Renewing the Covenant

KEY VERSE: “The LORD our God will we serve, and his voice we will obey.” —Joshua 24:24

SELECTED SCRIPTURE: Joshua 24:1, 14-24

THESE were the parting words of Joshua to the children of Israel when he was an old man and ready to die. “Joshua made a covenant with the people that day, and set them a statute and an ordinance in Shechem. And Joshua wrote these words in the book of the Law of God, and took a great stone, and set it up there under an oak, that was by the sanctuary of the Lord.” (vss. 25,26)

Thus the people renewed their covenant with the Lord, and, in the words of our text, affirmed their determination to listen to Jehovah, the true and living God, and to obey his voice.

Honored indeed are all those who are privileged to hear the voice of God speaking to them in tones which betoken his favor and blessing. In the instance of our text, the nation of Israel heard God’s voice through Joshua, and at other times through other prophets.

While God spoke to Israel as a nation through the prophets in olden times, he spoke more directly to individuals. But whether the voice of God is heard by individuals in special messages, or by groups through the medium of his servants, the purpose of the messages is practically always the same. It is not to satisfy curiosity, but to invite cooperation in the outworking of his plans and purposes. Thus, while it is a blessed experience to hear the voice of God, it involves personal responsibility, for it means that to the extent of the call or invitation, one is required to devote himself unreservedly to the task at hand.

But how may we know that we have heard the voice of God? Amidst all the confusion of religious thought how are we to know that what we have accepted as truth is in reality the voice of God, and that in obeying that voice we are fulfilling the divine will? This is a question of vital concern to all of us, but a question, nevertheless which we should be able to answer to our satisfaction, else we are left in a condition of partial doubt and uncertainty. We say that we have the truth, but how do we know?

There are many lines of approach to this question. We know we have heard the voice of God because what we have heard is in harmony with the entire Bible. It is also in harmony with what we should expect the character of God to be—infinite justice, wisdom, power, and above all, love. It is also in harmony with all known historical facts and with our own experiences and observations. In short, what we have accepted as the voice of God, the voice of truth, leaves no unanswered questions or problems. It does not tell us that there is no such thing as sickness, when we know there is. It does not tell us that there is no death, when we know that people are dying all around us.

There is still another manner in which we can assure ourselves that we have heard the voice of God, and that is upon the basis of his unchangeableness. The Scriptures tell us that God changes not; that in him there is “no shadow of turning.” (James 1:17; Mal. 3:6) This being true, it means that the divine purpose as revealed through God’s prophets of old is still God’s purpose. This in turn, means that if we have heard the voice of God, we have heard the same things which that voice made known through the prophets. True, the working out of God’s plan may vary in detail from age to age, but not the plan itself.

Have we heard and appreciated the great fundamental facts of truth: ransom and restitution; the high calling; the blessing of all the families of the earth? If so, we have heard the voice of God.

There are many incidentals of truth which are good in themselves, and many of which are understandable by those not enlightened by the voice of God. Even a natural-minded man or woman can appreciate to a large extent the value of kindness, mercy, and self-control, as well as other manifestations of righteousness. Those who believe in eternal torture for the wicked may adhere to high principles of righteousness in their daily living. But moral and devotional teachings are only the surface truths of the Bible, and no matter how valuable they may be to us from the standpoint of righteous standards, apart from the theme-song of God’s love for and intention to bless all nations, they do not constitute his voice of revelation.

If we have heard God speak, these great fundamental facts of truth, let us, like Joshua, confirm our covenant of obedience to God’s voice.

Dawn Bible Students Association
|  Home Page  |  Table of Contents  |