Lesson Thirty Eight



Memory Verse: Numbers 32:23
Further Study: Deuteronomy 27; 28; Joshua 7; 8;Patriarch and Prophets: pp. 493-504; The Bible Story, vol. 3, pp. 92-95

[Note to Readers: I write these devotionals well ahead of when they are read. It amazes me how often what God has inspired, coincides exactly with the time they are released. This devotional is no exception. At that time I wrote about Queen Elizabeth II, who died this past week (September 8, 2022). We mourn with her family and the citizens of the United Kingdom and British Commonwealth. While I wrote in the present tense at the time, I’m sadly updating it to the past.]

As I write, those in the United Kingdom are celebrating the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee, the first time such an event has occurred in British history. Acknowledging her coronation each year was, for Queen Elizabeth II, an opportunity to remember the oath she took before God. It is something she did not take lightly. The Queen, almost to a fault, placed the British throne first. Her commitment was to God’s calling, then her subjects, followed by everyone and everything else.

Her commitment was to God’s calling, then her subjects, followed by everyone and everything else. 

What the Israelites faced on the mountains of Ebal and Gerizim was not unlike what Queen Elizabeth II experienced at her coronation. Just as she was set aside to rule on His behalf, they were to covenant with God before crossing into the Promised Land. What differs is that this isn’t Israel’s first go at this. This was less like a coronation and much more like a marriage gone wrong.

A covenant service occurred at Sinai, a year after leaving Egypt. At that time, God, Himself, appeared in fire, thunder, lightning, and dark clouds. Israel agreed to do all that God commanded. They set themselves apart for the Lord, but it lasted only six short weeks. The covenant was broken when they built the golden calf and abandoned God. Subsequently, God required a renewing of their promise—a time of recommitment not unlike a married couple who breaks their vows through adultery and decides to stand again before the altar to renew their vows declaring to honor, love, and cherish.

You might think this mountain experience of declaration for God doesn’t particularly relate to us today. Yet we do have a similar opportunity to renew our covenant with God. 

You might think this mountain experience of declaration for God doesn’t particularly relate to us today. Yet we do have a similar opportunity to renew our covenant with God. Within the Adventist Church that experience can be found each time we participate in the communion service. Full of symbolism, it serves as a reminder as well as a time of recommitment. We wash each other’s feet in an act of humility, service, and reminder of baptism. We drink the juice, and eat the bread, remembering the amazing gift of salvation through Jesus’ death on the cross. When we leave, we are reconsecrated in our service and commitment to God.

Think of this the next time there is a communion service. Don’t shy away, become uncomfortable, or go through the motions. Savor and embrace it as an opportunity to rededicate to service, recommit to following God’s plan, and most importantly, to be renewed.

Digging Deeper 

This story of the mount of blessing and mount of cursing is one that doesn’t get told often or at all. It is one of those parts of the Bible that is often relegated to be forgotten, not anyone’s favorite. It isn’t retold nor are sermons built around it. It did, however, come to the forefront in March 2022, when the announcement was made of a “curse tablet” found near Mount Ebal and part of a previously excavated site called “Joshua’s altar.”

An archeologist decided to go through a dump site of what was discarded 30 years earlier using a different technique and found the small one inch square tablet with this inscription:

“Cursed, cursed, cursed — cursed by the God YHW. You will die cursed. Cursed you will surely die. Cursed by YHW – cursed, cursed, cursed.”

The discovery has excited not only the archeological community, but religious and biblical scholars as well. It places the name of Yahweh much earlier than once thought, and also gives supporting evidence to the biblical account. You can read more about the discovery here.

It is a lesson to us about the Bible and its stories. What we might think unimportant, not worthy to study, may be to discard a “gem” into the trash heap. Read your Bible. Study it thoroughly. Pray and ponder each story no matter how insignificant. It may be that story that changes your life allowing you to see God more clearly than before.

Making it Real

This week is a good time to recommit yourself and your family to Jesus. Think of ways you might make this meaningful. Here’s a suggestion, but do what works for you.

Based on the prayer acronym, ACTS

  1. Get a piece of paper and write down words that describe how God is meaningful to you (ADORATION). If a family, do this at family worship, with each person contributing no matter how young.
  2. Next, on the paper, write down things that you are sorry for—maybe something that happened this week (CONFESSION). Again, if in family worship, don’t push anyone, but if they are willing, help young ones to understand the need to “confess” to Jesus the sins they have committed.
  3. Third, make a list of all the things you are thankful for (THANKSGIVING). This will probably be a long list!
  4. Last, add to your list the things you’d like Jesus to help you with. Include all family members in making your list.

Once your list is made, pray a prayer together where you use the words on your list. So your prayer might go something like:

Dear Jesus,

You are _________________________.

We are sorry we __________________.

Thank you for ____________________.

Please help ______________________.

End with a recommitment sentence: “Because we love you and want to serve you, we give our hearts to you again.”

Respond & Share

How does it feel to serve a God who forgives and forgets again and again and again? Share with us in the comments below!


Merle Poirier writes from Silver Spring, Maryland, where she works as the operation manager for Adventist Review and Adventist World magazines as well as the designer for KidsView, a magazine for 8-12-year-olds. She enjoys spending time with her family including being the grandmother of two active little boys, who greatly enjoy Starting With Jesus.


Coming next week:


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