Lesson Three – The Recovery

The Recovery 

Lesson Aim:  To show that the Law period was the lowest point in the history of God’s kingdom on earth and how Law subjugated Israel by identifying their behavior as sin.


By faith Abraham, when he was called, obeyed by going out to a place which he was to receive for an inheritance; and he went out, not knowing where he was going.

….For he was looking for the city which has foundations, whose architect and builder is God.

But as it is, they desire a better country, that is a heavenly one.  Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God; for He has prepared a city for them.  Heb. 11:8, 10, 16

God found a non-offensive quality in Abraham.  In our previous lesson we identified this quality as faith.  The majority of the population of the world had abandoned God for idols when He called Abraham from Ur of the Chaldea.  God gave up the idol worshipping nations but only for a time.  He reinforced those who had faith.  Abraham and his descendants through Isaac and Jacob were greatly reinforced with some powerful promises before the Christ came into the world.  Please read Genesis, chapter seventeen.  The covenants and promises made with Abraham were renewed with Isaac and Jacob because of their faith (Heb. 11:20, 21; Gen. 26:24; 28:13-15).  God reassured Abraham’s descendants of His promise by swearing to them by Himself.

For when God made the promise to Abraham, since He could swear by no one greater, He swore by Himself, saying, ‘I will surely bless you, and I will surely multiply you.’   Heb.6:13,14

God’s long range aim for both Jew and Gentile was “an administration suitable to the fullness of times, that is, the summing up of all things in Christ, things in the heavens and things upon the earth.”  Eph. 1:10.  He was not ready to bring the Christ administration into operation in Abraham’s time (Mark 1:15; I Tim. 2:6).  The problem God faced was how to maintain a people who had faith so He could work with them for His plan.  Faithful people have become an “endangered species” at certain points in history.  Noah and Abraham’s age are examples.  God made a strong move to save this endangered species of faithful people with covenants and promises.  He made an extremely long range plan through Abraham and his seed; however, God encountered some problems when He was ready to bring the children of Israel out of Egypt.  Our lesson will explore the time when God was ready to fellowship the children of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob; however, in general, He found no faith.


So God heard their groaning; and God remembered His covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.  And God saw the sons of Israel, and God took notice of them.  Ex. 2.24, 25 

How did God deal with a people with whom He had made covenants based on their faith but found no faith?  The answer is: He used the lowest level He ever worked with people.  He used the Law system plus a theocratic form of government to tutor them back to the law of life.  It should be noted that God never withholds a promise or changes a covenant.  Still He cannot rule over a people where there is no faith; therefore, the Law period was instituted as a “recovery operation.”  God would keep His covenants but first faith had to be established in the seed of Abraham (Gal. 3:23).

The New Testament is very plain in regard to God’s reasons for initiating the Law He gave to Moses.  It was given to close every mouth and make “the whole world held accountable to God.”  Through the Law came the knowledge of sin (Rom. 3:19, 20).  The Law was a temporary arrangement for Israel until the Messiah came (Gal. 3:19).  It served as a tutor to bring God’s people to Christ (Gal. 3:24).  The Law and the Levitical Priesthood was established on the basis of physical requirements (Heb. 7:16).

We can understand why the Law was given when it was, if we will consider the condition of the people of Israel at this time.  They had been enslaved and mistreated for four hundred years (Acts 7:6).  Their masters in Egypt were idol worshippers and they had adopted those same practices (Ex. 32:4).  They had become an obstinate people and proved it over and over on the way to Canaan.  From Moses’ dissertation in Deuteronomy we understand Israel was stubborn, obstinate and a stiff-necked people (Deut. 32).  Many years later Stephen echoed Moses’ sentiments (Acts 7:51).  They often withstood the Lord to His face, even to the point that God withdrew to prevent Himself from consuming them (Ex. 33:3).  For example, the destruction of Korah, who was one of the two hundred and fifty leaders in Numbers, chapter sixteen.  Yet, the people still murmured and fourteen thousand seven hundred more died by God’s hand.  They were a self-willed people.  The people who would not submit were eliminated from the man-dimension of God’s kingdom.  God’s kingdom is where His will is adhered to by His people.

The aim of the Law was to close every mouth and make all accountable to God.  The way it did this was to list every sin; consequently, the people would have a guilt response when they did sin.  Paul said, “I would not have come to know sin except through the Law; for I would not have known about coveting if the Law had not said, ‘You shall not covet.’”  Rom. 7:7.  A sacrifice was available for the repentant.  Punishment was administered to the non-repentant.  The following scriptures are examples:

When a person sins and acts unfaithfully against the Lord and deceives his companion in regard to a deposit or a security entrusted to him, or through robbery, or if he has extorted from his companion…Then he shall bring to the priest his guilt offering to the Lord, a ram without defect from the flock, according to your valuation, for a guilt offering.  Lev. 6:2, 6

If a man gives his neighbor money or goods to keep for him, and it is stolen from the man’s house, if the thief is caught, he shall pay double.  Ex. 22:7

The Law system is not the way normal parents rear their families.  It was not the way God wanted to rule His household but it was the way He ruled over faithless children.  It did not bring forth fruit for life; it brought forth death (Rom. 7:5).  It is bad to be a sinner but it is worse to be a sinner and not know it.  This is how God found His people in Egypt.  Jesus said, “If you were blind, you would have no sin; but since you say, ‘We see!’  Your sin remains.”   John 9:41.  The Law’s purpose was to make sinners aware of their sin.  The Law imputed or convicted people of their sins (Rom. 5:13).  Its aim was to increase, or arouse, the sinful passions within them to the point that they would know they were separated (dead) from their God because of their sins (Rom. 3:19, 20; 5:20; 7:5).  Those who were serious about serving God would have been revived and subjugated themselves to His will.

Moses was one of the few faithful men during his time (Heb. 11:23-28).  He was able to persuade God by prayer and fasting to continue to work with this unfaithful people as a nation.  God was ready to annihilate the mass of Israel at one point and fulfil His covenants through Moses’ family (Deut. 9:14-29).  God is jealous and a consuming fire (Deut. 4:24).  Yet, He did not destroy these people because of Moses’ plea and His covenants and love for their faithful forefathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob (Deut.4:37; 7:7, 8).

When the iniquity of the Amorites was full God began to execute His promises to Israel’s forefathers (Gen. 15:16).  He was ready to move the children back to Canaan.  The first thing God needed to do was convince Israel He was the God who created.  He did wondrous things to show “He is God.”  Deut. 4:35.  He opened the Red Sea and destroyed the Egyptian army (Ex. 14:16).  God separated the Israelites from those who worshipped idols.  He accomplished this by first humbling the Egyptians and then destroying the Canaanites (Deut. 7:1-6).  The nations were not destroyed because Israel was so good, but because the other nations were so evil.  God used this method in order to separate Israel, so they could overcome idol worship and learn of and serve the living God (Deut. 9:4-6).

The next thing God did for these people was to give them a set of laws that pointed out their sins.  These laws stated their proper relation to God and also their relation to one another.  They had transgressed the law of life which could have given a healthy relationship with God as children with full rights (Gal. 3:19; 4:5).  When they would not let Him write the law of life on their hearts and minds, God put His Law for them on stone (Deut. 5:22).  The Law of Moses dealt more with behavior than with attitudes.  Jesus is now dealing with attitudes because the Law “school mastered” Israel to a higher level of spirituality (Matt. 5:21-28; Gal. 4:2).

For example, God taught Israel to be givers by tithing and by helping the poor (Deut. 14:22; 15:1-8).  God gave them a type of worship that was more concrete than abstract; in other words, God gave them something to see (Ex. 40:34-38; John 4:23).  This was because of the degradation of these people.  The people were taught constantly by having the Law read to them, along with the singing of songs (Deut. 31:11, 19).  Many elaborate and sustained periods of worship were conducted (Deut. 16).  Sacrifices were made for each specific sin, plus many general offerings.  Blood offerings were emphasized because, “life is in the blood.”  Lev. 17:14.

The instructions in the book of Leviticus were given to make the people conscious of every sin; therefore, they should have felt the need for cleansing.  Immorality was singled out and dealt with as a criminal act.  Both men and women had a responsibility to live moral lives (Deut. 22:13ff).  It should be noted that all of these laws were both the civil and spiritual laws for Israel; therefore, they were to be enforced as civil laws are today.  Death was the penalty in many cases (Deut. 22:21).

God did so much for Israel during their forty years of wandering in the wilderness in order to bring these people up from the depth of the degradation to which they had fallen during their enslavement.  Yet, in the end Moses recognized they had a long way to go (Deut. 29:2-4).  Faithful people were still an “endangered species,” for as the Hebrew writer stated, “And so we see that they were not able to enter because of unbelief.”  Heb. 3:19.

Only two men who were over twenty years old when they left Egypt were able to make the final step across the Jordan River into the promised land (Deut. 1:35-49; Num. 32:11, 12).  It is comforting to know their children showed an element of faith toward God.  God was able to reign as king over their offspring for about three hundred years before they rebelled.

Questions for Discussion

  1. What quality did Abraham have that was non-offensive to God?
  2. What steps did God take to save the faithful during Abraham’s time?
  3. Explain how the Law was a “recovery operation.”
  4. What was the purpose of the Law according to the New Testament?
  5. Describe Israel’s character problem.
  6. How did the Law accomplish God’s aim?
  7. When we consider God’s overall plan in creation, why must the Law of Moses be considered a temporary arrangement?
  8. Why did God not destroy the Israelite nation in the wilderness?
  9. When God began to lead Israel out of Egypt, of what, did He need to first convince them?
  10. What was God’s program to develop a “heart of a giver” within the Israelites?
  11. Show how a combination of the Law and the sacrifices should have helped the Israelites overcome the cause of their sin.
  12. Why did God write the Law for the Israelites on stone?

No comments yet.

Leave a Reply