Monday, June 22, 2020

Fathers Needed Now! Joshua 24


Fathers Needed Now!

Text: Joshua 24:15


Introduction:
Yesterday my wife and I went to celebrate the 60th wedding anniversary of my Uncle and Aunt,  Tommy and Janie George. 60 years of marriage is an amazing milestone in this day and age. My uncle is a preacher, he was our pastor for 5 years or so when we were in Bible College and he had a marked influence on both our lives. We joined with his four children, their children and some family friends and we honored them towards the end we all gathered in the living room and my Uncle stood and yes he preached a very simple but very good message about the family and then we sang hymns to celebrate their relationship and the relationship they had with God that made their family last.

I wrote down a couple of quotes while me uncle was speaking. I want to share one with you because it fits with today’s Father’s day message. As he stood and looked out at his children, grandchildren, great grandchildren, nephews, nieces and friends, he said with tears in his eyes and a hitch in his voice,“Family is the most important gift God has given us, except Himself. Is it any wonder Satan tries so hard to destroy it?” - Tommy George

In our society today, our nation today Satan is succeeding in his destruction of the family and what you see happening with the riots, the immorality, the violence, the rage is one of the products of Satan’s successful destruction of God’s first institution, the family. Yes it’s a godless society now but it was first a fatherless society. In fact I don’t believe you can have a godly nation without fathers as the leaders of their families.

In Joshua 24 we see the aged war leader of the Children of Israel, acting in his capacity of both leader of the nation and as father of his family.

Joshua 24:1 And Joshua gathered all the tribes of Israel to Shechem, and called for the elders of Israel, and for their heads, and for their judges, and for their officers; and they presented themselves before God.

Shechem is the place where Abraham stopped and built an altar as he walked west with God. Shechem is where Jacob stopped and took the idols away from his family.  Moses told Joshua after you cross Jordan, go to the valley of Shechem between Mount Ebal and Mount Gerizem and put the tribes on the mounts of blessing and cursing and a few thousand years later Jesus would meet the woman at the well in the Valley of Shechem. 

In each case it was a valley of decision, a place marked by the call to make a choice and so it is with Joshua in this speech. He is now 110 years old, the last link between Egypt, the Exodus and the Promised Land. His speech ranks with the greatest sermons ever preached. Here he stands as both a father to his family and also a father to his nation. As we listen to Joshua’s challenge that day in Shechem, it makes you realize how much we need more men and fathers like Joshua. We need Fathers like this now.
In this sermon, Joshua will challenge his nation to do three things, Consider, Choose and then Commit. In a very real sense that is what all fathers should do as they lead their own families.

Consider - Joshua 24:15

And if it seem evil unto you to serve the LORD, choose you this day whom ye will serve; 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.
Israel, Do You think it wrong to serve God?

He asks this question even though he already knows the answer. Like a good father he is asking the question as challenge for the great family he leads, to begin the process of examining themselves in light of the question.

They answer immediately in vs 16 “God forbid that we should forsake the LORD, to serve other gods.”

Joshua calls them on their answer in Vs. 19, Ye cannot serve the Lord: for he is an holy God; he is a jealous God; he will not forgive your transgression nor yours. If ye forsake the LORD, ans ser strange god,

Once again the people respond, in vss. 21-22, “And the people said unto Joshua, Nay; but we will serve the LORD.  And Joshua said unto the people, Ye are witnesses against yourselves that ye have chosen you the LORD, to serve him. And they said, We are witnesses.  

Then Joshua hits them with the truth in vs 23, “Now therefore put away, said he, the strange gods which are among you, and incline your heart unto the LORD God of Israel.”
He knew that in spite of everything they had endured in the past 40 years, in spite of the fervent declarations to serve God, they were still carrying the idols of Egypt with them. He knew they had even begun to worship the idols of the Canaanites.

Yet here they stood saying, “We will serve the Lord.” He forces out into the open the reality of their actions and their lives. The way they live, the choices they have been making, point to the reality that they do think it is wrong to serve God or else they wouldn’t be still be worshiping the idols of Egypt.
Now lets apply what Joshua is doing with Israel, to what God is doing with us today? It bring us to the question…

Christian, Do You Think It’s Wrong to serve God?

As we read this passage of scripture Joshua speaks to us through the Holy Spirit as the voice of God and asks us the question, Is it wrong to serve God?
Just like these gathered here in Shechem we would answer, “We will serve Him.” But God wants us to go through the baggage of our lives and consider those things that may deny the reality of our answer. We must consider the hidden things, the secret things, the actions that contradict our service, the idols that draw us away from truly serving the one who has delivered us from bondage.
Paul sounds this same challenge in Romans 12:1-2  I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.  And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.
Consider the challenge, examine yourself and prepare yourself fully to serve God.

Illustration: Example of Joey R

One day at a workday here at the church I was talking to a young man who had grown up in this church. He was married now and had two children. He came to church about once or twice a month even though he lived just across the street. We got to talking and he told me why he and his family didn’t attend every Sunday. It seemed he and his wife like go to Baton Rouge, LA and do a little gambling every other weekend. He also said they bought lottery tickets and he didn’t really think there was anything wrong with either of these activities.

I could tell you what I told him but most of you I believe would have been able to give the same answer. He wasn’t convinced and believed that there was no conflict between his family’s gambling and his family’s worship of God.

The family moved off and gradually quit attending. I’m not sure they ever sent for a letter or not but I found out later from a friend of the family what had become of them. It turned out his wife took his kids, his bank accounts and ran away with another man. I’ve always wondered if she met him in church or in the casino.

This young foolish man would have stood in this church and answered the question, “Is it wrong to serve God?” with a strong, “no!” All the time he would be planning his next trip to the casinos of Louisiana.

Choose - Joshua 24:15

And if it seem evil unto you to serve the LORD, choose you this day whom ye will serve; 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.

Joshua Brings the Razor

He is saying to those under his influence, under his authority, “There is no more time for this foolish standing in the middle. Right now, right here, in this place and at this time, CHOOSE!
He tells them they absolutely have a choice, they can worship the gods of the Egyptians, on the other side of the flood of the Jordan river or they can choose to worship the gods of the Amorite on this side of the Jordan flood. You can choose to worship Osiris and Isis, you can choose to worship Baal and Isthar but you can’t choose to worship them and at the same time worship God. You must choose and you must choose today.

God’s Word, The Razor’s Edge of Choice

How long has it been since you really considered what you are doing with your life. What your actions, decisions and life is really saying about your choosing God or this world? How much of our lives are filled with choices that are taking us away from God, and away from serving Him? Putting the lie to the quick answer we may have given when first challenged by God’s word about serving Him.

The razors edge of a challenge is uncomfortable but the razor’s edge of the consequences of our wrong choices will be much worse.

As Christians, we will stand at the Judgment seat of Christ and all our choices and actions will be laid before us. The life we built, like a memorial, or a statue, or a house will be before us. The razor, in this case a trial by fire, will be put to the edifice of our life and only that which was done for God, only that which was built with eternity in our minds and hearts, will survive the razor’s edge of judgment.

Scripture: 1 Corinthians 3:11-15  For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ.  Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble;  Every man's work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man's work of what sort it is.  If any man's work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward.  If any man's work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire.
You can’t have idols in your baggage and hope that life’s work will survive through that judgment.
If you’re not a Christian, not God’s child then you know the choice you need to make. You the lost person, “Choose you this day” is the challenge God is making to your heart and soul. Ignoring it will cost you a lot more than just loss of reward. It will cost you eternity.

Illustration:

Transition: Look one last time at Joshua 24:15 for the last part of the Joshua’s call to his people, commitment.

Commit - Joshua 24:15

 And if it seem evil unto you to serve the LORD, choose you this day whom ye will serve; 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.

Joshua commits himself and his family.


Joshua’s challenge to the people of Israel was just with his words but with also with his family. He doesn’t just rhetorically call for a commitment from them, he makes a commitment in front of them and not just of himself but of his whole family.

He could have said, As for me.. and been done with it. Everyone knew Joshua had served the Lord. He was a the war leader of Israel, he had been faithful to Moses, he and Caleb had been the only two faithful spies to come back from their reconnaissance into the Promised Land and said, “We can conquer because God has promised.”

But Joshua doesn’t just says I commit, He says “as for me and my house.” He is making a commitment based up faith in God’s promises and his belief that the choice he had made will result in his family serving the Lord and the Lord blessing his family.

At this stage of life, Joshua making this pledge as a great grandfather not as a young man. He is pledging with the past, for the future. I believe he does this because he has planted the seeds of faithfulness in his sons, daughters, grandsons and granddaughters and trust those seeds it to grow and reproduce in his family for generations to come. That was great faith, that was great commitment and that was the great man and father Joshua.

Fathers Can You Commit?

I have seen and known men of faith, pastors and missionaries who faithfully served the Lord and committed themselves to God, lose their families and in losing their families lose their calling as well.

One pastor, who was a mentor in my life, once told me, “You take care of the church and God will take care of your family.” Now that sounded pretty good back then, and it still sounds pretty good today, but Is that what the Bible actually says? Do you think Joshua was saying, “I will take care of the nation and God will take care of my family?”

Here is the way it actually works, fathers. If you are going to commit yourself and your family to God, then it requires that you commit yourself to God and you commit yourself to your family. You cannot commit to one and not the other or you will lose both.

Scripture: Deuteronomy 6:7 - And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up.

Ephesians 6:44  And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.

Illustration: Joshua’s Memorials

Do you remember the account of Joshua and the children of Israel crossing the Jordan. God sent the priests carrying the ark of the Covenent into the water and when the sole of the foot of the first priest touched the water, the Jordan stood up like it was behind an invisible dam and the rest just flowed on down toward the Dead Sea. God told Joshua to build a memorial of stones taken from the riverbed where the priest stood. It was to be built in the camp that night. But what is so interesting is that Joshua built another memorial right there in the middle of the river, one that would not be seen and one they he was not explicitly told to build. I think it was his personal memorial, a symbol of his relationship and commitment to the Captain of the Lord’s host he served. Then in Joshua 4:21, he gives the purpose of this memorial and all memorials, and it still applies today, maybe more today when so many memorials are being desecrated, torn down and destroyed.

Joshua 4:21-24  And he spake unto the children of Israel, saying, When your children shall ask their fathers in time to come, saying, What mean these stones? 22 Then ye shall let your children know, saying, Israel came over this Jordan on dry land. 23 For the LORD your God dried up the waters of Jordan from before you, until ye were passed over, as the LORD your God did to the Red sea, which he dried up from before us, until we were gone over: 24 That all the people of the earth might know the hand of the LORD, that it is mighty: that ye might fear the LORD your God for ever.
Let me make this application to fathers today. Just as Joshua built two memorials that day, you must make two commitments, one to the God you serve and one to the family he has put in your care. They are not equal commitments anymore than the two memorials were equal, but they are both vital commitments. You cannot ignore the lesser commitment to your family unless you are willing to risk your service to God.

Conclusion

Joshua is such a powerful example of what it means to be a leader and a father. He understood the necessity self-examination, of seeing and making the right choices and then committing himself and his family to those right choices.

I wonder if we as fathers, as parents, as Christians, can we be as bold and faithful today. Choose you this day whom you will serve. Then commit yourself and your family to that choice by committing yourself to God and to your family.

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