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a Law before THE LAW

As Passover and Easter are fast approaching I have been reading the account of God’s deliverance of the people of Israel from the yoke of Pharaoh and the Egyptians.  My purpose in doing this has been to go back to the root, the foundation of Easter, for it is rooted in the Passover, and the Passover, finds it root in the Exodus.  Reading the book of Exodus these past couple of weeks has just been awesome!  God has taught me much about himself through studying this book.

One I would like to share with you is the Sabbath.  On Friday I participated in my first Shabbat dinner.  Shabbat is the Hebrew word for Sabbath, meaning a day of rest.  It was such a wonderful occasion for me to participate, as I gained a new appreciation for this weekly Jewish custom.  For instance, one of the duties of the father at the Shabbat dinner is to say a blessing over his family, starting with the wife first, quoting Proverbs 31 as his blessing over her.

What I was reminded of in my reading today is not only how much the Jewish faith values this ritual, but how much God does too.  Exodus chapter sixteen is the story of the Israelites receiving the manna for their daily sustenance.  The text tells us they have been wandering in the wilderness near the Sinai for two months, and are weary, for they miss being filled with the apparent abundance of food they had when they were slaves in Egypt.  Which quite frankly, I would probably have had the same reaction.  Do not we in today’s Western culture have an affinity, if not a demand, for abundance in so many ways?

God comes to Moses and tells him he is going to supply the needs of the people, but he is going to “test them, whether they will walk in my law or not.”(Exodus 16:5)  What is interesting is that the Ten Commandments have not been written yet for the Israelites.  What law is God referring too?

The law God is referring to is one he instituted not in the desert at Mount Sinai, but the law he instituted in the Garden of Eden.  For Genesis 2:2-3 says this, “And on the seventh day God finished his work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all his work that he had done.  So God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it God rested from all work that he had done in creation.”

In many respects one could argue that this is the first law God instituted to man as a way of worshipping him.  On the sixth day man was made, and on the seventh day God rested and made it holy, or set apart for himself.  One could perhaps say it was a law before THE LAW. 

What were the implications of this for the Israelites?  There are three that immediately come to mind.  One would have to be the reminder of God delivering them from Egypt, for they were to rest, commemorate, and honor their deliverance.  Another would be to remind them they were worshiping the God of creation, the God of their forefathers, not another manmade god of Egypt.  Lastly, would be the relationship of faithful obedience to God, and relying upon him for their daily bread and not only upon themselves. 

There are three words you could use to summarize these points of remembrance and the reasons for doing them.  They are salvation, worship, and faithfulness.  These three words are also the implications for us.  Salvation because there is nothing we did to save ourselves from the bondage of sin, in all God has done for us through his son Jesus Christ.  The other is worship.  God is good, and his goodness should provoke us to worship.  Third, faithful obedience to what he has asked of us.  He has been good and faithful to us so much more than we have been to him.  Faithful to the word of God really is part of the first and greatest commandment by Jesus isn’t it? (Matt. 22:37)  Do you see how all of this connects?

This season of the calendar may we remember in worship all that the Lord has given us and find our rest and assurance in Him.

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Former coffee house manager, turned barista and coffee afficianado, Matt is currently pursuing an M.Div at Talbot School of Theology. He's a critical thinker who seeks to be engaged in the culture, while blending faith into life.