Dream word – GRACE
“I have given you a land for which you did not labour, and cities which you did not build, and you dwell in them; you eat of the vineyards and olive groves which you did not plant.”
Grace has its dangers
In our text for tonight, general Joshua, on being aware of the day of his departure from this life, has called Israel together to remind them, gently reprimand them, and refresh them in their conquest.
Sure, Joshua was old and advanced in age but this day, this particular day he is made aware of his particular departure time. He’s been looking upward at the flight departure board and sure enough, his name has just flicked over and appeared on the call board. “Behold, this day I am going the way of all the earth.” Joshua 23:14 NKJV.After a completed life, I too would like to be so close to the Lord, that I might hear Him rub His hands and say, “Robert, it’s today. 14:30hrs. Can’t wait!”
I think Joshua’s knowledge of his departure was not a general summary of the outcome of advancing years, but rather, a certainness of knowing, when all the “No, no not yets’” are turned into “Yes! Right nows’.” I do believe that some people with listening ears, do get the opportunity to hear their name over the eternal tannoy. I think we all do, if we want to.
Joshua, his eternal bags all packed, first reminds them of God’s grace and our text for tonight is testimony to that fact. This land was a gloriously great and gracious gift but the danger with that grace, is that it is often received by the erroneously expected with such a quiet and diminishing un-thankfulness, that it results in the cascading and catastrophic lackadaisicalness of inattentive worship, (is there really any such thing?) and quickly following on that state is lecherous idolatry, which in response will result in the jealous judgement of God, in all consuming anger. In other words, if grace is expected and treated as almost deserved, it does not produce thankfulness, which in turn diminishes our spiritual stature to such an extent, that we no longer reach up to God, but rather stoop down to idols, causing us, the then rapers of his grace, to be most severely judged.
Now, the scary thing is, that Joshua in his departure discourse goes on to force them into a position of choice. He does it by saying in effect, “I don’t know who you ‘numpties’ are gonna serve but as for me and my house, we are going to serve the Lord.” Israel’s reply at Shechem, is with shocked affirmation! “Oh no, we’re gonna serve the Lord as well. Honest!” And in response Joshua warns them, rebukes them and goads them even farther saying “No you can’t serve Him because He is Holy and Jealous and if you mess with Him, He will turn on You and consume you!” Friends, Joshua could not have been clearer.
So, Israel then, with great clarity and confirmation, enter into the Covenant of Shechem, the recorder and witness there too, being a large stone which was set up under an even larger oak tree, a silent sentinel if you will, to Israel’s words, which would in just a few generations also give witness to the breaking of that covenant by Israel, again and again and again, until God did finally turn on them and God finally did utterly consume them from His gracious land, after previously doing them the greatest of good.
There is some reminding, some reprimanding and some refreshing for some of you who read this tonight. Whatever you do, do not stoop to adulterous idolatry and force God to turn on you, after He has done you so much good already! I think even grace, yes, especially God’s greater grace in Jesus, is still written on a page bearing the waters mark of Shechem. Don’t abuse it, don’t lose it, don’t fake it, don’t rape it, for me thinks that grace so shamed, might bear an ever greater retributive consequence than the law.
Listen: “For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted the heavenly gift, and have become partakers of the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come, if they fall away, to renew them again to repentance, since they crucify again for themselves the Son of God, and put Him to an open shame. For the earth which drinks in the rain that often comes upon it, and bears herbs useful for those by whom it is cultivated, receives blessing from God; 8 but if it bears thorns and briers, it is rejected and near to being cursed, whose end is to be burned. But, beloved, we are confident of better things concerning you, yes, things that accompany salvation, though we speak in this manner.” - Hebrews 6:4-10 NKJV
Pray: Our exclamation to you great King is this: “As for me and my house we too will serve the Lord!” This is our desire, to honour You and to this end we give You both our heart and our soul. Those of us who are the heads of our families, give them all to You and plead with You tonight, to break open the closed rock once more and let the rivers of life pour through each of our generational ravines, that Your chosen and elect, would be graciously washed away, to waiting heaven’s shore. In thankfulness, and remembrance, we shall not shame Your grace. In this we make to You, both our prayer and proclamation. Yes, in Jesus name we ask and say it. Amen and amen.
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