9: What if… principals and rules create a people?
The Ten Commandments:
The 10 commandments are mentioned in Exodus 20:2-17, Deuteronomy 5:6-21 & Exodus 34:28
How do we count them? Surprisingly, there are different ways in different Christian traditions:
1. Honor only one God
2. Respect him, in image and in name
3. Give one day of the week to him
4. Respect for parents
5. Respect for life
6. Respect for relationships
7. Respect for property
8. Truth in relationships
9. Relational jealousy forbidden
10. Envy of property forbidden
This version lists 3 God-centered commandments and 7 describing God’s plan for us. Symbolically 3 represents God, 7 His plan and 10 something counted by man. In the New Testament, Jesus points out the principals displayed in the commandments; in the Old Testament, God tells Moses how those principals translate into immediate practice.
Explanations and Civil Law:
Exodus 20:22-26: Idols and Altars: practical application of spiritual issues
Exodus 21:1-9: Treatment of servants (also treatment of wives: some cultural assumptions there.)
Exodus 21:12-35: Personal Injury: Jethro gave Moses some advice on how to rule the people. God gives more detailed help here.
Exodus 22:1-15: Property Laws
Exodus 22:16-27: Social Laws
Exodus 22:28-30: Holy Laws
Exodus 22:31, 23:18-19: Health Laws: Health laws seem to be interspersed amongst the others.
Exodus 23:1-9: Laws about Justice and Mercy, including how to take care of the alien in your midst.
Although they will be told to destroy the foreigners in their land, they are also told to welcome them. When the Bible appears to contradict itself, we probably haven’t properly interpreted it; we should take account of the fact that over-statement was used for emphasis in the culture, so “totally destroy” might just mean “totally destroy all those who won’t join.”
Exodus 23:10-17: Laws governing the Sabbath and other festivals:
Worship and Holy Law:
At this point, the people promise to obey all God’s laws, and Moses goes up the mountain for 40 days. There’s something ironic about the fact that God is giving laws for creating a place and a people of worship at the same time as the people fall away and worship a golden calf.
Exodus 25:1-8: Provisions for worship: God gives detailed instructions on what will be needed to create a place of worship—a place that will remind His people of His value to them.
Exodus 25:10-22: The Ark of the Covenant: More detailed instructions: How the ark will be built.
Exodus 25:23-30: The Table: Instructions for making a portable table for the Bread of the presence.
Exodus 25:31-37: The Lampstand: The seven branched lamp appears in many places. Revelation 1:12 might even be referencing the same image. The numbers—3,4,7—symbolize God, earth and God’s plan.
Exodus 26: The Tabernacle: detailed lengths, symbolic colors—Red, blue, purple, white—blood, deity, royalty, purity. All the details are consistent with the time and place of the story, making it unlikely that the story was invented in a later time and place. The Tabernacle is covered (tented) and includes two rooms, the Holy Place and the Most Holy Place (a cube, just like the Holy City in Revelation 21:15-21).
Exodus 27:1-8: The Altar: The altar is designed with 4 “horns,” reminiscent of the 4 corners of the earth, or 4 beasts in Daniel and Revelation, etc
Exodus 27:9-19: The Courtyard: This is the area around the Tabernacle, where the people would gather for sacrifice and celebration.
Exodus 27:20-21: Priests and lamps: With the “building” fully designed, God now gives laws for the priests, starting with an instruction to keep the lamps burning in front of the Holy of Holies.
Exodus 28:1-13, 31-43: Priests’ Robes: Aaron’s sons are singled out amongst the Levites, and detailed instructions given for their vestments—ephod, robe, tunic, turban and sash. (The ephod appears to be a loincloth in some places in the Old Testament—e.g. when David wears one before the ark in 2 Samuel 6:14, but is also carried in 1 Samuel 23:9 and used to make decisions. In Exodus 28:7 it includes shoulder straps and a waistband, and is perhaps some kind of undergarment which later became more ornate and ceremonial.)
Exodus 28:15-30: Breastplate: The 12 jewels in the breastplate are the same, or same colors, as those on the walls of the Holy City—Revelation 21:19-20). The imagery suggests that we are all priests in the Holy City, as the City itself is wearing the priestly breastplate.
Urim and Thummim. No one is quite sure what this means, but an early Arab tradition uses two arrow shafts, one feathered and one not, to make decisions, where one means yes and the other no. The Bible says these were used for making decisions, and they may have come from a similar tradition.
Exodus 29: Consecration: Instructions are given now about consecration of priests. Similar laws are found in Leviticus 8&9. The mention of animal sacrifices might sound strange, but in their world, these were the only occasions on which meat was eaten, and its prior sacrifice to God emphasized a respect for life rather than delight in death.
Exodus 30:1-10: Altar of Incense: The altar described here stands outside the covered Tabernacle. In the Temple in New Testament times it would have stood at the top of the steps.
Exodus 30:11-16: Offerings: The ritual payment remind the people that our lives belong to God.
Exodus 30:17-38: Ritual washing, anointing, and fragrances: Ritual washing reminds that we are by nature unclean before God. It’s interesting that modern science recognizes how closely scent is connected with memory, and the Bible emphasizes that the scents associated with God should not be used for other purposes.
Exodus 31:1-11: God’s provision: In the middle of all these instructions, God answers Moses concerns about how it can all be done.
Exodus 31:12-18: Sabbath and the covenant: Finally God tells how the Sabbath is to be observed, and Moses heads back down the mountain, carrying the two tablets of the Testimony. All these instructions are followed in Exodus 34-40 after Moses goes back up the mountain to receive the new stone tablets.
At the start of Exodus: Moses tries to use human skill to save his people. He doesn’t obey God’s law when he ceases to live near God’s people. And he has to prove that God has power in Egypt where other gods are supposed to rule.
At the end of Exodus: Moses follows God’s plan to save his people. God proves to be powerful in Egypt and in Midian. The Holy Mountain of another people turns out to belong to God. And God provides for his people physical, mental and spiritual welfare as He prepares to lead them home.