Joshua stood watching as the city of Ai lay in ruins, still smoldering from the fire. He had experienced an easy victory and a hard one, and he had grown many years in a few days. He had learned that it was not a simple thing to lead a nation physically and spiritually at the same time. Standing as a middle-man between a holy God and a naturally compromising people, his task might have overwhelmed him.
Yet he was sure of one thing: if the people could be constantly reminded of their covenant relationship with the God of their fathers, they would live in blessing.
And so, remembering the words of Moses, his great mentor, Joshua turned his face to the north — to the holy place: Mt. Ebal.
|What does it say?||What does it mean?|
30 Then Joshua built on Mount Ebal an altar to the LORD, the God of Israel,
31 as Moses the servant of the LORD had commanded the Israelites. He built it according to what is written in the Book of the Law of Moses -- an altar of uncut stones, on which no iron tool had been used. On it they offered to the LORD burnt offerings and sacrificed fellowship offerings.
32 There, in the presence of the Israelites, Joshua copied on stones the law of Moses, which he had written.
33 All Israel, aliens and citizens alike, with their elders, officials and judges, were standing on both sides of the ark of the covenant of the LORD, facing those who carried it -- the priests, who were Levites. Half of the people stood in front of Mount Gerizim and half of them in front of Mount Ebal, as Moses the servant of the LORD had formerly commanded when he gave instructions to bless the people of Israel.
The setting of this event is very important for understanding what is going on. Locate the geographical area on a map in a Bible dictionary or Bible atlas, or in the back of your Bible. Jot down any observations you can make about that area:
"First, from the top of Mt. Ebal or Gerizim we can see a great deal of the promised land. Second, at one place a natural amphitheater exists and as we stand on the top or on the sides of these mountains, we can see and hear everything that is occurring on both of the mountains and in the valley below."
P.C. Craigie, Deuteronomy
P.C. Craigie, Deuteronomy
What specifications were made concerning how the altar was to be built?
and the curses from Mt.__________________.
According to verse 33, what object is noticeably central during this ceremony?
What will replace it? (see Jeremiah 3:17)
So What Does
This Mean in
1. A similar event for the New Testament believer would be the ceremony of the Lord’s Supper. It is intended to remind us of God's truth, His covenant with us, and His ultimate sacrifice on the "altar" of the cross. It is also intended to renew our desire to live according to His Word and to please Him. Sometime soon, think of celebrating the Lord’s Supper with a few friends, in the simplicity of your own home. It can be a tremendous blessing!
"Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me."
1 Corinthians 11:25
2. Do the "blessings and curses" apply to the believer today? The nation of Israel was under the Law, but we are under grace (Romans 6:14). We have a "better covenant" (Hebrews 8:6), not of fear, but of love (Hebrews 12:18-24). What do you enjoy as a member of the new covenant that they did not yet know? (see Hebrews 4:16, 8:10 and 2 Corinthians 3: 3, 12, 17, 18).
3. In what ways does the reading and hearing of God’s word change us?
4. How can we as churches or families put more emphasis on it?