Mosaic Law was Overwhelming and It was Meant to Be

February 9, 2018 at 8:28 AM 2 comments

Reading through Numbers yesterday and today (Numbers 3-6), I am left with a deep sense of awe and frustration. The more I read about the requirements God placed on the Israelites, the more I am glad I did not live under that system.

In Numbers 5, we learn how important purity was to God. This outward purity (or lack of it), was taken very seriously. If a person was “leprous” (having any sort of skin disorder with open sores), they were remanded to the outside of the camp. They were considered unclean. Later on, if their condition improved/healed, after inspection by the priests, they would be allowed back into the camp. However, for the duration of their illness, they were sequestered outside the camp. The were still part of Israel, but they were separate and needed to follow at a distance.

The most interesting part of Numbers 5 is seen in the test for adultery. If a wife actually cheated on her husband or if the husband believed that she had cheated (began to feel jealous of her toward other men), he could bring his wife to the priest and the priest would go through this rather detailed routine, including having the woman drink a water mixed with dust from the tabernacle ground. Depending upon how she reacted, her guilt or innocence would be declared.

To us, this likely smacks of superstitious witchcraft, akin to the Salem Witch trials in which a suspected witch was tied up, weighted down and tossed into a body of water. If she survived, she was a witch. If she died, she was innocent. A lot of good that did. However, in this Old Testament instance, it is assumed that God was the One who knows all therefore, the ritual of having the woman drink holy water mixed with dust from the ground was the outward manifestation. God would see to the result since He and He alone would know guilt or innocence. Clearly, this type of thing should not be used today, even for Israel. Things have changed. There were no lie-detector tests that could be administered then. In essence, the woman drinking the water and swearing that she was innocent was the lie detector test used by God to publicly prove guilt or innocence.

Most of Numbers 6 deals with the Nazirite vow. Please note that the word has nothing to do with the word “Nazi,” (which as you probably know means “National Socialism” in German). It refers to Nazirite is from the Hebrew word nazur meaning “to separate” (Constable). The reality is that taking up a Nazirite vow was something someone did who wanted to separate from things normally apart of the life of an Israelite. It was similar to fasting, but not quite the same thing.

The rules for a Nazirite vow included not cutting the hair, avoiding all wine and even the very grape (seed and skin), from which wine is made. The Nazirite vow was only temporary in nature, just as fasting would be. It is a time to draw closer to God, to commit one’s self to His ways, to remind the person that their life is devoted to God. In essence, all Israelites were to separate themselves from the world for God. He had a special and unique calling on their life as a nation. He raised them up as an arm of His judgment against nations who sought their own way, ignoring God, doing their own thing.

Unfortunately for Israel, they were often on the receiving end of God’s anger simply because they failed to walk in the way He mapped out for them to walk. This is a great reminder for us as Christians. When we sin, God does not become angry at us, though He has every right. His first response is to grieve, because our sin breaks our fellowship with Him. The best response is to turn to Him in repentance, admitting our sin, asking for Him to apply His forgiveness to us.

Of course, depending upon the nature of the sin, there may be societal repercussions from it. But in general, God wants us to quickly admit our guilt before Him, renew our commitment to Him and again walk in His ways. The Israelites of old often sinned and then made matters worse by not only continuing in their sin but also by heaping more sin on top of that.

The amount of legal and ceremonial requirements to maintain fellowship with God is something we all would have likely been crushed under as well. It makes me very glad that I do not live under that previous Old Testament system. How about you?

In Numbers 7, we learn about the dedication of the Tabernacle. The entire process took twelve (12) days to complete! A great many animals were sacrificed in the process as well. Finally, when everything was in place, the Lord took up residence above the Mercy Seat in the Holy of Holies and spoke to Moses from there (Numbers 7:89). Consider just how many animals needed to be sacrificed in order to complete the dedication of the tabernacle. No less than 12 bulls, 71 rams, 72 lambs a year old, 72 goats, and 24 oxen were sacrificed over a period of the twelve days. This does not even include the shekels, the flour and grain also offered during the dedication of the tabernacle.

Stop and consider the cost to the Israelites. Roughly 250 animals went through the sacrificial process during the dedication of the tabernacle. Does this not take your breath away? Aren’t you glad that Jesus paid it all so that you do not have to continually come before Him with an animal to sacrifice? Considering the amount of animals that needed to be sacrificed and offered on an ongoing basis for Israel, it becomes very clear that sin is a huge problem for humanity that God cannot simply set aside. It must be dealt with and the only real way of dealing with it is through the blood of Jesus. His life, His death proved His worth. Because of it, death could not hold Him. He conquered and did so on our behalf. That is how much God loves us!

Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. (John 15:13 ESV)

Not only did Jesus die for us willingly, but He also called us His “friends.” Jesus is our older brother, our Lord, our Savior, and our God. There is no other. How He stooped that we might gain from Him (as a free gift; Ephesians 2:8-10), the only salvation that is available anywhere.

Christians, we have much to be thankful for. God through Christ has truly set us free from the confines of the ceremonial and sacrificial requirements of the Mosaic Law. What this means is that we do not have to follow its dictates to approach God. However, we are not free from the moral aspects of God’s Law. Those must be fulfilled, not in a legalistic way, but from the heart. This can only be done as we learn to lean more and more on God’s power within us because of the fact that the Holy Spirit now lives within us. As we lean on Him, He will empower us to live the moral life that He calls us to live.

Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. (Matthew 11:29 ESV)

This “yoke” that Jesus refers to is the reality of living a life that brings Him glory. Notice that He refers to a “yoke” here. I’m sure you know that a yoke is often what oxen wear around their necks when plowing or doing heavy pulling work. A yoke literally transfers the work between two animals yoked together so that one animals is not doing all the work. It is shared. This is the goal. We must share in Christ’s work and He will empower us (help us mightily) to accomplish what He directs us to do.

For the longest time, I have been nervous about preaching in front of people. I can teach adult Bible classes and have a great deal of experience doing so, teaching in the public schools and colleges. Teaching Bible classes is a great deal of fun for me. I thrive on it. Yet, the thought of preaching has been off-putting for me. Something about it scared me. Teaching and preaching are really two different animals. When I teach, I ask questions, I hope for responses from people so that I’m not simply doing all the talking. It’s the interaction that I enjoy.

Preaching on the other hand, is simply getting up and speaking non-stop for 30 to 40 minutes. It has freaked me out for a long time. Should I speak without notes? Should I read my sermon? What should I do? That may seem like a no-brainer to many, but it had me stumped and frustrated. I took it to the Lord in prayer over a long period of time and I finally realized I was allowing myself to be completely psyched out by the process.

Preaching is simply sharing God’s Word to people. It helps to make it interesting. It certainly helps to know what you’re talking about. It helps a great deal to understand His Word and to accept it as fully authoritative. There’s nothing wrong with preparing a written sermon ahead of time and practicing it until it feels comfortable, making additional notes as you go. This cements the ideas inside so that when they are spoken, they are real, effective and cause listeners to think and contemplate.

We all have our weaknesses. We all need to rely to a greater degree on God, His sovereignty, and His empowering to do the things He calls us to do. I’m so thankful that the ceremonial and sacrificial elements of the Old Testament are no longer part of that. Are you? Jesus paid it all. There is absolutely nothing more we can do to make His once for all perfect propitiation more “perfect.” We simply receive it and go from there.

If nothing else, read the Old Testament to understand how much Jesus has freed us from all the ceremonial and sacrificial elements of His Law. He fulfilled everything on our behalf because there was no way anyone could do it permanently.

I have talked to a few orthodox Jews who have stated that following the Old Testament Law is not that hard. It can be done. Yet, these same Jews are not encumbered with the sacrificial system that existed. Moreover, they forget that God sees the intents of the heart and no one gets away with anything even though our conscience may learn to ignore certain things. This is the problem that the rich young ruler fell into. He was very quick to say he had followed every aspect of the Law since his youth and thought Jesus would say, “Well, you’re good! You don’t need anything else for salvation!”

The rich young ruler quickly learned that Jesus told him that he was actually worshiping the wealth that he had and because of it, was guilty of idolatry. To fix the problem, he needed to make a clean break with his riches – sell it all, give to the poor and follow Jesus (Mark 10; Luke 18). This was not a blanket statement from Jesus that being rich is bad. It was a statement for anyone who worships his riches. Doing so will keep people from gaining salvation all too often because when push comes to shove, they will choose their money over God.

Christians are free from the ceremonial law. We are free to follow Jesus without the confines of the sacrificial system. We are free to fulfill His will for us as we walk through this life. That includes standing up for truth regardless of the cost. It involves not kowtowing to evil people in this world who would seek to silence the testimony of Christians. It involves living in a way that brings great glory to God in all we do, say, and think.

That is still very much a tall order. Aren’t you glad the Holy Spirit lives within you to help make that happen?

Entry filed under: Atheism and religion, christianity, israel, Judaism, Religious - Christian - End Times, Religious - Christian - Prophecy, Religious - Christian - Theology, salvation. Tags: , , , , .

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2 Comments

  • 1. Johnny Ash  |  February 9, 2018 at 9:23 AM

    Be you circumcised in the heart. Take up your staff and follow Him. Jesus walked in obiedeince to the laws of God which are found in the Ten Commandments. He did not break one law or commandment. That is why we know He returns on the Day of Trumpet at the Second Coming. So if Jesus keeps the Sabbaths, then we should keep the Sabbaths as well.
    The Sabbaths were never abolished. Satan/LUcifer in 321-326 CE changed times and Seasons to get away from God. The antichrist will change times and Seasons again to further get away from God.
    A part of the Mark of the Beast System is to worship Lucifer/Satan either on Fridays only or Sundays only and thereby you can buy and sell. If not, then you are put to death by the sword or a bolt of lightning.

    • 2. modres  |  February 10, 2018 at 7:24 AM

      Hi Johnny,

      The problem here is that the Sabbaths were specifically given to Israel. Christians began meeting on the “Lord’s Day,” which is also “Resurrection Day,” in the New Testament. Christians are not under the Mosaic Law, except for the MORAL code there. We do not offer sacrifices. We do not adhere to the ceremonial laws either. The Christian’s responsibility is to uphold the MORAL code of God’s law. Regarding Satan changing the “times and seasons,” many conservative scholars believe that is referring to what the Antichrist WILL do in the future. He will change the times and seasons according to his own will, permitted by God.

      Your opinions are certainly interesting but at best they are conjecture. Jesus certainly may return on the Day of Trumpet, but He may not. We cannot be dogmatic about these things.


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