Summary: If fathers take a stand for the Lord they can influence their families to also serve the Lord.
"Now fear the LORD and serve Him with all faithfulness. Throw away the gods your forefathers worshiped beyond the River and in Egypt, and serve the LORD. 15 But if serving the LORD seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your forefathers served beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD." 16 Then the people answered, "Far be it from us to forsake the LORD to serve other gods!"
This day has been set aside in honor of a group of men with an unparalleled potential for making this world a better place.
Fatherhood is a precious and sacred, God-given trust. It is an opportunity, a right and a responsibility to make a godly impact on a small group of people in an intimate way.
Fathers change the world, not by overtime at work, or by winning a Nobel prize; not by being famous inventors, or by any spectacular or unusual work. Fathers change the world by the consistent influence they exert in the lives of their children.
This morning I would like for us to look at a father who made a personal decision which had a tremendous influence on his family and ultimately on his nation.
Joshua, as successor to Moses, led the children of Israel victoriously through Canaan. Now, at 110 years of age, he delivers his farewell address to the nation of Israel.
The words we read are a portion of that speech.
A Decision for Himself
When Joshua admonished the leaders to fear God and serve Him faithfully, he had already made up his mind that he would. Joshua had determined to serve the Lord regardless of their decision. He said, "If you are unwilling to obey the Lord, choose for yourselves. . . but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord"!
"As for me. . . I am serving God even if you choose to keep your Egyptian gods and take up all the Canaanite idols too." (GB)
As a father, he wasn’t asking the members of his family to do anything he wasn’t willing to do. In fact, he set the example. His wasn’t a situation where the dad says, "do as I say, not as I do." His words were, "As for me and my house we, (including myself, especially myself), will serve the Lord."
He knew from experience the blessings of serving the Lord. He had seen the provision of manna, quail and shoes. He had witnessed God’s protection as the nation left Egypt, and passed through hostile territory, defeated Jericho and entered Canaan. He had also witnessed firsthand the consequences of choosing not to follow God. He remembered the failure at Ai, he had watched the ground swallow rebels, he had seen people consumed by fire in divine judgement, and he had witnessed a nation die in the desert and kept from entering the land.
His decision to serve the Lord was a personal commitment.
A Decision for His Family
Joshua shouldered the responsibility of being a father and living up to what that meant in the eyes of God. He made a decision to serve the Lord, not only for himself, but also for the benefit of his whole family. "as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord"!
Why was it so important for Joshua, as a father, to serve the Lord with his family?
Because "children live what they learn." Boy, do they ever!
The phrase "like father, like son," applies to more than a family resemblance. It is a fact that boys grow up to become a lot like dad. Even boys who grew up in bad homes and vow to never do the things their father did. Sometimes they find themselves repeating the same acts.
Daughters are extremely prone to choose a spouse like dad, even though they cannot see the resemblances at first. So, in a very literal way fathers shape their children’s future.
Edith Schaeffer remarks that as a result of poor fathers, "People may shiver a bit or stiffen up inside when you say that God is a Father to us."
Chuck Swindoll points out, "the sobering responsibility of fatherhood - (is) that fathers are to mirror the image of God Himself."
Notice Joshua’s words are unlike the comments you hear when asking parents if their children can come to church. "Well, I don’t’ know, I’ll ask them if they want to go." Nor did he say, "Sure I’ll send them to church, what time will you pick them up?" To contemporize his words he might have said, "We will all go to church together."