In these two closing chapters of the book of Joshua, we see two different times that the aging leader called the entire nation to hear him, because he knew that his life was drawing to a close and he wanted to leave them with a final message.
The first gathering is recorded in chapter 23. He reminds them of all that God had done for them, and that it was the Lord that fought for them and delivered the land that they now held and enjoyed, as He had promised to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. He told them to be very careful to love the Lord and continue to obey his commands so that His blessing would continue to be on them, and if they failed to do that, grave consequences would come to them.
Notice that he started the warning with the words “love the Lord your God.” If we love someone, we don’t find it difficult to do the things that please them, do we? I don’t treat my wife, the lovely lady LeeAnn with respect and do the things that I know will bring a smile to her face because I’m afraid she’ll make my life miserable if I don’t. I am a loving husband to her because I love her. I find it easy to not behave badly toward her. I don’t have to keep reminding myself not to be mean to her or be unfaithful to her or any number of things that would break her heart. When you love someone, your motivation comes from a positive place.
And that was what Joshua wanted for the children of Israel.
But he knew that some of the people did not love the Lord, and were in fact unfaithful to Him. Some were worshipping the gods and idols of the Canaanites and the other people who were in the land before they arrived. So Joshua warned them of the consequences of their idolatry.
And this is what caused him, in chapter 24 to say to them, “And if it is evil in your eyes to serve the Lord, choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your fathers served in the region beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you dwell.” He let them know that he and God were aware of their double mindedness. So he set the decision before them, and he let them know in no uncertain terms where he stood, “But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”
It is never a good thing to flirt with anything that would draw you away from a loving relationship with God. Flirtation leads down a disastrous path. Choose. And once the choice is made, commit to the decision and follow through with actions that will only strengthen the relationship.