MOSES was the great lawgiver and the one whom God used to establish the Hebrew theocracy. He stands head and shoulders above all men of the Old Covenant with the exception of John the Baptist who was the greatest of all men prior to his time. Moses was great in every way. He had a great heart, a marvelous intellect, and a wonderful education. Doubtless he inherited a deeply religious nature from his parents. He was given all the advantages which the great Egyptian Empire could confer upon anyone, for he was reared as the son of Pharaoh's daughter in the royal palace. He was, therefore, taught all the arts of the Egyptians, in addition to what one acquired in the schools of that day and time. The Lord gave him special training for forty years when he was out in the desert caring for his father-in-law's sheep. This second period of forty years was a time of post-graduate study. Thus at the age of eighty, this meekest of all men finished his education and was ready to be used of God in delivering his brethren from the bondage of Egypt.
We have seen in the study of the Book of Genesis that it covers a period of 2369 years and ends with the death of Joseph. There is a gap of sixty-four years between the conclusion of Genesis and the beginning of Exodus, which starts by describing the environment and conditions into which Moses was born in the year 2433 A.H. As we have seen, Genesis gives universal history in the first eleven chapters and the beginnings of Hebrew history in chapters 12-50. Exodus sounds the keynote of redemption. It covers a period of eighty-one years, which divides into the forty years of Moses' life at the court of Pharaoh, the forty years of his stay in the wilderness, and a period of one year from the time of the Exodus to the setting up of the Tabernacle at Mount Sinai.
Exodus divides into seven sections, preceded however with an introduction in the first seven verses. The first division consists of 1:8-7:7 and tells of Israel's severe bondage in the land of Egypt. God's call to Moses at the burning bush and His commission to him to deliver the people of Israel from Egyptian bondage are recorded in, chapters 3 and 4. At that time the Lord revealed himself in a fuller way than He had ever done. Here He revealed His memorial name which is "I AM THAT I AM." This thought became crystallized in the word, Jehovah, which, as indicated in another study, means "the uncaused Cause of all things." God had revealed himself to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob as El Shaddai, which means God Almighty; but He revealed himself as the covenant-keeping God to Moses when He commissioned him to deliver Israel.LEVITICUS
In order to make Pharaoh willing to release Israel, God was forced to send ten judgments upon Pharaoh and the gods of Egypt, the account of which is found in 7:8-13:16. Each of these was a literal stroke of judgment and is thus to be interpreted. A poetical version of these mighty events is found in Psalm 78. One would do well also to read Psalm 106. Everyone understands that those judgments sent by God upon Egypt were literal. Before anyone attempts to interpret the Book of Revelation, he would do well to read this section of Exodus in preparation for his effort to get the message of this last book of Scripture.
Israel was about a month and a half on the journey from Egypt to Mount Sinai. She left on the night of the fifteenth of the first month and arrived there in the third monthpresumably the first day of that month; hence we say about forty-five days were consumed in the journey (Ex. 19:1). The people who had been accustomed to a land of luxuriant vegetation now marched out into a barren and uninviting wilderness. God led them forth in order to teach them that man does not live by bread alone but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of Godthe one lesson which men need to learn today. The account of the journey is found in Exodus 13:17-18:27.
God had in grace dealt with Israel by delivering her from her oppressors and by meeting all of her needs along the journey. Unfortunately, however, she chose to enter into a covenant of works at Mount Sinai, for she said, "All that Jehovah hath spoken we will do." Thus she preferred a covenant of works to one of grace. Of course, she did this in ignorance (Ex. 19:1-8). From the heights of Mount Sinai, God spoke the Ten Commandments and later gave Moses the Book of the Covenant. With the proper sacrifices and ceremonies the covenant was ratified (Ex. 24:1-8). The full account, therefore, of the Sinaitic Covenant made on this occasion is found in Exodus 19:1-24:18.
The plans and specifications to the minutest details for the building of the Tabernacle together with all of its furniture are found in the next sections, 25:1-31:18.
The fellowship into which Israel entered with her Maker by the ratification of the covenant was soon broken. While Moses was in the Mount with God receiving the pattern after which the Tabernacle and its furniture should be constructed, the people with the consent and connivance of Aaron made the golden calf. This idolatrous act brought a temporary breach of the covenant. (Concerning this episode, see 32:1-34:35.)
In the last six chapters of Exodus we see an account of the construction of the Tabernacle with all its furniture. It was finally set up on New Year's Day of the second year of the Exodus, which was 2514 A.H. (Ex. 40:17). When the Tabernacle was erected, all the furniture and appurtenances were put in their proper places, and the correct ceremonial was begun; the cloud covered the tent of meeting and the glory of the Lord filled the Tabernacle. Thus Exodus ends.
Numbers, the fourth book of the Bible, begins with the first day of the second month of the second year of the Exodus.NUMBERS
Thirty days intervened between the closing events of Exodus and the beginning of Numbers. During this time the Book of Leviticus was spoken by the Lord to Moses from the door of the tent of meeting. This book has been called the "manual for the priests," which name is indeed a proper designation for it. Full instructions are found therein for the five principal offerings of the Lord, which are given in the first seven chapters of the book. The heart of the entire ceremonial system of sacrifices and offerings finds its highest point in the ritualistic service of the Day of Atonement, concerning which we read in the sixteenth chapter. The ritual of this day for the faithful observers rolled forward their sins for a year. At the same time it typified a day when the nation of Israel, at the end of the Tribulation, will see her great mistake, will repudiate the national sin, and will accept the Lord Jesus Christ as her atonement.
In the twenty-third chapter appears the account of the set feasts of Jehovah. She had her civil year, which began in the fall, but at the Exodus, God revealed her religious calendar, which began with the first of Nisanfourteen days before the passover. These various feasts, which are spread over the first seven months of the year, set forth in a graphic, pictorial manner the religious experiences of Israel as they crystallize in the national experience throughout history. As one shall see in the study of the feasts of Jehovah, part of the things foreshadowed by these feasts are now history; on the other hand, part await fulfillment.
Leviticus 26 is one of the most important chapters of the book, because it gives Israel's history pre-written. (For a full discussion of this subject, see "The History of Israel in Prophecy.")
From Leviticus we now must notice Numbers. Some of the highlights of this book are as follows: The census taken at Mount Sinai is found in the first chapter. The number, the encampment, and the princes of the tribes are recorded in chapter 2. The priestly blessinga most important itemis found in 6:24-27. The oblations of the princes are enumerated in chapter 7. In chapter 9 we read of the institution of what is called the "little passover." It was to be observed one month later by those who were unavoidably prevented from participating in it at the regular time. We see this second passover observed once in the Old Testament in the days of Hezekiah (II Chron. 30). It may have been observed at other times, but no mention is made of it. The passover was one of the outstanding feasts of Israel. It commemorated her deliverance from Egyptian bondage and typified her final redemption at the second coming of our Lord when she accepts Him.
Numbers 9:15 connects this book with Exodus 40:17the erection of the Tabernacle. The first section consisting of 1:1-10:10 gives an account of Israel at Mount Sinai.
Israel's journey from Sinai to Kadesh-barnea with the varied experiences through which she passed is recorded in 10:11-14:45. The Hebrews could have gone into the Promised Land from that point if they had believed. They listened however to the report of the ten unbelieving spies and revolted against God, refusing to enter. Thus the second year of the Exodus proved an epochal one, for the destiny of the nation was then determined for the next thirty-eight years. Because of this rebellion, she was forced to wander in the wilderness for thirty-seven years. Notwithstanding her disobedience and unbelief, the Lord was very gracious in giving her a cloud by day to protect from the sultry heat and a pillar of fire by night to warm the atmosphere. Thus He "air-conditioned" the desert. He provided the people with manna and flesh. He also caused their garments to last until they reached Canaan. For thirty-seven years approximately, they wandered in the wilderness, the account of which is found in chapters 15:1-19:22.
In the fortieth year of the wilderness experiences, Moses led the people back to Kadesh-barnea. At this point Miriam died, and later in the same year Aaron passed to his reward. They made their journey from Kadesh, going around the land of Edom, and finally appeared on the Plains of Moab east of the Jordan. The account of this portion of the journey is recorded in Numbers 20:1-22:1.
In the section 22:2-36:13 we have an account of the events which transpired while Israel was in the Plains of Moab. In this passage are found the marvelous predictions made by Balaam concerning Israel. Although the disobedient prophet wanted to curse her, the Lord did not permit his doing so but caused him to utter some of the most marvelous predictions regarding Israel's future that are to be found anywhere in the Scriptures. They are given in chapters 23 and 24.
At the waters of Meribah, Moses lost his temper and smote the rock instead of speaking to it as God commanded. In doing so he rebelled against the Lord and spake unadvisedly with his lips (Ps. 106:32,33). Because of his misrepresenting God, whose spokesman he was, the Lord did not permit him to enter the Promised Land. He did however grant him the privilege of seeing it from the heights of Moab from which he obtained an excellent view. I have had the opportunity of thus looking across the Jordan into the Promised Land from a position, not far, at least, from the point from which Moses viewed it.
Just before his death Moses delivered the three farewell addresses which constitute the body of the Book of Deuteronomy. The name of this fifth book simply means "a repetition of the law." The Book of Leviticus, as we have seen, was the manual for the priests, instructing them how to conduct the different services. The structure and style of the book confirm that view of the situation. In the Book of Deuteronomy we see the flowing language of an orator speaking to the popular mind and reiterating many things which are said in the Book of Leviticus, but interpreting the message in a popular way so that the masses could understand. When the Books of Leviticus and Deuteronomy are studied, one can readily appreciate the beautiful harmony which exists between them. One will also see that there is no foundation for any of the critical theories which try to make contradictions and differences between these records.
In chapter 28 we see a fuller exposition of the outline of Israel's history pre-written as it is in Leviticus 26. Deuteronomy 32 might properly be called Israel's national anthem. It gives in poetical form a similar outline of Israel's history pre-written. In chapter 33 we see the account of Moses' blessing the children of Israel. The book concludes with an account of the death of Moses, the great man of God who reappeared, together with Elijah, at the Mount of Transfiguration. (See Matthew 17.) Thus Moses, the great lawgiver, passed off the stage of action, having honored his God and served his day and generation.