I mentioned Tuesday that I’ll spend some time unpacking what we are talking about each Sunday in worship, the Bible as Bookshelf. Each Monday through this series, I’ll layout for what you basic details about the shelf we looked at. And just a reminder you can listen to my podcast of this sermon here or stream it below:
The Books of Moses are often called the Pentateuch or the Torah. The word Pentateuch means “Five Books” referring to these books and the Torah means “teaching.” The Torah is most often meant to talk about these five books, but it can refer as well to the entire Old Testament. These books are attributed to Moses, but we know that he had some editorial help, because Deuteronomy tells about his funeral.
Genesis tells us of the creation, the Fall, and we see the stories of patriarchs. Exodus tells us of the escape of the people to Egypt and the beginning of the travel to the Promised Land promised to Abraham. The latter part of Exodus, Leviticus, and then Deuteronomy are the Law which is the foundation for the community. Numbers (between Leviticus and Deuteronomy) tell us who the people are and then their lack of faith to take the Promised Land. That is why the Law and the Ten Commandments are given twice (Exodus/Leviticus and Deuteronomy) is because the first generation did not have faith, so they did not enter the Promised Land. It was their children, the second generation, that made it into the Promised Land. The Law was given to each generation. That is why it is given twice.
Genesis tells us why things are like they are. All was good and then sin entered in. The rest of the Bible is God’s plan to restore everything that sin corrupted. He does this through relationships or covenants. First, with Abraham, He promises the land and that through his faith all the people of the world would be blessed. The sign of this covenant was circumcision.
His descendants would not only be marked by that sign but through the Law. The law was given to form the people and mark them as separate and holy. That is what it means to be holy, it is to be different. The reason why the people are to be different is because they are God’s own people, and through them, the Messiah would come, who would restore what sin (The Fall – Genesis 3) took.
The Law forms the people as this covenant community. There are many things that the Law is concerned with, but the primary is that the people are called to two major things. To Worship and to Be Holy.
So much is about worship, what days and festivals, how it should be done who should do it. So much is about being holy, or different. Worship and holiness.
This remains true for us as Christians. The foundation of the covenant is the same. Worship and holiness. We are called to worship. It is one of our primary commands as Christians to worship our Holy God. And with that, holiness. We are supposed to be different from the world. The people of God are always supposed to be holy, or different. We are different from the world, how it thinks, acts, and lives. We must be different. We must keep His commands. And what are those commands?
Well, the Law is summed up in the Ten Commandments. Jesus sums up the Ten Commandments and all the Law, with the Great Commandment – to love God and love neighbor. That’s what it means to be Holy and keep those commands, to perfectly love our God and perfectly love our Neighbor. That’s what we are called to do.
Worship and holiness are the points of the Law. And while we are not bound the ceremonial law any longer (Acts 10) because the Messiah has come, we are still bound to the Moral Law (the ethical, moral teachings of the law, as best understood by the Ten Commandments/Love God and Neighbor). That is what it means to be holy, or different. Living out that perfect love of God. That is our goal, to live out that holiness, loving God and neighbor.
So, we see that the Law is foundational for everything else that is to come in scripture.
I hope this is helpful to your understanding of the Books of Moses. Please, reach out to me with any questions you may have.
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