And Joshua said to all the people, "You see this stone. It will be a witness against us, for it has heard all the words the LORD has spoken to us, and it will be a witness against you if you ever deny your God."
I. THE TERMS OF THE COVENANT. It was to bind the people to their promise to renounce the old life of sin and idolatry, and to enter upon and remain in the true service of God. Nations are proud of protecting treaties, constitutional pledges, charters of liberty, etc. No nation ever took a more important covenant than this. The chief question for all of us is whether we will live for the world or for God. The gospel brings to us a new covenant. The promises are greater, the terms are more light. Yet we must choose and resolve and yield ourselves in submission to it if we would enjoy the advantages its offers. This covenant has two sides. God pledges His blessings, but we must pledge our devotion. His is the infinitely greater part. Yet if we fail in ours God's promises of blessing no longer apply.
II. THE OBJECTS OF THE COVENANT,
(1) It was to preserve the memory of the pledge. Men make resolutions in moments of exaltation which they are apt to forget when the feelings which gave rise to them have subsided. Yet it is just then that they are most necessary. They are not needed when they are freely made, because the impulse to resolve would carry out the action without the resolution. Their real value is for those seasons of trial and service when the lack of a strong spontaneous impulse makes it necessary to fall back on some fixed principle.
(2) It was to secure the execution of the pledge. It is easy to promise. The difficulty lies in the performance. God is only mocked with the devotion of the sanctuary which is not followed by the service of the daily life. Hence we need to preserve and carry the high impulses of worship into the work of the world. Many men live two lives, and the life of the Sunday has no bearing on that of the week day. We should use all means to bring religion into life.
III. THE FORM OF THE COVENANT.
(1) There was an appeal to memory. The people were to be witnesses against themselves. We should treasure in the memory and often call to mind the thoughts of our seasons of spiritual elevation.
(2) There was a written record. Writing remains unchanged with the varying moods of men. It may he well to write our higher thoughts and deeper resolves for our own subsequent private meditation. The New Testament is a written covenant.
(3) There was a memorial stone. This would be always visible. So the covenant would be often called to mind. We often need to have our memories refreshed and our thoughts called back to the great practical truths of Christianity. Hence the utility of preaching not only new ideas, but truths that all of us know, and yet that all need to be reminded of, and to have often brought before us for practical application. The stone would not lose its value as it became old and familiar. Truth does not grow feeble with age, nor is it the less important because it is the more familiar. - W.F.A.
Joshua... took a great stone, and set it up there under an oak, that was by the sanctuary of the Lord.
Solemnity of occasion. Joshua, dying, calls upon the nation to "choose whom you will serve." Here we have —
1. A wise effort to impress and perpetuate religious resolutions.
2. A fine impersonation of material nature.
I. THE IMPORTANCE OF RELIGIOUS RESOLUTIONS. They are worthy of perpetual remembrance. The world has monuments of earthquakes, wars, deaths; but how few of devout resolutions!
II. THE HIGHEST USE OF MATERIAL OBJECTS. Without actually setting up material objects, nature might be appropriated in her different manifestations as types of God's character, and as mementos of events in the religious history of an individual or a family.
III. THE MOST SOLEMN ASPECTS OF NATURE. Who dares to say that nature cannot hear or speak? Who shall say, at the last, what nature, after her long silence, shall reveal? Take heed what you do and say: stones may hear without a Joshua's invocation.
We can easily conceive the association of thought with which Joshua and Israel contemplated the stone which they set up in Shechem. However rough it might be and shapeless, it had for them a solemn character; it had something approaching to personality and the power of testimony. "It," said Joshua, "hath heard all the words of the Lord which He spake unto us"; not, of course, literally, but in the minds and recollections of those who regarded it as a pledge and token of the vow and covenant made betwixt them and God. And we may well conceive that such a silent, unchangeable witness retained for years, and perhaps for generations, its effect on the people of Israel, even in their downward course which, we too well know, shortly followed. To it the servants of God, struggling against the idolatry and pollution of their age, would bring their little ones, and teach them the words which it heard, and of which it was a testimony, and repeat each for himself their dying captain's confession, "As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord." Many a tender hand, laid on its cool surface, may have throbbed with generous emotion and holy zeal; many a thoughtful youth and maiden of Israel may have heard from it a sermon, which issued in holy endurance and heroic resolve. And we, have not we too set up our stone of testimony? have not these walls, dead materials gathered from the slime of the earth and the bosom of the rock, within these few days assumed for us a solemnity of which, in the laws of our thought, they can never be divested? Have they not heard all the words which the Lord our God hath spoken to us, and all that we have spoken to Him? Have we not begun a new course, entered on a fresh iteration of our covenant with God, of which these stones are a witness, a silent but ineffaceable witness — a witness through the ages of time — a witness at the solemn day of judgment? If this pillar of testimony, set up in the midst of our homes, raised with so much self-denying effort, inaugurated with so many tears of joy, is to witness only cold hearts and feeble hands, and formal Sundays, and ungodly weeks, oh shame unto us henceforward — nay, woe unto us, for God will look upon it and judge; and as we have received, so will He at last require of us. These latter words — as a note of passage — lead me on to speak of not only the similarity, but the difference also, between Joshua's stone of witness and ours. I deeply feel that this your church is, as the stone in Shechem was, a witness between you and God. But it is so in a far more solemn sense, in far wider and deeper meaning, than that could ever be. That stone was a mere passive witness; by standing where it did, it gave a permanence to the fact of the covenant there made. It was merely, as our Nelson's pillar or our Wellington statues, a memorial. And this our church is likewise; a memorial of His great mercies and of our feeble gratitude; a memorial that a Christian congregation has in it anew entered into covenant with Him. But it is also far more than this. It is an active witness between you and God. The sermons which it preaches are not merely those which associations of thought might suggest; they are active, positive, spoken declarations of God's will, ever renewed and energising. Its testimony is not only that of a memorial of the past; it is an ever-welling fountain of Divine knowledge, telling of Christ and His salvation. Thus considered, then, what is the use, what is the office, of this our Church? Briefly (but how much is contained in these words) to provide those who dwell in this thickly-peopled neighbourhood with the public means of grace. Undoubtedly, the first means of grace are, prayer and praise. But there are others, standing in the very first rank of importance, viz., the Word and the Sacraments. Nor should I omit, in speaking of our new church as a witness for God, the important testimony which is borne by every church in the succession of her services throughout the Christian year. Here you will each year accompany our blessed Lord "from His poor cradle to His bitter cross"; here you will witness His burial, and His glorious resurrection and ascension, and the fulfilment of the promise of the Father in the descent of the Spirit, and will adore with holy joy on that crowning festival of Trinity the whole Three Persons in the One Godhead, covenanted in the work of our salvation. Such are some few of the blessings which you may expect from your church; such some few of the testimonies which it will lift up among you for God and His work. Can I pass on without a word of exhortation to you that you thwart not such blessings — that you let not such testimonies be given against yourselves? Oh, love your church! Throng its aisles from week to week, as to-day.
PeopleAaron, Amorites, Balaam, Balak, Beor, Canaanites, Egyptians, Eleazar, Esau, Girgashite, Girgashites, Hamor, Hittites, Hivite, Hivites, Isaac, Israelites, Jacob, Jebusites, Joseph, Joshua, Nachor, Nahor, Nun, Perizzites, Phinehas, Seir, Serah, Terah, Zippor
PlacesCanaan, Egypt, Euphrates River, Gaash, Gibeah, Jericho, Jordan River, Moab, Red Sea, Seir, Shechem, Timnath-serah
TopicsBehold, Deal, Deny, Falsely, Hearing, Joshua, Lest, Lie, Sayings, Spake, Spoke, Spoken, Stone, Thus, Untrue, Witness
Outline1. Joshua assembles the tribes at Shechem
2. A brief history of God's benefits from Terah
14. He renews the covenant between them and God
26. A stone the witness of the covenant
29. Joshua's age, death, and burial
32. Joseph's bones are buried
33. Eleazar dies
Dictionary of Bible ThemesJoshua 24:14-27
8145 renewal, people of God
LibraryFebruary the Tenth Registering a Verdict
"The Lord our God will we serve, and His voice will we obey." --JOSHUA xxiv. 22-28. Here was a definite decision. Our peril is that we spend our life in wavering and we never decide. We are like a jury which is always hearing evidence and never gives a verdict. We do much thinking, but we never make up our minds. We let our eyes wander over many things, but we make no choice. Life has no crisis, no culmination. Now people who never decide spend their days in hoping to do so. But this kind of life …
John Henry Jowett—My Daily Meditation for the Circling Year
A Summary of Israel's Faithlessness and God's Patience
'And an angel of the Lord came up from Gilgal to Bochim, and said, I made you to go up out of Egypt, and have brought you unto the land which I sware unto your fathers; and I said, I will never break my covenant with you. 2. And ye shall make no league with the inhabitants of this land; ye shall throw down their altars: but ye have not obeyed my voice: why have ye done this? 3. Wherefore I also said, I will not drive them out from before you; but they shall be as thorns in your sides, and their gods …
Alexander Maclaren—Expositions of Holy Scripture
Jesus Sets Out from Judæa for Galilee.
Subdivision B. At Jacob's Well, and at Sychar. ^D John IV. 5-42. ^d 5 So he cometh to a city of Samaria, called Sychar, near to the parcel of ground that Jacob gave to his son Joseph. 6 and Jacob's well was there. [Commentators long made the mistake of supposing that Shechem, now called Nablous, was the town here called Sychar. Sheckem lies a mile and a half west of Jacob's well, while the real Sychar, now called 'Askar, lies scarcely half a mile north of the well. It was a small town, loosely called …
J. W. McGarvey—The Four-Fold Gospel
Meditations for Household Piety.
1. If thou be called to the government of a family, thou must not hold it sufficient to serve God and live uprightly in thy own person, unless thou cause all under thy charge to do the same with thee. For the performance of this duty God was so well pleased with Abraham, that he would not hide from him his counsel: "For," saith God, "I know him that he will command his sons and his household after him that they keep the way of the Lord, to do righteousness and judgment, that the Lord may bring upon …
Lewis Bayly—The Practice of Piety
The Promise to the Patriarchs.
A great epoch is, in Genesis, ushered in with the history of the time of the Patriarchs. Luther says: "This is the third period in which Holy Scripture begins the history of the Church with a new family." In a befitting manner, the representation is opened in Gen. xii. 1-3 by an account of the first revelation of God, given to Abraham at Haran, in which the way is opened up for all that follows, and in which the dispensations of God are brought before us in a rapid survey. Abraham is to forsake …
Ernst Wilhelm Hengstenberg—Christology of the Old Testament
Sovereignty and Human Responsibility
"So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God" (Rom. 14:12). In our last chapter we considered at some length the much debated and difficult question of the human will. We have shown that the will of the natural man is neither Sovereign nor free but, instead, a servant and slave. We have argued that a right conception of the sinner's will-its servitude-is essential to a just estimate of his depravity and ruin. The utter corruption and degradation of human nature is something which …
Arthur W. Pink—The Sovereignty of God
And for Your Fearlessness against them Hold this Sure Sign -- Whenever There Is...
43. And for your fearlessness against them hold this sure sign--whenever there is any apparition, be not prostrate with fear, but whatsoever it be, first boldly ask, Who art thou? And from whence comest thou? And if it should be a vision of holy ones they will assure you, and change your fear into joy. But if the vision should be from the devil, immediately it becomes feeble, beholding your firm purpose of mind. For merely to ask, Who art thou  ? and whence comest thou? is a proof of coolness. …
Athanasius—Select Works and Letters or Athanasius
Covenanting Performed in Former Ages with Approbation from Above.
That the Lord gave special token of his approbation of the exercise of Covenanting, it belongs to this place to show. His approval of the duty was seen when he unfolded the promises of the Everlasting Covenant to his people, while they endeavoured to perform it; and his approval thereof is continually seen in his fulfilment to them of these promises. The special manifestations of his regard, made to them while attending to the service before him, belonged to one or other, or both, of those exhibitions …
John Cunningham—The Ordinance of Covenanting
The First Commandment
Thou shalt have no other gods before me.' Exod 20: 3. Why is the commandment in the second person singular, Thou? Why does not God say, You shall have no other gods? Because the commandment concerns every one, and God would have each one take it as spoken to him by name. Though we are forward to take privileges to ourselves, yet we are apt to shift off duties from ourselves to others; therefore the commandment is in the second person, Thou and Thou, that every one may know that it is spoken to him, …
Thomas Watson—The Ten Commandments
Moses and his Writings
[Illustration: (drop cap W) Clay letter tablet of Moses' time.] We now begin to understand a little of the very beginning of God's Book--of the times in which it was written, the materials used by its first author, and the different kinds of writing from which he had to choose; but we must go a step farther. How much did Moses know about the history of his forefathers, Abraham and Jacob, and of all the old nations and kings mentioned in Genesis, before God called him to the great work of writing …
Mildred Duff—The Bible in its Making
"The Carnal Mind is Enmity against God for it is not Subject to the Law of God, Neither Indeed Can Be. So Then they that Are
Rom. viii. s 7, 8.--"The carnal mind is enmity against God for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God." It is not the least of man's evils, that he knows not how evil he is, therefore the Searcher of the heart of man gives the most perfect account of it, Jer. xvii. 12. "The heart is deceitful above all things," as well as "desperately wicked," two things superlative and excessive in it, bordering upon an infiniteness, such …
Hugh Binning—The Works of the Rev. Hugh Binning
Gen. xxxi. 11
Of no less importance and significance is the passage Gen. xxxi. 11 seq. According to ver. 11, the Angel of God, [Hebrew: mlaK halhiM] appears toJacob in a dream. In ver. 13, the same person calls himself the God of Bethel, with reference to the event recorded in chap. xxviii. 11-22. It cannot be supposed that in chap xxviii. the mediation of a common angel took place, who, however, had not been expressly mentioned; for Jehovah is there contrasted with the angels. In ver. 12, we read: "And behold …
Ernst Wilhelm Hengstenberg—Christology of the Old Testament
Manner of Covenanting.
Previous to an examination of the manner of engaging in the exercise of Covenanting, the consideration of God's procedure towards his people while performing the service seems to claim regard. Of the manner in which the great Supreme as God acts, as well as of Himself, our knowledge is limited. Yet though even of the effects on creatures of His doings we know little, we have reason to rejoice that, in His word He has informed us, and in His providence illustrated by that word, he has given us to …
John Cunningham—The Ordinance of Covenanting
The book of Joshua is the natural complement of the Pentateuch. Moses is dead, but the people are on the verge of the promised land, and the story of early Israel would be incomplete, did it not record the conquest of that land and her establishment upon it. The divine purpose moves restlessly on, until it is accomplished; so "after the death of Moses, Jehovah spake to Joshua," i. 1. The book falls naturally into three divisions: (a) the conquest of Canaan (i.-xii.), (b) the settlement of the …
John Edgar McFadyen—Introduction to the Old Testament
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