Antiphonal

 

I like antiphonal speaking or singing in worship.  That is, I like when the pastor and the people or a choir, sing or chant a psalm back and forth.  It’s a dialogue in song.

I believe I came across the first use of antiphonal in the Bible.  In Deuteronomy 27 Moses and the elders directed the people that when they crossed over the Jordan into the promised land, six tribes were to stand on Mt. Gerizim and six tribes stand on Mt. Ebal. These two mountains are directly across from one another with a valley in between.  Those on Mt. Gerizim were to call out the blessings of the Lord, if they faithfully obeyed the voice of the Lord and carried out his will.  They would be blessed in all things in their coming in and going out.

Those who were on Mt Ebal were to call out the curses of the Lord if they were unfaithful.  If they were unfaithful, then the curses would come upon them and overtake them.  Nothing will go right for them and they will end up being carried out of the land.

Joshua 8 tells us that this antiphonal calling out of the blessings and curses on the two mountains was carried out under Joshua in a covenant renewal service.  In the valley between the mountains the priests placed the Ark of Covenant, the sign of the presence of the Lord in their midst.  Everyone was present, men, women, children and sojourners living among them.

When we look to Jesus on the cross on Mt Calvary we see these blessings and curses gathered on one mountain in Jesus, who is all of Israel wrapped into one person.  He suffers the curses in our behalf and he bestows God’s blessings upon us.

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