Scripture Focus- Joshua 24
“Myths of Motherhood”
Somebody said a child is carried in its mother’s womb for nine months. Somebody does not know that a child is carried in its mother’s heart forever.
Somebody said it takes about six weeks to get back to normal after you’ve had a baby. Somebody doesn’t know that once you’re a mother, normal is history.
Somebody said you learn how to be a mother by instinct. Somebody never took a three-year old shopping.
Somebody said being a mother is boring. Somebody never rode in a car driven by a teenager with a driver’s permit.
Somebody said you don’t need an education to be a mother. Somebody never helped a fourth grader with his math.
Somebody said you can’t love the fifth child as much as you love the first. Somebody doesn’t have five children.
Somebody said the hardest part of being a mother is labor and delivery. Somebody never watched her “baby” get on the bus for the first day of kindergarten.
Somebody said a mother’s job is done when her last child leaves home. Somebody never had grandchildren.
Somebody said your mother knows you love her, so you don’t need to tell her. Somebody isn’t a mother.
We honor the importance of women, and motherhood. In Grafton, West Virginia there is a site commemorating the first celebration of Mother’s Day, which took place there on May 10, 1908. It wasn’t until six years later that President Woodrow Wilson made it a national holiday. The holiday was started by a local, Anna Jarvis, who historians say never enjoyed motherhood herself.
God designed the family as a basic building block of society. A good Christian family follows God and His Word, and each individual members of the family fulfills their purpose in the structure of the family. Family supports and shapes our lives significantly. There are no perfect families but there are faithful families.
Our text focuses on the message of Joshua to Israel. Joshua was one of the twelve spies of Israel sent by Moses to scope out the Promised Land. After the death of Moses, he was raised up to lead the Israelites in conquest of Canaan. He was a military genius and a godly leader.
His last meeting with the people of God took place when the honored leader gave his farewell. Joshua was deeply concerned with the growing complacency on the part of Israel. They easily accepted joint occupancy of the Promised Land.
A Review of Blessings vv1-13
Joshua assembled the people together and communicated what God had for them. God spoke– I took, I gave, I assigned, I sent, I afflicted, I brought, I delivered. God reviewed all he had done for Israel.
God has called and raised up Abraham, and multiplied his descendants. He gave them land as a possession and then Jacob and his sons went down to Egypt. Moses and Aaron were sent, and Egypt was plagued to secure the deliverance of God’s people. God delivered them from Egypt and brought them to the Promised Land. They crossed the Jordan River and came to Jericho. The peoples of the land fought against them but God gave them the victory.
God said in v13 I gave you a land you did not labor for, and cities you did not build, though you live in them you are eating from vineyards and olive groves you did not plant.
Now we come to the heart of the passage.
Every family has a choice and the first part of it is to-
Fear the Lord, or Follow the World.
V14 Fear the Lord. . .
The fear of the Lord is awareness you are in the presence of a holy, just, and mighty God. Our sinful natures cause us to follow the world rather than walking with God. From the beginning to the end of the Bible we are told to fear the Lord. Moses said it, Joshua said it, the Prophets said it, Jesus said it, the Apostles said it. The Bible uses the word fear at least 300 times in reference to God. For the unbeliever, to fear God is to fear judgment and eternal separation from God. For the believer, the fear of God is reverence for God.
Hebrews 12:28-29 Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, for our God is a consuming fire.
To fear God is to respect him so deeply that the entirety of your life is impacted.
When Martin Luther, a key figure in the Protestant Reformation, was taken before the Emperor Charles V at the court in Vernes in 1521, he was accused of disobeying the Pope, dishonoring the Church, and misrepresenting God’s truth. Luther, they say, as he stood before this august gathering, was visibly shaken. He was overwhelmed. He hesitated. And finally he was able to ask for more time to “think it over.”
His enemies assumed that he was overawed by the emperor. Luther was a simple monk, son of a miner. They figured he was humbled by the presence of this prince, the lord of Austria, Burgundy, the Low Countries and the most important man on the continent. But they were wrong.
The truth is explained in his biography by Roland Bainton. It was not so much that he stood in the presence of the emperor that shook him up as that he and the emperor alike were going to be called upon to answer before Almighty God.
That’s why he was trembling. Luther feared God more than he feared the emperor. The next day he explained it. He said, “My conscious is captive to the Word of God. I cannot and I will not recant anything, for to go against conscience is neither right nor safe. God help me. Amen.”
If you understand the fear of God, you will not want to let God down. Oswald Chambers said, “The remarkable thing about fearing God is that when you fear God you fear no one, nothing else. Whereas if you do not fear God, you fear everything else.” Blessed is everyone who fears the Lord.
To fear the Lord, consider the majesty of all he has made and all he has done. Psalm 8:3-4 When I observe your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you set in place, what is a human being that you remember him, a son of man that you look after him?
To fear the Lord, consider His Word. Ecclesiastes 12:13-14 When all has been heard, the conclusion of the matter is this: fear God and keep his commands, because this is for all humanity. For God will bring every act to judgment, including every hidden thing, whether good or evil.
To fear the Lord, consider you will be accountable to him for your life. 2 Corinthians 5:10-11 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each may be repaid for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil. Therefore, since we know the fear of the Lord, we try to persuade people. What we are is plain to God, and I hope it is also plain to your consciences.
Fear of the Lord in your family is about your passion.
Every family has a choice and the second part of it is to-
Serve the Lord or serve yourself.
V14 Worship him in sincerity and truth. .
Sincerity- the idea of faithfulness. The root word for sincerity means to cause to be certain or sure. Sincerity is faithfulness with pure motives.
There are some things all Christians are responsible to be sincere and faithful in- devotion to God, dedication to his word. Then there are duties each of us has in our families based on our unique situation in life.
Daniel was faithful in his responsibilities regarding the affairs of state, but we know from the book of Daniel that this was the result of his faith and devotion to the Lord. God said that Moses was “faithful in all My household” and this was the result of Moses’ faith. In Nehemiah 7:2, we read that Nehemiah put his brother Hanani in charge of Jerusalem “for he was a faithful man,” but the source and motivation for his faithfulness is quickly seen in the attached statement “and feared God more than many.”
Faithfulness comes through God’s truth (His Word), the empowering ministry of the Spirit, and the edifying and encouraging ministry of the body of Christ. Faith and faithfulness stand to each other as root and fruit. The ultimate source or the means of faithfulness is one’s relationship with God through faith, but especially as that faith is exercised in the light of God’s truth.
The Chinese bamboo tree does absolutely nothing—or so it seems—for its first four years, but sometime during the fifth year, it suddenly shoots up ninety feet in sixty days. Now we might ask the question, “Does the bamboo tree grows in six weeks or in five years?” Regardless of the answer, the fact is that at the end of five years there is a tremendous difference. Being faithful in our lives and responsibilities is often like the bamboo tree.
Sometimes we continue to expend a great deal of effort and see few results—nothing appears to be happening. But the promise of Scripture is that if we continue to be faithful to the Lord, we will eventually receive rewards for our efforts. If not in this life, definitely in the life to come.
We can choose to serve God or we can make ourselves god; but we can’t do both. We can choose to follow the Word of God or we can choose to follow the philosophies of men; but we can’t do both. We can choose to worship in spirit in truth or we can choose the worship that pleases us; but we can’t do both! We can choose the lifestyle of holiness or we can choose the lifestyle of the world; but we can’t do both!
Serving the Lord in your family is about your priorities.
Every family has a choice and the third part of it is to-
Follow the Lord or follow after idols.
V15 But if it doesn’t please you to worship the Lord, choose for yourselves today: Which will you worship—the gods your fathers worshiped beyond the Euphrates River or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you are living? As for me and my family, we will worship the Lord.
The problem for Israel was idolatry. An idol is anything that replaces the one, true God. God’s covenant with his people was based on exclusive worship of him alone.
Exodus 20:3-4 Do not have other gods besides me. Do not make an idol for yourself, whether in the shape of anything in the heavens above or on the earth below or in the waters under the earth.
The book of Hosea uses the imagery of adultery to describe Israel’s chasing after other gods, like an unfaithful wife chases after other men. The history of Israel is riddled with idol worship, judgment, forgiveness, and return. Idolatry robs God of the glory that is rightly his and is something he will not tolerate.
Our modern idols are many and varied. They are pleasure, power, possessions, and other people.
Family can become an idol.
Sometimes parents nurture their children, but not their relationship with the Lord or their marriage, for 18-plus years, and then get divorced when the children are grown because they have nothing else.
Other parents seek the approval of their children more than the approval of the Lord, so they fail to “bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.”
Some families spend a fortune on material things, and nice vacations to spend quality time together, and then claim to not have time or money to give to the Lord’s work, or send their kids on a short-term mission trip.
Many men abdicate their God-given responsibility to be the spiritual leaders of their home, settling for father of the year instead. It’s a lot harder to plan a family devotion than a family outing.
A lot of families who would rather spend quality time together at a sporting event than quality time together worshiping and serving the Lord.
Some think they must have a perfect family. When my family is an idol, the idealistic picture of what it should be keeps a man or woman from enjoying an imperfect spouse or child. The idol of a perfect family steals away happiness in a good one.
Our self-identify can be primarily in our family. We clearly have important identity in our family. However, it is not ultimate. As Jesus said, Who are my father and mother and brothers and sisters but those who do the will of my father. He went so far as to say that unless we hate our family we cannot be his disciple. By this I believe him to be making a comparative statement. Our love for God must outstrip even the most important human relationships.
Do I have a deep, unshakable fear of disaster for my family?
Do I draw my happiness and identity from my family over Christ?
Eternity is at hand. This life is incredibly short in comparison to eternity.
Our hearts and our families belong to God alone.
What our families crave and need is God’s love. From that endless reservoir of joyful overflow, we act as a firehose, channeling His love to our families.
Why is idolatry so serious? God won’t compete for his glory.
V22 You are witnesses against yourselves that you yourselves have chosen to worship Yahweh.
V23 Get rid of the foreign gods. . .offer your hearts to the Lord.
What you do as a family, reveals what your passion, and priorities are, and will direct your practices as a family.
Realizing that further words would be fruitless, Joshua solemnly renewed the covenant. He wrote down their agreement in the Book of the Law of God, which was probably placed beside the ark of the covenant. As a final reminder Joshua also apparently inscribed the statutes of the covenant on a large stone slab which was set up beneath the oak at this sacred location. Joshua said this stone was a witness, as if it had heard all the transactions of the covenant. He led the people of Israel in a sacred ritual of covenant renewal by which they pledged to fear and follow the Lord God, Joshua completed his last public act. With the memories of this solemn occasion indelibly impressed on their minds the Israelites returned to their homes in possession of their inheritance, and Joshua prepared to meet God.
What choice will your family make?
Love God, love one another, love the world. Serve God, serve one another, and serve the world.