Monday, July 8, 2019

Covenant Renewal at Shechem

"On that day Joshua made a covenant for the people, and there at Shechem he drew up for them decrees and laws" (Joshua 24:25).

Several times in the course of my blog posts this year I have mentioned the structure of the covenant as presented in the Bible. In Joshua 24 a covenant renewal ceremony occurred which included all the basic elements once again.

First, we look back at the call and the identification of the king who was making the covenant. In Joshua 24:1 the leaders were assembled and presented before the Lord. The Lord called them through Joshua, and it was the Lord who renewed His covenant with them.

Second is the historical record of how the king dealt with them, delivered them, and established his kingship over them. In Joshua 2:2–13, Joshua rehearsed how God had brought them out of bondage and into liberty and thereby made them His possession. The focus of Joshua’s address was not on their political deliverance but on their spiritual deliverance from idolatry into the worship of the true God.

Third, we review the stipulations, the laws, and ordinances that the king levied on his people as their part in the covenant. In Joshua 24:14–15, Joshua showed them that the law of God boils down ultimately to only one commandment: Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength, and forsake all idolatry. If this commandment is kept, the rest will be kept as well, and the nation will be secure.

Fourth we look at the promise of blessings and the threat of judgment, which describes how the king would react if the people were obedient or disobedient. In Joshua 24:19–20, Joshua told them that if they worshiped foreign gods the Lord would deliver them into the hands of the nations that invented those gods, a threat amply illustrated in the book of Judges.

Finally, we learn of provisions for the future, as the king documented the covenant, established visible memorials, and appointed ambassadors to go between himself and the nation. In Joshua 24:26, Joshua set up a large stone as a memorial of the covenant, a stone that had heard all their promises and would bear witness for or against them. He also wrote down the covenant, making a permanent record of it. Then he sent them out to possess the land God had given them.

As you begin this week, make the covenant renewal process personal. Recognizing Jesus as Lord, review the history of what God has done for you and follow the other covenant renewal steps. Recommit yourself to loving God and obeying the Lord.