We've been talking this week about the righteousness of Israel in the shadow of Jericho, completely disabling their army within striking distance of the enemy because God called them to circumcise themselves. And as we talk about righteousness, one of the questions that usually comes up is: isn't it too late for that?
Shouldn't Israel have chosen righteousness on the safe side of the Jordan? Shouldn't we have chosen righteousness earlier?
It's easy for most of us to look at our lives, to look at the errors that we've made and the moments that we wish we could have back and all the broken things that leave a trail through our past and to think that it's too late for us, that we couldn't possibly choose righteousness now. That it wouldn't matter much. That it wouldn't make any difference, in our lives or in the lives of others.
Isn't righteousness something that has to be chosen early?
Of course, it's better to choose righteousness early. The more righteous days you choose to live, the better - for everyone. That's not in question. But just because your life hasn't been what you want it to be or what you now realize it can be doesn't mean that it never can be. You can choose righteousness any time.
Perhaps you have heard these words from the Scriptures, these famous words: Choose for yourself this day who you will serve.... But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.
These are the words spoken by Joshua as Israel settled into the Promised Land and as God revealed to him that Israel would very quickly turn from their righteousness and choose something less. Now, we know Joshua as a good and faithful leader, a righteous man, a man upright before the Lord. He led Israel well through all of these battles. And you'd think that this would be the starting point of Joshua's ministry, his rallying cry to a lost and wandering Israel.
But it's not.
Joshua spoke these particular words as he was preparing to die.
That's right. These most famous words of a righteous man came not at the beginning of his righteousness, but at the end of it. And if a man like Joshua feels the need to choose righteousness for himself all over again at the end of what we could say, from the outside looking in, was a righteous life to begin with, how much more do the rest of us need to choose the same thing for our own lives - over and over and over again, whether we're at the beginning of them or the end?
What an encouragement it is that Joshua lived the kind of life that we could all almost envy, and yet, when it comes right down to it, even he has to choose righteousness right up to the end of it. Right up to the end. On his deathbed, Joshua chooses righteousness all over again.
It's never too late. Choose for yourselves this day - whatever this day is - righteousness. And tomorrow? Choose again.