Saturday, March 29, 2008

Witness

March 29: Joshua 22-24

10 And when they came to the region of the Jordan that is in the land of Canaan, the people of Reuben and the people of Gad and the half-tribe of Manasseh built there an altar by the Jordan, an altar of imposing size.

16 “Thus says the whole congregation of the Lord, ‘What is this breach of faith that you have committed against the God of Israel in turning away this day from following the Lord by building yourselves an altar this day in rebellion against the Lord?

24 No, but we did it from fear that in time to come your children might say to our children, ‘What have you to do with the Lord, the God of Israel? 25 For the Lord has made the Jordan a boundary between us and you, you people of Reuben and people of Gad. You have no portion in the Lord.’ So your children might make our children cease to worship the Lord. 26 Therefore we said, ‘Let us now build an altar, not for burnt offering, nor for sacrifice, 27 but to be a witness between us and you, and between our generations after us, that we do perform the service of the Lord in his presence with our burnt offerings and sacrifices and peace offerings, so your children will not say to our children in time to come, “You have no portion in the Lord.”’ 28 And we thought, If this should be said to us or to our descendants in time to come, we should say, ‘Behold, the copy of the altar of the Lord, which our fathers made, not for burnt offerings, nor for sacrifice, but to be a witness between us and you.’

34 The people of Reuben and the people of Gad called the altar Witness, “For,” they said, “it is a witness between us that the Lord is God.”
Joshua 22:10, 16, 24-28, & 34

14 “Now therefore fear the Lord and serve him in sincerity and in faithfulness. Put away the gods that your fathers served beyond the River and in Egypt, and serve the Lord. 15 And if it is evil in your eyes to serve the Lord, choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your fathers served in the region beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”

22 Then Joshua said to the people, “You are witnesses against yourselves that you have chosen the Lord, to serve him.” And they said, “We are witnesses.”

And he took a large stone and set it up there under the terebinth that was by the sanctuary of the Lord. 27 And Joshua said to all the people, “Behold, this stone shall be a witness against us, for it has heard all the words of the Lord that he spoke to us. Therefore it shall be a witness against you, lest you deal falsely with your God.”
Joshua 24:14-15, 22, & 26b-27

In today's reading our attention is focused on two rocks! The first rock, a huge imposing altar, was built by the tribes east of the Jordan River. The second rock was a large stone which Joshua placed near the sanctuary of the Lord. What was the purpose of these two rocks?

When the tribes east of the Jordan constructed a large altar, the other Israelites thought the worst; those east of the Jordan had already forsaken the Lord. Nothing could have been farther from the truth! Those east of the Jordan, fearing they would be castaways from the rest of the nation, placed the rock as a witness that they, too, were servants of the Lord God of Hosts. The people of Reuban and Gad simply called the name of the altar, "Witness."

As Joshua's life drew to a close he made that great challenge to the nation of Israel,

Choose you this day whom you will serve . . . but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.

16 Then the people answered, “Far be it from us that we should forsake the Lord to serve other gods . . . Therefore we also will serve the Lord, for he is our God.”
Joshua 24:15-16, and 18b

As a witness to the promise of the people, Joshua placed a stone near the sanctuary of the Lord, saying,

“Behold, this stone shall be a witness against us, for it has heard all the words of the Lord that he spoke to us. Therefore it shall be a witness against you, lest you deal falsely with your God.”
Joshua 24:27b

What is your rock of witness? What things do you use to remind yourself of your commitment to God, to love and serve Him all the days of your life?

What do you see around your house when you get up in the morning--what things do you put on your refrigerator? I have pictures of my family in every room of my house (well, not in the laundry room or bathroom), but you get the idea. I also have favorite Scripture verses that I like to place in convenient places, so I will read them throughout the day. My home page is Google, and one of the options is to have a Bible Verse of the Day posted.

God knows that we are people who are weak and prone to forget Him. Help yourself out--put remembrances of Him throughout your house or, if allowed, your workplace.

Here is one of my favorite Bible passages that I have made into a page-sized poster to put on my wall:

Though the fig tree should not blossom,
nor fruit be on the vines,
the produce of the olive fail
and the fields yield no food,
the flock be cut off from the fold
and there be no herd in the stalls,
yet I will rejoice in the LORD;
I will take joy in the God of my salvation.
GOD, the Lord, is my strength;
he makes my feet like the deer’s;
he makes me tread on my high places.
Habakkuk 3:17-19

God Bless You,
Linda

All Scriptures are from the English Standard Version of the Bible.

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