Eighteenth Sunday after Pentecost (text from The Bible in 90 Days) 10/4/2009

As For Me and My House

Lessons:     Genesis 2:18-24     Psalm 8 (5)     Hebrews 1:1-4; 2:5-12     St. Mark 10:2-16     Semicontinuous Series         Job 1:1; 2:1-10        Psalm 26 (3)   Prayer of the Day     Sovereign God, you have created us to live in loving community with one another. Form us for life that is faithful and steadfast, and teach us to trust like little children, that we may reflect the image of your Son, Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord. Amen.

Text from "The Bible in 90 Days"

      24:1  Then Joshua gathered all the tribes of Israel to Shechem, and summoned the elders, the heads, the judges, and the officers of Israel; and they presented themselves before God. 2 And Joshua said to all the people, “Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel: Long ago your ancestors—Terah and his sons Abraham and Nahor—lived beyond the Euphrates and served other gods.      14 “Now therefore revere the Lord, and serve him in sincerity and in faithfulness; put away the gods that your ancestors served beyond the River and in Egypt, and serve the Lord. 15 Now if you are unwilling to serve the Lord, choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served in the region 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.”      16 Then the people answered, “Far be it from us that we should forsake the Lord to serve other gods; 17 for it is the Lord our God who brought us and our ancestors up from the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery, and who did those great signs in our sight. He protected us along all the way that we went, and among all the peoples through whom we passed; 18 and the Lord drove out before us all the peoples, the Amorites who lived in the land. Therefore we also will serve the Lord, for he is our God.”


Joshua 24:1-3, 14-18 New Revised Version Bible (C)1989, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America.

In our readings this week, Israel has experienced a change in leadership. Moses led the people of God through 40 years of wilderness wandering. But when it was time to enter into the Promised Land, it was Joshua who would lead them. For years he served God faithfully, leading Israel through battle after battle, eventually conquering the land that God was giving them, and making it their home.

In this week’s text, Joshua is “old and well advanced in years.” He has had many successes throughout the years. He has seen many armies defeated. He has seen his soldiers be victorious time after time. Yet he realizes that Israel’s success is not the result of his own military expertise. It is not his leadership that stands at the heart of this story. It is not the overwhelming might of Israel’s soldiers (in fact, in most instances, Israel’s opponents were stronger than it was). No, Joshua knows that Israel’s success is based on God’s faithfulness. Joshua knows that whenever Israel strayed from God’s guidance, they suffered setback after setback. Yet whenever Israel was faithful to God, and served God alone, they were victorious.

And so in his parting words to God’s people, he reminds them that they have two options. They can follow other gods. They can adopt the practices and the priorities of the people who surround them. They can turn away from God, and towards other beliefs and other practices. Or, instead, they can choose to follow the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. They can place their lives and their hopes in the hands of the One who delivered them from Israel; the One who head their cries of dismay; the One who called them into the hope of a bright future.

Israel can follow other Gods, or they can follow the true God. That is their choice. But, says Joshua, “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” Joshua not only demands their faithfulness. He models it himself. He has spent a lifetime seeking God, and following God’s will. He has done his best to hold at bay that which tempts him away from God. He has learned that faithfulness to God is much more rewarding than anything else in life. And the legacy he leaves for Israel is one of faithfulness.

A verse or two after this week’s text, Joshua dies at the ripe old age of 110 years. Israel immediately begins looking for a new leader. A number of rulers will succeed him, but few will have his faithfulness, and few will enjoy his successes. The legacy that Joshua leaves to Israel, and to us, is the life of one who sought to follow the Lord in all that he did. “Choose this day whom you will serve… but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” With his words and with his witness, Joshua called Israel to a life of service, in God’s name. He issues the same call to us. Whom will we serve?

David J. Risendal

Pastor

Exploring This Week’s Text:

  1. How did ancient Israel fare when they were unfaithful to God?
  2. How were things different when they lived in a way that was faithful?
  3. What did Joshua do to encourage their faithfulness?

Connecting with This Week’s Text:

  1. What other loyalties and obligations vie for my attention?
  2. How is life different when it is centered on serving God?
  3. What could I do to remind myself of how important to have my life centered on service to God?

Scheduled Readings for "The Bible in 90 Days" 9/13/2009 - 12/12/2009

Date

Begin Reading At Sermon Based On
9/13 Genesis 1:1 Genesis 1:1-19
9/20 Leviticus 1:1 Exodus  16:2-15
9/27 Deuteronomy 23:12 Deuteronomy 6:1-9
10/4 1 Samuel 28:20 Joshua 24:1-3, 14-18
10/11 1 Chronicles 1:1 1 Kings 3:5-12
10/18 Nehemiah 13:15 Nehemiah 1:4-11a
10/25 Psalm 89:14 Job 38:1-11
11/1 Isaiah 14:1 Psalm 104:24-34, 35b
11/8 Jeremiah 33:23 Isaiah 25:6-9
11/15 Daniel 9:1 Ezekiel 2:1-5
11/22 Matthew 26:57 Micah 6:1-8
11/29 Acts 6:8 John 20:19-31
12/6 Hebrews 1:1 Romans 5:1-11