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Special Night
(of Dedication to God)
Jun 1997 Alan S.L. Wong

Special Night (of Dedication to God)

Everybody is excited. Tonight is Special Night. It is the climax of a week-long training camp. There will be a banquet, testimonies and a message ... a call for commitment.

That night, the speaker reminded the audience to consider all that the LORD had done for them ... how He suffered and died on the cross to buy their freedom from sin and to give them a new life. Therefore, is it too much to ask that they commit their lives to God as their Master? The speaker challenged the audience to take a stand as an expression of their desire and commitment to serve God. But a strange thing happened as individuals rose from their seats. The speaker said, "Sit down, you cannot serve the LORD!"

Strange but that was exactly what happened when Joshua assembled the tribes at Shechem to call the nation of Israel to renew their covenant with God. He reminded the people of all that God had done for them ... starting from the call of Abraham to separate from his polytheistic family, to the deliverance of the nation from bondage in Egypt, to their victory over the Amorites and Moabites, to the crossing of the River Jordan and finally to settling them in the land of Canaan (Josh. 24:2-13). On the basis of God's great acts for them, Joshua appealed to the people to recommit themselves to the LORD and serve Him (24:14).

Joshua publicly announced his commitment to God as an example to the people. The people responded, "We too will serve the LORD, because He is our God" (24:17-18). Joshua said, "You are not able to serve the LORD." What did Joshua mean by what he said?

Joshua was not rejecting their commitment but he did not want the people to make a superficial decision. He explained that they are not able to serve the LORD because

  1. He is a holy God ... tolerating no unconfessed sins in their lives,

  2. He is a jealous God ... allowing no rival in their affections, and

  3. He will not forgive their rebellion and their sins ... if they wilfully rebel and sin against Him (24:19).
The people reaffirmed their earlier decision to serve God (24:21). Joshua reminded them that they are witnesses against themselves in that they would condemn themselves by their own testimony if they forsook the LORD (24:22). He again reminded the people to put away all idols and to surrender their hearts exclusively to the LORD (24:23). That day, the Israelites committed themselves to follow the LORD faithfully (24:24) and a large stone was erected as a permanent memorial to all that had been said (24: 26-27).

Many of us remember "the special night" when we committed our lives to trust and obey Him as our Master and LORD. We also committed ourselves to serve Him all the years of our lives and to spread His love to those around us. We were sincere and earnest but somewhere and somehow that fiery passion subsided to a flicker. Deep within us, we may or may not know the reason. But what matters is that our Heavenly Father is still waiting and longing for our return.