28 April 2013

The Law Has An Expiration Date

The Law of Moses was established long ago when Moses was the only person out of millions of Israelites that had a relationship with God. The rest were either too scared of God or just didn't care to know him personally. This is absurd to me. After all the miracles they witnessed and after everything glorious that happened, they still didn't want to know him? I don't understand this at all.
Moses and the Law.

Part of the reason I don't understand Israel's mentality is because I didn't grow up in slavery. Well, actually I did grow up in religious slavery, but not their kind. The Israelites were slaves to Egypt for about 400 years. This means that generation after generation of Jews were born, raised, and died as slaves. They always had people telling them what to do. They didn't have a clue what freedom tasted like and weren't allowed to think for themselves. It was Egypt's way or death.

Now if this is all they knew, then their perspective would be very different than ours. They had a very different mindset. All they knew was slavery and had very little education. This is the problem. Although the Jews outnumbered the Egyptians and were growing rapidly, they didn't believe they could escape their captures (Exo 1:8-14). They prayed for years for God to save them from their bondage, but no one came.

However, the truth is that God would have intervened long ago. If they just would have had the guts to rebel from the start, he would have made a way. He would have given them the strength and wisdom to do whatever necessary to free themselves from slavery. Yet, they were content in captivity. It's almost like they wanted to be slaves (Exo 16:1-4). Maybe it was just easier that way.

Finally, God does something about it. God makes a way by sending Moses. Although Moses is reluctant at first, God convinces him he's got the goods and eventually Moses does his thing (Exo 4:1-17). After all the plagues and terrible stuff that went down, the Passover broke the camels back. Egypt couldn't take anymore sickness and death, so Pharaoh let them go. Not only were they free to leave, but Egypt gave them all their gold and silver (Exo 12:33-36). Basically, Israel stripped Egypt of its wealth.

Now, we have another problem. The Israelites still had a very limited slave-like mindset, yet they became instant thousannaires overnight. Now guess what happens when you give slaves who have limited education, initiative, and possessions, all the treasures of a nation? You got it. It's gonna get ugly (Exo 32:1-6).

Moses ends up having to babysit each and every one of them. Since none of these people sought God for answers or wanted a real relationship with him, Moses had to come up with a plan. He was tired and desperate. To control the masses, they (Moses and God) devised a plan to establish a list of commands and officers to enforce them (Exo 18:13-27). This is where the Law comes into play. The Law of Moses held them accountable and made them do things the best way possible while they wandered the wilderness (Exo 20:1-21). Did the Israelites care that they had to follow a bunch of strict rules? No. The slaves didn't mind because, well, they were slaves. They were used to having a master telling them what to do. There may have been a list of rules to follow, but this was cake compared to what they were used to.

Ultimately, God made Moses their Lord (Exo 7:1-2). Their new master would talk to God and relay his message to the people (kind of like how Jesus does with us). However, Moses' power didn't stop there. God gave him the authority to do whatever he felt necessary to complete the task. We are talking crazy stuff. Moses was something fierce. He had 3000 people killed and made everyone drink the gold from the idol they built (Exo 32:20-29). Moses did whatever he good and well wanted. He did what he had to do to set them straight and to lead his people to the Promised Land.

Here's where I want to pause for a second.

One of the things I've come to understand is that God will always give more authority and freedom to those who know him. I'm not talking about Christians - people who go to church, memorize Scripture, and say and do all the right things. Even though these people appear to know God, the truth is they really don't know him at all. You have to know him intimately. Like Moses did. If you can't explain what he looks and sounds like, then you are simply an acquaintance of his (Acts 9:1-9). You cannot claim Jesus to be your best friend when you've never hung out together.

Now, let me get back to the point.

Moses did other things that sounded completely absurd. However, he did what needed to be done...and rightly so. These people were hard to deal with (Exo 32:7-14). You can take the people out of slavery, but you can't take the slavery out of the people.

Those in bondage need someone to help them wake up and point the way to freedom, but this takes time. Eyes need to be opened (Acts 26:15-18). It also takes someone who is already free to lead others out of captivity.

Honestly, God wasn't too thrilled with his rescue. He had a hard time claiming these people as his special possession and couldn't wait for certain generations to die off (Num 14:20-24). They were so stubborn and thick headed that he was done. He was done putting up with people who still didn't get it even though he performed miracle after miracle that no man had ever seen before. This sounds harsh, but I think it's funny. I feel your pain, bro. I feel your pain.

He couldn't wait to start fresh with a whole new way of doing things.

You see, the Law was only meant to be temporary. It was never intended to be obeyed for so long. It was a list of commands that God laid on Moses' heart to lead his people (Exo 20:22-21:1). The Law was also supposed to be a reminder to the slaves of what God had done for them. However, the Jews kept it alive and well. They kept following it for thousands of years after Moses had passed. It probably was at its worst in Jesus' day when the Pharisees were bent on making everyone follow these rules. It got so out of hand that God had to personally send his Son to take care of the problem (John 5:19-20).
God will write the Law he has for you on your heart.

Finally, God had enough. Before Jesus came along, he sent prophet after prophet to get them to move on, but they couldn't get the message. They kept blindly following the Law and even enforcing others to abide by it too. But, God put an end to it. Jesus completed the Law (Mat 5:17-20). Even Jesus' last words were, "It is finished," which is a reference to why he came and what he fulfilled. If Jesus isn't a clear enough picture that God doesn't want us to abide by this ancient slave system, then I don't know what is.

Yet, here we are. Thousands of years after Jesus did his thing, we still have God's people enforcing the Law on others. We still have Christian leaders preaching these rules to their congregations and even using it as the standard by which to judge others (Mat 7:1-5). If you're not following God's commands or your fruit doesn't show, then you don't know Jesus. If you're not following the commands that God gave Moses or God gave Paul, then you clearly don't know the God of Israel. Granted, these beloved ministers of ours have made some progress. They have plucked out the blood sacrifices and tend to ignore all the strange commands that don't seem to fit our culture, but we all know they love convincing others to abide by the Law.

God no longer wants us to follow the rules that he gave Moses, but we still have Christians pushing them in every church around the world. The truth is that these commands weren't made for you. They were established for someone else...a very long time ago. They were placed on their heart to follow and obey for their specific situation.

Now, Jesus has given you a new Law. It only contains one rule you must follow - love others as yourself (Rom 13:8-10). That is all.

If there are any other laws that God wants you to follow, then he will let you know and will write them on your heart (Heb 10:15-18). He will give you those desires. And, more than likely, they will be different from those around you.

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