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: ‘Cursed is the one who makes a carved or molded image, an abomination to the Lord, the work of the hands of the craftsman, and sets it up in secret.’ And all the people shall answer and say, ‘Amen!’ ‘Cursed is the one who treats his father or his mother with contempt.’ “And all the people shall say, ‘Amen!’ (Deuteronomy 27:11-16)
And All The People Shall Say Amen
It has been a little over forty years since the nation of Israel was freed from the captivity of the Egyptians. Moses is recounting the law before the people as final preparations are made to begin the conquest of the promised land. The great prophet who guided the people through the Red Sea and to the giving of the Law at Sinai sharing in their punishment of forty years of wandering is now facing his own death at the age of one hundred and twenty. He will not be permitted to enter the land of promise. His eye is not dim nor strength abated but because of his failure to give glory to God, he will only see a glimpse of the land flowing with milk and honey. Before this next generation of God’s people begins the new day of conquest, Moses spends a great deal of time rehearsing the law before the minds of the nation. Using two mountains are parabolic illustrations of the goodness and wrath of God, six tribes stand on Mount Ebal and six tribes stand on Mount Gerizim. The Levites spoke with a loud voice and pronounced twelve laws before the people they were required to obey. Sins such as idolatry, cursing father and mother, moving a neighbor’s landmark, disregarding the blind, perverting justice for the stranger, fatherless and the widow is forbidden. Sexual sins such as incest, bestiality are an abomination. Attacking a neighbor secretly and taking a bribe will be met with the judgment of the Lord. Moses declares that all those who do not confirm all the words of the law by obeying them will be cursed. At each occasion the law was pronounced, the people were to say, “Amen.” Twelve times this is repeated in the text. Each time the law was pronounced the people had to say, “Amen.” If they did not confirm the word of the Lord they would be accursed.
God required the people to answer with a confirmation that His word was true, righteous and just. The Lord did not give laws to amuse Himself or to give a man tasks to perform without requiring them to acknowledge the justice of His word. The laws pronounced on Ebal and Gerizim were an illustration of the nature of God’s law demanding the people to acknowledge the sovereign right of God to rule their lives. These were not blessings but curses. They had to answer for the consequence of their actions by affirming with “Amen.” It is easy to understand saying amen to blessings, but how could the people say it to curses? They felt and acknowledged the fairness of the word of God. The response was not a mere profession of faith in the truth of the curses, but an open declaration that they were just, true and certain. Their willingness to say amen was the expression of deep conviction, the approval of a law which brands sin with a curse. It made them accountable to the word of the Lord and He enjoined on them a commitment to keep the law. If they broke His law and went against His commandments their own words would condemn them because they had agreed with the word of the Lord by saying, “Amen.”
Confession is as much a part of salvation as obedience to the law. What God required of the people was nothing more than what He has commanded of all men and that is to confess with the mouth allegiance to His word. In the covenant of Christ, it is with the mouth confession is made unto salvation as part of the scheme of redeeming man to show the accountability of man’s obedience to God. Ignorance will never be used as an excuse by those who stand before the Lord in the great day of judgment. The testimony of God is clearly seen in the invisible attributes of the Creator and all men acknowledge the greatness of His creation. When the heart is turned to obey the will of the Lord confession is the verity of an honest heart confessing the laws of God as true, righteous and just. Allegiance is established in the form of saying “Amen” like the children of Israel and no man can be saved in Christ without the utterance of their affirmation to the word of God. There will be a curse upon those who do not confirm all the words of the law of Christ if they refuse to obey His will. Loving Jesus requires keeping His commandments. And all the people shall say, “Amen.”