|Topical Bible Study||March 1962|
The People in God’s Plan—Lesson VI
Moses, Lawgiver and Mediator
THREE months after Moses had served God in delivering the Hebrew people from their bondage in Egypt he was assigned the major task of giving them the divine Law. (Exod. 19:1-3) This Law was epitomized in the Ten Commandments.—Exod. 20:1-17
The Law offered the Israelites the opportunity of gaining life upon the basis of full obedience to its requirements. (Lev. 18:5; Rom. 10:5) Since the Israelites, even as the people of all other nations, were members of a sinful and dying race, born under condemnation to death, none of them was able to measure up to the full demands of God’s perfect Law, so none gained life by this arrangement.—Rom. 3:20; 7:10
Nevertheless, the Law served a useful purpose in that it demonstrated that it is impossible for any member of the fallen adamic race to gain life by reforming and keeping God’s Law. Up to the time of the giving of the Law there had been no demonstration of this, for all were dying because of Adam’s transgression. But when the Israelites agreed to keep God’s Law, they were brought under individual condemnation by their failure to do so. (Rom. 5:14) Thus the Israelites were brought under an additional curse, the curse of the Law.—Gal. 3:10
Paul wrote that the Law served as a “schoolmaster” to bring the people to Christ. (Gal. 3:24) It did prepare some of the Israelites to receive Christ at the first advent. But although they did not accept him as a people, the experience of that people under the Law will always stand as a lesson of the great fact that none can gain life except through Christ. This has been true in the Gospel Age, and the lesson will carry through to the end of the Millennial Age. Thus the Law served a vital purpose in the outworking of the divine plan.
While the Israelites for the most part did not make a serious effort to keep the Law, it served as a certain restraint upon them, and contributed to holding them together as a people until their Messiah came and presented himself to them. (Gal. 3:19) Since the Israelites were the natural descendants of father Abraham, they were the first in line, when Jesus came, to be the inheritors of the promise made to him concerning a “seed” that was to bless all the families of the earth. But in this also, love for God and a sincere effort to do their best to obey his Law as a demonstration of faith in him and in his promises, were the conditions of becoming the blesser “seed,” which the Lord described as a “kingdom of priests, and an holy nation.”—Exod. 19:5,6
Disobedience to God, climaxed by their rejection of their Messiah, the Head of the “Seed” class, caused the Israelites to lose this choice inheritance. Jesus explained that the “kingdom” would be taken from them, and given to another nation, a “nation” that would bring forth the proper fruits of righteousness. (Matt. 21:43) The Apostle Peter identified this new “holy nation” for us.—I Pet. 2:9,10
Moses received the Law from God while hidden in a cloud do Mt. Sinai, where he remained in communion with the Lord for forty days. Meanwhile the Israelites became weary of waiting for his return, and set up a golden calf to worship instead of their God. (Exod. 32:1-6) The Lord was much displeased with this display of unfaithfulness, and said to Moses that he would blot them out, and through him make a “great nation.”—Exod. 32:7-10
Moses, serving as mediator between God and the people, interceded for them, and they were not destroyed. (Exod. 32:11-14) But when Moses came down out of the mount and saw the golden calf, and noted the sinful revelry of the people in their worship of the false god, be became wroth and destroyed the Tables of the Law which had just been given to him by the Lord.—Exod. 32:19,20
Later the Lord instructed Moses to hew other tables of stone like those he had broken and to take them up into Mount Sinai, which Moses did. (Exod. 34:1-4) The Lord then stood with Moses in a cloud and proclaimed the virtues of his character, virtues which now we see exemplified in the divine plan of the ages. (Exod. 34:5-7) It was while the Lord thus outlined the attributes of his character that the Law was written on the tables of stone. Then Moses, serving as a faithful mediator, petitioned the Lord to pardon the iniquity of the Israelites and take them for his inheritance, which the Lord agreed to do.—Exod. 34:9,10
Moses was again on Mount Sinai with the Lord for forty days and nights, and when he came down his face was aglow with the glory of the Lord. This “glory” remained on Moses’ face as he started to speak to the people With respect to God and his Law, and he had to put a veil over his face, which was removed when he spoke to the Lord. (Exod. 34:29-35: II Cor. 3:13) In the New Testament the Apostle Paul refers to this “glory” as being representative of the glory to be associated with the mediation of the New Covenant by Christ and his church.—II Cor. 3:3-12
There was an important use of blood in connection with the mediation of the Law Covenant. Moses took the blood of oxen, half of which he put in basins, and half he sprinkled on an altar. Then he presented the terms of the Law to the people, referred to as “the Book of the Covenant,” and in response the people agreed to abide by these terms of their covenant with the Lord. Then Moses, using the blood which he had put in the basins, sprinkled the people and the book.—Exod. 24:6-8: Heb. 9:19,20
The “blood of the covenant,” as it is described in the New Testament, was typical of the blood of Christ, the blood which, symbolically speaking, will be used to sprinkle the people of all nations in connection with the terms of the foretold “New Covenant” which is to be made with them by Christ, of whom Moses was a type. (Heb. 9:21-23) Further details of this will be considered in a later lesson, dealing with Jesus as the Mediator of the New Covenant.
Although Moses’ service as a lawgiver and mediator ceased, he continued to be the leader of the Israelites throughout their entire wilderness journey. During this time God sustained his people with manna from heaven. Jesus referred to this, and indicated that the manna was typical of his own humanity, his “flesh,” which he said he would give for the life of the whole world.—John 6:31-33,51
Moses drew water from a rock in order to supply the needs of the people, and the Apostle Paul explains that this rock was symbolic of Christ.—I Cor. 10:4
On one occasion when the Israelites had sinned, a. plague came upon them, and Moses lifted up a copper serpent—and those who looked upon this serpent were saved. Jesus referred to this, and indicated that antitypically he was that serpent which would be lifted up to provide an opportunity of salvation for all mankind.—Num. 21:9; John 3:14,15
The Lord explained to Moses that a “Prophet” would be raised up to the people, similar to him. (Deut. 18:15-19) The Apostle referred to this promise, and indicated that it would have its fulfillment through Christ during the “times of restitution of all things.”—Acts 3:19-23
Thus we see that as a Lawgiver, a mediator, a leader, and a teacher, Moses foreshadowed Christ. Thus did the Lord use him to open up to us in this typical manner many of the important features of his plan.
Recite a brief summary of the Law God gave to Israel.
What great blessing did the Law offer to any one capable of full obedience to it?
How did the Law place the Israelites in a different category with respect to death condemnation than the remainder of mankind?
In what way did the Law serve as a “schoolmaster,” and how otherwise did it benefit Israel as a nation?
What relationship did the Law have to God’s original promise to Israel with respect to a blesser “seed”? What “nation” finally qualifies to be this “blesser nation”?
How long was Moses in Mount Sinai receiving the Law, and what did the Israelites do during this time? What was Moses’ reaction to this?
How did God make known his glory to Moses while he was in Mount Sinai the second time?
What was represented by the use of blood in connection with the inauguration of the Law Covenant?
What was represented by the manna with which God fed the Israelites during their wilderness journey?
What was represented by the rock smitten by Moses to secure water?
What reference did Jesus make to the brazen, or copper, serpent raised up by Moses?
Who is the “Prophet” greater than Moses whom the Lord promised to raise up?
“The New Creation,” pages 349 to 354.
SUMMARY OF IMPORTANT THOUGHTS
God used Moses to give his Law to the Israelites. Moses served as mediator between the Creator and the people. Fallen man is incapable of keeping God’s perfect Law, so the Israelites did not gain life under this arrangement. However, it did demonstrate the need of a Redeemer from sin, thus serving as a “schoolmaster.” The Israelites as a whole will not understand the full import of this demonstration until they are awakened from the sleep of death and enlightened during the Millennial Age.