Joshua and Judges: Mt. Gerizim and Ebal, part 4 - the altar of the Law and the sacrifice; Jos 8:30-35.

Class Outline:

Title: Joshua and Judges: Mt. Gerizim and Ebal, part 4 - the altar of the Law and the sacrifice; JOS 8:30-35.  


Announcements / opening prayer:


After looking at the reasons for God giving the Law to Israel we should understand that the commands of God should not be viewed by the believer as burdensome. If he does, he fails to see the reason why the commands are given. It is the way of life of the child of God who has been entered into the Kingdom of God.


ROM 5:18

So then as through one transgression there resulted condemnation to all men, even so through one act of righteousness there resulted justification of life [a manner of life that God considers justified] to all men.


Rather than looking upon commands as burdensome things that get in the way of life, the humble believer who sees all that God has done in the right light sees them as life itself - a life that travails the high plains of heavenly blessing and glory.


We again look at the psalm of David, a man who really got the reason for God's plan for Israel.


PSA 40:1 For the choir director. A Psalm of David.


I waited patiently for the Lord; And He inclined to me, and heard my cry.


PSA 40:2 He brought me up out of the pit of destruction, out of the miry clay; And He set my feet upon a rock making my footsteps firm.


PSA 40:3 And He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God; Many will see and fear, And will trust in the Lord.


Godly fear brings great and genuine humility to the believer. He realizes that life isn't all about him, but rather it is about the Lord of lords, the Creator of life.


Why can David write this with such confidence? He was brought out of the miry clay, the pit of destruction, and his feet were set on a firm foundation which is the Rock. Because of this he has a new song in his mouth, one of praise rather than one of grief. Such a vision changes a man and lifts his soul to the heights of heaven. It is a resurrected life.


Php 3:8-12

More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish in order that I may gain Christ, and may be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law,


but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith, that I may know Him, and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death; in order that I may attain to the resurrection from the dead.


PSA 40:4 How blessed is the man who has made the Lord his trust, And has not turned to the proud, nor to those who lapse into falsehood.


PSA 40:5 Many, O Lord my God, are the wonders which Thou hast done, And Thy thoughts toward us; There is none to compare with Thee; If I would declare and speak of them, They would be too numerous to count.


PSA 40:6 Sacrifice and meal offering Thou hast not desired; My ears Thou hast opened; Burnt offering and sin offering Thou hast not required.


It is not the offerings alone that God has desired, but what they represented - the One who would come to do His will to the point of death on a cross.


Is the whole point conveyed by God from Mt. Ebal that Israel will break His Law and the sacrifice is the remedy, as a person may take an aspirin when they get an ache? Rather, the point of the sacrifice is stated in the next two lines of the poem, which is repeated in the book of Hebrews.


PSA 40:7 Then I said, "Behold, I come; In the scroll of the book it is written of me;


PSA 40:8 I delight to do Thy will, O my God; Thy Law is within my heart."


HEB 10:5-7

Therefore, when He comes into the world, He says, "Sacrifice and offering Thou hast not desired, But a body Thou hast prepared for Me; In whole burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin Thou hast taken no pleasure. "Then I said, 'Behold, I have come  (In the roll of the book it is written of Me) To do Thy will, O God.'"


The Messiah didn't take away the first things so that believers could live in cheap grace, but that they would have the freedom and confidence to follow the Law, for the OT saint, and the Lord, for the NT saint.


That the works of the Law could make a man righteous was a grave error in both testaments. Without the altar of sacrifice, if the altar of the Law was the only one on Mt. Ebal then all mankind is cursed in judgment by the wrath of God.


The blessing was given from Gerizim and the curse from Ebal and they were instructed to place the altars and perform the sacrifices on Ebal, the place of the curse.


Interestingly the Samaritan Pentateuch states that the altars were placed on Gerizim.


It is clear that this is an alteration. Why would the Samaritans change the location of the altars? The Samaritans were hated by the Jews and vice versa. The Samaritans were not allowed to worship in Jerusalem and so they chose Mt. Gerizim as their preferred place of worship, the mount of blessing. Not understanding the significance of the altars they altered the text to place the altars on the mount of their choice. This doesn't alter the curse that they live under, the same as everyone else, that they are prideful and ignorant. But the water of life, which overflows the curse as His blood covers the sin, will make all things new. This is the gist of Jesus' encounter with the Samaritan woman.  


The Samaritan woman that Jesus meets while on His way to Galilee is drawing water at Jacob's well, which is situated between these two mountains. It is significant that this scene unfold in this valley where millions of Israelites stood, who received the promised land, stubborn and stiff-necked. The ark of the covenant, the Son of God in the flesh, now sits here and offers an estranged woman the water of life.



JOH 4:7 There came a woman of Samaria to draw water. Jesus said to her, "Give Me a drink." 


JOH 4:8 For His disciples had gone away into the city to buy food.


JOH 4:9 The Samaritan woman therefore said to Him, "How is it that You, being a Jew, ask me for a drink since I am a Samaritan woman?" (For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans.)


JOH 4:10 Jesus answered and said to her, "If you knew the gift of God, and who it is who says to you, 'Give Me a drink,' you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water [rapidly flowing water]."


JOH 4:11 She said to Him, "Sir, You have nothing to draw with and the well is deep; where then do You get that living water?


JOH 4:12 "You are not greater than our father Jacob, are You, who gave us the well, and drank of it himself, and his sons, and his cattle?"


What an ironic question being asked to the one who led Jacob safely from his corrupt uncle Laban and wrestled with him not very far from this place.


GEN 31:3

Then the Lord said to Jacob, "Return to the land of your fathers and to your relatives, and I will be with you."


GEN 32:29

Then Jacob asked him and said, "Please tell me your name." But he said, "Why is it that you ask my name?" And he blessed him there.


Here Jacob is first given the name Israel [God prevails or God fights].


GEN 33:18-20

 Now Jacob came safely to the city of Shechem, which is in the land of Canaan, when he came from Paddan-aram, and camped before the city. And he bought the piece of land where he had pitched his tent from the hand of the sons of Hamor, Shechem's father, for one hundred pieces of money. Then he erected there an altar, and called it El-Elohe-Israel. [God is the God of Israel] [and dug a well]


Jacob was only given the name Israel just a few weeks earlier.


Jacob's grandfather Abraham built an alter here, the first to be built by an covenanted people in the Promised Land:


GEN 12:5-7

they set out for the land of Canaan; thus they came to the land of Canaan. And Abram passed through the land as far as the site of Shechem, to the oak of Moreh. Now the Canaanite was then in the land. And the Lord appeared to Abram and said, "To your descendants I will give this land." So he built an altar there to the Lord who had appeared to him.


This is the first indication of the land that God would give to Abraham and his descendants; right here between Gerizim and Ebal.


JOH 4:11 She said to Him, "Sir, You have nothing to draw with and the well is deep; where then do You get that living water?


JOH 4:12 "You are not greater than our father Jacob, are You, who gave us the well, and drank of it himself, and his sons, and his cattle?"


Jesus doesn't answer the question directly.


JOH 4:13 Jesus answered and said to her, "Everyone who drinks of this water shall thirst again;


JOH 4:14 but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall become in him a well of water springing up to eternal life."


JOH 4:15 The woman said to Him, "Sir, give me this water, so I will not be thirsty, nor come all the way here to draw."


JOH 4:16 He said to her, "Go, call your husband, and come here." 


JOH 4:17 The woman answered and said, "I have no husband." Jesus said to her, "You have well said, 'I have no husband';


JOH 4:18 for you have had five husbands, and the one whom you now have is not your husband; this you have said truly."


JOH 4:19 The woman said to Him, "Sir, I perceive that You are a prophet.


JOH 4:20 "Our fathers worshiped in this mountain [Gerizim], and you people say that in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship."


JOH 4:21 Jesus said to her, "Woman, believe Me, an hour is coming when neither in this mountain, nor in Jerusalem, shall you worship the Father.


JOH 4:22 "You worship that which you do not know; we worship that which we know, for salvation is from the Jews.


JOH 4:23 "But an hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers shall worship the Father in spirit and truth; for such people the Father seeks to be His worshipers.


JOH 4:24 "God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth."


She knows that what He is referring to is the coming Messiah.


JOH 4:25 The woman said to Him, "I know that Messiah is coming (He who is called Christ); when that One comes, He will declare all things to us."


JOH 4:26 Jesus said to her, "I who speak to you am He."


The altars are rightly on Ebal due to the cursed law-breakers who would have their curse taken by the Lord upon Himself who would give them living water.