Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Recap of Genesis through Numbers

The whole motion of the Pentateuch is toward the fitting worship of God. First God establishes the heavens and the earth and then man, who of all his creatures is most able to share in God's glory. Yet he falls, becomes "unclean" by eating from the tree which the Lord forbade. So the entire human family must leave the Paradise in which he walked with God. Nonetheless, immediately there is an attempt to return to God. Abel offers due sacrifice. In the time of Seth's son, God is praised by name. With Noah comes the first "cleansing", or even "baptism" as one of the apostles calls it. The whole human race is brought into a covenant with God. Noah even brought with him seven each of the clean birds for the sake of giving God due worship.

Then God takes Abraham, his chosen servant, and promises that all nations will be blessed through him. Melchizedek the priest of God Most High and king of Salem offers bread and wine to God in worship, looking forward to the elements which Christ will turn into himself, the most perfect sacrifice. And there is the sacrifice of Isaac, which is done in obedience to God's will. This looks to the future gift of God who gives his Son for our sins. It is also on Mount Moriah, the place where the Lord's temple will be established in the time of Solomon. Isaac begets Jacob, who is Israel. Israel becomes the father of 12 sons, the 12 tribes of Israel who will be God's chosen people, chosen to give him due worship.

In Exodus, God calls Moses and teaches him His Name and charges to free the people. He wants to free this people so that they might worship him and not the idols in Egypt. So in the first half of that book, the Lord and Pharaoh contend, but Pharaoh fails to allow the people to do all that is required to worship God. For God demands all the people, that they go a three day journey, and that they take all that they might need to worship. After the plagues, each one of which teaches the Egyptians more and more that the Lord is God, Israel is free to leave Egypt. But before the leave, God teaches them about Passover according to which they are to worship him. So they leave and then Moses gives a song of praise to God.

At Mount Sinai, Moses receives the law from God. At the head of this law are the 3 commandments about God: You are to worship no gods before him, You shall not use his name in vain, You shall keep holy the sabbath. Only after these does he give laws that pertain to the community, for the whole existence of this community is ordered to the worship of God. As Moses stays with God alone, he receives instructions for building the tabernacle, the place where God will dwell and be adored. When Moses comes down Sinai, he sees the people engaged in idolatry, the act most contrary to the purpose for which they were set apart. The idol is destroyed, Moses speak to God once more, and then work begins to construct the tabernacle of the Lord.

Then begins the Book of Leviticus, named after the Levites who are to be the priests among the Israelites.
  • Laws about Sacrifices (1-7)
  • Narrative (8-10)
    • Aaron and his sons are ordained (8)
    • They offer their first sacrifices (9)
    • Nadab and Abihu offer unholy fire and are consumed (10)
  • Laws about what is clean (11-15)
  • Reparation for sins (16)
  • Further laws, many pertaining to worship (17-27)
    • Sacrifices to be made at the tabernacle, no idolatry (17)
    • Laws against unnatural relations, and against sacrifice to Moloch (18)
    • "You shall be holy." Mostly a reiteration of the commandments. (19)
    • Punishments for laws in chapter 18 (20)
    • Purity of priests and sacrifices (21-22)
    • Feasts (23)
    • Providing for the tabernacle (24a)
  • Narrative: A blasphemer born of a Jew and an Egyptian is put to death (24b)
    • Laws pertaining to Jubilee (25)
    • Promises of the Lord to Israel (26)
    • Values of persons and things (27)
So the few times that this book goes from precepts to narrative, there is some kind of act against the Lord. Either they bring something foreign into the worship of the Lord, as Aaron's sons use the unholy fire, or they  take holy things (such as the Lord's Name) and use them for purpose other than worship, as in the case of the blasphemer.

Then begins the Book of Numbers, which details the 40 years spent in the desert. It begins with a census of the Israelites who left Egypt but ends with another census of those who will enter the promised land, and no one who was counted in the first census is counted in the second one (except Joshua and Caleb). All those who were afraid to inherit the promised land did not receive it. Something worth noting is that whenever the Lord becomes angry with Israel, he considers destroying all of Israel and making a nation out of Moses, but each time Moses prays that the Lord be merciful to this people. Moses does this even though later, in his anger with this people, he will end up acting in such a way that he will not be permitted to enter the promised land.

I haven't yet outlined the Book of Numbers, but will do so soon. I will also write about the trial at Meribah where Moses lost his earthly reward, where he failed to speak to the Rock as the Lord commanded.

"I want you to know, brethren, that our fathers were all under the cloud, and all passed through the sea, and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea, and all ate the same supernatural food and all drank the same supernatural drink. For they drank from the supernatural Rock which followed them, and the Rock was Christ. Nevertheless with most of them God was not pleased; for they were overthrown in the wilderness." (1 Corinthians 10:1-5)

Eventually I will write about Christ and the Psalms.

1 comment:

  1. In case anyone was wondering, 1 Corinthians 10 is one of the four chapters of St. Paul that St. Thomas did not get around to writing a commentary for.