Joshua 19-21

Joshua 19-21…Inheritances and cities of refuge.

Within the land of Israel, once it was conquered, there were to be cities established for refuge, as we read in these chapters. The cities were actually included in the Mosaic law (Num. 35:9–15), and they demonstrate the grace of God that was evident even within the Law given at Sinai. In the ancient world, feuds could be a part of everyday life. If you harmed my sister, even by accident, I might do the same to your brother. Then your family might come after my cousin, and so on. In setting up places for refuge from this kind of harm, a powerful check was placed upon blood-feuding and innocent life was protected from harm (Josh. 20).

Theocrats want to establish the penalties of the Mosaic law in society today, but this position is ultimately not tenable because unlike the old covenant, the new covenant community is not a geopolitical entity. That does not mean, however, that lawmakers should not consider the Mosaic code at all when writing legislation. In fact, society as a whole would benefit if the principles in the Law (what we call today “natural law”) were applied more often.

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Exodus 29-31

Exodus 29-31…Sacrifices, ceremonies, burnt offerings, and the sabbath.

Aaron and his sons were to be set apart for the priest’s office, with ceremony and reverence. Our Lord Jesus is the great High Priest, called by God, anointed with the Spirit. He is called Messiah, the Christ. He is clothed with glory and beauty, perfectly holy, and consecrated through His sufferings (Hebrews 2:10). All believers are spiritual priests, called to offer spiritual sacrifices (1 Peter 2:5), washed in the blood of Christ. We also are clothed with the beauty of holiness, and have received the anointing (1 John 2:27). The Spirit of God is called the finger of God, (Luke 11:20; Matthew 12:28,) and by Him the holiness of Christ is applied to our souls. This signifies the admission of a sinner into the spiritual priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.

The law was written in tables of stone, to show how lasting it is. This also symbolizes the hardness of our hearts. It is easier to write something on a stone, than to write any thing good on our hardened natural hearts. Only God can write his law in our hearts, and give us desires in line with His. Only God could have perfectly obeyed His own law, and did so in Christ.

Exodus 20-22

Exodus 20-22…The ten commandments and the judicial laws.

Following the commandments of God is one mark of the true Christian. After all, Christ lives in His people (Gal. 2:20), and since Jesus’ food is to do the will of His Father (John 4:34), He certainly works in us so that we see following God as essential to our sustenance. Yet may we never forget that our obedience is always grounded in grace, for apart from the Lord changing our hearts, we have no desire to please Him (Rom. 8:7–8). Following God’s law, therefore, does not mean obeying it to secure our right standing in His heavenly court, for we can stand before Him by His grace alone (Eph. 2:8–9). Also, following God’s law does not mean obeying it in order to boast of how we are more godly than others. We are always to confess our failures and remember that “there but for the grace of God go I” (Luke 18:9–14).

Until we trust Christ, God’s law can merely restrain the extent of our sinning, encourage us to love sin, and condemn us as sinners who need the Savior (Rom. 7:8; Gal. 3:23–25; 1 Tim. 1:8–11). But once we are converted, God’s law becomes something in which we rejoice. Redeemed hearts no longer experience the Lord’s regulations as burdensome (1 John 5:3), and they see the importance of keeping “the commandments of God” (1 Cor. 7:19). Through obedience, we thank Him for the right standing granted to us by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone (Rom. 5:12–6:14).