Joshua and Judges: Mt. Gerizim and Ebal, part 2 - the altar of the Law and the sacrifice; Jos 8:30-35.

Class Outline:

Title: Joshua and Judges: Mt. Gerizim and Ebal, part 2 - the altar of the Law and the sacrifice; JOS 8:30-35.  


Announcements / opening prayer:



JOS 8:30 Then Joshua built an altar to the Lord, the God of Israel, in Mount Ebal,


JOS 8:31 just as Moses the servant of the Lord had commanded the sons of Israel, as it is written in the book of the law of Moses, an altar of uncut stones, on which no man had wielded an iron tool; and they offered burnt offerings on it to the Lord, and sacrificed peace offerings.


JOS 8:32 And he wrote there on the stones a copy of the law of Moses, which he had written, in the presence of the sons of Israel.


JOS 8:33 And all Israel with their elders and officers and their judges were standing on both sides of the ark before the Levitical priests who carried the ark of the covenant of the Lord, the stranger as well as the native. Half of them stood in front of Mount Gerizim and half of them in front of Mount Ebal, just as Moses the servant of the Lord had given command at first to bless the people of Israel.


JOS 8:34 Then 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.


JOS 8:35 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 and the little ones and the strangers who were living among them.


Directly after their victory at Ai, Joshua took the people to Ebal and Gerizim.


In setting up the altar of stones on Mt. Ebal they are following the command of Moses. As on the east side of the Jordan, so on the west, the Law, the way of obedience, the blessing and the curse will be stated.


DEU 27:1 Then Moses and the elders of Israel charged the people, saying, "Keep all the commandments which I command you today.


DEU 27:2 So it shall be on the day when you shall cross the Jordan to the land which the Lord your God gives you, that you shall set up for yourself large stones, and coat them with lime


The stones were covered with lime or gypsum (plaster of Paris) and then written upon. This was commonly done. The writing on the white background could be seen (verse 8 instructs them to write clearly), signifying to the Israelites, burning a picture in their minds of what this altar represented.


DEU 27:3 and write on them all the words of this law, when you cross over, in order that you may enter the land which the Lord your God gives you, a land flowing with milk and honey, as the Lord, the God of your fathers, promised you.


DEU 27:4 So it shall be when you cross the Jordan, you shall set up on Mount Ebal, these stones, as I am commanding you today, and you shall coat them with lime.


The altar containing the Law was set up on Ebal - the mountain of the curse. The Law's curse was to reveal man as a born sinner.


The curse of being a law-breaker was to awaken a desire for the Messiah, and hence the whole Law is summed up in the command - Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, and might.


My revelation of myself as a law-breaker awakens in me the need for a Savior and God the Holy Spirit presents that one and only qualified Savior to my mind's eye. He does this for everyone and I am to look to Christ Jesus and see my deliverance. Knowing Him and His sacrificial work for me will cause love for Him to be realized through the love He has for me.


ROM 5:5

hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.


Election is the expression of God’s will for you long before anything existed. And God willed for you in eternity past the very best. God the Father wants nothing but His highest and best for you.


Human thinking would see the contrast between the law that we've broken and the sacrifice that provided the forgiveness of sins and conclude that the law given by God for us to follow is superfluous or meaningless. All is forgiven so why follow and obey?


Yet the spiritual man understands that God has forgiven us with an expressed purpose. Out of love He saved us, but like God always goes above and beyond, out of love He has given us His highest and best. God satisfied His own justice so that we could draw near to Him and live with Him - abide in Him. The greatest of blessings is to fulfill the purpose for which we have been born again, which is not made up of things, but of a life. So God has elected us to His highest and best and He has predestined us to share in and walk in His glory.


EPH 1:3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ,


EPH 1:4 just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before Him. In love


EPH 1:5 He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will,


EPH 1:6 to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved.


EPH 1:7 In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace,


EPH 1:8 which He lavished upon us. In all wisdom and insight


EPH 1:9 He made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His kind intention which He purposed in Him


EPH 1:10 with a view to an administration suitable to the fulness of the times, that is, the summing up of all things in Christ, things in the heavens and things upon the earth. In Him


EPH 1:11 also we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to His purpose who works all things after the counsel of His will,


EPH 1:12 to the end that we who were the first to hope in Christ should be to the praise of His glory.


EPH 1:13 In Him, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation —  having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise,


EPH 1:14 who is given as a pledge of our inheritance, with a view to the redemption of God's own possession, to the praise of His glory.


Predestination is the provision of the sovereignty of God for you in eternity past to execute God’s plan, purpose, and will for your life.


Predestination is God’s grace provision for each one of us to fulfill His plan and to receive the conveyance of all of His blessings for life. Therefore, predestination also provides you with equal privileges and opportunities. No sin, no handicap (genetic or environmental), no person, no circumstance can stop you from walking in God's highest and best; in His election of you.


[Napoleon story]


EPH 3:14 For this reason, I bow my knees before the Father,


EPH 3:15 from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name,


EPH 3:16 that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man;


EPH 3:17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; and that you, being rooted and grounded in love,


EPH 3:18 may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth,


EPH 3:19 and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fulness of God.


EPH 3:20 Now to Him who is able to do exceeding abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us,


EPH 3:21 to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen.


We see this pictured beautifully in the next instruction. There was another altar to be built for the blood offering, both the burnt offering and the peace offering. These offerings would not be offered on the altar upon which the Law was written, but on another altar made of stones that were not to be manipulated by human hands in any way, for this altar belonged to the earth and it must be made of unaltered earth signifying the curse put upon the earth due to man's fall.  


DEU 27:5 Moreover, you shall build there an altar to the Lord your God, an altar of stones; you shall not wield an iron tool on them.


DEU 27:6 You shall build the altar of the Lord your God of uncut stones; and you shall offer on it burnt offerings to the Lord your God;


DEU 27:7 and you shall sacrifice peace offerings and eat there, and you shall rejoice before the Lord your God.


If the stones had been cut they would have not represented the earth, EXO 20:24. Earth = the curse of sin and death, GEN 3:17-19 "cursed is the ground because of you."


Next to the written Law was the altar of sacrifice and the two specifically mentioned are very important, the burnt offering and the peace offering.


Though man was a law-breaker, signified by the Law altar, the Lamb of God would come to remove man's sin, signified by the sacrificial altar.


This was not done so that they could excuse themselves from the Law, quite the contrary, for the curses against them for doing so were read aloud to which they were to shout "Amen" is very extensive. When they broke the Law they were to look to Messiah with a contrite heart and then offer the proper sacrifice in faith and repentance, which served as a vivid reminder of the coming Messiah's sacrifice.


It wasn't the sacrifice alone that was to be meaningful to the sinner, but what (or Who) the sacrifice represented, producing a humble and contrite heart.


In the valley, between the two mountains, half the people stood facing one mountain and the other half facing the other mountain, and the ark of the covenant was right in the middle, in their midst. The Lord Himself is among them, though they are law-breakers, and due only to the blood of the sacrifice on Mt. Ebal.


This produces a mind-set that sees sin and failure in the proper perspective of the cross and our sanctification. For the OT saint like David, who although he failed, loved God and was humble before the astonishing grace of God.


PSA 51:1 Be gracious to me, O God, according to Thy lovingkindness; According to the greatness of Thy compassion blot out my transgressions.


PSA 51:2 Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity,

And cleanse me from my sin.


PSA 51:3 For I know my transgressions,

And my sin is ever before me.


PSA 51:4 Against Thee, Thee only, I have sinned,

And done what is evil in Thy sight,

So that Thou art justified when Thou dost speak,

And blameless when Thou dost judge.


[skip down to]

PSA 51:16 For Thou dost not delight in sacrifice, otherwise I would give it [and only it]; Thou art not pleased with burnt offering.


PSA 51:17 The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit;

A broken and a contrite heart, O God, Thou wilt not despise.


The broken heart is one that is broken of arrogance and independence. The contrite heart is humble. These traits belong to the one who looks to the Messiah as he walks before the cross.