“I will instruct you …”
In the Bible’s first five books, Moses was given the same inspired guidance related to man’s early history that David later received concerning the specific design details, materials, and contents needed to build the Lord’s temple (see 1 Chronicles 28:11-20). These two highly intelligent and gifted men – both loved, trusted, and served God in ways that we will never forget!
Moses was given the 10 commandments plus the other laws needed for a Hebrew’s consecrated lifestyle. To accomplish this, our Father clearly spoke to Him. As an example, thoughtfully consider this passage. “Then the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, ‘Speak to Aaron and to his sons and to all the sons of Israel, and say to them, ‘This is what the Lord has commanded…” (Leviticus 17:1-2)
Originally, when no written Scripture was yet available to be read, God simply spoke to and through those like Noah and Abraham who exhibited the faith – to fully obey Him. Much later, Moses became highly literate after being educated as a member of Pharaoh’s household, so he was uniquely qualified and effectively used to write the Pentateuch. These first five books of the Old Testament were therefore called the “Books of Moses.”
For a better overall understanding, the Holy Spirit never inspired the Biblical writers to refer to themselves with the pronoun “I”. While few of them ever met, this unmentioned reality remained consistently true. Theologically, this is very understandable. The Bible was originally provided for believing Hebrew readers. Then, over time, its message was slowly given to the entire world. Its eternal purpose and spiritual truth was appropriately focused on God Himself. Scripture was not written about those who were privileged to pen its message and historic accounts.
The Bible’s sovereign Author only used the personalities, intelligence, and cultural timeframe of each selected writer’s life. God’s divine inspiration was steadily moving Hebrew understanding from the law toward His redeeming grace! Pause to realize that the Bible’s sovereign Author reserved the pronoun “I” for Himself! As well-known examples, “I AM that I AM” is from Moses’ day and centuries later in David’s day God clearly said, “I will instruct you and teach you the way you should go…” (Exodus 3:14 and Psalm 32:8)
During Hebrew history, when very few written manuscripts of the Torah were available, believers’ faith was continually reinforced by annual feasts that had special spiritual significance! These memorial events helped pass God’s early instruction from one generation to the next.
Devotion to God was originally expressed through simple observable acts. These physical expressions of personal faith included resting and worship on the Sabbath, circumcision, abstaining from witchcraft, having no intermarriage with non-believers, plus rejecting the worship of idols. In that same spirit there could be no sorcery, self-inflected wounds, tattoos or heterosexual or homosexual immortality. As it is to this day, devout Hebrews were told to abstain from eating specific types of food (see Leviticus 23:32; 12:3; 19:26-28; 20:10-16; 11:1-12).
God’s overarching instruction taught during the first covenant is difficult to miss. He instructed us saying, “…be holy; for I am holy…” (Leviticus 11:44-45) and do not worship “false gods” (Exodus 34:14; Deuteronomy 5:9). A believer’s sincere faith in Jehovah was often accompanied by His abundant blessings and protection. This came about from faithfully honoring and obeying His commands (see Leviticus 26:3-13).
By Billie Hanks Jr.