On October 27, 1964 an actor named Ronald Reagan delivered a televised speech in support of the Republican Presidential candidate, Barry Goldwater. He entitled his speech, “A Time For Choosing,” and in it he laid out the stark contrasts between the views and policies of the conservative Goldwater and the liberal, incumbent, Lyndon B. Johnson. This speech is widely credited with being the catalyst that propelled Reagan to a successful political career, first as governor of California, and later as President of the United States.
We often think of times of choosing as arising at critical moments in our lives. Whether it is the choice of a vocational path, or an educational goal, or one’s life mate, we understand that there are times when we must choose one thing over another in order to proceed. In some cases, our choices are little more than a matter of preference. On the other hand, however, there are times when our choices have consequences that can affect the remainder of our lives.
One such instance occurred when Joshua was preparing Israel to live in the Promised Land. He had led them through five years of conquest, during which time they had driven most of the Canaanite peoples from the land. Now, as his own life neared its end, Joshua called Israel together for a final exhortation. In Josh. 24:14-15 he said, “Now, therefore, fear the Lord and serve Him in sincerity and truth; and put away the gods which your fathers served beyond the River and in Egypt, and serve the Lord. If it is disagreeable in your sight to serve the Lord, choose for yourselves today whom you will serve: whether the gods which your fathers served which were beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you are living; but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”
For Israel it was a time for choosing. They had been given a bountiful land in which to live. It was a good land with cities and vineyards and flowing rivers and abundant rain. They had received it by the hand of God, who had defeated all their enemies. Now, as they settled into their inheritance, they must choose if they would remain faithful to the God who had given them this land. Their history shows that sometimes they chose to follow God and other times they chose not to. Their fortunes reflected their choices right up to the time in which they were taken away into captivity.
Joshua called upon Israel to make a choice that day, as he spoke to them. In truth, however, they had to make that choice each and every day of their lives. This is a principle that remains as true today as it was then. In Heb. 11:6 the scripture says that without faith it is impossible to please God. In Mt. 7:21 Jesus said, “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter.” In Rev. 2:10 the Lord said, “Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life.”
So then, we also face a time for choosing. We must choose to believe in God and obey His will, or to go another way. One choice leads to eternal life, but the other leads to destruction, as the Lord said in Mt. 7:13-14. How we choose affects how our lives play out here on the earth, for those who pursue godliness receive benefits here and now for doing so (1 Tim. 4:8). The greatest benefit, of course, is eternal life in the place being prepared in heaven for the faithful (Jn. 14:1-4). Until the Lord returns, it is a time for choosing. What will you choose?