Last week I preached a sermon on the second half of Joshua 8. Like all of my sermons, the point of it can be summed up by saying, confess your sin, go to church, read your Bible, and enjoy God. The text of Joshua 8 describes Israel renewing their commitment to God. Joshua leads what amounts to a worship service by copying the entire law on rocks and reading every word of God’s Law aloud to entire congregation. As he publicly reads the promises and warnings of God and the people, young and old, respond with a resounding, “Amen”–affirming every word. Sadly, as I charged people to renew their own commitment to God’s Word, I realized that the majority of people listening to me probably didn’t even have their own Bibles with them.
Inspired by the mountain top worship service in Joshua (not really), after church our family with some friends journeyed out into the wilderness to find our Christmas Tree. After finding the best looking “Charlie Brown Tree” we could find, we played in the snow, and eventually returned home in the dark–too late to set up the tree. On Monday, I proceeded to trim the tree in my garage, preparing for the next evening’s decorating festivities. As I did, two women walked up with a small magazine called “The Watchtower” in their hand–Jehovah’s Witnesses. Most people I know do one of two things when Mormon’s, JW’s, or those guys selling meat at 7:00pm come knocking on their door: 1) Pretend they are not home 2) Answer the door, say “Go Away”, and close it again. Me? I usually invite them in for cookies, milk, and a theology lesson.
This day was no exception. They immediately launched into their treatise on the end of the world and I immediately steered them back toward Jesus. While they wanted to talk about economy, the war in Afghanistan, and global warming, I wanted to talk about God. When I didn’t slam on the door on their face they appeared surprised and when I started talking Bible, they were visibly excited. I doubted that they often get the unrestrained freedom, even an invitation, to talk about Jehovah God (the Father). Of course, I also doubted that they would be willing to spend most of our time speaking about Jehovah Jesus or Jehovah Holy Spirit.
In the past, my apologetic approach was usually dripping with arrogance–looking for the first opportunity to destroy the cultist with a verse or passage. I don’t do that anymore because, well, it is sinful. But I do talk about Bible. And what impressed me is how much Bible these women knew. As I shared about the identity of Jesus, I took them all over the New and Old Testaments, John 1, Colossians 1, Hebrews 1, John 8, John 10, even into Isaiah 42-45. And though they did not have very convincing answers to many of the challenges I posed, they had answers. Though they did not handle the word of God rightly (2Tim. 2.15), they did swing the sword a bit. They never gave up, threw up a white flag of surrender, or got angry. They listened, engaged with the Scriptures I brought up, even responded with others.
These two women impressed and saddened me. Here they were, walking around in 20 degree whether, going door to door to share about something they believed. However deceived I may believe them to be, they really believed it with. Though they study a jacked-up translation of the Bible (New World Translation), they study it. Though they may not have every answer, they have answers (false ones). As I thought about my own people, my own friends and family, I couldn’t help but be saddened by what I experienced on Sunday. These ladies walked around with their Bibles open, evangelizing and arguing for a lie; many in our church don’t even bring their Bibles on Sunday morning let alone engage anyone else with God’s truth during the week. As the late Walter Martin used to say…” it is amazing what many people will do for a LIE, that we are not willing to do for the TRUTH.”
We would all do well to read God’s law regarding future Kings in Israel. And though we are not kings, and not legally obligated to follow the Mosaic Law, I wonder if morally we can learn something here that would help guide our commitment to God’s Word, Deuteronomy 17:18-20 –
18 “And when he sits on the throne of his kingdom, he shall write for himself in a book a copy of this law, approved bythe Levitical priests. 19 And it shall be with him, and he shall read in it all the days of his life, that he may learn to fear the Lord his God by keeping all the words of this law and these statutes, and doing them, 20 that his heart may not be lifted up above his brothers, and that he may not turn aside from the commandment, either to the right hand or to the left, so that he may continue long in his kingdom, he and his children, in Israel.