Thursday, August 31, 2017

"Joshua's Charge" - Doug Rehberg

Throughout the history of America out-going presidents have given a farewell address days before they exited their office. The timing is interesting. Each address comes at, arguably, the lowest point in the president’s popularity and influence. However, it’s striking to see how similar so many themes raised by the outgoing presidents are, regardless of party affiliation, political ideology, or popularity.
When George W. Bush gave his farewell address, he spoke of the need for compassion and understanding for immigrants. He said it this way, “In the face of threats from abroad, it can be tempting to seek comfort by turning inward. But we must reject isolationism and its companion, protectionism. Retreating behind our borders would only invite danger.”
Bill Clinton sounded a similar theme when he said, “As we become ever more diverse, we must work harder to unite around our common values and our common humanity.”
Ronald Reagan said, “I’ve spoken of a shining city all my political life, but I don’t know if I ever quite communicated what I saw when I said it. In my mind, it was a tall, proud city built on rocks stronger than oceans, windswept, God-blessed, and teeming with people of all kinds living in harmony and peace; a city with free ports that hummed with commerce and creativity. And if there had to be city walls, the walls had doors and the doors were open to anyone with the will and the heart to get here. That’s how I saw it, and see it still.”
But perhaps the most famous and revered farewell address of all time is the one George Washington gave in 1796. In fact, there is no tradition more steadfastly maintained in the U.S. Senate than the annual reading of George Washington’s farewell. In this “letter to friends,” he warned that the forces of geographical sectionalism, political factionalism, and inference by foreign powers threaten the stability of the Republic. He urged all Americans to subordinate sectional jealousies to common national interests. Judging from the present raging jealousy and factionalism in Washington, maybe the entire Congress should listen to Washington’s warnings every single day!
This Sunday, as a sequel to Scott Parson’s timely messages from the Book of Joshua, and in preparation for our Fall preaching series, “A Charge to Keep”, we will examine Joshua’s farewell address to the leaders of Israel. Rather than issuing a warning of inclusion, 110 year-old Joshua urges exclusion. In fact, he charges the people of God to be ardently faithful to the vision of exclusive subordinance to the God of Israel and His commands.
Remember what Scott said? There is no Old Testament figure who foreshadows Jesus more clearly than Joshua.  Indeed, they have the same name - Yehosha – “God who saves.”
As we begin our new series next week, we will be on a mountain in Galilee where Jesus issues His farewell address. The balance of the series will be devoted to digging into the essence of His charge to all of His disciples, including us. But first, we’ll take a look at what the first Joshua has to say, for it’s as relevant to us as it was to ancient Israel.
In preparation for Sunday’s message, you may wish to consider the following:
1)      How important is persistence in living the Christian life?

2)      In Ecclesiastes 7:8 we read, “The end of a matter is better than its beginning….” Do you think Jesus agrees?

3)      How long did Joshua “lead” Israel after Moses’ death?

4)      What strikes you most from reading his words in Joshua 23:13?

5)      Why does the elderly Joshua seem to deemphasize the past?

6)      What is the focus of his attention?

7)      How much value does Joshua place on obedience?

8)      Why does he counsel separation in verse 7?

9)      What’s the goal of such separation?

10)   What’s he say about idols in verse 7? Do you have any?
See you Sunday!