Welcome to “Bible Ponderings #3” which finds me in the book of Joshua in the chronological reading plan. Every few weeks or so I hope to toss out there what I’m currently reading and invite you to ponder with me!
Have you ever attended a stadium concert, or a stadium sporting game, or perhaps even a stadium-size worship event? Did you think to yourself at the time “I will never forget this! This is amazing!”
Tucked away in Joshua 8:30-35 is a momentous event involving the Israelites transferring to the promised land the Law of Moses as part of a renewed covenant ceremony. (Think of that stadium event you’ve been to and multiply it…the whole nation of at least one million crossed the Jordan and were gathered for this ceremony.)
As per Moses’ instructions before his death, the Israelites who are now under Joshua’s leadership are to hear and respond to the blessings of obedience, the curses of disobedience, and all the words from the Book of the Law. They are to do this from upon the slopes of Mount Ebal and Mount Gerizim.
At this point the Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary paints the picture better than I can:
“The ceremony might have taken place on the lower spurs of the mountains, where they approach more closely to each other; and the course observed was as follows: Amid the silent expectations of the solemn assembly, the priests standing around the ark in the valley below, said aloud, looking to Gerizim, “Blessed is the man that maketh not any graven image,” when the people ranged on that hill responded in full simultaneous shouts of “Amen”; then turning round to Ebal, they cried, “Cursed is the man that maketh any graven image”; to which those that covered the ridge answered, “Amen.” The same course at every pause was followed with all the blessings and curses…”
Can you get a sense of the expectant atmosphere? The nervous anticipation? What the Israelites must have felt as each blessing and curse was shouted out and they responded in unison?
The Israelites certainly experienced God’s blessings at first. “They served the Lord all the days of Joshua, and all the days of the elders who outlived Joshua, who had known all the works of the Lord which He had done for Israel. ” (Joshua 24:31).
But a quick glance ahead into the Book of Judges and we see that time after time the Israelites will end up forgetting the Law and will worship other gods.
What goes wrong?
It was the responsibility of each generation to pass on the testimonies of God’s wondrous works to the next.
God had mercifully given them so many ways to help them remember. They had the memorial altars, the different feasts, the Levitical Priesthood, the written Book of the Law…all to help them remember how to stay close to God and experience His blessings.
How do the Israelites forget to remember?
How do we forget to remember God?
It’s easy to shout “Amen!” when we’re having a “stadium” experience, but maybe it’s in the every day ordinary, the mundane and small, that faithfulness and obedience are actually forged.
Something to ponder!
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