Anyone who has visited the Lincoln Memorial in Washington DC has seen the etching engraved on the top of the steps. The inscription marks the spot where Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. gave his famous speech, “I Have a Dream.”
Standing on those steps, in the shadow of the great emancipator’s memory, gave greater force to the words Dr. King spoke that day. The place of the message intensified the words.
I’m convinced that’s why Joshua gathered the young Hebrew nation to Shechem. The geographical context of his words played a significant role.
What he said that day still applies to us.
Let’s Go to Shechem—Again
It wasn’t the Hebrews’ first time there. God told them to go to Shechem after they entered the Promised Land and dedicate themselves to His Law—which they did (Joshua 8:30-35).
When I visited the valley between the hills, I envisioned the nation of Israel shouting the blessings and the curses. BiblePlaces.com cites an acoustic experiment conducted in 1879 that demonstrated how the valley would have acted as a natural amphitheater—amplifying the voices of the Hebrew nation.
Now, after the conquest, Joshua again gathered them to Shechem, as if to ask:
- “Remember how Abraham left his idols and came to this city?”
- “Remember how Jacob put away his idols here?”
- “Remember how you yourselves dedicated yourselves to the Lord here?”
The place became a mute reminder of past dedications. It reignited those passions.
Joshua challenged the people to choose nothing short of wholehearted rededication “in sincerity and truth” (Joshua 24:14). He told them they could either choose their parents’ bad examples or their culture’s examples, but that the ultimate decision of whom they would serve remained theirs alone.
We must remember that it’s possible to affirm the existence of God with your lips and to deny the existence of God with your life. The most dangerous form of atheism is not theoretical atheism but practical atheism. —Martin Luther King, Jr. (from a message entitled, “Rediscovering Lost Values”)
Jesus Came To the Same Place
Centuries later, Jesus (whose name in Greek reflects the Hebrew name Joshua), said the same thing just outside of Shechem in Sychar. He told the woman at Jacob’s well that God seeks those who worship Him in “spirit and in truth” (John 4:23–24). Similarly, Joshua had said to serve God “in sincerity and truth.”
Both Joshua and Jesus remind us of the need to choose our Lord over all false gods or idols—whether they are passions, possessions, or people.
A Place of Rededication
Shechem became a place of rededication for Abraham, Jacob, Israel and the Samaritan woman—a place where the old life was abandoned in favor of following a Lord who alone was God.
Shechem can represent that place for us as well.
You don’t have to go to a particular place to rededicate your life to God. You can do it right where you are—right now. But it does help to “go back” in your mind to where you were before you knew the Lord.
- As you do when you take Communion, or the Lord’s Supper, remember how Jesus Christ saved you by grace through faith when you could never have saved yourself (Titus 3:5).
- Examine your life and confess any known sin—not in order to be saved—so that your fellowship with God is restored (1 John 1:9).
- Choose to walk with God in spite of your past—including your upbringing, your culture’s temptations, and your own inclinations.
As Joshua said, “Choose today whom you will serve” (Joshua 24:15).
Resolved: That all men should live for the glory of God. Resolved second: That whether others do or not, I will. —Jonathan Edwards
Question: Do you remember the place where you dedicated your life to the Lord? Where was it? You can leave a comment by clicking here.
Adapted from Wayne Stiles, Going Places with God: A Devotional Journey Through the Lands of the Bible (Ventura, CA: Regal, 2006), p. 137