Sunday, October 29, 2006

Scoundrels in God's Hands

Intro.: For the last six week we have moved through the second part of Joshua.

  1. It is time to bring our study of Joshua to a temporary halt.

  2. Next week, I want to do what the stores have been doing for weeks – I want to start preparing for Christmas.

  3. December 2, is set aside for decorating the church. Then, on December 3 we will begin our advent lessons.

  4. After the first of the year, I am going to begin a series of messages helping us to understand the return of Jesus Christ.

  5. Later, next Spring we will return to our study of Joshua.

Read: Joshua 1:1-5


Trans: As we come the close on the current series of sermons from the book of Joshua, I want to look at three scoundrels that Joshua had deal with in the early years of his leadership.

  1. I suspect, if we had an choice, we would not want Aiken, the Gibeonites, or Rahab to be part of our church.

  2. Each of them had flaws that we would find offensive and repulsive.

  3. Yet they do have something to teach us.

  4. Though we have looked these three scoundrels earlier, today I want to take one more look at what they have to teach us.

  1. Aiken did not know what he had

    1. Aiken had it all.

      1. He had heard the stories of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.

      2. His parents and grandparents had crossed the Red Sea with Moses

      3. He had been there when the Israelites had taken the Eastern side of the Jordan

      4. He crossed the dried up Jordan with Joshua and had seen Joshua place the pillar of rocks in the midst of the Jordan as a reminder of God's provision and grace.

      5. And he had marched around Jericho seven times and seen the walls fall at the sound of the trumpet

      6. There is no reason for Aiken to know no what it meant to be a part of the family of God

    2. In fact he appeared to be a part of the family of God,
      but when it came time to live out his faith, he washed out

    3. I am sure you remember the story in Joshua – after Jericho fell, the Israelites were told to give everything of value to God. Yet Aiken kept some of it for himself and had to suffer the consequences.

    4. You see, Aiken knew what it meant to be part of the family of God, but he chose to take a different path.

(Ill.) I am reminded of Robert Frosts famous poem, one of my favorites, “The Road Not Taken”1. The twenty lines of this poem tell the story of every man and woman that will make decisions that will take them down one road or another. I fear that Aiken did not take the road less traveled by – he took the road that more convenient to him

(Appl.) There is a danger for all of us, that we are active in the church, but then forget what it means to be a part of the family of God. Decisions are made with any thought about what God wants. Decisions are based on what we want, rather than what God wants.

  1. Gibeonites wanted something that was not theirs

    1. The Gibeonites saw something different in the Israelites. And they would rather be part of it than stand in the way of it. They wanted to be part of it, regardless of the cost.

    2. And, if you remember, they used a ruse to gain that status. Though they were neighbors, they claimed to have traveled a great distance to be associated with God's people. To illustrate their lie, they put on old clothes and brought moldy and stale food.

(Ill.) At nineteen, Al Johnson had joined two other men in robbing a Kansas bank. The case was closed by police after two other convicts were killed in an auto crash and mistakenly identified by bank officials as the robbers. Al felt sure he would never be caught.

He married a Christian girl and pretended to be a Christian before her. She knew nothing of his past crime. Then someone sent him a tract in the mail, titled “God’s Plan of Salvation.” Reading it, he noticed that one of the Bible verses said, “Whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved.”

The realization struck that salvation was for him. He could be forgiven and his conscience set free. He knelt in prayer and accepted Christ.

His life changed. He stopped a lifelong habit of lying. And after much thought and prayer he confessed his crime. His confession made television newscasts and newspaper headlines even in Canada.

Under a Kansas statute of limitations, he was set free, although he chose to repay his share of the stolen funds to the bank. Today, Al Johnson is the manager of a service station, the father of three admiring children, and an outstanding Christian layman.2

    1. There are Al Johnson's throughout the church. Car salesman, insurance salesman, lawyers, doctors can find their way into a church, not because of their faith, but because they want the business.

(Appl.) Take a moment to look at your own reason for being here. Are you here for what you can get out of it or are you here because of your faith. As we spend time getting ready for Christmas, it is also a good time to reflect on the role your faith plays in your life. Why are you here?

  1. Rahab-experienced God's grace

    1. I am not sure that either you or I would want an acknowledged theif as part of my church – though God would have no problem with it. I am not sure that I would want an acknowledged liar in my church, though God would have no problem with it. I am not sure that I would want a prostitute in my church – yet she becomes a welcome member of the Israelite community.

    2. Why was Rahab's experience so different from that of Aiken or the Gibeonites? Could the difference be in the nature of the sin? I don't think so. Could the difference be her wealth? I doubt it. Could the difference be her influence in the community? That's not what scripture says.

    3. Scripture makes it clear that difference was faith – her faith in God. Hebrews 11 puts it this way - “By faith the prostitute Rahab, because she welcomed the spies, was not killed with those who were disobedient.3 What distinguished Rahab from Aiken and from the Gibeonites was not her wealth, it was not her sin, it was not her influence in the community. It was her faith.

Conclusion: As we come to the end of our study of Joshua for now, I want end with a question – where is your faith this today?

Is it in being a part of the right family – like Aiken did?

  1. Is it in being active in the life of the church – like the Gibeonites did?

  2. Or is your faith in the living God, who sacrificed his only son for you, for me?

  3. Where is your faith today?



2Tan, P. L. (1996, c1979). Encyclopedia of 7700 illustrations : A treasury of illustrations, anecdotes, facts and quotations for pastors, teachers and Christian workers. Garland TX: Bible Communications.

3The Holy Bible : New International Version. 1996, c1984 (electronic ed.) (Heb 11:31). Grand Rapids: Zondervan.

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