Monday, July 24, 2006

Who Dropped the Ball?

“The people served the LORD all the days of Joshua, and all the days of the elders who survived Joshua, who had seen all the great work of the LORD which He had done for Israel. Then Joshua the son of Nun, the servant of the LORD, died at the age of one hundred and ten. And they buried him in the territory of his inheritance in Timnath-heres, in the hill country of Ephraim, north of Mount Gaash. All that generation also were gathered to their fathers; and there arose another generation after them who did not know the LORD, nor yet the work which He had done for Israel.” Judges 2:7-10

I was thinking back to a “sport” we used to play in high school, which I recently found out was still popular today. In this game, several people gather in a circle and, using only their feet, knees, and even chests, they try to keep a small, bean-stuffed ball in the air without it falling to the ground. It could be a challenge to say the least. I think that is why work boots were popular footwear back then, it was easier to kick that little beanbag around with the wide, flat parts of the boot. I even got pretty good at it, as we would gather in a certain spot daily and spend lunch in a hacky-circle. One thing was definite, though. No one wanted to be the one who dropped the sack.

Well, what does this have to do with the passage in Judges that I began with? Perhaps in the hacky-circle of life, someone dropped the sack. We all know that Joshua, who took over the job of leading an entire nation of people when Moses died, was a man of God. It was Joshua who gave us the hugely popular Bible statement, “As for me and my house, we will serve the LORD” (Josh, 24:15). This was a man who not only lived for God on a daily basis, but made sure that his house, his family, lived for God, too. He strongly influenced the nation. So did the elders that outlived him. Yet, after these people died, something happened. I don’t know who, perhaps the children of those who saw the death of Joshua and the elders, but someone didn’t obey God’s word. Let’s recall what God had years earlier spoken through Moses:

“Hear, O Israel! The LORD is our God, the LORD is one! You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. These words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand and they shall be as frontals on your forehead. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.” Deut. 6:4-9

The purpose of this command was to make sure that the up and coming generations knew the Lord. A love for God and his word was to be in their hearts. They were to teach their children of Him. God was to be central in the Hebrew home! But for some reason, God lost that central place in the heart of His people, and an entire generation was lost.

You see, the book of Judges is a sad book. It’s a revolving door of serving God, serving idols, bondage. They would end up subject to cruel nations, and eventually the Israelites would come to their senses, remember the Lord and cry out to him. And the cycle started all over again. It was all because one generation dropped the ball. One generation was the weak link in the chain of the nation of Israel, and the chain broke.

There’s a lesson in this for us today. After all, Paul in the New Testament told us that those Old Testament people serve as an example to us. Friends, we have a spiritual responsibility before God Almighty to make sure that our children know the Lord Jesus. It is our main ministry in life to make sure that we tell them what God has done for them in sending his Son to hang on that rough cross and die for our sins. I remember the joy I felt when my daughter finally realized that the bad things she does not only hurts us, but it hurts God. Then she knew why Jesus died for her, and she decided to ask His forgiveness! My daughter loves Jesus, and we are doing what we can to keep her growing in the things of God. Our other children in time will come to that point in life that they too must ask Christ for forgiveness and live for him. But it is my job to make sure that they understand that.

Friends, it isn’t simply through the words I say and church attendance. These have their place, but nothing speaks louder than a person living what they believe. Our lives must match our words. How can I show my kids that Jesus can change their lives if I can’t treat my wife right? How can we show them that Christ brings peace and unity between us when we are constantly fighting? How can I model a consistent prayer life if they never see me pray? And by prayer, I don’t mean an occasional bowing of the head at meal time, but a life of prayer. How can I impart into them the importance of the Word of God if I never read the Bible to them? How can I show them how to honor God in every area of life if I don’t aim to honor him myself? Friends, I become just another hypocritical Pharisee to them when I talk a good game, but show them a life void of a true faith in God. Remember, it was James that said “faith without works is dead” (James 2:20). If our faith is real and alive, friends, it should have vital signs. Those signs are seen in how we live our lives.

So remember that you have a responsibility. I close in the words of Jesus Christ Himself:

“Let you light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father in heaven”. Matthew 5:16

God bless!

1 comment:

ruthrap said...

very well said, i'm sending a copy to my one time he was pretty good with a hacky-sack..your post reminded me of him.