His Christ this very moment, and He shall have the praise for ever. Amen.
Excerpted from the sermon titled “Decision - illustrated by the Case of Joshua” (Joshua 24:15) by CH Spurgeon dated 18 April 1875. You are encouraged to read the full text of the sermon from https://www.spurgeon.org/resource-library/sermons/decision-illustrated-by-the-case-of-joshua/#flipbook/