|BIBLE STUDY SERIES #209, 210 and 211|
19 November, 1995
By Douglas C. Nesbit, B.A.
Our ongoing series of Bible Studies is one which takes the Biblical record in a Scripturally consecutive manner, examining each portion in turn, and relating it where appropriate, to other passages of Scripture. We do this, in part, because the results will later form a sort of summary, like a brief commentary reference which can be used if one desires to consider a particular portion of God's Word. We also do this in order to demonstrate that we, of the British-Israel-World Federation do not desire to twist scriptures from their context. We do not, as some have accused, take scriptures out of their surrounding context, in order to impart distorted meanings to individual portions. As St. Peter wrote in I Peter 1:20, "...no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation", which we take to mean that no individual scripture is to be interpreted apart from its setting within the whole body of God's Word.
Last week, I made a digression to take a short look at the subject of Unrighteous Mammon, and specifically, the matter of usury. Our Lord makes reference in Luke 16:9 to the mammon of unrighteousness, and I believe that the subject certainly merits our consideration at a time when the Babylonian financial system seems due for a collapse, which will probably happen at some unpredictable moment of dissipated confidence because of the ever increasing accumulation of debts which finance the governments of the various nations of the world.
Today, however, we return to our previous series of theme studies, which began with the Call of Abram, and which have led us through an examination of his descendants and their lives in Canaan, in Egypt, and latterly, following The Exodus, in Sinai. Here we find them presently camped beneath the ragged rocky slopes of Mount Sinai, as they wait upon the words of Yahweh (Jehovah), The Almighty God, through their leader, Moses. We are examining our Biblical passages in sequence, and we had come to Exodus 34.
For several weeks now, we have been speaking of the Canaanitish multicult, and on the last occasion, as those who have been following this series will know, our studies had taken us to Exodus 34:11-17. Today, we continue in the sequence of our Scriptures with the passage which begins at Exodus 34:18 which continues a review by The LORD of certain of His Commandments to the Nation of Israel. As we pick up the passage we find God speaking to Moses these instructions for the nation. God says:
18. The feast of unleavened bread shalt thou keep. Seven days thou shalt eat unleavened bread, as I commanded thee, in the time of the month Abib: for in the month Abib thou camest out from Egypt.
I have of late been reviewing in my own studies the importance of God's Feast Days. These days were to be observed throughout the generations of descendants of Israel, and there is no stipulated limitation upon this teaching, for these days are significant of aspects of the First and the Second Advents of Our LORD. Indeed those which were to be observed during the Springtime were particularly indicative of aspects of The First Advent, while those to be observed in the Fall were those of which the significance is particularly to be associated with Christ's Second Advent.
A reference note in the Companion Bible reminds us that "Abib=the month of green ears." That note goes on to speak of Jewish tradition which says that "in this month Abram was called, Isaac was born, Israel delivered from Egypt, and Tabernacle reared up." It further states that "John's preaching began and the Lord's death occurred in this month."
At reference to this Exodus passage, The New Bible Commentary refers us back to notes regarding Exodus 12:14-20, 13:3-10 and 23:15. If we consult these, we find in the first one the statement that "Hitherto the Jewish year had begun with the month Tisri near the autumnal equinox. The month of the Exodus, Abib, came at the vernal equinox. The Jews now begin their civil year at Tisri and their sacred year at Abib."
Actually, I believe that it will be important to make a short digression at this point before we continue, because there is something in that reference which should be corrected. There is a serious anachronism in this comment, for Jews did not exist as an entity at the time of The Exodus at all. They only appear in the record many hundreds of years later, as a fragment of a fragment of a fragment of Israel! That is because all Israel broke into two nations titled "Israel" and "Judah" after the death of Solomon, and later Israel, the Northern nation, was deported by Assyria. This left the remnant nation called Judah. Further, most of that remnant nation of Judah was afterwards also taken away by Assyria, leaving only those within the walls of Jerusalem, which group thus became a remnant of a remnant. Over a hundred years after that, Babylon captured that remnant of a remnant which had found temporary security behind the walls of Jerusalem, and took it to Babylon. Then only a portion of that remnant of a remnant which had been deported to Babylon returned to rebuild the temple and city of Jerusalem and form a remnant of a remnant of a remnant, being, as Josephus tells us (in "Antiquities Of The Jews", Book XI, Chapter v, section 7), known thereafter as the nation of the Jews, following the return from Babylonian captivity (which happened many centuries after The Exodus).
The first usage of the term "Jew" in the AV appears in II Kings 16:6, at which point they are at war against Israel. However, in light of the comment by Josephus, that particular reference and one or two others of pre-exilic times, being a translation of the word "Yehudim", would probably be better rendered as "Judahites" or "citizens of the Kingdom of Judah."
But leaving aside that anachronous usage of the term "Jew" in this Commentary, we may discover an interesting correlation in what the Commentary states. If, as I have intimated, those Biblical Feast Days which occur in the Springtime, in the month Abib, are related to Christ's First Advent, wherein He was the Sacrificial Lamb, the Redeemer of His divorced wife, Israel, and the Saviour of all whom The Holy Spirit calls, then these purposes accord exactly with the connected start of the sacred year.
What then of the Autumnal Feast Days? At Christ's Second Advent, He is to arrive not as a Sacrifice but as a King and Judge over both His nation and His peoples. That function is a Civil aspect to His purposes, and so the start of the civil year is most appropriately related to this Second Advent.
There is a further clue to support this conclusion. In Revelation 1:8 and 11 and 22:13, Christ speaks of Himself as Alpha and Omega. On the surface, it simply means what is stated, "The First and The Last" or, in other words, that which encompasses the whole of the alphabet, together with all the words which can be composed therewith, and the meanings associated thereto. However, some years ago, I gave a talk in which I examined this aspect of Our Lord's appearing, and at that time I explained that these two letters, being the first and the last in the Greek Alphabet, both have most significant origins, which, when appreciated, may impart further understanding of that which this name embodies, and is intended to convey. These two letters originate in earlier alphabetical forms. Alpha was originally derived from the angular head of a horned cattle-beast or ox; an animal which, in the Biblical context, is often associated with sacrifices which point forward to the culminating Sacrifice of Christ's Crucifixion.
Omega, meaning "great 'O'" formed as a derivative of another letter, omicron, meaning "little 'o'", which, in turn may be traced back to the almond shaped hieroglyphic symbol for an eye. The all-seeing eye is a symbol for The Omniscient, The Omnipotent God, The Almighty. Was Christ thus indicating, by use of this name, that at His First Advent He was the sacrifice for Sin, a sacred duty, but that at His Second Advent, He will be the King of kings, the All-Seeing Judge of all the nations of the earth, a civic responsibility? Such a name is consistent with the two-fold work of Jesus Christ, and it thus forms an encapsulated statement of His twofold purpose!
The observance of the feast called "The Feast of Unleavened Bread" came at the time of Passover, and it indicated the cleansing out of the dwelling of any leaven, which is a symbol of sin in scripture. As leaven was to be taken out of the house, this was a symbol of a much deeper act. It is by extension, the taking of sin out of the tabernacle of the human frame. It is a symbol of the intention to cleanse the human being, and also the nation, just as a house was cleansed of the old leaven, and it also relates to the sanctification of the firstborn, both of man and beast, as we see when we read further in this passage. There will not be enough time to do that today, but the next Biblical passage will form the focus of our attentions next week. May I leave with you the thought that Jesus Christ was Crucified, dead and buried, and Resurrected during that week when leaven was to be purged from the household.
26 November, 1995
By Douglas C. Nesbit, B.A.
The present series of Bible Studies, began with God's call to Abram, in Genesis 12, and it has taken us through the Scriptural record of his descendants Isaac, Jacob, and Jacob (Israel)'s descendants, the Tribes of Israel, as found in the Genesis record, and that of the earlier chapters of the Book of Exodus, to our present position. In order to set the stage, so to speak, for new listeners, I ought to explain that the Tribes of Israel have, at this point in the record, emerged from Egyptian bondage into the harsh landscapes of Sinai. They are presently camped before Mount Sinai where The Almighty God, Yahweh (Jehovah) is making known His will for the nation, (his national wife by presently established agreement), through His servant, the national leader, Moses.
Some in the nation had sinned in creating a golden calf as a focus of religious devotions while impatiently awaiting Moses' return from Sinai's summit. Upon seeing this as he returned, Moses had broken the stone tablets of The Ten Commandments which The Almighty had prepared. In the present chapter, we find that God is moving to re-affirm His Law, both by Moses' preparation of a new set of stone tablets for a renewed confirmation of the Covenant Law, and by the re-statement of certain of the laws, as we find in the present passage.
We had arrived, last week, at Exodus 34:18, and today we shall be picking up our study at the next verse; one which repeats a theme which we have met earlier in our studies. I am beginning to read starting at Exodus 34:19.
19. All that openeth the matrix is mine; and every firstling among thy cattle, whether ox or sheep, that is male.
20. But the firstling of an ass thou shalt redeem with a lamb: and if thou redeem him not, then shalt thou break his neck. All the firstborn of thy sons thou shalt redeem. And none shall appear before me empty.
Although the laws as we are now reviewing them have been examined before, it is well to note that, as The New Bible Commentary states, concerning an ass: "Being an unclean animal, it could not be sacrificed and must therefore be redeemed, i.e. its place taken by a substitute." Regarding the words "Break his neck", it goes on to state: "There can be no evasion of the law. If the owner was not willing to sacrifice a lamb, the ass was doomed; if not devoted to God, then to destruction. In practice this was an effective safeguard of the law, as an ass was so much more valuable commercially than a lamb."
21. Six days thou shalt work, but on the seventh day thou shalt rest: in earing time and in harvest thou shalt rest.
22. And thou shalt observe the feast of weeks, of the firstfruits of wheat harvest, and the feast of ingathering at the year's end.
23. Thrice in the year shall all your men children appear before the Lord GOD, the God of Israel.
The Sabbath is once again affirmed as an important observation. The Feast of Weeks is also called The Feast of Harvest in Exodus 23. It is the Feast of Weeks because, according to Leviticus 23:15-16 and Deuteronomy 16:9 it was to be kept seven weeks after the Feast of Mazzoth or Unleavened Bread at Passover time, and particularly at that span of weeks after the waving of the Sheaf of The Wave Offering which represented Christ's Resurrection appearance before The Father (John 20:17). This would set The Feast of Weeks at Pentecost. These three feast days in the year are obviously not just occasions for merriment or selfish satisfaction and rest. They are occasions upon which, The Almighty God is prophetically establishing the times of year when certain profoundly important and significant events will take place in the interaction between God and His people in the future, as He has also intimated in the past through such occasions as The Exodus.
24. For I will cast out the nations before thee, and enlarge thy borders: neither shall any man desire thy land, when thou shalt go up to appear before the LORD thy God thrice in the year.
As the New Bible Commentary points out, "God would prevent their enemies from invading their lands when left unprotected at feast times." This might be a particular worry when all the males were to appear before The LORD, because, while some women might also appear, it would seem that many of the women and children might remain at home, and in consequence be relatively unprotected on these occasions. The Almighty is thus promising that the fear of God would prevent any potential enemy daring to make any hostile move at such a time.
25. Thou shalt not offer the blood of my sacrifice with leaven; neither shall the sacrifice of the feast of the Passover be left unto the morning.
Again, Leaven is a symbol for sin in the household, as in the person. The Passover Lamb must be consumed, not left to spoil. It must either be eaten or if any residue be left, it is to be consumed by fire.
26. The first of the firstfruits of thy land thou shalt bring unto the house of the LORD thy God. Thou shalt not seethe a kid in his mother's milk.
27. And the LORD said unto Moses, Write thou these words: for after the tenor of these words I have made a covenant with thee and with Israel.
28. And he was there with the LORD forty days and forty nights; he did neither eat bread, nor drink water. And he wrote upon the tables the words of the covenant, the ten commandments.
29. And it came to pass, when Moses came down from mount Sinai with the two tables of testimony in Moses' hand, when he came down from the mount, that Moses wist not that the skin of his face shone while he talked with him.
30. And when Aaron and all the children of Israel saw Moses, behold, the skin of his face shone; and they were afraid to come nigh him.
31. And Moses called unto them; and Aaron and all the rulers of the congregation returned unto him: and Moses talked with them.
32. And afterward all the children of Israel came nigh: and he gave them in commandment all that the LORD had spoken with him in mount Sinai.
33. And till Moses had done speaking with them, he put a vail on his face.
34. But when Moses went in before the LORD to speak with him, he took the vail off, until he came out. And he came out, and spake unto the children of Israel that which he was commanded.
35. And the children of Israel saw the face of Moses, that the skin of Moses' face shone: and Moses put the vail upon his face again, until he went in to speak with him.
Evidently that second period of forty days had been spent in intercession for the rebellious people. What a glorious event that was, when Moses talked with God, for having done so, the radiance persisted, shining from his own face in such a manner that the people were afraid. The New Bible Commentary note says of this: "For the spiritual significance of this passage see 2 Cor. iii. 7-18. The glory of the Lord, which had surrounded Moses while he was receiving the Law, was now literally reflected from his face, impressing the people with the divine authority of the words which their human leader spoke to them. A like glory shone not only from the face but from the whole body and clothing of the Lord Jesus, when He was transfigured (Mt. xvii. 2), but He chose to keep that glory hidden from the multitudes."
Keil and Delitzsch tell us that "Moses was to write down these words, like the covenant rights and laws that had been given before... because Jehovah had concluded the covenant with Moses and Israel according to the tenor of them. By the renewed adoption of the nation, the covenant in chap. xxiv. was... restored; so that no fresh conclusion of this covenant was necessary, and the writing down of the fundamental conditions of the covenant was merely intended as a proof of its restoration." That reference contains a page of further reflections upon the subject, and if we had time, we might profitably read all of it. Perhaps we may scan the passage briefly.
They continue by saying "The sight of the glory of Jehovah, though only of the back or reflection of it, produced such an effect upon Moses' face, that the skin of it shone, though without Moses observing it... This reflection of the splendour thrown back by the glory of God was henceforth to serve as the most striking proof of the confidential relation in which Moses stood to Jehovah, and to set forth the glory of the office which Moses filled." They go on to make reference to Paul's insights regarding this occurrence in II Corinthians 3:7 sqq. and the fact that such was representative of the glory of the Covenant of The Law in the Old Testament, but that it was subsequently to fade. They conclude that it was intended "both for Moses and the people as a foresight and pledge of the glory to which Jehovah had called, and would eventually exalt, the people of His possession."
Let me leave with you a few words of meditation as we close. If this is true, and the glory spoken of in this passage which we have been studying today is only a foretaste of that which is on offer to those who meet the requirements at the forthcoming time appointed, let us examine our own circumstance, to see how The Almighty may regard ourselves when assessing the selection of those to whom will be entrusted such a task as Moses exemplified. We shall continue our studies on the next programme.
3 December, 1995
By Douglas C. Nesbit, B.A.
This series of Bible Studies, which began with God's Call to Abram in Genesis 12, has followed consecutively our passages of Scripture down to the end of Exodus 34. At this point Moses, has returned down the slopes of Mount Sinai after his second forty-day period of waiting upon Yahweh (Jehovah), the God Who was, by covenant, Israel's national husband. This second forty-day period had been made necessary by the need for intercession on behalf of the people who had sinned in reverting to idolatrous worship of the golden calf.
As Moses returned, his face shone with an unearthly light, which obviously manifested a reflected glory of his days in the presence of Yahweh atop Sinai, and it at first unnerved the rulers and the people of his nation, who for a little while fled from his presence.
It must be kept in mind that, while the record does not indicate it directly, this whole episode at Sinai apparently has a far greater prophetic function and importance than might at first be seen. The preparation and inscription of the first set of stone tablets inscribed with The Commandments may be seen to represent the whole circumstance of the giving of The Law of God at Sinai at that time in history. This presented God's people with a Covenant of Law which they, and we, could not keep unbroken in its perfection, and thus, to symbolise the fact, this set of tablets was broken by Moses at sight of the sin of the people.
As Moses then returned up to the top of Mount Sinai to intercede with The Almighty God on behalf of Israel, he was acting prophetically in this, for he thus set before the people a pattern which was a shadow of the true intercession which happened at a later time and on a far grander scale. It is a prophetic picture of Jesus Christ, a great High Priest and a greater Prophet than Moses, Who is doing this intercession in reality for His people. Jesus Christ, being a manifest expression of the glory of God, set aside this glory temporarily during His First Advent. Remember that this was done in order to subject Himself to the demands of God's Great Plan, fulfilling the "Lamb of God" aspect of His destiny as the "Lamb slain from the foundation of the world" (Rev. 13:8), in order to take our place upon the Cross.
The ascent of Moses to the top of Sinai to intercede for Israel was, then, a sort of prophetic enactment, a symbol of the appearing of Jesus Christ in the heavenly sanctuary as intercessor on our behalf. The preparation of a second restatement of these Commandments on another set of stone tablets which were hewn by Moses would then represent the writing of the Law upon our hearts, in the Christian experience. It is a symbolic renewal of the Covenant which had first been made and then broken, between God and His people. We distinguish in the Scriptural record the two aspects of this Covenant when we call the two major sections of the Bible the Old Testament and the New Testament.
The Old Testament contains all the Scriptural records of God's interactions with His people prior to Christ's First Advent. The New Testament builds upon the Old, and cannot possibly be properly understood in isolation from it. Were it otherwise, God would not have gone through the process of planting the foundations for understanding what He was doing in the prior history of Israel as the Old Testament records. The only "scriptures" at the time of Christ's Resurrection were these same Old Testament records, and the risen Christ, speaking to the two on the road to Emmaus, spoke, saying "O fools, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken: Ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and to enter into his glory? And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself." (Luke 24:25-27) The Old Testament lays the groundwork for an understanding of the New Testament. God has never ceased dealing with people through His chosen seedline of literal Israelites. The Israel people were to be formed into a kingdom of priests to others, ultimately to serve God in that capacity for which they were designed and created.
However, upon stating this as a fact, we must explain that the words "Israel" and "Jew" are not to be confused. All Israel contains vast multitudes who were never called Jews. We of the British-Israel-World Federation have as one of our chief purposes the explanation of the concept that the generally Anglo-Celto-Saxon and kindred peoples of the world today are the ultimate fulfilment of the human aspects of the purposes thus initiated and continued in God's Great Plan.
When Moses returned down from the top of the Mountain, and his face shone, this can then be seen to represent the return of Our Saviour in the Second Advent, in the Glory which has been eternally His.
Our reading of Scripture has brought us today to Exodus 35, and it is tempting simply to read the whole chapter without stopping because it draws up a list of things pertaining to The Tabernacle and its Priestly service. These, we have studied individually in some detail on past broadcasts as The Almighty described each to Moses. However, this chapter is not actually a copy of the instructions which we have previously studied, for it has a different thrust of purpose. During our previous readings, we saw how each item of the Tabernacle, its furniture, and the robes of the Priests bore a symbolic lesson of instruction regarding deeper spiritual concepts. It would explain how The Almighty God, in Jesus Christ, is forming the framework of legality in love to return His Creation to its true association with Himself.
We will not have time today to read most of this 35th chapter, but as we approach the reading of the opening verses of it, however, we find that Moses is actually recording God's orders. He is passing on God's instructions to God's people for the organizing of the construction of this focus of national worship service. The result is to act as a magnificent teaching aid for the nation of Israel, and ultimately also for other people. It will be created in order, to make clearer, in the centuries to come, the manner of gift which is being bestowed by Yahweh, (Jehovah), their national husband. For that reason, the implementation of the instructions must be exact, and in total agreement with God's ultimate plan. No deviation from the pattern must be allowed, no matter what beautiful or appealing artistic embellishment might seem desirable to some craftsman engaged upon the work, for any such artistic liberties would immediately form an extraneous distraction, and, in that very same measure, by its imperfect match to the Great Plan, it would defeat the whole purpose of the undertaking. It was for the same purpose, and to prevent the possible artistic renditions of an imagined god or gods that the instruction for an altar was that it be of unhewn stones.
Let us read and consider the first few verses of Exodus 35. It states:
1. And Moses gathered all the congregation of the children of Israel together, and said unto them, These are the words which the LORD hath commanded, that ye should do them.
2. Six days shall work be done, but on the seventh day there shall be to you an holy day, a sabbath of rest to the LORD: whosoever doeth work therein shall be put to death.
3. Ye shall kindle no fire throughout your habitations upon the sabbath day.
The New Bible Commentary perceptively points out that "Before calling the people to the work of constructing the tabernacle, Moses re-emphasizes the law of the sabbath, even as God had done when He concluded the giving of the pattern (xxxi.12-17). Zeal for the Lord's work must not contravene His own holy laws. Moses probably said more than is given in these verses, as in xxxi.12-17, and adds a warning against the special temptation to light a fire..., an arduous task in the desert." We might put it in these words: "Just as the artist was forbidden to add adornments which did not accord to the pattern of design of the objects being created for the tabernacle, even so the activities of those engaged in the work must not be carried out in a manner disrespectful of God's Commandments. Not only were the objects to accord with the pattern, but also the manner of their production.
Our time has about gone for today. Let me leave with you the thought that God expects and requires of us that we should not only exhibit in our lives the patterns He sets before us, but we must also be willing to live our lives mindful of His Laws, so that we shall not be found to have prepared and presented an apparently holy contribution in an unholy manner. Remember that when the early church was making contributions for the support of the needy, two members, Ananias and Sapphira, noting the approval shown towards Barnabas on account of his whole-hearted gift of the proceeds of a sale of land, themselves brought a similar gift, but tried to pretend that it constituted the whole when, in fact, they had secretly held a portion of their gift back. They died before the assembly, not because the gift that was made was unacceptable in itself, but because of the manner by which they sought to gain praise through a lie when presenting it. Our actions must match our profession. We cannot live a lie towards The Almighty.
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