The Law of Moses and the Glorious Gospel of Christ

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Moses has been painted in a false light. The following study is meant to show something about Moses that is so beautiful, so loving, but yet it seems that some have been so blinded when reading the law of Moses, that a vail is upon their face so that they are unable to behold the “glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God” in these writings.

Minds Blinded to the Gospel When Reading Moses

2 Corinthians 3:14-15 But their minds were blinded: for until this day remaineth the same vail untaken away in the reading of the old testament; which vail is done away in Christ. (15) But even unto this day, when Moses is read, the vail is upon their heart.

It is my prayer that this study will remove the vail from our eyes, that we are able to see in the law of Moses, what God has wanted us to see, His glory, His glorious gospel. So many when reading Moses today see Moses as a dictator, or just a commander, or ruler, or someone exercising authority over the people of Israel and God as arbitrary. Their minds are “blinded” when reading it, even unto today. They miss the beauty in these books.

2Co 4:4 In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.

There is something in this verse that God says we have been blinded to. Something he wants to shine unto us, but yet even today, when reading Moses, a vail is on the minds and hearts of the people.

Many when reading the law of Moses, see only “the Law” and nothing but, some go so far as to say that this is what is “done away” and “abolished”. But I would really like to take a closer look. First let’s examine the story of the giving of the law.

The Exodus from Heathen Bondage

The book of Exodus starts out with Israel in bondage, as slaves to the Egyptian government. Moses first begins to realize his mission is to set Israel free, but he thinks that he is to set them free by means of what he can do, or by force, or by his own works, and in Exodus 2 he slays an Egyptian who is smiting a Hebrew slave. Following this Moses is forced to flee as the Pharaoh has discovered Moses plan to free the Hebrews from Egypt. Exodus slavery to freedom

40 years later, in chapter 3 of Exodus Moses is called to go back to Egypt after learning that when taking the people out of Egypt it would be “not of himself, lest he should boast”. Moses still thinking “I should bring forth the children of Israel out of Egypt?” is corrected by God and God explains “I will bring you up out of the affliction of Egypt”(Exodus 3:11, 17).

Following this God demonstrates his power to Egypt so that the world might see the “longsuffering of God” demonstrated to Pharaoh saying that He “might shew my power in thee, and that my name might be declared throughout all the earth.”(Romans 9:17). But Pharaoh, not willing to accept God’s power in his heart, could only see an outward demonstration of his power.

In Exodus 5-10 the plagues are poured out on Egypt, in Exodus 11-15 we see Israel’s deliverance from Egypt, in all of this God shows His power and delivers Israel. God demonstrates that He is the one who can give them power to escape the bondage of sin and accept liberty and be free indeed.

2 Corinthians 3:16-17 Nevertheless when it shall turn to the Lord, the vail shall be taken away. (17) Now the Lord is that Spirit: and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.

Exo 15:26 And said, If thou wilt diligently hearken to the voice of the LORD thy God, and wilt do that which is right in his sight, and wilt give ear to his commandments, and keep all his statutes, I will put none of these diseases upon thee, which I have brought upon the Egyptians: for I am the LORD that healeth thee.

Again, God calls the children to act in faith, doing what they can in their power, and He would accomplish the rest. For example following God’s health statutes by faith would lead to God’s power being manifest in your healing and health.

Rom 10:17 So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.

There is the thought by many today that the gospel of faith does not involve keeping the commandments and statutes of God. If this is the case, then what did Jesus die for? It would have been unnecessary for Christ to die if God was able to change his requirements.

In Exodus 16 God points out his Holy Sabbath to Israel, after bringing them out of heathen bondage, God attempts to give them rest.

God’s Rest

Exodus 16:23 And he said unto them, This is that which the LORD hath said, To morrow is the rest of the holy sabbath unto the LORD: bake that which ye will bake to day, and seethe that ye will seethe; and that which remaineth over lay up for you to be kept until the morning.Seventh day Sabbath commandment changed

Many ministers today would immediately object to this commandment as “bondage”. They say we are “free” from the obligation of keeping this commandment which was given even before the commandments on Sinai. But in this story, God has set them free, and this commandment is called a “rest” to the people of God. It is the opposite of bondage, In the New testament it is written:

Heb 4:9 There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God.

Many will object that people who would keep this commandment are brought into bondage. They are no longer walking by faith, but rather by works. However, it is written regarding the faith of those in the wilderness and their unwillingness to enter God’s rest:

Hebrews 3:16-19 For some, when they had heard, did provoke: howbeit not all that came out of Egypt by Moses. (17) But with whom was he grieved forty years? was it not with them that had sinned, whose carcases fell in the wilderness? (18) And to whom sware he that they should not enter into his rest, but to them that believed not? (19) So we see that they could not enter in because of unbelief.

The Sabbath has a deeper meaning. A spiritual rest, which actually signifies rest in Christ.(Matt 11:28, 29) And when trusting the word of God as our faith, we know that it is written“the Seventh day is the Sabbath of the LORD” and not some other day. Therefore, to rest on that day would be an act of faith, not of works, not of yourselves, and therefore it is actually works to try to establish a way contrary to God’s commandments.

Heb 4:10 For he that is entered into his rest, he also hath ceased from his own works, as God did from his.

God ceased from work on the seventh day, and we are to follow His example, not to make our own rules, but to trust God by faith, rather than like the Israelites fail to obey “because of unbelief”. Regarding this commandment, they failed to obey God and God said “How long refuse ye to keep my commandments and my laws?”(Exodus 16:28).

The Giving of the Law

After this the Israelites travelled to Mount Sinai. And in Exodus 19-24 we read of the giving of the law. In the giving of the law, the Israelites are pointed to the covenant given to “Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob”, the covenant of faith. It is explained what God “did unto the Egyptians, and how I bare you on eagles’ wings, and brought you unto myself.”(Exodus 19:8) and basically that in order to keep God’s law, it would be by trust in God’s power alone.

God would allow them to enter in situations where they could exercise their dependence on Him, and believe that He would deliver them, that it was “not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.”(Eph 2:8-10)

The laws God ordained were not something that could be done without dependence of Him, and knowledge of Him, therefore to “walk in them” without that knowledge would be useless. To make a promise to keep all that God has commanded without knowledge of God, would be futile. But yet the promise is made by the people:

Exodus 19:8 And all the people answered together, and said, All that the LORD hath spoken we will do. And Mosesten commandments love heart returned the words of the people unto the LORD.

They felt sufficient enough to keep the law, and thus entered into covenant with God. But this was not a covenant of faith. It was a covenant of works. In Exodus 20, the ten commandments are given, and in Exodus 21-23 other statutes are given with them, and following the hearing of these laws they again boastfully exclaim “with one voice…All the words which the LORD hath said will we do.”(Exodus 24:3)

They had not yet understood, that it was “not of themselves” but that the covenant of God was a covenant of faith, by His grace. There was a fault in the promises of this covenant. But the fault wasn’t with the promises of God:

Hebrews 8:6, 8 But now hath he obtained a more excellent ministry, by how much also he is the mediator of a better covenant, which was established upon better promises. (7) For if that first covenant had been faultless, then should no place have been sought for the second. (8) For finding fault with them, he saith, Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah:

Clearly the promises of the people were not good. That was where the fault was found in that covenant. Not in the promises of God. Though God entered into covenant with them, they broke the covenant within a short time.

Moses Goes up to Mount Sinai for 40 days

In Exodus 24 Moses goes up to Mount Sinai to meet with God. He is up there for 40 days, and he receives instructions regarding the building of a tabernacle as written down in Exodus 25-31. At the end of chapter 31 Moses is again instructed about the Sabbath, and then following this God “makes an end of communing with him upon mount Sinai” and gave Moses “two tables of testimony, tables of stone, written with the finger of God.”(Exodus 31:18).

The Golden Calf and the Broken Covenant

After Moses left to go up to the mountain to receive the tables of testimony, Aaron with some influence from the peoplegolden calf built a golden calf out of the earrings of the people. (Exo 32:2-4). Aaron then after fashioning it with a “graving tool” lied to Moses telling Moses that he had cast their earrings into the fire, then he said “and out came this calf.”(Exo 32:24)

In this the people were found singing loudly, so that it sounded like “a noise of war in the camp”(Exo 32:17). They were worshipping other gods, playing, dancing, and God was ready to destroy them. (Exodus 32:10).

Moses a Type of Christ

Many times when looking at Moses in this situation, some would think he was severe, he came down from the mountain and “cast the tables out of his hands, and brake them beneath the mount.”(Exodus 32:19) But this is where Moses character shines, where the beauty of Gods character is revealed in Moses as we shall see if the vail is taken away from the eyes.

The stones which contained the writing of God were cast to the ground and broken symbolizing the covenant which they broke.

Exodus 32:31-32 And Moses returned unto the LORD, and said, Oh, this people have sinned a great sin, and have made them gods of gold. (32) Yet now, if thou wilt forgive their sin–; and if not, blot me, I pray thee, out of thy book which thou hast written.

Moses intercedes on behalf of the people. In this signifying his willingness to take the place of the people and suffer for their sins. Moses continues to intercede on behalf of the people explaining his willingness to die if need be, with the people. In this Moses points us to what God had to give in His only begotten Son to intercede on behalf of us, who have sinned against Him.

God Remember’s His Covenant

In Exodus 33:1 we are again pointed to the “everlasting covenant” made with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. The covenant made on Sinai lasted only a short time before it was broken, thus God points them to the renewal of the covenant of grace.(Heb 10:29). The covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.(Exo 33:1)

God explains that he cannot come into “the midst”(Exo 33:3) of the people, otherwise they would be destroyed by his presence. Therefore they are advised to set the tent up outside the camp.(Exo 33:7)

God advises the people to take off all of their “ornaments” and then communes with Moses at the front of the tabernacle while the people look on wondering what God is going to do. God is about to demonstrate His mercy towards this people. And Moses is his instrument through which he will do so.

Moses went into the tabernacle, and following this “the LORD talked with Moses” in the form of a “cloudy pillar” and “the LORD spake unto Moses face to face”(Exodus 33:9, 11). However no man has seen God’s face(John 1:18), and we are told that despite speaking with Moses “face to face” God said to Moses “Thou canst not see my face: for there shall no man see me, and live” and “my face shall not be seen”(Exodus 33:20, 23)

God calls the people Moses’ people by exclaiming “Thy people have corrupted themselves”(Exodus 33:7), but Moses is quick to insist to God that they are “thy people”(Exodus 33:11).

“Show Me Thy Glory”

This should be the cry of each one of us. And as we continue, I pray that it becomes clear to us why we should want to see the “glory of God” and just what the “glory of God” is.

Moses is here asking for mercy for the Israelites praying on their behalf with God. He wants to see God’s glory. show me thy glory glory of God

Exodus 33:18-19 And he said, I beseech thee, shew me thy glory. (19) And he said, I will make all my goodness pass before thee, and I will proclaim the name of the LORD before thee; and will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will shew mercy on whom I will shew mercy.

God has already told Moses his name here, so clearly this is not about pronouncing his name and He wants to show Moses about His name.

What do we see here? We see God telling Moses that He will manifest His mercy and grace to Moses. That he will proclaim His name or character before Moses tomorrow. He then tells Moses to meet him up on Mount Sinai again “in the morning”(Exodus 34:2).

And then God proclaims his name the next day on the Mountain.

Exodus 34:5-7 And the LORD descended in the cloud, and stood with him there, and proclaimed the name of the LORD. (6) And the LORD passed by before him, and proclaimed, The LORD, The LORD God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abundant in goodness and truth, (7) Keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, and that will by no means clear the guilty; visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children, and upon the children’s children, unto the third and to the fourth generation.

In these words we see God expressing to Moses that he is merciful, he is willing to be longsuffering with Israel, he is willing to give them grace. But he can by no means clear the guilty. And when Moses hears these words, he immediately jumps forward to intercede on behalf of the people.

Exodus 34:8 And Moses made haste, and bowed his head toward the earth, and worshipped.

Moses stepped in quickly, understanding that God waxed hot against the Israelites, he could by no means clear them of their guilt, yet Moses didn’t just perceive the ministry of condemnation that would be wrought by the tables of stone and the penalty accompanied by it. Moses saw in these words the mercy and grace of God. The goodness of God, and the “glorious gospel” of God.

And so, just as Jesus Christ stepped in our place, Moses was willing to step in our place and to avert God’s wrath on the sinner as God can “by no means clear the guilty”.

One who has accepted the grace of Christ, no longer stands guilty before God, and this was what God was showing to the people of Israel. That the gospel was “by grace through faith, not of themselves…it is the gift of God”(Eph 2:8-10). However many when reading the Old Testament have not seen this beautiful gospel in these books.

They have failed to see the real character of Moses in all this, and also fail to see God’s character, and thus with improper knowledge of God, cannot be changed into that image.

2 Corinthians 3:13-18 And not as Moses, which put a vail over his face, that the children of Israel could not stedfastly look to the end of that which is abolished: (14) But their minds were blinded: for until this day remaineth the same vail untaken away in the reading of the old testament; which vail is done away in Christ. (15) But even unto this day, when Moses is read, the vail is upon their heart. (16) Nevertheless when it shall turn to the Lord, the vail shall be taken away. (17) Now the Lord is that Spirit: and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. (18) But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.

Only by knowledge of God and his true character can they be changed. Many when reading the law of Moses today see God as an arbitrary dictator and they despise him. They don’t see God’s love or gospel in these writings. They see God as just making rules for the people to be arbitrary, not realizing that he gave us laws and statutes for our good.

Deuteronomy 6:24 And the LORD commanded us to do all these statutes, to fear the LORD our God, for our good always, that he might preserve us alive, as it is at this day.

Some will say that the thing “abolished” and “taken away” in 2 Corinthians 3 is the “law of Moses”. Though the ceremonial law which signified the death of Christ was nailed to the cross. The law of Moses, which included laws like the Sabbath. (Numbers 9:13, 14), but also laws such as making graven images(See Lev 26:1, 46), but also the statutes on fornication, health laws etc. Basically, you are nailing all the law to the cross if you are nailing the law of Moses to the cross. (See also Mal 4:4, Acts 7:51-53)

The Ministry of Death and Ministry of Life(Two Covenants)

Some will say that the thing “abolished” and “taken away” in 2 Corinthians 3 is the “law of Moses” and they try to differentiate between the “law of Moses” and “law of God”, but it can be clearly demonstrated that both the law of Moses and law of God are the same and interchangeable. This is not what God is saying is done away. Paul tells us what is “abolished”. When giving mercy to the Israelites, God saved them from one thing. The penalty for breaking His law.

Romans 6:23 For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

“Sin is the transgression of the law”(1 John 3:4) and since sin brings death with it, God did abolish something by the gospel and the giving of His Son Jesus Christ.

2 Timothy 1:10 But is now made manifest by the appearing of our Saviour Jesus Christ, who hath abolished death, and hath brought life and immortality to light through the gospel:glory of the cross abolished death

The thing that God has abolished is death. Thus the ceremonies that pointed to Christ would be pointless today. This does not change the law of God, his commandments or statutes. Paul writes more about this in 2 Corinthians 3 when discussing the tables of stone.

2Co 3:3 Forasmuch as ye are manifestly declared to be the epistle of Christ ministered by us, written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God; not in tables of stone, but in fleshy tables of the heart.

We are to be walking epistles. And unless these commandments are written on our heart they are of no good. If we merely read them from stone, or from letter, without having the Holy Spirit already writing them on our heart, they condemn us to the penalty of the law which is death. The requirements of the law are no different today than they have ever been.

Therefore, if the commandments are written on stone, they are nothing but a “ministry of death” or “ministry of condemnation”.

2 Corinthians 3:6-7, 9 Who also hath made us able ministers of the new testament; not of the letter, but of the spirit: for the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life. (7) But if the ministration of death, written and engraven in stones, was glorious, so that the children of Israel could not stedfastly behold the face of Moses for the glory of his countenance; which glory was to be done away… For if the ministration of condemnation be glory, much more doth the ministration of righteousness exceed in glory.

Which ministry did Moses have? The ministry of death, or the ministry of life? Moses pointed the people to the gospel and was a walking epistle, thus he was a minister of life, and his ministry was condemnation to the guilty sinner, but life to the repentant sinner. Moses was a minister of the new testament. Otherwise, what Moses ministered could not have saved a soul, since the covenant and Sinai is a covenant of works, and no man is saved by works, but only by the covenant of grace.

Though the tables were written in stone, they were still considered glorious. But they do nothing but kill unless they are written on the heart. If they are written in the heart, they are much more glorious, thus we become “epistles of Christ…known and read of all men”(2 Cor 3:3, 2)

When God revealed to Moses His glory, he pointed to his character, his longsuffering, his mercy, his goodness, and obviously the law is glorious as it is a revelation of God’s character, thus even “the ministration of death, written and engraven in stones, was glorious”. In Galatians 5:22, 23 we read that these characteristics are the “fruit” of that spirit.

2Co 3:11 For if that which is done away was glorious, much more that which remaineth is glorious.

It is quite clear the ministry of death written on stones is glorious, but the ministry of life written on the heart is much more glorious. The law given to Moses is not “done away” in Christ but rather it is written inside of the person, and thus that same law is reflected in the character of one who reflects the glory of God.

The Shining Face of Moses, Removing the Vail

After Moses communion with God in the mount on the second occasion. And Moses makes haste to intercede, Moses says “If now I have found grace in thy sight, O Lord, let my Lord, I pray thee, go among us; for it is a stiffnecked people; and pardon our iniquity and our sin, and take us for thine inheritance. And he said, Behold, I make a covenant: before all thy people I will do marvels, such as have not been done in all the earth, nor in any nation: and all the people among which thou art shall see the work of the LORD: for it is a terrible thing that I will do with thee.”(Exo 34:9, 10)

We are told that God will work for the people, that again it is “not of yourselves”. We are pointed to God’s wonderful promises, his covenant, rather than a covenant of works declaring boastfully “All that the LORD has said we will do”. God then explains to them what they must do regarding these gods of the other nations, that they are not to follow after the heathen ways of worship and finally Moses comes down again from the mount.

Exodus 34:28-35 And he was there with the LORD forty days and forty nights; he did neither eat bread, nor drink water. And he wrote upon the tables the words of the covenant, the ten commandments. (29) And it came to pass, when Moses came down from mount Sinai with the two tables of testimony in Moses’ hand, when he came down from the mount, that Moses wist not that the skin of his face shone while he talked with him. (30) And when Aaron and all the children of Israel saw Moses, behold, the skin of his face shone; and they were afraid to come nigh him. (31) And Moses called unto them; and Aaron and all the rulers of the congregation returned unto him: and Moses talked with them. (32) And afterward all the children of Israel came nigh: and he gave them in commandment all that the LORD had spoken with him in mount Sinai. (33) And till Moses had done speaking with them, he put a vail on his face. (34) But when Moses went in before the LORD to speak with him, he took the vail off, until he came out. And he came out, and spake unto the children of Israel that which he was commanded. (35) And the children of Israel saw the face of Moses, that the skin of Moses’ face shone: and Moses put the vail upon his face again, until he went in to speak with him.

Moses could not speak with the people without the vail on his face. And the people were missing what Moses was trying to show them regarding the “glory of God”, the “glorious gospel” and his character. They did not understand that Christ had “abolished death” so that God could take them with Him. “Their minds were blinded”.

2 Corinthians 3:13-18 And not as Moses, which put a vail over his face, that the children of Israel could not stedfastly look to the end of that which is abolished: (14) But their minds were blinded: for until this day remaineth the same vail untaken away in the reading of the old testament; which vail is done away in Christ. (15) But even unto this day, when Moses is read, the vail is upon their heart. (16) Nevertheless when it shall turn to the Lord, the vail shall be taken away. (17) Now the Lord is that Spirit: and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. (18) But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.

And it is no different today when people read the law of Moses. They only see a ministry of condemnation, and they are blinded from seeing the “glorious gospel” and character of God in these writings of the old testament. Even those who profess to keep His law, still have been blinded to what God wants to show them in those writings.

2 Corinthians 4:4-6 In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them. (5) For we preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord; and ourselves your servants for Jesus’ sake. (6) For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.

May Father help us to see and behold the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ when reading the old testament or “when Moses is read” and may we also be walking epistles “known and read of all men” and pray that we are in Christ so “the vail shall be taken away”.(2 Cor 3:16)

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