The Covenant is God’s Will for Man

THE COVENANT WITH MOSES, PART FIVE: X

The ordinances, the instructions, the explanations on the Law and the Ten Commandments continue. They were very specific!

If a man steals an ox or a sheep, and kills it or sells it, he shall pay five oxen for an ox, and four sheep for a sheep. He shall make restitution; if he has nothing, then he shall be sold for his theft. If the stolen beast is found alive in his possession, whether it is an ox or an ass or a sheep, he shall pay double.

If a thief is found breaking in, and is struck so that he dies, there shall be no bloodguilt for him; but if the sun has risen upon him, there shall be bloodguilt for him.

When a man causes a field or vineyard to be grazed over, or lets his beast loose and it feeds in another man’s field, he shall make restitution from the best in his own field and in his own vineyard.

When fire breaks out and catches in thorns so that the stacked grain or the standing grain or the field is consumed, he that kindled the fire shall make full restitution.

If a man delivers to his neighbor money or goods to keep, and it is stolen out of the man’s house, then, if the thief is found, he shall pay double. If the thief is not found, the owner of the house shall come near to God, to show whether or not he has put his hand to his neighbor’s goods.   

For every breach of trust, whether it is for ox, for ass, for sheep, for clothing, or for any kind of lost thing, of which one says, ‘This is it,’ the case of both parties shall come before God; he whom God shall condemn shall pay double to his neighbor.

If a man delivers to his neighbor as ass or an ox or a sheep or any beast to keep, and it dies or is hurt or is driven away, without any one seeing it, an oath by the LORD shall be between them both to see whether he has not put his hand to his neighbor’s property; and the owner shall accept the oath, and he shall not make restitution. But if it is stolen from him, he shall make restitution to its owner. If it is torn by beasts, let him bring it as evidence; he shall not make restitution for what has been torn.

If a man seduces a virgin who is not betrothed, and lies with her, he shall give the marriage present for her, and make her his wife. If her father utterly refuses to give her to him, he shall pay money equivalent to the marriage present for virgins.

You shall not permit a sorceress to live.

Whoever lies with a beast shall be put to death.

Whoever sacrifices to any god, save to the LORD only, shall be utterly destroyed.

You shall not wrong a stranger or oppress him, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt. You shall not afflict any widow or orphan. If you do afflict them, and they cry out to me, I will surely hear their cry; and my wrath will burn, and I will kill you with the sword, and your wives shall become widows and our children fatherless.

If you lend money to any of my people with you who is poor, you shall not be to him as creditor, and you shall not exact interest from him. If ever you take your neighbor’s garment in pledge, you shall restore it to him before the sun goes down; for that is his only covering, it is his mantle for his body; in what else shall he sleep? And if he cries to me, I will hear, for I am compassionate.

You shall not revile God, nor curse a ruler of your people.

You shall not delay to offer from the fulness of your harvest and from the outflow of your presses.

The first-born of your sons you shall give to me. You shall do likewise with your oxen, and with your sheep: seven days it shall be with its dam; on the eighth day you shall give it to me.

You shall be men consecrated to me; therefore you shall not eat any flesh that is torn by beasts in the field; you shall cast it to the dogs (Exodus 22:1-31).

You shall not utter a false report. You shall not join hands with a wicked man, to be a malicious witness. You shall not follow a multitude to do evil; nor shall you bear witness in a suit, turning aside after a multitude, so as to pervert justice; nor shall you be partial to a poor man in his suit.

If you meet your enemy’s ox or his ass going astray, you shall bring it back to him. If you see the as of one who hates you lying under its burden, you shall refrain from leaving him with it, you shall help him lift it up.

You shall not pervert the justice due to your poor in his suit. Keep far from a false charge, and do not slay the innocent and righteous, for I will not acquit the wicked. And you shall take no bribe, for a bribe blinds the officials, and subverts the cause of those who are in the right.

You shall not oppress a stranger; you know the heart of a stranger, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt.

For six years you shall sow your land and gather in it yield; but the seventh year you shall let it rest and lie fallow, that the poor of your people may eat; and what they leave the wild beast may eat. You shall do likewise with your vineyard, and with your olive orchard.

Six days you shall do your work, but on the seventh day you shall rest; that your ox and your as may have rest, and the son of your bondmaid, and the alien, may be refreshed. Take heed to all that I have said to you, and make no mention of the names of other gods, nor let such be herd out of your mouth.

Three times in the year you shall keep a feast to me. You shall keep the feast of unleavened bread; as I commanded you, you shall eat unleavened bread for seven days at the appointed time in the month of Abib, for in it you came out of Egypt. None shall appear before me empty-handed. You shall keep the feast of harvest, of the first fruits of your labor, of what you sow in the field. You shall keep the feast of ingathering at the end of the year, when you gather in from the field the fruit of your labor. Three times in the year shall all your males appear before the Lord GOD.

You shall not offer the blood of my sacrifice with leavened bread, The first of the first fruits of your ground you shall bring into the house of the LORD you God.

You shall not boil a kid in its mother’s milk (Exodus 23:1-19).

We have arrived at a crucial point in our study. And we can draw some conclusion that should more than surprise us. The first fact is that Exodus is the “Gospel Experience” of the Old Testament. Israel was chosen to represent the “Kingdom of God” among men on earth. Jesus’ Gospel is based on Exodus and “His Kingdom” is another attempt to set up “God’s Kingdom” on earth. Jesus came to bring back “God’s Kingdom” that Israel failed to maintain. The believers in Christ, who observe the Laws and the Ordinances that Christ restored, have become the heirs of “God’s Kingdom.” The promise to Israel was renewed in Christ to his followers. The promise was to protect, to discipline, and if necessary to be punished by their own mistakes and by their own transgressions. In a separate study, we shall discuss this in the “Covenant” in the New Testament. In this study, we shall continue with God’s promise to assist Israel learn to live under the covenant. And Moses was given the task to teach the “Covenant” to Israel. Should Moses fail to do so, he shall not be allowed to be part of that earthly kingdom. Moses also was given instructions on how to honor and how to worship God. Keeping Israel busy, kept their minds off Egypt’s fleshpots and idols.

Behold, I send an angel before you, to guard you on the way and to bring you to the place which I have prepared. Give heed to him and hearken to his voice, do not rebel against him, for he will not pardon your transgression; for my name is in him.

But if you hearken attentively to his voice and do all that I say, then I will be an enemy to your enemies and an adversary to your adversaries.

When my angel goes before you, and brings you in to the Amorites, and the Hittites, and the Perizzites, and the Canaanites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites, and I blot them out, you shall not bow down to their gods, nor serve them, nor do according to their works, but you shall utterly overthrow them and break their pillars in pieces. You shall serve the LORD your God, and I will bless your bread and your water; and I will take sickness away from the midst of you. None shall cast her young or be barren in your land; I will fulfil the number of your days.

I will send my terror before you, and will throw into confusion all the people against whom you shall come, and I will make all your enemies turn their backs to you. And I will send hornets before you, which shall drive out Hivite, Canaanite, and Hittite from before you. I will not drive them out from before you in one year, lest the land become desolate and the wild beasts multiply against you. Little by little I will drive them out from before you, until you are increased and possess the land.

And I will set your bounds from the Red Sea to the sea of the Philistines, and from the wilderness to the Euphrates; for I will deliver the inhabitants of the land into your hand, and you shall drive them out before you. You shall make no covenant with them or with their gods. They shall not dwell in your land, lest they make you sin against me; for it you serve their gods, it will surely be a snare to you (Exodus 23:20-33).

And he (angel) said to Moses, “Come up to the Lord, you and Aaron, Nadab, and Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel, and worship afar off. Moses alone shall come near to the LORD but the others shall not come near, and the people shall not come up with him.”

Moses came and told the people all the words of the LORD and all the ordinances; and all the people answered with one voice, and said, “All the words which the LORD has spoken we will do.” And Moses wrote all the words of the LORD. And he rose early in the morning, and built an altar at the foot of the mountain, and twelve pillars, according to the twelve tribes of Israel. And he sent young men of the people of Israel, who offered burnt offerings and sacrificed peace offerings of oxen to the LORD. And Moses took half of the blood and put it in basins, and half of the blood he threw against the altar. Then he took the book of the covenant, and read it in the hearing of the people; and they said, “All that the LORD has spoken we will do, and we will be obedient.” And Moses took the blood and threw it upon the people, and said, “Behold the blood of the covenant which the LORD has made with you in accordance with all these words.”

Then Moses and Aaron, Nadab, and Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel went up, and they saw the God of Israel; and there was under his feet as it were a pavement of sapphire stone, like the very heaven of clearness. And he did not lay his hand on the chief men of the people of Israel; they beheld God, and ate and drank.

The LORD said to Moses, “Come up to me on the mountain, and wait there; and I will give you the tables of stone, with the law and the commandment, which I have written for their instruction.” So Moses rose with his servant Joshua, and Moses went up into the mountain of God. And he said to the elders, “Tarry here for us, until we come to you again; and, behold, Aaron and Hur are with you; whoever has a cause, let him go to them.”

Then Moses went up on the mountain, and the cloud covered the mountain. The glory of the LORD settled on Mount Sinai, and the cloud covered it six days; and on the seventh day he called to Moses out of the midst of the cloud. Now the appearance of the glory of the LORD was like a devouring fire on the top of the mountain in the sight of the people of Israel. And Moses entered the cloud, and went up on the mountain. And Moses was on the mountain forty days and forty nights

(Exodus 24:1-18)

The Egyptian god RA housed his Pharaohs in huge pyramids; the Canaanites housed their gods and their priests in large temples, shrines, and Asherahs. The Israelites were no different. They, too, needed God to be represented in objects and sacrifices as evidence that God was with them. The idea that God is Spirit and lives in the heart, in the soul, and in the spirit of man did not and still does not resonate in human thinking. Even Christians run from church to church thinking they might find God. It was very revolutionary when Jesus told the Samaritan woman that God did not live in the temple in Jerusalem or even on their mountain:

“Our fathers worshiped on this mountain; and you say that in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship” Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father. You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews” (John 4:20-22).

Speaking to the Athenians, the Apostle Paul expressed a similar idea:

The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not line in shrines made by men, nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all me life and breath and everything. And he made from one every nation of to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their habitation, that they should seek God, in the hope that they might feel after him and find him. Yet he is not far from us, for ‘In him we live and move and are;’ as even some of your poets (Greek) have said, ‘For we are indeed his offspring.’ Being then God’s offspring, we ought not to think that the Deity is like gold, or silver, or stone, a representation by the art and imagination of men. The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all men everywhere to repent, because he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed, and of this he has given assurance to all men by raising him from the dead (Acts 17:24-31).

God yielded to the wishes of the people. God even instructed the people what He expected them to look like and what they were made of. They were to be made by the best craftsmen out of the finest and best materials, decorated with ornaments and jewelry, unlike anything in the world. The Ark of the Covenant, the tent to house the ark, the altars, and all the utensils were to be consecrated to the God of gods and they only were to be used by consecrated priests in garbs that honored God. The idea that one could come to God, without changing (just as one is), was abhorring to the Hebrew people of the Exodus. Moses was given specific details what God expects and so does Christ. In the Parable of the Wedding Banquet, the improperly dressed guest was evicted:

But when the king came in to look at the guests, he saw there a man who had no wedding garment; and he said to him, ‘Friend, how did you get in here without a wedding garment?’ And he was speechless. Then the king said to the attendants, ‘Bind him hand and foot, and cast him into the outer darkness; there men will weep and gnash their teeth.’ For many are called, but few are chosen (Matthew 22:11-14).

The LORD said to Moses, “Speak to the people of Israel, that they take for me an offering; from every man whose heart makes him willing you shall receive the offering for me. And this is the offering which you shall receive from them: gold, silver, and bronze, blue and purple and scarlet stuff and fine twined linen, goats’ hair, tanned rams’ skins, goatskins, acacia wood, oil for the lamps, spices for the anointing oil and for the fragrant incense, onyx stones, and stones for setting, for the ephod and for the breastpiece. And let them make me a sanctuary, that I may dwell in their midst. According to all that I show you concerning the pattern of the tabernacle, and of all its furniture, so you shall make it.

They shall make an ark of acacia wood; two cubits and a half shall be its length, a cubit and a half its breadth, and a cubit and a half its heights. And you shall overlay it with pure gold, within and without shall you overlay it, and you shall make upon it a molding of gold round about. And you shall cast four rings of gold for it and put them on its four feet, two rings on the side of it, and two rings on the other side of it. You shall make poles of acacia wood, and overlay them with gold. And you shall put the poles into the rings on the sides of the ark, to carry the ark by them. The poles shall remain in the rings of the ark; they shall not be taken from it. And you shall put into the ark the testimony which I shall give you. Then you shall make a mercy set of pure gold; two cubits and a half shall be its length, and a cubit and a half its breath. And you shall make two cherubim of gold; of hammered work shall you make them on the two ends of the mercy seat. Make one cherub on the one end, and one cherub on the other end; of one piece with the mercy seat shall you make the cherubim on its two end. The cherubim shall spread out their wings above, overshadowing the mercy seat with their wings, their faces one to another; toward the mercy seat shall the faces of the cherubim be. And you shall put the mercy seat on the top of the ark; and in the ark you shall put the testimony that I shall give you. There I will meet with you, and from above the mercy seat, from between the two cherubim that are upon the ark of the testimony, I will speak with you of all that I will give you in commandment for the people of Israel.

And you shall make a table of acacia wood; two cubits shall be its length, a cubit its breadth, and a cubit and a half its height. You shall overlay it with pure gold, and make a molding of gold around it. And you shall make around it a frame a handbreadth wide, and a molding of gold around the frame. And you shall make it four rings of gold, and fasten the rings to the four corners at its four legs. Close to the frame the rings shall lie, as holders for the poles to carry the table. You shall make the poles of acacia wood, and over lay them with gold, and the table shall be carried with these. And you shall make its plates and dishes for incense, and its flagons and bowls with which to pour libations; of pure god you shall make them. And you shall set the bread of the Presence on the table before me always.

And you shall make a lampstand of pure gold. The base and the shaft of the lampstand shall be made o hammered work; its cups, its capitals, and its flowers shall be of one piece with it; and there shall be six branches going out of its sides, three branches of the lampstand out of one side of it and three ranches of the lampstand out of the other side of it; three cups made like almonds, each with capital and flower, on one branch, and three cups made like almonds, each with capital and flower, on the other branch—so for the six branches going out of the lampstand; and on the lampstand itself four cups made like almonds, with their capitals and flowers, and a capital of one piece with it under each pair of the six branches going out from the lamp stand. Their capitals and their branches shall be of one piece with it, the whole of it one piece of hammered work of pure gold. And you shall make the seven lamps for it; and the lamps shall be set up so as to give light upon the space in front of it. Its snuffer and their trays shall be of pure gold. Of a talent of pure gold shall it be made, with all these utensils. And see that you make them after the pattern for them, which is being shown you on the mountain (Exodus 25:1-40).