Posts Tagged ‘Israelites’

Lessons From the Torah

WIFE (stands for Woman I Find Exceptional, and how I will refer to my wife from now on) and I are reading through the entire Bible this year, and our daily plan has caused us to just now finish the book of Deuteronomy. Wow, there’s a lot of information in there, including some verses I wish I hadn’t found. But hey, they’re there for a reason. Here are a few of the things I learned from the first five books of the Bible:

1) The Israelites were some messed up people! Every time God would do an amazing miracle for them, they would complain about something else and usually reference it with “Did God lead us here to die in the desert?” Plus, some of the rules that God laid out for them I couldn’t imagine, but obviously He had to set them straight because these issues came up (if you’re wondering what issues I mean, see Deuteronomy 23; I really don’t want to list them here).

2) Moses was an amazing leader. The last few verses of Deuteronomy (I suspect written by Joshua) claim him as so, but just think about it. Can you imagine leading a group of middle-schoolers on a camping trip for 5 days? Now try doing it with an millions of people for 40 years.

3) The old covenant in no way compares to the new covenant. While both made by God, I for one am thankful that I don’t have to give an animal to the High Priest to be sacrificed every time I sin, because the world probably doesn’t have enough sheep or pigeons. Plus, I like being able to have a personal individual relationship with God, rather than having to go through the priests.

4) What happened to Simeon? In Moses’ blessings of the tribes of Israel at the end of Deuteronomy, he mentions every son of Jacob except Simeon. What did he or his people do to get left out of the blessing, and did they ever get back into God’s good graces?

5) Participate in the census. Apparently they’re important. God basically devoted a whole book of His Word to one.

The Ark of the Covenant

I haven’t always been the most insightful (or most observant) person in the world, and up until recently haven’t been serious about Bible study or interpretation, but this struck me as interesting. This week at church our pastor was continuing our study in Hebrews and he got to the part where it was talking about the design of the Most Holy Place, including how the ark of the covenant was designed, to point out the differences between the old and new covenants that Christians have with God.

It also briefly mentioned what was in the ark of the covenant – a jar of manna, Aaron’s staff that blossomed with leaves and almonds, and the Ten Commandments. I hadn’t really thought hard about why these three things specifically were placed in the ark, other than that they were important parts of the story for the Israelites in Exodus and Numbers. It’s clear to me now that what’s important is that they symbolize three very important natures of God in how He related to the Israelites, and more importantly today us as Christians.

Here’s what I mean:

Jar of Manna – symbolizes God’s provision for the Israelites. God takes care of His own, even when we grumble and complain and aren’t really worthy of this.
Aaron’s staff – symbolizes God’s power and placement. God needed to show the Israelites just who was boss — and this doesn’t mean just Aaron. He did this as a demonstration of who He had chosen to lead the people into communion with God, but also to show that He is capable of doing anything.
Ten Commandments – symbolizes God’s precedent for His law. There are obviously things that God holds in the highest importance for us in the way we live our lives, and to make sure we understand them He wrote them with His very hand.

It’s awesome that these things are so symbolic of our relationship with God today. Anyone who reads the Old Testament (particularly the “hard” books of Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy) and doesn’t understand why they are in the Bible should look at things like this and marvel at how awesome God has been through the ages, and how applicable things like this still are!