by Henry T. Vriesen
Israel lived for a number of years in the land “flowing with milk and honey,” under the wise rule of Joshua the servant of the Lord. It was his sincere desire to serve the Lord; he was guided by his word and Spirit. These years were years of blessing and prosperity for the Israelites. In thankfulness they looked up to God who opened his hand and satisfied the desire of his chosen people. The report says, “And Israel served the Lord all the days of Joshua, and all the days of the elders that overlived Joshua, and which had known all the works of the Lord, that he had done for Israel.”
Meanwhile the time had come when because of his age, Joshua knew his earthly course would not last much longer. His work was done, but before his departure he wanted once more to see the faces of his beloved people, once more he desired to remind them of the significance of the true and eternal God. So he called them together, especially the leading men. He asked them to meet at Shechem not far from Shiloh. It seems to have been the same place where a number of years ago that memorable gathering had taken place—in the valley between mount Ebal and mount Gerizim—when an altar of unbroken stones had been erected and the blessings and curses of the law had been read before the people.
“There they presented themselves before the Lord.” Then the aged leader in a stirring message reminded his hearers of the mighty works of God. He spoke about Abraham, who had left his home at God’s call; about Jacob, who with his family had gone to Egypt; about Moses, who had led Israel out of Egypt’s bondage. Joshua continued and said, “the Lord hath given you a land for which ye did not labor, and cities which ye built not, and ye dwell in them; of the vineyards and oliveyards which ye planted not do ye eat. Now therefore fear the Lord, and serve him in sincerity and truth … And if it seem evil unto you to serve the Lord, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” Then the people answered and said, “God forbid that we should forsake the Lord, to serve other gods … We also will serve the Lord; for he is our God.”
But Joshua knew that temptations would come and that they were inclined to turn to idolatry. Therefore he replied, “Ye cannot serve the Lord, for he is an holy God, he is a jealous God; he will not forgive your transgressions nor your sins.” And the people said, “Nay, but we will serve the Lord … and his voice will we obey.” And Joshua made a covenant with the people that day.For further information on this resource, click here.