Sunday, April 3, 2016

Mystery Jerusalem Rising Ch 6 - The Purpose of the Mosaic Covenant

The children of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob were lacking in any formal governmental structure prior to Moses. While they had the heritage and promises of Abraham that they would be a nation, they lacked the necessary structure to possess and maintain sovereignty over the land they were promised. God sent moses to provide this for His people. The Mosaic Covenant provides for a number of things God's people needed including a robust  legal structure. This legal structure would train up or "schoolmaster" an immature people. The Mosaic Covenant also makes provisions for rollover into the New Covenant, including  prophesying the coming of a  "Prophet like unto Moses" and the Coming King, and  the provision of the eternal Priesthood of Melchizedek. For these reasons the Mosaic Covenant is a uniquely breachable covenant. This chapter will displose further detail concerning the purpose of the Mosaic Covenant.

The Mosaic Covenant provides a legal structure.
We read in John 1:17 that “the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.” However, we have seen that both law and grace were manifested in the Old Testament prior to Moses.

God’s law existed in the Old Testament prior to Moses. It only by understanding that God’s law pre-existed Moses that we can explain why Adam was punished as a transgressor when he disobeyed God in the Garden of Eden. It only by understanding that God’s law preexisted Moses that we can explain that God’s justice demanded a world-wide flood on the earth in Noah’s time. It only by understanding that God’s law preexisted Moses that we can make any sense out of the discourse found in the book of Job.

God’s grace also existed in the Old Testament prior to Moses. We read in Gen , that Noah found “grace in the eyes of the Lord.” The fact that God credited Abraham faith as righteousness can only be explained in terms of God’s grace (Gen 15:6). Paul appeals to Abraham’s faith-based righteousness as an Old Testament argument for salvation by grace in Romans 4.
“What shall we say then that Abraham our father, as pertaining to the flesh, hath found? For if Abraham were justified by works, he hath whereof to glory; but not before God. For what saith the scripture? ‘Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness.’ Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt. But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.Even as David also describeth the blessedness of the man, unto whom God imputeth righteousness without works, Saying, ‘Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered. Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin.’

 “Cometh this blessedness then upon the circumcision only, or upon the uncircumcision also?for we say that faith was reckoned to Abraham for righteousness. How was it then reckoned? when he was in circumcision, or in uncircumcision? Not in circumcision, but in uncircumcision.” 
-Romans 4:1-10

If both law and grace both pre-existed Moses, then what does John 1:17 mean when it says that “the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.”  It is referring to the establishment of a governmental structure of law and grace. Moses established the first governmental structure for God’s law and Jesus Christ established the governmental structure for God’s grace*.

Prior to the institution of government in Gen 9:6, where God commanded that murderers be executed by man’s hand, there was no government. Between Noah and Moses, governments simply followed the wishes of the leader without reference to God’s law. Government simply became another tool for rebellion against God. The advent of government created the environment for the rise of Mystery Babylon at the Tower of Babel1; God responded by splitting up the world on the basis of language. Moses delivered to the world the first governmental structure based on God’s law.

The governmental structure delivered by Moses has three basic levels of authority: ecclesiastical authority, civil authority, and the authority of the conscience. There are definite spheres in which these operate with a separation of powers. This means that the priests do not have authority over secular matters or matters of conscience; secular authorities do not have authority to administer the priesthood or dominate the conscience. While the authority of the conscience is supreme in the heart, subject only to God, the ability to act upon it in spheres controlled by the priests or the elders may be restricted.

Ecclesiastical authority is vested in the Priesthood of Aaron. The priests have authority over the temple, the sacrificial system, and determinations of ceremonial uncleanness. In these matters, the determinations of the priests are binding upon the people (Ex28;Num3; Deuteronomy 17:8-12).

Civil authority is vested in a system of elders. Elders enforce civil laws and settle disputes. It was the job of the elders to resolve tort disputes and adjudicate criminal complaints on the basis of precepts found in the Law of Moses (Numbers 11; Deuteronomy 17:8-12). The authority of the elders in these matters is binding upon the people.
“I am not able to bear all this people alone, because it is too heavy for me. And if thou deal thus with me, kill me, I pray thee, out of hand, if I have found favour in thy sight; and let me not see my wretchedness. And the Lord said unto Moses, Gather unto me seventy men of the elders of Israel, whom thou knowest to be the elders of the people, and officers over them; and bring them unto the tabernacle of the congregation, that they may stand there with thee. And I will come down and talk with thee there: and I will take of the spirit which is upon thee, and will put it upon them; and they shall bear the burden of the people with thee, that thou bear it not thyself alone.”
- Numbers 11:14-17

When Moses complained the burden of legal jurisprudence was too heavy for him to do by himself, God told him to anoint the elders to administer the law. These men would not make decisions concerning the temple or ceremonial cleanness, but would administer secular matters of the law.

The authority of the conscience is vested in the heart of the individual. The conscience has authority to determine belief. There are three passages that explicitly designate the conscience as the arbiter of belief.
“Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD: And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with allthy soul, and with all thy might.And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thineheart:And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk ofthem when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by theway, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up.And thou shalt bind them for a sign upon thine hand, and they shall beas frontlets between thine eyes. And thou shalt write them upon the posts of thy house, and on thygates.”  - Deuteronomy 6:4-9

“For this commandment which I command thee this day, it is not hidden from thee, neither is it far off. It is not in heaven, that thou shouldest say, Who shall go up for us to heaven, and bring it unto us, that we may hear it, and do it? Neither is it beyond the sea, that thou shouldest say, Who shall go over the sea for us, and bring it unto us, that we may hear it, and do it? But the word is very nigh unto thee, in thy mouth, and in thy heart, that thou mayest do it.”
-Deuteronomy 30:11-14

“And Moses wrote this law, and delivered it unto the priests the sons of Levi, which bare the ark of the covenant of the Lord, and unto all the elders of Israel. And Moses commanded them, saying, At the end of every seven years, in the solemnity of the year of release, in the feast of tabernacles, When all Israel is come to appear before the Lord thy God in the place which he shall choose, thou shalt read this law before all Israel in their hearing. Gather the people together, men and women, and children, and thy stranger that is within thy gates, that they may hear, and that they may learn, and fear the Lord your God, and observe to do all the words of this law: And that their children, which have not known any thing, may hear, and learn to fear the Lord your God, as long as ye live in the land whither ye go over Jordan to possess it.”
-Deuteronomy 31:9-13

Deuteronomy 6:4-9 tells us that the Word of God is in the hearts of the people; teaching authority is vested in the parents, not the priests and not the elders.Ch 30:11-14 tells the people that they do not need to call on someone in the enlightened elite to fetch it for us; it is in the heart upon people hearing and meditating upon it. Deuteronomy 31:9-13 teaches us that Moses wrote down all of the law to make knowledge of the law available to everyone. There is no secret law known to only a few people.

While the Priests and the Elders would assume a teaching role in promoting knowledge of the law in the life of the community, neither of these groups were given authority to bind the conscience. It is the conscience that has ultimate authority to determine belief, subject only to God. It is also in the conscience that man has communion with God.

This three part legal structure exists in some form in all ages of God’s governance over his people, and every apostasy or departure from God involves an imbalance in this structure. Within this structure are checks and balances that act as a bulwark against apostasy. It was the job of the Priests to ensure that the temple functions were administered in accordance to God’s commands. The Elders insured that secular society and civil transactions were administered in according with God’s law. The conscience is the storehouse of essential morality and acted as a check to institutional apostasy on the part of the priests and elders.

In the subsequent history of God’s people, we will discover that apostasy was frequent. We will see that it was not only numerous individuals that departed from God, but often institutions also entered into apostasy. God would deliver His words to the consciences of faithful servant and they would deliver words of prophecy to bring the people of God back to the correct path. Sometimes the people listened to the prophet; other times the prophet would proclaim words of judgment followed by chastisement6 from God. There is more information on how this process works in “True Prophets Vs the Profitable Prophets.”

The Mosaic Covenant schoolmasters an immature people.

Galatians 3:19-4:5 says that the people of God were under the law in the same way that a minor child is under tutors and legal guardians until the “age of majority.” Another way of expressing this concept is to describe the relationship of God is that of a Father to his children. Heb 12 describes our relationship to God precisely in those terms.

The concept of God as the ultimate Father with the people of God is not unique to the New Testament. The Law of Moses speaks of the relationship of God to His people as a love relationship:
“The Lord did not set his love upon you, nor choose you, because ye were more in number than any people; for ye were the fewest of all people:  But because the Lord loved you, and because he would keep the oath which he had sworn unto your fathers, hath the Lord brought you out with a mighty hand, and redeemed you out of the house of bondmen, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt.

“Know therefore that the Lord thy God, he is God, the faithful God, which keepeth covenant and mercy with them that love him and keep his commandments to a thousand generations; And repayeth them that hate him to their face, to destroy them: he will not be slack to him that hateth him, he will repay him to his face. Thou shalt therefore keep the commandments, and the statutes, and the judgments, which I command thee this day, to do them.  Wherefore it shall come to pass, if ye hearken to these judgments, and keep, and do them, that the Lord thy God shall keep unto thee the covenant and the mercy which he sware unto thy fathers:” – Deuteronomy 7:7-12

Whereas Deut 7 describes the relationship of the Lord to his people as a love relationship, Ch 32 describes it specifically as that of a Father with His children:
“Because I will publish the name of the Lord: ascribe ye greatness unto our God. He is the Rock, his work is perfect: for all his ways are judgment: a God of truth and without iniquity, just and right is he.
“They have corrupted themselves, their spot is not the spot of his children: they are a perverse and crooked generation. Do ye thus requite the Lord, O foolish people and unwise? is not he thy father that hath bought thee? hath he not made thee, and established thee? Remember the days of old, consider the years of many generations: ask thy father, and he will shew thee; thy elders, and they will tell thee.
“When the Most High divided to the nations their inheritance, when he separated the sons of Adam, he set the bounds of the people according to the number of the children of Israel.For the Lord's portion is his people; Jacob is the lot of his inheritance. He found him in a desert land, and in the waste howling wilderness; he led him about, he instructed him, he kept him as the apple of his eye. As an eagle stirreth up her nest, fluttereth over her young, spreadeth abroad her wings, taketh them, beareth them on her wings: So the Lord alone did lead him, and there was no strange god with him.”
-Deuteronomy  32:3-12

If God be our Heavenly Father, then should He not train us – discipline us- as a father does his children. Good fathers provide reasonable, age-appropriate boundaries for their children. A good father will treat a toddler in a different way than he treats his teenage or adult children. Numerous rule that apply to small children drop off as the child matures into an adult. This is that Paul meant when he said that the Law of Moses was a guardian and tutor until faith was revealed Gal 3:19-4:5). An example of rules meant to train small children that would drop off as the small children reach greater maturity can be found in Leviticus 11:43-45
“Do not defile yourselves by any of these creatures. Do not make yourselves unclean by means of them or be made unclean by them.  I am the Lord your God; consecrate yourselves and be holy, because I am holy. Do not make yourselves unclean by any creature that moves along the ground.  I am the Lord, who brought you up out of Egypt to be your God; therefore be holy, because I am holy. ‘These are the regulations concerning animals, birds, every living thing that moves about in the water and every creature that moves along the ground.  You must distinguish between the unclean and the clean, between living creatures that may be eaten and those that may not be eaten.’ ” 
- Leviticus 11:43-47 NIV

The moral status of a person had nothing to do with the nature of animals he eats. Eating the flesh of an unclean animal does not make the heart of a human evil. As Christ Jesus said, food goes through the digestive tract and is expelled as waste (Mark 7:17-23). Man is defiled by what is in the heart, not the stomach.

What was the purpose of these rules, then? The purpose of the food laws and ceremonial cleanness rules was to train God’s people to discern between clean and unclean. God used food as a concrete example to illustrate a principle whose primary application was not always concrete. God was training his people to make a distinction between good and evil, right and wrong, moral and immoral, and just and unjust.

The Mosaic Covenant provides for Rollover into the New Covenant.
The biggest difficultyfor some in developing a coherent Biblical theology is how to reconcile the Mosaic Covenant with the rest of Scripture. The answer is that was meant only to be temporary legal structure. Jewish people, however, are often troubled by the many references to statutes in the Covenant being “perpetual.*” These objections are answered by the fact that the Mosaic covenant provides for its own obsolescence. There are four provisions, from within the Mosaic Covenant, for its demise and replacement by better covenants: the provision for a Prophet like unto Moses, the provision for a New Covenant to those faithful to Mosaic Covenant, the provision for the coming King, and the provision of the eternal Priesthood of Melchizedek.

The Mosaic Covenant provides for a Prophet like unto Moses. Moses occupied a unique position in the Mosaic Covenant as its Lawgiver. In this position, Moses set the terms of the covenant. The Biblical prediction that another prophet “like unto Moses” meant that another would come who would have power to set terms of the covenant between God and His people. Acts 3:20-23 tells us that Christ Jesus is the “Prophet like unto Moses” and the Lawgiver of the New Covenant. This is important to know as it will be demonstrated that the Mosaic Covenant makes provision for replacement by the New Covenant.

“The Lord thy God will raise up unto thee a Prophet from the midst of thee, of thy brethren, like unto me; unto him ye shall hearken; According to all that thou desiredst of the Lord thy God in Horeb in the day of the assembly, saying, Let me not hear again the voice of the Lord my God, neither let me see this great fire any more, that I die not.

“And the Lord said unto me, They have well spoken that which they have spoken. I will raise them up a Prophet from among their brethren, like unto thee, and will put my words in his mouth; and he shall speak unto them all that I shall command him.” 
- Deuteronomy 18:15-18

The Mosaic Covenant provides for a New Covenant to those faithful to Mosaic Covenant. In Exodus 19, God commanded people to consecrate themselves. In verses 5-6, a promise is given. “if ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me above all people: for all the earth is mine: And ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation. These are the words which thou shalt speak unto the children of Israel.” Obedience to the covenant results in being positioned as a nation of kings and priests. The promise of installing the nation as kings and priests eliminates the need for a Levitical priesthood, as it limits priesthood to the Levites. Because Christ was faithful to the Mosaic Covenant during his earthly life, He became a nation of kings and priests without the need of the Levitical priesthood. The abolition of, or succession to, the Levitical Priesthood is a major change in the Mosaic covenant.

This promise was not available to those who first heard it. They were prohibited from approaching the mountain blessed with the special Presence of God filled under penalty of death.  Moses was faithful in the midst of an unfaithful nation. On one occasion, God was about to wipe out the nation of Israel and create a new nation from Moses. Moses intercession saved them. Notice that Moses does not argue that wiping out everybody but he would violate the terms of the covenant.

“Only rebel not ye against the Lord, neither fear ye the people of the land; for they are bread for us: their defence is departed from them, and the Lord is with us: fear them not. But all the congregation bade stone them with stones. And the glory of the Lord appeared in the tabernacle of the congregation before all the children of Israel. And the Lord said unto Moses, How long will this people provoke me? and how long will it be ere they believe me, for all the signs which I have shewed among them? I will smite them with the pestilence, and disinherit them, and will make of thee a greater nation and mightier than they.
And Moses said unto the Lord, Then the Egyptians shall hear it, (for thou broughtest up this people in thy might from among them;) And they will tell it to the inhabitants of this land: for they have heard that thou Lord art among this people, that thou Lord art seen face to face, and that thy cloud standeth over them, and that thou goest before them, by day time in a pillar of a cloud, and in a pillar of fire by night. Now if thou shalt kill all this people as one man, then the nations which have heard the fame of thee will speak, saying, Because the Lord was not able to bring this people into the land which he sware unto them, therefore he hath slain them in the wilderness. And now, I beseech thee, let the power of my lord be great, according as thou hast spoken, saying, The Lord is longsuffering, and of great mercy, forgiving iniquity and transgression, and by no means clearing the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation. Pardon, I beseech thee, the iniquity of this people according unto the greatness of thy mercy, and as thou hast forgiven this people, from Egypt even until now.

And the Lord said, I have pardoned according to thy word:But as truly as I live, all the earth shall be filled with the glory of the Lord. Because all those men which have seen my glory, and my miracles, which I did in Egypt and in the wilderness, and have tempted me now these ten times, and have not hearkened to my voice; Surely they shall not see the land which I sware unto their fathers, neither shall any of them that provoked me see it: But my servant Caleb, because he had another spirit with him, and hath followed me fully, him will I bring into the land whereinto he went; and his seed shall possess it.”  - Numbers 14:9-24

God promised to wipe them out for plotting to kill Moses. Because Moses was faithful to the covenant as God’s servant, God was offering create out of Moses a nation of kings and priests. The annihilation of all of Israel but Moses would have annihilated the Levites and trashed the Mosaic Covenant. When Moses interceded, he did not appeal to the Law, but to God’s glory. God had the right to rescind the Covenant as they breached it.

God put it into Moses heart to intercede, as it was not time for the next phase of God’s plan to unfold.Whereas Moses was faithful as a servant, Christ was faithful as a Son. Because Christ was faithful, He was offered the same opportunity that Moses. When Christ was offered the opportunity to become a nation of kings and priests that was promised in Ex 19:6, He accepted.

The Mosaic Covenant provides for the coming King. The Mosaic Covenant anticipated that the Israelites would someday choose to be ruled by a king rather than by elders or God. Guidelines were given for the conduct of the king:
“When thou art come unto the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee, and shalt possess it, and shalt dwell therein, and shalt say, I will set a king over me, like as all the nations that are about me;Thoushalt in any wise set him king over thee, whom the Lord thy God shall choose: one from among thy brethren shalt thou set king over thee: thou mayest not set a stranger over thee, which is not thy brother.

“But he shall not multiply horses to himself, nor cause the people to return to Egypt, to the end that he should multiply horses: forasmuch as the Lord hath said unto you, Ye shall henceforth return no more that way. Neither shall he multiply wives to himself, that his heart turn not away: neither shall he greatly multiply to himself silver and gold.

“And it shall be, when he sitteth upon the throne of his kingdom, that he shall write him a copy of this law in a book out of that which is before the priests the Levites:And it shall be with him, and he shall read therein all the days of his life: that he may learn to fear the Lord his God, to keep all the words of this law and these statutes, to do them: That his heart be not lifted up above his brethren, and that he turn not aside from the commandment, to the right hand, or to the left: to the end that he may prolong his days in his kingdom, he, and his children, in the midst of Israel.”
- Deuteronomy 17:14-20

In the days of Samuel, the people demanded a king. This provided an opportunity for God to commence an everlasting covenant with David. The Throne of David is an everlasting throne that will inherit all nations. It is from this throne that Jesus Christ rules the earth.

The Mosaic Covenant presupposes the provision of the eternal Priesthood of Melchizedek.The Mosaic Covenant is a fulfillment of God’s covenant with Abraham. If Abraham was ancestor of the Levites, then who was priest for Abraham? Gen 14:18-15:6 records the encounter with Melchizedek, priest of God Most high, with Abram (Abraham).
“And Melchizedek king of Salem brought forth bread and wine: and he was the priest of the most high God.And he blessed him, and said, Blessed be Abram of the most high God, possessor of heaven and earth: And blessed be the most high God, which hath delivered thine enemies into thy hand. And he gave him tithes of all.

“…After these things the word of the Lord came unto Abram in a vision, saying, Fear not, Abram: I am thy shield, and thy exceeding great reward.And Abram said, Lord God, what wilt thou give me, seeing I go childless, and the steward of my house is this Eliezer of Damascus?And Abram said, Behold, to me thou hast given no seed: and, lo, one born in my house is mine heir. And, behold, the word of the Lord came unto him, saying, This shall not be thine heir; but he that shall come forth out of thine own bowels shall be thine heir. And he brought him forth abroad, and said, Look now toward heaven, and tell the stars, if thou be able to number them: and he said unto him, So shall thy seed be.And he believed in the Lord; and he counted it to him for righteousness.”  - Genesis 14:18-20;15:1-6

After Abraham emerged from battle victorious, Melchizedek blessed him and received tithes from him. It is after Abraham received the blessing from Melchizedek that the Word of the Lord came to him. Abraham was justified by faith in that Word which was given after he received the blessing from Melchizedek. God had already chosen him and used Melchizedek to formally set him apart before revealing justification by faith and long before the Abrahamic covenant was confirmed. The priestly authority of Melchizedek precedes and supersedes that of the Levitical priesthood. The argument, in fact, can be made that the authority of the Levitical priesthood is dependent on the authority of the priesthood of Melchizedek. At the very minimum, the priesthood of Melchizedek opens up the prospect of God’s people having access to God apart from the Levitical priesthood.

The Mosaic Covenant is a uniquely breachable covenant. The Mosaic Covenant is legally structured in a different way that the other covenants. In the Abrahamic Covenant, the Davidic covenant, and the New Covenant man’s role is completely fulfilled. Once Abraham showed willingness to offer Isaac, God promised to fulfill his part was guaranteed. The actions of David and of Christ likewise guaranteed God’s fulfillment of his part towards the beneficiaries of these covenants independently of their subsequent actions. The Mosaic Covenant, however, makes no such promise. In numerous places, it is made clear that God’s promise to perform His part of the Mosaic Covenant is dependent on man’s obedience to his part. Deuteronomy 28-30 describes, in detail, the conditional nature of the Mosaic Covenant. If the people of God faithfully obey all of the terms of the Covenant, then great blessings will follow. If, however, they disobey, then great curses will follow and God would evict His own people from the Promised Land.

As the Mosaic Covenant is focused on occupation of the Promised Land, eviction from the land ends the covenant. Deuteronomy 30:1-10 contains a conditional promise of restoration of the covenant. God would restore His people to the land IF they turned back to Him and after they turned back.

“When all these blessings and curses I have set before you come on you and you take them to heart wherever the Lord your God disperses you among the nations, and when you and your children return to the Lord your God and obey him with all your heart and with all your soul according to everything I command you today, then the Lord your God will restore your fortunes and have compassion on you and gather you again from all the nations where he scattered you. Even if you have been banished to the most distant land under the heavens, from there the Lord your God will gather you and bring you back.

“He will bring you to the land that belonged to your ancestors, and you will take possession of it. He will make you more prosperous and numerous than your ancestors. The Lord your God will circumcise your hearts and the hearts of your descendants, so that you may love him with all your heart and with all your soul, and live. The Lord your God will put all these curses on your enemies who hate and persecute you. You will again obey the Lord and follow all his commands I am giving you today. Then the Lord your God will make you most prosperous in all the work of your hands and in the fruit of your womb, the young of your livestock and the crops of your land. The Lord will again delight in you and make you prosperous, just as he delighted in your ancestors, if you obey the Lord your God and keep his commands and decrees that are written in this Book of the Law and turn to the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul.”
- Deuteronomy 30:1-10 NIV

As we shall see later in this book, Israel was indeed evicted from the Promised Land. Israel was evicted three times. The first time they were evicted, ten of the tribes were evicted by Assyria, scattered, and for centuries lost to history*.The second time, the two and a half tribes that remained were deported to Babylon as a group and returned after 70 years. The third eviction was a true scattering of all Israel among all nations after they had Christ crucified.

Saturday, April 2, 2016

Mystery Jerusalem Rising Ch 5- Into the Promised Land

Exodus 1 takes up the narrative of the descendants of Jacob (Israel) in Egypt. We quickly discover two things about these “Israelites.” They prosper and multiply heavily while in Egypt. Because of this prosperity, the Egyptian Pharaoh becomes jealous and fearful of them. As a result, they are forced into slavery.

“Now these are the names of the children of Israel who came to Egypt; each man and his household came with Jacob:  Reuben, Simeon, Levi, and Judah;  Issachar, Zebulun, and Benjamin;  Dan, Naphtali, Gad, and Asher.  All those who were descendants of Jacob were seventy persons (for Joseph was in Egypt already).  And Joseph died, all his brothers, and all that generation.  But the children of Israel were fruitful and increased abundantly, multiplied and grew exceedingly mighty; and the land was filled with them.

 Now there arose a new king over Egypt, who did not know Joseph.  And he said to his people, “Look, the people of the children of Israel are more and mightier than we;  come, let us deal shrewdly with them, lest they multiply, and it happen, in the event of war, that they also join our enemies and fight against us, and so go up out of the land.”  Therefore they set taskmasters over them to afflict them with their burdens. And they built for Pharaoh supply cities, Pithom and Raamses.  But the more they afflicted them, the more they multiplied and grew. And they were in dread of the children of Israel.  So the Egyptians made the children of Israel serve with rigor.  And they made their lives bitter with hard bondage—in mortar, in brick, and in all manner of service in the field. All their service in which they made them servewas with rigor.”
- Exodus 1:1-14

Even though the people of God went into slavery, God never abandoned them. God blessed Jacob in spite of all his lying and scheming. God appeared to him at Bethel. Jacob referred to the place as the house of God. Jesus use to imagery of the ladder with angels of God ascending and descending to refer to Himself as the gateway to God.
“So he came to a certain place and stayed there all night, because the sun had set. And he took one of the stones of that place and put it at his head, and he lay down in that place to sleep.  Then he dreamed, and behold, a ladder was set up on the earth, and its top reached to heaven; and there the angels of God were ascending and descending on it.

 And behold, the Lord stood above it and said: “I am the Lord God of Abraham your father and the God of Isaac; the land on which you lie I will give to you and your descendants.  Also your descendants shall be as the dust of the earth; you shall spread abroad to the west and the east, to the north and the south; and in you and in your seed all the families of the earth shall be blessed.  Behold, I am with you and will keep you wherever you go, and will bring you back to this land; for I will not leave you until I have done what I have spoken to you.”

 Then Jacob awoke from his sleep and said, “Surely the Lord is in this place, and I did not know it.”  And he was afraid and said, “How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven!”

 Then Jacob rose early in the morning, and took the stone that he had put at his head, set it up as a pillar, and poured oil on top of it.  And he called the name of that place Bethel;”  - Genesis 28:11-19

God continued to bless and multiply the descendants of Jacob – so much that, according to Exodus 1:22, the Pharaoh decided to kill off the males. God had not forgotten them, but sent them a deliverer. It was during this holocaust that the man God appointed to deliver them, Moses, was born.

Exodus 2 documents the first 80 years of his life. Moses spent the first 40 years in Pharaoh’s house. At some point in time, Moses realized that the Hebrew slaves were his native people; he also likely sensed the call of God to deliver them*. One day, Moses decided to take the deliverance of the Israelites into his own hands. According to Exodus 2:11-15, “…it came to pass in those days, when Moses was grown, that he went out to his brethren and looked at their burdens. And he saw an Egyptian beating a Hebrew, one of his brethren.  So he looked this way and that way, and when he saw no one, he killed the Egyptian and hid him in the sand.  And when he went out the second day, behold, two Hebrew men were fighting, and he said to the one who did the wrong, “Why are you striking your companion?” Then he said, “Who made you a prince and a judge over us? Do you intend to kill me as you killed the Egyptian?” So Moses feared and said, “Surely this thing is known!”  When Pharaoh heard of this matter, he sought to kill Moses. But Moses fled from the face of Pharaoh and dwelt in the land of Midian; and he sat down by a well.

The next forty years he lived in Midian. While there he rescued the daughter of Ruel, priest of Midian, from some shepherds that were trying to deny them the use of Midian’s wells. Moses lived with Ruel and married his daughter, Zipporah. Moses' life from age 40 to 80 was relatively uneventful.

When Moses was about eighty years old, God revealed Himself. Moses saw a bush burning that was not being burned. When he approached the site, God spoke to him out of the burning bush, calling him to deliver His people.
“And the Angel of the Lord appeared to him in a flame of fire from the midst of a bush. So he looked, and behold, the bush was burning with fire, but the bush was not consumed. Then Moses said, ‘I will now turn aside and see this great sight, why the bush does not burn.’

 “So when the Lord saw that he turned aside to look, God called to him from the midst of the bush and said, ‘Moses, Moses!’And he said, ‘Here I am…’

“…And the Lord said: ‘I have surely seen the oppression of My people who are in Egypt, and have heard their cry because of their taskmasters, for I know their sorrows.  So I have come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians, and to bring them up from that land to a good and large land, to a land flowing with milk and honey, to the place of the Canaanites and the Hittites and the Amorites and the Perizzites and the Hivites and the Jebusites.  Now therefore, behold, the cry of the children of Israel has come to Me, and I have also seen the oppression with which the Egyptians oppress them.  Come now, therefore, and I will send you to Pharaoh that you may bring My people, the children of Israel, out of Egypt.’” - Exodus 3:2-4,7-10

Supernatural deliverance from Egypt

When Moses returned to Egypt, he did not take up again the power of the flesh as he did forty earlier. God revealed to Moses His power and then commanded Moses to use this power.
“Then Moses answered and said, ‘But suppose they will not believe me or listen to my voice; suppose they say, ‘The Lord has not appeared to you.’ So the Lord said to him, ‘What is that in your hand?’ He said, ‘A rod.’

And He said, ‘Cast it on the ground.’ So he cast it on the ground, and it became a serpent; and Moses fled from it.  Then the Lord said to Moses, ‘Reach out your hand and take it by the tail’ (and he reached out his hand and caught it, and it became a rod in his hand), ‘that they may believe that the Lord God of their fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has appeared to you.’”
- Exodus 4:1-5

Moses used God’s power to deliver Israel. Ten plagues fell upon the Egyptians. These plagues included blood, frogs, lice, boils, etc.  After the last plague, Pharaoh finally let the people go; he then relapsed and pursued them until his army drowned in the red sea.

Salvation by Grace through Faith at the Passover
When God first began plaguing the Egyptians, he discriminated against the Egyptians. By this I mean Egyptians suffered because they belonged to Pharaoh; the Israelites were exempted from these because they were the descendants of Jacob. The last plague, the angel of death, was different. The Lord required participation on the part of the delivered. He required this to show salvation by grace through faith (Eph 2:8-9).
“ For I will pass through the land of Egypt this night, and will smite all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both man and beast; and against all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgment: I am the Lord.

And the blood shall be to you for a token upon the houses where ye are: and when I see the blood, I will pass over you, and the plague shall not be upon you to destroy you, when I smite the land of Egypt.” - Exodus 12:12-13

The angel of death was entering Egypt to kill the firstborn of every house. This time, God did not discriminate on the grounds of ancestry or nationality. The death angel “passed over” every house that had lamb’s blood on the doorpost; but invaded every house that did not have lamb’s blood on its door post, killing any first-born that were in the house.  If a God-fearing Egyptian followed the instruction Moses delivered and put lamb’s blood on the door post of his house, then God passed over his house*. If a godless Israelite refused to heed Moses instruction, his house suffered the wrath of God. The lamb’s blood represented God’s grace that was poured out through the shedding of the blood of Christ, and applying the lamb’s blood represent faith in God.

Partaking the Passover involved entering into, or confirming, the covenant of Abraham. Exodus 12:48 spells out rules about who may take the Passover. “And when a stranger shall sojourn with thee, and will keep the Passover to the Lord, let all his males be circumcised, and then let him come near and keep it; and he shall be as one that is born in the land: for no uncircumcised person shall eat thereof.”Egyptians, Ethiopians, and other nationalities who took the Passover, because they feared the God of Israel, were from that day forward counted as heirs to  the Abrahamic covenant. They shall be “as one that is born in the land.”

Faith in the Wilderness
The necessity of entering into, and standing on, the covenant by faith applied to the wilderness. God was leading them to conquer nations stronger than they were to see whether they would trust God or not.

Numerous times, the people showed that they did not have the faith necessary to enter the land. Numbers 13-14 records the occasion when Moses sent twelve spies to spy out the land. All twelve spoke of the abundance of the land. Two of them, Joshua and Caleb, spoke with faith that the Lord would deliver the land(13:30; 14:6-8). The other ten, however, gave an evil report that destroyed the faith of the camp. They told the Israelites that there was no possibility that they could take the land (13:31-33). Their unbelief stirred up full rebellion against God.

The rebellious Israelites decided to “make a captain, and let us return into Egypt.”(14:4). While their bodies were delivered from Egypt, their hearts were still enslaved to Egypt. They were prepared to stone Moses, Aaron, Joshua, and Caleb to get them out of the way (14:10). Before they could carry out their murderous plot, the glory of the Lord appeared. God pronounced His judgment on them for their refusal to believe his promises.

God decided to disinherit them. He actually contemplated wiping them out, but Moses interceded for them. God did effectively disinherit them by letting their bodies die in the wilderness. (14:11-35). Caleb and Joshua were the only ones who were over 20 who would enter the land.  The rest were rejected for refusal to believe.

Entering the Promised Land
After the forty years of wandering was finished, God raised up Joshua to lead the children of Israel into the Promised Land. The book of Joshua documents these battles. The land is secured, but God stops short of completely wiping out all of Israel’s enemies.

Friday, April 1, 2016

Mystery Jerusalem Rising Ch 4 - Into famine and bondage.

Abraham’s obedience to God was not perfect. His son, Isaac, also fell short. They both had faith which was anointed by the Holy Spirit, but they did not have access to all of the components of God’s program. For example, they did not have the blessing of the Holy Spirit taking up permanent residence as believers in Christ do today. Neither did they have the scope of revelation that we do today. The Patriarchs of the Judeo-Christian meta-narrative had an immature, undeveloped faith-system.

Because their faith-system was immature, God dealt with them as a parent must deal with a small child. Paul describes this process:

“What purpose then does the law serve? It was added because of transgressions, till the Seed should come to whom the promise was made; and it was appointed through angels by the hand of a mediator.  Now a mediator does not mediate for one only, but God is one.

Is the law then against the promises of God? Certainly not! For if there had been a law given which could have given life, truly righteousness would have been by the law.  But the Scripture has confined all under sin, that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe.  But before faith came, we were kept under guard by the law, kept for the faith which would afterward be revealed.  Therefore the law was our tutor to bring us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith.  But after faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor…

Now I say that the heir, as long as he is a child, does not differ at all from a slave, though he is master of all,  but is under guardians and stewards until the time appointed by the father. Even so we, when we were children, were in bondage under the elements of the world. But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons.”
- Galatians 3:19-25; 4:1-5

There are two principles here. One was that because of sin, the law was added. This refers to the Mosaic covenant which was future to Isaac. The second was that until Christ, the people of God were generally regarded as small children who were not capable of walking solely through faith. This law was given as a choolmaster who would instruct and correct. God, as our loving heavenly Father, metes out disciplinary action in accordance to the law which was given as a schoolmaster.
“Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,  looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

“For consider Him who endured such hostility from sinners against Himself, lest you become weary and discouraged in your souls. You have not yet resisted to bloodshed, striving against sin. And you have forgotten the exhortation which speaks to you as to sons:

“ ‘My son, do not despise the chastening of the Lord,Nor be discouraged when you are rebuked by Him;For whom the Lord loves He chastens,And scourges every son whom He receives.’

 “If you endure chastening, God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom a father does not chasten? But if you are without chastening, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate and not sons.  Furthermore, we have had human fathers who corrected us, and we paid them respect. Shall we not much more readily be in subjection to the Father of spirits and live? 10 For they indeed for a few days chastened us as seemed best to them, but He for our profit, that we may be partakers of His holiness.  Now no chastening seems to be joyful for the present, but painful; nevertheless, afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it. ”
- Hebrews 12:1-11

God metes out disciplinary action through actions in history. In this chapter, I will show how the patriarchs fell short of the glory of God, and in the next chapter I will show that God established the Mosaic covenant as a “schoolmaster” to guide the people until they were mature enough for a covenant of faith.

Abraham’s first compromise involvestaking the promises of God into his own hands. At his wife Sarai’s urging, he sexually approached her maid Hagar. She conceived Ishmael. This resulted in tension between Sarai and Hagar. This tension ended when Hagar was forced out of Abraham’s household.
“And Sarah saw the son of Hagar the Egyptian, whom she had borne to Abraham, scoffing.  Therefore she said to Abraham, ‘Cast out this bondwoman and her son; for the son of this bondwoman shall not be heir with my son, namely with Isaac.’  And the matter was very displeasing in Abraham’s sight because of his son.

But God said to Abraham, ‘Do not let it be displeasing in your sight because of the lad or because of your bondwoman. Whatever Sarah has said to you, listen to her voice; for in Isaac your seed shall be called.  Yet I will also make a nation of the son of the bondwoman, because he is your seed.’”
- Genesis 21:9-13

 Ishmael became the father of the Arabic world, which today is predominantly Islamist. Before Ishmael was born, God told Hagar that Ishmael “shall be a wild man;His hand shall be against every man.” Abraham’s compromise set the stage for numerous wars in the Middle East that have been going on for the past four thousand years, from the day Ishmael mocked Isaac to the current chaos in the Middle East.

Abraham and Isaac: Like father, like son
Both Abraham and Isaac made the same compromise when in the land of Gerar1.  They both lied to Abimelech2 about their wives. They each told Abimelech the lie that “she is my sister” because each believed that Abimelech would kill them to take the wife. (Gen 20:1-18;26:1-10)

Liars, and Family Favorites
Isaac married Rebekah and became the father of twins: Isaac favored one while Rebekah favored the other:

“Isaac was forty years old when he took Rebekah as wife, the daughter of Bethuel the Syrian of Padan Aram, the sister of Laban the Syrian.  Now Isaac pleaded with the Lord for his wife, because she was barren; and the Lord granted his plea, and Rebekah his wife conceived.  But the children struggled together within her; and she said, “If all is well, why am I like this?” So she went to inquire of the Lord.

And the Lord said to her: ‘Two nations are in your womb,Two peoples shall be separated from your body;One people shall be stronger than the other,And the older shall serve the younger.’
So when her days were fulfilled for her to give birth, indeed there were twins in her womb.  And the first came out red. He was like a hairy garment all over; so they called his name Esau.  Afterward his brother came out, and his hand took hold of Esau’s heel; so his name was called Jacob. Isaac was sixty years old when she bore them. So the boys grew. And Esau was a skillful hunter, a man of the field; but Jacob was a mild man, dwelling in tents.  And Isaac loved Esau because he ate of his game, but Rebekah loved Jacob.” - Genesis 25:20-28

These opposing favoritisms set the stage for sibling rivalry between Esau and Jacob. This rivalry created the temptation for Jacob to become a schemer and liar. He used this to con Esau out of the blessing.

Rebekah helped him con Esau. She coached him on how to trick Isaac into giving Jacob the blessing (Gen 27). Isaac asks Esau to hunt and prepare choice game so that he can eat it and give him the blessing he received from Abraham. She has Jacob kill from his flock; she prepares it to taste like cooked, wild game. She then dresses Jacob in Esau’s cloths. Jacob goes to Isaac, pretending to be Esau, and gets the blessing through deception.

These compromises amounted to the people of God taking the promises into their own hands. God promised Isaac; Abraham took matters into his own hands and got Ishmael; God told Rebekah that Jacob would dominate Esau; Jacob took matters into his own hands; deception and treachery became the family heritage.

There was kidnapping and murder in the family. By the time Jacob’s sons were grown, the corruption of sin was reaching an advanced stage of treachery. There are three major incidents that show their treachery: the Dinah incident, Judah’s affair, and the selling of Joseph into slavery.

The story of Dinah is found in Gen 34. When Dinah, Jacob’s daughter, was grown, she went out on the town to meet other young women in the land. Shechem, the son of the prince of that land was attracted to her. They ended up having pre-marital sex. When Shechem’s father attempted to make arrangements to acquire Dinah as a wife for him, the sons of Jacob acted deceitfully. They told the men that they needed to be circumcised first, and then Dinah would be married to Shechem. While the men were recovering from their circumcision, two of Jacob’s sons, Simeon and Levi physically attacked and killed all of the men in the town. Their brothers joined them in both plundering the wealth in the town and the capture of the women and children. These women and children were likely sold into slavery to local traveling slave traders3.

The selling of women and children into slavery was preparation for the mistreatment of their own brother. Gen 38 is the story of how the second from the youngest of Jacob’s sons, Joseph, had a dream that he would rule over his brothers. Because Joseph was the first-born of Jacob’s love, Rachel, he was Jacob’s favorite sons. The favoritism, coupled with knowledge of Joseph’s dreams, drove his brothers to extreme jealousy. They threw him into a pit and sold him to Ishmaelite who sold him to an Egyptian.

Descent into famine, slavery, and idolatry in Egypt

Because the household of Abraham was wandering farther and farther away from God’s righteousness, it became necessary for God to assert Himself as a stern Father to them. The first of many instances of a pattern of chastisement was about to begin. God’s people would initially follow Him; only to subsequently wander from Him, resulting in descent to bondage or slavery. They would cry out to Him and He would deliver them.

Gen 39-50 documents the story of Joseph in Egypt. God was with Joseph in Egypt in his trials; these trials eventually open up the opportunity for Joseph to become Prime Minister of Egypt. When famine hits hard that area of the world, Joseph is in an ability to assist his family, and they relocate to Egypt where they end up becoming slaves themselves.

2 Abimilech may have been a title rather than a name.
3 While there are no specific references to the selling of women and children into slavery, the text doers say that Dinah's brothers "spoiled the city." Women and children captured in war were commonly seen in the ancient world as spoils to be sold into slavery. This would also explain the ease in which Joseph was sold into slavery. The slave traders may have had a previous transaction history with Joseph's brothers.