07 November, 2016

Joshua 24:15, 22—“… choose you this day whom ye will serve”

And if it seem evil unto you to serve the LORD, choose you this day whom ye 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 ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD … If ye forsake the LORD, and serve strange gods, then he will turn and do you hurt, and consume you, after that he hath done you good (Joshua 24:15, 22 KJV).

This text is often quoted in favour of man’s so-called “free will”the idea that man either of himself, or by the help of a common grace, possesses the ability to choose God for himself, or, to accept an “offer of salvation.”


A. W. Pink

[Source: The Sovereignty of God (Baker Book House, 1984), p. 127]

But someone will reply, Did not Joshua say to Israel, “Choose you this day whom ye will serve”? Yes he did; but why not complete his sentence?whether the gods that your fathers served which were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell” (Josh. 24:15)! But why attempt to pit scripture against scripture? The Word of God never contradicts itself, and the Word expressly declares, “There is none that seeketh after God” (Rom. 3:11).



Ronald Hanko & Ronald Cammenga

This is another passage that might seem to teach that people not only have the opportunity to choose either the service of God or idolatry, but are actually able by themselves to choose the service of God. If it is true that men can choose to serve God by the power of their own wills (choosing being the activity of the will), then they are able to do some good and cannot be said to be totally depraved.

The solution to this must be found in the context, especially in verse 19, where Joshua tells the people that they cannot serve the Lord. The text does not mean, however, that God’s people, those who are saved by God’s grace, cannot choose to serve God. They do, and they not only choose to serve Him but actually do serve Him, though never without sin. They can do good, but only because God Himself has worked in them both to will and to do His good pleasure (Phil. 2:13). Apart from God’s grace, Joshua’s words remain always true: “Ye cannot serve the Lord.”



Prof. Homer C. Hoeksema

[Source: Unfolding Covenant History: An Exposition of the Old Testament, Vol. 4 (RFPA, 2002), p. 380]

[While] the text indeed speaks of the calling and necessity of an antithetical choice for the service of Jehovah, this is not inferred from the familiar but often misquoted words, “Choose you this day whom ye will serve.” These words, when read in their context, simply constitute the negative side of this admonition. If it seems evil unto them to serve Jehovah, then let them choose whom they will serve; the object of that choice is either the gods that their fathers served already before they came to the land of Canaan, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land they now dwell. They are to choose, in other words, from among all the idols; and among those idols, it really makes no difference what their choice may be, because those idols are all the same. The choice, then, is not between Jehovah and idols, but the choice is from among the various idols of the nations …

… This does not mean that it is in any sense up to the natural man, or up to any man, to choose his god or to choose the living God. To suggest this is blasphemy. This this is true is revealed in the text itself. If it seem evil in any man’s eyes to serve Jehovah, this is because he is evil: his eye is evil, and the light that is in him is darkness. Therefore, God, the highest good, seems an evil to him. Then he cannot even will to fear and serve Jehovah, though he must and he will choose other gods. The opposite of this is true as well. If it seem good in a man’s eyes to serve Jehovah, it is because he is good. Then he cannot will to do anything else than to fear and serve Jehovah, and he will choose Jehovah. That very choice is due to a sovereign, divine distinction. This does not change the fact, however, that a choice is made and is made necessarily. To choose is an act of the mind and the will. The mind forms a judgment; the will expresses a preference; and then the man follows the object of his choice. If he loves the darkness, he will prefer to walk in the darkness. But even so, he chooses. If he loves the light, he will fear the Lord and choose to serve him.



More to come! (DV)

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