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Enjoying Life as God Intends
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2019 Advent Devotional – Day 8

Family History

Read Joshua 24:1-27.

“Who Do You Think You Are?” is a British genealogy documentary series whereby a celebrity traces their family tree in each episode. Along the way, they often find out about interesting anecdotes and stories about their great-grandparents and how they ended up where they are. They often find out more about themselves as they study their family tree. Knowing your family history is important. It connects us into a much larger story of our wider family and gives us understanding and context to our own current situation.

The Israelites have just entered into the Promised Land. They have begun to settle there, and Joshua is the one who has been leading them. As we come to our passage today, Joshua assembled all the tribes of Israel, together with all the leaders, and told them their family history. He regales their history through God’s perspective, starting from their forefather Abraham and the promise God made to him. He then goes on to tell them about the history of Moses, and how he led them out of slavery from Egypt. The story continues with the Israelites crossing the river Jordan and how God helped them to drive out the other nations.

At each point of the story, the emphasis is upon what God has done for them. The Israelites experienced God’s miraculous deliverance time and time again. He has been faithful to the promises he made to Adam/Eve and Abraham. Adam and Eve were banished out of the land, but God has brought the Israelites (his people) back into the land. Even the Israelites themselves recognise that it was God himself who did all of those things (v16-18).

At the end of his speech, Joshua presents the Israelites with two choices: (1) choose to serve the gods of the Amorites, or (2) choose to fear and serve God with all faithfulness for his faithfulness to them. The Israelites enthusiastically chose to serve God (v18b). This is reminiscent of what the Israelites themselves promised at the foot of Mount Sinai (cf. Ex. 19:8) – they “will serve the Lord our God and obey him.” (v24)

For those of them who knew their family history well, this is not something new. In fact, all that Joshua is doing is renewing the covenant they had with God. This is like a married couple renewing their marriage vows. Christians renew our covenantal vows to God through our celebration of the Lord’s Supper. Through it, we reaffirm our own promises of obedience towards God, but more importantly, we reflect upon God’s grace and faithfulness towards us. God and God alone is the one who accomplished deliverance for us. This is displayed in none other than the Christmas event – the coming of Christ – for the sole purpose of delivering us from our sins.

Therefore, let us come and serve the Lord our God and obey him. Let us recognise all the great things that he has done for us, like how the Israelites recognise what God did for them (v16-18).

  • If you are not serving, pray that you will be able to serve God in any ministry.

Pray and give thanks for all the blessings that God has given us, especially the gift of salvation through Christ by the Spirit.