Realizing the presence, promise, and power of the Kingdom of God.
The DEEP

Nudging

people upward.

Joshua 24:19–24

But Joshua said to the people, “You cannot serve the LORD, for He is a holy God. He is a jealous God; He will not forgive your transgressions nor your sins. If you forsake the LORD and serve foreign gods, then He will turn and do you harm and consume you, after He has done you good.”

And the people said to Joshua, “No, but we will serve the LORD!”

So Joshua said to the people, “You are witnesses against yourselves that you have chosen the LORD for yourselves, to serve Him.”

And they said, “We are witnesses!”

“Now therefore,” he said, “put away the foreign gods which are among you, and incline your heart to the LORD God of Israel.”

And the people said to Joshua, “The LORD our God we will serve, and His voice we will obey!”

This passage starts with Joshua rejecting their offer! He asked them to choose who they will serve. They say The LORD! So Joshua says, “Nope; you can’t do that.” Really? What’s going on here?

Joshua is jockeying them into position. He’s want them to amp up their commitment.

So they shout, “No, but we will serve the LORD!” Joshua says, “You are witnesses against yourselves that you have chosen the LORD for yourselves, to serve Him.” And they say, “We are witnesses!

Bingo. They’ve pledged full commitment and Joshua can call them on it. OK, but time out. They had foreign gods that they needed to put away? The leaders of the nation? No way!

Way. The leaders of Israel, the ones we said in yesterday’s lesson have the strongest faith, still have the kind of foreign gods that can be put away. That means physical idols—statues that can be trashed. Yikes.

Joshua has “conned” them into making a stronger commitment to following the LORD than what was in their hearts. When challenged, they said “all the right things” so that they’d look righteous.

In other words, Joshua’s con job worked because the leaders’ pride got in the way of their unbelief.

That’s one for the ages.


This is a clinic on how to nudge people upward. Joshua’s public challenge—“You cannot serve the LORD, for He is a holy God.”—may be too blunt for church, but something like that should work. After folks respond to the set up with a commitment they don’t really mean, then call their bluff.

“Let’s see how many folks show up for a work day this Saturday.” “You can measure the faith of a congregation by the number of people who show up for the prayer meetings.”

Challenges like that can get people to start living their faith.


These Monday—Friday DEEPs are written by Mike Slay. The Weekend DEEPs are written by Matt Richardson. To subscribe to all the DEEPs click here:

https://www.ailbe.org/resources/community

The weekly study guides, which include the Monday–Friday devotionals plus related questions for discussion or meditation, are available for download here:

https://www.ailbe.org/resources/itemlist/category/91-deep-studies

Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. ESV stands for the English Standard Version. © Copyright 2001 by Crossway. Used by permission. All rights reserved. NIV stands for The Holy Bible, New International Version®. © Copyright 1973 by International Bible Society. Used by permission. All rights reserved. KJV stands for the King James Version.

Mike Slay

As a mathematician, inventor, and ruling elder in the Presbyterian Church in America, Mike Slay brings an analytical, conversational, and even whimsical approach to the daily study of God's Word.

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