Summary: A Father's Day sermon reflecting on the choice that Joshua presented to Israel and how it echos for dad's today.
A few years ago, Bill Cosby began his book, "Fatherhood," with these words: "So you’ve decided to have a child. You’ve decided to give up quiet evenings with good books and lazy weekends with good music, intimate meals during which you finish whole sentences, sweet private times when you’ve savored the thought that just the two of you and your love are all you will ever need.
"You’ve decided to turn your sofas into trampolines, and to abandon the joys of leisurely contemplating reproductions of great art for the joys of frantically coping with reproductions of yourselves. Why?"
He goes on, "Poets have said the reason to have children is to give yourself immortality; and I must admit I did ask God to give me a son because I wanted someone to carry on the family name. Well, God did just that and I now confess that there have been times I’ve told my son not to reveal who he is. `You make up a name,’ I’ve said. `Just don’t tell anybody whose son you are.’"
We laugh at that passage, because we can relate to it, both when we were kids and now as adults. I mean we’ve all done things that were embarrassing, and our kids, even though Sarah is an angel, have all done things that we find embarrassing too. But here is the truth and the burden of parenthood. Our kids do carry our names. It’s not just the letters on their birth certificate; it’s that they are a reflection of us. We have a responsibility to teach them the way that they are supposed to go in life. Yes they are individuals and we can not be held accountable for all of their actions and thought processes, but we are responsible to do our best to teach them what they should do, teach them right from wrong and most importantly teach them about God and impress upon them the need to follow Him. It is the one decision that they have to make in life. The one thing that everyone must do in this life is to accept a relationship with God. If not then they are doomed to an eternity without God.
But this is a choice that they have to make. It is one that we can prepare them for, it is one we can educated them about, but it is one that they must make for themselves. The choice that we have is will we prepare them, in advance to make the right decision? That is where we find Joshua in this passage. Many of us our familiar with the end of verse 15 but when we look at the context it is a much deeper and more challenging passage.
Joshua 24:14-18, “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. 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.’ Then the people answered, “far be it from us to forsake the LORD to serve other gods! It was the LORD our God himself who brought us and our fathers up out of Egypt, from that land of slavery, and performed those great signs before our eyes. He protected us on our entire journey and among all the nations through which we traveled. And the LORD drove out before us all the nations, including the Amorites, who lived in the land. We too will serve the LORD, because he is our God.’”
When we look at this passage we often think about the choice the Joshua gives them. But notice that before he gives them the challenge, he gives them a background for it first, he gives them instructions. Look at verse 14, “Now fear the LORD and serve him with all faithfulness. Throw away the gods (lower case g) your forefathers worshiped beyond the River and Egypt, and serve the LORD.” This isn’t a choice he is giving them right away, he starts by telling them what they should do. You understand that this is Joshua’s going away speech to the nation of Israel. He realizes he is coming to the end of his life and so he is saying goodbye and giving them his final words of advice, and expressing his final wishes for them. Like anyone who has known the joy of walking with God for many years, his deepest desire is that those who he is leaving behind will know the same joy and follow the same path.