Day 22: Joshua 24:1-27
The Covenant renewed at Shechem
And so we come to the final chapter in the book of Joshua.
Joshua gathered together all the elders, leaders, judges and officials of Israel and declares what God wants to say to them beginning with an overview of their past history. Starting with Terah, the father of Abraham and Nahor, the Israelites are told about their family tree and the arrival of Jacob and his sons in Egypt.
In verses 5-12 God, through Joshua, reminds the Israelites of their great escape from Egypt, the crossing of the Red Sea and river Jordan and into the Promised Land. He reminds them of how He dealt with the Egyptians and how He delivered them from their enemies. God says – ‘I gave them into your hands and I destroyed them from before you’. And to reiterate it once more, at the end of verse 12 we read – ‘You did not do it with your own sword and bow’. God will fight our battles for us if only we’re prepared to let Him. How often do we try to fight our own battles I wonder?
Then in verse 13 we read ‘I gave you a land on which you did not toil and cities you did not build; and you live in them and eat from vineyards and olive groves that you did not plant’. Just as God is reminding the Israelites that they are where they are all because of what He has done for them, this reminds me that our salvation is all because of what God has done for us and nothing we can achieve ourselves! Ephesians 2:8-9 ‘For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – not of works, so that no one can boast’.
So, having been reminded of their past and all that God had done for them, it’s now “make your mind up time” for the Israelites – ‘choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve’. As for Joshua, once again he displays his spiritual leadership – ‘as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord’.
All the people boldly claimed that they would never forsake the Lord, but they did not keep that promise. Very soon God charges them with breaking their covenant with Him – Judges 2:2-3. Talk is cheap! It’s easy to say we will follow God, but it is much more important to live it out!
In verses 14 & 23, Joshua told the Israelites to throw away their foreign gods or idols. To follow God requires destroying whatever gets in the way of worshiping Him. We may not have to remove ‘foreign gods’ from our lives, but rather idols such as possessions, greed, wrong priorities, jealousy or prejudices. The covenant between Israel and God was that the people would worship and obey the Lord alone. Their purpose was to become a holy nation that would influence the rest of the world for God.
As a church, we’re Moving Forward into a new season, so are we prepared to get rid of anything that would come between us and God, renew our commitment to Him and move forward to be an influence in our world?