After Moses descended Mt Sinai with the Ten Commandments tucked underneath his arm, he found his people dancing around and worshiping the golden calf. Although the Lord had led His people out of Egypt and sustained them when they had nothing - after only forty days in his absence, they had returned to worshiping the Egyptian gods! How would you feel? So the Lord tested Moses and made a proposal to him; informing him that he would wipe out the children of Israel completely, and begin again with him. What did Moses say?
`Wipe them out and start again with me, Lord, because they deserve it, and you know I won't let them down like they did!'
No. Moses was so overcome with emotion, that this dash appears in the King James Version of the Bible --; for he could barely speak and choked upon his words as he declared to his people:
`Moses said unto the people, All of you have sinned a great sin: and now I will go up unto the LORD; possibly I shall make an atonement for your sin. And Moses returned unto the LORD, and said, Oh, this people have sinned a great sin, and have made them gods of gold. Yet now, if you will forgive their sin--; and if not, blot me, I pray you, out of your book which you have written.' (Exodus 32: 30 - 32.)
This passage reveals that Moses was a type of Christ - just as Moses was willing to lay down his eternal life so that his people might live, so also did Christ demonstrate the `agape' of God on the cross at Calvary, by laying His life on the line for His people, and daring to die the `second death'!
Two examples of the wrong kind of faith!
While many Christians believe that the early disciples of Christ were imbued with a supernatural power that made them almost superhuman in their faith, the problems which existed in some of these Churches instead reveal how like us these people really were! For instance, in regard to the Galatians Church, the apostle Paul tells us that:
`I am shocked that you are turning away so soon from Him who called you to himself through the loving mercy of Christ. You are following a different way that pretends to be the Good News, but is not the Good News at all. You are being fooled by those who deliberately twist the truth concerning Christ.' (Galatians 1: 6 - 7 NLT)
Paul had previously preached to them of `Christ crucified', and had emphatically stressed that:
`I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ lives in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me' (Galatians 2: 20.)
However, the non-Jews which were coming into the Church were being taught by Jewish converts that the Mosaic Law, which comprised the various laws which taught of a Saviour to come, were still binding - with the result that they thought that they were saved by their adherence to the law.Paul railed against this, and lovingly rebuked them:
`O foolish Galatians, who has bewitched you, that all of you should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ has been evidently set forth, crucified among you?' (Galatians 3: 1.)
The Mosaic Law was given to Israel after descended Mt. Sinai with the Ten Commandments, at which the Lord commanded him to build a Sanctuary, so that He could dwell with His people. (Exodus 5:8.) While the `Mosaic Law’, which is otherwise known as the `law of ordinances’ dealt with such mundane things as eating and bathing, there were also ceremonial laws which pertained to the sacrifice of animals. While this practice seems barbaric to 21st century man, and gives the appearance of a `God’ who is harsh and cruel, the institution of the sacrifice of animals was intended to teach the Hebrew people that sin, or the breaking of the Ten Commandments is so offensive to God, that it results in the death of the sinner - and the penalty of death has resulted from the great love and mercy which God has for fallen man, for if man could live forever, the workings of sin on the character of each individual would be so completely devastating, that the entire race of men would become completely evil. Unlike the Ten Commandments, which are binding forever and are the fabric upon which all of creation rests, the ceremonial laws pointed forward in time to Christ, the promised Redeemer, and were placed in the side of the Ark of the Covenant (Deuteronomy 31: 26), which thus indicated that they were of a temporary nature.
The first sin so altered the character of Adam and Eve, that they could no longer be trusted. If they had been allowed to continue to partake of eating of the fruit of the Tree of Life, immortality would have been conferred upon them and sin would have worked its insidious effects upon their characters for eternity, so that eventually they would have taken upon themselves the very character of Lucifer, the angel of heaven who first sinned against God, and their progeny would likewise have been affected in the same manner. Mankind would be forever hopelessly lost.
`And the Lord God said, "Behold, the man is become one of us, to know good and evil: and now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live forever.' (Genesis 3: 22.)
For this reason, when Adam and Eve first sinned, they were driven out of the Garden of Eden so that they and their children could no longer partake of the Tree of Life. Instead of reflecting the self-less mind of Christ in which they had first been created, they refused to take responsibility for their sin, as they had now become selfish. Adam blamed Eve, and Eve blamed the Serpent. Therefore their sin condemned them, for if they had been allowed to live forever, as sin multiplied upon sin, they would have taken upon themselves the very character of Lucifer, the fallen angel of God, who is also known as the Devil and Satan, and appeared in the Garden of Eden in the form of a serpent. With the entrance of sin came also the entrance of disease which manifested itself in the sickness of mind and body. This would have been prolonged for eternity in the lives of suffering individuals, with the sure result that earth would have become a living hell. So it was for those who lived before the flood when man was exceptionally long-lived. As sin multiplied upon sin and thus twisted and distorted the characters of those who lived for centuries, so also did their characters slowly change as they took upon themselves the attributes of Lucifer, to the point that every thought of the race of men was evil. It is for this reason that the earth was destroyed by flood, and the earth was repopulated by Noah and his sons, for Noah was the only righteous man who lived at that time.
Yet many people believe that the Ten Commandments are arbitrary and unjust, which is reminiscent of the accusation Lucifer originally made about the Law; and thus impugned the character of God. This has resulted in one school of thought within the Church which is known as antinomianism, or the "no-law" theory, which is widely propagated among Christians who do not clearly comprehend what the apostle Paul meant when he taught that faith in Christ is based upon `Christ crucified' at Calvary. It teaches that the Ten Commandments, or Moral Law was abolished at the cross, for the Church is now in a period of `grace'. However, a little thought soon reveals that the end result of this teaching is anarchy, or lawlessness, for when man places `self' above God, he then insinuates that he can `improve' upon the Law of God, just as Lucifer did when he first fell into sin. As a result the character of God is slighted and He is perceived as arbitrary and unjust.
`But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world.' (Galatians 6: 14.)
The Corinthian Church reflected these teachings. It is thought to have comprised as many as 200 people, and was another example of the problems which faced the apostolic Churches - and is given as an example to us so that it might serve to reflect the problems which are still rife in Christian Churches today. The city of Corinth is a coastal city which is located near Athens, in Greece. During Biblical times, it was a bustling port which lay on the trade route between western Europe and Asia, and hosted many nationalities of people. The wealth of the city and differing cultures of the nationalities which comprised it resulted in the Corinthian Church being relatively affluent, as well as being heavily influenced by semi-converted pagans who comprised a large portion of its membership. Although `not many were of noble birth' (1 Corinthians 1: 26), there was, nevertheless, a laxity in their commitment to Christ, which was reflected by Paul's concern that although the Corinthians had pledged that they would help their poorer brethren in Jerusalem whom he had initially persecuted; unlike the Macedonians who were poorer than they, the liberality of their promised financial help had not been forthcoming:
`Paul was not implying here that their regular weekly offerings have been neglected (1 Cor. 16: 2). He was urging a Macedonian-style offering, one which would fill the cup of their liberality. He wanted to give over and above their weekly "tithes" and to give liberally to the Jerusalem project. Reading between the lines, we gather that the Corinthians had, previously, not only promised to give to this cause but had loudly pledged to be liberal. They had, however, not made good on their promise. The return of Titus, Paul hoped, would spur them on to do what they had already promised to do. They had, now, the additional spur of the example of the Macedonians.' (`Exploring Second Corinthians', J. Phillips, 2002, p. 193.)
A wide spectrum of belief could be found within the Church, ranging from the `holier than thou' asceticism of some of the more refined pagans, to the antinomianism of the `Spirit' party; who exhibited endless prophesying in the glossalia, or unknown tongues of the `mystery religions' from whence they had originated - to the outright legalism of some of the Jewish brethren, who wanted to administer the Law in a similar way to the manner in which the Church in Galatia was doing so:
`In Lesser Asia, the most opposite deviations from the genuine evangelical spirit sprang up together. On the one side, the Judaizing tendency, as we have noticed it in the Pauline age; on another side, in opposition to it, the tendency of an arrogant sensual desire of freedom, such as we have noticed in the freethinkers of the Corinthian church, only carried to greater lengths and more daring results, and mingled probably with many theoretical errors; persons who taught that whoever penetrated into the depths of knowledge, need no longer to submit to the apostolic ordinances, as he would be free from all the slavery of the law, which freedom they understood in a carnal sense, and interpreted to an immoral purpose.' (`History of the planting and training of the Christian Church by the apostles', August Neander, 1865, p. 300.)
Some of its members even resorted to suing each other in the civil law courts! (1 Corinthians 6: 1) However, once men and women such as these caught a glimpse of the gospel of `Christ crucified' - which Paul believed was his duty to reveal to them, ordinary people such as this were astonished by the import of these two words, and their stony hearts were broken upon the `Rock of offense (Romans 9: 33). Thus Paul exclaimed to the Corinthians:
`And I brethren, when I came to you, came not with the excellency of speech or wisdom, declaring unto you the testimony of God. For I determined not to know anything among you, save Jesus Christ, and Him crucified.' (1 Corinthians 2: 1-2.)
Behold `the Lamb of God' . . . .
While many Christians believe that sin results in the death of the physical body, and the immortal soul will either live forever in heaven, burn forever in Hades (or hell), or even remain in limbo - which is a place where unbaptized infants go when they die; the Bible teaches that sin results in the `second death’ (Rev. 2:11). The `second death’ is the utter extinction of sentient life forever, for to be separated from the Giver of life, can only amount to death. This takes place after the judgment, in the second resurrection, where those who refuse salvation through Christ are blotted from the Book of Life and are separated from the Giver of Life forever (Rev. 3:5); for `it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment' (Hebrews 9:27).
`For the wages of sin is death . . . . Blessed and holy is he that has part in the first resurrection: on such the second death has no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ and shall reign with Him a thousand years.’(Rom. 6:23, Rev. 20:6.)
The Hebrew people were taught that the life is in the blood:
`For the life of the flesh is in the blood: and I have given it to you upon the altar to make an atonement for your souls: for it is the blood that makes an atonement for the soul’. (Leviticus 17:11.)
Every morning and evening, a lamb which was `without blemish and without spot’ was first sacrificed and then burned upon the Brazen Altar; which represented the Blood of Christ which was shed for our sins, so that we might be reconciled back to God. When John the Baptist first saw Christ, he referred to Him as `the Lamb of God', which identified Him as the representative Sacrificial Lamb of the Sanctuary Service:
`The next day John [the Baptist] sees Jesus coming unto him, and says, Behold the Lamb of God, which takes away the sin of the world.' (John 1:29)
This twice-daily sacrificial offering was known as the `daily’, or daily sacrifice. This was a `daily’ reminder to the Hebrew people that sin costs so dearly, that the only way by which the breach between God and man might be repaired would be for the Son to willingly sacrifice His life for ours, so that we might live. This daily sin offering pointed forward to the sacrifice of Christ at Calvary. (Exodus 12:5, 1 Peter 1:19)
The Sanctuary itself consisted of two compartments; the Holy Place, and the Most Holy Place. A veil separated the first compartment, or `Holy Place’ from the Shekinah Presence, or Spirit of God in the Most Holy Place. Before the veil which separated the two compartments stood the altar of incense, the fire of which was kindled by God Himself. The burning incense, mixed with the blood of the Lamb, represented the prayers of the faithful ascending to heaven, mixing with the righteousness of Christ, as a sweet Saviour unto the Lord:
`Command the children of Israel, and say unto them, My offering, and my bread for my sacrifices made by fire, for a sweet Saviour unto me, shall all of you observe to offer unto me in their due season. . . . I will accept you with your sweet Saviour, when I bring you out from the people, and gather you out of the countries wherein all of you have been scattered; and I will be sanctified in you before the heathen.' (Numbers 28:2, Ezekiel 20:41)
The Lord also intended that the children of Israel not only follow and obey the instructions given by God; but that they might be a light to the surrounding heathen nations; so that the gentiles (non-Jews) might also be converted to Him:
`For from the rising of the sun even unto the going down of the same my name shall be great among the Gentiles; and in every place incense shall be offered unto my name, and a pure offering: for my name shall be great among the heathen, says the LORD of hosts.’(Malachi 1:11)
Unfortunately, His people lost sight of the Messiah they were seeking and fell into dead forms and ceremonies; to the point that the very sacrifices which were meant to represent the sacrifice of Christ for our sins often consisted of lambs that were lame and sick; which thus misrepresented His ministry:
`But all of you have profaned it, in that all of you say, The table of the LORD is polluted; and the fruit thereof, even his food, is contemptible. All of you said also, Behold, what a weariness is it! and all of you have snuffed at it, says the LORD of hosts; and all of you brought that which was torn, and the lame, and the sick; thus all of you brought an offering: should I accept this of your hand? says the LORD. (Malachi 1: 12-13)
Eventually, His people came to believe that their salvation consisted of obeying the Law, and missed the very point of the Sanctuary service; so that when the prophesied Messiah came, they didn't recognize Him and crucified instead!
`Then went the captain with the officers, and brought them without violence: for they feared the people, lest they should have been stoned. And when they had brought them, they set them before the council: and the high priest asked them, saying, did not we strictly command you that all of you should not teach in this name? And, behold, all of you have filled Jerusalem with your doctrine, and intend to bring this man's blood upon us. Then Peter and the other apostles answered and said, We ought to obey God rather than men. The God of our fathers raised up Jesus, whom all of you slew and hanged on a tree. Him has God exalted with his right hand to be a Prince and a Saviour, in order to give repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins. And we are his witnesses of these things; and so is also the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to them that obey him.' (Acts 5:26-32)
God is omniscient and in foreseeing that the entry of sin into the world would ruin the race, the `Counsel of Peace’ that existed between the Father and Son from eternity ensured that sin would be defeated at Calvary:
`Behold the man whose name is The BRANCH; and he shall grow up out of his place, and he shall build the temple of the LORD: even he shall build the temple of the LORD; and he shall bear the glory, and shall sit and rule upon his throne; and he shall be a priest upon his throne: and the counsel of peace shall be between them both.’ (Zechariah 6:12-13.)
Just as the animal offered was to be healthy and free of any blemish so that it might not misrepresent the ministry of Christ, so also did the sacrifice of animals take place outside of (or away from) the tabernacle, (or tent of God), as this signified that God has nothing to do with the origin of sin. Every item within and without the Sanctuary itself pointed forward to the ministration of Christ, the prophesied Messiah, whom the Jews looked forward to in anticipation. The arrangement of the items in the Sanctuary formed the shape of a cross; each item bearing deep spiritual significance. For instance, at the foot of this figurative cross stood the Alter of Sacrifice, or as it was more commonly known, the Brazen Alter, or Alter of Burnt Offering. This `continual burnt offering' represented Christ as a Sacrifice for our sins; `a sweet savour unto the Lord':
`And the other lamb you shalt offer at evening, and shall do thereto according to the meat offering of the morning, and according to the drink offering thereof, for a sweet savour, an offering made by fire unto the LORD.' (Exodus 29:40)
Just inside the Brazen Alter lay the Laver of Washing. It was primarily used in ritual cleansing, so that the priests which represented Christ might appear `spotless' before God. It also represented being baptized by the `water of life' (Rev. 22: 1). The polished glass of the Laver was made from the mirrors, or `looking glasses' of the women, and is a `looking glass' that mirrors our sin and reveals our need for Salvation through Christ. When seen as a unit, the Alter of Burnt Offering and Laver of Sacrifice also represented Christ’s feet being anointed by the tears of Mary Magdalene shortly before the crucifixion (Luke 7:38-50). At the head of this figurative cross lay the Ark of the Covenant, inside which Moses had placed the Ten Commandments during the Exodus. Inscribed by the finger of God Himself, the two tablets of stone upon which they had been written were broken by Moses when he cast them to the ground after finding his people dancing around the Golden Calf and worshiping it, while he had been communing with God on top of Mt. Sinai. While these two tablets of stone represent the immutability of the Law, the casting of the two tablets of stone to the ground and the breaking of them represented the casting of the law to the ground when Adam sinned, thus compromising man's ability to commune with God.
Within the Ark was also placed the Golden Pot of Manna and the High Priest Aaron's Rod that Budded. These two items represented the answer to this dilemma; for the sojourning in the `wilderness of sin' of the Ten Tribes of Israel was an object lesson which demonstrates to us that just as the pre-incarnate Christ sustained Israel with the `manna from heaven', so also are we sustained by the Word of God (Christ) which is the manna which comes down from heaven; for `Aaron's Rod that Budded' was nothing more than a dead piece of wood which brought forth life in the form of almond blossoms - almonds are the first tree to bring forth fruit in the spring. This demonstrated that Christ gives life to them that are yet dead in their sins; for `Aarons' Rod that Budded' represented Christ, for in death Christ was resurrected by the Holy Spirit of the Father, and became the `first fruit' of the resurrection:
`Know all of you not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection.' (Rom. 6: 3-5)
The Ark of the Covenant was also situated in the second compartment of the Tabernacle, which was called the Most Holy Place. It is in this most holy place that the Divine Presence of God (also known as the Shekinah Presence) dwelt with His people `in Spirit', between the two Cherubim who oversaw the Law of God and covered it with their outstretched wings. While the children of Israel were being led out of Egypt, the Shekinah Presence guided them in a cloud, so that they might know where to go:
`The LORD your God which goes before you, he shall fight for you, according to all that he did for you in Egypt before your eyes; and in the wilderness, where you have seen how that the LORD your God bare you, as a man does bear his son, in all the way that all of you went, until all of you came into this place. Yet in this thing all of you did not believe the LORD your God, who went in the way before you, to search you out a place to pitch your tents in, in fire by night, to show you by what way all of you should go, and in a cloud by day.' (Deuteronomy 1:30-32.)
Scripture declares that the Shekinah Presence which followed the children of Israel was in fact the pre-incarnate Christ Who communed with them at night in the Most Holy Place of the Tabernacle:
`Moreover, brethren, I would not that all of you should be ignorant, how that all our fathers were under the cloud, and all passed through the sea; and were all baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea; and did all eat the same spiritual food; and did all drink the same spiritual drink: for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ.' (1 Cor. 10: 1-4.)
During Yom Kippur, or the Day of Atonement, the shed blood of the Passover sacrifice was sprinkled on the cover of the mercy seat; signifying the shed blood of Christ covering our sins, through this ministry of reconciliation between God and man:
`And all things are of God, who has reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and has given to us the ministry of reconciliation; to know, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and has committed unto us the word of reconciliation.' (2 Corinthians 5: 18-19)
The Cherubim gazed in awe at the `mercy seat’ which covered the Ten Commandments; anticipating a time to come when the divine blood of Christ would, at Calvary, be more than sufficient to `cover' the broken Ten Commandments and thus provide `reconciliation for iniquity’. Between the Cherubim dwelt the Shekinah Presence; the Holy Spirit of the Father and the Son, and in the Ark of the Covenant itself we see a montage of items representing salvation through Christ alone, for it is Christ Who gives life to that which was dead. So in this sense we find that the items found within the Ark of the Covenant represented the desire which Christ has for all men, which is that those who follow Him will, by faith, cast off their old life of sin and death - for in voluntarily casting aside `those sins that so easily beset us' (Hebrews 12: 1), Christ then works a wondrous alchemy upon our souls, and brings forth life from that which was dead. Thus, the items found within the Ark of the Covenant signified fallen man voluntarily assenting to the Law of God, and obeying the law by the Holy Spirit of the Father; which is fulfilled in Jesus Christ:
`For it pleased the Father that in him should all fullness dwell; and, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself; by him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven. And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now has he reconciled in the body of his flesh through death, to present you holy and unblameable and irreproachable in his sight.'(Colossians 1:19-22.)
The Mosaic Law, or Ceremonial Law was placed in the side of the ark of the covenant, which signified that the ceremonial laws were only of a temporary nature:
`Take this book of the law, and put it in the side of the ark of the covenant of the LORD your God, that it may be there for a witness against you.’ (Deut. 31:26.)
The prophecy of the Seventy `Weeks' of Daniel states that the Jews were given a definite time period of seventy `weeks of years', or 490 years from `the going forth of the commandment to restore and build Jerusalem until Messiah the Prince' (Daniel 9: 25); which is to say that they were allotted 490 years as the `Chosen People' of God, until 27 A.D when Jesus of Nazareth would be baptized as the Messiah, or `Lamb of God' Who takes the sin from the world. In verse 24, we are told that during this period of allotted time, they were `to make an end of sins’ (Daniel 9: 24). This phrase had a twofold application. While the ceremonial laws are most certainly referred to here, nevertheless - the Jews were to literally make an end of sin in their lives by ceasing their rebellion against God and ushering in their promised Messiah and Saviour.
The `law of ordinances' . . . .
The Ten Commandments differed from the `law of ordinances’ in the sense that they would be binding for all time; hence the fact that they were placed inside the Ark of the Covenant; which signified the agreement, or covenant, between God and His people:
`These are the words of the covenant, which the LORD commanded Moses to make with the children of Israel . . . . . Keep therefore the words of this covenant, and do them, that all of you may prosper in all that all of you do. (Deut. 29:1, 9.)
While the Ten Commandments were written in stone by the hand of God; which thus signified their eternal verity, the `law of ordinances' were written on parchment by the hand of Moses, which thus signified their temporary nature. Thus, the `law of ordinances’ pointed forward in time to when Christ would be crucified on the cross, hence abrogating the necessity of observing the covenant on these laws after Christ was crucified:
`Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross.’ (Colossians 2:13.)
They were also known as `feast days', or `sabbath days’, which meant rest days, and in pointing forward to the sacrifice of Christ at Calvary, were merely a shadow of the atoning work of Christ:
` Let no man therefore judge you in food, or in drink, or in respect of an holyday, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days: which are a shadow of things to come; but the body is of Christ. (Colossians 2:16-17.)
The `sabbath days’ which the apostle Paul is referring to here had similar obligations to the Sabbath Day, or seventh day of the week, but should not be confused with the seventh-day Sabbath, as the Sabbath is the Fourth Commandment of the Ten Commandments. It is the day in which the Lord rested after creating `heaven and earth, the sea and everything that in them is’ (Deut. 20:11), and as we have already seen in Deuteronomy 29:1-9, was a part of the covenant which God had with His people. The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath:
`And he said unto them, The sabbath was made for man, and not man for the sabbath: Therefore the Son of man is Lord also of the sabbath.’ (Mark 2:27,28.)
It is the day in which God Himself rested from his works of creation. He both blessed and sanctified it (made it holy). Nothing else in all of creation has been both blessed and sanctified by God, for the Sabbath is simply a sign of our allegiance to Him:
`And on the seventh day God ended his work which he had made; and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had made. And God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it: because that in it he had rested from all his work which God created and made.’ (Gen. 2: 2-3.)
It is the Fourth Commandment of the Bible:
`Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days shall you labour, and do all your work: But the seventh day is the sabbath of the LORD your God: in it you shall not do any work, you, nor your son, nor your daughter, your manservant, nor your maidservant, nor your cattle, nor your stranger that is within your gates: For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the LORD blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it.’ (Exodus 20:8-11.)
God created the Sabbath for his people, so that we might rest in Him on His holy day. Indeed, God loves fallen man so much, that the Ten Commandments were structured so that through obeying only six of His Commandments, those who do not believe in Him might still live in a structured and orderly society - which is why the Ten Commandments were written on two tablets of stone. The first tablet was inscribed with the first four commandments, which pertain to man’s relationship with God. The last six Commandments were inscribed on the second tablet, and form the basis of man’s relationship to the civil law. In essence, there is one Commandment only for believing Christians:
`If you love me, keep my Commandments.’ (John 14:15.)
The rest of the Commandments will then `naturally’ follow. But the civil law, which was also engraved by the very finger of God Himself on the second tablet, was given for the benefit of those who do not know God, so that all of society might benefit from His wisdom. These six laws became the basis of the Magna Charta, or `Great Charter’, which was first decreed by King John of England in 1215 A.D. It was the first `Bill of Rights’; in the sense that it was the first western legal document that guaranteed certain civil liberties. It has influenced the formation of Constitutional Law in many English speaking countries, including England, Canada, the United States of America and Australia.
It is also revealed in the Book of Revelation, that at the end of time, God's people will still be keeping the Sabbath, for a call goes forth which cries:
`And I saw another angel fly in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach unto them that dwell on the earth, and to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people,
Saying with a loud voice, Fear God, and give glory to him; for the hour of his judgment has come: and worship him that made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and the fountains of waters.
And there followed another angel, saying, Babylon is fallen, is fallen, that great city, because she made all nations drink of the wine of the wrath of her fornication.
And the third angel followed them, saying with a loud voice, If any man worship the beast and his image, and receive his mark in his forehead, or in his hand,
The same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture into the cup of his indignation; and he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb:
And the smoke of their torment ascends up for ever and ever: and they have no rest day nor night, who worship the beast and his image, and whosoever receives the mark of his name.
Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus.' (Revelation 14: 6 - 12.)
While it is a fearful message, and there is far too much contained within it to adequately do it justice here, it is clear that those who do not receive the dreaded `mark of the beast' are those who `worship him that made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and the fountains of waters'. This passage directly quotes the Fourth Commandment, for as we have already seen, the Fourth Commandment states that `in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the LORD blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it'. Clearly, those who do not receive the `mark of the best' rest in the Lord on His holy Sabbath day.
On the Day of Atonement, the Sanctuary was cleansed of the sins of the people. It was the Passover; the most solemn day of the Sabbath, or feast days of the Jewish year in which the sins of the people were `passed over’. It pointed forward to a time when Christ our High Priest would not only defeat sin at Calvary, but totally eradicate sin from the universe forever, when Satan (the originator of sin) and his followers would be destroyed forever and peace and love will reign in the universe. (Rev. 20:10, Isaiah 65:17.). This takes place after the dreaded `mark of the beast' has been given, and Christ returns for those who have been faithful to Him:
`The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them. And the cow and the bear shall feed; their young ones shall lie down together: and the lion shall eat straw like the ox. And the nursing infant shall play on the hole of the asp, and the weaned child shall put his hand on the cockatrice' den. They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain: for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea.’ (Isaiah 11:6-9.)
The unseen battle which takes place on this world is a battle between two minds which are played out in the hearts of mortal men. They are the mind of Christ, and the mind of Lucifer, or Satan, who is also known as the Devil. He is the author of sin; in whom iniquity was first found:
`For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.' (Romans 6: 23.)
The mind of Christ is depicted as complete selflessness, and the type of love which is associated with it is described in the original Greek as the agape of Christ. So if you, dear reader, have a concordance and wish to know the thought that is conveyed whenever the word `love' is mentioned, then if your concordance translates that word to `agape', then the passage you are reading begins to take on a new meaning, as the intention of the writer is to convey the thought that Christ loves the sinner so much, that He laid His eternal life on the line at Calvary. Thus we are told to simply let this mind of Christ that was in Christ Jesus be in us (Ephesians 2: 5). We cannot try to force His mind into our mind, for like a leopard that can't change its spots, all we are able to do of ourselves is bring about an outward show of obedience to Christ, in our attempts to conform to the law. Instead Christ promises that if we are to behold the selfless love which He has for us which testifies to His righteousness, then He will transform our stony selfish hearts, so that like Moses, we are no longer overly concerned about our own salvation, but instead our primary concern is the salvation of others.
The Bible contrasts the selfless mind Christ with the selfish mind of Lucifer. It is the mind of selfishness which Lucifer first appropriated when he began to desire equality with Christ. Eventually his great pride in himself manifested itself in open rebellion against God, which thus demonstrates that selfishness is by nature the love of self - which is directly antagonistic to the `agape' of Christ - which is the denial of `self' for the sake of others. Quite rightly the Bible informs us that:
`He that loves his life shall lose it; and he that hates his life in this world shall keep it unto life eternal.' (John 12: 25)
This denial of `self' should not be confused with the strict monasticism which the ascetics who lived in the first few centuries of the Church practised by hiding away in caves and distancing themselves from their fellow men so that they might not be tempted to sin. This practice in fact amounted to disguised selfishness, for they did not deny `self' so that others might benefit through the gospel of Christ, but instead denied `self' so that they might be saved, for the Greek philosophies which these men imbibed led them to believe that their efforts to be `good' purified the soul, and thus the good works which they practised contributed towards their salvation. Thus `self' was increased, and Christ decreased. True sanctification, or being made perfect in Christ instead `works' in the other direction. If we simply let that mind that was in Christ Jesus become one with our mind, eventually we find that as Christ moulds our minds by imparting to us a heart-felt appreciation of Calvary, the selfish `I' decreases, while the agape love which He has for us increases in us, for the love which He has for us transforms us by a `faith that works by love (agape)' (Galatians 5: 6). Christ promises to change our selfish hearts simply by beholding Him.
The Two Covenants contrasted
The Sanctuary service was given to the Israelites so that they might be taught that in His pity for fallen man, God had made a way of escape for the penitent sinner by providing His own Son as our surety, so that if any man is to repent of their sins and then by faith look to Christ for salvation, then the Son shall clothe the filthy rags of the penitent sinner with His own righteous character, so that when the Father beholds the sinner, He sees His dear Son instead. But teaching this to fallen man would be a difficult task, for in His omniscience, God could see that man would attempt obedience to the Law by himself, which is impossible, for all men have inherited from Adam the irresistible temptation to sin, thus ensuring that it is impossible for fallen man to reach higher than the estate of Adam after he first sinned, and regain the purity of spirit which was the estate of Adam before he fell. For while Moses was on the top of Mt. Sinai for forty days and forty nights receiving the Ten Commandments, the thunders, lightening and quaking of the mountain indicated that Moses was indeed communing with God, yet on the valley below the Israelites worshiped the Golden Calf. Their captivity in Egypt had led them to forget the laws of Abraham, their forefather, and the only law which they now knew was that of Pharaoh, the King of Egypt. Like little children they had to be taught the Law of their Father, and the laws which pertained to various ordinances and feast days were temporarily instituted to teach them of God and their need for a Saviour. So directly after the people were found dancing around the Golden Calf, the Ten Commandments were given to the people (Exodus 20:). Then Moses and seventy of the elders accompanied him, who worshiped God from a distance (Exodus 24: 1), and the accompanying laws of ordinances and feast days were given to him, so that he may instruct the people what the Lord required of them:
`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 has said, we will do!' (Exodus 24: 3.)
The next day he then built an altar and sacrificed for the sins of the people (Exodus 24: 4 - 6):
`Then he took the Book of the Covenant, and read it in the hearing of the people: and they said, "All that the LORD has spoken we will do, and we will be obedient!" ' (Exodus 24:7 NASB.)
The promise, or covenant which they made with the Lord, was that they would provide obedience to the Law, or die. But although God knew that they couldn't keep the Law by their own strength, they didn't - so when they sinned, they died, according to the covenant which they made with God! As they had forgotten that the righteousness which had been accorded to Abraham, the `father of Israel' was of faith in God (Romans 4: 16), therefore they needed to be taught like little children that a Saviour would come Who would stand in the breach which sin has caused man to be alienated from God and man - and the Sanctuary and its services were designed to teach them how Christ and the Father designed to save fallen man from sin, for Christ is the Lamb that was slain from the foundation of the world, who takes away the sin of the world (John 1: 29, Revelation 13:8). Thus all who by faith believe as Abraham did - that God will provide Himself as a sacrifice for sins (Genesis 22: 8), are accounted righteous as Abraham was:
`For what says the Scripture? Abraham believed God and it was accounted to him for righteousness.' (Romans 4: 3.)
Thus we find that many Christians mistakenly believe that the `Old Covenant' God is a God of fear and retribution, while the New Testament God is a God of love and peace. But the God of the Old Testament is exactly the same God which is found in the New Testament, for Christ was the `spiritual food and drink', or Shekinah Presence of the Lord Who communed with Moses at Mt. Sinai while he received the Ten Commandments, admonished His people of sin in the Most Holy Place of the Sanctuary, and followed His people in a `cloud' during the sojourning out of Egypt and in the desert of Sin (1Corinthians 10: 1 - 4). So what difference is there between the God of the Old Testament, and the God of the New? The answer is, there really is none, for the penalty of breaking the law remains the same - the death of the sinner! The difference lies in our perception of the law. If we honestly believe that we can `keep' it in our own strength, as did Israel of old in the Old Testament and the Galatians attempted to in the New Testament, then we deceive ourselves and are already dead in our sins, for just as it impossible for the leopard to change his spots, so also does the legacy which we have inherited from Adam as a result of the fall ensures that it is impossible for to us to do right and conform to the Law:
`Can the Ethiopian change his skin, or the leopard his spots? Then may you also do good, that are accustomed to do evil.' (Jeremiah 13: 23.)
Grace was just as surely available to Israel as it is to Christians today - but because Israel made a covenant with the Lord which was based upon their obedience to the Ten Commandments, and Christ had not yet died for their sins; then as soon as they were disobedient to the Law, they died! For the Sanctuary service directed them to a time when the common priesthood of many men who administered to the sins of the people would be abrogated by the uncommon Priesthood of just one Man - Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God:
`"But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days," says the LORD: "I will put My laws in their minds, and write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people." ' (Jeremiah 31: 33.)
Thus we find that the old covenant was based on man making promises to God and failing to keep them, while the new covenant is based upon better promises - God making promises to man - and God always keeps His promises!
`But now has he obtained a more excellent ministry, by how much also he is the mediator of a better covenant, which was established upon better promises ' (Hebrews 8: 6.)
`And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself; and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.' (Philippians 2: 8.)