The message of this chapter looks ahead to when the Israelites would enter and dwell in Canaan.
Moses and the elders commanded the Israelites to keep all of God’s commands (27:1) – It is a wonderful blessing for God’s people when their leaders are united and take their stand together on what God says.
Stones and an altar (27:2-8) – After crossing over the Jordan River into the land of promise, Israel was to set up stones and an altar. Moses charged them to write all of the words of God’s law on the stones, and the writing was to be done “very plainly” (27:8). God wanted His words to be “out in the open” and ever on the mind of His people. What good would it do to try and communicate the message of God’s word if it was not done plainly/clearly?
High expectation for the people of God (27:9,10) – As the chosen ones of God, Israel was held to a lofty standard: obey the voice of God at all times. It sounds simple, but when you think about it, that is what life really is all about.
Reading of blessings and cursings (27:11-13) – Inside Canaan, the Israelites were to read blessings on Mount Gerizim and cursings on Mount Ebal. Years after Moses gave this instruction, that is exactly what happened (Joshua 8:33,34).
Twelve matters of being cursed (27:14-26) – The Levites were to educate the people about twelve different cursings. Those who would take part in such forbidden actions would be cursed by God. This is a reminder that not all human activities are acceptable in God’s sight. Some of the specific statements that began with “Cursed is” included the following:
27:16 – “Cursed is the one who treats his father or his mother with contempt.” Are any children listening?
27:18 – “Cursed is the one who makes the blind to wander off the road.” God wanted His people to show common kindness and not take advantage of other people’s shortcomings.
27:19 – One was cursed who perverted the justice due to the stranger, the fatherless, and widows. Such people deserve to be treated fairly like everyone else.
27:20-23 – A variety of sexual relations were forbidden, and for good reason.
27:26 – “Cursed is the one who does not confirm all the words of this law.” It was not enough for people to refrain from participating in those things that Jehovah counted as wrong. The Lord also wanted all Israel to put their “stamp of approval” on what He said about every single one of these matters. Yes, we need to be ready to say “Amen” to all that God says.
— Roger D. Campbell