When the children of Israel were dwelling in Egypt, they were, at first, treated very well because of the work of Joseph in preserving the people during the years of plenty and, then, of famine. Later, however, a king arose that knew not Joseph [Exodus 1:8], and the children of Israel became slaves, working under bitter bondage [Exodus 1:4]. God heard their cries and sent Moses to be their deliverer. After the ten plagues had been worked on Egypt, Pharaoh drove the people out. After crossing the Red Sea, they journeyed to Mt. Sinai where the "Law of Moses" was delivered to the people.
Before the law was given, and as they journeyed to the "promise land," God gave this plain and simple message to them. "Now therefore, if ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me above all people: for all the earth is mine: And ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation. These are the words which thou shalt speak unto the children of Israel." Exodus 19:5-6. This message was given to Moses, and Moses delivered it to the people. Note how the people reacted to this plain statement requiring obedience keeping the covenant of God. "And Moses came and called for the elders of the people, and laid before their faces all these words which the LORD commanded him. And all the people answered together, and said, All that the LORD hath spoken we will do. And Moses returned the words of the people unto the LORD." Exodus 19: 7-8. In their own words they said: "All that the LORD has spoken we will do." Then, in Exodus 20, when God come down on Mt. Sinai and gave, audibly, the Ten Commandments, the people were terrified [trembled with fear] and were moved to say: "Speak thou with us, and we will hear: but let not God speak with us, lest we die." This, again, is a promise that they would obey God.
Did they follow through on their promise? A quick check of the record will show that they did not do what they had said they would.
First, shortly after God audibly gave the law, Moses went up into the mountain where he was given a copy of the law written by the finger of God on tables of stone. During this period of forty days [Exodus 24:18], the children of Israel became both forgetful and disobedient. Though they had had ample examples of the power and reality of God, they turned away unto idols, breaking the first two commandments of the ten. In Exodus 32, we have the story of the building of the golden calf and their worship before it. Almost before the voice of God had subsided in their ears, they were in open rebellion. Because of this sin, they suffered the loss of 3,000 people [Exodus 32:28].
Second, there are numerous examples of Israel's disobeying God from then on. Note the rebellion at the times the spies were sent out, the rebellion of Korah and his followers, and many other examples. In all cases the disobedient were punished.
Now, if they had only kept their promise, they would have avoided punishment. Knowing that should help us avoid the same consequences. When we, today, learn the truth of God and know that eternal life is dependent on obedience to God, we must not do like Israel did. If we do, we will suffer the consequences in eternity. "And to you who are troubled rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power." 2 Thessalonians-1:7-9. This same principle applies to Christians. "Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city." Revelation 22:14.
We must follow God. To have a safe journey to the "promised rest," we must obey God. By the way, His law is in the Book. -119 Holden St., Rogersville, AL 35652.
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