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Northside Journal: Father's Day 06

WHICH WAY TO GO?

Joshua 7:20-26; 24:14-22, 31

As Fathers we have the opportunity to lead our families in the direction we chose. In the Old Testament book of Joshua we have two fathers who made decisions that affected them and their families for eternity.  I would like to introduce these men to you and examine their actions and their words.  They may help us to make right decisions for our families and ourselves.

   The first man I want to write about is Achan (Joshua 7:20-26).  Achan had experienced all the miracles that occurred over the 40 years of desert wandering of Israel.  He had seen water pour forth from the rock two different times during those years, he had eaten the miraculous bread called Manna that appeared everyday except the Sabbath and quail sent into the camp of Israel.  He had also seen God’s judgment fall on those who rebelled against him.  He was there when God opened the ground from under the rebellious Hebrews who had followed Korah and Dathan; he saw fire come down from heaven and burn up the two sons of Aaron who offered strange fire upon God’s altar, the only thing not burned were the holy vestures they were wearing.  He was in the camp of Israel when poisonous snakes came in and began to bite and kill those who murmured against the Lord, he had seen those who by faith looked to the brazen serpent lifted above the earth healed instantly.  He had crossed over the Jordan River as the Lord dried it up during the spring flood and entered the land of Canaan by the miraculous hand of God.  He was there when Joshua gave God’s instructions concerning the city of Jericho when he said,  Now the city shall be doomed by the LORD to destruction, it and all who are in it. Only Rahab the harlot shall live, she and all who are with her in the house, because she hid the messengers that we sent. And you, by all means abstain from the accursed things, lest you become accursed when you take of the accursed things, and make the camp of Israel a curse, and trouble it.  But all the silver and gold, and vessels of bronze and iron, are consecrated to the LORD; they shall come into the treasury of the LORD." (Josh 6:17-19)  Achan had marched around Jericho once a day for six days and on the seventh day, seven times then joined in the shout of faith that brought down the mighty walls of Jericho.  He was like many of us today who have grown up in church and have studied all the wonderful events that are written in God’s Word and have personally seen God’s hand move in the lives of people. Others have not learned God’s Word but have had others share it with you, we can be just like Achan, knowing about it, experiencing it, but not believing it.  For the events that took place in his life are proofs of his lack of faith in the God he had experienced throughout his lifetime.  Knowing that God had commanded them to take nothing from Jericho, he did so anyway, a beautiful Babylonian garment, two hundred shekels of silver, and a wedge of gold weighing fifty shekels, and hid them in the earth in the middle of his tent.  He was blinded by the wealth before him into believing that God could not see inside his tent and under the earth.  This is the same God that created the very earth he used to hide the stolen goods.  This is the same God who is all knowing and all seeing!  How could someone be some dumb as to think they could steal from God and not be found out?  I often wonder about that today when people tell me they can’t afford to tithe.  How can you be so dumb? Don’t you realize that you are also stealing from God?  The Bible tells us “"Will a man rob God? Yet you have robbed Me! But you say, 'In what way have we robbed You?' In tithes and offerings. You are cursed with a curse, for you have robbed Me, even this whole nation. Bring all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be food in My house, and try Me now in this," Says the LORD of hosts, "If I will not open for you the windows of heaven and pour out for you such blessing that there will not be room enough to receive it.” (Malachi 3:8-10)  Achan thought he could hide from God… how foolish.

   The greatest problem with the disobedience of Achan was its consequences.  First, 36 innocent men were killed in the next battle with the little outpost of Ai.  There were 36 young widows now with numerous orphaned children because of Achan’s greed and selfishness.  When God revealed to Joshua that this defeat and the death of these men were caused by Achan’s sin, he confessed and said “"Indeed I have sinned against the LORD God of Israel, and this is what I have done…” He had taken no thought of God when he sinned, no thought of his people Israel and no thought of his own family.  He simply saw the temptation and took what he thought he deserved.  The consequences did not end with the death of 36 innocent men and the forced confession of Achan, no indeed!  There is an old and true saying, “Our sin will bring us farther than we ever thought we would stray, keep us longer than we ever thought we would stay, and cost us more than we ever thought we would pay.” The scripture tells us, “Then Joshua, and all Israel with him, took Achan the son of Zerah, the silver, the garment, the wedge of gold, his sons, his daughters, his oxen, his donkeys, his sheep, his tent, and all that he had, and they brought them to the Valley of Achor. And Joshua said, ‘Why have you troubled us? The LORD will trouble you this day.’  So all Israel stoned him with stones; and they burned them with fire after they had stoned them with stones.” (Josh. 7:24-25)  This father was no blessing to  his children.  But, hold on!  There is another man in this book we need to look at, Joshua.

   Joshua is a man all fathers need to take a look at and use as a pattern for our own life.  He had not only gone through the same wanderings of Israel for the past 40 years, he had gone through the plagues of Egypt, the crossing of the Red Sea, the giving of the Ten Commandments and was blessed to witness the appearance and voice of God on Mt. Sinai.  But this man experienced these things with a heart of faith.  These were not just things he witnessed but things he believed.  When temptation came his way, he stood strong on God’s Word and did not waver.  He thought of others above himself, and God above all others.  When he came to the end of his way he spoke to Israel and challenged them to follow his lead, listen to his challenge:

Josh 24:14-15 "Now therefore, fear the LORD, serve Him in sincerity and in truth, and put away the gods which your fathers served on the other side of the River and in Egypt. Serve the LORD! And if it seems evil to you to serve the LORD, choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD."

  Now there is a man to immolate!  Here is the example we need as fathers!  He challenged them and us to “Fear the Lord”. Unlike Achan whose selfishness robbed him of the respect due to God, Joshua believed and lived it.  The book of Hebrews lets us know that if we are God’s children He will discipline us just as a father is supposed to do his children, “For whom the LORD loves He chastens, and scourges every son whom He receives." (Heb. 12:6) He knew that the Lord was jealous for us as He proclaimed to Moses, “For I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children to the third and fourth generations of those who hate Me, 6 but showing mercy to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments.” (Ex. 20:5-6)

   His words, “Serve Him in sincerity and in truth” were not mere words but truth that had been lived!  He and Caleb were the only spies among twelve sent into Canaan by Moses to investigate the land who came back with a positive report, while the other ten did not serve with sincerity, but called for them to return to Egypt.  He did not serve God because he “had to” or because he thought “it’s the best thing to do” nor did he do it because he was “scared not to do it”.  He served the Lord because he “wanted to”.  The New Testament tells us we too are supposed to serve the Lord, “Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God's.” (Cor 6:19-20)  This type of commitment must be sincere and truthful.  There is no need lying to God; He knows our thoughts… you may fool others but not God.  So, we too must take     Joshua’s challenge and serve Him in sincerity and truth. 

   Joshua continued his challenge to follow only God and to leave the old false religions of their fathers across the river and back in Egypt.   Jesus gives us the same challenge today, "No servant can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon." (Luke 16:13)  You cannot serve two masters!  If you will serve God, put away everything that distracts you from this service, including religions that do not honor Jesus Christ as Lord or families that encourage unrighteousness and ungodliness.  Listen to the Lord and serve Him only.   Then you can truly says along with Joshua “as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord”.

   Two fathers, two choices, two consequences.  Achan chose to “do it his way” and lost all… even his life and that of his family.  Joshua on the other hand honored the Lord and received blessing that were passed on to his children.  At the age of 110 he went to be with the Lord and the testimony of his life is quoted in Joshua 24:31 “Israel served the LORD all the days of Joshua, and all the days of the elders who outlived Joshua, who had known all the works of the LORD which He had done for Israel.”

   Chose to be a Joshua and serve the Lord with all your family.  Happy Fathers Day!