Joshua called together all the tribes of Israel at Shechem. He called in the elders, chiefs, judges, and officers. They presented themselves before God.
Then Joshua addressed all the people:
I took your ancestor Abraham from the far side of The River. I led him all over the land of Canaan and multiplied his descendants. I gave him Isaac.
Then I gave Isaac Jacob and Esau. I let Esau have the mountains of Seir as home, but Jacob and his sons ended up in Egypt.
I sent Moses and Aaron. I hit Egypt hard with plagues and then led you out of there.
I brought your ancestors out of Egypt. You came to the sea, the Egyptians in hot pursuit with chariots and cavalry, to the very edge of the Red Sea!
"Then they cried out for help to God. He put a cloud between you and the Egyptians and then let the sea loose on them. It drowned them.
I brought you to the country of the Amorites, who lived east of the Jordan, and they fought you. But I fought for you and you took their land. I destroyed them for you.
Then Balak son of Zippor made his appearance. He was the king of Moab. He got ready to fight Israel by sending for Balaam son of Beor to come and curse you.
But I wouldn't listen to Balaam - he ended up blessing you over and over! I saved you from him.
"You then crossed the Jordan and came to Jericho. The Jericho leaders ganged up on you as well as the Amorites, Perizzites, Canaanites, Hittites, Girgashites, Hivites, and Jebusites, but I turned them over to you.
"I sent the Hornet ahead of you. It drove out the two Amorite kings - did your work for you. You didn't have to do a thing, not so much as raise a finger.
"I handed you a land for which you did not work, towns you did not build. And here you are now living in them and eating from vineyards and olive groves you did not plant.
"So now: Fear God. Worship him in total commitment. Get rid of the gods your ancestors worshiped on the far side of The River (the Euphrates) and in Egypt. You, worship God.
"If you decide that it's a bad thing to worship God, then choose a god you'd rather serve - and do it today. Choose one of the gods your ancestors worshiped from the country beyond The River, or one of the gods of the Amorites, on whose land you're now living. As for me and my family, we'll worship God."
The people answered, "We'd never forsake God! Never! We'd never leave God to worship other gods.
"God is our God! He brought up our ancestors from Egypt and from slave conditions. He did all those great signs while we watched. He has kept his eye on us all along the roads we've traveled and among the nations we've passed through.
Just for us he drove out all the nations, Amorites and all, who lived in the land. "Count us in: We too are going to worship God. He's our God."
Then Joshua told the people: "You can't do it; you're not able to worship God. He is a holy God. He is a jealous God. He won't put up with your fooling around and sinning.
When you leave God and take up the worship of foreign gods, he'll turn right around and come down on you hard. He'll put an end to you - and after all the good he has done for you!"
But the people told Joshua: "No! No! We worship God!"
And so Joshua addressed the people: "You are witnesses against yourselves that you have chosen God for yourselves - to worship him." And they said, "We are witnesses."
Joshua said, "Now get rid of all the foreign gods you have with you. Say an unqualified Yes to God, the God of Israel."
The people answered Joshua, "We will worship God. What he says, we'll do."
Joshua completed a Covenant for the people that day there at Shechem. He made it official, spelling it out in detail.
Joshua wrote out all the directions and regulations into the Book of The Revelation of God. Then he took a large stone and set it up under the oak that was in the holy place of God.
Joshua spoke to all the people: "This stone is a witness against us. It has heard every word that God has said to us. It is a standing witness against you lest you cheat on your God."
Then Joshua dismissed the people, each to his own place of inheritance.
Published by permission. Originally published by NavPress in English as THE MESSAGE: The Bible in Contemporary Language copyright 2002 by Eugene Peterson. All rights reserved. (The Message Bible Online)