16The people answered:
We could never worship other gods or stop worshiping the Lord. 17The Lord is our God. We were slaves in Egypt as our ancestors had been, but we saw the Lord work miracles to set our people free and to bring us out of Egypt. Even though other nations were all around us, the Lord protected us wherever we went. 18And when we fought the Amorites and the other nations that lived in this land, the Lord made them run away. Yes, we will worship and obey the Lord, because the Lord is our God.
The Lord is fearsome; he is the one true God, and I don't think you are able to worship and obey him in the ways he demands. You would have to be completely faithful, and if you sin or rebel, he won't let you get away with it. 20If you turn your backs on the Lord and worship the gods of other nations, the Lord will turn against you. He will make terrible things happen to you and wipe you out, even though he had been good to you before.
21But the people shouted, “We won't worship any other gods. We will worship and obey only the Lord!”
22Joshua said, “You have heard yourselves say that you will worship and obey the Lord. Isn't that true?”
“Yes, it's true,” they answered.
23Joshua said, “But you still have some idols, like those the other nations worship. Get rid of your idols! You must decide once and for all that you really want to obey the Lord God of Israel.”
24The people said, “The Lord is our God, and we will worship and obey only him.”
25Joshua helped Israel make an agreement with the Lord that day at Shechem. Joshua made laws for Israel 26and wrote them down in The Book of the Law of God. Then he set up a large stone under the oak tree at the place of worship in Shechem 27and told the people, “Look at this stone. It has heard everything that the Lord has said to us. Our God can call this stone as a witness if we ever reject him.”
28Joshua sent everyone back to their homes.
Joshua, Joseph, and Eleazar
29Not long afterwards, the Lord's servant Joshua died at the age of 110. 30 The Israelites buried him in his own land at Timnath-Serah, north of Mount Gaash in the hill country of Ephraim.
31As long as Joshua lived, Israel worshiped and obeyed the Lord. There were other leaders old enough to remember everything that the Lord had done for Israel. And for as long as these men lived, Israel continued to worship and obey the Lord.
32 When the people of Israel left Egypt, they brought the bones of Joseph along with them. They took the bones to the town of Shechem and buried them in the field that Jacob had bought for 100 pieces of silver from Hamor, the founder of Shechem. The town and the field both became part of the land belonging to the descendants of Joseph.
33When Eleazar the priest died, he was buried in the hill country of Ephraim on a hill that belonged to his son Phinehas.
When the people of Israel commit themselves to God, Joshua knows that they may quickly turn against him, as they have in the past. He knows that they might be carried away by the excitement of the moment, as we sometimes are at exciting conferences or concerts. Therefore, Joshua marks their commitment with a huge stone. Every time the people see the stone they will be reminded of their commitment.
When we get married, we exchange rings to mark the covenant we have made before God to one another. Every time we look at our wedding bands, we are reminded of the commitment. We put up photos of our wedding day and celebrate our anniversary. Again, these reaffirm our commitment to our spouse.
Often, when we commit ourselves to God, we mark the occasion by baptism or a confirmation ceremony. It is common to receive a Bible or some token to remember the occasion. This can help us to remember our continuing commitment to God. If you have a tangible reminder of your commitment to God, make sure you keep it in a prominent place where you are reminded of your commitment. Use it to daily recommit yourself to God. A screen saver or background on your mobile device can also help you regularly reaffirm your commitment to God.
Dear Father God,
I acknowledge that my human tendency is to drift away from you. Keep reminding me of your presence. Every time I read my Bible or look at [whatever your reminder is], help me to reconnect with you. I love you and want to stay close to you. Through Jesus Christ, whose death made a way for me to connect directly with you, Amen.
Janet Epp Buckingham
Janet lives in Ottawa, Canada and has served as the Director of Global Advocacy for the World Evangelical Alliance since July 2021. She is also the Executive Editor of the International Journal for Religious Freedom, the flagship publication of the International Institute for Religious Freedom. Books: Donald E. Buckingham, Carolyn Marcotte, Janet L. Epp Buckingham, Bonnie Manning, and Lee Thompson, Learning About Law, (McGraw-Hill Ryerson: Toronto, 1997); Janet Epp Buckingham, Withering Rights: Religious Freedom in Canada, (The Evangelical Fellowship of Canada: 2004