Joshua Reads The Book of Instructions

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 8:34–35 (NLT)

Yesterday we saw something beautiful and powerful. While the people were still unsettled in the land, Joshua built an altar for all that God had done, was doing, and will do. And then, after the altar was finished, Joshua reaffirmed the covenant of the Lord with the people by reading them “all the blessings and curses Moses had written in the Book of Instruction.”

An important thing to note here is that the Book of Instruction is the Torah. According to Joseph Benson, “There was not a word which Joshua read not . . . Therefore, he read not the blessings and curses only, as some think, but the whole law, as the manner was when all Israel, men and women, were assembled together.” That’s right friends, Joshua read to the people the entirety of Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy before all the people . . . children included. 

So why did Joshua do this? He was ensuring all the people, young and old, understood the Mosaic covenant made between God and His people in Exodus 19–24. 

Named after Moses, this was a conditional covenant, something scholars refer to as a Suzerain-Vassal treaty, which contained three parts: 1) the preamble, which illustrates to the vassal how much the Suzerain has done to protect and establish the vassal, who therefore owes submission and allegiance to the Suzerain, 2) the stipulations, outlining in detail what the vassal is required to do, and 3) an outline of the blessings and curses of the Suzerain, based on the vassal’s faithfulness to the stipulations.

In this covenant, the people were responsible to follow the Law, and in return, God promised to abundantly bless and protect Israel (Exodus 19:5–8). But if the people failed to follow the Law and honor the Lord, the blessing and protection would be removed from them. Joshua wanted the people to remember their duty to the Lord who had saved them and lifted them up so they wouldn’t fall away and break the covenant, especially after what took place with Achan. 

So, why is this important for us today? Because, as Christians, we are under a covenant with the Lord. But unlike the Mosaic covenant, our covenant does not depend on our faithfulness to upholding any stipulations; it depends fully on the completed work of Christ Jesus! We received this treaty when we repented of our sins, received Christ, and chose to follow Him. Friends, we are not vassals—we are sons and daughters, eternally and unconditionally loved. And as fully known, accepted, and beloved children, our only response to the work of Christ in us should be obedience, devotion, and love! Not because it’s required of us to continue in the blessings of the covenant, but because of the overflow of Christ in us, the hope of glory!

DIG: Why did Joshua read the entire Law and confirm the Mosaic covenant with the people at this time?

DISCOVER: How does this covenant differ from the new covenant? 

DO: Read 2 Corinthians 3 today and spend time in worship because of what the Lord Jesus has done for us.

About the Author

Danny Saavedra

Danny Saavedra has served on the staff of Calvary since 2012, managing the Calvary Devotional and digital discipleship resources. He has a Master of Arts in Pastoral Counseling and Master of Divinity in Pastoral Ministry from Liberty Theological Seminary. His wife Stephanie, son Jude, and daughter Zoe share a love of Star Wars, good food, having friends over for dinner, and studying the Word together as a family.  

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