Bible Readings for July 6th
In Joshua 8, two critical events take place. First, Israel goes into battle once more against Ai. Second, Israel renews their covenant with Yahweh on Mount Ebal and Mount Gerizim. Both of these stories are important, since in yesterday’s reading Yahweh had threatened to abandon Israel if they did not purge the evil from their midst (Josh. 7:12).
Israel, for their part, did everything in accordance with the word of Yahweh. They devoted to destruction Achan and his family (along with the devoted things that he had stolen) so that Yahweh turned away his wrath from them. Then, they went back in battle, exploiting Ai’s confidence by pretending to flee once again but then rising up in ambush, burning the unguarded city, killing the warriors, and hanging the king of Ai on a tree until sundown (Josh. 8:15–29; cf. Deut. 21:22–23).
Israel’s relationship with Yahweh had been restored, so that Yahweh again fought for his people. But to reestablish their relationship even further, Joshua at that point fulfilled the commandment that Moses had spoken back in Deuteronomy 11:26–32 and again in Deuteronomy 27 by renewing Israel’s covenant with Yahweh on top of Mount Ebal and Mount Gerizim.
There, they set up an altar of uncut stones, on which they offered burnt offerings and peace offerings (Josh. 8:30–32; cf. Deut. 27:5–7). Then, they set up large stones and covered them with plaster (cf. Deut. 27:2) in order for Joshua to write out all the words of the law on them. Half of the people stood on Mount Gerizim to represent Yahweh’s covenant blessings, and half stood on Mount Ebal to represent Yahweh’s covenant curses (Deut. 27:12–13), while the ark of the covenant and the Levitical priests stood at the center (Josh. 8:33). Then, the whole law was read in the presence of all Israel, and Israel feasted in the presence of their God (Deut. 27:7).
For us living today in the new covenant, our weekly worship on the Lord’s Day should be a covenant renewal ceremony, not unlike what Israel enjoys here at the end of Joshua 8. As we come each week, we hear Yahweh’s law convict us of our sin. Then, we remind ourselves of the finished work of Jesus Christ who has atoned for all of our sins, hearing the assurance that our heavenly Father has forgiven our sins for the sake of his Son Jesus. After that, we listen to the word of the Lord preached and then we feast with God at the Lord’s Supper.
This week, hear the word of the Lord, seek his forgiveness by faith in the atoning sacrifice of Christ, and eat and drink in his presence. The holy one of Israel will not lay a hand on you for the sake of his Son who died for you.
Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.