living on the shoulders of God’s blessing

Joshua 24:1-3a, 14-25

For Sunday, November 9, 2008
Proper 27

Places are important to us. We remember the place we were born, the place we were married, and the place where our father died. Places are important to God too. This is why the final chapter of Joshua chapter 24 begins with reference to a place: Shechem: “Then Joshua assembled all the tribes of Israel at Shechem.

Why Shechem? If you have a Bible with cross-references it becomes readily apparent in the reference to Gen. 12:6. In Genesis chapter 12 the Lord had said to Abram, “Leave your country… and go to the land I will show you.” Abram went, and where was the farthest point to which he traveled? Shechem: “Abram traveled through the land as far as the site of the great tree of Moreh at Shechem” (Gen. 12:6).

This city, known today as the Palestinian city of Nablus, is known as the most beautiful spot in all of Central Palestine. At this farthest point to which Abraham travelled God said to him, “Okay, now that you’ve traveled this far, guess what? This is what I’m going to give you… all of it.”

Fast forward now to Joshua’s day. The point of gathering the twelve tribes here once again was to say, “Despite all we’ve been through (Egypt and the desert wandering) do you see how God has fulfilled his promise to Abram by pouring out his blessings upon us?” This is why Joshua then says essentially, “Look, I don’t know who you are going to serve with your life, but given the fulfillment of God’s promise we are witnessing here today, as for me and my house, we are going to serve the Lord” (Josh 24:16).

The name Shechem means literally, “God’s shoulder.” Joshua is saying this: “Look at the blessings we have received. Do you think we amassed these for ourselves? Think again. We are living on the shoulders of God’s gracious blessing.”

What about us? Have we really pulled ourselves up by our own bootstraps, or like these Israelistes are we actually living on the shoulders of God’s blessing? If the latter, what will be our response: to take him for granted, . . . or to commit everything we have and are to God’s cause and glory?

I’m with Joshua: as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.


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