In Part 4, we found out that God never required sacrifices from his people, even in Old Testament times. Today, I have one more surprise in store for you.
The Mosaic Law, starting with the Ten Commandments, was not God’s original plan
That’s right! In Exodus 19, we read that God tells Moses he will make his people into a kingdom of priests and a holy nation. God wanted to have a direct relationship with each and every one of his people. That relationship was to be based on love, just as he had originally intended with Adam and Eve.
When we read Exodus 19, we hear God’s proposal, given to Moses:
‘And you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’ These are the words which you shall speak to the children of Israel. … And let them be ready for the third day. For on the third day the Lord will come down upon Mount Sinai in the sight of all the people. … When the trumpet sounds long, they shall come near the mountain (Exodus 19:6, 11, 13).
But instead, they opted for a relationship based on law:
Now all the people witnessed the thunderings, the lightening flashes, the sound of the trumpet, and the mountain smoking; and when the people saw it, they trembled and stood afar off. Then they said to Moses, “You speak with us, and we will hear; but let not God speak with us, lest we die” (Exodus 20:18-19).
We can see from the rest of the Old Testament how well that turned out. From the moment they received the law, and through the generations that followed, God’s people frequently turned away from Him. They fell into the trap of sin, worshipping foreign gods and committing murder. This resulted in God punishing them. This was not because he wanted to, but because he was obliged to under the terms of the covenant he entered into with them on Mount Sinai.
The Law did not lead these people closer to God. Instead, it only served to show how sinful they were. The more they saw this, the more jealousy and hatred they had, and sin continued to grow.
This was not because the Law was bad in itself. Clearly it was better to have law rather than anarchy. But God always wanted us to relate to him in a better way—in direct relationships based on love. When we love God and love one another, we can be free from law because it isn’t necessary.
If you’ve made it this far, great! So far, we’ve found that:
- Jesus did not die because God was angry with us
- God wants us to live in peace with one another—not committing sin, which ultimately leads to violence and bloodshed
- God always forgave our sins, even in Old Testament times
- God never required sacrifices
- God has always wanted a direct relationship with each of us, based on love and not law
We’ll get right back to the atonement in Part 6, when we put all of the pieces together. We’ll find out exactly why Jesus died for us, why it had to be a violent death, and how this saves us from our sins.