I've been reading Exodus chapters 19 to 34, and since I'm new to this site thought I'd make a post and see if anyone can offer some enlightenment. I find the Old Testament hard to comprehend sometimes, The New Testament-Jesus and the unconditional love and forgiveness makes sense, Its a beautiful concept. Maybe that's why I'm immersing myself in the Old testament so I can try to understand it better; but Exodus 32, more specifically where Moses gets God to think twice about retribution then orders murder of the sinners through the Levites sits uncomfortably with me.
Does anyone have an alternative reading of this passage or an interpretation that contextualizes the difficulty of Moses coming down the mountain preaching Don't murder, then ordering it himself?
Look forward to a fresh perspective.
The Old Testament is hard to comprehend...because they were under Law..We are under Grace..Praise God!!....
Could it be in verse 26 of chapter 32 where Moses says..."Who is on the Lords side come unto me"....they lived?...
Kinda like in the New Testament...what will be done to those who "believe"..to everlasting life...and those who don't, to torment...
Just a thought!
I see Sandy, so It's a bit like- Jesus hasn't arrived yet and therefore the people of the old testaments mistakes are necessary to prompt his conception, therefore in a way we can look at the old testament as if they weren't lucky enough to have the forgiveness we have today? If that makes sense- not the most eloquent of explanations.
So their mistakes are judged under a different law/relationship to god, therefore we should not necessarily look upon their mistakes as ways to judge god, but ways that god invented a narrative in order for us to receive Jesus?
Is that what you think?
Thanks for the reply
Yes.. :))..Under Law and therefore...different outcomes...at least thats what I believe....And as far as comprehending... Many parts of the Bible are this way to me.... lol...but I like to dig deep...find hidden treasures...And HE loves to show us...Those who hunger & thirst for righteousness..shall be filled!!! yay!..smile
I have been listening to some teaching of late about the first 5 books of the Bible...How God was showing Moses what was to come IN Jesus..Very interesting...I sometimes feel the scriptures setting us free from law..such as "Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law", "The law came through Moses but grace & truth were realized through Jesus Christ" , "But to this day whenever Moses is read a veil lies over their heart..but whenever a person turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away"....this is just to name a few.....causes us to kinda give Moses a bad rap.....But God used Moses tremendously...and showed him many a thing to come.....Plus, the law had to be given ..to show us our need for a Savior. Amen?...So...its all "Good" to get us where we are today...
So glad the Spirit of the Living God is on the inside of us now...and not written on stone..which is the "Ministry of Death"..2 Corinthians..3:7
Christ fulfilled the law......What we could not do...He done for us....
Thank you Father for your Son
Resting in the finished work of the Cross
Sista Sandy :)
(Not sure I gave you any enlightenment on Exodus)...but I sure preached..hahahaha
Hi, harry. Wouldn't it be great to be able to chat more interactively about matters such as you've raised for discussion, from Ex 32! I'd like to throw a couple of things into the discussion, but because of this text-and-wait medium, I'll share some observations/ thoughts in as concise a manner as I can.
Moses has indeed come down the mountain preaching "don't murder", but I don't see him "then ordering it himself". What transpires on the mountain, it seems to me, is one component of God's "program" for creating a people for Himself, who reflect who He is -- a desire upon which He consistently has acted from the beginning. In the law given from Ex 20 and on, He conveys a spiritual/social/moral order that is designed to shape the Hebrews as a distinct community, a people who would be uniquely distinct from the surrounding nations, centred on Himself.
In Ex 20:13, "you shall not murder" is not "you shall not end a person's life". Murder is self-serving, done by one's own authority, perhaps even arbitrary. See Ex 21:12-15, or 29 for example. In those cases, it is the community or legitimate authorities of the community that are authorized, even directed, to exercise the judgement-by-execution. It's consistent with very early revelation from God, as in Genesis 9:6.
What I see, personally, as giving context and legitimacy to Moses' ordering of the Levites (those were the only ones who came forward as "for the LORD" in Ex 32:26!) is the following, which could be better fleshed out in conversation but is just my sketchy offering:
1) God had intended, as He told Moses, to whipe out the whole lot who had, within a matter of days, departed so far from the One who had delivered them from Egypt in answer to their years of groaning for deliverance, that they were actually fashioning idols, declaring that these idols had delivered them from Egypt, and were presenting offerings to them!
2) Moses had become their intercesssor before God, pleading for their lives so that the nations would not be brought to thinking that the God of the Hebrews was a joke (32:11-12) and so that the promise of a people which was given to Abraham could still be fulfilled (32:13). In other words, Moses is so aligned with God's heart for a people, that he offered his own life if that would be atonement (as in 32:30-32). Also, the culling out of the apparent hardened perpetrators of the blantant snubbing of God (32:26-28) is, in Moses' mind, a way to possibly buy the larger Hebrew nation out of big trouble -- the possibility of being blotted out altogether. He's still showing His full identification with God's purposes to have a people.
3) Moses was seemingly very much in tune with God, while at the same time preserving a nation. Notice how God responds in Ex 32:33-35! There is a blotting out of His book, of those who sinned. And there appears to be more purging (v:35), by death, by God Himself. The wages of sin is, indeed, death -- here indicated by physical death. Moses and God are on the same page, both in purpose and in practice.
At least, that's how I'm reading those chapters. Your thoughts?
Blessings upon you, Harry, as you continue to discover more of the God who has captured you! I desire that blessing upon myself, as well!
Thanks for the reply Jim, It shows how successful communities like this can be when people invest time to put forward their personnel readings and interpretations. Both yours and Sandy's comments have given me a perspective I just couldn't quite grasp on my own. I think the modern skepticism of faith and the battering the bible has had in recent media has effected the way certain trigger words and occurrences effect the reader, for example sometimes it can be all too easy to pick fault with scripture rather than investing the time and effort to get something really worth while out of it. I suppose that's the difference between reading something critically and reading something with emotional and spiritual effort involved. Anyway I'll certainly contemplate these concepts and try to get the most out of them.
Hi, Harry. Good to learn of your discernement about attitude/ orientation toward the Bible. A principle that I moved into about a decade ago is to read the Bible in order to love God more. When Jesus summed up all of the law and prophets by saying that the message of the OT is to love God with all our heart, soul and strength and to love our neighbour as ourselves, then I like to be conscious about letting God develop those two parallel threads as the governing threads of my life. So reading the Bible, for me, is learning to love Him and learning how to love others. For a long time, I used to read the Bible to know what it says, what God is like, how to live like a Christian, etc. But over the past decade or so, it is such a different experience because God reveals what the heavy duty scholarship that I had given to "knowing the Bible" could not obtain. Now it's meeting God rather than a focus on knowing the content. It's life. A constant delight that makes each day a joy, even when there are messes.
When God gave the Law through Moses, he was not giving them a route to eternal life, He was establishing a brand new nation!
All nations need a statute of Law, otherwise chaos reigns. The Israelites has spent 400 years under an Egyptian occult legal system which established a whole host of demonic Gods to be worshipped and served.
Almost overnight God was welding the Israelites together under Holy Law into a single cohesive entity which had covenanted to serve him and him alone. I do not believe that the main purposes of the Law was to make them righteous, as righteousness, even then, still came by grace. The purpose of the Law was largely to shut the door to Satan's intrusion in the lives of the Israelites. This was one of the reasons for so much blood sacrifice. Representatively it constantly paid the debt for their sin, which would otherwise given a grounding for Satan.
The rebellious building of the Golden Calf was a wide open door to Satan gaining control over the God's people, and it was necessary to stamp out the sin with haste.
Have you noticed the similarity between the judgement of Achan in the OT, and the judgement of Ananias and Saphira in the NT.
Both events occurred right at the beginning of a great new work of God. Satan got in right there trying to pollute it at the beginning. Judgement fell in accord with the depth of what they clearly knew.
The judgement of those who worshipped the calf in the OT was at a time when they had all witnessed a massive display of God's power. Harsh judgement was necessary to halt more death and destruction invading the nation if idol worship was left unaddressed. Idol worship, if not halted, would always descend into the likes of human sacrifice found in the canaanite nations they were supposed to destroy..
We have to look at Israel, the nation as a whole a person as we are as individuals. God saving Israel the entity out of Egypt is similar to us when we were saved. God took an idolitrous people as they were, forgave them, washing them in the blood as placed on the door posts and brought them out of the bondage of Egypt which represented sin.
After salvation, God baptized them (figuratively) in the Red Sea, sinful, whinney and Idolitrous as they were. This is why I don't believe in infant baptism and that baptism is what should take place after salvation.
After salvation is when God works in us to change us to be more like Him represented in the cloud and pillar of smoke. As life goes, God grows us "killing" off sinful habits as the sinful people of the entity of Israel were killed to purge the body of Israel of sin.
I know God seemed very short tempered and brutal during that time but we have to remember that Israel was as a child. The 40 years in the desert similar to being grounded. Judgement wasn't a revenge against the people for thier sin but a lesson to grow the nation and the 40 years necessary for that growth.
That's my take.
In very broad strokes, the Old Testament is very Hebrew, the heart and soul of Judaism, a foreign culture to us modern Gredo-Roman gentiles. It would not be at all surprising that it is hard for us today, separated by more than 20 centuries, two languages, several cultures and many foreign gentile traditions in between. However, it is the roots of Christianity.
Jesus was throughly a Hebrew, quoting the Hebrew scriptures, preaching a Hebrew message, to people in Judea speaking a semitic language, people who also were Hebrew in culture. The same is true of Jesus' apostles. Modern Christians rarely account for this broad stroke context and read scripture as though the apostles Paul and Peter had 21st century people in mind.
Christianity actually functioned as a Judaism sect for more than a decade after Pentecost. In Jerusalem it continued that way for most of the first century. The New Testament gets mystical and difficult only because of our cultural isolation from the original writers. Triple that for the Old Testament. However, both testaments get easier when one begins to appreciate them not as doctrinal treaties or moral instructionals but as godly inspired documents revealing to us the knowledge of God but transmitted to us through a Hebrew cultural lens.