Deuteronomy 27 - An Alter of Remembrance
1And Moses with the elders of Israel commanded the people, saying, Keep all the commandments which I command you this day. 2And it shall be on the day when ye shall pass over Jordan unto the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee, that thou shalt set thee up great stones, and plaister them with plaister: 3And thou shalt write upon them all the words of this law, when thou art passed over, that thou mayest go in unto the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee, a land that floweth with milk and honey; as the LORD God of thy fathers hath promised thee. 4Therefore it shall be when ye be gone over Jordan, that ye shall set up these stones, which I command you this day, in mount Ebal, and thou shalt plaister them with plaister. 5And there shalt thou build an altar unto the LORD thy God, an altar of stones: thou shalt not lift up any iron tool upon them. 6Thou shalt build the altar of the LORD thy God of whole stones: and thou shalt offer burnt offerings thereon unto the LORD thy God: 7And thou shalt offer peace offerings, and shalt eat there, and rejoice before the LORD thy God. 8And thou shalt write upon the stones all the words of this law very plainly. 9And Moses and the priests the Levites spake unto all Israel, saying, Take heed, and hearken, O Israel; this day thou art become the people of the LORD thy God. 10Thou shalt therefore obey the voice of the LORD thy God, and do his commandments and his statutes, which I command thee this day. 11And Moses charged the people the same day, saying, 12These shall stand upon mount Gerizim to bless the people, when ye are come over Jordan; Simeon, and Levi, and Judah, and Issachar, and Joseph, and Benjamin: 13And these shall stand upon mount Ebal to curse; Reuben, Gad, and Asher, and Zebulun, Dan, and Naphtali. 14And the Levites shall speak, and say unto all the men of Israel with a loud voice, 15Cursed be the man that maketh any graven or molten image, an abomination unto the LORD, the work of the hands of the craftsman, and putteth it in a secret place. And all the people shall answer and say, Amen. 16Cursed be he that setteth light by his father or his mother. And all the people shall say, Amen. 17Cursed be he that removeth his neighbour's landmark. And all the people shall say, Amen. 18Cursed be he that maketh the blind to wander out of the way. And all the people shall say, Amen. 19Cursed be he that perverteth the judgment of the stranger, fatherless, and widow. And all the people shall say, Amen. 20Cursed be he that lieth with his father's wife; because he uncovereth his father's skirt. And all the people shall say, Amen. 21Cursed be he that lieth with any manner of beast. And all the people shall say, Amen. 22Cursed be he that lieth with his sister, the daughter of his father, or the daughter of his mother. And all the people shall say, Amen. 23Cursed be he that lieth with his mother in law. And all the people shall say, Amen. 24Cursed be he that smiteth his neighbour secretly. And all the people shall say, Amen. 25Cursed be he that taketh reward to slay an innocent person. And all the people shall say, Amen. 26Cursed be he that confirmeth not all the words of this law to do them. And all the people shall say, Amen.
Today's Scripture Meaning
The law to be written on stones in the promised land. (1-10) The curses to be pronounced on mount Ebal. (11-26) Verses 1-10: As soon as they were come into Canaan, they must set up a monument, on which they must write the words of this law. They must set up an altar. The word and prayer must go together. Though they might not, of their own heads, set up any altar besides that at the tabernacle; yet, by the appointment of God, they might, upon special occasion. This altar must be made of unhewn stones, such as they found upon the field. Christ, our Altar, is a stone cut out of the mountain without hands, refused by the builders, as having no form or comeliness, but accepted of God the Father, and made the Head of the corner. In the Old Testament the words of the law are written, with the curse annexed; which would overcome us with horror, if we had not, in the New Testament, an altar erected close by, which gives consolation. Blessed be God, the printed copies of the Scriptures among us, do away the necessity of such methods as were presented to Israel. The end of the gospel ministry is, and the end of preachers ought to be, to make the word of God as plain as possible. Yet, unless the Spirit of God prosper such labours with Divine power, we shall not, even by these means, be made wise unto salvation: for this blessing we should therefore daily and earnestly pray. Verses 11-26: The six tribes appointed for blessing, were all children of the free women, for to such the promise belongs, (Ga 4:31). Levi is here among the rest. Ministers should apply to themselves the blessing and curse they preach to others, and by faith set their own Amen to it. And they must not only allure people to their duty with the promises of a blessing, but awe them with the threatenings of a curse, by declaring that a curse would be upon those who do such things. To each of the curses the people were to say, Amen. It professed their faith, that these, and the like curses, were real declarations of the wrath of God against the ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, not one jot of which shall fall to the ground. It was acknowledging the equity of these curses. Those who do such things deserve to fall, and lie under the curse. Lest those who were guilty of other sins, not here mentioned, should think themselves safe from the curse, the last reaches all. Not only those who do the evil which the law forbids, but those also who omit the good which the law requires. Without the atoning blood of Christ, sinners can neither have communion with a holy God, nor do any thing acceptable to him; his righteous law condemns every one who, at any time, or in any thing, transgresses it. Under its awful curse we remain as transgressors, until the redemption of Christ is applied to our hearts. Wherever the grace of God brings salvation, it teaches the believer to deny ungodliness and wordly lusts, to live soberly, righteously, and godly in this present world, consenting to, and delighting in the words of God's law, after the inward man. In this holy walk, true peace and solid joy are to be found.
Today's Scripture Application
Each day we walk through the Bible chapter by chapter making an application of our text to help us grow in the Lord. Many applications can be made from each day's text. Today we continue in the book of Deuteronomy with Chapter 27 and we see the 6th principle of Consequences of Obedience and Disobedience for this new generation Israel in this - the 2nd giving of the law. In our text we see the Levites shouting the 12 Curses and a Monument for God's Laws where Israel is to build and alter in remembrance to what the Lord has done in delivering them to the promise land. An Alter of Remembrance. In making application we see the challenge put to all of us is the importance to remember what the Lord has done in our lives. In our home we have gathered rocks like in this text placing the date of our salvation on each. This serves as a remembrance and it encourages us in times of discouragement. How about you? Have you remembered what the Lord has done in your life? Let us learn from today's text and remember what the Lord has done in our lives.
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Sincerely, Dr. David Burnette
Director, The United States Bible Society, Inc.