Something Dad Taught Me

I recently spent some time counselling a father in our church whose child has some doubts and fears. He’s a great dad and wanted to know how to help his child through doubt.

How can you trust God when you don’t understand why things are happening the way they are?

That’s the question he was asking. That’s a tough question for anyone to answer. How can you learn to trust God even when it seems as if you’ll never know why he’s allowing something painful to happen to you? For me, I thought back to my own dad. Over the last 29 years my dad has always been committed to what was best for me. He’s sacrificed numerous times for my good. As a young child he constantly went out of the way to communicate his love. A few examples:

  • When leaving home dad always stopped at the door, knelt down and said, “There’s always time for hugs and kisses.” Even when he was in a hurry.
  • Dad often returned home with candy in his shirt pocket. He’d walk in the front door, catch my eyes, then tap on that pocket as if to say, “Though I was gone, I was thinking about you, and I brought you something back.”
  • As and older child and teenager dad made sure he was at every sports game I played. He ruthlessly rearranged his schedule to be present in my life.

Those are just a few examples but you get the picture. Dad worked so hard at demonstrating his love for me that even when times came where he couldn’t give me all the answers, or explain why he was or wasn’t doing something I could trust his intentions for me. He had years of loving trust built into the relationship.

There are two applications here:

  1. Parents, you are either building or destroying your child’s ability to trust you. Consistently speaking and demonstrating love and trustworthiness to your children will give them a foundation of trust in you. When the time comes and you can’t explain all your reasons to your child they’ll be able to simply take what you can explain to them and trust. You’ll be able to draw on the years of love and trust you’ve built into the relationship.
  2. Parents, you are teaching your children what God is like. If they don’t have love and trust modeled to them by their earthly parents, they won’t trust God’s love for them when he allows difficult circumstances in their lives. If, however, you’ve worked to model faithfulness– and you may just be beginning today– you can’t use it to disciple your children. When your child asks, “Why is God allowing this in my life”, you can say, “Honey, I’m not sure but you can trust him. Just like mommy or daddy have always loved you, even when you couldn’t understand it, God loves you as well. We know that because God gave us his own Son to bring us back to him. If he would do that for us, then we can trust that he loves us even when he doesn’t explain himself to us.”

Does that answer all the questions and doubts? No. This side of eternity I’m not sure anything ever will. But, it gives us hope and allows us to move forward in trust. That’s something dad taught me.

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Is the God of Joshua a Monster? (Sermon Notes)

Yesterday we engaged a tough topic in our Sunday morning worship at Christ Community. Specifically, I addressed the conquest of Canaan commanded in Deuteronomy 20 and recorded in the book of Joshua. With bestselling books written by popular atheists decrying the God of the Old Testament it’s an issue the church can’t avoid.

Never AloneHere’s all 11 points I made:

Is the God of Joshua a Monster?

Understanding the Canaanite Conquest

  1. God was patient with the Canaanites. (Genesis 15.16) God held his own people in Egypt for over 400 hundred years allowing the Canaanites time to repent.
  1. The Canaanites weren’t innocent. Archaeological study of the inhabitants of Canaan reveal they were engaged in human sacrifice, temple prostitution etc.
  1. God didn’t fight for Israel. He fought for himself. And when Israel disobeyed, God used other nations to judge Israel in war. (Exile into Babylon)
  1. The commands in Deuteronomy and the record of the conquest in Joshua are hyperbolic. In ANE (ancient near east) writings we see the same language used of Israel. We see God speak the same words against Israel in Jeremiah 25.8-10. Another reason we know this is hyperbolic language is because Judges 1 tells us the conquest was never completed.
  1. God’s commands to destroy are primarily directed towards Canaanite idolatry, not Canaanite people. (Deuteronomy 20.16-18) Rahab is an example of someone who received mercy because she recognized Israel’s God and abandoned her idolatry.
  1. Israel had no blank check to wage warfare with whomever they chose. God severely punished Israel for warring against those God had not authorized. (1 Samuel 4-6)
  1. Yahweh War was specifically and exclusively for the people of Israel as both the people of God and a theocratic state. Yahweh War isn’t for NT church because the church isn’t a theocratic state. Jesus adamantly rejected physical violence as a means to advance his cause. (Matthew 26.52) This means any Christian using violence in the name of God is in sin.
  1. The teaching of Jesus and the Apostles is that while Christians are heavenly citizens living in and looking forward to the Kingdom of God, they are also resident aliens who are called to enter into the culture of their earthly exile. This means we can serve and protect the culture in which we live. (Romans 13.1-4)
  1. God has declared a future time of final judgement when all evil will be destroyed from the earth. If the image of a God who commanded the killing of people in the Old Testament offends you then you won’t like the Jesus of Revelation 19 (Revelation 19.11-21). This includes all those outside of Christ. For this reason, CCC will always be a missionary sending church.
  1. Instead of asking, “Why did God destroy the Canaanites?” a better question is, “Why doesn’t God destroy all humanity?” (Romans 3.23)
  1. If God was willing to pour out wrath for sin on his Son, Jesus, who was innocent, what do you think he’s willing to do to guilty people?

I ended the sermon by calling the people to consider the patience of God, to profess Christ as savior, and to be witnesses of God’s mercy and patience.

Studying Joshua: Recommended Resources

Yesterday our church began an 8 week study through the Old Testament book of Joshua. If you’re interested in studying Joshua for yourself here are a few resources I’d recommend:

Bible Dictionary:

Holman Illustrated Bible DictionaryThe Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary is my go-to Bible dictionary (I have 4-5). When studying an ancient book like Joshua having a handy reference for terms, cultural practices, and geography is essential.

Brand, Chad, Charles Draper, and Archie England. Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary. Nashville, Tenn.: Holman Bible Publishers, ©2003.

Commentaries:

No Falling WordsIf you could only afford one commentary on Joshua I’d tell you to buy this short paperback from Dale Ralph Davis. No other commentary will teach you to read Joshua for all it’s worth. It’s accessible, insightful, and convicting. Davis offers study questions at the end of each chapter, and at just under $15 you won’t find another Joshua commentary this affordable.

Davis, Dale Ralph. Joshua: No Falling Words. Focus On the Bible. Fearn: Christian Focus, 2000

 

 

howard_joshuaA step in a more scholarly direction lands at David Howard’s New American Commentary volume. There’s no Hebrew to read, but the work is twice as long as Davis’ commentary. Here you’ll find answers to questions on Joshua’s authorship, date, composition and other critical questions. For those who want the scholarly material without being a scholar.

Howard, David M. The New American Commentary. Vol. 5, Joshua. Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers, ©1998.

 

 

WoudstraThe final commentary I’d recommend would be the New International Commentary on the New Testament’s offering from Woudstra. Footnotes for miles. Still no Hebrew, though the formatting/writing style is the least accessible of the three commentaries recommended. I usually look to this series of commentaries to help me understand the text at the paragraph level.

Woudstra, Marten H. The Book of Joshua. New International Commentary On the Old Testament. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Eerdmans, ©1981.

Special Issues:

The hairiest issue for Christian in Joshua is that of the Canaanite Conquest. Why did God command the killing of the men, women and children who occupied the land of Canaan? How can we reconcile the commands of God to kill in the Old Testament with the commands of Christ to love in the New Testament? Here are three resources I read to help prepare for this question.

show them no mercyChristians disagree with how to answer for the Canaanite Conquest. This book offers 4 different positions from and evangelical point of view (though I’d argue that the first position from C. S. Cowles borderlines evangelicalism at best). Reading this book will not just help you understand how to answer the question of genocide in the Old Testament, it will make you a better theologian and Bible reader at the same time.

Cowles, C S. Show Them No Mercy: Four Views On God and Canaanite Genocide. Counterpoints. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Zondervan, ©2003.

 

copanIs God a Moral Monster by Paul Copan answers numerous questions asked about the God of the Old Testament. The four chapters dedicated to Yahweh War in Joshua represent the best contemporary scholarship has to offer from a theologically conservative perspective.

Copan, Paul. Is God a Moral Monster? Making Sense of the Old Testament God. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Books, ©2011.

 

 

Holy-War-in-the-BibleHoly War in Bible is the most technical/scholarly of these three books. Essentially a collection of theological papers edited into a single volume, the book addresses the topic from a variety of viewpoints. Ethics professors, Old Testament scholars and philosophers combine to round out a full fledged discussion on subject. This book isn’t for the casual reader or the uninitiated, but I’ve found it abundantly helpful.

Thomas, Heath, Jeremy A. Evans, and Paul Copan, eds. Holy War in the Bible: Christian Morality and an Old Testament Problem. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2013.

 

If there are other resources you’d recommend I’d love to hear about them in the comments section.