Summary: In spite of human failure, God keeps his promise alive through children, spiritual mentors and diligent workers.
Some of you are old enough to remember Jimmy and Tammy Faye Bakker and their popular PTL Club television program. Lots of Christians supported their program and many purchased life-time partnerships to fund the construction of "Heritage USA", an inspirational theme park in South Carolina. In return for their financial support, the partners were promised free lodging.
The Bakkers gave a new understanding to conspicuous consumption. PTL once spent over $100,000 for a private jet to fly Jimmy and Tammy’s clothing across the country. PTL also spent more than $100 to buy cinnamon rolls because Jimmy and Tammy wanted the smell of rolls in their hotel room. Jimmy was charged with overselling the partnerships as well as with keeping two sets of books to conceal irregularities He ended up in prison accused of racketeering, sexual immorality, and tax evasion.
Here are people who started out serving God, but ended up serving themselves. And sometimes we wonder, how can God keep his plan for the world going when his people end up failing like this?
Our scripture today tells the story of a king who started out well and accomplished some good things, but ended up as a failure. Where was God in this situation?
As you read this story in II Kings, you might observe that God doesn’t seem to say or do anything. We don’t hear his voice in the story. The prophets have disappeared. Does that mean that God is not at work? Some of you are very aware that God is working in your life. You hear his voice; you recognize his work. To others it may seem that God isn’t saying or doing anything. Be assured that God is there, nudging, prompting, opening doors, working behind the scenes. He is at work even when you don’t see any visible evidence. Our story today reminds us that God keeps his promise alive in spite of human failure.
First, the big picture. Beginning in Genesis, we see that the central theme of the Bible is the promise of God. God has chosen a family of people through whom he wants the entire world to come to a saving knowledge of himself. And God promises to lead them to a new land, to provide for them, to save them from all those things that would destroy them, and eventually to send a deliverer, a Messiah. But these people have trouble believing God’s promises and often try to take things into their own hands. As a result of their disobedience and unfaithfulness, God’s promise is often threatened. Sometimes it comes down to one faithful person, but God continues to keep his promise alive, and from the story of Joash, we can see how he does it.
1. God keeps his promise alive through a child. (11:1) When the mother of the man who was king just before Joash saw that her son was dead, she determined to destroy all of the royal family so that the line of kings would be in her family. But that is not what God had in mind. God had already started the family line of kings, the same line through which the Messiah would come.
So we read that an aunt hid baby Joash so he wouldn’t be killed. For six years she hid him in the temple and he became king when he turned 7. And it was through this child that God kept his promise alive.
Does this story sound familiar? Do you remember the story of Moses? The Egyptian pharaoh wanted all the Hebrew boy babies killed. But God saved Moses.
Do you remember when Jesus was born? King Herod wanted all the baby boys killed. Joseph and Mary took him to Egypt and God saved him. Several times through out the Bible God kept his promise alive through a child.
I believe that God still keeps his promise alive through children. Adults, I want you to look around you this morning and see the children. (Ask them to stand.) These children are a sign that God’s promise is alive. Jesus said, “I will build my church and the gates of hell will not prevail against it.” There are a lot of forces trying to undermine and destroy the church. There are a lot of forces trying to contaminate and destroy children, but God keeps his promise alive.
For those of you who are new to this congregation, our first purpose is to nurture God’s people through teaching, and that includes children. One of the ministries this church puts a lot of resources and effort into is children. Some of you are Sunday school teachers and you prepare diligently week after week to nurture and care for the children. Over the past several years, this church has spent thousands of dollars to provide a summer Christian camping experience for kids who attend Sunday school. Every year we invest energy and money into a VBS experience for kids. Later this month, on our Back-to-School Sunday we will celebrate the beginning of a new school year with kids. This week five youth will be demonstrating servanthood in a work project in Dayton and we pray that what they experience this week will have a life-changing impact on their lives. God keeps his promise alive through children. How thankful we are for every child and young person here today.