From deep in the valley comes the ageless words
I want to take you on a little tour this week to one of the greatest declarations of faith ever. It came in a most unusual place, deep down in what is called the valley of Shechem, a valley located about thirty-five miles north of Jerusalem. Two prodigious mountains – Mount Ebal and Mount Girizim – tower a thousand feet over the mile to a mile-and-a-half wide valley, creating a vacuum that allows a strong voice to reverberate all through the valley.
To add to the aura of the scene, the valley is home to numerous fountains of water flowing down the mountains, as many as seventy-five in all. Some of the fountains originate up on Mount Girizim and watershed down eastward all the way to the Jordan.
The fountains in the city and those that flow down Mount Ebal proceed westward and empty into the Mediterranean. As these scores of fountains flow through the valley, they nurture a deep, plush forest.
It is to this valley around 367 B.C. that one of the Lord’s greatest warriors comes late in his life. Long before, he had led the people across the Jordan to the Promised Land. But now he has fought his final battle in the conquest of that land.
He is walking the very last mile of the way. He gathers Israel together for a ‘Valedictorian’ speech down in this historic Shechem valley, the theme being God’s great mercy and care for them through all the years.
Through many dangers, toils, and strife they had come. God’s grace led them safe all along the way, and that grace was soon to lead Joshua home.
As he comes to the climax of his final speech, he leaves them with these notable words: “Choose you this day whom you will serve, but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”
The exclamation of those words echoes off of these two mountains hovering high above. Not one soul in all of Israel could have missed these words as they all sat attentively – some sitting on the side of Mount Ebal, and others on the side of Gerizim.
Imagine Joshua’s words echoing, ringing for the ages to come through that fountain-filled valley! — “As for me and my house we will serve the Lord!”
It is a resolution for the ages. We are very glad its poignant message still rings out to us today, filling every heart that is open down deep in this valley of Shechem, ringing, echoing from one majestic mountainside to the other.