“And Joshua said unto the people, Ye cannot serve the LORD: for he is an holy God; he is a jealous God; he will not forgive your transgressions nor your sins.”
King James Version (KJV)
24:19 Ye cannot - He speaks not of an absolute impossibility, (for then both his resolution to serve God himself, and his exhortation to them had been vain) but of a moral impossibility, or a very great difficulty, which he alledgeth not to discourage them from God's service, but to make them more considerate in obliging themselves; and more resolved in answering their obligations. The meaning is, God's service is not, as you seem to fancy, a slight and easy thing, but it is a work of great difficulty, and requires great care, and courage and resolution; and when I consider the infinite purity of God, that he will not be mocked or abused; and withal your proneness to superstition and idolatry, even during the life of Moses, and in some of you, while I live, and while the obligations which God had laid upon you in this land, are fresh in remembrance; I cannot but fear that after my decease you will think the service of God burdensome, and therefore will cast it off and revolt from him, if you do not carefully avoid all occasions of idolatry. A jealous God - In the Hebrew, He is the holy Gods, holy Father, holy Son, holy Spirit. He will not endure a partner in his worship; you can not serve him and idols together. Will not forgive - If you who own yourselves his people and servants, shall wilfully transgress his laws, he will not let this go unpunished in you, as he doth in other nations; therefore consider what you do, when you take the Lord for your God; weigh your advantages and inconveniences together; for as if you be sincere and faithful in God's service, you will have admirable benefits by it; so if you be false to your professions, and forsake him whom you have so solemnly avouched to be your God, he will deal more severely with you than with any people in the world.