Israel 2016

Israel 2016
Roman architectural influence in Bet Sean, Israel

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Canonical Reading Plan for Jan 25, Ex 22-24

Today's readings are Ex 22-24.

After delivering the ten commandments (the Law), the moral guidelines that reveal the character and nature of God, Moses receives the civil and ceremonial laws (the law). Notice the difference between the two. Many people believe we are no longer under the Law as if, somehow, Jesus thinks it's OK to worship other gods and murder each other. We are, indeed, no longer under many of the ceremonial laws and not all of the civil. But even the ceremonial and civil laws are a revelation of God's character and are the basis for many of the civil laws we observe today. Those start in Ex 21 with guidelines for, but not a prohibition of, slavery. There are civil laws and rules in Ex 22 and the first half of Ex 23

God lays out the festivals in the second half of Ex 23, each of them symbolic of the deliverance of His children and of the promise of the future redemption and deliverance as well. The first is the Feast of Unleavened Bread, the Passover (Ex 23:15). This comes during the early spring and commemorates the Exodus. It is a reminder of God's preservation and a promise of His redemption. The second feast is the Feast of the Harvest, also known as the Feast of Weeks, later to be called Pentecost (Ex 23:16). This feast comes at the end of spring and commemorates the giving of the Law. It is also a reminder that God supplies their needs but a call to do the work of the harvest as well. The third feast comes in the early autumn. It is the Feast of In-gathering or Tabernacles, commemorating the wilderness wanderings. It is the final harvest of the year and a reminder that God not only provides but promises a home at the end of our journey.

Some of the laws seem obscure. All of them are far less a way to control His people than they are a revelation of who He is, how He functions and how His people are to live with each other and in the world as His representatives. As you read through these laws, read them with this in mind; Jesus sums them all up in two beautifully simple statements,

Mark 12:29 Jesus answered, “The most important is, ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.
30 And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.
31 The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”

You can see this clearly in these chapters in Exodus. Each law is a detailed reflection of Jesus' summation. Believing we are no longer under the Law of God denies the very word of Christ. We are certainly no longer under the condemnation of the Law. We as believers no longer suffer the consequences of disobeying the law, eternal death. But, the Holy Spirit is conforming us to His image, using the moral code found in the Law.

God reiterates His promise to bring them safely to the Promised Land (Ex 23:20-33). Once they get there, God and His angel will drive the inhabitants of the land out. God’s people are to avoid worshiping other Gods. This caution is given with the revelation that the taking of the land will be a time-consuming process (Ex 23:29-30) even though the Jews will own the land that was promised. This gradual cleansing of the land is a beautiful image of how God cleanses His people. They belong to Him, they possess the promise but God is constantly refining them and purifying them.
In Ex 24, Moses models the sacrificial rite. As the altar and the people are sprinkled with the blood of the sacrifice, the covenant with God becomes a blood covenant (Ex 24:4-8). Blood was a powerful symbol for life. The blood covenant is a life covenant.

The covenant with God is reconfirmed. Moses goes up on the mountain. He waits six days. The Lord speaks on the seventh (Ex 24:16). The number seven be a sign of completion and perfection to the Hebrews. When God speaks on the seventh day, they would know His timing and words are perfect. Moses is on the mountain for a total of forty days and nights. He's receiving the tablets! God uses the pattern of forty days frequently (Gen 7:4, 50:3; Ex 24:18, 34:28; Num 13:25, 14:34; 1 Sam 17:16, 1 Kings 19:8; Ezek 4:6; Jonah 3:4;Mk 1:13; Acts 1:3). The forty day period is most frequently used in association with hardship. To the Jews, rather than being a strict measure of time, it would mean "an extended period of time."

Then, things get interesting....

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