Reading: Joshua 24: 1-3a
Verse One: “He summoned the elders, leaders, judges, … “This is what the Lord says..”
Joshua gathers up the leaders and officials of the twelve tribes of Israel – all the men in charge of the people. In this farewell chapter Joshua wants to make clear to them the correct path forward. Just as it has been for Joshua and for Moses before him, so too must God remain at the center of the lives of these leaders and those they lead. So Joshua does not begin with his own words of wisdom, but with, “This is what the Lord says…”
God begins by reminding them of the story of Abraham. It is a story they all surely know well but it is important to return and recall the stories often. The story begins with “long ago” and connects to one of the most important people in their common history. As God mentions Abraham, his wife Sarah certainly also comes to mind. Both heard God’s promise that even at 100 they would have a baby. The covenant would then be given: Abraham will be the father of a great nation. Both Abraham and Sarah heard and lived out God’s promise in the covenant. For the elders, leaders, judges, … the message is clear – listen to God and live out His covenant.
There is also a second message in our passage. God reminds the people that they have worshiped foreign gods. God connects not doing so with the promise of a new land. For Abraham it was Canaan; for them it is the Promised Land. In this warning against worshiping foreign gods, those gathered would recall the story of the golden calf and its consequences. They would also recall the commandments brought down the mountain by Moses that told them to have no other gods or idols. This message is also clear – love the Lord your God and Him alone.
These are both good reminders for us as well. We live into the new covenant established in Christ Jesus, clinging to its promises as we love the Lord our God with all of our heart, soul, mind, and strength. May it be so each and every day.