Thursday 09 September 2021

Bible Book:

'Now therefore revere the Lord, and serve him in sincerity and in faithfulness; put away the gods that your ancestors served beyond the River and in Egypt, and serve the Lord.' (v. 24)

Joshua 24:14-18 Thursday 9 September 2021

Psalm 65


 Here is an interesting point about many Bible passages. Sometimes, when people encounter either God or angels (that is God’s messengers) practically the first thing that God or the angel say is "Don’t be afraid". To give just a few examples, see Genesis 15:1, Genesis 21:17 and in the New Testament when the Angel Gabriel met Mary (Luke 1:30).

In Genesis 3:10, one of the first results of sin is that Adam and Eve were afraid of God. So, in some places, fear of God interferes with a proper ability to pay attention to God. At other times, such as now, people are positively encouraged to fear God, or are commended because they fear God (Exodus 1: 17 and 21; Deuteronomy 4:10) and it is the same word used in both instances. Some translators get around this by translating ‘fear’ in some places and using words like ‘revere’ in others which reminds us that words can have different meanings in different contexts. But is there anything we can learn from the idea of ‘fearing God’?

 Our passage continues with a challenge. Remember that Joshua has in previous verses re-told the story of Israel, going back to Abraham and Sarah. In effect, he now argues, God has done this for you and now is the moment when you must make a choice - who will you serve?  It is worth reflecting on the assumption that the text makes: human beings will serve some god or other. One question we need to ask is whether this assumption tells us something about human nature which is still true today (some Christians argue that if you do not worship God, you will end up worshipping, for example, money). Alternatively, does it reflects a world where few considered the possibility of not believing in or serving any god at all? We are challenged to worship God without assuming that those without faith are simply worshipping something else.


To Ponder:

  • Are there circumstances where it is good to ‘fear God’. What are they?
  • What first brought you to faith – did it feel like choosing God?
  • What does it mean today to serve God in sincerity and faithfulness?
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