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  • Writer's picturePastor Mike

June 27 2024

Thursday June 27

The Choice of a Blessing or a Curse


Joshua 8:30-35

30 Now Joshua built an altar to the LORD God of Israel in Mount Ebal,

31 as Moses the servant of the LORD had commanded the children of Israel, as it is written in the Book of the Law of Moses: "an altar of whole stones over which no man has wielded an iron tool." And they offered on it burnt offerings to the LORD, and sacrificed peace offerings.

32 And there, in the presence of the children of Israel, he wrote on the stones a copy of the law of Moses, which he had written.

33 Then all Israel, with their elders and officers and judges, stood on either side of the ark before the priests, the Levites, who bore the ark of the covenant of the LORD, the stranger as well as he who was born among them. Half of them were in front of Mount Gerizim and half of them in front of Mount Ebal, as Moses the servant of the LORD had commanded before, that they should bless the people of Israel.

34 And afterward he read all the words of the law, the blessings and the cursings, according to all that is written in the Book of the Law.

35 There was not a word of all that Moses had commanded which Joshua did not read before all the assembly of Israel, with the women, the little ones, and the strangers who were living among them.


In Joshua 8 the people of Israel were given a new opportunity to once again experience victory after their initial humiliating defeat at Ai. They had a new beginning after they sought the face of God and dealt with the sin in the camp. They were given a new strategy to attack Ai, which was totally different than their battle at Jericho. They experienced a new victory and totally destroyed the enemy at Ai. Then they made a new commitment to the Lord by building an altar and writing the Law of Moses on whitewashed stones that everyone could see in the valley between Mt. Ebal and Mt. Gerizim at Shechem. This was about thirty miles north of Ai. Here the nation obeyed what Moses had commanded them to do in his farewell speech in Deuteronomy 27.


The parallels and lessons for us today as believers are very obvious. We will never enjoy and experience victory in our Christian life if we have unconfessed sin in our hearts. But thank God that we can repent, confess our sins, return to the Lord, and be revived, restored, and reconciled. And then that is a good time to renew our commitment to love and serve the Lord and be a witness to the lost world around us!


After Joshua built the altar, wrote the Law of Moses on the stones, he then read the Law (Josh. 8:34-35). Moses had given specific instructions on where to do this, when to do this, and how to do this in Deuteronomy 27:11-13. The tribes were assigned their places in front of the two mounts, Mt. Ebal and Mt. Gerizim. The tribes of Reuben, Gad, Asher, Zebulun, Dan, and Naphtali were placed at Mt. Ebal, which was the mount of cursing. The tribes of Simeon, Levi, Judah, Issachar, Joseph (Ephraim and Manasseh), and Benjamin were placed at Mt. Gerizim, the mount of blessing.


Remember the twelve tribes came from the twelve sons of Jacob and his two wives and their handmaids. You might find it interesting that the tribes at Mt. Gerizim were founded by men who had either Leah or Rachel for their mother, while the tribes at Mt. Ebal were descended from either Zilpah or Bilhah, handmaids of Leah and Rachel. The only exceptions were Reuben and Zebulun, who belonged to Leah. Reuben had forfeited his status as the firstborn because he had sinned against his father (Gen. 35:22; 49:3-4).


In the valley between the two mountains stood the priests and Levites with the Ark, surrounded by the elders, officers, and judges of the nation. The people were all facing the Ark, which represented the presence of the Lord among His people. When Joshua and the Levites read the blessings of the Lord one by one, (exactly as Moses had instructed in Deuteronomy 28:1-14), the tribes at Mt. Gerizim responded with a loud united "Amen!" which in the Hebrew means "So be it!" When they read the curses, (see Deut. 27:14-26), the tribes at Mt. Ebal would respond with their "Amen" after each curse was read.


God had given the Law through Moses at Mount Sinai (Ex. 19-20), and the people had accepted it and promised to obey. Moses then repeated and explained the Law on the Plains of Moab at the border of Canaan. He applied that Law to their lives in the Promised Land and admonished them to obey it. "See, I am setting before you today a blessing and a curse—the blessing if you obey the commands of the Lord your God that I am giving you today; the curse if you disobey the commands of the Lord your God" (Deut. 11:26-28).


Today as both a nation and individuals, we have a choice “set before us” from God’s Word. We can obey or disobey it. If we obey it, we will enjoy God’s blessing, but if we disobey, we invite God’s chastening hand. And usually that begins with God withholding His blessings of protection, provision and prosperity.


God Bless!

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