Read Deuteronomy 27:1-19
Fast forward from the time when Moses recorded these words to a time when the activities outlined in Deuteronomy 27 and 28 were actually practiced. Imagine you are a Reubenite. You are standing with others from your tribe as well as representatives from five other tribes on Mount Ebal. Across the valley from you in the distance, you see Mount Ebal’s twin sister, Mount Gerazim. Dotting its peak, you make out people who form a crowd from the other six tribes of Israel. What follows is an unusual but moving form of antiphonal/responsive reading in which you participate.
The Levites say, “Cursed is anyone who dishonors their father or mother.”
Together with all those on Mout Ebal, you voice a thunderous response, “Amen!”
Once again, the Levites proclaim, “Cursed is anyone who moves their neighbor’s boundary stone.”
With a volume that seems to shake the mountain, you respond, “Amen!”
Next, the Levites announce, “Cursed is anyone who leads the blind astray on the road.”
As you face your countrymen across the valley, you echo, “Amen!”
Then it is the Levites turn again as they exclaim, “Cursed is anyone who withholds justice from the foreigner, the fatherless or the widow.”
To which you respond with a heartfelt, “Amen!”
As the Levites continue to announce other “curses,” you continue to announce your agreement with these principles of God.
But what is it that you have already embraced? To what have you already committed yourself? You have already placed yourself in line with God’s compassion for people without a voice. You have already agreed to God’s standards of justice for those who are often overlooked. No matter what others do, you will honor your parents and the elderly. No matter what others do, you refuse to take advantage of those around you. No matter what the culture says, you will protect those with disabilities. No matter what the norm is, you will seek justice for internationals, orphans, and widows.
That kind of justice is close to the heart of God and the subject we will explore in the days ahead.