Editor’s note: The following is the text from the sermon I delivered at my church, Crossroads of Faith UMC, in Bolingbrook, Il, on Sunday, Aug. 5. You can also listen to the audio from the sermon on my church website, if you scroll down to sermon archives and click, “The First Commandment.”
The thing about the first commandment is that it’s so easy to think it’s a freebie.
“You shall have no other gods before me.” Check and check!
I don’t pray to Baal, I don’t worship Zeus and I don’t sing any songs about Buddha. I’m good. No other gods here folks. Moving right along.
Except. Well. You know.
There’s a reason God said that commandment first — it’s so important and we keep screwing it up.
Sure, sure, we may say we worship God, and we probably do. But we also worship a whole bunch of other stuff. Pride, money, status, people, ourselves. And sometimes, we even worship religion.
The good news is, we’re not alone. People have been choosing other gods for thousands of years. Like in today’s scripture.
What fascinates me about this text is that even though it was written thousands of years ago, it still so accurately describes human nature.
The story is basically the sequel to the Moses story. You know Moses, the guy who went through and hell and back to get his people out of Egypt, and then went through and hell and back again to get them through the desert to the promised land, which doesn’t even get to enter because he was so frustrated that the people had so quickly denied God at one point on their journey that he smashed the 10 commandment tablets. Ya. That guy.
Well, he dies. And then Joshua kind of takes over the cause. He is appointed as the new leader of the Israelites by God himself. And Gods all, “Be courageous.” And then, like a verse later, he’s all, “Be courageous.” And then seriously, a couple verses later, God tell him again, “Be courageous.”
And he is. And he gets through a ton of stuff, and everyone is all, “YAY GOD!! WEEE!! WE HEART GOD SO MUCH!!”