Joshua 8:30-35

From Curses To Blessings


Intro: As we come to consider this passage today / we have before us two Mts. / 2 pronouncements /which represents a picture of 2 ways of life /

A)We also have here in this story a wonderful message of hope!


B)Now if we could get into the Goodyear blimp & travel  back in time so that we could watch the travel of the Children of Israel from that vantage Pt.

1) We would see at this point in their journey it would’ve seemed natural for them to continue South  to attack the most heavily fortified regions


C) But instead they head 25 miles North to a remote valley that was situated between 2 Mts.  

1) Area known as the Valley of Shechem - Valley between Mt. Ebal & Mt. Gerizim


D)Incredible place / natural Amphitheater capable of containing a vast audience 

1) Natural acoustics ( stand on one Mountaintop & talk to a person on the other Mountaintop W/ no problem!   )


The Valley of Shechem was a Beautiful place & some significant things took place in that Valley

A)It was there that God first Promised to give the Land of Canaan to Abe & his Descendants


B) It was there that Jacob’s well was Discovered / It was there by that very well that Jesus being wearied from his journey met the woman of Samaria

1) Revealed He was the Messiah – she could be forgiven of her past – Description of true worship


C) This beautiful place was often the scene of Dramatic & soul stirring events – but I suggest to you –

1)None as soul Stirring as what we have before us in our Account today


See when the Children of Israel came into the Valley they were divided into two groups told to stand before the two mts

A)Why was this done ?  A.  It was done thru the precise obedience to the command of the Lord given thru Moses in Duet. 27

When you cross over the Jordan travel to the Valley of Shechem and ½ the tribes were to stand before Mt. Ebal & the other ½ was to stand before Mt. Gerizim


B) Ebal = Mt. Of Cursing / & Gerizim = Mt. Of blessing

1) So all the people were assembled before  these 2 Mts. & the Priest & the Levites stood in the middle of the valley w/ the Ark of God !


C) It was there that Joshua read from the law the curses that accompanied disobedience & the blessings that followed Obedience !  Ch.27-28


Now Moses had stated this same message w/ the people before they had crossed over the Jordan !

A)He concluded His farewell message w/ these words Duet.30:19,20 

"I call heaven and earth as witnesses today against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life, that both you and your descendants may live; [What is the life { Rd to Blessing ?] 20  "that you may love the LORD your God, that you may obey His voice, and that you may cling to Him, for He is your life and the length of your days;


B) This was the last Challenge the people heard from Moses  before they crossed over the Jordan into the promised land !


C) The whole history of Israel could be summed up by this Story – Times of Blessings when obeying the law

1) Times of Cursing / Captivity – when they rebelled against God’s law


Now this scene is really a picture for us of something Jesus taught when He said that there are 2 roads that people will travel on

A)Broad Rd. …….Many Narrow Rd. leads to life few there are who find it !


B)One Rd. leads to cursing - destruction the other leads to blessing & life

C)So 2 Mts. / 2 Pronouncements / 2 ways of living !


D)But the ceremony that was enacted on Mt. Ebal & Mt. Gerizim teaches more that the principle that Obedience leads to blessing

    1) And  Disobedience leads to a lack of blessing in a life !


E)  It also shows Gods solution to the problem of sin in any life !


See here is the Problem all of us would have/ We would end up Cursed  Because we couldn’t keep the Law !   We’ve all been Disobedient !

A)We have all lied / we have all Coveted / I would venture to say that we have all been guilty a time or two of not honoring our parents


Prov 6:16-19 16 These six things the LORD hates, Yes, seven are an abomination to Him: 17 A proud look, A lying tongue,

Hands that shed innocent blood, 18 A heart that devises wicked plans,

Feet that are swift in running to evil,  19 A false witness who speaks lies,

And one who sows discord among brethren.


B) How many of us have been guilty of committing at least one of those things ?


C)And most of us Know that Jesus took it one step further – breaking of the law wasn’t just a matter of outward actions but inward attitudes

1)   Lust – equivalent to Adultery / Angry w/out cause – guilty of murder


D)So when we understand what Jesus was saying – it only magnifies the fact that all of us are GUILTY!!!!!

1) WHICH MEANS - all of us would find ourselves at Mt. Ebal DOOMED!


E) But PTL it is not just a story of 2 Mts. / 2 Pronouncements & 2 ways of Living!

1) But we also see in this story an Altar on the Mt. Of Cursing !


The altar speaks of redemption /of sacrifice /

 A)Picture of our Hero Jesus who came to provide the way where we who were doomed on the Mt. Of cursing

1) Could be led to the Mt of blessing / thru the sacrifice that took place on that Mt.      


B)Notice 4  things about this Altar:


1st Notice where it was built ! Not valley / not Mt. Gerizim- the Mt of Blessing / But V.30 on Mt/ Ebal – the Mt of Cursing

A)This shows that the altar was for sinners / those who acknowledge they are       cursed / that they have missed the mark !


B) The Altar stood as a symbol of Judgment - message the Lord was sending was sin/ breaking the Law brings forth Judgment / that Judgment is death!


C) But the Altar also spoke of Gods Provision for mans sin / be thru a sacrifice !  That an innocent animal could die in place of the sinner!

1) DOCTRINE OF SUBSITUTION - Each lamb that was sacrificed was a Picture of JESUS – the lamb of God who would come to die in our Place


D) His Substitutionary death would be the Final Sacrifice

1)   SO first of all the Altar was to be built on the Mt of Cursing


2nd Note v.31 that the Altar was to be made of Whole Stones

A)Whole speaks of  Purity – They weren’t partial stones – Chipped stones it wasn’t a Pile of Broken Rocks – Each one was whole –


B) This again speaks of Christ & His Purity & Perfection - the lamb of God w/out spot or  blemish )   No sin in Him:

1)Pilate: I find no fault in this Man


3rd  thing to note v.31 was it was to be an altar which no man has wielded an iron tool."

A)The altar was to be untouched by any tool or human effort !

B) It was a simple altar not one that was decorated or designed by human hands

1) Once again it speaks to us of the Sacrifice of Christ -


C) No human effort was to be associated w/ the sacrifice lest sinners think they had something to do w/ their salvation   Eph. 2:8,9   For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.


D) It was the complete Negation of all Humanism- A Complete denial of that thought that humans can do anything for it or add anything to it


Listen no one is going to be in Heaven saying look what I did ! I made it ! I found it ! I conquered this or that !    

A)Instead all crying Worthy is the Lamb! Guy at men’s retreat Testimony Running fast as I could away from God He ran me DOWN



4th Thing to note V. 32 On this Altar the Law was to be inscribed

A)This has always been God’s plan – When God gave Israel the Law when Moses came down from Mt Sinai w/ it – He was the lawgiver


B) At the same time – God gave Aaron to Israel to be the High Priest

1)   it was there that God – was saying in affect – as He thundered from Mt Sinai – Thou shalt Not …..

2)   But then Immediately added – But I know that you will – so here is a way to deal w/ Your Sin – High Priest who can offer Sacrifice


C) Reminded of what John Wrote of Jesus Ch.1:14 14  And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.


D) Full of Truth – The Law followed Perfectly / Jesus said  Matt5: 17  "Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill.

He came to fulfill the Law & having done so He could have said I did it why can’t you ? Full of truth but also full of grace !

A)JN.3:17 "For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.


B) The law exposed mans sin ! The law proclaimed that man was guilty / that man was cursed !  The law also revealed our need of a savior

1) Jesus came to be THAT SAVIOR


C) The Law inscribed on the Altar was the Reminder of why the Sacrifices were NEEDED !!!


D) Paul put it this way in   Gal.5:10,13

10  For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse; for it is written, "Cursed is everyone who does not continue in all things which are written in the book of the law, to do them."           That was us !

13  Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us (for it is written, "Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree [cross]"),


E) The Cross was reserved for the worst of Sinners – Electric Chair The Guillotine –


Jesus climbed the Mt of Cursing – Carrying the instrument of the Curse the Cross – and was Sacrificed in our place

A)So we stand at the foot of the Mt. Of cursing knowing there is no way in our Strength or Power to get to the Mt. Of blessing /


B) But it is there that we look up at that Mt. Of Cursing & see a cross !

    1) Reminded that the way has been paved !  Way blessing has been opened


C) And that cross is empty / He is no longer on it / He has risen / We see this picture in our story as well !

1) See To get from Mt. Ebal cursing  to Mt. Gerizim blessing - you had to pass thru the valley which is a picture of this life


Now  In order to get from Mt. E. To Mt. B / you had to pass by the ark

A)Now here is the thing that I want you to note – is that the Altar is a picture of Christ – Humanity – Whole – Pure – Fulfilled the law


B) He came to be a Sacrifice/  The Sacrifice that He made can’t be added to

1)   But once He died – He didn’t stay Dead – He Rose – He lives today in the Heavenlies – Serves there as Our High Priest


C) See the Ark in the Valley is also – a Picture of Christ – Ark was made of Acacia wood – overlaid w/ pure Gold

1)   The Wood speaks of his Humanity – Gold – His Divinity – His Deity


D) Inside the Ark – is the 10 commandments – the Law of the requirements for Man – the requirements that Jesus kept perfectly as a man

1)   But those requirements are covered by the Lid on the Ark – not scene because of the Lid – THE MERCY SEAT


The MERCY SEAT was incredibly costly because it was made of solid gold.  It was the most expensive piece in the Tab. WHY?

A)Because God places PRIORITY on MERCY and GRACE.


B)You want to Value something in Life ? Value what God Values

1) MICAH 6:8 He has shown you, O man, what is good; And what does the LORD require of you But to do justly, To love mercy,


C) Why Love Mercy ? God loves mercy / God sets a high Price on Mercy

1) It was in Mercy that He Gave His Son !!!


D) Mercy means – not getting what you do deserve { Now the picture is unfolding – Covering the Law the requirements – against me

1)   That which pointed out that I am a sinner – that I am doomed to forever stay at the Mt of Cursing – was the Mercy Seat of God


E) And on that mercy seat was the reminder of the Sacrifice on the Altar on the Cross on Mt Ebal – Blood Sprinkled by the High Priest

The whole scene is a Vivid picture for us of the way to go from Cursing to blessing – The need to pass thru Christ

A)To see Him as God – Our redeemer – to acknowledge His work on the Cross / to believe in His Resurrection – Lives now as our High Priest  


B)  Hebrews 4:14 Seeing then that we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession  For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.


C) The cross is empty & so is the tomb because Our Lord is alive & He is our H.P. who forever lives to intercede for us !

    1) Because of Him we can come boldly into God’s presence into Blessing


D) We can receive grace & mercy to help in our time of need !

Paul put it this way Rom. 8:2-4 For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death .For what the law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh, God did by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, on account of sin: He condemned sin in the flesh, 4  that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled

 in us who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.


E) We live now thru – His Spirit in our Hearts – That is the way of blessing the life of Blessing – Law written on our hearts


Now it is interesting to note that 1,000 yrs later – the Samaritans would build an altar in this Valley – but theirs would be on Mt Gerizim

A)The Mt of Blessing not the Mt of Cursing –


B) You recall there in Jn 4 when Jesus met w/ the Samaritan woman there by the Well – she diverted the conversation toward worship –

1) She said where is the right place to worship – Our Fathers worshipped on this Mt. – pointing to Gerizim – But you Jews say it has to be Jerusalem

D) Jesus responded by turning her away from Mt Gerizim as well as from Mt Zion in Jerusalem & pointed to Himself as the Coming Sacrifice

1)   He said to her you Samaritans worship would you do not Know – God is spirit – worship Him …… Spirit & in Truth


E) There is a Spirit directed way – to Worship – One that is according to the Truth of God’s word – True heart felt worship -


See the Samaritans were all hung up about the Place – But what Jesus was showing is – it is not a place but THE PERSON- that matters

A)Many today have the same attitude – they are hung up about the Procedures / the day – Sat or Sunday


B) The Real question isn’t Where – but WHO? – CHRIST – We come to God only thru the Sacrifice of His Son


Boy at Buckingham Palace