"We see, in many a land, the proudest dynasties and tyrannies still crushing, with their mountain weight, every free motion of the Consciences and hearts of men. We see, on the other hand, the truest heroism for the right and the greatest devotion to the Truth in hearts that God has touched. We have a work to do, as great as our forefathers and, perhaps, far greater. The enemies of Truth are more numerous and subtle than ever and the needs of the Church are greater than at any preceding time. If we are not debtors to the present, then men were never debtors to their age and their time. Brethren, we are debtors to the hour in which we live. Oh, that we might stamp it with Truth and that God might help us to impress upon its wings some proof that it has not flown by neglected and unheeded." -- C.H. Spurgeon . . . "If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." John 8:31, 32 . . . . .


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Monday, July 17, 2023


Contributing commentaries by pastors Sonny Islas, Albert Lopez, and James Fire

DEUTERONOMY 27: BLESSINGS and CURSINGS – by Sonny Islas; check out the complete teaching here!

INTRODUCTION: At this point in the story, God makes a deal with the Nation Of Israel – He basically tells them “Look, if you obey Me, My voice, My written Word, I will slam you, and your land with blessings. But, if you disobey Me, I will slam you and your land with severe curses. It was God’s way of saying – if you honor Me, I will make life heaven on Earth for you. But if you dishonor Me, I will make life hell on Earth for you.

We must understand that Yahweh God, the Creator, the LORD of all, the Holy One of Heaven, was with the Nation of Israel in a very unique and special way. They literally had the God of Heaven in their midst. So, “to whom much is given, much is required.”

This is how God connected with His people Israel aka the Mosaic Covenant or the Sinai Covenant. What must be clear is that salvation or heaven was never attained by keeping the Law (10 Commandments plus many others). Salvation has always been by faith in Yahweh and His future Messiah/His Son. And true saving faith is always (but not perfectly) followed by loving obedience.

ROMANS 4:2-8 
2 For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God. 3 For what does the Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.” 4 Now to him who works, the wages are not counted as grace but as debt. 5 But to him who does not work but believes on Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is accounted for righteousness, 6 just as David also describes the blessedness of the man to whom God imputes righteousness apart from works: 7 “Blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven, and whose sins are covered; 8 Blessed is the man to whom the Lord shall not impute sin.

As far as the New Testament Church of Jesus, we will be corrected by God, like a loving Father corrects his kids when they get out of line, (maybe even in severe ways; HEBREWS 12:6) but He will never curse us because Jesus was cursed on the cross in our place. He bore curses/unimaginable and unfathomable punishment we so rightfully deserved.
The New Testament scriptures make it very clear regarding those who are cursed and eternally damned. Paul says in:

“If anyone does not love the Lord Jesus Christ, let him be accursed. O Lord, come!”

Before we read here DEUTERONOMY 27, keep in mind that to pronounce a blessing on someone is to wish them good. And to pronounce a curse on someone is to wish them harm. But when God Himself is the one pronouncing either blessing or cursing, this is a whole other level, because God doesn’t just wish good or harm on someone, He makes it come to pass - He either does good or harm to someone.

Again, at this point in the story, Israel is getting very close to crossing the river Jordan and into the Promised Land.

1 Now Moses, with the elders of Israel, commanded the people, saying: "Keep all the commandments which I command you today. 2 "And it shall be, on the day when you cross over the Jordan to the land which the LORD your God is giving you, that you shall set up for yourselves large stones, and whitewash them with lime. 3 "You shall write on them all the words of this law, when you have crossed over, that you may enter the land which the LORD your God is giving you, 'a land flowing with milk and honey,' just as the LORD God of your fathers promised you. 4 "Therefore it shall be, when you have crossed over the Jordan, that on Mount Ebal you shall set up these stones, which I command you today, and you shall whitewash them with lime. 5 "And there you shall build an altar to the LORD your God, an altar of stones; you shall not use an iron tool on them. 6 "You shall build with whole stones the altar of the LORD your God, and offer burnt offerings on it to the LORD your God. 7 "You shall offer peace offerings, and shall eat there, and rejoice before the LORD your God. 8 "And you shall write very plainly on the stones all the words of this law." 9 Then Moses and the priests, the Levites, spoke to all Israel, saying, "Take heed and listen, O Israel: This day you have become the people of the LORD your God. 10 "Therefore you shall obey the voice of the LORD your God and observe His commandments and His statutes which I command you today.


By God commanding those large stones to be erected 2ON THE first DAY and for the Book of Deuteronomy to be engraved or etched into them - God was saying “My Word is the primary thing.” This was God’s way of reminding them that everything that happens in the promised land, good or bad, is connected to the honor or dishonor of His written Word.

And we’ll notice here that this giant stone Bible, of you will, was to be erected even before the Altar. This shows us that what God has to say to us, is more important than what we have to give to Him – offer Him as an act of worship.

This is why I have said in the past, that the most important thing that happens in the local church or during a Sunday worship service is not us singing to God, but when God speaks to us through His Word. Many modern churches have utterly failed to understand this basic truth.

And this is why many pop churches focus more on their music than they do on THE message. They focus more on their worship than they do on God’s Word. (And sure everything has its place, but the Word of God reigns supreme!). Jesus put it this way He rebuked Satan, 

Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every Word that comes from God’s mouth.” 

We don’t have eternal life because we worship, we have eternal life because God has spoken – ROMANS 10:17
“Faith comes by hearing the Word of God.”

In the Old Testament God’s Word was etched on stone, whether here in DEUT 27 or the Ten Commandments but in the New Testament, God had written His Word on our minds by the Holy Spirit.

HEBREWS 10:16 (quoting JERE 31:33) says,
“This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, says the Lord: I will put My laws into their hearts, and in their minds I will write them,

Paul understood this when he wrote in:

2 CORINTHIANS 3:3 saying,
“clearly you are an epistle of Christ, ministered by us, written not with ink but by the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of flesh, that is, of the heart.”

“Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly…”

Question: How richly are Jesus’ words dwelling or living in your heart? How much of what Jesus taught is stored up in your heart and can be shared with others at any given time? The words of Jesus will not dwell in our hearts richly if we are not reading them regularly – that’s for sure.

They were commanded to WHITEWASH the stones WITH LIME ('white power' - of a sort) – the reason why is because a white background with engraved or sunken in letters would make it easier to read God’s Words. Just like a modern Bible today where you have black and red letters on white paper.


They were not to get fancy with the letters. It was to be easy to read and easy to understand.
Interestingly enough, the New Testament was written in the lowest version of the Greek language called Koine Greek. It was the language of the common people. Children spoke and read Koine Greek.

We can say that the New Testament was written in such a plain and simple way that even kids could read it and understand it. This was God’s doing.

Referring to Jesus teaching in: 

MARK 12:37b
“And the common
(uneducated) people heard Him gladly.”

Jesus spoke very plainly, simply, and directly – just like the writing on these stones.

Vs. 4-5
4 On Mount Ebal you shall set up these stones… 5 And there you shall build an altar to the LORD your God…

Here we see the priority of the Word of God and worship. Especially the sacrificing of animals for sin as a foreshadow of Jesus’ cross.

The point was, “As soon as you get there, read My Word and Worship Me.”
When making the altar, they were not to use any rock cutting tools. This is a picture of salvation by faith and not by works:

EPHESIANS 2:8, 9 says,
We are saved by works but not by our works – by Jesus’ works – His perfect obedience to God the Father in life, death and resurrection.

On this newly and plainly erected altar, they were to offer a burnt offering which means they were to offer an entire animal except its hide/skin – which point to a total commitment to God. They also offered peace offerings which point to being grateful.

This altar erected by Joshua was found a few decades ago. 

The Mount Ebal site was discovered by Israeli archaeologist Adam Zertal during the Manasseh Hill Country Survey in 1980. Adam Zertal, who later excavated the site for eight seasons, suggested identifying it as Joshua's Altar as featured in the Book of Joshua of the Hebrew Bible (Old Testament):
During the course of the Manasseh Hill Country Survey, the late Adam Zertal and his team discovered a half dozen sites in the Jordan Valley with foot-shaped enclosure walls. The size of these sites varies. For example, el-’Unuq, one foot-shaped site, measures 816 feet long and 228 feet wide. This 4-acre site is larger than two soccer fields next to each other with their end zones connected. Bedhat esh-Sha’ab, another foot-shaped site, is 3 acres. The shape of these sites was not determined by terrain; they were intentionally built in this design.

The most famous of these foot-shaped sites—also called sandalim and gilgalim—is on Mt. Ebal. This site was discovered by Adam Zertal and his survey team in 1980 and subsequently excavated from 1982–1989. There they uncovered a large altar, which was built of unhewn stones. The altar can be divided into two strata—both dated to the Iron Age I. The earlier level was built on bedrock and had a depression in its middle. Charred animal bones and ash were found inside this depression. Belonging to the later level was a monumental altar, measuring 23 by 30 feet and 10 feet tall, with a 23-foot long ramp leading up to it. This altar was filled with bones, many of which had been burned, ash and Iron Age I pottery.
This along with many other findings serve as proof that God’s Word is true and reliable.

11 ¶ And Moses commanded the people on the same day, saying, 12 "These shall stand on Mount Gerizim to bless the people, when you have crossed over the Jordan: Simeon, Levi, Judah, Issachar, Joseph, and Benjamin. 13 "and these shall stand on Mount Ebal to curse: Reuben, Gad, Asher, Zebulun, Dan, and Naphtali. 14 "And the Levites shall speak with a loud voice and say to all the men of Israel: 15 'Cursed is the one who makes a carved or molded image, an abomination to the LORD, the work of the hands of the craftsman, and sets it up in secret.' And all the people shall answer and say, 'Amen!' 16 'Cursed is the one who treats his father or his mother with contempt.' And all the people shall say, 'Amen!' 17 'Cursed is the one who moves his neighbor's landmark.' And all the people shall say, 'Amen!' 18 'Cursed is the one who makes the blind to wander off the road.' And all the people shall say, 'Amen!'
19 'Cursed is the one who perverts the justice due the stranger, the fatherless, and widow.' And all the people shall say, 'Amen!' 20 'Cursed is the one who lies with his father's wife, because he has uncovered his father's bed.' And all the people shall say, 'Amen!' 21 'Cursed is the one who lies with any kind of animal.' And all the people shall say, 'Amen!' 22 'Cursed is the one who lies with his sister, the daughter of his father or the daughter of his mother.' And all the people shall say, 'Amen!' 23 'Cursed is the one who lies with his mother-in-law.' And all the people shall say, 'Amen!' 24 'Cursed is the one who attacks his neighbor secretly.' And all the people shall say, 'Amen!' 25 'Cursed is the one who takes a bribe to slay an innocent person.' And all the people shall say, 'Amen!' 26 'Cursed is the one who does not confirm all the words of this law.' And all the people shall say, 'Amen!'

For even more on DEUTERONOMY 27, check out David Guzik’s awesome, thorough exposition!

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