When it was told to Jotham, he went and stood on top of Mount Gerizim and cried aloud and said to them, “Listen to me, you leaders of Shechem, that God may listen to you…
if you then have acted in good faith and integrity with Jerubbaal and with his house this day, then rejoice in Abimelech, and let him also rejoice in you. But if not, let fire come out from Abimelech and devour the leaders of Shechem and Beth-millo; and let fire come out from the leaders of Shechem and from Beth-millo and devour Abimelech.” And Jotham ran away and fled and went to Beer and lived there, because of Abimelech his brother.
Thus God returned the evil of Abimelech, which he committed against his father in killing his seventy brothers. And God also made all the evil of the men of Shechem return on their heads, and upon them came the curse of Jotham the son of Jerubbaal. (Judges 9:7, 56-57 ESV)
Jotham was the youngest and remnant brother of Jerubbaal’s (Gideon) 70 sons. Filled with the Spirit of Prophecy, he spoke retribution and rebuke to the leaders of Shechem and wicked Abimelech from Mount Gerizim.
Gerizim was the Mount of Blessing when Israel took her covenant vows after first entering the land of Canaan. On Gerizim stood the tribes born of Rachel and Leah. In contrast Mount Ebal was the Mount of Cursing, the mount upon which the tribes born of Jacob’s hand maidens stood. All this was in accordance with Moses instructions to Israel that they were to declare the blessings of the covenant from Gerizim and the curses from Ebal when they entered the promised land under the leadership of Joshua.
Amazingly, when the covenant vows were taken, the altar of sacrifice was positioned on Mount Ebal. The book Patriarchs and Prophets gives insight into this often overlooked detail:
According to the directions given by Moses, a monument of great stones was erected upon Mount Ebal. Upon these stones, previously prepared by a covering of plaster, the law was inscribed — not only the ten precepts spoken from Sinai and engraved on the tables of stone, but the laws communicated to Moses, and by him written in a book. Beside this monument was built an altar of unhewn stone, upon which sacrifices were offered unto the Lord. The fact that the altar was set up on Mount Ebal, the mountain upon which the curse was put, was significant, denoting that because of their transgressions of God’s law, Israel had justly incurred His wrath, and that it would be at once visited, but for the atonement of Christ, represented by the altar of sacrifice (PP 500.2).
Praise God for our Savior who stands with the cursed. Jesus was a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. He became sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God (see 2 Corinthians 5:21). Paul also tells us in Galatians 3:13-14 that Jesus became a curse for us that the blessing of Abraham might come upon the Gentiles in Christ Jesus… i.e. that the blessing of Abraham might come upon all outsiders who put their faith in the One descended from heaven… the One descended from the sacred inner council of Father, Son, and Spirit.
This One declared, Here I am, send me. I will take my stand with the outsiders on Mount Ebal, the Mount of the Curse, the Mount of Crucifixion.
But the irony doesn’t end at Ebal, for it is at Gerizim that Jotham declares: “Let fire come out from Abimelech and devour the leaders of Shechem and Beth-millo; and let fire come out from the leaders of Shechem and from Beth-millo and devour Abimelech” (Judges 9:20).
Here we see the outcome of every man doing “what is right in his own eyes” (Judges 21:25). The Mount of Blessing becomes the Mount of Cursing. When we choose to have it our way, our blessings become a curse. And the only way out of the insanity is to turn our gaze from Gerizim to Ebal; to look away from the blessings we have perverted to the Blessed Curse God has provided… the Christ of the Cross. O Blessed Ebal. Glorious Golgotha. There on the Mountain of the Curse hangs the Blessing of Abraham.
What a Mighty God we serve… He says to us…
“You want to choose the way of sin. You want to have it Your way. You want to turn the Mount of Blessing into a place of cursing; so be it.
I will stand on the other side. I will make my abode on Ebal. I will establish my altar on the mount of the curse. And when you have turned every blessing I ever gave you into a curse… when you find yourself weeping on Gerizim’s summit because of the sin, sorrow, and destruction you have brought upon yourself… all you will have to do is look across the way to Ebal and see the smoke of the ascending sacrifice… all you have to do is look across the way to Golgotha and see the Blessing of Abraham… the One who became a curse for you… Look across the way and live my child. Look across to the Blessed Curse and receive the righteousness of God. Look, and Live!"
Prayer: What an assurance for my broken heart. What grace for my sin stained soul. Jesus I love You. Today I have seen Your glorious splendor. Today I have experienced the powerful paradox of Your wondrous love. You are all that I need. I receive the blessing of Your shed blood… the blessing of Your Spirit poured out. Fill me Lord. Bless me. Be my all.
Pastor James Moon
Seventh-day Adventist Church