"I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.Exodus 20:2(NASB)
Israel were given a total of 613 commandments, and the first 10 are generally referred to as 'The Moral Law' or 'The Ten Commandments'. However, before God started to lay out the conditions of His covenant with Israel and list the righteous requirements of the Law, He reminded His chosen people, "I am the Lord your God, Who brought you out of the land of Egypt. I am the Lord your God, Who brought you out of the house of slavery."
The Lord reminded Israel that He had selected them out of the sea of humanity to be His chosen people, and in His introductory statement, He reminded them of the privileged position they had among the nations. He reminded them that HE had redeemed them from four hundred years of Egyptian enslavement. He was the Lord their God, and they were to have no other god before Him for THEY were His chosen people.
Because Israel believed God's Word and obeyed His instructions on that first Passover night in the land of Egypt, God brought them out of bondage to be His special people, and clearly laid out the conditions of His covenant, which began with 10 moral laws. In Chapter 24, we read that Moses took the Book of the Covenant, with all its rules and regulations, and read it aloud to the people... and they said with one accord, "Everything that the Lord has said we will do, and we will be obedient."
God wanted His people to know that HE alone is the almighty God and that HE alone created the heavens, the earth, and all that is in it. He wanted His people to draw close to HIM. They were never to forget what HE had done for them, by bringing them out of the land of Egypt and releasing them from their yoke of slavery and oppression. God wanted His people to know HIM, to love Him, to trust Him, and to obey Him, because God had a unique plan and a special purpose for them.
God wanted to teach Israel some important concepts of Who He is, before He presented them with His covenant. He wanted Israel to learn about His essential nature, His righteous character, and His never-failing faithfulness. He wanted them to know Him as a personal God Who cares for them, protects them, rescues them, and provides for their needs. He wanted them to understand that He alone is the Holy One of Israel Who is full of goodness and grace. They needed to know that the Lord was very different from the false gods their pagan neighbours worshipped - gods that neither see, nor hear, nor understand.
The Lord had a very special plan for Israel - a unique purpose. They were to be the nation through whom the Saviour of the world would be born. They were to be 'the people of God' who would be His witnesses throughout the world. They were to be a light to lighten the Gentiles. They were to be a principled people with godly values and exemplary behaviour. They were to teach their pagan neighbours about the God of their fathers and bring them into the camp of Israel so they could also worship the Lord. They were to be used to circumnavigate Satan's evil plan by proclaiming the gospel of God, which is why He opened His address with this important reminder, "I am the Lord your God, Who brought you out of the land of Egypt. I am the Lord your God, Who brought you out of the house of slavery."
Today, in this Church age, there is a tendency to intermingle sections of the Mosaic Law, which were given uniquely to Israel, with the law of the spirit of life in Christ Jesus, which was given specifically to the Church. While there are some overlapping principles and practices, it is clear that God's purpose for Israel is very different from His plans for the Church. The instructions God gave to Israel are not the same as those given to Christians. Sadly, there are some that refuse to see the distinction between God's principles, practices, purposes, and plans for Israel and those He has for the Church.
God's covenant with Israel is not transferable from Israel to the Church. Israel were told that if they kept the terms of their covenant, they would gain His blessings. They had to obey specific regulations and rites and take part in certain sacrifices and rituals to be blessed by God. If Israel, as a nation, kept their covenant, walked in His ways, and obeyed His commands, they would be His people and He would be their God Who would fight for them, provide for them, protect them, and bless them. However, they were warned that if Israel, as a nation, disobeyed God's Law, they would be severely punished.
The people of Israel were saved in exactly the same way that Christians are saved today - by grace, through faith in God's Word. We are all saved by believing God's Word - by trusting in His promised Messiah. However, keeping the Law could not save Israel. Like you and me, they were redeemed through faith. Righteousness was reckoned to them because of their FAITH, not through a strict adherence to the Law. Both Israel and the Church are saved through faith - not by keeping the Law. The Law was designed, by God, to teach Israel that they were sinners in need of a Saviour. The Law was a schoolmaster to point them to Christ. The Law was to expose their sin so that they would believe God's Word and look for their promised Messiah and coming King.
If Israel were to be blessed by God, they were to keep His Law. But like Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, they were justified by believing God's Word. Abraham believed God's Word, and it was credited to him as righteousness, and the people of Israel were also credited with righteousness when they believed God's Word.
Israel was to be a NATION under God. They were to be a NATION who trusted God. They were to be a NATION who walked in His ways and kept His commandments as an example to the surrounding Gentile nations. And the Lord knew that the best way for Israel to walk in His ways and keep His commands, was to witness to the world of His goodness and His grace. If Israel told the world of the promised Messiah it would help them to REMEMBER WHO God is and NEVER FORGET WHAT He has done for them. "I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery."
Christians, in this dispensation of grace, should learn whatever lessons God has to teach us from Israel's experience. We should learn what God wants to teach us we should be careful not to repeat Israel's mistakes. We should REMEMBER WHO God is. We should NEVER FORGET WHAT He has done for us. We should heed His Word and be ready to tell others of the hope that we have in Him.
Heavenly Father, thank You for Your Word and the truths and encouragement that it contains. I see that You were faithful to Israel, despite their many failings, and rejoice to know that You will remain faithful to all who are called by Your name in this Church dispensation. I pray that You would use me in these dark and difficult times, when the world seems to be spiralling out of control, and may I never forget that You are a faithful God Who keeps His promises to a thousand generations. Thank You in Jesus' name, AMEN.
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