And that completes the third unit of the Bible – the redemption of Israel – and begins the fourth, on the Mosaic Law. This unit extends from Exodus 19 to Numbers 10, approximately three weeks according to the calendar of Bible readings, from January 23 to February 14.
This section is very different from what we’ve read in the Bible to this point. There is much less narrative and many descriptions of laws, construction and detailed sacrifices. This change makes the readings difficult at first. But with good guidance, I find this unit to be fascinating. I also find that it is absolutely necessary in order to understand the rest of the Bible.
Two observations can help you understand this part of the Bible. First, think of it like mathematics, especially the study of a discipline like algebra. Everything you learn in an algebra class depends on what you learned the day before. Each lesson is built on the foundation of the previous lesson. If you get to the point where you say, “I don’t understand this lesson and, you know what? It’s probably not that important, anyways. I’ll just skip it and move on”… you’ve not only hurt your chances of understanding that lesson, you’ve probably hurt your chances of understanding any of the coming ones. Reading about the Mosaic Law is the same way. Every part depends on what you read before. If you get frustrated because you don’t understand one part and decide to skip it, you will grow more confused in the following days, because they all depend on your knowledge of the previous readings. So keep reading, be persistent and ask questions until you understand, and you will be very blessed at the end.
Second, if you are reading and start to feel like you are lost in a maze, return to this summary of the main parts of Exodus 19 through Numbers 10:
- Exodus 19 and 20 tell about the preparation for the Mosaic covenant and its ten most basic commandments.
- Exodus 21 – 23 explains the most basic laws about the Israelites’ relationship with Yahweh and with one another.
- In Exodus 24 Yahweh and the Israelites seal the Mosaic covenant.
- Exodus 25 – 40 explains the construction of the tabernacle, the sacred space where Yahweh will dwell with the Israelites and where they will put the commands of the Mosaic covenant into practice.
- Leviticus 1 – 7 describes the main sacrifices that they will perform in the tabernacle.
- Leviticus 8 – 10 puts all the previous readings into motion as it describes the consecration of the priests.
- Leviticus 11 – 27 presents the holiness laws that the Israelites will keep toward the temple services and in their relationships one to another.
- Numbers 1 – 10 organizes the Israelites for their participation in the tabernacle rites and for their departure from Mount Sinai.
Now, a few more observations about this unit:
1) The main events of the unit: The presentation of the Mosaic covenant
2) Yahweh’s attributes that stand out: His holiness, His mercy
3) Yahweh’s main work: The organization of a holy nation
4) The main participants: Moses, Aaron and their generation
5) The main reference to Jesus Christ and the gospel: The main sacrifice of the Day of Atonement in Leviticus 16. In the New Testament, Hebrews 9 and 10 make many comparisons between this sacrifice and the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross for our sins. Also notice that the apostle Paul in the New Testament tells us that the purpose of all the Mosaic Law is to bring us to Christ (Galatians 3:24).
6) Key observation: Remember the process of learning algebra! And keep reading with joy.