Joshua said to the people, “You are not able to serve the LORD. He is a holy God; he is a jealous God. He will not forgive your rebellion and your sins. If you forsake the LORD and serve foreign gods, he will turn and bring disaster on you and make an end of you, after he has been good to you.” Joshua 24:19-20
The Israelites were prone to adding to their worship of God rituals from the pagan religions that continued in the land. Joshua was pointing out to them that God is holy—completely separate and set apart from other gods. He is a jealous God and wants his people’s full attention and devotion, instead of living to appease lesser things or goals. God views rebellion as allowing other priorities to take precedence over our devotion to him.
When the people added pagan rituals to their worship of God it lead them to forsake God altogether. God told the people if they forgot the Lord and served foreign gods, he would bring disaster on them. This is what eventually happened and hundreds of years later Israel was taken into exile.
God’s patience is amazing! He knew they would forsake him but gave them opportunity after opportunity to return to him. Joshua spoke truly when he said, “You are not able to serve the Lord.” The people tried to serve the Lord in their own strength, with their own will power and determination and failed.
Today we also need to recognize our inability to serve the Lord in our own strength, with our own will power and determination. To serve the Lord we need his enabling, which God will freely give to those who ask.