Light for the Last Days

Exodus 24 – The written Word of God

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If you’ve been with us for a while, you may know that I was looking at the Book of Exodus and the lessons which we learned from the event of the Jews coming out of Egypt. And, in Corinthians Paul tells us that these things which happened are examples to us who have come to faith in Jesus the Messiah.

As we look at the pattern of events which took place with the Exodus, we can see that there are many things which apply to us, which connect to the New Covenant and to Yeshua Jesus as the Messiah.

Last time I spoke on this I was looking at the Ten Commandments. I want to move on now to Exodus chapter 24. So, if you have your Bibles we’re going to read Exodus chapter 24.

Let’s just have a word of prayer as we come to the Word of God. Lord, we would like to you thank you for your Word; we thank you that it is truth and pray that you bless the reading and the preaching of your Word and guide us into all truth. We pray in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ Yeshua Jesus the Messiah, amen.

This chapter is actually pivotal in our understanding of the Hebrew scriptures of the Tanakh, the Old Testament. It shows how God sealed the covenant with Israel through the Torah (the Law) and how this was going to be the means by which He would communicate and relate to His people in the time between Moses and the Messiah.

When the Messiah Yeshua would come in, He would bring in the New Covenant but, up until this time, God would communicate through the Covenant with Moses.

We see that this is a covenant sealed with blood, a covenant which God makes which is of great significance in our understanding of the Hebrew scriptures and indeed, of the whole of the Bible.

CHART-Gods-Covenant-Programme-M-Penfold-2017-Webtruth.jpg (3508×2480)

There are a number of significant parallels between what happens here and what happens in the giving of the New Covenant, particularly in the day of Pentecost.

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Interestingly, these two events (Old and New Covenants) took place at the same time in the Hebrew calendar, on the day of Pentecost, the feast which the Jewish people hold called Shavuot which is the equivalent of Pentecost.

Now I want to make a few points on this subject if I can get through them all.

As part of our study into Exodus 24, we’ve looked at:

The second point says God wrote all God comes Moses comes down from the mountain and brings the word of the Lord to the people and we notice that it says that the words which were written in the word of God so he speaks about a written word:

And Moses wrote all the words of the Lord. And he rose early in the morning, and built an altar at the foot of the mountain, and twelve pillars according to the twelve tribes of Israel.

 Then he took the Book of the Covenant and read in the hearing of the people. And they said, “All that the Lord has said we will do, and be obedient.”

Exodus 24.4 & 7

There was something written down. Now, the written Word is very important when you come to understanding the Torah and the Bible. You find that right through the Bible, it speaks about a written word a Word which is not just ‘word of mouth’, it’s something which is written down.

Why is it important it’s written down? If it’s written down, it can be passed down from one generation to another, and you can have a record of what was written in the first place. If you’re writing on what people have said and just passing it down by word of mouth, they might change what has been said.

So, you have to have something written down, something is written and, right through the Torah, you see this emphasis on the written Word.

Moses wrote all the words of the Lord, he took the Book of the Covenant, read it in the hearing of the people.

In Exodus 31 it says:

18 And when He had made an end of speaking with him on Mount Sinai, He gave Moses two tablets of the Testimony, tablets of stone, written with the finger of God.

Exodus 31.18

This is the only passage in the Bible where you actually have God writing something. It is the giving of the Ten Commandments, written on tablets of stone.

Deuteronomy chapter 30, at the end of the Torah, says:

9 … For the Lord will again rejoice over you for good as He rejoiced over your fathers, 10 if you obey the voice of the Lord your God, to keep His commandments and His statutes which are written in this Book of the Law, and if you turn to the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul.

Deuteronomy 30.9-10

And they were told to take a copy of the Book of the Law to put it in the Ark of the Covenant.

Deuteronomy 31 verse 26

26 “Take this Book of the Law, and put it beside the ark of the covenant of the Lord your God, that it may be there as a witness against you; 27 for I know your rebellion and your stiff neck. If today, while I am yet alive with you, you have been rebellious against the Lord, then how much more after my death? 

Deuteronomy 31.26-27

The written word is going to continue to be there after Moses’ death, that’s why it had to be written down, so you have some record of what had been said, so it could be continued from one generation to another.

Old-Testament-Timeline1.jpg (1540×934) (squarespace-cdn.com)

When the Israelite entered into the Promised Land and crossed over the Jordan, we find that as they assemble after the victories over Jericho and Ai:

30 Now Joshua built an altar to the Lord God of Israel in Mount Ebal, 31 as Moses the servant of the Lord had commanded the children of Israel, as it is written in the Book of the Law of Moses: “an altar of whole stones over which no man has wielded an iron tool.” And they offered on it burnt offerings to the Lord, and sacrificed peace offerings. 

Joshua 8.30-31
Bible Map: Mount Ebal (bibleatlas.org)

Then in verse 32:

32 And there, in the presence of the children of Israel, he wrote on the stones a copy of the law of Moses, which he had written. 33 Then all Israel, with their elders and officers and judges, stood on either side of the ark before the priests, the Levites, who bore the ark of the covenant of the Lord, the stranger as well as he who was born among them. Half of them were in front of Mount Gerizim and half of them in front of Mount Ebal, as Moses the servant of the Lord had commanded before, that they should bless the people of Israel. 34 And afterward he read all the words of the law, the blessings and the cursings, according to all that is written in the Book of the Law. 35 There was not a word of all that Moses had commanded which Joshua did not read before all the assembly of Israel, with the women, the little ones, and the strangers who were living among them.

Joshua 8.32-35

There is the emphasis on the written word. It was written down and it was translated from one generation to another Joshua then read the whole scriptures of the written word of God.

Why is that important? Well, when you’re talking to Jewish people it is very important because the rabbis have a concept that when Moses received the written Law he also received what they call the oral Law.

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The oral Law, they say, explains how to keep the commandments of God. This was not written down, it was passed on, according to rabbinic Judaism, from one generation to another, from Moses to Joshua, from Joshua to the men of the Great Assembly, and finally, through to the Pharisees, to the  leaders of Judaism around about the time of Jesus.

And, between the year about 200 a.d. (after Jesus) to 500 a.d., it was written down in what was called the Talmud.

And they say that this is equally authoritative to the word of God, to the written scriptures.

If you go to the Yeshiva down the road, and you attend the classes (which you probably wouldn’t be able to do), you’ll find that they’ll spend time reading the Talmud, not reading the Tanakh/the Bible.

Yeshiva – Wikipedia

An orthodox Jew once said to me our religion is 90 percent Talmud and 10 percent Tanakh: 90% the oral Law and 10% the written Law. I repeated that to another orthodox Jew and he said ‘that’s wrong. It’s much more than ninety percent.

But the fact is that Moses knew nothing about this oral Law; Joshua knew nothing about it; the prophets knew nothing about it; Ezra – who restored the Law after the return from Babylon – knew nothing about it. It’s not there in the Bible.

Jewish Timeline

From what we can understand, it was actually an invention of the Pharisees in the time between the return of the Jews from Babylon to the time of Jesus, when they had developed what they called the ‘traditions of the fathers’ and added them to the written Law.

And these became more authoritative than the Word of God which was given.

But I said there is a problem if you have an oral tradition, because if you pass it on from one generation to another, people can change it. You are familiar with ‘Chinese whispers’.

A Timeline of the Transmission of Torah – Talmud (chabad.org)

You turn it around and the story gets changed. How can you remember pages and pages? And the Talmud was not a book, it’s a library! How can people expect to remember pages and pages of the stuff and transmit it faithfully from one generation to another.

21 Talmud Facts Every Jew Should Know – Talmud (chabad.org)

It had to be the written Law. You’ll find that the written Law wasn’t that well-kept either. So, how can they keep an unwritten Law? Someone said once said to me that ‘the weakest ink is stronger than the strongest memory‘. That’s why God insisted on having the written Law.

And right here, in Exodus 24, we have the beginning of the written Law being, the Law which was to be used by Israel to keep His commandments. And I believe that the Talmud is one of the barriers which stops Jewish people from seeing Yeshua Jesus the Messiah. It’s the veil which is over the eyes of the Jews when they read from the Torah.

If we want to pray for Israel pray that they may be taken away from this non-biblical tradition which is very much part of rabbinic Judaism that there is an oral Law which was given to Moses there was none there was a written Law and the  written Law is what is important not the oral Law.

I should say actually that I would just mention this there is a mention of the oral Law in one sense in the Bible in the New Testament in the disputes between Jesus and the Pharisees when Jesus disputes with the Pharisees of what he calls the ‘traditions of the fathers’, that’s what He’s talking about they’re saying him that you haven’t been keeping the traditions of the fathers and condemning him and the disciples and in Matthew chapter 15 he says:

Then the scribes and Pharisees who were from Jerusalem came to Jesus, saying, “Why do Your disciples transgress the tradition of the elders? For they do not wash their hands when they eat bread.” He answered and said to them, “Why do you also transgress the commandment of God because of your tradition? For God commanded, saying, ‘Honour your father and your mother’; and, ‘He who curses father or mother, let him be put to death.’ But you say, ‘Whoever says to his father or mother, “Whatever profit you might have received from me is a gift to God”— then he need not honour his father or mother.’ Thus you have made the commandment of God of no effect by your tradition. Hypocrites! Well did Isaiah prophesy about you, saying: ‘These people draw near to Me with their mouth, And honour Me with their lips, But their heart is far from Me. And in vain they worship Me, Teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’ ”

Matthew 15.1-9

Inasmuch as these people draw near with their mouths And honour Me with their lips, But have removed their hearts far from Me, And their fear toward Me is taught by the commandment of men,

Isaiah 29.13

These are actually the ‘commandments of men‘ and when they become teaching doctrines, they become a barrier to people understanding God.

And that’s the big problem with modern Judaism, it’s so much based upon the traditions of men, the writings of the rabbis, not on the word of God.

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They need to get back to the word of God and, if they get back to the word of God, they’ll see that Yeshua Jesus is the Messiah.

Tony Pearce