Lessons from the book of Joshua
Joshua 23:7,9 … gods of play.
Joshua 23:7, 9 That ye come not among these nations, these that remain among you; neither make mention of the name of their gods, nor cause to swear by them, neither serve them, nor bow yourselves unto them … For the LORD hath driven out from before you great nations and strong: but as for you, no man hath been able to stand before you unto this day.
Joshua was pointing out to his people that the gods of the nations around them were not worth worshipping because of the obvious fact that Jehovah, the God of Israel, was able to overcome them and drive out their people who even seemed to be great [Hebrew for old, mighty] nations. One would think such a show of superiority in power was enough to permanently fix the heart of the nation of Israel to Jehovah God forever but ooooh no! Again and again the heart of Israel wandered after other gods following Joshua’s passing.
I think the major problem was Israel wanting to be like other nations around them (1 Samuel 8:5) and not really that they wanted to worship the mightiest God there was. They probably were enticed by the way their neighbours “worshipped” their gods cos it appealed to their sinful, carnal and selfish desires.
Exodus 32:6… and the people sat down to eat and to drink, and rose up to play.
The word translated here as “play” [Hebrew: A primitive root; to laugh outright (in merriment or scorn); by implication to sport: – laugh, mock, play, make sport. (Strong’s H6711)] is also translated as “laugh” when Abraham, as well as Sarah, laughed in unbelief as recorded in Genesis 17:17, and 18:12; the same word is found in Genesis 26:8 when Jacob was “sporting” with his wife and the host king saw it as inappropriate unless they were married; the same word is found in Judges 16:25 when Samson was making “sport” for the Philistines.
So, I think whatever the Israelites were doing in their play around the golden calf, there was nothing reverential or worshipful about it and it was typical of the sort of play that the nations around them engaged in in the name of worship to their various gods.
Anyway, Joshua thought it wise to remind them to keep following the Almighty God, Jehovah, and not the other gods around them in spite of the obvious superiority because he knew that though the display of power was enough to make a believer out of someone, it was not enough to make a worshipper out of someone because worshipping involves a connection of hearts that goes beyond what God can do to who He actually is, loving Him for who we know Him to be and committing to following Him as long as we live with all our hearts and souls and might.
Joshua was not alone in this effort to remind us of the obvious.
2Pe 1:12-15 Wherefore I will not be negligent to put you always in remembrance of these things, though ye know them, and be established in the present truth. Yea, I think it meet, as long as I am in this tabernacle, to stir you up by putting you in remembrance; Knowing that shortly I must put off this my tabernacle, even as our Lord Jesus Christ hath shewed me. Moreover I will endeavour that ye may be able after my decease to have these things always in remembrance.
2Peter 3:1-4 This second epistle, beloved, I now write unto you; in both which I stir up your pure minds by way of remembrance: That ye may be mindful of the words which were spoken before by the holy prophets, and of the commandment of us the apostles of the Lord and Saviour: Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts, And saying, Where is the promise of his coming?
Phillipians 3:1 Finally, my brethren, rejoice in the Lord. To write the same things to you, to me indeed is not grievous, but for you it is safe.
Stating the obvious may not always be complimentary but I’d say it is important. Considering how today’s world is doing all it can to expunge God from its consciousness, in spite of all the obvious signs and wonders in creation and in individual lives which testify of Him, and to replace him with anything that allows them to play as they wish, I’d say it is pretty important to repeat some things that are already obvious.