Deuteronomy 27:1-8 Uncut Altar

The altar on Mt. Ebal possibly looked like this.

Moses instructs the people regarding building their first altar in the Promised Land. This will be a place where they write ALL of God’s Law and again pledge to follow it.

Moses has been going over God’s commandments and His whole Law with them. He is preparing them for their entry into God’s promise. He is making certain they have ALL heard God’s words; every part of them. No one will be able to say “But I didn’t know.”

As their first act of settlement into the new land they are to make an altar to the Lord. It is to be made of stones that are UNCUT and held together with plaster only. On this altar they are to write ALL of the Law they have just heard. Nothing is to be left out and it is to be put into plain language that ALL can understand.

I don’t believe that Moses words “And on the day you cross over the Jordan” means specifically the actual first day they cross. When we read Joshua we will see that the altar isn’t built until after several battles. The battle of Ai is the last battle mentioned before the people made the altar Moses had commanded.

I have no idea how long it took for the construction, consecration, and celebration involved with this altar but I assume that it took some time. Every word of what Moses has directed in today’s reading would take place on Mt. Ebal. Israel would once again promise their hearts and lives to the God of their fathers. Now the Lord their God.

I know this is off topic but I have though it strange when dialogue between the people, the Levites, and Moses refer to God as “the Lord your God.” They don’t say “the Lord my God.” He is always “your” God. Why is this? I really would like to know.

I understand when Moses is talking to the people and he uses the phrase “the Lord your God” he is speaking of God being over all the people. But an example of what is confusing me can be found in our reading covering the tithe script that they were to say. “I declare today to the Lord your God that I have come into the land that the Lord swore to our fathers to give us” (chapter 26 verse 3b). This is the one bringing the tithe speaking to the Levite to whom he is presenting his tithe. Why does he say “your” God and not “my” God?

Later in this same chapter the one bringing the tithe does say “my” God but it is in the third year tithe. “I have obeyed the voice of the Lord my God” (chapter 26 verse 14b). This is said by the one bringing the tithe after stating the things he has done that were required of him concerning his tithe. This is the only time I can lay my finger on the use of this personal connection to God, so far.

Is this because up until this point the people saw Him as “the God of their fathers” instead of being in a personal relationship with Him? The people had limited and restricted access to Him. Did they feel at arm’s length?

I cannot imagine being separated from Him! Thanks to Jesus’ work on the cross that separation has been removed. He is MY God. Not that I own Him but that He is personally involved in my life. There is no distance I can go that He cannot reach. He knows every part of me. I am FAR from knowing every part of Him but He invites me to come close and search Him. He calls me to sit at His feet and learn. He allows me to climb in His lap and listen to His stories. He holds me when I’m afraid. He leads me by the hand when we walk the roads He planned for me. He is my personal Lord and Savior. He is my Father. He is my Comforter. I am not left to read the words on the stones and hope I understand and follow all the rules He has written there. He puts those words in my heart and writes them on me personally. I am His and He is mine.

Father God, I want to recommit like the people would do once they entered Your Promised Land. I want to follow Your commands for my life. I know Your Law wasn’t able to do all the work required to open the way to a personal relationship with You but Jesus was able to. Only through Jesus’ sacrifice could those stone words become flesh and alive. Thank You Jesus for giving me life with You and my Father. I couldn’t do any of it on my own, no matter how hard I tried.

Thank You Father for the personal relationship I have with You. Thank You that I can say “my” God without fear of being wrong or rejected. Thank You for letting me be born in this time in history. I would have loved to be present for the miracles I’ve been reading about or walked the dusty roads with Jesus but being on this side of Your promise has the AMAZING benefit of being able to come into Your presence. The honor of being able to be Your little girl. Thank You for being my God.

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