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October 17, 2021 | Doug Sauder
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“Then Joshua gathered all the tribes of Israel to Shechem and called for the elders of Israel, for their heads, for their judges, and for their officers; and they presented themselves before God.”—Joshua 24:1 (NKJV)
The last two chapters of the Book of Joshua are very similar to each other. Both record discourses Joshua gave to the people of Israel as an aged warrior about remaining faithful to God. As a result, they can be easily mistaken as one long message. But as chapter 23 gives way to chapter 24, it becomes clear that Joshua is giving an altogether separate address—his final address.
We don’t know the time gap between these two speeches, but their distinction is identified by the fact that Joshua deliberately gave this second one at Shechem. Now, consider this, Joshua was already and elderly man back in the previous chapter (Joshua 23:1). By this time, he would only be older and weaker, yet he still made the effort to speak at Shechem. But the question is why?
Just as certain places hold special historical significance in the minds of Americans—Plymouth, Valley Forge, Pearl Harbor, etc.—Shechem held a special significance for the Israelite. It was the place where God first promised the land they now occupied to their forefather Abraham (Genesis 12:6-7). That promise was the foundational beginning of their present condition as well as their future. It was also the place where another ancestor, Jacob, turned a proverbial page by burying the idols that had infected his household (Genesis 35:2-5).
Shechem stood in the center of Israel’s faith. So, when the word went out that Joshua wanted everyone to gather there, each person would have understood that this was something sacred—something to be taken very seriously.
God is everywhere and can be approached anywhere. But it’s also true that we’re locked into a state of time and space, which means there will be places that hold special significance in our spiritual lives. Perhaps it’s the spot you first sensed the Lord’s presence or a place where He gave you a personal promise. Maybe it’s where you made a commitment to God, or a room, a patio, or the corner in a coffee shop where you consistently connect with Him.
Wherever it may be, it’s good to have sacred spots here on earth, places that hold a spiritual history for us. Not for the sake of having a place, but for what they represent between the Lord and us. They remind us that our lives have been set apart for something more than this world—another existence, another kingdom, another everything.
DIG: Why was Shechem so special to the nation of Israel?
DISCOVER: What is the value in having sacred spaces in this world?
DO: What is your Shechem and why? Reflect on the different ways it can be used to affirm your faith.
Pastor Dan Hickling serves our online community, also known as the Calvary Chapel Online Campus. He and his wife Becky have been married for 22 years and have two children, Lauren and Danny. Both Dan and Becky have been part of the CCFL church family for 22 years and have served in full time ministry for 20 of those years.