Summary: A sermon on the topic of reverence and how that plays out in our daily lives.
The passage that we will look at today is a passage that speaks about reverence. I realize that in our culture today, very few things or people are given reverence. Any more, reverence is not an attitude or action that we see on a daily basis.
ILLUSTRATION… Moral and Spiritual Anarchy (Barna Research Group of Ventura, California, www.barna.org)
In his [Barna’s] new volume he flatly states that moral anarchy has arrived and rules our culture today. The argument hinges on a substantial amount of attitudinal and behavioral evidence: record bankruptcy levels, frivolous lawsuits, the rapid growth of the pornography industry, highway speeding as the norm, income tax cheating, computer hacking and viruses, rising levels of white collar crime, rampant copyright violations (movies, books, recordings), terrorism and intimidation tactics, Net-based plagiarism, emotional comfort with lying and cheating, increasing rates of co-habitation and adultery, and so forth.
Moreover, Barna takes the argument farther and suggests that the United States is now in a state of spiritual anarchy as well. He mentioned that millions of people’s faith activity is no longer affected by parameters such as church loyalty, respect for clergy, acceptance of absolutes, tolerance of Christianity, reverence for God, a desire to strive for personal holiness, sensitivity to theological heresy, and appreciation of tradition. The rejection of these elements has created a void that has been filled by the customized spirituality that lacks biblical moorings.
What is this culture-watchdog saying? One of the more specific items I noticed is that a lack of reverence for God has contributed to the spiritual anarchy we see in our nation and in our world. As in everything, my initial question is, what does the Bible have to say about reverence?
Scripture speaks in the Old and New Testament about the reverence we ought to possess for God. The primary term in the New Testament has two basic meanings. The first is the concept of fear in the sense of fright, dread, or to be seized with alarm. The Bible clearly impresses upon us the need for people to possess a healthy dread of God. Jesus warned in Matthew 10:28 that we should “fear Him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell." The second meaning built in the term reverence is the idea of awe, worship, and respect. This concept is the more prominent meaning and is common throughout the Bible.
The passage in Joshua 5:13-15 is one that expresses both of these meanings at once. We see both a healthy fear and a sense of awe given to God by Joshua. It is 5:13-15 that we focus on this morning.
READ JOSHUA 5:13-15
Joshua was faced with a holy situation. He was traveling near Jericho and he “happened” upon this person with his sword drawn. He must have looked like a mighty warrior. Joshua asks this man’s identity and asks whose side he is on. Why do I say this was a holy situation? Because this messenger was not only a messenger of the Lord, but the Archangel Michael [a very educated guess because he identifies himself as the commander of God’s army; this is Michael in Revelation 12:7]. Joshua is face to face with an angel… a holy situation. WDJD? What did Joshua do?
I. ACTED APPROPRIATELY (v. 13-14a)
Immediately upon learning the identity of this person in front of him, Joshua acted appropriately. He fell with his face to the ground in reverence. We find, in Scripture, that when the people of God are faced with a holy situation they act appropriately. Moses and Aaron (Numbers 20:6) when entering the Tabernacle and were faced with the presence of God… fell on their faces. Elijah (1 Kings 18:42), when faced with God’s presence on the top of Mount Carmel, bowed down before God. King Jehoshaphat (2 Chronicles 20:18) worshipped the Lord by bowing his head with his face to the ground. When the people of God encounter God / a holy situation, they act appropriately.
I have one more example. Jesus (Matthew 26:39) when praying and seeking the will of God in the Garden of Gethsemane fell on his face. This was not a slip or an accident, but an act of reverence for God.
Why do this? Why fall to their knees and put their face to the ground? Why fall prostrate on the ground when faced with the commander of the Army of God? It’s all about worship. It’s all about praise. It’s all about physical humility.
APPLICATION: I wonder, when we are faced with holy situations in our lives, how to we act? When we come into this sanctuary, how do we act? When you go to God in prayer, how do you act and what is your posture? Are we reverent during the celebration of the Lord’s Supper? Are we reverent people when faced with holy situations in our lives?