Our Covenant Day With God

Joshua

Our Covenant Day With God

November 26th, 1986 @ 7:30 PM

Joshua 24:24-25

And the people said unto Joshua, The LORD our God will we serve, and his voice will we obey. So Joshua made a covenant with the people that day, and set them a statute and an ordinance in Shechem.
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OUR COVENANT DAY WITH GOD

Dr. W. A. Criswell

Joshua 24:24-25

11-26-86    7:30 p.m.

 

 

I have a message, and it will take about twelve to fifteen minutes to deliver it.  And it is in keeping with our Day of Thanksgiving, which is proclaimed by the head of our government for tomorrow, Thursday.  In the twenty-fourth chapter, the last chapter of the Book of Joshua, the people were called to a great covenant day before God.  If you have a Bible we might read it together, just take a moment to read it together.  The last chapter of Joshua, Joshua 24, beginning at verse 13; reading through verse 15, and then I will give you another passage later on.  Do you have it?  Joshua 24, beginning at verse 13, and we will read 13, 14, and 15.  Now, together:

 

And I have given you a land for which you did not labor, and cities which you built not, and you dwell in them; of the vineyards and oliveyards which you planted not do you eat. 

Now therefore fear the Lord, and serve Him in sincerity and in truth: and put away the gods which your fathers served on the other side of the Flood, and in Egypt; and serve ye the Lord. 

And if it seem evil unto you to serve the Lord, choose you this day whom you will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the Flood, or the gods of Amorites, in whose land you dwell; but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.

[Joshua 24:13-15] 

 

Now, verses 24 and 25:

 

And the people said unto Joshua, The Lord our God will we serve, and His voice will we obey. 

So Joshua made a covenant with the people that day, and set them a statute and an ordinance in Shechem.

[Joshua 24:24- 25]

 

The nation of Israel was chosen through God’s purpose of grace to be a teacher of the true Lord to all of the families and nations of the world.  In the twentieth chapter of the Book of Exodus, we have listed from God the Ten Commandments [Exodus 20:1-17].  But the nineteenth chapter of Exodus is before the twentieth chapter, and in the nineteenth chapter of Exodus, verse 6, God said, "Ye shall be unto Me a kingdom of priests, and a holy nation" [Exodus 19:6].  A priest represented God to man and man to God, and the nation of Israel was chosen to represent Jehovah, El Shaddai, to the world, and the world to El Shaddai. 

The nation of America is chosen to God.  We do not have a prophet to write our history, but God’s hand is evidently upon us.  The beginnings of America are hidden in the purposes of God’s grace to the world through us.  The Spanish came here in a quest for gold.  They were looking for fountains of youth, for harems of American Indian women, and for lust and appetite were they moved to come.  They heard stories brought back after the discovery of America by Columbus that spoke of gold and jewels.  The seven cities of Cibola, and their foundations made of solid gem.  Fernando Cortez, 1485-1547, came to Old Mexico and discovered Lower California.  Cabeza de Vaca, 10 and 1559, explored Texas, where we live, and the Southwest.  Francisco de Coronado, 1500 to15, explored New Mexico.  Hernando de Soto, 19-1542, discovered the Mississippi River in 1541.  And Ponce de Leon, 1460-1521, discovered Florida and conquered and governed Puerto Rico.  All of those Spaniards came; North America, South America, Central America, seeking gold and jewels and fabled riches. 

The Puritan came in a quest for God; history has called them Puritans.  They were Puritan separatists.  They were trained in the school of John Calvin, they were Calvinists.  They pledged allegiance to God alone and not to a king or to a hierarchy.  They believed in the priesthood of the believer.  They believed in the right of every man and every church to worship God without interference from an ecclesiastical authority or a monarchical head of government.  And they believed in salvation by grace alone.  Upon the death of Queen Elizabeth in 1603, James Stewart the First came to the throne, and in a bitter rage he said, "I will make these Puritans conform or I will harry them out of the land."  Some of them he hanged.  Some of them he burned at the stake.  Some of them rotted in loathsome prisons, such as our Baptist Thomas Helwys. 

There was a little congregation of these Puritan separatists in Scrooby, Nottinghamshire, East England.   Under the leadership of William Brewster and John Robinson and young William Bradford, they escaped out of England to Leiden, Holland, and from there decided to seek a new home and a new world.  In July 1620, in a rickety ship named Speedwell, with sturdy soldier Miles Standish, they set sail from Holland.  At Southampton, on the southern coast of England, they met the Mayflower, with other Puritans, and set sail in those two ships for the New World.  Three hundred miles at sea the Speedwell floundered.  They were forced to return to Plymouth in the south coast of England; and all who could, one hundred souls, crowded into the Mayflower on the sixth of September in 1620, and they started out again. 

They were headed for Virginia in the south, but fierce storms and a lack of calculation of latitude and longitude caught them into another world and when they came to America, it was at Cape Cod, far to the north, coming there the ninth of November in 1620.  The attempt to turn southward was frustrated by fierce winds and perilous shoals, so on the twenty-first day of December in 1620, they decided to make their home in Plymouth, Massachusetts.  They began with a day of prayer and high hopes.  But when the terrible winter was over, fifty-one of the one hundred Pilgrims had died.  But spring finally came.  And should they return to England?  William Brewster said, "It is not with us as with men whom small things can discourage."  So at the end of summer they had a little street of seven homes, twenty-six acres of cleared land; a gracious harvest.  And Governor William Bradford appointed a day of Thanksgiving in November, praising and thanking God.  That was our first Thanksgiving. 

The mighty nation of America today is a far cry from the poor, simple, humble beginnings; a marvelous transition to the present glory and power and might of our modern America.  But it behooves us to look back and yet again at "the pit from whence we were digged and at the rock from whence we were hewn" [Isaiah 51:1].  Such a look is a clarion call to remember the Lord God who gave us this land, this nation, and our people.  No greater tragedy could overtake us than that we forget the Lord God who has blessed us. 

Rudyard Kipling, in 1897, at the conclusion of the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Victoria – the world had never seen such pageantry.  For months and months, the empire, upon which the sun never set, honored and praised the Lord of heaven for the long reign of Queen Victoria.  The mighty navy, the great army, the representatives from all of the nations of the world – it was a festival!  It was a celebration that has never been duplicated in the history of mankind.  But at the end of that incomparable celebration of the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Victoria, Rudyard Kipling wrote a poem that fell like a thunder bolt from the sky, and you remember it: 

 

God of our fathers, known of old,
Lord of our far flung battle line,
Beneath whose awful Hand we hold
Dominion over palm and pine –
Lord God of Hosts, be with us yet,
lest we forget – lest we forget! 

. . .

Far-called, our navies melt away;
On dune and headland sinks the fire:
Lo, all our pomp of yesterday
Is one with Nineveh and Tyre!
Judge of the Nations, spare us yet,
Lest we forget – lest we forget! 

. . .

If, drunk with sight of power, we loose
Wild tongues that hold not Thee in awe,
Such boastings as the Gentiles use,
Or lesser breeds without the law –
Lord God of Hosts, be with us yet,
Lest we forget – lest we forget! 

. . .

["Recessional," Rudyard Kipling, 1897] 

 

It is God who hath given us this beautiful and wonderful land, and it is the Lord God who must help us and keep us.  As Psalm 127:1 says, "Except the Lord build the house, they labor in vain that build it: except the Lord keep the city, the watchman waiteth but in vain."  The possibilities of what could happen to America are frightening even to contemplate; the decaying of our nation from within and the possibility of destruction from without; livid death raining from the sky, and bombs of destruction coming from the depths of the sea. 

Isaiah 10:5 speaks of the bitter Assyrian, who destroyed the northern ten tribes of Israel.  And Isaiah says, quoting God, "Assyria is the rod of Mine anger, and the staff of Mine indignation."  In the passing of the years the Babylonians came, those bitter and hasty Chaldeans [Habakkuk 1:6], and destroyed Judah.  And Habakkuk 1:12 prayed to God, "Why it is that a nation that was more ungodly than Judah should come and destroy God’s land and take God’s people into captivity?"  Habakkuk says in chapter 1, verse 12:  "O Lord. . .Thou hast ordained them for judgment; O mighty God, Thou hast established them for correction" [Habakkuk 1:12]. 

We think of the communists as an ungodly people.  And how could it be that the Lord would ever let America perish or be punished by such ungodly governments as we see in the lands of Russia and their satellites?  But God says, "I can use them for judgment and for correction."  And the future of our nation lies in the repentance and the conversion and the revival of our people.  Whether we live or die lies in the imponderables of Almighty God.  And that is why I call this A Covenant Day with God.  Joshua, calling Israel to a great commitment to the Lord God, "As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord" [Joshua 24:15].  And all Israel answered saying, "The Lord our God will we serve, and His voice will we obey" [Joshua 24:24].  God grant it for us. 

Doug, we are going to sing us a song.  Is that all right?  We are going to sing a song of appeal.  And I want to stand right down there, Doug; and somebody here tonight, to give himself to Jesus; or a family to come into the fellowship of our dear church; or just to kneel and say to God all over again, "I want to be Thy servant and love Thee supremely."  If the Lord moves your heart to respond, while we sing this hymn of appeal, come and give me your hand and we will have a sweet time of prayer together.  If you feel it in your heart, "God has spoken to me on this Thanksgiving Eve, and I would just like to come," either accepting Jesus as Savior; or to put your life in the church; or just to kneel and pray; the Lord lead us in this holy and precious commitment, while we stand and while we sing. 

 

 

 

 

 

OUR COVENANT DAY WITH GOD

Dr. W. A. Criswell

Joshua 24:24-25

11-26-86

 

Nation of Israel. God’s purpose of grace through history

Nation of America. No prophet to write the history but God’s hand is evidently upon us

 

I.              Beginnings of America

1.    Spanish quest for gold

2.    Puritan’s quest for God

II.            Hand of God in American history

III.           God’s purpose of grace