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The Captain's Last Sermon

The Bible Study Hour / James Boice
The Truth Network Radio
June 18, 2021 8:00 am

The Captain's Last Sermon

The Bible Study Hour / James Boice

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June 18, 2021 8:00 am

None of us can guarantee the choices of the next generation. We can only choose for ourselves whether or not we'll serve the Lord. On The Bible Study Hour, Dr. James Boice talks about choosing - choosing God now, tomorrow, the day after, and to the very end of our lives.

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None of us can guarantee the choices of the next generation. We can only choose for ourselves whether or not will serve the Lord today on the Bible study our Dr. James voice talks about choosing choosing God, now and tomorrow and the day after and to the very end of our lives to the Bible study our radio and Internet broadcast with Dr. James Boyce preparing you to think and act likely Joshua was all about making choices. Only one choice really, he urged his people to choose God today. Tomorrow and forever. And we must go on choosing as long as we have breath because as Dr. Boyce points out from Joshua 24 in this great battle to which we are called there is no truce number of years ago when the committee on biblical exposition was first getting underway. The organizers had a meeting at which they attempted to define what they meant by expository preaching wasn't such an easy thing to do. So I was present for those discussions and I can assure you it took a great deal of time as we began to wrestle together with the elements that we thought had to be present if preaching was to be what God really intended to may suppository preaching obviously involves say clear teaching of what the text of Scripture has to say. That in itself is difficult, but that's not all of what's involved. That has to be gone in terms of the culture is not enough just to say what passage of Scripture must abandon its own day. We have to see what it means for us today and the first step is prior to the second, then in addition, all of that preaching differs from a mere lecture and that has as its chief and changing of the lives of those who listen on the words that involves change of behavior and differences of motivation very end when we came up with our definition. We said that biblical exposition is communicating the meaning of a text or passage of Scripture in terms of contemporary culture with the specific goal of helping people to understand and obey the truth of God. The chapter we come to the night. I noticed as I read this that she uses a very effective what we would call homiletical technique would've been possible. Of course for Joshua to tell this in the third person he could've said God brought you out. He did this he did that but everybody who does much writing knows that that's less effective than the first person narration.

Joshua couldn't say I did it but he quotes God is saying.

I didn't and so you find. I think 16 times in these few verses that rehearses the history of Israel that great pronoun. I each time in reference to God.

I took your father Abraham from the land beyond the river, letting him throughout Canaan and gave him many descendents. I gave him Isaac and Isaac.

I gave Jacob and Esau. I assigned the hill country to seer Esau but Jacob and his sons went down to Egypt and then I sent Moses and Aaron and I afflicted the Egyptians by what I did there and I brought you out and it goes on and on and on until it ends by saying and so I gave you a land in which you did not toil in cities, you did not build you live in them in the from vineyards and olive groves that you did not plant emphasis. You see, from beginning then is the fact that God had done it and they were to remember that always think of Rudyard Kipling's great recessional poem written in the year 1897, which is somewhat of a classic in the judgment of many people. The best thing he ever wrote God of our fathers. Lord known old Lord of our far-flung battle line beneath those awful hand, we hold dominion over Paul and pine Lord God of hosts. Be with us yet. Lest we forget lest we forget, that's what Joshua was saying to the people you just true. Joshua was no preacher. Joshua was the soldier he was a great administrator and yet Joshua must've thought about the nature of preaching and whether he did or not in an analytical way. He certainly understood it store the end of his life. This great general campaign saddened whose life we been studying became something of a preacher.

I suppose the reason was his deep knowledge of human nature, and his anticipation with some foreboding of what was likely to happen. The people after his departure, and perhaps also after the death of those who had lived with them through the great miracles victories of the Canaanite campaign must've anticipated this. He died those who lived with them through the battles died.

The memory of God's great acts would begin to fade from the minds of the people being surrounded by the pagan Canaanite culture and being sinful men and women they would begin inevitably to drift away from the knowledge and service on the God of their fathers, Jehovah would on these great things and so as I said, he turned into a preacher he wanted to remind them. He wanted to encourage the meat. One of them to persevere in the path on which they had set out together as a nation for the last three chapters of Joshua we have three sermons and it's an interesting feature of the sermons that each one gets longer and what that means it might mean that as preachers get older they become more verbose might mean that their experience teaches them that when they say something once it's not enough that they're going to get through the have to say it longer, it might mean that as they get closer to the grave may become more urgent. Whatever the case, Joshua was sermons got longer the one we have in the 22nd chapter was preached when the 2 1/2 tribes of Reuben, dad and Manasseh were about to go off across the Jordan River to the land. Moses had given them on the far side of the Jordan, that is to the east. He reminded them of the past and urge them to keep the covenants.

The commandment in the law that Moses the servant of God gave them the second sermon is in Joshua 23 The sermon Joshua gave the leaders of the people that is those who were entrusted with carrying out the affairs of state. The affairs of the nation after Joshua himself would be gone and it has the same outline, but with some added additions that in the final chapter of the book Joshua 24 we have a sermon that Joshua preached to the entire assembly of the people. The whole convocation of the tribes of Israel at Shechem shortly before he died here. He urged upon the need to choose God and serve him faithfully in all the years to come.

Verses 14 and 15 are the heart of the sermon, Joshua speaking, he says now fear the Lord and serve him with all faithfulness, throw away the gods your forefathers worshiped beyond the river in Egypt to serve the Lord 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 is for me and my household, we will serve the Lord in which the sermon begins is with a reminder of what God had already done for the people in the past. Now that's the pattern Joshua used earlier, we have the same thing in chapter 22 chapter 23.

But here in chapter 24 we have a most lengthy rehearsal all these great works of God in behalf of the people in past days, Joshua goes the whole way back to Abraham. Yes, and even beyond Abraham, the father of the people to Abraham's father, Tara Mahar's brother and Abraham the fact that in those far distant day as they worship other gods. He describes how God reached out and called Abraham and taught him about himself caught in the knowledge of the true God, and then began to develop what had since become a great nation through him and his posterity when they fell in slavery in Egypt. He said Moses and Aron brought the bounty brought them to their land. He kept them during the years of wandering he gave them the conquest and all those things that brought them through the strength and providence of God in the position I now occupied is emphasis you see is upon remembering not only what God had done, but remembering that it was God would Joshua was saying is your God, who is led you it is Jehovah who is given you the land you now possess. Remember him. Remember that what you are you are because of him and live your lives. Accordingly, I noticed also as I read over this first portion of the sermon that it's not only what God did at his power in the character of God that Joshua brings forth for them to remember what there is also an emphasis upon what they were before God began his work speaks about in reference to Abraham and Tara enabler where the sermon begins. This is what the Lord, the God of Israel says long ago your forefathers, including Tara, father of Abraham enabler live beyond the river and they worshiped other gods. You see, I suppose are many people when they think of God's beginning with Abraham, who think that what probably happened is that God somehow was up in heaven looking down to see if he could find someone home a little bit of good might be found. Perhaps someone who had a little bit of faith. So if when he called them, they would say yes that's what I want to believe and who would immediately begin to follow after God, what were told of this passage in their other passages of the Old Testament that teaches as well as that I was not the case when God looked down from heaven. He did not see a man who had faith and was yearning somehow after the true God, but he saw on this vast mass of humanity. Nothing but those who followed after idols the foolish imaginations of their own hearts and Abraham enabler in Tara fathers on the people were among them.

They worship other gods see we look at the hearts of men and women we can't see them. Of course we do that in our imagination because we want to think well of ourselves. We imagine that there must be want to God and human beings send his trope a man's point of view, but it is true from God's point of view you want to see what God thinks of the heart apart from his supernatural work of regeneration reads sometime. What verses in the Bible talk about the heart.

Jeremiah 17 mine for instance, the heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked who can know it.

That's what Jeremiah says are the Pentateuch in the sixth chapter of Genesis, God, looking down, says God saw that the thoughts and inclinations of his heart. That is the heart of man was only evil all the time you think of Paul writing in the third chapter of Romans in clothing from the 14th and the 55th song, there is none righteous, no not one. There is none to do with good there is none that seek after God, they are together gone out of the way they are together become unprofitable is none to do a good one way God sees the human heart and so if that's the case of when God looks down from heaven upon the heart of man, all he sees is that the heart of man is only see Paul and practicing wicked all the time. From his perspective, where in that kind of a situation could not possibly find a little bit of human faith upon which to build. Lessee himself at first put it there. Which of course is what he did in the case of Abraham. Abraham was an idol worshiper like the others of our God appeared to him. God revealed himself to him. God said I am the true God and placing faith in Abraham's heart brought Abraham out of that idolatry and set him up on a path which in God's providence and by God's own power eventually produced the Jewish nation is exactly the same with us where inclined to look to our past and say well you know rather distinguish past Jews would've said well we are descended from Abraham something important. God says you really want to go on in the Christian life. If you want to make progress. You have to begin with the fact that you heard nothing part for my grace and start their baby because of it. You know how the apostle Paul doesn't second chapter of Ephesians writing to Gentiles people like us says is for you. You were dead in your trespasses and sins were in your walk according to the power of the Prince of the air were by nature children of wrath, even as others.

That was your condition, but because of the great love that he has for you, revealed himself in brought about salvation called you to Jesus Christ. We are what we are not because of what we are because of him seem Joshua to preach the sermon so the people way back and what we would call a relative with the earliest. In the history of true religion.

He did it by referring them to some of them most basic theology of the entire word of God the sovereignty of God in salvation and our utter hopelessness are under wretchedness, our sin, unless God first revealed himself to us. I noticed one other thing here and it's worth commenting on, and that is the persistence of idolatry. The persistence of sin. Among the people. Even at this relatively late date. Sometimes when I'm preaching about Abraham and his ancestry and the fact that there was no good, and Abraham I stress the point by saying that the presence of idols among Abraham's descendents persisted even to the third generation, even after God called him, even after you have the knowledge of the true God, and I illustrate that by the fact that Abraham had a son Isaac and Isaac had a son, Jacob, and Jacob went off to live in Harriman. He married Leah and Rachel and when he had to leave Tara and make his way back to his own land because of troubles with his uncle. His wife Rachel stole the household God's from her father and brought them along. Now the incident where she hid them when her father came and said, you've stolen my idols she hid them under saddle and she sat on it, so they couldn't be found in three generations, along the lines of the patriarchs, Abraham and Isaac, and Jacob. The idols were still there. That's a horrible thing.

It's a striking thing is an astounding thing. I always say, but look how much more astounding is this all these years of gone by all the years of slavery and the wandering in the wilderness and the conquest of all this time God is been rebuilding himself in a marvelous way to the people here even at the end Joshua was about to die. He says throw away the gods your forefathers worshiped beyond the river in Egypt, and serve the Lord.

I don't think he was just whistling. I think you know there was a problem there seem the idols.

After all this time Israel after all these demonstrations of the power of God, so he saying get rid of them. Get rid of them and serve God, you say well we don't have idols, that's true, not literal idols, we can say, but there are things that occupy the position of idols in our lives and we don't want to give up things that are more important to us than the law of God our own plans for our lives what other people think of us, material things on those things that seem innocent and often perhaps can be if there surrendered to God. Given over to his hands but which come up between ourselves and God in which we cling which were so reluctant to give up. You say yes, but I've been a Christian for many many years. Yes and these people experience the grace of God for many many years with the idols were still there. As I say, even at this late date. Joshua says get rid of them, and serve the Lord how his challenge to them is to choose God. I mentioned we were talking about Joshua 22 Joshua 23 that this is been a challenge along must make a decision.

He saying you must choose to serve God, but in those earlier chapters. The word choose does not occur, does here the first time shows for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether it's the gods your forefathers are beyond the river gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living, but as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord. That's what he wanted them to do this word choose curse that in the Hebrew text in attendance which grammarians call intensive continuous action. That's important because it means that when Joshua called upon the people to choose.

He wasn't merely calling upon them to choose in this incident and then be done with it as it never had to make a choice again, but if we can put it this way was calling upon them to choose now and to continue choosing tomorrow and to continue choosing the day after that and so on to the very end of the license away. Joshua himself and operated the had expounded upon this last sentence he might've said, but as for me and my household, we chose to serve the Lord on the dolling during all these long years that led up to this moment. I have chosen to serve God and I am choosing to serve God, now and as long as God is me breath I am going to continue to so choose. Francis Schaeffer says something about Joshua's character. At this point.

He says this was the character of Joshua.

He chosen to be chosen.

He chose and he kept right on choosing the understand the dynamics of choice once for all choice and existential choice as well. So his word to the people was brought an affirmation puffed up on the spur of the moment. It was an affirmation embedded in Joshua's comprehension of what is required of a person made in the image of God, one called upon not to obey God like a machine or an animal.

But to obey God by choice site is not apply to me answer is yes. Course it does, you say well I became a Christian. Two years ago five years ago 10 years ago I made my choice. The gospel is presented.

I said yes, I'll believe I'll follow Jesus Christ. Well that's good you have to begin a journey someplace dirty begins with the first step is what we say. But the dirty dozen end with the first step choice is made at the beginning is a choice that must be continued and which must be made again and again and which must be made, particularly when we are challenged to go another way to worship false idols of the world is either no real discipleship of there's no real choosing. The very fact that we are called upon to choose is what recognizes us loose creatures made in God's image able to choose them and serve them you say yes but I thought God chose us.

I thought that's what election was all about. That is true, but it is precisely because God chooses us.

We must go on choosing to see how that sermon goes.

He starts the beginning he says Abraham chose God chose Abraham you didn't choose to leave Egypt.

God chose to bring you out of Egypt. You didn't choose the land chose to give it to you, but simply because God is now you must choose. And it's a real choice.

Joshua doesn't weigh it one way or the other. EEE doesn't say all these other choices are impossibly recognizes that they are quite possible he spells it out. He says are three kinds of God you can work it beside Jehovah worshiped the goddess worship back in the Chaldees that is the gods of the Babylonian Pantheon was the ones Abraham knew some of the idols went along with the people, even many generations later, you can worship the gods will worship in Egypt quite a different set of God sees with the gods of the river Nile gods of the land, the God of the sky, the greatest of all gods was wrong. The son God considered to be impersonated in writing Pharaoh God demonstrated his power over these gods and the plagues by which he brought the people out each one of those plagues was directed against one or more of the pagan gods of Egypt. It showed God to be all powerful and the gods of Egypt to be nothing but there were those gods you can choose them thoroughly said there the gods of the Amorites that is the gods of the land which you now dwell. Great tendency in antiquity worship the local deity, the God of this particular mountain that particular stream or this three or whatever it may be Canaan was full of those gods. They were the worst gods of all horrible gods. Gods like Moloch who demanded the sacrifice of newborn infants and other horrible things. Those were the gods of the land in which they were now dwelling and Joshua says make your choice.

You've got the gods of Egypt gods about the gods of Canaan are the God of Israel, while obey after choose to go on choosing. As for me and my house we are going to choose God's people made their choice seemed easy for all. Given the land actually worship God.

That's the way they reply people said all far from sister per se the Lord to serve other gods, it was the Lord our God himself who brought us and our forefathers up out of Egypt. My land of slavery and perform those great signs before our eyes. He protected us in our entire journey and among all the nations to which we traveled in the wardrobe out before as all the nations including the Amorites, who lived in the land. We will serve the Lord because he is our God, and Joshua, I guess he thought that was just a little bit too glib. Came back a little too quickly. He said to himself, you're not really wrestling with it. You see, you think it's easy to serve God.

You think you're quite capable of serving God know the depravity of your heart you don't know the holiness of the God you are called to serve. Just approaching it too lightly and he said to them, no, you're not able to serve the Lord. He is only God is a jealous God will not forgive your rebellion in your sin's of you for sake the Lord and serve foreign gods, you turn and bring disaster on you and make an end of you after he is a good you will be far better for you to continue to worship your idols, and to say were going to worship God and then fall away worship the idols think what it is you're doing the people's Iona will serve the Lord. Joshua said were your witnesses against yourselves that you chosen to serve the Lord and they say yes yes were witnesses.

So Joshua makes his appeal. One more time say they said they'd serve the Lord, but they haven't said they throw away their idols and so he says all right then, throw away the following God's letter among you, and yield your hearts to the Lord, the God of Israel, and all the people said to Joshua, yes, yes, we will serve the Lord our God and obey him, and it was a situation where further words were useless. So Joshua took them at their spoken word wrote up a covenant for the people. That is an agreement they were going to serve God. He wrote down were told that he recorded these things in the book of the law of God that must be the book of Joshua, including this chapter telling what the people and said they would do those works of the words of the covenant, yet yes we will serve the Lord that he put up a stone memorial. He said this is a witness when I'm gone. That stone can appear when you see that stone you can remember that these are the things that you said. And with that Joshua man of God passes from the same. He fought the good fight you'd finish the race. The course was laid up before him a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give him the day of his appearing and not to him only, but also to all those who love God and look for his appearing.

You know, Joshua was effective in that up to a point were told in verse 31 Israel serve the Lord throughout the entire lifetime of Joshua, which of course was almost over, and of the elders who outlived him and would experience everything the Lord had done for Israel and that's wonderful. We turn on two pages in the Bible and in the second chapter of Judges in the passage that follows immediately after a repetition of that very verse the people serve the Lord throughout the lifetime of Joshua and of the elders who outlived him and who had seen all the great things the Lord had done for Israel.

Same passage we read after that whole generation had been gathered to their fathers, another generation grew up, who knew neither the Lord nor what he had done for Israel and then the Israelites did evil in the eyes of the Lord and served the bales they forsook the Lord God of their fathers brought them out of Egypt. I followed and worshiped various gods of the people around them.

You and I can guarantee the choices of the next generation may be his church is hundred and 60 years old and God has blessed us over all those years long time in history of the land as young as the United States of America, God has blessed us over all those years of faithful Bible centered ministry and people who serve the Lord hear this location of the city of Philadelphia but we cannot guarantee generation from now I will still be true and pray that it might converge faithfulness upon those who are younger going to carry it on in the generation to come but we cannot guarantee it.

Joshua couldn't guarantee Moses couldn't guarantee it.

My point is that does not excuse us, we must look for God. We must make the choice was going choosing as long as we have breath because in this great battle which were called there is no truce there is no ending to the Lord Jesus Christ himself returns may be. We pray that it may be that where faithful God because he chooses to do so will keep the future generations faithful to the true witness to God's grace will not perish from the place that he is assigned us to serve spray our father. It's sobering to read a passage like this and realize that for all the strength all the courage and all the spiritual fortitude of this great man Joshua. It was only a short time later, the people departed and worshiped other gods and enter father.

He stood firm. He served you to the end and that is what we are called upon to do. We are father would be like Joshua not like those who fell away, we would be like this man who said to the people of his day choose choose but as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord. Amen. You are listening to Bible study hour with the Bible teaching of Dr. James Boyce listener supported ministry of the alliance of confessing Evangelicals.

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