Thus far we've covered how knowing the Father is a process of revelation over time. The Law of Moses was one level of revelation, but Jesus is the ultimate revelation. We covered how the Law was given to show mankind what sin was, and what righteousness was. It also showed man that no matter how much he tried, he would never be able to attain the perfection the law required.
The Lord deals with each of us according to our culture.
In Mark 4:33-34 it says the Lord spoke to the people 'as they were able to receive it'. But when they were alone He explained all things to the disciples."
The Lord never changes. He will reveal things to us 'as we are able to receive it'. And if we want to continue in the discipleship process - disciple means 'learner' - He will explain things to us.
There are Christians who believe healings and tongues have ceased. That's their church culture. The Lord doesn't kick them out of the kingdom; He gives them that part of Him they are able to receive, as they are able to receive. If they want to limit Him and their knowledge of Him like that, He will work with what they give Him. The Lord works within their church culture.
When He dealt with Israel it was on the basis of the revelation they had - the Mosaic Law. A cut and dried revelation of sin and righteousness. He limited His dealings with them to that context.
So it is culturally. The New Testament in Ephesians 6:5-7 exhorts slaves and slave owners to live unto Christ. The book of Philemon is about a runaway slave named Onesimus. He ran away from his owner in Colossae, Philemon, to the big city of Rome. There he met Paul who led him to the Lord and sent him back to Philemon to make it right and to be dealt with. Paul exhorted Philemon to be merciful, receiving him as a brother in the Lord. Paul used a play on words in v10-11, for Onesimus means 'useful'. Paul said he wasn't useful before, but now is useful.
Do these passages mean God endorses slavery? No, of course not. But He deals with man according to man's knowledge and culture. Though men and women are free in Christ, they as we today, live in cultures that do not recognize that freedom.
Kill them all! Slavery, and more
Knowing the Mosaic Law was given to show mankind its sinfulness, and how the Lord had to deal with Israel according to that law, gives us insight into how the Lord also treated warfare.
It's difficult for us to imagine the sheer brutality of warfare in the Middle East 3,500 years ago. But even more modern monarchies as well as in ancient ones, had a policy that anyone related to a former king or queen were often murdered. This assured the new sovereign their family and family line on the throne would not be threatened. Men, women, children, whole families, were murdered by the new king.
The custom of wiping out whole villages and cities was normal, that the occupying forces might make the possessions of the slain their own without further interference. The era of the law left little room for mercy.
The custom of opposing armies choosing a champion to represent them to fight it to the death, as with David and Goliath, was a common custom. God worked within the culture and customs. Working with Israel doesn't mean that is a revelation of the character of the Lord, it means He dealt with man within the cultures He found men willing to know Him.
When Christ came into this world
In Hebrews 10:5-7 we are told what Christ said when He left heaven to be conceived in Mary's womb:
"When He came into this world He said:Sacrifice and offerings isn't what you (the Father) wanted, but a body you have prepared me. In burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin you have had no pleasure. So I say, 'Look, I am coming, in the volume of the (Old Testament) book it is written about me, to do your will oh God."
What was the purpose? The very next verses reveal it:"This is the covenant I will make with them in that day; I will write my laws in their hearts and minds. And their sins I won't remember anymore." (v14-17)
Here is the revelation that He took no pleasure in Israel's sacrifices to Him for their sins. But it was needed and He had to deal with Israel according to that law, but He took no pleasure in it.
Consider that if a husband is forced to use deadly force against someone trying to harm his family, the husband takes no pleasure in having to do what he has to do. But he does it because that is required. That's how the Father was with Israel in battle, as well as the requirements of the Mosaic Law.
He was waiting until the day He could write His law in the hearts and minds of mankind, which is the new birth Jesus brought. Consider that the Law was external, given to people who were not born again, yet expected to walk in righteousness. The Father's great plan was to change the very nature of man at his core to that of a Holy Spirit recreated person who could then receive God's ways and do them because it would be man's nature to do so.
It is our nature now, to love and forgive one another. That's why we struggle so. Our spirit wants to do according to its new nature of Christ in us. As we renew our mind to that way of thinking we battle the nature of the world and our old thoughts to bring hatred and wrath and vengeance on those who hurt us.
This is why I have said so often; grace is harder than the law. The law only measured external performance, but grace measures the motives of the heart. But we can do it.
What Jesus did was to allow our spirit man to be born again of the Holy Spirit, thus able to walk with God, ruled from Christ within rather than the Mosaic Law on the outside. The Father longed for this day when man's spirit can be recreated so that His ways are part of the nature of our spirit. Now we walk with God in spite of our imperfections in our soul and body, as His children, learning as we stumble ever forward in the light of His ways.
This New Covenant in which His ways are automatically written in our spirit when we are born again, is the highest and best we have of the Father God. The ages to come I have already mentioned, will only include the Father continuing to show the riches of His grace and kindness to us. Ephesians 2:7
We may not have all the answers as to why this or that was commanded to Israel in the Old Testament. But we know the Mosaic Law was a revelation on one level, but Jesus is the highest revelation the Father could give, for He was His only son.
We started with Hebrews 1:1, but verses 2-3 complete the picture:
"God spoke in many parts and many ways in times past to the fathers by the prophets. But in these last days He has spoken to us through His son. That son has been appointed by the Father as heir of all things, and He (Father) used Him (Son) to created the ages. He (Son) is the brightness of (Father's) glory, the express image of His (Father's) nature, and upholds all things by the Word of the Father's power. When He had removed our sins He sat down at the right of the Majesty on high (Father)."
Jesus is the highest and best revelation of the Father's true nature. Whatever He had to do in the past according to what the Law and culture of the day required, His true nature is revealed in Jesus. "If you have seen me, you have seen the Father." John 14:9
New subject next week, until then, blessings,
http://www.cwowi.org and email me at email@example.com