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Joshua 24:1-15, Joshua Renews the Covenant

Narrative Lectionary Key Verse for Today

Now if you are unwilling to serve the Lord, choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served in the region beyond the River or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you are living; but as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.
— Joshua 24:15

NL Daily Devotion for Sunday, October 14, 2018

Joshua Renews Covenant Clergy Stuff Artwork

by Dr. Kimberly Leetch, Clergy Stuff

The people of Israel had been through so much. Exile, slavery, deliverance, wandering in the wilderness, attack from enemies from all sides, and the influence of foreign gods infiltrating their faith lives. Finally, through Joshua, they reached the promised land. It was time to renew their covenant with God.

The covenant between God and God’s people did not begin with what the people must do for God. God begins the renewal with a litany of things God had done for the people. The covenant between God and people is not a one-way street. It is a relationship to be nurtured and celebrated. God does for the people because God loves them. The people do for God because they love God.

And the people did celebrate and nurture their relationship with God. They desired to follow the God who did all those things for them. But Joshua knew foreign gods had wormed their way into the worship practices of the people. How could they not? They had been enslaved by a foreign culture and were living in foreign lands for centuries. A blending of faith practices was inevitable. Joshua warned them not to choose to follow God unless they were fully committed. They could choose to follow other gods. But they could not choose to follow both. If they chose God, they had to give up all their idols and foreign worship practices. And so, they did.

It’s not easy giving up the cultural things that creep into our lives, displacing the things of God. But God expects that, if we choose to worship God, we do not do so halfway, but wholeheartedly. Renewing our own covenant with God begins with a litany of what God has done for us—saw us through that divorce, calmed our anxiety over a test, guided us to pay the most important bills first. Then we are invited to commit our lives to God—when we worship, when we pray, when we give of ourselves for others, and when we take care of ourselves. God desires all of us, fully committed, and not distracted by the idols around us.

Narrative Lectionary Daily Reading:

Joshua 24:1-15

Then Joshua gathered all the tribes of Israel to Shechem, and summoned the elders, the heads, the judges, and the officers of Israel; and they presented themselves before God. And Joshua said to all the people, “Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel: Long ago your ancestors—Terah and his sons Abraham and Nahor—lived beyond the Euphrates and served other gods. Then I took your father Abraham from beyond the River and led him through all the land of Canaan and made his offspring many. I gave him Isaac; and to Isaac I gave Jacob and Esau. I gave Esau the hill country of Seir to possess, but Jacob and his children went down to Egypt.Then I sent Moses and Aaron, and I plagued Egypt with what I did in its midst; and afterwards I brought you out. When I brought your ancestors out of Egypt, you came to the sea; and the Egyptians pursued your ancestors with chariots and horsemen to the Red Sea. When they cried out to the Lord, he put darkness between you and the Egyptians, and made the sea come upon them and cover them; and your eyes saw what I did to Egypt. Afterwards you lived in the wilderness a long time. Then I brought you to the land of the Amorites, who lived on the other side of the Jordan; they fought with you, and I handed them over to you, and you took possession of their land, and I destroyed them before you. Then King Balak son of Zippor of Moab, set out to fight against Israel. He sent and invited Balaam son of Beor to curse you,but I would not listen to Balaam; therefore he blessed you; so I rescued you out of his hand. When you went over the Jordan and came to Jericho, the citizens of Jericho fought against you, and also the Amorites, the Perizzites, the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Girgashites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites; and I handed them over to you. I sent the hornet ahead of you, which drove out before you the two kings of the Amorites; it was not by your sword or by your bow. I gave you a land on which you had not labored, and towns that you had not built, and you live in them; you eat the fruit of vineyards and oliveyards that you did not plant. “Now therefore revere the Lord, and serve him in sincerity and in faithfulness; put away the gods that your ancestors served beyond the River and in Egypt, and serve the Lord.

Now if you are unwilling to serve the Lord, choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served in the region beyond the River or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you are living; but as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.”

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