Sunday Worship 25 January 2009
Speaker: Pastor Rawna
Text: Joshua 24:1-28
There are many accounts of God's covenants being renewed in the OT and in this passage, we read of yet another. Towards the end of Joshua's life, he challenged Israel and her leaders to follow God faithfully. He had seen much disobedience in spite of the numerous times that God had intervened and delivered them by His great power - from out of slavery in Egypt and then leading them to possess the Promised Land. Here then was his farewell message:
"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." Joshua 24:14,15Why was it urgent for us to respond to God in this manner? How should we choose?
Firstly, Yahweh is the one true God and there is no other. He will not stand for other gods and He deserves our loyalty as He alone is God. The test of belief and faithfulness therefore is seen in separation from every other gods. Pr Rawna believed that the present economic crisis was a good test of a Christian's loyalty as his or her true devotion may be demonstrated when times are hard, and when we risk losing our wealth or material possessions.
Secondly, to follow God is to take God as He is and not merely for the gifts or blessings He offers. In v19, Joshua expressed reservation that the people were only paying lip-service and therefore reminded them that if they truly trusted in God, they should know that any future disobedience would lead to severe punishment.
The challenge to faith is similar in our day: how have we chosen - Yahweh or other gods? Why did we choose Jesus? For material gains and blessings? If so, we need to remember that to follow Jesus is to deny ourselves and take up our cross (Mt 16:24) But we must choose one or the other sincerely and faithfully.
Finally, Chinese Christians were commended for observing traditions of family reunions. Joshua's address acknowledged his personal faith and that of his household, which is an encouragement for us to ensure that faith and obedience be found in our own households. While we uphold our faith, it should not be something we subscribe to or preach about in church alone. We may have taken the step to inculcate faith. Now we also need to take the next step - to seriously and purposefully instruct our children to choose God and obey Him sincerely.