Summary of the Terms of the Covenant or Contract
“This day the LORD thy God hath commanded thee to do these statutes and judgments: thou shalt therefore keep and do them with all thine heart, and with all thy soul. Thou hast avouched the LORD this day to be thy God, and to walk in his ways, and to keep his statutes, and his commandments, and his judgments, and to hearken unto his voice: And the LORD hath avouched thee this day to be his peculiar people, as he hath promised thee, and that thou shouldest keep all his commandments; And to make thee high above all nations which he hath made, in praise, and in name, and in honour; and that thou mayest be an holy people unto the LORD thy God, as he hath spoken.” (Deuteronomy 26:16-19)
Israel had sworn that they would keep God’s commandments, his laws, and his prescribed penalties with everything they had as demonstration that they claimed him as their God. God promised that in return for their obedience, he would promote them above every other nation, as his special people, respected and honored by the other nations.
The promise is similar to the promise to Christians in John 14:23-24. “Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him. He that loveth me not keepeth not my sayings: and the word which ye hear is not mine, but the Father's which sent me.” There are a number of people who claim to be Christians yet refuse to obey the Lord. Clearly they don’t really care about him. As John 14:15 says, “If ye love me, keep my commandments.”
A Permanent Memorial
“And Moses with the elders of Israel commanded the people, saying, Keep all the commandments which I command you this day. And it shall be on the day when ye shall pass over Jordan unto the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee, that thou shalt set thee up great stones, and plaster them with plaster: And thou shalt write upon them all the words of this law, when thou art passed over, that thou mayest go in unto the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee, a land that floweth with milk and honey; as the LORD God of thy fathers hath promised thee.
Therefore it shall be when ye be gone over Jordan, that ye shall set up these stones, which I command you this day, in mount Ebal, and thou shalt plaster them with plaster. And there shalt thou build an altar unto the LORD thy God, an altar of stones: thou shalt not lift up any iron tool upon them. Thou shalt build the altar of the LORD thy God of whole stones: and thou shalt offer burnt offerings thereon unto the LORD thy God: And thou shalt offer peace offerings, and shalt eat there, and rejoice before the LORD thy God. And thou shalt write upon the stones all the words of this law very plainly.” (Deuteronomy 27:1-8)
Israel was to build a monument of large stones on mount Ebal which were to be plastered over, and the entire law then engraved in the plaster. Centrally located, Mount Ebal was visible from most areas of Israel, so it would be a constant reminder of what God expected. The law engraved on the memorial was a permanent record that could be readily referred to.
Next to the monument was to be an altar of natural uncut stones so there was no element of man’s works in their worship. The altar was to be used for burnt offerings and peace offerings, reminding them how much they had been blessed and of their obligation to God. Joshua 24:25 describes Joshua setting up this monument in Shechem, on the south slope of the mount between the peaks of Mount Ebal and Mount Gerizim.
“And Moses and the priests the Levites spake unto all Israel, saying, Take heed, and hearken, O Israel; this day thou art become the people of the LORD thy God. Thou shalt therefore obey the voice of the LORD thy God, and do his commandments and his statutes, which I command thee this day.” (Deuteronomy 27:9-10)
Because they were God’s people, Israel had an obligation to fulfill his commands. Christians have a similar obligation to demonstrate their appreciation for what he has done for them.