Joshua 13:1-7 (Part 1) – There is No Retirement Age in God’s Service Except At Death

Posted: June 24, 2017 in Book fo Joshua
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Joshua 13:1-7 (Part 1 of 2)

The Land Yet to Be Conquered

Have you ever noticed that modern churches, usually non-denominational, are never pastored by men over the age of 45? Is it a rule? Modern churches are pastored by skinny jeans wearing, shirt hanging out, Sperry wearing youthful pastors. We have our stereotypes in modern church now. So much so that there is a parody of modern worship on youtube.com. See the link below:

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZfTjcz7ys7I

 

Add to that, you will find that leadership positions underneath them are often filled with 20-40 year olds with beards and cool Christian t-shirts. There is definitely an emphasis on youth in the modern church world. Why is that? Have we caught the disease of youth worship that our culture has? Are we subconsciously reacting against the image of old men with canes and blue haired grannies ambling there way into the old church buildings that dot the landscape of America? Is this a reaction against the perception of death that is associated by man with traditional churches, in general? Is it a reaction against the clique-ish nature of so many old-line churches? Is it a reaction against the fact that older folks are associated with clinging to their traditions to the point that they would rather let their church die than change?

 

Sure, all of these things are true about mainline, traditional churches. It is the very thing that gave birth to the pastor-centered, non-denominational, new wave church movement featuring megachurches. We who are members of a “new wave church” such as myself rebel against the stodgy traditionalism of denominational churches. We rebel against their hierarchies both at the local church level and the state and national levels that make their denominations slow to change just as the Titanic was too big a monolith to make a quick change to get around the iceberg. We rebel against the elitist nature of those churches (it’s us in here and it’s they out there). We rebel against the standard same ol’, same ol’ every Sunday. We rebel against the symbolism and the fancy trappings and stained glass windows. We just want church to be about worshiping God.

 

However, in our frenzied pace of running away from the traditions of old church have we have (maybe, unknowingly or, is it purposeful) made youth a priority in our churches. There are no policies against it to be sure but, by the culture, we have created in new wave churches, youth is a defacto priority. Does your new wave church have any pastor who is over the age 50? Does your new wave church have anyone in a position of influence of any kind (staff or volunteer) that is over the age of 50? Does you church relegate its over 50 crowd to the sidelines and force them to create their own little ministry that caters to the few over 50 folks that your church has drawn from the world out there? What percentage of your church’s general population is over 50 in your new wave church? Do you overlook potential leaders who are over 50 just to go with someone who is younger so as to fit the culture of the church? Does your church only hire people over 50 as long as they are in back-office roles? Think about it? Whether your new wave church has intentionally, consciously done this or it was just an unspoken cultural phenomenon within the church, the result brings us to the same place. Is there a place for people over the age of 50 in the modern new church movement?

 

That question was the question that God placed on my heart as I read through this passage this today for the first of two times that we will visit it. Here is what the passage, Joshua 13:1-7, says:

 

13 When Joshua had grown old, the Lord said to him, “You are now very old, and there are still very large areas of land to be taken over.

 

2 “This is the land that remains: all the regions of the Philistines and Geshurites, 3 from the Shihor River on the east of Egypt to the territory of Ekron on the north, all of it counted as Canaanite though held by the five Philistine rulers in Gaza, Ashdod, Ashkelon, Gath and Ekron; the territory of the Avvites 4 on the south; all the land of the Canaanites, from Arah of the Sidonians as far as Aphek and the border of the Amorites; 5 the area of Byblos; and all Lebanon to the east, from Baal Gad below Mount Hermon to Lebo Hamath.

 

6 “As for all the inhabitants of the mountain regions from Lebanon to Misrephoth Maim, that is, all the Sidonians, I myself will drive them out before the Israelites. Be sure to allocate this land to Israel for an inheritance, as I have instructed you, 7 and divide it as an inheritance among the nine tribes and half of the tribe of Manasseh.”

 

Here in this passage, we see that Joshua is getting older. In fact, based on the chronologies developed by scholars, they estimate that at the time of Jewish history that this passage represent, Joshua is anywhere from 85-100 years old. God, however, still had work for him to do. Our culture often glorifies youth and sets aside those you are getting older. Yet, older people are filled with wisdom that comes from the school of hard knocks, as the saying goes. They are very capable of serving if given the chance and should be encouraged to do so. Also, for those that are getting older out there, your getting older is no excuse for resigning from God’s service. There is no retirement age in God’s economy. We should not assume as church leadership or as the aging segment of your church that folks over 50 are not capable of or desirous of serving in real, meaningful leadership positions within the church. Maybe, give ‘em some skinny jeans and a new haircut and let’s go! LOL!

 

Think about it. Although we do not live as long as Old Testament figures did, we can by relative comparison look at this. Moses was 80 when he began his most important leadership role ever. By comparison to you and me and our society of today, that would be comparable to say around age 55-56. The most important thing that Moses ever did in his life was his last 40 years – from age 80 to 120. Let us begin to change the culture in new church, whether it has been purposeful or simply something unspoken, of glorifying youth or the image of it. Sure, we don’t want to revert to traditionalism of mainline churches, but we should not marginalize our churches’ over 50 crowd either. They should be encouraged to be leaders and not use the excuse that they have done their time. Let’s go pull them off the sidelines and encourage them to get in the game. Let’s develop them as leaders. Although my church is far from perfect (as there is no perfect church) and we do have a ways to go to develop the over 50 crowd in our church, we do encourage everyone regardless of age to go deeper in service to the Lord whether you are 50 or 15. We certainly have improvements we can make and certainly self-analysis is always good, but I do not think it is a conscious part of our culture to exclude those over fifty. I know that one of the matriarchs of the founding of our church, Mrs. Eulala Pace, is 80-something years old, but she gets loved on every Sunday by everyone because everyone knows that she was instrumental in LifeSong coming into existence.

 

So, let us examine ourselves as new wave churches, modern churches, non-traditional churches (whatever you want to call us) and see whether our culture is to focus only on developing youthful members with potential or hiring only people of a certain age range. Let us examine whether we are consciously or unconsciously excluding our 50 plus, baby boomers from real meaningful leadership within our churches. Let us remember that Joshua still had much to give at 85 as he did when he was 45. Let us remember Moses gave his best to God and did his most important work in the last third of his life. Let us not miss out because we are trying to have a certain look!

 

Amen and Amen.

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