Life of Moses
God’s Major Dos and Don’ts of Living Safely…
Introduction…Have you ever noticed how you become like, good or bad, those whom you hang with? Why is that? So what if you are hanging with someone that says or does something that you strongly disagree with? No way is this good. This is BAD! Do you speak up? Do you voice your opposition? Abruptly? What does that do to the party? Make you look like the bad guy? Or are you silent for fear of the mob turning on you, perhaps making fun of you or telling you to chill? Makes you think doesn’t it?
Repeatedly, I have had to watch most everyone that is successful at coming off drugs or addiction change friends and acquaintances. It just goes with the territory. At first we resist it, and then we have to learn the hard way. Why is this? Is it fear? Fear of rejection? Isn’t this instinctual—don’t we want to be accepted? But what about when things get out of hand. Do you think God was aware of this when he was telling the Israelites that if you want to dwell safely within your new borders, you are also going to have to have internal moral boundaries as well..?
While God chooses to forgive his Bride for her sin and reaffirms his promise to take her to and place her safely witihn her Promise Land, there are two important stipulations. One is negative, and one is positive. Both are meant to protect his bride from further dangerous Spiritual unfaithfulness: 1) the first has to do with those who don’t or will not worship Yahweh God within Israel’s Promise Land borders, and 2) the second has to do with respect to how Israel will preserve and sustain her active worship of her Spiritual Groom within their Lands. Pray…
Read Passage several times
10 Then the LORD said: “I am making a covenant with you. Before all your people I will do wonders never before done in any nation in all the world. The people you live among will see how awesome is the work that I, the LORD, will do for you.
Here is the agreement.. I will do things never done before in any nation of the world. Considering what had already taken place within both ends of the Fertile Crescent, both east and west, Mesopotamia and Egypt, this is saying a lot…a whole lot. And the people you live among will come to know that I am THE GOD, and that the God is with you, working these wonders. God is about to do something incredibly special. That’s never been done before. Watch and be amazed. This is the contract, and what a contract, especially after a grievous violation of the contract that for all intents and purposes should have rendered the contract null and void. But God…
First, the Protective Prohibitions…
11 Obey what I command you today. I will drive out before you the Amorites, Canaanites, Hittites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites.
Before Israel can occupy her land, Yahweh must do a bit of house cleaning. Six nations or people groups will be replaced by one. Six that Yahweh, dating back to at least seven hundred years before (Gen. 15), has been incredibly patient with. But now, that divine patience has reached its eternal limit.
12 Be careful not to make a treaty with those who live in the land where you are going, or they will be a snare among you.
How will they be a snare? Would they actually worship these other nation’s gods or idols as opposed to Yahweh? Absolutely. They had just built their own golden idol calf. Yahweh’s bride seems easily led astray.
13 Break down their altars, smash their sacred stones and cut down their Asherah poles.
Not only don’t make a treaty or agreement with them, but destroy their objects of worship. Wouldn’t this be seen, in modern times, as being disrespectful to the worship of other peoples already living in the land? This doesn’t sound a bit too tolerant? How does this seem to square with today’s religious tolerance? What was this rejection of other people group’s worship so critical to Yahweh God’s new bride’s survival?
14 Do not worship any other god, for the LORD, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God.
So not only is he compassionate and forgiving, as stated earlier, Yahweh is jealous for his bride’s affections, love and loyalties.
15 “Be careful not to make a treaty with those who live in the land; for when they prostitute themselves to their gods and sacrifice to them, they will invite you and you will eat their sacrifices.
Treaties lead to acceptance, and acceptance leads to false worship or Spiritual apostasy…
16 And when you choose some of their daughters as wives for your sons and those daughters prostitute themselves to their gods, they will lead your sons to do the same.
This also applies to inter-cultural dating, in this case. Marry their daughters and you will worship their gods.
17 “Do not make cast idols.
So no treaties, marriage, idols or even tolerance of their false worship, or you risk worshiping their gods and eating their sacrifices, which defeats the whole purpose of Yahweh rescuing Israel from Egypt, entering into a special divine-national covenant with her and eventually placing her within the Land. Why do all this, if she is going to worship or love some other god, simply because she associated with those which did not hold her values?
Now the To Dos of Worship…or Love for a God…
18 “Celebrate the Feast of Unleavened Bread. For seven days eat bread made without yeast, as I commanded you. Do this at the appointed time in the month of Abib, for in that month you came out of Egypt.
The feast associated with the dreadful, but nationally-liberating 10th plague (Ex. 11-12)? This feast looks back to the Passover when Israel was redeemed out of Egypt? Why wasn’t yeast allowed to make the bread dough rise? Because Israel had to leave quickly, and the dough had no time to rise—thus it was referred to as the bread of haste (Deut. 16:3).
Any other reason? Does yeast perhaps represent sin or false worship and the immorality that accompanies false worship? Is this what the pagan worship of the other religions in the land would be like to Israel—yeast to dough…a little yeast affects the entire dough, thus a little sin, like and fast-growing virus would infect the entire nation (Matt. 16; 1 Cor. 5)?
19 “The first offspring of every womb belongs to me, including all the firstborn males of your livestock, whether from herd or flock.
So after the prohibitions against treaties, inter-marriage and false worship, followed by a command to keep the annual feast associated with their being liberated from Egypt in the first place, is the command to redeem her first born.
Is this not also related to the Passover? Just as God took Egypt’s firstborn in order to release Israel, he also protected the firstborn of Israel because they had the blood of the sacrificial lamb painted on their doorposts?
In return did not God say from now on as payment, your first born child belongs to me, and after their birth you must redeem or buy them back from me? Perhaps to remind the Israelites of the very severe tangible costs of their redemption (Ex 13).
20 Redeem the firstborn donkey with a lamb, but if you do not redeem it, break its neck. Redeem all your firstborn sons. “No one is to appear before me empty-handed.
21 “Six days you shall labor, but on the seventh day you shall rest; even during the plowing season and harvest you must rest.
A reminder of the Sabbath worship in which they were to cease from their labors and worship God, thus associating rest and worship?
22 “Celebrate the Feast of Weeks with the firstfruits of the wheat harvest, and the Feast of Ingathering at the turn of the year.
More festivals? The harvest of the winter wheat usually takes place in June. And the Jewish new year is usually in the Fall. So these are the two other festivals along with Passover and Unleavened bread that they were to celebrate three times a year—Weeks and Ingathering.
23 Three times a year all your men are to appear before the Sovereign LORD, the God of Israel.
Is this an accountability thing—three times a year to worship and gather as a nation? To keep their faith fresh and alive so that they would not forget?
24 I will drive out nations before you and enlarge your territory, and no one will covet your land when you go up three times each year to appear before the LORD your God.
You will be safe when you come to worship me. For a nation surrounded by enemies, that is one incredible promise…a promise that is associated with thriving worship.
25 “Do not offer the blood of a sacrifice to me along with anything containing yeast, and do not let any of the sacrifice from the Passover Feast remain until morning.
26 “Bring the best of the firstfruits of your soil to the house of the LORD your God. “Do not cook a young goat in its mother’s milk.”
In this renewal of the covenant after Israel’s Spiritual apostasy and her divine Groom’s forgiveness, it might be appropriate to summarize what has been going on.
First, God raises the bar concerning the treatment of servants.
Fairness, responsibility, repeatability and intent are all taken into account deciding justice.
Real restitution is important within the Law.
There can be and will be serious and painful consequences for serious violations of the Law.
Morality and ethics are always important, regardless of the Law.
My angel will take you to the promise land; fail to follow and the consequences will be tragic.
The treaty between God and Israel is ratified…
• Chapters 25-31…
Instructions concerning the tabernacle’s construction and maintenance are given.
The new bride disgraces her Divine Groom and violates her covenant, putting its very survival in jeopardy.
Moses begs for the Bride’s forgiveness; the Groom relents ; Moses sees God.
Moses receives another record of the broken covenant.
In promising to place his national bride in the land, the eternal Groom asks two major things of her. 1) Don’t be sucked in by the false religious practices and worship of the nations whom you are replacing and 2) remember to practice the commands and feasts that I have given you.
Bottom line: By faithfully abiding by certain critical don’ts and dos, you will remain Spiritually faithful and therefore be safe within your borders.
Why? (What truths do I learn about God, man, people, myself, life?)
• The temptation to compromise or even just nicely accommodate those that don’t worship the True God is seemingly ever present and subtly seductive, which in turn, causes us to begin to warm up and become more accepting of values and practices that are not only NOT based on the truth, but can and will lead to what previously was considered and condemned as formerly reprehensible behaviors and attitudes.
• On the other hand, by continuing to practice those biblical values and beliefs that have been handed down through my Spiritual forefathers, I am able to keep my faith fresh, alive and powerfully resistant to inappropriate and immorally dangerous behaviors and attitudes.
• Israel is not earning what she is receiving. She deserves severe judgment. In fact, by all rights, the contract or covenant should be voided. And yet, God, through Moses’ plea for mercy does not void the contract, which ultimately through much sin, salvation, mercy, grace, forgiveness and discipline, leads to one small stump or root that offers salvation from God’s righteous condemnation of all things tainted with evil. So how does one process this. By one act of undeserved mercy, followed by thousand, perhaps millions or billions more, one earthly stand—Mary—is impregnated by God’s Spirit which brings forth Israel’s Messiah or David’s Son or the Son of Man, as well as God’s Son. And this unique union of all things human and divine, then brings about not humanity’s atonement for sin, but sin’s ultimate destruction, upon the Son of God’s return someday. My point: God is just in ending the contract, but because he does, man is offered a human-divine lifeline from evil. Amazing.
• At the same time, there is prescriptive list of don’ts and dos that are meant to inoculate God’s people from sin’s deadly virus. At the same time, without the Son’s atonement for sin and the giving of His Spirit, law, rules, commandments are for the most part meaningless. But with God, they are life in the sin’s jungle.
Thanksgiving…1) With help, I was able, I think, to chart a course through my jumbled, tangled maze of attempting to incorporate my newer studies on SLove with my older version of SLove. Yeah! Did it the old fashion way, a piece by piece comparison. Suddenly, at the edge of the woods, the dark, confusing woods gave way to broad, open plain. 2) Saw some smiles and a bit of light in a difficult counseling situation this week, Lord. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. 3) Did some good work this week; also saw or experienced some defeats. Tough to take. But, immature, defiant and foolish immature disobedience, in the end, the HOLY will not be robbed of his glory or truth. And oh my, when this truth is revealed! Oh my! 4) Had a dream in which God not only re-energized me, but again parted the confusing ministry path before me. In my dream, I was focused on my ministry deficits, which are many, but suddenly, the walls came tumbling down and God reminded me of the walls of denial and confusion that his Spirit is using me to tear down. I was a different human being. Like going from darkness to light. Amazing!
Struggle…Waiting for youth to make a bunch of mistakes, perhaps, someday, finally become broken and then grow up. When, O Lord? And will I be alive to see it. I await that day, Lord. I await that day.
Truth…To remain Spiritually healthy, you have to say both yes and no; yes to the good things, and NO! to the bad things. Thanks for your Spirit who patiently seeks to help me see and choose these choices…
Application…While I would like to control or shape others’ choices, in the end, I can’t. I want to, but it doesn’t work that way. The Divine gives each of us choice. But with His Spirit I can make better choices. Amen.
Joseph M. Cross
Scripture quotations, unless noted otherwise, are taken from the Holy Bible: New International Version‚ NIV‚ Copyright 1973, 1978, 1984, International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers. All rights reserved.