Gospel Gazette Online
Volume 19 Number 9 September 2017
Page 7

Priscilla's Page Editor's Note

But As For Me…But As For You…

Marilyn LaStrape

But as for Me…

“But as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.” Many of us recognize this famous line of commitment to God even if we don’t readily remember where it is in the Bible, who said it or why it was said. We see it referenced at the end of emails; we see it on plaques, bookmarks, Bible covers, calendars, in picture frames, etc.

Following the death of Moses, Joshua became the leader for the Israelite nation. A long time after God had given them rest from all their enemies, Joshua was an old man. Joshua 23:2-3 reads, “And Joshua called for all Israel, for their elders, for their heads, for their judges, and for their officers, and said to them, ‘I am old, advanced in age. You have seen all that the LORD your God has done to all these nations because of you, for the LORD your God is He who has fought for you.’”

Joshua told them they were to be very courageous as well as to keep and to do all that was written in the Book of the Law of Moses. He told them they were neither to make mention of the name of the gods of those nations nor to serve them nor to bow down to them. He told them to hold fast to the LORD their God, as they had done to that day (Joshua 23:6-8). He then told them in Joshua 23:9, “For the LORD has driven out from before you great and strong nations; but no one has been able to stand against you to this day.”

Joshua further told them to take careful heed to themselves, that they loved the LORD their God. Or else, if they indeed were to go back and cling to the remnant of those nations that remained among them—and to make marriages with them—to know for certain that God would no longer drive those nations from before them (Joshua 23:11-13). In the latter part of verse 13, he bluntly told them, “But they shall be snares and traps to you, and scourges on your sides and thorns in your eyes, until you perish from this good land which the LORD your God has given you.”

Joshua then made this most pointed declaration in verse 14. “Behold, this day I am going the way of all the earth [I am going to die]. And you know in all your hearts and in all your souls that not one thing has failed of all the good things which the LORD your God spoke concerning you. All have come to pass for you; not one word of them has failed.”

Joshua 24 begins with Joshua gathering all the tribes, elders, their heads, their judges and their officers, and they presented themselves before God. Joshua 24:2-3 reads, “And Joshua said to all the people, ‘Thus says the LORD God of Israel: ‘Your fathers, Terah, the father of Abraham and the father Nahor, dwelt on the other side of the River… and they served other gods. Then I took your father Abraham… and led him throughout all the land of Canaan, and multiplied his descendants and gave him Isaac.’”

Joshua continued to tell them what thus said the LORD in verses 4-12. He recounted their history in Egyptian slavery—how God had chosen Moses and Aaron to deliver them. He told them how God had brought them into the land of the Amorites and fought for them. He told them how God had given the Amorites into Israel’s hands that they might possess their land and how He destroyed them from before the Israelites. He told them how God had also delivered eight other enemy nations into their hands. In Joshua 24:13 God said, “I have given you a land for which you did not labor, and cities which you did not build, and you dwell in them; you eat of the vineyards and olive groves which you did not plant.”

Joshua said in verses 14-15,

Now therefore, fear the LORD, serve Him in sincerity and in truth, and put away the gods which your fathers served on the other side of the River and in Egypt. Serve the LORD! And if it seems evil to you to serve the LORD, choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house we will serve the LORD.

Joshua 24:31 reads, “Israel served the LORD all the days of Joshua, and all the days of the elders who outlived Joshua, who had known all the works of the LORD which He had done for Israel.”

After Joshua’s death, Israel forsook God and provoked Him to anger by bowing down to the gods of the heathen nations around them. The Book of Judges records this dark period in the history of the Israelite nation. Through God’s love, mercy and forgiveness, they were finally delivered from their abominable moral depravity.

Following the death of Eli, God called Samuel to become Israel’s leader. Israel went from the rule of judges to clamoring for a king so that they would be like the nations around them. This thoroughly displeased Samuel, but God told him to give them what they wanted. He said they were not rejecting Samuel but rejecting Him. God told him in 1 Samuel 8:8-9, “According to all the works which they have done since the day that I brought them up out of Egypt, even to this day—with which they have forsaken Me and served other gods—so they are doing to you also. Now therefore, heed their voice. However, you shall solemnly forewarn them, and show them the behavior of the king who will reign over them.”

Samuel did precisely what God said and told them in extensive detail how having a king would impact their lives in ways they could have never imagined! However, they refused to listen to Samuel and said, “No, but we will have a king over us, that we also may be like all the nations, and that our king may judge us and go out before us and fight our battles…So the LORD said to Samuel, heed their voice and make them a king” (1 Samuel 8:19-22). Samuel anointed Saul the first king over Israel (1 Samuel 9:21-10:1).

First Samuel 12 reveals quite a different situation had developed for Israel since demanding a king; Samuel was an old man. Verses 1-2 read, “Now Samuel said to all Israel: ‘Indeed I have heeded your voice in all that you said to me, and have made a king over you. And now here is the king, walking before you; and I am old and gray headed, and look, my sons are with you. I have walked before you from my childhood to this day.‘” In verse 10, Samuel reminded them of what their forefathers had done in turning away from God to idols when they said, “We have sinned, because we have forsaken the LORD and served the Baals and Ashtoreths; but now deliver us from the hand of our enemies, and we will serve You.”

Samuel reminded the people in verses 11-18 of the judges that God had sent to deliver them out of the hands of their enemies. He also reminded them that they had demanded a king as they rejected God as their king. He further told them that if they and their king feared the LORD and served Him, and obeyed His voice and did not rebell against God’s commandments, they would continue following the LORD. If they did not obey, then the LORD’s hand would be against them as it had been against their fathers.

All the people said to Samuel, “Pray for your servants to the LORD your God, that we may not die; for we have added to all our sins the evil of asking a king for ourselves” (1 Samuel 12:19). Samuel told the people not to fear, even though they had done all that wickedness, they should not turn aside from following the LORD, but to serve Him with all their heart. The statement Samuel made in verse 23 is packed with his love and commitment to God. “Moreover, as for me, far be it from me that I should sin against the LORD in ceasing to pray for you; but I will teach you the good and the right way.”

But as for You…

After Joseph and his brothers had returned to Egypt following the burial of their father, they were very concerned that Joseph would hate them and would repay them for all the evil which they had done to him. They were so concerned that they sent messengers to Joseph, saying, “Before your father died he commanded, saying, ‘Thus you shall say to Joseph: ‘I beg you, please forgive the trespass of your brothers and their sin; for they did evil to you.’ Now, please, forgive the trespass of the servants of the God of your father.’ And Joseph wept when they spoke to him” (Genesis 50:16-17). His brothers fell down before Joseph and declared that they were his servants.

Genesis 50:19-21 reads, “Joseph said to them, ‘Do not be afraid, for am I in the place of God? But as for you, you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, in order to bring it about as it is this day to save many people alive. Now therefore, do not be afraid; I will provide for you and your little ones.’ And he comforted them and spoke kindly to them.”

God had commanded Moses and Aaron to stand before Pharaoh and demand that he let His people go. Pharaoh wanted to know who was Jehovah; he did not know Jehovah, and he would not let Israel go. God, through Moses and Aaron, proceeded to show Pharaoh exactly who He was by sending ten plagues upon Egypt. God had sent six plagues, and each time Pharaoh said he would let Israel go, but each time when the plague was stopped, he had repeatedly refused. God had commanded Moses to tell Pharaoh, “Now if I had stretched out My hand and struck you and your people with pestilence, then you would have been cut off from the earth. But indeed, for this purpose I have raised you up, that I may show My power in you, and that My name may be declared in all the earth. As yet you exalt yourself against My people in that you will not let them go” (Exodus 9:15-17).

The seventh of those plagues was the very heavy hail. God rained down heavy hail such as had not been in Egypt since its founding! Those who did not listen to the warning to get their servants and livestock out of the field lost all of them in death, and every herb of the field was destroyed. (Exodus 9:18-25)

Pharaoh then sent for Moses and said, “I have sinned this time. The LORD is righteous and my people and I are wicked. Entreat the LORD, that there may be no more mighty thundering and hail, for it is enough, I will let you go, and you shall stay no longer” (Exodus 9:27-28). Moses told him as soon as he had gone out of the city, he would spread out his hands to the LORD, and the thunder and hail would cease, and Pharaoh would know that the earth was the LORD’s. Then Moses said to Pharaoh in Exodus 9:30 “But as for you and your servants, I know that you will not yet fear the LORD God.” Sadly, Pharaoh and his army ultimately were destroyed (Psalm 136:15) as a result of defiance against Jehovah—the One who holds our breath in His hand and owns all our ways (Daniel 5:23).

God’s anger was kindled against the Israelites because of their disobedience and rebellion in refusing to enter Canaan. The Israelites spent forty years wandering in the wilderness. Moses recounted this saddest of experiences in their lives to that point in Deuteronomy Chapter One. Starting at verse 37, Moses told the people how God was also angry with him because of them and that He had appointed Joshua as their leader. The people had also said their little ones and their children would become victims who had no knowledge of good and evil. God said their children would go into Canaan for He would give it to them, and they would possess it. In Deuteronomy 1:40 God said, “But as for you, turn and take your journey into the wilderness by the Way of the Red Sea.” The people then responded, “We have sinned against the LORD; we will go up and fight, just as the LORD our God commanded us” (Deuteronomy 1:41). They had put on their weapons of war and were ready to go. In verse 42 Moses told them what God had said. “And the LORD said to me, ‘Tell them, do not go up nor fight, for I am not among you; lest you be defeated before your enemies.’”

He recounted to them how once again they would not listen but rebelled against the command of the LORD, and presumptuously went up the mountain. Moses told them “And the Amorites who dwelt in that mountain came out against you and chased you as bees do and drove you back…Then you returned and wept before the LORD, but the LORD would not listen to your voice nor give ear to you” (Deuteronomy 1:44-45). So, they remained in the wilderness for forty years as God had said they would.

As Moses further recounted God’s law to the Israelites, he addressed several abominations that were practiced in the land of Canaan. Deuteronomy 18:9-13 states,

When you come into the land which the LORD your God is giving you, you shall not learn to follow the abominations [detestable acts] of those nations. There shall not be found among you anyone who makes his son or his daughter pass through the fire, or one who practices witchcraft, or a soothsayer, or one who interprets omens or a sorcerer, or one who conjures spells, or a medium, or a spiritist, or one who calls up the dead. For all who do these things are an abomination to the LORD, and because of these abominations the LORD your God drives them out from before you. You shall be blameless before the LORD your God.

Moses continued, “For these nations which you will dispossess listened to soothsayers and diviners; but as for you, the LORD your God has not appointed such for you. The LORD your God will raise up for you a Prophet like me from your midst from your brethren, Him you shall hear” (Deuteronomy 18:14-15).

But as for mebut as for you—such dramatic words! They signify that choices or decisions have been made or they must be made. The Lord Jesus Christ laid down the ultimate challenge with the cost of discipleship to all those that would be His followers. In Luke 9:23-27, Jesus declared if anyone would come after Him, let them deny himself, take up his cross daily and follow Him. He set forth the cost of following Him in the concluding verses of 57-62. Some would-be followers had personal matters that in their minds needed their attention before they could make the commitment to follow Jesus. When Jesus said to one of them to follow him, he said he first needed to bury his father. Verse 60 states, “And Jesus said to him, ‘Leave the dead to bury their own dead. But as for you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God’” (ESV). What was Jesus teaching? There is nothing and no one that we ought to permit to come between us and our obedience to God. We must come to understand that our first, highest and most pressing concern is what we owe God. Why? It comes under the heading of seeking first the kingdom of God and His righteousness (Matthew 6:33). We owed a debt we could not pay; Jesus paid a debt He did not owe. He saved us from ourselves!

As for me, I will see Your face in righteousness; I shall be satisfied when I awake in Your likeness” (Psalm 17:15). That is the focus, the aim and the goal of our earthly existence.

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