Finally it appeared that the relationship desired would be entrenched in their lives: He, and he alone would be their God; and they, unique among the people of the earth, would be his people.
As is so often the case, however, appearances can be deceiving.
Image by Alexandra_Koch
By Steve Hall
We’ve all been there, sometimes on the giving end, sometimes on the receiving end.
We make a commitment or promise and soon begin to renege on the deal. We hear such a promise this morning in the reading from Joshua.
"Far be it from us to forsake the LORD for the service of other gods.”
“We also will serve the LORD, for he is our God."
“We will still serve the LORD."
“We will serve the LORD, our God, and obey his voice."
After this, what can you say. It would seem that the Covenant between The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and their descendants, the people of Israel, was firmly established. Finally it appeared that the relationship desired would be entrenched in their lives: He, and he alone would be their God; and they, unique among the people of the earth, would be his people. As is so often the case, however, appearances can be deceiving.
Along with the commitment to the Lord alone as their God, there were a few other things required of them upon entering the Promised Land. All these requirements were for the purpose of preserving their purity of faith and avoiding the contamination of pagan beliefs and practices. Chief among these was the requirement that they remove all the ‘squatters’ from the land which God had promised to them through Abraham. They were commanded to do this as a unified people with all twelve tribes cooperating in the endeavor.
But, as with so many of the promises made, excuses are seldom far behind and our ‘more practical’ solutions pre-empt what we agreed to. I can easily imagine possible alternatives being discussed when the subject of removing the ‘squatters’ came up.
When it comes to human/human agreements such considerations may be appropriate grounds for reconsideration and renegotiation. Even my six year old grandson has learned the art. However, when it comes to agreements with the divine . . . Well, whether appropriate or not, we try it anyway. Ours is a New Covenant arrangement, sealed with the blood of Jesus. We enter into that Covenant and we too make promises which are essentially the same as those of the Israelites who listened to Joshua so many years ago.