Joshua 24:12-18: A Father’s Role
Very few Bible characters are as challenging as Joshua. His exploits, recorded largely in the book that bears his name, are always exciting and challenging. Among other characteristics, we see him as a family man who took seriously his responsibilities as the spiritual head of his family.
A Godly father’s motivation: 24:12-13: Joshua saw God as a gracious God who had blessed him as well as Israel in so many marvelous ways that it would have been all but ludicrous to do anything less than make God the center of his life and the life of his family.
God had been so good to the Israelites so Joshua, serving as God’s spokesman, reminded the people of God’s great mercy and provision. Read Joshua 24:12-13
Israel had done absolutely nothing to deserve Canaan, but God gave them the land anyway. Skim through Joshua and see over and over how God worked in miraculous ways as He gave His people the Promised Land. All they did was walk around Jericho and the city was theirs. The Israelites lived in cities they had not built and in homes that that were already there. They ate food they had not planted. The land was so rich in crops, yet the Israelites simply walked in and claimed it as God had promised.
How much more motivation do we have to follow God when we remember God’s great love in providing us with salvation and then blessing us in so many other marvelous ways. Read Romans 5:8 and Ephesians 2:4, 5.
That loving provision is certainly a powerful motivation to lead our children in the ways of righteousness. How can we not want our family to love and obey a God who loves us that much?
Joshua went on to tell the Israelites that because of God’s love and provision, they need to set Godly standards for their families. Read verse14.
Joshua gave two characteristics of a godly family. Godly families “fear the Lord” and “serve Him faithfully.” To “fear the LORD” means to honor Him. Fearing God as a family is recognizing who God is and how we are to behave because of that. It means we are seeking to live as God would have us live because He is worthy of that kind of family life. Who He is should be reflected in every aspect of family life from the priorities placed on every aspect of life, to the way we treat one another.
To “serve” the LORD primarily has the idea of worship. We read over and over that the Israelites were not to serve idols but only the Lord (Deuteronomy 4:19). Not to “serve” meant they were not to worship them. Given all God has done for us He is certainly worthy of our worship, which includes, in addition to Sunday worship, family devotions and the rightful place for God in every aspect of family life.
They were do that with all faithfulness. They were not to give God half-hearted worship, but they were to give Him their whole lives. God has always required that kind of commitment and service from His people: Read Matthew 22:37.
For the Israelites to truly fear and serve God, they had to “Throw away the gods your forefathers worshiped beyond the Euphrates River and in Egypt, and serve the LORD. While God is rich in mercy toward us and wants to bless us and our families He will not do so as long as we want Him plus other gods of our own making. To be the people God wanted the Israelites to be they had to turn away from idols. They had to reject the influence of idols in their lives. In order for us to lead our families properly we need to rid ourselves anything we trust in or depend upon in addition to God. One cannot lead his family righteously if he is knowingly following idols or living in sin.
Now no one ever suggested that living such a life was going to be easy. Read verse 15.
All of us, including our children, face many challenges with many contemporary gods vying for our attention. That means that we, like Joshua, must decide who we will follow.
God has never forced people to accept or obey Him. It becomes our responsibility as parents to lead them into the truth and work with them by way of example and instruction so they can make the right choices.
It is not easy but at the same time if we are faithful there is no reason to despair. When truth and lies are placed side by side and the presentation of the truth has been bathed in prayer to the Holy Spirit, then honest hearts will most often choose truth. The challenge is not “How can we raise children in a pluralistic world?” but “Are we placing truth in front of our children?” The Psalmist reminds us of the importance of keeping before our families the truth when he wrote in Psalm 119:9, “How can a young man keep his way pure? By guarding it according to your word.” Read Deuteronomy 6:6-7. We must not minimize the importance of making sure our children know the truth of God.
Note one more truth. A Godly father leads his family by example and by assuming responsibility for the family. Joshua pledged himself to leading his family by making a personal commitment to being the father God wanted him to be. Joshua declared: “As for me and my household, we will serve the LORD.” Joshua promised to serve the Lord himself before he pledged to lead his family. Of course, Joshua could not lead his family in doing what was right unless he himself was doing what was right.
There is the important principle to note here. If we want to lead our children into righteousness, we ourselves must seek to walk righteously before God. We find that principle throughout Scripture. Read Acts 20:28, and I Timothy 4:16. We should never minimize the importance of making sure our children know the truth of God in practical ways day by day and not just on Sunday.
Seeking to live righteously as godly fathers means we must also take the position of spiritual head of the home and lead our family in the right way. Note that Joshua didn’t open his family’s spiritual future to discussion. It was not a majority vote or a compromise to keep everyone happy. Joshua understood that as a man it was his responsibility to determine the direction for his family. God has given to us as men the awesome and exciting responsibility of leading the family.
I don’t believe that Joshua was trying to use his authority simply to dictate to the family nor do I sense he was ordering his wife and kids around. It was a decision he hoped and prayed would be made as a family because of his example and commitment. He was using his position as father to help his family move closer to the Lord and in turn closer to all God’s love wanted to do for them.
Is there more you can do to lead your family in doing what’s right? What a powerful gift it would be to your family if you re-committed yourself today to being the spiritual head of the family. God has offered so much to us why would we not want to see our family drawn closer to Him? Let’s recommit ourselves as grandfathers and fathers to that role and moms, recommit yourselves to both allowing and encouraging fathers to have that responsibility. Society today is continually trying to redefine family roles but as Christians we follow not the trends of that society but the Word of the Lord.