God is Setting All Things Right. So I am Blogging Through the Bible in a Year.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

February 5 - Exodus 19-21: God Gives the Foundation for the Law of Moses

Today’s Reading: Exodus 19-21

The Message

English Standard Version

Today's reading begins the laws section of the Law of Moses (the first five books of the Old Testament are called the Pentateuch or the Law, but everything before today has been narrative). For the most part, the summaries will only touch on each topic, since attempting to summarize each law would take more than 100 words each day.

This section is notorious for ending many people's attempts at reading the Bible through in a year. This is the major reason I wanted to do the blog. The Law of Moses earns a lot of respect when read as a whole. It is when we take singular laws out that it become antiquated. So keep reading along with me as I guide us through the sea of detail known as the Law of Moses.

Thought to Guide Your Reading

God begins the Law of Moses by reminding them who He is.

Summary in 100 Words or Less

Three months later, God reminded the people, "I am the god who took you out of Egypt and your slavery. If you obey Me, you will be My Chosen People and I will be your god. You will be a holy nation of priests.
Israel accepted God's invitation.
God began their instruction, "When I come to you, do not step on this mountain or die." God made Moses return to make sure everyone knew where the border was.
God gave the Ten Commandments, laws regarding slaves, and laws about the death of a human or a work animal.

How Today’s Reading Contributes to the Gospel: God is Setting All Things Right

God prefaces all of the laws with a reminder—I brought you out of Egypt.

A few years ago, when I began reading the Bible as a whole instead of a conglomeration of verses, I went back and looked at the Ten Commandments. What I had never read before was this part, "I am God, your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of a life of slavery" (20:2, The Message). What a revelation! God is not some random deity wanna-be who wows them with magic tricks. God is the one who took them out of their slavery! Before God tells you what to do, he reminds you of how he has earned your trust. This is essential for any person teaching the scripture. We have no right to teach how the Bible should inform life until we show why God is worthy of leading us.

God will make Israel a great nation—if they obey Him.

Make sure you catch that part:
If you will listen obediently to what I say and keep my covenant, out of all peoples you'll be my special treasure. The whole Earth is mine to choose from, but you're special: a kingdom of priests, a holy nation. (19:5-6, The Message). 
God could have chosen any nation in the world. He could have chosen the Chinese, the Mayans, Incas, Navajo, or one of the many African tribes. But he did not. He chose the descendents of Abraham. This promise that they would be his special treasure was predicated on one important return: they had to be obedient to God. The church today can only be God’s special treasure if they listen to God and keep their promise to obey. Unfortunately, this part was neglected and Israel would eventually forget their part of the covenant. Sometimes I am afraid the church does the same.

God made Moses return to the camp just to make sure no one would accidently step on it.

What a strange thing for God to do. Many people try to say God is a vengeful god in the Old Testament. All he wants to do is punish his people. But that is not true at all! Just to make sure no one would be executed God makes Moses return from the mountain to reinforce the barrier. What an awesome God!

The Ten Commandments provide the foundation for the entire law.

The Ten Commandments are the base requirements for setting all things right on this earth. The laws together could serve as the entire law, but God will flesh them out more in the books to come.

The first part of law he fleshed out is slavery.

The Ten Commandments set the backbone of the entire Law of Moses. The next section—the first part God explains in detail—instructs what to do with slaves. (Remember, slavery at that time was not based on race as in the USA.) Slaves were to be treated with respect and not treated as mere property. You may not agree with the laws today (especially if the beaten slave lives for a few days the owner does not need to be punished) but for the time it gave radically more worth to slaves, women, and the poor than any law of its time.

God's laws on murder gives humanity to the victim and grace to the accidental culprit.

Notice that if the person accidently kills another the punishment was not death. If their animal accidently kills another person they were not punished with death. However, if the death was premeditated or the animals was known to be dangerous the punishment was death. Humans are made in God’s image. Anyone who kills another person is worthy of death. God’s law provides stiff penalties for evil acts but grace toward accidents. If only our laws could be nuanced in this way and our leaders wise enough to see the differences.

What did you see reading this passage? Questions? Comments? Leave a comment in the section below or on the Sonoma Mountain Parkway Church of Christ Facebook page.

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