The people replied, “We would never abandon the Lord and serve other gods. For the Lord our God is the one who rescued us and our ancestors from slavery in the land of Egypt. He performed mighty miracles before our very eyes. As we traveled through the wilderness among our enemies, he preserved us. It was the Lord who drove out the Amorites and the other nations living here in the land. So we, too, will serve the Lord, for he alone is our God.”
Then Joshua warned the people, “You are not able to serve the Lord, for he is a holy and jealous God. He will not forgive your rebellion and your sins. If you abandon the Lord and serve other gods, he will turn against you and destroy you, even though he has been so good to you.”
But the people answered Joshua, “No, we will serve the Lord!”
“You are a witness to your own decision,” Joshua said. “You have chosen to serve the Lord.”
“Yes,” they replied, “we are witnesses to what we have said.”
“All right then,” Joshua said, “destroy the idols among you, and turn your hearts to the Lord, the God of Israel.”
The people said to Joshua, “We will serve the Lord our God. We will obey him alone.”
So Joshua made a covenant with the people that day at Shechem, committing them to follow the decrees and regulations of the Lord. Joshua recorded these things in the Book of God’s Instructions. As a reminder of their agreement, he took a huge stone and rolled it beneath the terebinth tree beside the Tabernacle of the Lord.
All the people boldly claimed that they would never forsake the Lord. But they did not keep that promise. Very soon God would charge them with breaking their contract with him (Judges 2:2-3).
The covenant between Israel and God was that the people would worship and obey the Lord alone. Their purpose was to become a holy nation through whom God could influence the rest of the world. The conquest of Canaan was a means to achieve this purpose, but Israel became preoccupied with the land and lost sight of the Lord God.
Talk is cheap. We can easily pledge to follow God, but following through and living that way is much more important. James 1:22 says, “Don’t just listen to God’s word. You must do what it says. Otherwise, you are only fooling yourselves.” We can spend so much time on talking about faith that we forget to act in faith.
Or we might spend so much time preparing, that we forget what we were preparing to do. Churches may make this mistake as well. For example, the congregation may pour all of its energies into a new facility, only to become self-satisfied or fearful of letting certain groups use it. If this happens, they have focused on the building and lost sight of its purpose—to bring others to God.
Are you confident that you’ll never forsake the Lord? Is your faith a lot of talking and preparing without taking steps of risk and trust? God wants you to grow in your faith, but it can’t happen without your participation. God wants to use you for his purposes; are you listening to his prompting and taking the risk that requires you to step out in faith?