“Now therefore fear the LORD, and serve him in sincerity and in truth: and put away the gods which your fathers served on the other side of the flood, and in Egypt; and serve the LORD. And if it seems evil to you to serve the LORD, choose you this day who you will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, 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)
What we just read was quoted of Joshua prior to his death. He said it to the Hebrews standing there that day. But it is worth our study now.
We ought to decide who we will serve just as they were challenged to decide who they would serve. Make a choice – will it be gods made of wood or stone; will it be man or God? The evidence was in, they needed to respond and they did.
When the Israelites were trying to leave Egypt the Bible tells us that the Pharaoh stood in their way. This king believed only in himself and in the might of Egypt’s army; and as with the rest of his people, he worshiped idols of every size and description. If you had been born into Pharaoh’s house you would have been no different. Then the Lord sent Moses and Aaron to tell him to let the slaves go and to recognize the only God – the one not made of stone.
I have no doubt that Pharaoh or someone in his court recognized him and knew exactly who Moses was when he first walked through the front door. The Egyptians weren’t stupid. And it would have appeared to Pharaoh’s court that their king had lost his mind if he were to suddenly suggest that Israel ought to be freed on the word of an outcast and disgraced “son” of Pharaoh. So there wasn’t a ghost of a chance of any of that happening. From the start Pharaoh made a choice based on what he saw and understood, and it was wrong and it stayed that way.
He watched as his magicians mimicked some of the plagues; and with each trick he firmed up his decision not to let Israel go. He continued making bad choices and stiffened up, blind to what had been happening right in front of his own eyes. God had made the conclusions inescapable – there was strength in this God where there was none in the lifeless ones of Egypt.
(I wrote and taught this lesson first about thirty years ago. A longer version of this part was included in an early post here, which was meant to have two follow ups. That never happened. I was asked if I would post the entire sermon in parts as it was originally delivered. RAV)