Follow-up to last Sunday’s sermon

I thought my “Bible Heroes” sermon series, which focused on faithful heroes of the Old Testament, reached a rousing climax last Sunday with my sermon on Josiah. (I’ll post the sermon soon.) What impresses me most about Josiah’s comprehensive reforms in what remained of Israel was this: he renewed his people’s covenant with God and implemented these costly reforms after he found out that his nation was doomed. In other words, nothing he did or didn’t do would avert God’s wrath against Judah. His nation was going to be destroyed; it was only a question of whenSo Josiah chose to fight an uphill battle for the sake of a lost cause. But he did it anyway—because it was the right thing to do. When Josiah had nothing to gain in return, he remained faithful to God.

His courage resonates with me in part because, as I’ve said before, I’m not like him!

I’m not like him because I know the answer to the question that Satan asked of Job, which was also the question at the heart of Abraham’s test when he lifted the knife to his son Isaac: At my sinful worst, I don’t serve God for nothing. I expect God to give me something in return for my sacrifices. I expect to be successful by the world’s standards. I expect the admiration of my colleagues. I expect gratitude from the people I serve. I expect self-respect. God owes me these things, right?

Meanwhile, Abraham and Josiah are content to serve God for nothing. With them there is no quid pro quo.

Lord, make me like them!

2 thoughts on “Follow-up to last Sunday’s sermon”

  1. Well, I think Josiah and Abraham were willing to obey God for no return on the “investment” in this life, but certainly also I believe they did look to the “eternal” reward. This is indicated in Hebrews 11, where as to Abraham he was looking to a heavenly city, and hence was content to wander as a nomad in this life. The other “faithful” followers referenced there are indicated likewise to look to their heavenly reward which they did not yet see.

    Your reference to Job and Satan’s question (“Does Job serve God for nothing?”) is a good one and could seemingly suggest the contrary of my contention here. It may be that someone could serve God just to do it with no expectation of a reward at all. C.S. Lewis seemed to suggest that this is what the Old Testament saints did because there was very limited reference to heaven in the Old Testament. However, I think Hebrews 11 suggests the contrary, whether the expectation was explicitly stated in the O.T. or not. Even Job indicated that he expected to see God afterwards should he die. Basically, I don’t think God asks us to choose between him and rewards that he provides–he just wants us to act in faith that though things appear quite dreary now, we hold on to the expectation that ultimately things will be different, and much and eternally better. To try to divide God from his dispensations is to make a false dichotomy–God is good, God is love, God is a Father who wants to bless his children. This means, at least, that he blesses good conduct, as the O.T. shows throughout. “He that comes to God must believe that he is, and that he is a REWARDER of those who diligently seek him.” Hebrews 11:6. “He that spared not his own son, how shall he not with him give us all things.” (Reference not recalled.)

    1. I’m not denying that eternal rewards don’t play into it—they should! But they’re obviously not enough for me, who is always looking for temporal rewards and material success. Why are they enough for these heroes of faith? What’s my problem? That’s what I struggle with.

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