2000-09-23 - The Five Books of Moses
Messiah: His Final Call to Israel Series, Part 5
In our studies so far we have gone over a number of mountain peaks in Jewish history. A few weeks ago we started to discuss the giving of the law. We began this series because we feel it is a very important thing to understand just how real peace will be established in Israel. We felt it absolutely necessary to briefly cover a bit of Israeli history so that we may comprehend the truth regarding God's plan for peace in Israel directly from His Word. The five books of Moses--Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy cover a little more than 2,500 years of human history.
The book of Genesis recounts the creation of the universe, the catastrophe which wrecked the earth, and the work of reconstruction which made the earth habitable for man whom God created for His glory (Genesis chapters 1 and 2). Genesis has well been called the Book of Beginnings. The beginnings of the material universe, the beginnings of life on earth, the highest of which is man, the beginnings of Satan's nefarious activities, the beginnings of sin and sickness, the beginnings of the shema of redemption, and the beginnings of Hebrew history and God's plan for the Jewish people.
The book of Exodus takes up the story where Genesis leaves off. The word exodus means "a going forth." In this connection it means the going forth of the Hebrew people from Egypt. Since God sent Moses to deliver the Hebrew people from Egyptian bondage, Exodus has appropriately been called The Book of Redemption. The principal events of the book of Exodus eddy around the giving of the law at Sanai and the erection of the tabernacle.
The third book of Moses, Leviticus, has been called The Priestly Manual, because in it instructions are given regarding the sacrifices and worship to be conducted at the tabernacle. A portion of it has been called The Book of Holiness. In this section special emphasis is laid upon the clean lives of the worshippers.
Numbers, the fourth book of Moses, recounts Israel's trek through the wilderness for forty years. Since this book recounts many of Israel's failures, it has been called The Book of Backslidings. In order to appreciate the book of Numbers, one should very carefully study Psalm 78 and 106.
Deuteronomy, as the name signifies, the fifth book of Moses, is a repetition of the law plus some new revelations. The law was given to the generation that came out of Egypt. During the forty years of wilderness wanderings, there arose a new generation. Especially for the benefit of this new generation was the law repeated by Moses just before his death.
Here and there throughout the five books of Moses one finds certain laws and legal requirements, given as the occasion demands. The same system is true concerning the sacrificial system of offerings. From Genesis chapter 3, there flows throughout the five books of Moses a stream of sacrificial blood. What is the significance of this blood in the light of Jeremiah 7:21-26?
Thus saith Jehovah of hosts, the God of Israel: Add your burnt-offerings unto your sacrifices, and eat ye flesh. 22 For I spake not unto your fathers, nor commanded them in the day that I brought them out of the land of Egypt, concerning burnt-offerings or sacrifices: 23 but this thing I commanded them, saying, Hearken unto my voice, and I will be your God, and ye shall be my people; and walk ye in all the way that I command you, that it may be well with you. 24 But they hearkened not, nor inclined their ear, but walked in their own counsels and in the stubbornness of their evil heart, and went backward, and not forward. 25 Since the day that your fathers came forth out of the land of Egypt unto this day, I have sent unto you all my servants the prophets, daily rising up early and sending them: 26 yet they hearkened not unto me, nor inclined their ear, but made their neck stiff: they did worse than their fathers. Jer 7:21-26
Jeremiah declares that God did not speak to Israel concerning burnt offering and sacrifices when He brought their fathers out of Egypt. An examination of the law of Moses seems to show that there is a contradiction between Jeremiah's hyperbolic stating and the sober statements of Moses. There is not. For after stating that God had not spoken to them concerning burnt-offerings, Jeremiah declares that God had commanded them to hearken to His voice. These facts show that Jeremiah's means that obedience is better than sacrifice: "And Samuel said, Hath Jehovah as great delight in burnt-offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of Jehovah?" (1 Sam. 15:22), "For I desire goodness, and not sacrifice; and the knowledge of God more than burnt-offerings" (Hos. 6:6). The full significance of these statements relative to offerings is clearly seen in the following quotation:
Psalm 40:5-8 Many, O Jehovah my God, are the wonderful works which thou hast done, And thy thoughts which are to us-ward; They cannot be set in order unto thee; If I would declare and speak of them, They are more than can be numbered. 6 Sacrifice and offering thou hast no delight in; Mine ears hast thou opened: Burnt-offering and sin-offering hast thou not required. 7 Then said I, Lo, "I am come; In the roll of the book it is written of me: 8 I delight to do thy will, O my God; Yea, thy law is within my heart."
In the light of the facts just presented it is clear that the system of animal sacrifices commanded by Moses could not cleanse from sin. They had symbolic and typical meaning. Scriptural proof of this position is found in Isaiah 53:10 "Yet it pleased Jehovah to bruise him; he hath put him to grief: when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of Jehovah shall prosper in his hand." This verse read in the light of its context shows that this servant of Jehovah, the Messiah of Israel, pours out His blood to make atonement for sin.
At Sinai God spoke audibly to Israel, giving them the ten words, the Ten Commandments, which are found in Exodus chapter 20, and in Deuteronomy chapter 5. These commands are basic in the government of God and in the government of men. They fall into two categories: man in relation to God and man in relation to his fellow man. On one occasion a lawyer asked Jesus what was the great commandment. He replied saying,
Matthew 22:37-40 And he said unto him, "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. 38 This is the great and first commandment. 39 And a second like unto it is this, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. 40 On these two commandments the whole law hangeth, and the prophets."
According to this statement, every utterance of Moses and the Prophets hangs upon these two laws. The one, therefore, who loves God as here stated, and who loves his neighbor as himself has fulfilled everything that Moses and the Prophets commanded. In other words, there is not a single utterance of Moses or of any of the prophets that can be fulfilled except by genuine love. Every statement of Moses and the Prophets is seen, when analyzed, to be an expression in some way of genuine love.
Since the essence of the revelation of Moses is the love of the individual for God and for his fellow man, the outward form of expressions or symbols may vanish or be abolished, but the reality remains. In the light of these basic principles, one can readily understand how the Lord allowed the elaborate ceremonial worship and temple services to disappear from Israel. Since it was by divine providence that the beautiful ritualistic services of Israel were abolished, one can understand the following statement by the Apostle Paul.
II Corinthians 3:7-18 But if the ministration of death, written, and engraven on stones, came with glory, so that the children of Israel could not look steadfastly upon the face of Moses for the glory of his face; which glory was passing away: 8 how shall not rather the ministration of the spirit be with glory? 9 For if the ministration of condemnation hath glory, much rather doth the ministration of righteousness exceed in glory. 10 For verily that which hath been made glorious hath not been made glorious in this respect, by reason of the glory that surpasseth. 11 For if that which passeth away was with glory, much more that which remaineth is in glory. 12 Having therefore such a hope, we use great boldness of speech, 13 and are not as Moses, who put a veil upon his face, that the children of Israel should not look steadfastly on the end of that which was passing away: 14 but their minds were hardened: for until this very day at the reading of the old covenant the same veil remaineth, it not being revealed to them that it is done away in Christ. 15 But unto this day, whensoever Moses is read, a veil lieth upon their heart. 16 But whensoever it shall turn to the Lord, the veil is taken away. 17 Now the Lord is the Spirit: and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. 18 But we all, with unveiled face beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are transformed into the same image from glory to glory, even as from the Lord the Spirit.
In His Service,