It is IMPORTANT to ‘RATIFY’ our COVENANT with GOD: And Moses commanded the people on the same day, saying, "These shall stand on Mount Gerizim to bless the people, when you have crossed over the Jordan: Simeon, Levi, Judah, Issachar, Joseph, and Benjamin; and these shall stand on Mount Ebal to curse: Reuben, Gad, Asher, Zebulun, Dan, and Naphtali. And the Levites shall speak with a loud voice and say to all the men of Israel..." (Deut. 27:11-14)
As the Israelites were about to enter the Promised Land, Moses urged them never to forget how they had the privilege to obtain the land of Canaan as their inheritance that God has promised to their great grandfather Abraham many years ago (Gen. 12:1-3). They were a people who had been called out of all the nations (Gen. 12) and out of slavery (Ex. 12). This land was God’s gift to them, and they were never to forget that fact all their lives (vv. 2–3). As they would step into their inheritance, they were to be a holy people who would obey God and be blessed as a result.
However, before they would move into their final destination, they had to ratify their covenant with God that was made 40 years ago at Mt. Horeb by the earlier generation. This would be done through an elaborate ceremony that would serve to reinforce the two alternatives available to the Israelites in their new land. In order to conduct this ceremony, Moses divided the twelve tribes into two equal groups. Six favored tribes were to station themselves on the side of Mount Gerizim and face the valley in order to pronounce the blessings for obedience. The other six tribes were likewise to station themselves on the side of Mount Ebal, face the valley and they were to confirm the curses for disobedience.
The Levites were to stand in the middle of the valley (which was approx. 1600 feet across) that formed a natural amphitheater where a speaker's voice could be heard on both hillsides. Likewise, the shouts of the tribes gathered on Gerizim could be heard on Ebal, and vice versa. A city called Shechem was located between these mountains where the blessings and cursing of the Law were heard, and this city became the ideal site for the nation of Israel to ratify their covenant with God. The Levites were to read the curses in unison, and in response to the readings, all the people were to say, Amen (vs. 26). Thus, the entire nation of Israel was involved in one loud praise service to God!
This ceremony must have been a spectacular sight, where an entire nation of perhaps several million people gathered on the two hills on either side of Shechem, shouting “Amen” as the Levites reviewed the conditions of the Law. As the Levites read off the curses (twelve in all), the people would assent with shouts of “Amen”. Let’s remember that the violations of covenant listed are related to the Mosaic Law already given in the Ten Commandments and cover many aspects of personal life as well. Thus, when the Israelites obeyed the Law, they could live together and enjoy the abundant blessings of God!
It is important for us also to ratify our covenant with God regularly. This can be done by giving thanks for what Christ has already done for us on the cross (Gal. 3:10–14) and what the Holy Spirit is doing daily in our lives (Rom. 8:1–4). The best way for us to ratify our covenant is by presenting our bodies to God as a living sacrifice, so that our minds get renewed in order to do the will of God and what is pleasing in His sight.