Time to be honest. How often, when reading through your Bible, you skip over those four books after Genesis? Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy, the last four books of what pastors call the Pentateuch, have tedious laws to match their high-flown names. These books might have a little (lot of) trouble holding your attention, and often it seems that they hold no edification or importance for a born-again modern Christian who is freed from OT law. I mean, look at this verse.
And for the gate of the court shall be an hanging of twenty cubits, of blue, and purple, and scarlet, and fine twined linen, wrought with needlework: and their pillars shall be four, and their sockets four. (Exodus 27:16)
Ah, the building of the Tabernacle. I feel the urge to highlight it and put on a flowery bookmark, maybe even on my desk next to the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse….
Be serious. That verse had some importance, maybe, for the contractors who built the original tabernacle thousands of years ago, but it carries no meaning for us today. In fact, for those of you who like linguistics, the very name Deuteronomy means “the second giving of the law”. Why put it in the Christian Bible once, let alone twice?
All right, let’s imagine for a moment, VeggieTales style. Put yourself in Moses’ shoes- or sandals- and pretend that those tedious, rambling books of the law do not exist. Imagine that God tells you to worship Him, gives the Ten Commandments, and leaves it at that. Exodus ends after chapter 20 and jumps straight to Joshua and the battle of Jericho. Cool, right?
Not cool. You see, the people of Israel just came from the land of Egypt, full of demonic idols and strange religious customs that are directly contrary to the way God wants His people to worship. Culture shock hits; it is a drastic change of language and lifestyle alike. You don’t know what or even how to think anymore- about anything. Not only that, but you just saw this new omnipotent God just struck down the people of Egypt with ten plagues that directly attack the Egyptian idols. What should you believe? How do you respond to this awesome God?
Now without the rest of the Pentateuch, God says, “Worship Me and no one else, and treat people with decency. But watch out for all those pitfalls and big mistakes that could eventually kill you. Especially avoid idols; I hate those. And oh, by the way, I’m leading you to a Promised Land where pretty much everyone does every possible thing that is contrary to what I want you to do. Good luck!” Without the Law, Israel is left alone to figure out how exactly to worship the one true God.
With the Law, however, God says, “I love you. Even though you are chronic sinners who can’t possibly hope to obey Me on your own, I love you and want to teach you to serve Me as My chosen people. Moreover, I promise that I will provide a way for anyone who repents and believes that I can rescue them from sin. So here is how to worship the one true God. Here are the laws that dictate the healthiest, most sensible way to live. Here is the mirror that shows you that you are not perfect, and here are the sacrifices that point to the Savior.”
Law or no Law? Which sounds more like the God of the New Testament, the One who suffered and died for the sins of His followers?
Yes, I thought you’d say so. I agree. Even the Pentateuch has a very important role in the Bible.