Making a Nation Out of a Mob, Part 3 (The Covenant & the Cross #74)

Today’s passage of Scripture is Leviticus 25:8-10 which reads: “And thou shalt number seven sabbaths of years unto thee, seven times seven years; and the space of the seven sabbaths of years shall be unto thee forty and nine years. Then shalt thou cause the trumpet of the jubilee to sound on the tenth day of the seventh month, in the day of atonement shall ye make the trumpet sound throughout all your land. And ye shall hallow the fiftieth year, and proclaim liberty throughout all the land unto all the inhabitants thereof: it shall be a jubilee unto you; and ye shall return every man unto his possession, and ye shall return every man unto his family.”

Today’s quote about the Bible is from Millar Burrows. He said: “What we really need, after all, is not to defend the Bible but to understand it.”

Our topic for today is titled “Making a Nation Out of a Mob (Part 3)” from the book, “The Promise and the Blessing” by Dr. Michael A. Harbin.

The Law as a Socioeconomic System

As a socioeconomic system, the Law served both to put restrictions on greed and to provide a safety net for the disadvantaged. Israel would be an agricultural society, and the land God was giving them would be the source of wealth. As such, the land could not be sold. Rather, it could be leased, with the lease lasting up to forty-nine years. At that point, the Jubilee year, the land reverted to the family that had originally received it from God after the conquest. In addition to retaining the source of wealth within the family, this practice served to remind the people from whom they had received the land in the first place.

Everyone was to depend on God. To encourage such dependence, every seventh year the people were to refrain from sowing crops, a custom that obliged the people to trust God to meet their needs. This seventh or Sabbath year was also a time when the poor (usually understood as the widow, orphan, or stranger) would be able to harvest from whatever grew “voluntarily,” whether in the field or in the orchard.

Ancient Israel was not a leveraged society like ours. Usually people borrowed money only in extremely adverse circumstances. As such, it was the poor who had to do so. Consequently, money was to be loaned to poor people generously and without interest.

Later these laws would be amplified to give further specifics. For example, farmers were told to allow for gleaners to go through their fields after the harvest to gather produce that had been missed. Also there was provision for destitute people to “sell” themselves into indentured servitude for a period of six years.

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Making a Nation Out of a Mob, Part 2 (The Covenant & the Cross #73)

Today’s passage of Scripture is Exodus 19:3-6 which reads: “And Moses went up unto God, and the Lord called unto him out of the mountain, saying, Thus shalt thou say to the house of Jacob, and tell the children of Israel; Ye have seen what I did unto the Egyptians, and how I bare you on eagles’ wings, and brought you unto myself. Now therefore, if ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me above all people: for all the earth is mine: And ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation. These are the words which thou shalt speak unto the children of Israel.”

Today’s quote about the Bible is from Chip Brogden. He said: “Knowing the Word of God does not necessarily mean that we know the God of the Word.”

Our topic for today is titled “Making a Nation Out of a Mob (Part 2)” from the book, “The Promise and the Blessing” by Dr. Michael A. Harbin.

The Law Based on What God Had Done

The third key point that must be kept in mind is that the Law did not establish a relationship between God and the people. We have already observed how the original audience had been given the entire prehistory of the nation, which made clear that the relationship had been established initially with Abraham. It had been reinforced through the blessing line and amplified to the entire people when Jacob blessed all of his sons. It was verified by the Exodus. Now God was giving the people instructions on how to live within the relationship.

This point is demonstrated when we look at the overall passage. The Ten Commandments begin with the declaration, “I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery” (Ex. 20:2). Thus, there is an implied cause-and-effect relationship between this declaration and the ten words. Because God delivered the nation from Egypt, the people were to respond by heeding the commandments.

The principle is further demonstrated when we note that there is no provision for revoking the covenant. The people may be obedient within the covenant and prosper. Or they may be disobedient within the covenant and suffer. At this point, God merely indicates the good things that will come if they are obedient. Later we will find warnings of the consequences of disobedience. However, these never include being cast away. There is also a note of caution in that God warns the people that the upcoming conquest will not be a one-time event. It will take several generations to drive out the inhabitants of the land so that the land will not become fallow until they have increased enough to fully occupy it. Implied in this caution would seem to be a challenge to win the inhabitants of the land to Yahweh.

Making a Nation Out of a Mob, Part 1 (The Covenant & the Cross #72)

Today’s passage of Scripture is Exodus 24:1-4 which reads: “And he said unto Moses, Come up unto the Lord, thou, and Aaron, Nadab, and Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel; and worship ye afar off. And Moses alone shall come near the Lord: but they shall not come nigh; neither shall the people go up with him. And Moses came and told the people all the words of the Lord, and all the judgments: and all the people answered with one voice, and said, All the words which the Lord hath said will we do. And Moses wrote all the words of the Lord, and rose up early in the morning, and builded an altar under the hill, and twelve pillars, according to the twelve tribes of Israel.”

Today’s quote about the Bible is from Martha Kilpatrick. She said: “To understand the Book in real perception, it’s necessary to know the Author before you read His Book. To truly KNOW Jesus as He is, we MUST know Him in experience.”

Our topic for today is titled “Making a Nation Out of a Mob (Part 1)” from the book, “The Promise and the Blessing” by Dr. Michael A. Harbin.

At Mount Sinai, God gave the Israelites an organizational structure through Moses. Commonly called “the law,” this was in reality a socioeconomic-judicial-political-religious system that covered all areas of relationship within the nation. In addition, God provided and organized religion for the first time, giving the nation a tabernacle, a sacrificial system, a priesthood, and a religious calendar.

Several scholars have analyzed international treaties from the third millennium to the middle of the first millennium BCE and have observed that there were two standard types: parity treaties and suzerain-vassal treaties. Both of these had standard formal structures that differed for different periods of history. Based on this knowledge, it is commonly accepted that what we are looking at here is a suzerain-vassal covenant or treaty. God is setting Himself up as the suzerain or sovereign exercising political control over the nation, the vassal. In this light, the Law expresses a national relationship between Israel and its political leader.

The last part of this section tells how the nation ratified the covenant as Moses and seventy-three other leaders of the nation went up on the mountain with God. They had a celebratory dinner and offered sacrifices. After the sacrifices, Moses told the people, “This is the blood of the covenant that the LORD has made with you in accordance with all these words.”