Story of the Law
2 Timothy 2:2 – Hear, Entrust, Teach, Multiply!
In the third month after their release from slavery in Egypt, the Israelites arrived at the foot of Mt. Sinai, the mountain of God. In many instances, important mountains referenced in the Bible represent a kingdom or a king’s rule. In this case, God was on the mountain top, and the twelve tribes were camped around it below. The Lord is King, the Israelites His subjects.
After the Hebrews had set up camp, Moses climbed the mountain where God had first commissioned him. Moses acted as the “go-between,” the mediator between God and His Chosen People. Can you think of someone else who is the mediator between the Father and the children of God today? That’s right. It is Jesus! Moses’ role in Exodus pointed to the position of Jesus, both in His earthly life and now in heaven. Moses was a “type” that hinted at Jesus’ ultimate mediatorial work.
On the mountain, the Lord told Moses to return to the people below and make them an offer they couldn’t refuse.
If you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant, you shall be My own possession among all the peoples, for all the earth is MIne, and you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation. – Exodus 19:5-6
That’s a pretty sweet deal, right? All the people with one voice declared, “All that the Lord commands we will do!”
Mosaic Law – a Conditional Covenant
Look closely at the sentence structure of the verses quoted above. Notice the words “if” and “then.” If Israel obeyed the commands of the covenant God was giving her, they would then possess a privileged position over all the earth’s people, including the Egyptians. God’s Chosen People had no idea what they had just signed up for.
Think back to the one command given to Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden (see Genesis 2:16-17). How did they do? Not so good. They failed miserably! While they deserved immediate death, God provided a solution to their broken relationship with Him. The death of innocent animals and the covering He made from their skins was God’s gracious solution to the first couple’s sin problem.
The covenant God established with Israel contained not one, not ten, but 613 specific commandments. Bundled together, they are known as “the” Law. If someone broke one of the commandments, they were guilty of breaking the entire Law!
Theologians have divided the 613 commandments into three categories. The moral commandments instructed the people how they were to maintain personal purity. Social commandments instructed them on how to live together as a community. How they were to worship their Creator was the object of the ceremonial commandments. The Ten Commandments are a summary of the other 603 commandments.
Just like God knew that Adam and Eve would fail in keeping one rule, He also knew Israel would never be able to obey 613 rules. His solution? The sacrificial system at the heart of the ceremonial commandments.
Context, Context, Context
When studying a portion of the Bible, one of the first questions everyone should ask is, “Who was it given/written to?” In the case of the Mosaic Law, that was the people known today as the Jews. The Sinai Covenant commandments, another name for the Mosiac Covenant, were given to Israel, not the other people of the world. They apply to Israel and no one else. For that, we all should be grateful.
Then what was the purpose of a law code that no one could keep? Only one person, in all of history, was able to fulfill all the Law demands. Who was He?
Think about this series like the box-top of an 80 piece puzzle. If you have been casually skipping through what interests you in the Talk Thru the Bible lessons, there are likely some missing pieces in your overall Bible knowledge. That’s OK. But don’t move forward until you correct the problem. All you have to do is go back and start over. Don’t skip a single lesson thinking you know it all. Nobody knows it all!
The accompanying video details how the Law was given to Israel. Watch it now.
Talk Thru the Bible – OT Lessons
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Read Exodus 13:1-24:18
- Israel arrived at Mt. Sinai in the third month following their release from slavery in Egypt. Moses returned to the mountain to speak with the Lord again.
- A conditional covenant was to be offered to the Hebrew people. With its 613 individual commandments, the Mosaic covenant was the governing constitution of a new nation, Israel.
- The Law was one single law code comprised of many commandments. But, if only one was broken, the whole Law had been disobeyed.
- At the heart of the Mosaic Law was the sacrificial system. The shed blood of innocent animals temporarily covered the sin of those who sinned but believed in the blood’s redemptive power.
- Read Exodus 21-23. List the things God commanded the people to do, followed by the things they were not to do.
- Try to summarize the main points of Exodus 24.
- Who was mentioned by name in Exodus 24? Why are they important?
- How could you illustrate that breaking one law of the Mosaic Covenant amounted to the breaking of all 613 commandments?
Make an “I will” Statement
- Based on your study of Passover, what will you think, say, or do differently starting today?
- Who will you tell your “I will” statement to that will hold you accountable.