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.

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