Sunday, July 04, 2010

As for Me and My House--Part 2

“As for me and my house we will serve the Lord”

If you are like me you have heard this passage quoted before. You have seen it written across people’s doorposts. You have heard it quoted on Christian radio. You may know it is in Joshua. You may not know the many layers of meaning that this passage held when Joshua said it.

For instance, you may not think of this passage in the context of a people who had been wandering through the desert. The people of God had been living in tents for over a generation. For 400 years they had been in slavery. All the while they had been clinging to a promise that God would bring them into the promised land of what is modern day Israel. For twice as long as America has been a nation, the Hebrew people had been clinging to a promise that someday God would give them a land to live in. Now that moment was happening. That promise was fulfilled. Joshua says that he will honor God with the promise he has been given. He will honor God in the place he lives. He will recognize God as the one who fulfills promises and answers prayers. And he will get the chance to live in a home, and not just a tent. His house will be a place where God is honored in.

He said, “Me and My House, We will serve the Lord”

But a house, in Hebrew thought, is more than just a building. It is a group of people. Specifically, it refers to a family grouping. This is how we often interpret it. We look at this verse and say when Joshua says “Me and my house” he is talking about his family. He is saying, as the leader of his family, that his family will follow the Lord. When he does this he does what all good leaders should do. Specifically, he says in effect “I don’t know about you, but this is what me and my family we are going to do. We are going to serve Lord. Are you going to do the same as I?” By being the first to commit his family to follow God, he invites other to follow suit.

He said, “Me and My House, We will serve the Lord”

Along the same lines, maybe he is saying that he is not going to be swayed by what anyone else does. He is committed to the Lord, along with his family. This would certainly fit his character. Those of you who know Bible history know that he and one other person had the only “yes” votes in entering the promised land of Israel when everyone else was too scared to enter. Can you imagine? What is the vote? 200,000 no. 2 yes. Yet Joshua was right then. He is correct in this moment as well.

He said, “Me and My House, We will serve the Lord”

I think all of these things are layers of meaning in the passage. I think it is interesting if you study the passage, though, that the most common use of house is not a building, and not a nuclear family unit. The most common use of the word of house is used of a tribe, or even a nation of people. Over and over again, as a nation the Hebrew people are referred to as the “House of Israel”.

Joshua said, “Me and My House, We will Serve the Lord”

So along with these other layers of meaning, when Joshua stands up and says, “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” What he is saying is that as long as he is leader of the people of Israel, they will serve the Lord. He will not lead them in any other direction. So the people have a choice. They can follow Joshua and this covenant as God’s people, or they can meld in with the rest of the world, and follow a different leader and join with one of the other nations around them. Or they can find a new leader. But when he is leader, he is going to lead the people to serve the Lord. He will not let it go in any other direction.

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