“At that time Joshua built an altar to the LORD, the God of Israel, on Mount Ebal, just as Moses the servant of the LORD had commanded … “an altar of uncut stones, upon which no man has wielded an iron tool.”” – Joshua 8:30-31a
Scripture reading: Joshua 8:30-35
You could compare the ceremony that’s recorded here at the end of Joshua 8 to a public profession of faith. In our tradition as Reformed churches, pretty well from the moment they’re baptized, parents and elders and ministers are leading the children of the congregation to make a profession of their faith. In their baptism, God has shown and confirmed His covenant commitment to them and as His covenant partners, He expects our children to commit themselves to Him, to believe His promises, to walk in His ways and to confess Him before a watching world.
That’s what this ceremony is about. In Deuteronomy 11:29, Moses said, “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.” And in his instructions in Deuteronomy 27:12, Moses told them that they had to do all of these things on the day they crossed over the Jordan.
Moses didn’t mean, literally, “Hold this worship service on the first day you get into Canaan.” He meant, “The LORD wants you to do this as soon as you can.” You might say that Israel had been headed toward Mt. Ebal pretty well from the moment they entered the land of Canaan. As soon as they could, in response to the proof of God’s commitment to them, they answered Him with their public commitment, to walk with Him in covenant fellowship, namely, in repentance, faith and obedience.
Suggestions for prayer
Ask the Holy Spirit to help you to be ready to profess your faith in God and your commitment to Him, both privately and publicly, in response to the faithfulness and mercy He has shown you, above all, in the gift of salvation through Christ.
Rev. Dick Wynia is currently the minister of the Vineyard Canadian Reformed Church in Beamsville, ON.