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Prophet Moses - and the Holy Law of God**


In this third of a four part study on Prophet Moses {Musa in Arabic}, we will study how God sustains the people of God through the wilderness and gives them the law of God to which to live by.  In our last study, we saw how God saved the people of Israel from the hand of Pharaoh and his troops.    Where as all of the first born of the Egyptians were killed, God delivered the first born of the Israelites from death, because of the blood of the lamb, which they put on the doors of their houses. For God Himself had said, "The blood will be a sign for you on the houses where you are; and when I see the blood, I will pass over you." (Taurat - Exod. 12:13).  In addition, when the Israelites were finally freed and arrived at the shore of the Red Sea, they had no possible means of escaping from Pharaoh's army. However, we read how God pushed the waters aside for them so that they could walk through the middle of the sea, on dry ground. But when the troops of Egypt tried to cross, they were drowned. When the Israelites saw the great power of the Lord, they feared Him and sang to Him, "I will sing to the Lord, because He is my Salvation. The Lord is great!"

Let us try to imagine for a moment the circumstances in which the Israelites found themselves. They were a huge crowd-a multitude the population of a big city (more than two million people)! They were passing through a bone-dry desert--a desert without water or food. Think about it! A great multitude walking through a barren wilderness of sand and thorny trees! How would the tribes of Israel survive? Could they feed themselves? What do you think? Did the people of Israel have confidence in their God? Did they believe that God could do what He had promised? Let's turn back to the Scriptures now and discover the answer.  The Scripture read:

(Taurat - Exod. 16) 1The whole Israelite community set out from Elim and came to the Desert of Sin, which is between Elim and Sinai, on the fifteenth day of the second month after they had come out of Egypt. 2In the desert the whole community grumbled against Moses and Aaron. 3The Israelites said to them, "If only we had died by the Lord's hand in Egypt! There we sat round pots of meat and ate all the food we wanted, but you have brought us out into this desert to starve this entire assembly to death."

Well, did the tribes of Israel have confidence in God? No, they did not! They were grumbling against Him and His prophet Moses. Listen to how God answered them.

(Taurat - Exod. 16) 11The Lord said to Moses, 12"I have heard the grumbling of the Israelites. Tell them, 'At twilight you will eat meat, and in the morning you will be filled with bread. Then you will know that I am the Lord your God.'" 4Then the Lord said to Moses, "I will rain down bread from heaven for you. The people are to go out each day and gather enough for that day. In this way I will test them and see whether they will follow my instructions.

13That evening quail came and covered the camp, and in the morning there was a layer of dew around the camp. 14When the dew was gone, thin flakes like frost on the ground appeared on the desert floor. 15When the Israelites saw it, they said to each other, "What is it?" For they did not know what it was. Moses said to them, "It is the bread the Lord has given you to eat. 31The people of Israel called the bread manna. It was white like coriander seed and tasted like wafers made with honey.

That is how God fed the tribes of Israel in the wilderness, until the day they arrived at the land of Canaan.  This took a total of 40 years.  Did you hear where the food came from? It came from heaven. It came from God. For how long?  For 40 years.  Did the Israelites deserve the food that God sent down for them? No! They didn't deserve anything except God's punishment for all their unbelief and ungratefulness. It was only because of God's mercy that they didn't die of hunger in the desert.

Perhaps someone asks, "Of what value are the stories of the Israelites to us today?" The Word of God says: "These things happened to them as examples (or illustrations) and were written down as warnings for us, on whom the fulfillment of the ages has come." (Injeel - 1 Cor. 10:11) As God delivered the children of Israel from the power of the desert, in a similar way, God wants to deliver every child of Adam from the power of sin.

We ask you: What did the Israelites have to do so they would not perish in the desert? They simply had to gather and eat the food that God sent down from the sky. From where did their deliverance come? Did it come from their own efforts? No, their deliverance came from God. They had no power to save themselves from hunger and death. They couldn't do anything but gather and eat the food that God had sent down for them.

The Holy Scripture shows us that we are all sinners like the people of Israel and have no means of saving ourselves--neither from the power of sin nor from the righteous judgment of God. Perhaps we are not walking through a dry desert as were the Israelites, but the shadow of death still hangs over us as it hung over them. The Word of the Lord is clear: Anyone who refuses to receive the means of salvation that God has provided will die in his sin and fall into the eternal fire of hell. These are not pleasant thoughts. Die in sin! Come into judgment! Fall into hell! These are terrible tragedies! The good news, however, is that no one needs to die in his (or her) sin. Just as God gave the Israelites food so that they could live and not die of hunger in the wilderness, in a similar way God has given us "Food" so that we can be blessed in this life and forever in the life to come!

What is the "Food" which gives eternal life? Can we buy a food in the market that can give us the power to live forever in God's presence? No, no such food is available in the market! Well then, where and what is this "Food" which gives eternal life?   Friends, you must know that about one thousand five hundred years after the Israelites ate manna (bread) in the wilderness, God sent down the Redeemer, the Savior of the world. He is the "Food" which God has provided to save the people of the world from the power of sin, death, judgment and hell. Let us listen and think carefully about what the Redeemer Himself said when He was upon the earth. He said,

"I tell you the truth, he who believes has everlasting life. I am the bread {Lit. food, sustenance} of life. Your forefathers ate the manna in the desert, yet they died. But here is the bread that comes down from heaven, which a man may eat and not die. I am the living bread that came down from heaven…He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty!" (Injeel - John 6:47-51, 35)

As we continue further in our study,  we are going to see how God appeared to the people of Israel in the desert and gave them His holy law. We are reading in the Torah, the book of Exodus, chapter nineteen. It begins like this: "In the third month after the Israelites left Egypt, on the very day, they came to the Desert of Sinai." (Taurat - Exod. 19:1) Where were Moses and the Israelites now in their journey through the desert? They had come to the mountain of Sinai. Do you remember where Moses was when God first called him and spoke to him from the bush which was on fire but didn't burn up? It was on that same mountain of Sinai. Do you remember the story? We heard how God spoke to Moses on Mount Sinai saying,

"I have indeed seen the misery of my people in Egypt…so I have come down to rescue them…So now, go. I am sending you to Egypt…I will be with you. And this will be the sign to you that it is I who have sent you: When you have brought the people out of Egypt, you will worship God on this mountain." (Taurat - Exod. 3:7,8,10,12)

Did God do for Moses what He had promised? He surely did! Where is Moses in our reading in the Torah today? We see Moses and the multitude of Israel at the base of Mount Sinai, just as God had promised Moses when He spoke to him in the burning bush, saying, "When you have brought the people out of Egypt, you will worship God on this mountain!"  Now let us continue reading to see how God reappeared to Moses and spoke to all the people of Israel at Mount Sinai. The Scripture says:

(Taurat - Exod. 19) 3Then Moses went up to God, and the Lord called to him from the mountain and said, "This is what you are to say to the house of Jacob and what you are to tell the people of Israel: 4'You yourselves have seen what I did to Egypt, and how I carried you on eagles' wings and brought you to myself. 5Now if you obey me fully and keep my covenant, then out of all nations you will be my treasured possession. Although the whole earth is mine, 6you will be for me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.' These are the words you are to speak to the Israelites." 7So Moses went back and summoned the elders of the people and set before them all the words the Lord had commanded him to speak. 8The people all responded together, "We will do everything the Lord has said!"

Did you hear how the Israelites answered God? They said, "We will do everything that the Lord has said!" Was what they said true? Could they keep all the commandments of God? God knew very well that the Israelites could not do everything that He commanded them. What God really wanted was that they recognize their inability to please God, acknowledge their sinful condition before Him, and believe the Good News concerning the Redeemer who was to come into the world to redeem sinners. God had forgiven the sins of their ancestors Abraham, Isaac and Jacob based on their faith in God's promises. God wanted to forgive the people of Israel through faith alone also. God's way of salvation has always been by faith alone--faith in God and His plan of salvation. The Scripture says: "Clearly no one is justified before God by the law, because 'The righteous will live by faith.'" (Injeel - Gal. 3:11)

However, up to this point, the people of Israel hoped that they could achieve righteousness before God through their own efforts. How foolish of them!  They had forgotten how many times they had offended God! They did not yet realize just how great their sin was before God! In their thoughts, sin was not such a serious affair, but in the sight of God who must judge them, sin is a terrible affair! God is holy and perfect; He cannot approve any works that are less than perfect! However, up to this point, the Israelites had not yet recognized this. That is why they said (presumptuously), "We will do everything the Lord has said!" However, God had a plan by which He would show them that they could not do "everything the Lord has said!" Now let us continue in the Scriptures to see how God came down on Mount Sinai, revealed His glory and holiness, and gave the Ten Commandments to the tribes of Israel. The Scripture says:

(Taurat - Exod. 19) 10And the Lord said to Moses, "Go to the people…[and tell them that in three days] the Lord will come down on Mount Sinai in the sight of all the people. 12Put limits for the people around the mountain and tell them, 'Be careful that you do not go up the mountain or touch the foot of it. Whoever touches the mountain shall surely be put to death. 13He shall surely be stoned or shot with arrows; not a hand is to be laid on him. Whether man or animal, he shall not be permitted to live.'… 16On the morning of the third day there was thunder and lightning, with a thick cloud over the mountain, and a very loud trumpet blast. Everyone in the camp trembled. 17Then Moses led the people out of the camp to meet with God, and they stood at the foot of the mountain. 18Mount Sinai was covered with smoke, because the Lord descended on it in fire. The smoke billowed up from it like smoke from a furnace, the whole mountain trembled violently, 19and the sound of the trumpet grew louder and louder20The Lord descended to the top of Mount Sinai…

(Taurat - Exod. 20) 1And God spoke all these words: 2"I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.

1.) You shall have no other gods before me. (v.3)

2.) You shall not make for yourself an idol…for I, [am] the Lord your God. (v.4,5)

3.) You shall not misuse the name of the Lord your God, for the Lord will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name. (v.7)

4.) Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. (v.8)

5.) Honor your father and your mother. (v.12)

6.) You shall not murder. (v.13)

7.) You shall not commit adultery. (v.14)

8.) You shall not steal. (v.15)

9.) You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor. (v.16)

10.) You shall not covet your neighbor's house. You shall not covet your neighbor's wife, or his manservant or maidservant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor." (v.17)

18When the people saw the thunder and lightning and heard the trumpet and saw the mountain in smoke, they trembled with fear. They stayed at a distance 19and said to Moses, "Speak to us yourself and we will listen. But do not have God speak to us or we will die!" 20Moses said to the people, "Do not be afraid. God has come to test you, so that the fear of God will be with you to keep you from sinning." 21The people remained at a distance…

Thus the people of Israel began to recognize God's absolute holiness and their utter inability to approach Him.  How about you? Do you recognize the holiness of the Lord? Do you see that God and His law are righteous and perfect? Do you realize that your heart and your works are unrighteous and imperfect before God? Or are you like the Israelites who thought, "No problem! We will do everything that God requires! We will draw near to God by our good deeds!" Truly, such thoughts do not agree with God's thoughts. Can those who are filthy and stained with sin dwell with the One who is pure and holy? No, they cannot! Can God approve that which is half good and half evil? No, He cannot and He will not! God is holy and cannot tolerate that which is unholy! He demands perfection! Do you realize this? Or are you hoping that, in the Day of Judgment, your "good deeds" will somehow outweigh your evil deeds? If that were so, then God would not be a righteous judge! To illustrate, what would we think about a judge who tells a murderer, "You are guilty of murder; however, because of the good deeds that you have done in the past, I won't sentence you. You may go free." What would we say of a judge who did that? We would declare him to be an unrighteous, unjust judge.

Friends, God is a righteous Judge! He cannot overlook sin! The Lord God who must judge the world can only do what is righteous! The righteousness of God demands a payment for sin. And that payment is death and eternal separation from God! The good works which we do cannot cancel our debt of sin. Concerning our good deeds, the Scripture says: "All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags!" (Prophets - Isa. 64:6) God is like a consuming fire and the good works of the sons of Adam are like dry grass. In our own righteousness, we cannot stand before the flame of God's holy judgment!

As we continue our study, let us look more closely at each of the Ten Commandments, and compare them with our lives to know how we stand before God, the Holy One.

1.) "You shall have no other gods before me." (Taurat - Exod. 20:3) This is the first commandment. The Lord God said, "You shall have no other gods before me." He alone must be our God. He will not share His glory with another. God, the Creator, is the only One we must worship. Only His name is holy and awesome. He alone deserves our total devotion and confidence. Yet, when people have a problem or face an obstacle, their first thought is not to turn to God and pray to Him. Instead, they put their hope in other human beings, and give to them the place that belongs to God alone. Those who do that have another god before them. To have another god is sin!

2.) In the second commandment God said: "You shall not make for yourself an idol…You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God!" (Taurat - Exod. 20:4,5) In this commandment, God tells us to keep ourselves from idols. Idols are not limited to sculptured images or pictures which are worshiped in certain locations or in the niches of houses. An idol is anything that comes between us and God. For some people, sports is their god, because soccer or some other sport is more important to them than God.  For others, it is their wealth that replaces God. God doesn't have first place in their lives; money does.  They will even get involved with that which is not pleasing to God to get more money. For such people their god is money. For some it is their traditions and rituals.  Any thing which replaces God rightful place in our life is an idol.

3.) In the third commandment, God said: "You shall not misuse the name of the Lord your God, for the Lord will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses His name." (Taurat - Exod. 20:7) Truly, God does not want us to use His holy name in vain. However, almost every day you can hear someone making a promise to his neighbor, saying, "'Insh'a Allah'{Arabic: If God wills it}, I will do this or that, or I will go to such and such a place," while, in his heart, he has no intention of doing it. The will of God is the farthest thing from his mind. He only uses the name of God to make his neighbor believe his lies. This is sin. Others say, "Bilaay {Arabic: By God}, I did not do such and such!" when they know perfectly well that they did that very thing! The Word of God says: "Simply let your 'Yes' be 'Yes', and your 'No', 'No'; anything beyond this comes from the evil one." (Injeel - Matt. 5:37)

4.) In the fourth commandment, God spoke to the children of Israel saying: "Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work…For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day." (Taurat - Exod. 20:8,9,10) In this we see that God wanted the children of Israel to rest every seventh day to honor Him.

5.) In the fifth commandment which God gave, He said: "Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you." (Taurat - Exod. 20:12) Here we can see that our parents are very special and worthy of honor, and that we should give them the respect that they deserve. However, this is not what we see in today's generation. We see children who talk back to their parents when their parents speak to them, turn their noses up at them and go their way. They do not honor their parents. The will of God for children is that they love their parents, honor them and obey them in everything that pleases God and agrees with His will.

6.) In the sixth commandment, God said: "You shall not murder." (Taurat - Exod. 20:13) Here God says: He who kills a man, sins against God, because God is the One who gives to every person his life and soul. To murder a man is to hate God, because God made man in His own image. The Word of God also shows us that murder is not limited to killing a person, because the Scripture says: "Anyone who hates his brother is a murderer." (Injeel - 1 John 3:15) What many ignore is that God does not merely judge a person according to what he has done, but also according to what he wants to do, that is, according to his intentions, even if he never does the act! Since God looks at the heart, hatred and murder are equally sinful in His sight.

7.) In the seventh commandment, God said: "You shall not commit adultery." (Taurat - Exod. 20:14) Marriage is a precious gift from the Lord. God knows what is best for us, which is why, after He gives a man a wife to marry, He wants him to limit himself to his wife and refuse to have a single lustful desire for any other women. God's Word says that "husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies." (Injeel - Eph. 5:28) and that "anyone who divorces his wife, except for marital unfaithfulness, and marries another woman commits adultery." (Injeel - Matt. 19:9) When people disobey God's law and do what is forbidden to them, they often receive in their bodies the consequences of their acts. That is why many deadly diseases fall on those who have sexual relations outside the limits of marriage decreed by God. You should know another thing: Adultery is not limited to what we do with our bodies, but it also includes what is in our minds. Concerning this, the Scripture says: "Anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart." (Injeel - Matt. 5:28)

8.) In the eighth commandment God said: "You shall not steal." (Taurat - Exod. 20:15) This command is clear. However, you should also know that, before the eyes of God who must judge us, stealing is not limited to taking money or some object that doesn't belong to you. Even if you simply want to take the things of another, but do not take them, you are a thief in your heart! God looks at the heart. Stealing has many sides to it. For example, if your employer commits to you a job, and he pays you to do that job, and he believes that you are working when in reality you are just wasting time, then you are stealing! Yes, you have stolen from your employer's profits. And what is the punishment for stealing and for every other sin? It is to die and enter the fire of hell which is never extinguished!

9.) The ninth commandment says: "You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor." (Taurat - Exod. 20:16) This also is perfectly clear. The Lord God is the God of truth and has nothing to do with lies! Man thinks it is permissible to tell little lies to avoid problems and keep peace. But with the God of Truth there are no "little lies!" God says: Everyone who lies takes on the character of Satan, "for he is a liar and the father of lies." (Injeel - John 8:44) Satan lied to our ancestors, Adam and Eve, and he continues to deceive people with his lies! Whoever tells a lie is like Satan.

10.) In the tenth commandment God says: "You shall not covet your neighbor's house. You shall not covet your neighbor's wife, or his manservant or maidservant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor." (Taurat - Exod. 20:17) This commandment shows us clearly that God knows just how crooked and wicked the heart of man is. Covetousness and greed are found in the hearts of the children of Adam. Our wicked hearts cause us to lust after another man's wife or to set our eyes on something that someone else has which we do not have. This is sin, because God's Word says: "We brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that." (Injeel - 1 Tim. 6:7,8)

These are the Ten Commandments which God entrusted to Moses and to the children of Israel. How should we conclude our lesson today? Perhaps with a question?   Here is the question which each of us must answer: "Have I obeyed all of the Ten Commandments?" You may already know that when the holy Redeemer came into the world, He summarized the Ten Commandments in two phrases. He said:

1.) "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind! and,

2.) Love your neighbor as yourself. All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments." (Injeel - Matt. 22:37,39,40)

Now, if you want to examine yourself to know whether you have kept the Ten Commandments which God gave to Moses, you can ask yourself two questions:

First: What is my relationship with God like? Do I love God with all my heart?

Second: What are my relationships with people like? Do I love my neighbor as I love myself?

What is your relationship with God like? Let your heart answer honestly. Do you love God with your whole mind? Do you love him with all your heart? Do God and His Word have first place in your life?

How about your relationship with people? Do you love your neighbor as you love yourself? Do you put others before yourself in everything? Do you care for your fellowman as you care for yourself? Do you do for others everything that you want them to do for you?

If you cannot answer "yes" to all these questions, know that, before God, you are a transgressor. By your own efforts, you cannot hope for anything except the damnation of God's righteous judgment! The Scripture says: "The cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars-their place will be in the fiery lake of burning sulphur." (Injeel - Rev. 21:8)

God is holy and cannot tolerate that which is unholy. God is perfect and cannot accept any works which are imperfect. That is why the Scripture says: "Whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it!" (Injeel - Jam. 2:10) Trying to keep the Ten Commandments will not cause anyone to be "declared righteous in [the sight of God]! For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God!" (Injeel - Rom. 3:20, 23). Yes, dear friends, the Word of God is clear: "All have sinned!" and "All who rely on observing the law are under a curse." (Injeel - Gal. 3:10)

Perhaps someone asks, "Well then, why did God give these Ten Commandments to us if none of us can keep them?" This is a very important question and, in the will of the Lord, in our next and final study on Prophet Moses, we will hear how God answers it.…

May God bless you and reveal to you the important truth contained in this statement from His Word:

"Whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it." (Injeel - Jam. 2:10)

 

** This concludes our second part of the study of Prophet Moses from the Holy Scriptures.   This teaching from the Scriptures is a compilation of Lessons 35, 36 and 37 from “The Way of Righteousness” by Paul Bramsen.    Posted here by permission of copyright holder – Paul Bramsen.

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