Dr. Tony Evans, pastor of Oak Cliff Bible Fellowship in Dallas, Texas, delivered a challenging Father’s Day sermon this year. Speaking on Joshua 24:14-15, Evans unpacked the declaration that Joshua made to serve the Lord regardless of what was happening in the culture around him. Evans said the men listening had a similar choice to make: Whether they would choose to serve God or choose to serve themselves. In our current cultural climate, the choice to serve God can look counter-cultural.
As in Joshua’s time, Evans says “What we need is some men with a spiritual backbone who love themselves properly and love their families and love the world in which they live, but are inextricably clear: ‘Y’all may not want to go where I’m going.’”
Evans goes on to put this declaration in terms that may sound more familiar in our day and age: “My race may not want to go where I’m going; my class may not want to go where I’m going; my culture may not want to go where I’m going. But let me tell you where I’m going whether or not you agree with me.”
The Stakes Couldn’t Be Higher Right Now
Evans believes “There’s never been a time when fathers have been more critical to the well-being of…kind of like everything…than they are right now.” We live in a time with a fork in the road, Evans said, a time where we face “chaos, confusion, lack of clarity, voices coming at us from all different directions.”
Fathers and men are so critical, in fact, that in Isaiah 3, we are told what happens when men make the wrong choices. When men don’t make the right choices, the children go into rebellion, the women can take on “an illegitimate authoritative role,” as Evans puts it, and the men become “neutered and weak.” We are seeing this happen today, Evans says. “Today we have too many men falling on the sword. Too many men becoming domesticated, meaning operating in a way that is outside your divinely ordained responsibility.”
In contrast, a “Kingdom man” or a man who has decided to follow Jesus “has made the decision to operate consistently under the governance of God and under the Lordship of Jesus Christ.”
While the decision to follow God is a choice one has to make, Evans explains that God does not make all the decisions for us. He gives us options. Still, all of our choices are within certain, sovereign boundaries that God has set up for us. Evans likened these boundaries to a football field. The field has clearly marked boundaries that are non-negotiable, but within those boundaries the players have choice. It’s our choice, Evans says, “which plays you’ll run.”
However, Evans gives a warning about choices when he says that although the choice is ours, we don’t get to choose the consequences of our choices. Those are up to God.
Joshua Makes a Declaration
In Joshua 24, we see Joshua declaring that “as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.” Before this, he tells the Israelites he is leading that they need to throw away “the gods your ancestors worshiped beyond the Euphrates River and in Egypt.” He also tells them to choose between the culture’s gods they are living among, the gods of the Amorites, and the Lord God.
Evans explains the context of the verse is that Joshua is concerned the Israelites, though they have left Egypt already, “still have a little Egypt in them.” Joshua is telling them they can’t hang on to both the remnant of Egypt and the blessings of serving God. “They want the benefits of the promises of God without the selection to the submission and service to God,” Evans says.
Additionally, the Israelites need to choose whether they will assimilate into the culture they are currently surrounded by: the Amorites. “Don’t let the place you’re living define the decisions that you make,” Evans says is the message Joshua is trying to convey to the Israelites.