Old Testament Lesson 18 (Exodus 24; 31–34)
April 25–May 1

GOD PROVIDES A GOVERNMENT TO ISRAEL

The “Laws” of Moses

Exodus 21–23  (Review the “Laws in the Law of Moses” at the end of this lesson.)
Exodus 21:24  “An eye for an eye” is well known, but that is not all there was to it.
Exodus 23:1–8  Consider the details of Mosaic justice:

— This was not just a system of fierce retaliation and brutal punishment.

— The laws required a high degree of morality, justice, and righteousness and
requirements to do good to one’s neighbor.

— Death penalty for murder, adultery, incest, homosexuality, bestiality, kidnapping.
— It was not required, it was allowed. Next of kin imposed punishment.

— Mistreated slaves Were set free.
— Theft Required a two-fold restitution of damages.
— Interest on loans Not allowed.
— False witnesses Were guilty of the crime about which they testified.

Exodus 23:8–19  Feasts and Festivals. We will discuss these in the next two lessons.

Exodus 23:20–31  Five Promises if Israel will observe and keep these laws:

— v. 20–23  An angel of the Lord would lead them into the promised land.
— v. 24–25  They would be blessed with good health.
— v. 26         They and their flocks would be greatly multiplied.
— v. 27–30 They would be successful in their fight against heathen nations
— v. 31        They would inherit everything from Red Sea to the Euphrates River.

The Laws Were Accepted by Covenant

Exodus 24:4–8  Israel covenants to obey these new laws from God.

— v. 7  All the people promise to keep the Lord’s commandments.
This was a covenant: ½ was sprinkled on the altar & ½ on the people.

— v. 7  The laws were written down and kept in the “book of the covenant.”

GOD PROVIDED TEMPLE COVENANTS

● The first step—sanctification—had now been achieved.
● Moses returned to the Holy Mount to receive the higher temple ordinances/covenants.

Exodus 24:9–11  A Vision:  73 Elders see Jehovah at the same time. This spiritual experience occurred as the Lord accepted their commitment.

Exodus 25–30 Instructions for building and operating the Tabernacle—a portable temple. (The Tabernacle is discussed in detail in next week’s lesson).

Exodus 24:12  Tables of stone are promised, written with the finger of God.
Exodus 32:15  They will be written on both sides

Exodus 24:13–15  Moses went back up the mountain, taking Joshua, Hur and Aaron.

— Aaron and Hur stayed further down and were in charge of the Israelites.
— Joshua went up further and waited 6 days with Moses.
— Moses then went on alone to the top of the mountain.

ISRAEL REJECTED GOD’S COVENANTS

They Were Disobedient From the Beginning

1. Doubt and Fear (Each miracle came in response to murmuring) Exodus 4–20
2. Short Memories (Each crisis was as though it was the first) Exodus 4–20
3. Ingratitude/Disrespect (Harsh talk and threats to stone Moses) Exodus 4–20
4. Verbal Commitment (At Sinai, a promise to obey God’s covenants) Exodus 19:7–8
5. Disobedience (Sabbath gathering of manna; Going into the mtn) Exodus 16,19
6. Childish Fear (Refusing to hear God’s voice; let Moses do it) Exodus 20:18–22

And even while receiving temple blessings and promises, they continued to rebel . . .

7. Idolatry (They return to the heathen cults & practices of Egypt; many die) Exodus 32
8. The Law Given (Survivors are given a lesser law to live) Exodus 33
9. Lack of Faith (When Moses leaves for 40 days, they lose their faith again) Exodus 34

The Golden Calf

Exodus 32:1–4  Moses was gone 40 days (5 weeks)—34 after leaving Joshua.

Exodus 34:28  Moses fasted for 40 days while transfigured before the Lord.
Deut. 9:9

Exodus 32:1–9  The Israelites returned to idolatry.
— These were old and familiar practices they learned in Egypt.
— They make and worship a golden calf.
— This worship included nakedness and adulterous public sexual intercourse in
worship of fertility—which the calf represented.

Exodus 32:10  God was angry and wanted to destroy them—then raise up a people
Deut. 9:4                     through Moses.

Exodus 32:11–14  Moses tried to dissuade God from destroying the Israelites.

JST Exodus 32:12–14  God did not “repent”; the people needed repentance to avoid
destruction.

The Wicked Were Destroyed

Exodus 32:6,17–20  Moses returned and found them engaged in gross sins. He broke the tablets knowing he could not share such sacred things with so wicked a people.

Exodus 32:21–25  Aaron was reproved for his part in this event. Moses later said
Deut. 9:20                      that Aaron was nearly destroyed and was saved only through Moses’ intercession.

Exodus 32:26–29  3,000 were slain by earthquake and fire. Moses sought out those who were “on the Lord’s side” from those whom Aaron had made “naked.” The tribe of Levi responded, and Moses called upon them to slay all those guilty of this great sin. They did.

THE LAW OF MOSES

The Lord Imposed Sanctions on the Israelites

Exodus 32:30–34  Moses returned to the Holy Mount.

— He plead with the Lord on Israel’s behalf.
— The Lord agreed not to destroy them, if they would fully repent.

Exodus 33:2–4  The Lord would no longer lead the camp of Israel personally. They would receive only the ministering of an angel (an Aaronic priesthood level of revelation).

Exodus 33:7–10  Moses pitched a temporary tabernacle outside the camp.

— This “tent” is not the Tabernacle described in Exodus 25–30
— It was a tent belonging to Moses, which was made into a temporary sanctuary where the pillar of cloud came down upon it, and Jehovah talked with Moses.

Exodus 33:13–15  Moses asked the Lord to “show me the way” to go, and the Lord promised that His presence would go with him.

The “Lesser Law” Was Provided

Exodus 34:1  The Lord provided a second set of tablets.

— These were to be kept in the Ark of the Covenant forever (Deut. 10:5)

— The JST makes it clear these were replacement tablets with a lesser law.

Exodus 34:2–4  Moses was gone/fasted for another 40 days to receive these new laws.

— While he was gone, the Israelites lost their faith again.

Exodus 34:10–16  The Lord warned the Israelites not to adopt the idolatrous ways of the Caananites when they enter the Land of Promise.

Exodus 34:29–35  Moses radiated after seeing God, and wore a veil.

“After such prolonged time and such experiences in God’s presence, it is no wonder that Moses’ face shone with divine glory when he returned, and the people fell back in fear of him. This phenomenon of light radiating from heavenly beings and earthly beings who are under heavenly influence is not unique here. [Joseph Smith showed similar effects multiple times while receiving revelation]. . . .

“The Hebrew word here rendered ‘shone’ is qaran, a . . . verb from a noun meaning ‘horn,’ [meaning] ‘radial beams of light,’ like the ‘horns’ or rays of morning seen over the horizon before the sun rises . . . A mistranslation from Hebrew to Latin caused Michelangelo to put actual horns on the head of his . . . statue of Moses!”1

WHAT THE ISRAELITES LOST THROUGH DISOBEDIENCE

Galatians 3:16–18, 24–25 The Law of Moses was given 400 years after the covenants were given to Abraham.

● Mosiah 13:29–30   The law of Moses did not replace the commandments, covenants, principles of the gospel. Rather, it provided “a law of
Galatians 3:23–24     performances and of ordinances, a law which they were to observe strictly from day to day, to keep them in remembrance
Alma 25:15–16           of God and their duty.”
D&C 84:19–27

Exodus 25:8; 29:43  The Lord had intended to dwell with Israel personally, as he did with Enoch’s people and as he will at the New Jerusalem.

D&C 84:19–24   When the Lord originally spoke with Moses on Mount Sinai, he revealed a law that included the ordinances of the Melchizedek
Exodus 32:1–9           Priesthood. Their idolatrous behavior showed that they were not ready to live the fulness of the gospel.

D&C 84:23–27   Because they forgot the Lord so quickly, he withdrew the Melchizedek Priesthood from them and revealed a lesser law—
JST Exodus 34:1–2   the law of Moses.
Mosiah 13:29–30

● What changes would we see in the Church today if the authority of the Melchizedek Priesthood were removed?

— Loss of the gift of the Holy Ghost
— Loss of spiritual blessings
— Loss of most temple ordinances, etc.

The Prophet Joseph Smith said, “When God offers a blessing or knowledge to a man, and he refuses to receive it, he will be damned.”2

THE LAWS IN THE LAW OF MOSES
Exodus 21-23

CAPITAL OFFENSES: (Exodus 21:12-21, 22:18-19; JST Exodus 21:20-21; 22:18)

MURDER:
Homicide (deliberate murder) Exodus 21:12-14
Manslaughter (accidental murder) Exodus 21:12-14
Abortion Exodus 21:22
Murder by Animals Exodus 21:28-32
Self-Defense – at night Exodus 22:2
Self-Defense – at daytime Exodus 22:3

SEXUAL CRIMES:
Seductions and fornication Exodus 22:16-17
Sodomy Exodus 22:19
Heathen sacrifices Exodus 22:20

ASSAULT, ABUSE, THEFT, AND VIOLENCE:
Assaulting Parents Exodus 21:15,17
Kidnaping Exodus 21:16
Battery Exodus 21:18-19
Abuse of Servants Exodus 21:20, 26-27
Mayhem (lawlessness) Exodus 21:23-25
Thefts Exodus 22:1-5
Arson Exodus 22:6
Mob Violence Exodus 23:2

CONTRACTS AND BUSINESS LAWS:
Bond Servants & Workers – laws governing their treatment Exodus 21:2-11
Civil Liability – for animals injuring other animals Exodus 21:35-36
Civil Liability – for wells or pits left uncovered Exodus 21:33-34
Property Rights – animals placed on the property of another to feed Exodus 22:5
Negligence in the use of fire Exodus 22:6
Regulation of loans of property and money Exodus 22:7-15, 25-27
Embezzlement (breach of trust) Exodus 22:7-15
Loans and Usury – policies and regulations Exodus 22:25-27
Bribery Exodus 23:8
Land Use Exodus 23:10-11

JUDICIAL SYSTEM:
Judges & Officials – to be honored and obeyed Exodus 22:28
Bearing False Witness Exodus 23:1
Malicious Suits – abuse of the poor in the courts Exodus 23:3,6

SOCIAL JUSTICE:
Protection of pregnant women Exodus 21:22-25
Responsibilities for plural marriage Exodus 21:10-11
Protection and control of animals Exodus 21:28-36; 23:4-5
Rights of Strangers – treatment of them specified Exodus 22:21; 23:9
Widows and Orphans – treatment of them specified Exodus 22:22-24
Care of the poor, widows, and orphans Exodus 22:22-24; 23:3, 6

RELIGIOUS LAWS:
Firstborn dedicated to God (later superseded by the Levites (Num. 8:14-19) Ex. 22:29-30)
Wicked influences to be avoided Exodus 23:2-3, 7-8
Law of the Sabbath Exodus 23:10-12
Holidays and Festivals – regulations governing their celebrations Exodus 23:14-17
Law of firstfruits Exodus 23:19
Religious Obligations – to be observed and submitted promptly Exodus 22:29-30
Prohibition of worship of false gods Exodus 22:20, 28; 23:13; JST Exodus 22:28
Heathen Practices Forbidden – e.g. “seething a kid in his mother’s milk” Exodus 23:19
Idolatry Forbidden Exodus 23:24

LAWS OF HEALTH:
Avoid Tainted Meat – animals killed or torn in combat not to be eaten Exodus 22:31; 23:18

Notes:

  1. Rasmussen, Introduction to the Old Testament, 1:95.
  2. Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, 322.
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