Saturday, March 23, 2013

Laying down the Law (Exo 20-24)

So Moses came and told the people all the words of the Lord and all the judgments. And all the people answered with one voice and said, “All the words which the Lord has said we will do.” And Moses wrote all the words of the Lord. And he rose early in the morning, and built an altar at the foot of the mountain, and twelve pillars according to the twelve tribes of Israel. Then he sent young men of the children of Israel, who offered burnt offerings and sacrificed peace offerings of oxen to the Lord. And Moses took half the blood and put it in basins, and half the blood he sprinkled on the altar. Then he took the Book of the Covenant and read in the hearing of the people. And they said, “All that the Lord has said we will do, and be obedient.” And Moses took the blood, sprinkled it on the people, and said, “This is the blood of the covenant which the Lord has made with you according to all these words.”

In our world today we hate the whole idea of someone putting laws and rules that should govern us. We desire to be free to do what we want, when we want and how we want. Yes we strive on freedom of choice. Have you ever allowed a 2 year old enjoy their freedom of choice in your beautiful living room? What do you get? Not a pretty sight I can imagine. Even as a parent your rules and direction for your children are not meant to keep them in bondage but to set them free to live the best, safest life possible. How much more the God who created the universe? His good and perfect plan for His children Israel and for us, will only be realized if we play by His rules and not ours, rules set in place for our good. It is at this place where we enter our story today.

Bible LessonWhat is Biblical Covenant: It is a binding agreement (treaty) presented by God to His created people where he makes certain promises to them if they keep their obligation to Him. It was never a treaty between equals but between God the creator and man His creation. God always made the terms of the agreement, so if man desires to enter in covenant with God, he will voluntarily agrees to God's terms. This mutual agreement was normally accompanied with a sign or reminder to help man and his descendants after him, remember God’s promise and their agreement. Examples are the Naohic Covenant (The Rainbow Gen 6, 18, 19), The Abrahamic Covenant (Circumcision Gen 12,17, Rom4:11-13) Mosaic covenant (the blood of the oxen Exo 19:5, 24:1-8), Davidic Covenant (an everlasting kingship from David’s line 2 Sam 7:12-16, Luke 1:32. Rom 1:3), The New Covenant (The blood of Jesus Christ-By grace through faith in the finished work of Jesus Christ Mk 14:24, Luke 22:20, Heb 8:8-13, 9:15).

The Land of Israel today

In today's reading we arrive at a very important phase where God makes Israel a Nation. To have a nation, you will need a people, land and law. So having the first two, God proceeds in Exodus 20-24 to give the Laws that are to govern His chosen people Israel. These laws reflect God’s perfect character and standard which when obeyed would bring a life of blessing, if obeyed will provide Israel the best life they can have on earth. Their blessed life will cause other nations to desire to be in relationship with Israel’s God. Israel will stand in a unique position to lead other nations into a right relationship with the one true God.
As God commanded, Moses tells the people God’s Laws and judgments, he writes them down and the next morning reads the same laws and judgment to the people again (Exo 19-23). Twice the people of Israel shouted, “All that the Lord has said we will do, and be obedient.”. In the midst of these declarations Moses makes 12 altars representing the 12 tribes of Israel and conducts a peace offering (according to the God’s law Lev 11:7-20) and uses the blood of this peace offering to seal this Covenant (agreement) between God and Israel. So what the Bible calls the Mosaic covenant is established and sealed by the blood of an oxen. The covenant stated that, if Israel obeys all of God’s laws they will be blessed and if they did not they will be cursed (see details in Lev 26).

Reading further in the New Testament we understand that all of God’s law could be summarized by these two laws, as said by Jesus, (Mat 22:37-40)

Jesus said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.”

…and reading further from our story today we know that though Israel shouted "we shall obey", within no time they shouted "make us our own God"(32:1). This chant is not foreign to us, its trend continues in our world today. We likewise shout “make us our own god!”, by wanting human wisdom and knowledge to guide us, we shout "make our own god!" by loving riches and fame, by wanting to explore our own selfish desires rather than the desires of the God who made us. These are our gods today, I see them in my life and I am sure you can see them in yours. We are all guilty of being unfaithful to a God who has been nothing but perfectly loving to us, we all are guilty under his judgment (Rom 3:23).

But did God provide a contingency plan for when His people did not obey Him? Was there a way out of the curse of death, which is now over Israel because of their disobedience, and also over us today who do not obey God’s perfect standard?

Yes He has a way out!!!!, His way out is the best story ever told, it is the rest of the story. I move ahead of the story to tell you God’s plan because it is important. God’s plan to restore man’s relationship with Him and remove the curse of death brought by his disobedience, is this;
A perfect man (fully God and fully man)....Jesus Christ.... will come in our world, who will
    Obey God’s perfect law and
   Give his life as a substitute for all of mankind and
   As a sacrifice for all the sins of mankind in order to satisfy God’s justice-Rom 6:23a, 3:23-28
Who ever believes in this God-man...Jesus Christ... will have
    The curse of death replaced by the gift of everlasting life. 
   A restored relationship forever with the one true God.-(Rom 3:23-25, Rom 5:8-11, Rom 6:23b, Rom 10:13, Rom 10:9-10, John 3:16-21)
      This same God-man...Jesus Christ will come again
   To make all things new and
   Remove completely evil and death from our world-(Rev 20:14, 21:1-8, 22)

Since these statements involve eternal life and eternal death, I suggest you do not just take my word for it, read the other references provided. 
I pray you believe that just like you have rules and standards you want your own children to follow for their good, God your Father, your creator has His own standard for you, so that you may have abundant life (John 10:10, 14:2-3). There is no greater comfort known to man than God’s perfect plan for you as laid out here and in more detail in the Bible. I pray these words will not be foolishness to you but that they will be the very power of life that you have been crying for (1 Cor 1:18). I hope as you continue reading your bible, assisted weekly by this blog you will come to a place of belief or renewed faith. Until next time…read, share and be comforted, as I leave you with this song with prayer for you.  
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Bible lesson notes are taken from Nelson's New illustrated Bible Commentary & Zondervan Illustrated Bible Dictionary.

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