By John Larkins
Please do not think I belittle the Old Testament but, simply said, it is the Old Testament. After allowing His new church to prosper in Egypt for 400 years, it was time to move the Israelites to a new locale, where they were not under a ruler except Himself, through Moses. The stunning spectacle of God escorting the million-man exodus from Egypt and destroying Pharaoh’s pursuing army by the rejoining of the Red Sea after allowing the Israelites to escape, is a whole story by itself. But we must focus on God’s purpose.
Almighty God is creating another Church, in which a Savior of Mankind would repair the damage done in the relationship between us humans and Himself. Moses led the ragtag infant Israelite nation to the Promised Land, where it would go through a 1,500-year maturing process. Because they had to displace people already living in the land promised them by God, Moses and his subordinate leaders organized the Jewish people into a fighting force. They were given a doctrine based on God’s Ten Commandments. These rules were taught and explained by a Priesthood, who would also direct altar offerings to God as a sign of worship. They would perform a symbolic sacrifice on their own bodies, circumcision, to provide an outward sign of the sacrifice of their will, to be subservient to a divine God. They organized their calendar around events of worship that reminded them of their life in God.
After 40 years of nomadic desert living, prolonged as God’s punishment for failure and cowardice to act on defeating the people in the way, the Israelites built altars and more permanent buildings. In human history there had never been a worship of God in such an organized fashion. The Hebrew people grew in numbers and solved their fundamental issues. They eventually decided they wanted to be ruled directly by a king. God had intended to be their king for eternity. He was disappointed and used very valid tangible arguments to warn them of the way a king would rule them, but the people prevailed upon Him to give them a king.
So, the line of civil government began. The Israelites continually developed sins, which can only exist when there are rules that must be obeyed. Disciplinary organizations were formed, which dedicated themselves to enforcing faithful behavior under God’s commandments. The Priests used their power to interpret and expand God’s commandments. Thus, life for the Israelites became increasingly complicated by the Priests.
We must remember the fundamental and critical nature of this religious period. These people were preparing for a Savior who would bring a pathway to eternal salvation. There was at that time no way into heaven’s gates. Adam and Eve destroyed the promise of eternal life with God after death. The priesthood’s physical sacrifices to God on the altar were a worship but could not result in salvation upon our death. Satan could claim humans upon their death, but, as we learn later, those who were friends of God were in a place awaiting the Savior.
God inspired prophets who encouraged people to expect the eventual salvation. While Godly men and women are often written about in the Old Testament, it is also true that there were many people who gave themselves to Satan. Many times, the Israelites suffered as punishment for disobeying God rules. There were wars, forced relocations, disease, famine and many unnecessary hardships meant to correct the people’s behavior. For a time perspective, Saul became Israel’s first king in 1050 B.C. Forty years later, God selected a king named David. A thousand years later, the lineage started by David is important in God’s plan!
For the past 17 years, John Larkins has evangelized on the street, door-to-door, in tent revivals and in church situations. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.