from Lucia Pizzo
And Joshua wrote these words in the Book of the Law of God. And he took a large stone and set it up there under the terebinth that was by the sanctuary of the Lord. And Joshua said to all the people, “Behold, this stone shall be a witness against us, for it has heard all the words of the Lord that he spoke to us. Therefore it shall be a witness against you, lest you deal falsely with your God.” (Joshua 24:26-27)
When Joshua asks the people of Israel whom they will serve (the Lord or the gods of their neighbors), three times they affirm that they will serve the Lord:
“Therefore we also will serve the Lord, for he is our God.” (Joshua 24:18)
“No, but we will serve the Lord.” (Joshua 24:21)
“The Lord our God we will serve, and his voice we will obey.” (Joshua 24:24)
Although Joshua rightfully acknowledges that this will be difficult/impossible for them to do (not long after his death, the people do serve foreign gods), he still takes their words seriously and makes a covenant.
He writes Israel’s intention to serve the Lord into the Book of the Law of God. And he sets up a stone as a witness. The stone is a witness for God. It has heard all of the words spoken, all of the promises. I am reminded of Psalm 115’s criticism of idols—they have ears, but do not hear; mouths, but do not speak. But this is a stone, created by God, presumably unshaped by humans.
This stone Joshua uses is large. It is set up near the sanctuary where everyone could see it and be reminded. I find it so helpful that God uses everyday objects to remind us of the covenant between us. He knows we, like Israel, will forget. He knows we need reminders. And while this stone isn’t set up as just a friendly reminder (the words “witness against you” seem a little more severe), I still appreciate the way that the stone makes God visible in a tangible way.
I wonder what stones, what objects in our daily life, we see and set as reminders of God’s covenant with us and ours with him. Which objects have heard our commitment to serve God? What difference would it make if we thought of the stones, the earth, all of creation as witnesses?
I live in JP with my family and many rock collections (some intentional and some less so)