We’re going to go over to Deuteronomy chapter 11. That’s way back to the beginning, the 5th book. Deuteronomy 11:26-29. What’s going on here is Moses is talking. He is getting ready to send the children of Israel into Canaan land across the Jordan. He is not going to go, but he tells them what to do when they get there so we are going to be reading about one of his instructions to them.
Moses says, “See, I am setting before you today a blessing and a curse: the blessing, if you will listen to the commandments of the Lord your God, which I am commanding you today; and the curse, if you do not listen to the commandments of the Lord your God, but turn aside from the way which I am commanding you today, by following other gods which you have not known. It shall come about, when the Lord your God brings you into the land where you are entering to possess it, that you shall place the blessing on Mount Gerizim and the curse on Mount Ebal. Are they not across the Jordan, west of the way toward the sunset, in the land of the Canaanites who live in the Arabah, opposite Gilgal, beside the oaks of Moreh?”
Anyway, what’s going on here is he is telling them this, once they get across the Jordan River, they are eventually going to come to these two mountains. These two mountains, there’s a valley in between them. If you go online or find old pictures of them you can see the two mountains sitting side by side. There’s not that great a distance between these two mountains. One is called Gerizim and one is called Mount Ebal. He is saying what I want you to do is go up, and he divides the children of Israel, part of them are to go up on top of Mount Gerizim and part of them go up on top of Mount Ebal, and there they pronounce the blessings that God is promising to give them, and the other side will be pronouncing the curses that God is going to place upon them should they fail carrying out His commandments. In between them is the Ark of the Covenant with the Levites, the high priests, and I believe Joshua is down there also.
You have a few million people, but you have them on opposite sides and they can hear each other chant what the Lord has told them to chant, the blessings and the cursings, and it’s going back and forth between these two. There’s a fancy word for it, antiphonaI or something like that. Anyway, these curses and blessings are going back and forth so that it goes into the people’s minds.
As I was driving Friday they were talking about how if you want to remember something, and at my age I need to remember a lot more than I do, say it out loud because the percentage of what you remember gets higher when you say it out loud. God is telling these people very dramatically go up on these two mountains, or these two big hills, and pronounce the blessings and pronounce the curses so that they will not forget what God is telling them.
An interesting thing about this, these two mountains are just right across a little valley from each other. The mountain of blessing, Gerizim, is green. It’s covered in foliage, and the last I read the words were used lush. I mean this goes all the way back to Haley’s Handbook Commentary if you have that, even farther back, and I have not been to these two places so I’m just telling you what I’m reading, but Mount Ebal is scroungy, scraggly, barren in places, nothing really tries to grow over on that side. The odd thing is they’re sitting right there side by side, they are getting the same amount of sunshine, the same amount of rain, the same amount of everything, but why is one mountain lush and the other mountain so scraggly and barren?
They say it’s because these blessings and curses were pronounced on those mountains. If it’s not literally that, if it was that before that’s fine because it’s a perfect illustration of what God is trying to get across to these children. You follow My commandments, you will be in a green place, you will be growing spiritually speaking you will be blessed. If you don’t follow the commandments of the Lord you will be in a place that’s barren, you will be in a place that’s doing without, you will have a place of cursing and that’s where you will be dwelling so you have to choose where you are going. He is using it as a very physical reminder so that every time they look at these two mountains they will say the mountain of blessing or the mountain of cursing, where do I want to be?
What brings the cursing upon the children of Israel on Mount Ebal? What precipitates the cursing is if they start following after idols. If they go after not their own God which is God Jehovah, but if they go after some other god then the curses will start falling upon them and they will start having a barren life.
Another interesting thing is when you start reading about all this stuff and you start tracing it through the Bible, you will find out that the mount of blessing is just there, the people are just there. After they get done chanting it’s over with, but the mount of cursing, Mount Ebal, they are instructed that they are to build an alter on that mountain and there they are to commit a sacrifice, take a lamb, kill it and have a burnt offering offered.
The reason that’s interesting is that offering, the offering on that place that is cursed, is to forestall the curse of God. It’s if you fail there has to be some kind of a sacrifice made, there has to be a punishment poured out and the poor little lamb got the brunt of it. That sacrifice is to block that cursing from falling upon the people. It’s the mount of cursing that has the sacrifice. The mount of blessing doesn’t need a sacrifice. It’s a blessed place to live. If you are over there you are following the Lord and He’s blessing you, it doesn’t need the sacrifice, but over here on that mount of cursing they needed that sacrifice to forestall the curse from coming upon them.
The interesting thing is if we go over to Galatians 3:13 we are going to talk about that cursing thing. Remember it’s the place of the curse where the sacrifice is made. Galatians 3: 13, “Christ 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.” That is out of Deuteronomy where that cursed is everyone who hangs upon a tree is stated. Christ hung upon a tree to take the curse from us.
We all know about Christ’s crucifixion, but sometimes we stop and we say well, the blood of Christ is what washes our sins away. A life for a life. He was beaten and He was striped in all manner, by His stripes we are healed so that we could have His spiritual healing and physical healing coming through Him, but we don’t understand the reason He was hung on a tree is because cursed is the person who hangs upon a tree. Cursed is that person. When Christ was hung upon a tree it’s not just that He died in sacrifice for us, His blood was shed for our sins, His body was beaten and bruised for our spiritual and physical health, but the actual hanging on that tree was He became the curse. He took upon Himself not only our sins and everything else, but all the curses that are on the face of the earth He took them upon Himself and He died for them also.
What curses are those you may ask? The first curse we know about is God cursed the ground in the Garden of Eden when Adam and Eve fell. He took that curse so that we would no longer have to be laboring under that. As people who trust in Christ, we don’t have to work by the sweat of our brow to get our food. I’m not saying that when you work that you don’t sweat, it’s the idea of work, work, work, work, work and you’re just barely scraping by enough to get through. It’s that spiritual side I’m looking at here. It’s the laboring in order for you to gain something. This way He has taken that curse of sweat, that curse of work.
We have talked about this before. Remember in the Old Testament when the priest went into the temple they were told that they could not wear anything with wool. Everything that they wore had to be light linen because they were not to sweat when they were going about the work of the Lord on the mountain because sweat is a representation of the works of man trying to accomplish something. We are no longer under that curse. We’re also no longer under the curse that is associated with the laws of Moses because it says anybody that does not maintain those laws of Moses absolutely perfectly will die a death where the wages of sin is death, and if we’re trying to keep that law in order to earn our way or to earn our blessings instead we will end up being separated from our God and we will die that death so the curse of the garden is lifted from us and the curse of the Mosaic law is lifted from us.
Here is one most people don’t think about because most people in America have not seen, experienced or believe the curse that’s associated with all powers of darkness. Yes, there is a dark force out there, and that dark force is out to get you. If you have much experience, if you travel in different parts of the world like Haiti they’ve got voodoo doctors. Some people say ah, it’s just nonsense. When you start reading about the explanations of things that happen under these kinds of influences of darkness, we are redeemed from that also. If a voodoo doctor tries to curse you, don’t worry about it because you’re redeemed from all curses also.
You can say well, I don’t believe in a curse. That’s fine, but the people who believe in the voodoo curses they will themselves accept that it’s real and we need to communicate to them that no matter the source of any curse that they think they have on them, there is a thing going around now called generational curses, some people think that if your great grandfather was cursed by who knows who or who knows what that that curse will continually be passed on from generation to generation and they say well, that’s why I’m having hard times because my granddad was a horse thief and he was cursed. Eh! You’ve been redeemed from all curses so don’t worry about the curses like the one we used to say in high school, may the fleas from a thousand camels infest your eyebrows. Don’t worry about those because Christ has redeemed us by His blood, by His stripes and by the hanging upon the cross. He has redeemed us from every shape and form of every curse that could possibly come upon us. That picture of that sacrifice on the mount of cursing, Mount Ebal, is a picture of Jesus Christ paying the price of the curse so that we could live in a place of blessing with Jesus Christ.
The animal blocked the judgment, but Christ when He came He perfectly fulfilled and He rose from the dead and proved that He perfectly fulfilled the judgment of God that was permitted to fall at that time, and He absorbed all of it. Blood, beating, the hanging upon the cross, and His resurrection from the dead were to prove that He was truly acceptable from God. Most people don’t realize this. He had a responsibility. There are things that we are supposed to be doing and if you don’t hit the mark, then you have failed or you have sinned and you have come short of the mark. Jesus Christ had a great burden that He had to fulfill. His assignment was not only to fulfill and live all the laws of Moses, but to be the perfect sacrifice and if He did not hit that perfect mark, that mark of perfection in the sacrifice, if He failed in that because He is human He would have come under a curse, a curse of failure, and He would have remained dead and separated from His God our Father, but because He truly accomplished that in absolute perfection, that’s the statement that the resurrection makes is He won over death, hell, and the grave and it could not hold Him because there was no flaw in His keeping of the law and there was no flaw in His keeping of the sacrifice either. He endured it all, He managed it all, He went through it all for our benefit, and He lifted us out of that position of death and fearing and gave us a promise of life eternal.
The question that comes to most people is why do we not live on Mount Gerizim, the mount of blessing? Why are so many people as Christians over there on Ebal? What’s hindering somebody from going to that mount that is barren and just going across the valley to the blessing? There is no wall. There is no fence, electric fence. There is no fort that is keeping the people up on that Ebal mountain that is barren. Ebal, not evil. Ebal mountain that is barren. They could go across over to the mountain that has green and has growth. But remember when I started reading I said the thing that triggers the cursing on that mountain is the worshipping, the worship of the idols of other nations. Worshipping the idols of other nations. Gazing upon those idols.
Now we’re going to Psalm 135, what I read this morning. Psalm 135:13-18. “Your name, O Lord, is everlasting, Thy remembrance, O Lord, throughout all generations. For the Lord will judge His people and will have compassion on His servants.” Now, here is the description of the idols. “The idols of the nations,” and that’s what is going to bring this curse and this barrenness on people, The idols of the nations are silver and gold, The work of man’s hands. They have mouths, but they do not speak; They have eyes, but they do not see; They have ears, but they do not hear, Nor is there any breath at all in their mouths.” And get this line, “Those who make them will be like them, Yes, everyone who trusts in them.
The reason so many people aren’t experiencing the blessings of the Lord today is not the inadequacy of Jesus Christ, not the inadequacy of His sacrifice or a failure of His. It’s the fact that we have looked upon the idols of nations which are gold and silver and we have craved it, we have wanted it, we live for it, we love it, we want that increasing bank account, we want that idol of consumerism. If I just had more. If I had a little more I would probably be happy and we just keep thinking if we can accumulate to ourselves enough stuff that finally at some point we will break through and we will have that joy. Howard Hughes at one time was one of the richest people and they asked him what do you want? We’re talking about one of the richest people in the world at that time and they said what do you really want and he said “I want just a little more.” You see, he was filthy rich but he never had contentment, he never had joy, and if you read the way he ended up, poor guy, he should have went for something else.
So many Christians have fallen into the consumerism of this world, craving it, wanting it, living for it, plotting to get it. If I had a little more, if I could… boys and their toys and toy haulers is what’s going around. It’s always been that way. Girls have got them too. There are things that they are wanting. But remember that if you’re going after wealth, if you’re going after that gold and silver, what does the Bible say about them? The gold and silver is mute. It’s blind. It’s empty of God. It’s cold. It has no breath. It has no life. Therefore, it cannot give you what you are actually wanting. You’re buying into the idol worship of the world. If you just worship at this alter, you will have all the things of this world and life will be great. I’m not against wealth. If you’re wealthy, enjoy it. Knock yourself out. If God blesses you with wealth enjoy it. No problems. But it’s that striving to get it where you will stand on other people to get it and the idea that if you have it you will find joy and contentment.
I know people who were raised in the same family. I know husbands and wives and wives and husbands, you can go either way, and siblings who were raised in the same family and one of them said I had a great life growing up and the other one said my life was absolutely miserable, and yet they lived in the same household. Their feet were under the same dinner table. They wore the same clothes gotten out of the same closet, and yet one of them saw their life as a blessing like Mount Gerizim and the other saw their life as a cursed place, as a barren place. It’s a choice. Part of it is the choice of the way they look at their life. One of them was seeking the Lord and the other one was seeking stuff, the one that was never happy, and I can say still not happy.
The reason so many Christians are over there on that mountain is they still think that they can get it, that somehow that is what life is all about, but wealth will never tell you the truth. You’ll never see the truth in wealth. You’ll never hear the truth. Wealth never speaks the truth. It’s always the promise of if you have a little more I promise you that you will get the joy you want. You will get the contentment. Well, it’s not there. You better be finding your joy and contentment in something else. Go over to Mount Gerizim and what does He say? You go over there where the Lord is, where the place of blessing is. If you’re over here, the cursing is cursing and it’s barren, but Christ paid for all that and you can now leave that barren place and you can go across. You see the cross of Jesus Christ is not just good news for the sinner out there who has not yet repented and needs their sins washed away, the cross of Christ is good news to you. The cross of Christ is good news to me as a believer because He promises Mount Gerizim if I’m willing to trust in Him and go to that mount of blessing and leave that place of cursing, that place of idolatry where the nations are trying to gather gold and silver.
I’m saying this. If your life is just one big continuous grind, if it’s just a burden, if it’s a stress, if it’s just constant mental fatigue and exhaustion, and if you’re just heartache constantly… now every Christian is going to have some of this in their life, that’s just normal day-to-day living in a fallen world, but whenever it just gets to be the grind and there is no hope and you’re just out there thinking if I could just get a little more and your life is miserable, you’re dwelling on the wrong mountain. Leave that Mount Ebal. Go over to Mount Gerizim. It’s just this easy. “Seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you.” Go over to that mountain where the mount of blessing is. Seek ye first the kingdom of God and the word first there means give it top priority just like you were going after the idols and after the wealth. Crave it, want it, desire it, live it, go for it. Approach that the same way with your God with His righteousness. Crave it, live for it, love it, desire it and you will be on the mount of blessing. You will be on the mount of blessing.
You say but I don’t feel like I’m blessed. Feelings are not your Savior. Your feelings are not the Word of God. Your feelings can lie to you. You stand by what the scripture says, by what Jesus Christ has taught us. He says you seek ye first the kingdom of God. You live it. You love it. You want it. You go after that. This other stuff will come. It won’t be overnight, but it will come to you. You make that your priority. You keep going after that and you’ll have what you want, love, joy, peace, kindness, goodness, the fruit of the Holy Spirit because the curse will have been lifted because you’re trusting in Christ, His hanging on the cross. All the curse is gone for you, and the joy of the Holy Spirit will come into you because you’re not going after the idols of the world. You’re trusting in that sacrifice to live on Mount Gerizim, the mount of blessing.
Don’t go by your feelings. Go by the word of God and what He tells you. Your feelings will change. Up one day and down the next. I know people who are diagnosed with bipolar. I don’t know if you guys know any bipolar people that are not being treated, but they can turn on a dime. They are happy and then boom, they’re sad, and boom they’re this way, back and forth at a moment’s notice. We need to not be that way because that’s being led by our feelings. We need to constantly say God has told me that if I seek Him I will live on Mount Gerizim. I will live on that mount of blessing. That mount of blessing is there for each and every Christian. I didn’t say you wouldn’t have some hard times, but I said that you will have a life that is blessed and worth living.
Shall we pray? Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in heavenly places in Christ. Father, we accept that promise that You have given us every spiritual blessing in Christ and we now call upon You. Help us to see it. Help us to follow after the true God, the One who hears, the One who speaks, the One who loves, the One who cares, and who has life. Father, we don’t want the idols and the silver and the gold. We don’t want that lifestyle. We want the joy and the peace and the contentment of the Holy Spirit. And Father, all the other stuff is secondary if we have that. I ask it all in Jesus’ name, to bring Him glory, to bring Him honor, Amen.