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Come To the Altar Part 3: The Blessing and Curse

Joshua  •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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A third in the series of looking at Joshua and Israel's worship at Mt Ebal

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Kids’ Corner

Play a game of tic tac toe with one of the kids, but avoid rules.

Come To the Altar

Intentional
Humble
Grateful
Visible
Vertical
Communal
Personal
Please turn in your Bibles to
Similar to when a coach or referee is explaining the rules of a sport. God has Moses and now Joshua give them the details of the “rules and regulations”. He helps them to see, not just how to score a point or points (kicking the ball into a goal, dropping a ball through a hoop or causing your opponent to miss a well placed shot in tennis, he also explains the things that we are not allowed to do. The things that have been determined to be unfair, unsportsmanlike or in the case of God’s law, unholy. In this passage Joshua calls it . . .
The Primary point of this message is that our worship/lives need to be Biblical.
Joshua 8:30–35 ESV
30 At that time Joshua built an altar to the Lord, the God of Israel, on Mount Ebal, 31 just as Moses the servant of the Lord had commanded the people of Israel, as it is written in the Book of the Law of Moses, “an altar of uncut stones, upon 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 people of Israel, he wrote on the stones a copy of the law of Moses, which he had written. 33 And all Israel, sojourner as well as native born, with their elders and officers and their judges, stood on opposite sides of the ark before the Levitical priests who carried the ark of the covenant of the Lord, half of them in front of Mount Gerizim and half of them in front of Mount Ebal, just as Moses the servant of the Lord had commanded at the first, to bless the people of Israel. 34 And afterward he read all the words of the law, the blessing and the curse, according to all that is written in the Book of the Law. 35 There was not a word of all that Moses commanded that Joshua did not read before all the assembly of Israel, and the women, and the little ones, and the sojourners who lived among them.
Deuteronomy 11:26–29 ESV
26 “See, I am setting before you today a blessing and a curse: 27 the blessing, if you obey the commandments of the Lord your God, which I command you today, 28 and the curse, if you do not obey the commandments of the Lord your God, but turn aside from the way that I am commanding you today, to go after other gods that you have not known. 29 And when the Lord your God brings you into the land that you are entering to take possession of it, you shall set the blessing on Mount Gerizim and the curse on Mount Ebal.
Deuteronomy 11:26–27 ESV
26 “See, I am setting before you today a blessing and a curse: 27 the blessing, if you obey the commandments of the Lord your God, which I command you today,
Joshua 8:31–35 ESV
31 just as Moses the servant of the Lord had commanded the people of Israel, as it is written in the Book of the Law of Moses, “an altar of uncut stones, upon 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 people of Israel, he wrote on the stones a copy of the law of Moses, which he had written. 33 And all Israel, sojourner as well as native born, with their elders and officers and their judges, stood on opposite sides of the ark before the Levitical priests who carried the ark of the covenant of the Lord, half of them in front of Mount Gerizim and half of them in front of Mount Ebal, just as Moses the servant of the Lord had commanded at the first, to bless the people of Israel. 34 And afterward he read all the words of the law, the blessing and the curse, according to all that is written in the Book of the Law. 35 There was not a word of all that Moses commanded that Joshua did not read before all the assembly of Israel, and the women, and the little ones, and the sojourners who lived among them.
Deut 11:26-
Deut 11:

Blessing

The things listed in this particular portion of the Law is the benefit that comes from obedience to the Law of God.
We may find it challenging to accept and believe these promises. I would submit that a major obstruction to believing the promises of God is the effect of sin upon this world. It is hard for us to see the goodness of God through the haze of the curse of sin. We live everyday in a sin cursed world, yet God by His grace and through His spirit, revealing the truths of His Word, He opens the eyes of our understanding to allow us to see Him for who He truly is, and to see His Word for what it really is.
We are united with Christ in His death, burial and resurrection, which speaks of the UNION we have with Him, but other passages in Scripture address the Communion we have to strive for.
Turn to beginning in verse 13.
Paul talks about the struggle for communion, for our daily obedience and agreement with God’s commands in his letters to the Corinthians, The Ephesians and the Colossians, but Peter also addresses this . . .
1 Peter 1:13–25 ESV
13 Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. 14 As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, 15 but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, 16 since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.” 17 And if you call on him as Father who judges impartially according to each one’s deeds, conduct yourselves with fear throughout the time of your exile, 18 knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, 19 but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot. 20 He was foreknown before the foundation of the world but was made manifest in the last times for the sake of you 21 who through him are believers in God, who raised him from the dead and gave him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God. 22 Having purified your souls by your obedience to the truth for a sincere brotherly love, love one another earnestly from a pure heart, 23 since you have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God; 24 for “All flesh is like grass and all its glory like the flower of grass. The grass withers, and the flower falls, 25 but the word of the Lord remains forever.” And this word is the good news that was preached to you.

Curse

There are also warnings. Simply stating the negative effects that sin would have upon their lives. All throughout God’s Word we are given examples, and even in our own lives we have experienced the effects of disobedience to His Law.

one stricken by misfortune and afflicted, whose existence is disastrous and whose presence brings misfortune.

Deuteronomy 27:11–17 ESV
11 That day Moses charged the people, saying, 12 “When you have crossed over the Jordan, these shall stand on Mount Gerizim to bless the people: Simeon, Levi, Judah, Issachar, Joseph, and Benjamin. 13 And these shall stand on Mount Ebal for the curse: Reuben, Gad, Asher, Zebulun, Dan, and Naphtali. 14 And the Levites shall declare to all the men of Israel in a loud voice: 15 “ ‘Cursed be the man who makes a carved or cast metal image, an abomination to the Lord, a thing made by the hands of a craftsman, and sets it up in secret.’ And all the people shall answer and say, ‘Amen.’ 16 “ ‘Cursed be anyone who dishonors his father or his mother.’ And all the people shall say, ‘Amen.’ 17 “ ‘Cursed be anyone who moves his neighbor’s landmark.’ And all the people shall say, ‘Amen.’
Deut
These words were written as an encouragement and a warning.
Similar to when a coach or referee is explaining the rules of a sport. God has Moses and now Joshua give them the details of the “rules and regulations”. He helps them to see, not just how to score a point or points (kicking the ball into a goal, dropping a ball through a hoop or causing your opponent to miss a well placed shot in tennis, he also explains the things that we are not allowed to do. The things that have been determined to be unfair, unsportsmanlike or in the case of God’s law, unholy. In this passage Joshua calls it . . .

The Law of Moses

The Law of Moses- The Word of GodGod had spoken to Moses on Mt Sinai, and gave him the words to record in the law. It was called here in Joshua “The Book of the Law of Moses” and also the “The Law of Moses” and “The Book of the Law”. It is possible that this is referring to what we now know as the Torah. The first five books of the canon. Canon, being the 66 books of the Bible, established by the work of the Holy Spirit and recognized by church fathers based upon years of study, discussion, debate and prayer. This was accomplished not by men but was a work of preservation done by and through the ministry of the Holy Spirit. We can have complete confidence and should have complete confidence and must have complete confidence in the Word of God that we now refer to as the Bible.
God had spoken to Moses on Mt Sinai, and gave him the words to record in the law. It was called here in Joshua “The Book of the Law of Moses” and also the “The Law of Moses” and “The Book of the Law”. It is possible that this is referring to what we now know as the Torah. The first five books of the canon. Canon, being the 66 books of the Bible, established by the work of the Holy Spirit and recognized by church fathers based upon years of study, discussion, debate and prayer. This was accomplished not by men but was a work of preservation done by and through the ministry of the Holy Spirit. We can have complete confidence and should have complete confidence and must have complete confidence in the Word of God that we now refer to as the Bible.
We don’t merely accept this by means of blind faith, instead we are able to rest comfortably in the knowledge of God’s Words in part due to the science of textual criticism.
Because some have asked, and others will likely continue to ask, “How do we know this is God’s Word?”
The Israelites, were there watching Joshua proclaim the Law, and write down the law, but we don’t have that luxury or a person to person transfer in the way that they did.
66 books, by 35 authors, over a period of 1500 years, wrote the Scriptures as they Holy Spirit guided them.
Textual Criticism- Thousands of manuscripts that are only 150-300 years from the actual writings and events. This far surpasses the number of texts and manuscript evidence for many of the most widely accepted literary texts from the ancient past. We can logically and rationally accept that what we have in our hands is indeed the Word of God.
2 Peter 1:21 ESV
21 For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.
Deuteronomy 11:26–32 ESV
26 “See, I am setting before you today a blessing and a curse: 27 the blessing, if you obey the commandments of the Lord your God, which I command you today, 28 and the curse, if you do not obey the commandments of the Lord your God, but turn aside from the way that I am commanding you today, to go after other gods that you have not known. 29 And when the Lord your God brings you into the land that you are entering to take possession of it, you shall set the blessing on Mount Gerizim and the curse on Mount Ebal. 30 Are they not beyond the Jordan, west of the road, toward the going down of the sun, in the land of the Canaanites who live in the Arabah, opposite Gilgal, beside the oak of Moreh? 31 For you are to cross over the Jordan to go in to take possession of the land that the Lord your God is giving you. And when you possess it and live in it, 32 you shall be careful to do all the statutes and the rules that I am setting before you today.
Deut
Our Worship is supposed to be Biblical, our lives are supposed to be obedient to God’s Word. It is THE TRUTH. IT IS THE FOUNDATION. IT HELPS US TO KNOW GOD AND UNDERSTAND OUR DESPERATE NEED FOR HIM.
Intentional, Humble, Grateful, Visible, Vertical, Communal, Personal, Biblical
To the men, women, children and sojourners! Everyone heard the Word of the Lord, Moses’ Law and each one would have heard something that educated them of their guilt and shortcoming before a Holy God.
It also encouraged them in the blessing of knowing His ways are best and would have recognized their need for a sacrifice that would cover the cost of their sins.
If you want to do a little extra credit assignment, you can read through , which is likely the “Whole law of Moses” that Joshua would have written on the sides of the altar on Mt Ebal, and what he also read in the presence of the people of Israel. That passage likely encompasses all the blessing and the curse, which are spoken of in at least the amount that was written on the altar. He may have read the entire Law from Genesis to Deuteronomy, which would have been their Scriptures.

Blessing

Joshua 1:7–9 ESV
7 Only be strong and very courageous, being careful to do according to all the law that Moses my servant commanded you. Do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may have good success wherever you go. 8 This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success. 9 Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”
“Strong” is unbending, aligned with the faithful, unchanging Word of God.
2 Timothy 2:15 ESV
15 Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.

2 Timothy 3:16 ESV
16 All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness,
2 Timothy 3:16–4:2 ESV
16 All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work. 1 I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: 2 preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching.
Each of us need to have a steady intake of the Word of God, The Good News message, which works in concert with the acting power of the Holy Spirit, who is bringing us to know and believe in Christ and His beautiful redemption, in order that we can have a restored right relationship with our Heavenly Father. The LORD God of Israel, the One God of Creation, in whose image we have been created.
These were warnings. Simply stating the negative effects that sin would have upon their lives. All throughout God’s Word we are given examples, and even in our own lives we have experienced the effects of disobedience to His Law.
As we obey the Word of God, it is for our good and for His glory.
The Argument of Circular reasoning: You are saying to do what the Bible says, because it says to do what it says. You believe it is God’s Word because the Bible says it is God’s Word. Yes, You can not rationally or logically argue for “an Ultimate” without Ultimately using itself as evidence.
You should not believe what I say, because I am the pastor, you should only believe what the Bible says.

Christians over the past couple of millenia have had our share of successes and failures in aligning with God’s Word and His will. It is incredible and overwhelmingly obvious to all who honestly reflect upon history that God and His ways are good. The very existence of an inkling of a moral code is evidence of God, and the correct application of that moral code (God’s Word) is always and forever will be a blessing!
PRAY
Ephesians 1:16–23 ESV
16 I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers, 17 that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, 18 having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, 19 and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might 20 that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, 21 far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. 22 And he put all things under his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church, 23 which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all.
The things listed in this particular portion of the Law were the benefits that come from obedience to the Law of God.
We may find it challenging to accept and believe these promises. I would submit that a major obstruction to believing the promises of God is the effect of sin upon this world. It is hard for us to see the goodness of God through the haze of the curse of sin. We live everyday in a sin cursed world, yet God by His grace and through His spirit opens the eyes of our understanding to allow us to see Him for who He truly is, and to see His Word for what it really is.
1 Peter 1:13–25 ESV
13 Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. 14 As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, 15 but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, 16 since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.” 17 And if you call on him as Father who judges impartially according to each one’s deeds, conduct yourselves with fear throughout the time of your exile, 18 knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, 19 but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot. 20 He was foreknown before the foundation of the world but was made manifest in the last times for the sake of you 21 who through him are believers in God, who raised him from the dead and gave him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God. 22 Having purified your souls by your obedience to the truth for a sincere brotherly love, love one another earnestly from a pure heart, 23 since you have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God; 24 for “All flesh is like grass and all its glory like the flower of grass. The grass withers, and the flower falls, 25 but the word of the Lord remains forever.” And this word is the good news that was preached to you.
1 Peter 1:2
The testimonies of the lives and deaths of the apostles is additional proof of the truthfulness of the Word of God and proof of the reality that Christ indeed is the Messiah and Savior of the saints.
Historical evidence of the resurrection of Christ is overwhelming proof of Christ’s deity and the trustfulness of the Word Incarnate and the Message of Peace and Hope in His Word.
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