“A Day of Decision,” Ensign, Apr. 1976, 2
In the first paragraphs of his twenty-fourth chapter, Joshua, speaking to assembled Israel, reminded them of the recreant course of their fathers, who had in the past repeatedly adopted the idolatrous religions and practices of the peoples among whom they dwelt. In the words of Deity, he called their attention to the fact that again and again the Lord had intervened in their behalf.
“Your fathers,” said the Lord, “dwelt on the other side of the flood in old time, even Terah, the father of Abraham, and the father of Nachor: and they served other gods.
“And I took your father Abraham … and led him throughout all the land of Canaan, and multiplied his seed, and …
“I sent Moses also and Aaron, and I plagued Egypt, …
“And I brought you into the land of the Amorites, … and I gave them into your hand, that ye might possess their land …
“And I have given you a land for which ye did not labour, and cities which ye built not, and ye dwell in them; of the vineyards and oliveyards which ye planted not do ye eat.” (Josh. 24:2–3, 5, 8, 13.)
Against this background Joshua challenged Israel to put away the heathen gods and practices of their apostate fathers and serve the true and living God in sincerity and truth.
“Choose you this day whom ye will serve,” he said, “whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” (Josh. 24:15.)
As a day of decision had come for Israel in Joshua’s time, so today is a day of decision for modern Israel.
Never since the gospel was restored have the influence and practices of evil been so widespread and aggressive as they are today.
Latter-day Saints and all other right-minded people must choose to serve the Lord in righteousness in order to avoid destruction and despair.
As the Lord led and taught ancient Israel, so is he leading and teaching us today. As he taught them that wickedness never was happiness, so he has taught us that wickedness never was and never will be happiness. History and man’s experience testify to the inexorability of this fact.
For example, as the Nephites, who had ripened in iniquity, neared the end of their death struggle with the Lamanites, Mormon said of them:
“My people, with their wives and their children, did now behold the armies of the Lamanites marching towards them; and with that awful fear of death which fills the breasts of all the wicked, did they await to receive them.
“… and every soul was filled with terror.” (Morm. 6:7–8.)
The time will come when every unrepentant sinner will experience this “awful fear” and “terror.”
Scott gives a classic description of the experience of such a person when in his classic novel Ivanhoe he has Ulrica say:
“To act as I have acted, to think as I have thought, requires the maddening love of pleasure, mingled with the keen appetite of revenge, the proud consciousness of power; draughts too intoxicating for the human heart to bear, and yet retain the power to prevent. Their force has long passed away—Age has no pleasures—wrinkles have no influence, revenge itself dies away in impotent curses. Then comes remorse, with all its vipers, mixed with vain regrets for the past, and despair for the future!—Then, when all other strong impulses have ceased, we become like the fiends in hell, who may feel remorse, but never repentance.” (Sir Walter Scott, Ivanhoe, New York: Harper and Brothers, 1923, p. 277.)
By way of contrast, consider the felicity of those who lived in Enoch’s Zion, of which is written:
“The Lord blessed the land, and they were blessed upon the mountains, and upon the high places, and did flourish.
“And the Lord called his people ZION, because they were of one heart and one mind, and dwelt in righteousness; and there was no poor among them.” (Moses 7:17–18.)
Consider also the bliss enjoyed by the Nephites who survived the cataclysm which occurred in America at the time Jesus was crucified. Of them is recorded:
“The disciples of Jesus … formed a church of Christ …
“And … in the thirty and sixth year, the people were all converted unto the Lord, … and every man did deal justly one with another.
“And they had all things common among them; therefore there were not rich and poor, bond and free, but they were all made free, and partakers of the heavenly gift.
“And surely there could not be a happier people among all the people who had been created by the hand of God.” (4 Ne. 1:1–3, 16.)
Surely the Lord spoke truth when he said, “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” (Matt. 11:28.)
He has told us how to come unto him in language so simple and clear that “wayfaring men, though fools, [need] not err therein.” (Isa. 35:8.)
Three things we must do if we would serve Him: pray, obey, love.
1. “Pray always, that you may come off conqueror; yea, that you may conquer Satan, and that you may escape the hands of the servants of Satan that do uphold his work.” (D&C 10:5.)
3. Love. “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.
“This is the first and great commandment.
“Choose you this day whom ye will serve; … but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” (Josh. 24:15.)
Today is the day of decision. (Read Alma 34:30–35.)