In Deuteronomy 27, God chooses to use an action parable to illustrate the blessings/curses that will naturally arise from the Israelite’s obeying/disobeying God’s law. Curses will be read by one group of Israelites on Mount Ebal (covered with stones and devoid of life), while blessings will be read by another group of Israelites from Mount Gerizim (lush, green and beautiful). Makes sense. God is saying, “If you keep my commandments, you will have a life, lush and full of vitality like Mount Gerizim. However, if you do not keep my laws and statutes, your natural consequence will be stoniness, dryness, and death.” So be good, not bad. Case closed, right? No. Deuteronomy 27 confuses things by saying that the Israelites are to build an altar on Mount Ebal. What!? Build an altar on the cursed mountain? Why not the blessed mountain? What is God trying to communicate here? Scholars have fought tooth and nail on this issue. Some even suggesting that the original text stated that the altar should have been built on Mount Gerizim, the beautiful mountain. But what if God put the altar on Mount Ebal intentionally? What if He was trying to highlight the fact that whether we keep God’s commandments or not, we are in constant need of a Savior? Jesus is our Savior–both of the saint and the sinner. And to be honest, all saints are sinners. Whether our lives look like that of Mount Ebal or of Mount Gerizim, we must embrace the reality that we as sinners must be saved through Jesus alone. And this should bring us great joy and relief!
Scripture portions taken from the Holy Bible, English Standard Version, Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers.