Genesis Through Joshua- Exodus: The Original Meaning of the Law

Suggested structure of Exodus
1-18 Deliverance of Israel under Moses
19-24 The Covenant law under Moses
25-43 Covenant worship under Moses

Unity and Variety within the OT Law
1) The traditional 3-fold division of the law
i) Moral 10 commandments
ii) Judicial Law (social/political structures)
iii) Ceremonial Law (worship regulations)

The OT gives a special status to the 10 commandments. See Exodus 1:18 it is written with the finger of God.
Duet 10:5 = The 10 commandments we’re exclusively put in the Ark of the Covenant.

2) Problems with the 3-fold division
The 10 commandments have judicial and ceremonial elements. 20:16 refers to the court.
Exodus 20:4 refers to a ceremonial law.
31:14-17 = the tabernacle law includes moral aspects.

3) A more integrated approach
There are implications that connect all three types of the law. The background to the ceremonial and judicial law is the moral law. The judicial and ceremonial laws are applications of the moral law. All the laws are cross defining. When dividing the law we have to speak in terms of emphases. When cannot separate the law into mutually exclusive elements.

The 10 Commandments 20:1-17
1) The Basic content
10 commandments are a brief set of principles.
The J and C laws are applications of the 10 commandments. The 10 C’s are a summary. We cannot ignore the judicial and ceremonial laws. To understand the 10 C’s we need to look at the other laws. To understand the J and C laws we must look to the 10 C’s.

2) The two-fold goal of the 10 Commandments
See 19:4-6. God says: ‘If you obey you will be my treasured possession.’
i) God is pulling out of the world a people for Himself- glory for Him
ii) Those who obey become blessed. The 10 C’s bring honour to the believer.

The 10 C’s are not saying ‘Obey me because I told you so’. God gives commandments for our benefit.

When you chase false God’s you get disappointed. When you pursue the real God you get satisfied!

Keeping the Sabbath?
We get relief from labour for worship and our rest.

When we see God commands honour us we gain motivation to obey.

The first 4 commandments focus on God
The last 6 commandments focus on humanity

3) Problem Areas in the 10 Commandments
The 2nd commandment prohibits idols. See Exodus 37. There was a great deal of art in the tabernacle. To what extent can a church go to when using symbols in worship?
What’s the focus of the Sabbath command? Is it rest or worship?
Calvin argues that Is 58:1-14 isn’t prohibiting lawful recreation on the Sabbath. It’s prohibiting sin on the Sabbath.
Is deception lying? Rahab deceived

The Book of the Covenant 20-23

1) The structure of the Book of the Covenant
Ancient-Eastern law codes weren’t normally structured.

i) Beginning: Worship regulations (20:22)
ii) Cases involving: servants, capital crimes, injury, property and possession, idolatry, oppression, loyalty to the divine order, and legal procedures.
iii) Exhortation to obedience 23:20-33
iv) The book closes with worship regulations (23:10)-Sabbath laws and the three annual feasts.

2) The Relationship between the B of C and the 10 C’s
The B of C is the application of the 10 C’s. Why did the OT have so many capital offences? The Bible sees human life as very sacred.
As we look at the B of C we must ask what

3) The Forensic Function of the Book of the Covenant
The book is highly selective. The book of the covenant features case laws. The law was used to show situations where the 10 commandments were applied.

4) The Restrictive and Prescriptive Dimensions of OT Law
Many customs and traditions existed when God gave the law to Moses. The ancient world had many
The Mosaic Law did not give Israel the ideal laws to follow. These laws were accustomed to Israel the laws given were the maximum that Israel could have borne at that time. See Matthew 19: Moses permitted divorce because of hardness of heart.
The command to give a divorce certificate was a command of accommodation. We need Jesus’ hermeneutic when we interpret the Old Testament. The OT we’re not the ideal.
Exodus 21:20 – we can wrongly interpret this, as ‘it’s ok to beat a servant, if he dies that’s ok.’ Instead God was regulating the beating of slaves in Israel. Slavery was not part of human life from the beginning. The ideal from the beginning is that of equality. God is not giving permission for miss-treatment. God is restraining the sin of Israel. This law is a restrictive law not a prescriptive law. A fuller revelation was needed.

5) Problem Areas
People use the OT law as a justification of slavery. ‘Bondservant’ is a person who gives himself willingly to being a slave.
Lev 25. People can become slaves permanently through the possession of law.
The African-American slavery is condemned because of the kidnapping and brutality involved.
Capital punishment is a maximum sentence. Numbers 35:31 speaks of a first-degree murder. We conclude that there are varying degrees of murder and so varying degrees of punishment.


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