Commitment of Character
Text: Joshua 10:1-15
1. Illustration: A college man walked into a photography studio with a framed picture of his girlfriend. He wanted the picture duplicated. This involved removing it from the frame. In doing this, the studio owner noticed the inscription on the back of the photograph:
“My dearest Tom, I love you with all my heart. I love you more and more each day. I will love you forever and ever. I am yours for all eternity.”
It was signed "Helen,” and it contained a P.S.: “If we ever break up, I want this picture back.”
2. The true test of any commitment comes when that commitment is challenged, and this is where are character is also tested.
3. Are we going to stand by our word even though it is difficult?
4. The truth of the matter is:
a. Our commitment will be challenged.
b. Our commitment will be commanded.
c. Our commitment will be championed.
5. Read Joshua 10:1-15
Proposition: People of high character keep their commitments.
Transition: Without question...
I. Our Commitment Will Be Challenged (1-5)
A. Come Help Me
1. We should never underestimate our enemy, and if we think that just because we made a commitment to the Lord that the Devil is just going to leave us alone, we are sadly mistaken.
2. This was the case with Joshua and the children of Israel.
a. They had been very successful in their conquest of the land so far.
b. Even though they allowed themselves to be fooled by the Gibeonites, they were still in good shape.
3. However, "Adoni-zedek, king of Jerusalem, heard that Joshua had captured and completely destroyed Ai and killed its king, just as he had destroyed the town of Jericho and killed its king. He also learned that the Gibeonites had made peace with Israel and were now their allies."
a. The king of Jerusalem was a major player in the region at this time.
b. This is the first time that the name Jerusalem is mentioned in the bible.
c. Jerusalem is one of the key cities in the region and is competing with Shechem for control of the hill country. (The IVP Bible background commentary : Old Testament (electronic ed.) . InterVarsity Press: Downers Grove, IL)
d. He knew that Joshua and his people were a major threat to his existence.
4. His concern turned to fear when he heard about the treaty with Gibeon "because Gibeon was a large town—as large as the royal cities and larger than Ai. And the Gibeonite men were strong warriors."
a. Not only was Israel’s God helping it, but now one of the Canaanites’ very own would be Israel’s ally.—(New American Commentary)
b. Gibeon was known as a strong and powerful city, and if they had joined Israel’s side, then they were in big trouble.
5. Therefore, he convinces some of the other kings to join him to punish Gibeon for making a treaty with Israel.
a. The list is an impressive one.
b. It includes some of the most powerful kings in the region.
c. They weren’t going to take this lying down, and they wanted to teach Gibeon a lesson.
B. If It Were Easy It Wouldn’t Be Called Commitment
1. Illustration: “Joy in Christ requires a commitment to working at the Christian lifestyle. Salvation comes as a gif, but the joy of salvation demands disciplined action. Most Christians I know have just enough of the Gospel to make them miserable, but not enough to make them joyful. They know enough about the biblical message to keep them form doing the things which the world tempts them to do; but they do not have enough of a commitment to God to do those things through which they might experience the fullness of his joy.” (Tony Campolo. Seven Deadly Sins. p. 21)
2. The truth of the matter is that if it were easy all of the time it would be called a "piece of cake" and not a commitment.
3. Jesus promised us that it wouldn’t be easy, but the minute it gets hard we want to give up and quit.
4. The problem is that we want it to be easy, and if it’s not we either complain about or move on down the road.
a. Fast food Christianity
b. We want it how we want it, and when we want it, or we don’t want it.
5. When our commitment is challenged we can:
a. Give up or get tough
b. Stand aside or stand strong
c. We can be a quitter or be a committer.
Transition: Which one are you?
II. Our Commitment Will Be Commanded (6-8)
A. Come At Once
1. It didn’t take long for the Gibeonites to see that they were in big trouble.
a. Even though they were a large city with a powerful army, they knew they could stand up against 5 armies at once.
b. They were out numbered, out gunned, and out of options.
2. So they immediately "sent messengers to Joshua at his camp in Gilgal. “Don’t abandon your servants now!” they pleaded. “Come at once! Save us! Help us! For all the Amorite kings who live in the hill country have joined forces to attack us.”
a. The number of verbs found in their appeal—all imperatives—add to this sense of urgency—(New American Commentary)
b. They reminded Joshua of his commitment to them in the treaty, and they were going to call him on it.
c. This was not only a challenge to their treaty, but it was a challenge to their character.
3. Now Joshua had every reason not to stand by his commitment.
a. They had deceived him.
b. They had lied to him.
c. He was supposed to destroy to begin with anyway.
4. However, Joshua was a man of character and a man of his word.
a. Even though he had every excuse not to, Joshua made a promise and he was going to keep it.
b. He had not only made a promise to the Gibeonites, but he had made a vow to God.
c. He had only one choice. He had only one course of action. He could do nothing else without dishonor.
5. Now the Lord shows how he honors people of character. “Do not be afraid of them,” the LORD said to Joshua, “for I have given you victory over them. Not a single one of them will be able to stand up to you.”
a. As Joshua kept his word, so the Lord kept His word to Joshua.
b. Joshua 1:5 No one will be able to stand against you as long as you live. For I will be with you as I was with Moses. I will not fail you or abandon you.
c. Once again, in case Joshua had forgotten, God reminded him of his presence and empowerment.—(New American Commentary)
d. Just as Joshua is a man of his word, the Lord is a God of his word.
B. A Question of Character
1. Illustration: Character matters in our lives. Philosopher Herbert Spencer wrote, “Not education but character is man’s greatest need and man’s greatest safeguard.” Chuck Swindoll wrote, “Character is the moral, ethical, and spiritual undergirding that rests on truth, that reinforces a life in stressful times, and resists all temptations to compromise.” That is the kind of character God wants to develop. Why? Because our character determines how we interpret God’s will.
2. A major problem with our society in general, and specifically the church, is that we lack character.
a. Our word no longer means anything.
b. We keep our commitments if they are convenient and easy.
c. If they require any kind of sacrifice on our part, we look for any excuse to get out of it.
3. Robert E. Lee was a man of character.
a. Even though he disapproved of slavery and succession, fighting against Virginia was never an option for him.
b. Even after the war, when he had lost everything (home, family, rank, occupation) he said, "I could have taken no other course without dishonor."
4. We need to be people of character.
a. People whose word means something.
b. People who honor their commitments.
c. People who don’t just preach it; they live it!
5. It’s too easy when Sunday morning or Sunday evening rolls around to say, "Oh, I’m too tired to go to church," or "I’m not feeling well, I think I’ll just stay home.
a. Jesus was more than tired when He went to the cross for you.
b. He had been humiliated, spit upon, mocked, punched, and his beard pulled out by the hands full, and beaten with in an inch of His life.
c. But He didn’t say "Oh, this is too hard!"
d. He kept going until He finally said "It is finished."
Transition: If we honor our commitments...
III. Our Commitment Will Be Championed (9-15)
A. The Lord Destroyed Them
1. The text gives us some very clear indicators as to how God blesses us when we honor our commitments.
2. Verse 9 tells us "Joshua traveled all night from Gilgal and took the Amorite armies by surprise."
a. The distance from Gilgal, where the Israelite’s were camped, to Gibeon was a distance of about 35 kilometers, or nearly 22 miles, all up hill (Woudstra, NICOT: The Book of Joshua, 171).
b. Back in Joshua 9:17, it says it took Joshua three days to get to Gibeon.
c. However, here it says it only took him a nights journey.
d. How could he have accomplished this other than by divine intervention?
3. Then notice what it says in verse 10: "The LORD threw them into a panic, and the Israelites slaughtered great numbers of them at Gibeon."
a. It was Yahweh—and Yahweh alone—who took the decisive actions against the enemies (v. 10).
b. Every verb in this verse is singular, indicating that he alone confused, struck, pursued, and struck them.—(New American Commentary)
c. 1 Sam. 17:47 And everyone assembled here will know that the LORD rescues his people, but not with sword and spear. This is the LORD’s battle, and he will give you to us!”
4. As if that wasn’t enough, look at verse 11: "As the Amorites retreated down the road from Beth-horon, the LORD destroyed them with a terrible hailstorm from heaven that continued until they reached Azekah. The hail killed more of the enemy than the Israelites killed with the sword."
a. First, notice that it says "The Lord" destroyed them. Again, He gets the credit.
b. Second, notice that the hail only killed their enemies, not the Israelites.
c. Joshua and his men do not have to rely on their own power. They can rely on the power of God as long as He can rely on them (Butler, WBC: Joshua, 116).
5. But wait, the Lord isn’t done yet. Joshua prayed for the sun and moon to stand still, and he got his answer in verse 13: "So the sun stood still and the moon stayed in place until the nation of Israel had defeated its enemies."
a. It is certainly remarkable that the sun and moon stood still because of the Lord answering Joshua’s prayer.
b. However, what many people miss is that because the sun and moon stood still, so did time.
c. The end of verse 14 makes it very clear: "Surely the LORD fought for Israel that day!"
d. All because they kept their commitment to Gibeon.
B. The Lord Will Honor You
1. Illustration: Missionary statesman Hudson Taylor had complete trust in God’s faithfulness. In his journal he wrote: Our heavenly Father is a very experienced One. He knows very well that His children wake up with a good appetite every morning...He sustained 3 million Israelites in the wilderness for 40 years. We do not expect He will send 3 million missionaries to China; but if He did, He would have ample means to sustain them all...Depend on it, God’s work done in God’s way will never lack God’s supply.
2. If we are people of character that honor our commitments, God will honor us.
a. He will honor us in our relationships
b. He will honor us in our spiritual lives
c. He will honor us in our finances
3. If we are people of our word, God will never cease to keep His word.
a. He will never leave us or forsake us
b. He will meet all of our needs according to His riches in glory
c. He will always be there for us.
4. If we are people of character, God will fight our battles for us.
a. He will cause circumstances to fall in our favor
b. He will open doors for us
c. He will meet us every step along the way
Transition: If we are people of character, He will honor us.
1. As people of character:
a. Our commitment will be challenged
b. Our commitment will be commanded
c. Our commitment will be championed
2. How about you? Are you a person of character?
3. Do you stand by your commitments even when it’s not easy?
4. When you stand before God will He say "Well done good and faithful servant"?