So Joshua made a covenant with the people that day, and made for them a statute and an ordinance in Shechem.
Then 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 oak that was by the sanctuary of the LORD. And Joshua said to all the people, “Behold, this stone shall be a witness to us, for it has heard all the words of the LORD which He spoke to us. It shall therefore be a witness to you, lest you deny your God.” So Joshua let the people depart, each to his own inheritance.
Having gotten the audience to commit to following the LORD exclusively (including putting away their foreign gods), Joshua quickly cements the deal before they have a chance to back out. As is their style, he sets up a monument of stone to symbolize the agreement.
But this time he also writes it down. In the long run, that will be the more lasting record.
Even before Gutenberg, copies were made of important written documents. They couldn’t make hundreds, like you can with a printing press, but copies were made. This took a lot of effort, but that’s what made the writings permanent. It even redefined the meaning of permanent.
The reason stones were used for monuments is that they don’t decay. It would be silly to make a monument of wood. Wood rots, and the point is to make it last forever.
But with the Torah, and now this book, a new kind of permanence was invented.
We owe an incalculable debt to the people who copied scripture. Many of them devoted their lives to this endeavor, and yet made only a single copy or two of select portions. The effort involved was staggering and for what? No one gave them any reward or even credit. All we have is the copies, which are unsigned.
This is a curious example of what it means to be a saint. It may be that most of the great saints are people we never heard of—people who didn’t want to be heard of. They did something they knew was important and left it at that.
Our society is too oriented towards popularity and high profiles. God often calls people in quiet ways. How is He calling you?
Do not shrink from low profile tasks. Do not expect, or want, praise. The purpose of work for the kingdom is the result, not whether anyone in this world notices.
The institution of the office of deacon is based on this concept. Serving tables and taking care of widows was not the stuff of glory in the first century. Yet the apostles chose the most spiritually mature men they knew for this job and created the second highest office in the church for them.
We need to get back to priorities like that.
These Monday—Friday DEEPs are written by Mike Slay. The Weekend DEEPs are written by Matt Richardson. To subscribe to all the DEEPs click here:
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Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. ESV stands for the English Standard Version. © Copyright 2001 by Crossway. Used by permission. All rights reserved. NIV stands for The Holy Bible, New International Version®. © Copyright 1973 by International Bible Society. Used by permission. All rights reserved. KJV stands for the King James Version.