Joshua 24:21: Israel’s Renewed and Resolute Response to Joshua

Verse 21:[1] And the people said unto Joshua, Nay; but we will serve the LORD.

Nay; but we will serve the LORD: To wit, him only, and not strange gods, as was supposed by Joshua, verse 20.

[1] Hebrew: וַיֹּ֥אמֶר הָעָ֖ם אֶל־יְהוֹשֻׁ֑עַ לֹ֕א כִּ֥י אֶת־יְהוָ֖ה נַעֲבֹֽד׃

2 thoughts on “Joshua 24:21: Israel’s Renewed and Resolute Response to Joshua

  1. Matthew Henry: ‘Notwithstanding this statement of the difficulties of religion, they declare a firm and fixed resolution to continue and persevere therein (Joshua 24:21): “Nay, but we will serve the Lord. We will think never the worse of him for his being a holy and jealous God, nor for his confining his servants to worship himself only. Justly will he consume those that forsake him, but we never will forsake him; not only we have a good mind to serve him, and we hope we shall, but we are at a point, we cannot bear to hear any entreaties to leave him or to turn from following after him (Ruth 1:16); in the strength of divine grace we are resolved that we will serve the Lord.”‘

  2. Thomas Brook’s “An Ark for All God’s Noahs”: ‘If God be thy portion, then thou wilt own thy God, and stand up courageously and resolutely for thy God. Every man will own his portion, and stand up stoutly and resolutely for his portion, and so will every Christian do for his God: Psalm 119:46, “I will speak of thy testimonies before kings, and will not be ashamed.” David was resolved upon a noble and resolute owning of God and his testimonies before the greatest and the highest of men; and this he would do and not blush, this he would do and not be ashamed, this he would do and not be daunted. It was neither the majesty or authority of princes, it was neither the power or dread of princes, that could hinder David from giving in his testimony on God’s side, or on truth’s side. Joshua 24:18, “We will serve the Lord, for he is our God:” Joshua 24:21-22, “And the people said unto Joshua, Nay, but we will serve the Lord; and Joshua said unto the people, Ye are witnesses against yourselves, that ye have chosen you the Lord to serve him; and they said, We are witnesses.” Joshua 24:24, “And the people said unto Joshua, The Lord our God will we serve, and his voice will we obey.” They had chosen God to be their God, as God had chosen them to be his peculiar people above all the nations of the earth; and therefore, notwithstanding all that Joshua had objected, they were fully resolved to own the Lord, and to cleave to the Lord, and to obey the Lord, and wholly to devote themselves to the service of the Lord. Having taken the Lord to be their God, they were firmly resolved to own the Lord really, and to own him fully, and to own him primarily, and to own him only, and to own him everlastingly. And so Deuteronomy 26:17, “Thou hast avouched the Lord this day to be thy God, and to walk in his ways, and to keep his statutes, and his commandments, and his judgments, and to hearken unto his voice.” They had avouched God to be their God, and therefore they were resolved upon all those holy ways and means whereby they might evidence to the world their owning of God to be their God. And so in that 2 Chronicles 30:8, “They yield themselves unto the Lord,” or, as the Hebrew hath it, “They give the hand unto the Lord.” You know when men make covenants or agreements to own one another, or to stand by one another, they commonly strike hands, or take one another by the hand. Certainly all those that have the Lord for their portion, have given their hands to the Lord, that they will own him, and stand by him, and cleave to him, as Jonathan did to David, or as Ruth did to Naomi. How stoutly and courageously did the three children own the Lord, and stand by the Lord in the face of the fiery furnace, Daniel 3:17, 18; and Daniel will, upon choice, be rather cast into the den of lions than that the honour of God should in the least be clouded, or his glory darkened by any neglects or omissions of his, Dan 6. And so did all those worthies, “of whom this world was not worthy,” Hebrews 11:34. Oh, how did they own God, and stand up for God, notwithstanding the edge of the sword, the violence of fire, the cruel mockings and scourgings, the bonds and imprisonments, the stoning and sawing asunder, the temptings and wanderings about in sheepskins and goatskins, and all other trials and torments that did attend them. Basil affirms that the primitive Christians did so courageously and resolutely own God, and stand up for God in the face of the most dreadful sufferings, that many of the heathens, seeing their heroic zeal, courage, magnanimity, and constancy, turned Christians. Domitian raised the second persecution against the Christians because they would not give the title of Lord to any but Christ, nor worship any but God alone. Among the many thousand instances that might be given, let me only give you a few of a later date, whereby you may see how courageously and resolutely the saints have stood up for God, and owned God, in the face of the greatest dangers that hath attended them.

    Luther owned God and stood up resolutely for God against the world. And when the emperor sent for him to Worms, and his friends dissuaded him from going, as sometimes Paul’s did him, Go, said he, I will surely go since I am sent for in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ; yea, though I knew that there were as many devils in Worms to resist me as there be tiles to cover the houses, yet I would go: and when he and his associates were threatened with many dangers from opposers on all hands, he lets fall this heroic and magnanimous speech, “Come, let us sing the six-and-fortieth Psalm, and then let them do their worst.” And indeed it was a brave courageous speech of the same author, who, when one demanded where he would be when the emperor should, with all his forces, fall upon the elector of Saxony, who was the chief protector of the Protestants, answered, Aut in coelo aut sub coelo, either in heaven or under heaven.

    William Flower, the martyr, said that the heavens should as soon fall as he would forsake his profession, or budge in the least degree from it.

    Apollonius, as Philostratus reports, being asked, if he did not tremble at the sight of the tyrant, made this answer, God, which hath given him a terrible countenance, hath given also unto me an undaunted heart.

    When the persecutors by their dreadful threatenings did labour to terrify one of the martyrs, he replied, that there was nothing of things visible, nor nothing of things invisible, that he was afraid of. I will, saith he, stand to my profession of the name of Christ, and “contend earnestly for the faith once delivered to the saints.”

    When Bishop Gardiner asked Rowland Taylor if he did not know him, etc., he answered, “Yea, I know you, and all your greatness, yet you are but a mortal man; and if I should be afraid of your lordly looks, why fear you not God, the Lord of us all?”

    The executioner kindling the fire behind Jerome of Prague, he bade him kindle it before his face, for, said he, if I had been afraid of it, I had not come to this place, having had so many opportunities offered me to escape it; and at the giving up of the ghost, he said, This soul of mine in flames of fire, O Christ, I offer thee.

    The German knight, in his apologetical letter for Luther against the pontifical clergy, saith, I will go through what I have undertaken against you, and will stir up men to seek their freedom; I neither care nor fear what may befall me, being prepared for either event, either to ruin you, to the great benefit of my country, or else to fall with a good conscience.

    When Dionysius was given up to the executioner to be beheaded, he remained resolute, courageous, and constant, saying, “Come life, come death, I will worship none but the God of heaven and earth.” Thus you see by these instances that men that have God for their portion will courageously own God, and bravely and resolutely stand up for God, whatever comes on it.

    The blood that hath been shed in most nations under heaven doth clearly evidence this, that men will own their earthly portions, and that they will stand up stoutly, resolutely, and courageously in the defence of them; and so certainly will all those own God, and stand up in the defence of God, his glory, and truth, who have God for their portion. Take a true bred Christian, when he is himself, take a Christian in his ordinary course, and he cannot but own his God, and stand up stoutly and courageously for his God in the face of all difficulties and dangers.’

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