Stopping to worship
Then Joshua built an altar to the Lord, the God of Israel, on Mount Ebal. He followed the commands that Moses the Lord’s servant had written in the Book of Instruction: “Make me an altar from stones that are uncut and have not been shaped with iron tools.” Then on the altar they presented burnt offerings and peace offerings to the Lord. And as the Israelites watched, Joshua copied onto the stones of the altar the instructions Moses had given them. Then all the Israelites—foreigners and native-born alike—along with the elders, officers, and judges, were divided into two groups. One group stood in front of Mount Gerizim, the other in front of Mount Ebal. Each group faced the other, and between them stood the Levitical priests carrying the Ark of the Lord’s Covenant. This was all done according to the commands that Moses, the servant of the Lord, had previously given for blessing the people of Israel. Joshua then read to them all the blessings and curses Moses had written in the Book of Instruction. Every word of every command that Moses had ever given was read to the entire assembly of Israel, including the women and children and the foreigners who lived among them. Joshua 8: 30-35 NLT
The defeat of Ai showed that the resistance in central Canaan had been neutralized. God called on Joshua to provide the Israelites an opportunity to carry out a directive of Moses. “When the Lord your God brings you into the land and helps you take possession of it, you must pronounce the blessing at Mount Gerizim and the curse at Mount Ebal” (Deuteronomy 11:29). At Mount Ebal, Joshua built an altar of uncut stones. This is to prevent them from violating the command from the Ten Commandments; “You must not make for yourself an idol of any kind or an image of anything in the heavens or on the earth or in the sea” (Exodus 20:4). Then Joshua copied onto the stones the instructions Moses gave to the Israelites. “Then Moses and the leaders of Israel gave this charge to the people: “When you cross the Jordan River and enter the land the Lord your God is giving you, set up some large stones and coat them with plaster. Write this whole body of instruction on them when you cross the river 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 (Deuteronomy 27:2–3). The Israelites renewed their commitment to God. They bowed to submit to the authority of God over their lives. They took this difficult journey so that they can have an extended time to worship God. God takes seriously our commitment to offer our worship to Him. Instead of proceeding to the next military venture, the Israelites sought God’s leading in their lives. In the busyness of our lives, we might not lose sight of that which God regards as important, our worship.