You are witnesses against yourselves that you have chosen to serve the Lord. (Josh. 24:22)

Joshua called the tribes of Israel at Shechem on the carpet. He told them that they should not say things with their lips, with no intention of following through. They had made commitments to serve God alone before. They had disobeyed and acted against their word many times. Joshua was not amused with their lip service. Would they do it again? The people were adamant that this time they would covenant to the Lord their lifetime of service.

The Bible contains four identifiable covenant renewal ceremonies. Each represents not only a reaffirmation of the stipulations of the covenant, but also the inauguration of a new phase in Israelite history. Each covenant details a gathering of the people for either a recitation of the mighty acts of God or a reading of the Law as a reaffirmation of the people’s allegiance to the covenant. Many times, sacrifice or festival celebration was included. Joshua’s actions at Shechem placed a final stamp on the past (the exodus and conquest) and signaled a future in which the people would settle in the promised land.

There is nothing we can do about the past. We can, however, serve the Lord with gladness today and everyday into the future with his help. But we must continue to ask: Am I choosing to make the Lord or myself the priority?

Serve God with your whole heart.

Jim Dunn is the president of Oklahoma Wesleyan University in Bartlesville, Oklahoma.

© 2020 Wesleyan Publishing House. Reprinted from Light from the Word. Used by permission.

Scriptures taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®.