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In November, 1963, I was in the 8th grade at San Jacinto Junior High in Midland, Texas. We were in the cafeteria having lunch when news broke that President John F. Kennedy had been assassinated in Dallas. After things quieted down a bit, our attention, somewhat surprisingly, turned to the question of whether or not Vice-President, Lyndon B. Johnson, known as LBJ, would be a fit replacement. I remember that somehow a rumor started that LBJ had himself suffered a heart attack, collapsing under the pressure of the moment and the prospects of becoming president following Kennedy’s death. Although the rumor proved to be false, it didn’t take away from our concerns for the competency of Kennedy’s successor.

I can well imagine how excited Moses must have been as he watched the tens of thousands of Jewish men, women, and children make their way out of Egypt, out of slavery, out of bondage, in what we know and refer to as the Exodus. For 400 years the nation of Israel had lived in subjection to their Egyptian overlords. But now the time had come for freedom!

Whenever we talk about great men of the Bible, names such as Abraham, Moses, David, Peter, and Paul immediately come to mind. Whenever we talk about great women, I think of Sarah, Ruth, Esther, Mary, and Martha. Perhaps the time has come to add one name to this list of famous females: Rahab!

There is one particular scene in the Academy Award winning, WWII, film, Patton, that seems appropriate for me to mention in conjunction with our text in Joshua today. George C. Scott, who starred in the title role, stood erect as his aides pinned on his shoulders the star signifying that he was now a three-star General. Omar Bradley, himself a two-star General, stood nearby, obviously horrified by what he was witnessing. “George,” he said, “I know you’ve been nominated by the President but that doesn’t become official until ratified by Congress.” To which Patton calmly replied: “Yes, well, Congress has its schedule, and I have mine!”

No matter how badly conditions may deteriorate, no matter how cynical people may become, there will always be praise. We live in a world saturated with praise. Had you been with me last week on Sunday afternoon, watching the Masters golf tournament, you would have heard me praising the incredible accomplishment of Bubba Watson as he won his first green jacket. If you had been with me yesterday in Norman for the OU spring football game, you would have again heard me praising the efforts of certain players. And of course, one of the primary reasons we gather on Sunday, as we have today, is to praise God, to sing of his glory and grace and goodness to us in Jesus.

Every time I think it is but a passing fad, it makes a comeback. I’m talking about nostalgia. I’ve decided it will probably never go away. People love the past, particularly their own. I have to confess, aside from Christian music, the only kind I listen to is from the 60’s! I suspect that one day I’ll grow out of that, perhaps on my deathbed!

The famous story of the collapse of the city of Jericho is all about faith. That isn’t my interpretation. It isn’t a conclusion that I came to simply because I wanted to emphasize the subject of faith. That this narrative we’ve just read is all about faith comes from Scripture itself. Let me explain.

Preaching through the Bible, verse-by-verse, has both its advantages and its disadvantages. The advantages are obvious: It exposes us to what the apostle Paul referred to as “the whole counsel of God.” It enables us to see the richness and depth and extent of God’s revelation. Nothing is left out. The disadvantages are no less obvious: It compels us to deal honestly with really tough texts. It forces us to come to grips with passages like Joshua 6:21. So without further delay, what are we to make of such remarkable and disturbing texts such as this?

“And no creature is hidden from . . . [God’s] sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account” (Heb. 4:13). Do you believe that? Do you really and sincerely believe that? Or do you operate on the assumption that no one knows what you think or what you say or where you go or what you do? Is your attitude toward the moral choices you make one that says, “No one is hurt by my decisions except me. Therefore, it can’t be sin. Or if it is, it can’t be a very bad one.”

The title to my message this morning may sound a little strange, so let me explain where it came from.

Everything I say today is grounded in one central and all consuming truth. It is simply this: How you perceive and think about God will inform and shape how you perceive and think about everything else.

How many otherwise good relationships have been destroyed by unwarranted suspicion? How many life-long friendships have crumbled because someone misjudged the motives of another? How many times have you heard about, seen, or perhaps even personally experienced the devastating consequences of ill-informed presumption about why someone acted in a particular way?

A little more than two months after I was born, General Douglas MacArthur stood before the Congress of the United States and spoke these now famous words:

The only way I know how to begin this concluding message from the book of Joshua is by saying, “This isn’t a sexy sermon!” Don’t be offended that I use those terms. I’m not saying this message isn’t about “sex”. One only has to look at Joshua 24 to realize it has nothing to do with sex. What I mean when I say it isn’t a “sexy” sermon is that at first hearing it doesn’t seem to sizzle. It’s not dazzling or glitzy or eye-popping or the sort of sermon that causes people’s jaws to drop in amazement. Let me explain a bit more what I mean.