February 27, 2014 in Bible Study
by: Jonathan Jenkins
Chapters 11-20 of our survey of the story of the Bible take us from the giving of the Law on Mount Sinai through the up-and-down time of the Judges.
11) Exodus 20 – The Ten Commandments
After crossing the Red Sea, Israel encamps at the foot of Mount Sinai. In reality, all of the chapters describing the new nation’s interaction with God around the mountain need the careful attention of every Bible student. The events at Sinai create most of the framework of the remainder of the Old Testament: the Law is given; the priesthood of Israel is created; and with the construction of the tabernacle the worship of God in Israel is codified. As many of those elements are carried forward in figures pointing to the New Testament, every Christian needs to develop an appreciation for these chapters in Exodus. However, Exodus 20’s recounting of the foundational laws of the covenant God made with Israel, the Ten Commandments, makes it perhaps the best chapter to which we can attach the importance of this whole portion of the Bible. The Ten Commandments reinforce God’s holiness to His people and call them to live with the same holiness toward Him and their fellow man. The principles proclaimed in these great laws should never leave the mind of God’s people.
12) Exodus 32 – The Golden Calf
The counter-part to the giving of the Ten Commandments to Israel is found in their failure of God at Sinai. Even as God was forbidding the worship of any god other than He, Israel was busy making a god of their own. In vivid imagery, the struggle of man to submit to God’s will while not erecting a “righteousness” of his own is portrayed in this chapter. God’s judgment of the nation over the making of the Golden Calf should emphasize how important the recognition of the sovereignty of God and the holiness of His Law is to His people.
13) Leviticus 16 – The Day of Atonement
The work of Jesus is strongly alluded to in Israel’s national Day of Atonement. Leviticus 16’s detailed description of the High Priest’s entrance into the Holy of Holies and his treatment of the scapegoat sent into the wilderness is intended to foreshadow the sacrificial work of Jesus and the abiding power of His priesthood. Every Bible student should understand the connection between this potent chapter and the New Testament. It is virtually impossible to understand the book of Hebrews without awareness of this chapter.
14) Leviticus 23 – Summary of the Jewish Holy Days
Just as the Day of Atonement is fulfilled in the New Testament, the rest of the Jewish holy days are important to the imagery of the New Testament. The full of description of each of these days is contained in a variety of Old Testament passages. What makes Leviticus 23 worthy of inclusion in this collection of great chapters is that it is the best place to find a full list of these vital days.
15) Numbers 14 – Israel’s Rebellion at Kadesh-Barnea
Israel’s rebellion after the report by ten of the spies sent into the Promised Land is another seminal event in the Bible. The death of that rebellious generation makes the book of Deuteronomy and its repetition of the Law of Moses necessary. This rebellion is used in 1 Corinthians and in Hebrews as an example of the need of faith and endurance among God’s people.
16) Deuteronomy 6 – Teach the Law
The language of this chapter is powerful for all-time. It establishes that each generation, and indeed each family, is called upon to teach the Law to those who come after them. Teaching is enjoined upon man as he sits, walks, lies down, and rises up. No matter the age in which they are living, God’s people must always have His word on their hearts and lips.
17) Deuteronomy 28 – Curses for Disobedience
God’s promises to Israel were powerful. However, they were not without consequence. Much of Deuteronomy is given to encourage and remind Israel of the need of careful obedience to God. Chapter 28 is stark in its language. It offers no hope for rebellion. It provides no promise of restoration. The 68 verses containing its warnings should remind God’s people that it possible to go so far from Him that we lose the chance to return.
18) Joshua 6 – The Fall of Jericho
Jericho’s fall is replete with authoritative lessons about the salvation and judgment of God. It stands a testimony of the power of a true faith to lead God’s people to victory (Hebrews 11:30). Rahab’s assistance to God in her protection of the spies is both a lesson of powerful faith (Hebrews 11:31) and of the necessary response of faith in works (James 2:25).
19) Joshua 21 – The Promised Land Given
On its own, Joshua 21 would be a wonderful testimony of how God keeps His promises to God’s people. However, much of modern religious teaching about the end of the world asserts that Israel is still awaiting a full possession of the Promised Land based on God’s promise to Abraham. Joshua’s words in this chapter cripple that doctrine before it gets started. Verses 41-43 state five times that “all” of what God had promised had come to pass for Israel. Further it states that Israel took the land and “possessed” it. When confronted with pre-millennial teaching, this chapter is important to remember.
20) Judges 2 – The Cycle of the Judges
The picture of God’s people presented in Judges is bleak. Several times over, a cycle of rebellion is repeated in its pages. That succession of apostasy, judgment, repentance, and deliverance is described in Judges 2:11-23. The message of Judges highlights what happens when men forget the works of God (Judges 2:10). In that condition man forgets his true King and simply does whatever he deems acceptable in his own eyes (Judges 17:6; 21:25). The lesson Israel learned during this time is one our world desperately needs today.
These ten great chapters of the Bible reveal to us much about the nature of God, the importance of His Law, and the consequences of our failure to pay careful attention to His word. I hope you will read over them until our next posting in this series.