November 05, 2021 – Friday
Joshua 8:30-31 NIV
30 Then Joshua built on Mount Ebal an altar to the Lord, the God of Israel, 31 as Moses the servant of the Lord had commanded the Israelites. He built it according to what is written in the Book of the Law of Moses—an altar of uncut stones, on which no iron tool had been used. On it they offered to the Lord burnt offerings and sacrificed fellowship offerings.
You will find 257 references to stones in the Old Testament, but only one reference to uncut stones. Most of the references up to this point (Joshua) are about stacking stones for an alter or cutting stones or stoning someone or some animal or a stone being used to injure or murder someone. The reference above is unique in the NIV, so I was curious.
First, looking at verse 31, Then Joshua built on Mount Ebal an altar to the Lord, the God of Israel. It was at the foot of Mount Ebal where the great tree of Moreh was at the city of Shechem where Abraham had built an alter as noted in Genesis 12:6-7. There is no description of the alter, only the fact that he built one there as God had instructed him to do. To build an alter with uncut stones dates back to Exodus 20:25, If you make an altar of stones for me, do not build it with dressed stones, for you will defile it if you use a tool on it and Deuteronomy 27 with commands from Moses and the elders, 2 When you have crossed the Jordan into the land the Lord your God is giving you, set up some large stones and coat them with plaster. 3 Write on them all the words of this law when you have crossed over to enter the land the Lord your God is giving you, a land flowing with milk and honey, just as the Lord, the God of your ancestors, promised you. 4 And when you have crossed the Jordan, set up these stones on Mount Ebal, as I command you today, and coat them with plaster. 5 Build there an altar to the Lord your God, an altar of stones. Do not use any iron tool on them.
The purpose of the uncut stones was to show they came from and belonged to God. Another reason why there were to be no cut stones was that the surrounding nations had all kinds of alters to false gods that contained intricate and exotic/erotic designs. Thus, Israel’s alters were distinctive by being obviously unembellished with any design. This would seem to harken to the command not to worship any idol that was handmade whether of wood, iron, gold or silver, or sculpted stone.
Today idols come in many forms other than those mentioned above. Some of them would be money, sports, television, extreme fitness, possessions, positions (ambition), etc. All in place of simply worshipping God who is revealed to us each and every day as Paul wrote in Romans 1:20, For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse. No one has an excuse for worshipping other gods or idols. None.
I often went hiking at John Bryan State Park when I was younger and enjoyed the sight of many large stones, some larger than houses. Never thought to worship them, but they always made me think of our Creator and how He has placed them as so many interesting locations. And they are definitely uncut!
Prayer: Heavenly Father, Thank You for the insight about using uncut stones as they reveal their Creator without any unnecessary input from us. – In Jesus’ Name. Amen.
Riley D. Driver – Pastor
Calvary Chapel of Dayton in Beavercreek