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Was the Law given by God to the Israelites meant to punish them?

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  • Was the Law given by God to the Israelites meant to punish them?

    It has been suggested that the Law given through Moses at Sinai was for the punishment of the Golden Calf incident and the obstinate attitudes of the Israelites, whom God freed from slavery in Egypt.

    Intent of this thread: To discuss whether the Law given through Moses was “punishment” for Israelites. This is not, repeat not a thread to argue if/how Jews or Gentiles are “under the Law.”

    This point of view of the Law given through Mosses caused me to pause and attempt to discover through Scripture if this was indeed true.

    Oddly, my first stop was at the book of Ruth. I wanted to ask Ruth (through the word) if she thought the Law was some form of punishment. I’m sure all here have at least read it, but in short, Ruth was a Moebite widow, who’s mother in law was Naomi. Ruth eventually become the grandmother of King David. When Ruth’s husband was killed, she decided to move the land of her late husband, Israel. She wanted the God of Israel to be her God, so upon arriving she wound up gleaning in the fields owned by a Godly man named Boaz.

    Ruth and her mother survived through the generosity of Boaz. By allowing Ruth to glean Boaz was obeying the Law given through Moses. By being Ruth’s kinsman redeemer, Boaz was obeying the Law given through Moses. The story reveals the character of Boaz, and presents us with a picture of the character of Jesus – and that of God. According to the story, here is what Boaz’s character was not. Boaz’ obedience to the Law was not legalistic or antagonistic. Boaz didn’t see Ruth in the field and say “oh great…another foreigner…now I have to feed her because of that overbearing Law of Moses…” or “Oh great, now I have to be Ruth’s kinsman redeemer because of that punishing, heavy Law.”
    No…that is not the story told in the book of Ruth. Boaz obedience to the Law had quite the opposite outcome – liberty – and perhaps even more importantly – the character of the invisible hand of God of Israel was made visible through the hand of Boaz. It wasn’t the Law itself that revealed the character of God, it was the heart of the obedient Boaz who revealed the character of God. In other words, Boaz was not one of those Pharisee’s Jesus had issue with. Jesus would have blessed and exalted Boaz for his love of God manifested to this foreign widow through God’s instructions.

    Ruth would disagree with the assertion that the Law given through Moses was a useless, worthless punshiment.
    Those who seek God with all their heart will find Him and be given sight. Those who seek their own agenda will remain blind.

  • #2
    Re: Was the Law given by God to the Israelites meant to punish them?

    Originally posted by keck553 View Post
    It has been suggested that the Law given through Moses at Sinai was for the punishment of the Golden Calf incident and the obstinate attitudes of the Israelites, whom God freed from slavery in Egypt.
    I believe the intent of the Law was to show them they could not live a sinless life by their own strength, and the purpose of the law was to point them to saving faith in Jesus Christ who would come to deliver them from their sins.

    Comment


    • #3
      Re: Was the Law given by God to the Israelites meant to punish them?

      Originally posted by keck553 View Post
      It has been suggested that the Law given through Moses at Sinai was for the punishment of the Golden Calf incident and the obstinate attitudes of the Israelites, whom God freed from slavery in Egypt.

      Intent of this thread: To discuss whether the Law given through Moses was “punishment” for Israelites. This is not, repeat not a thread to argue if/how Jews or Gentiles are “under the Law.”

      This point of view of the Law given through Mosses caused me to pause and attempt to discover through Scripture if this was indeed true.

      Oddly, my first stop was at the book of Ruth. I wanted to ask Ruth (through the word) if she thought the Law was some form of punishment. I’m sure all here have at least read it, but in short, Ruth was a Moebite widow, who’s mother in law was Naomi. Ruth eventually become the grandmother of King David. When Ruth’s husband was killed, she decided to move the land of her late husband, Israel. She wanted the God of Israel to be her God, so upon arriving she wound up gleaning in the fields owned by a Godly man named Boaz.

      Ruth and her mother survived through the generosity of Boaz. By allowing Ruth to glean Boaz was obeying the Law given through Moses. By being Ruth’s kinsman redeemer, Boaz was obeying the Law given through Moses. The story reveals the character of Boaz, and presents us with a picture of the character of Jesus – and that of God. According to the story, here is what Boaz’s character was not. Boaz’ obedience to the Law was not legalistic or antagonistic. Boaz didn’t see Ruth in the field and say “oh great…another foreigner…now I have to feed her because of that overbearing Law of Moses…” or “Oh great, now I have to be Ruth’s kinsman redeemer because of that punishing, heavy Law.”
      No…that is not the story told in the book of Ruth. Boaz obedience to the Law had quite the opposite outcome – liberty – and perhaps even more importantly – the character of the invisible hand of God of Israel was made visible through the hand of Boaz. It wasn’t the Law itself that revealed the character of God, it was the heart of the obedient Boaz who revealed the character of God. In other words, Boaz was not one of those Pharisee’s Jesus had issue with. Jesus would have blessed and exalted Boaz for his love of God manifested to this foreign widow through God’s instructions.

      Ruth would disagree with the assertion that the Law given through Moses was a useless, worthless punshiment.
      According to Paul the Law was given to the Jews as a tutor to lead them to Christ.

      Galatians 3:19-25 ( KJV )
      Wherefore then serveth the law? It was added because of transgressions, till the seed should come to whom the promise was made; and it was ordained by angels in the hand of a mediator.
      Now a mediator is not a mediator of one, but God is one.
      Is the law then against the promises of God? God forbid: for if there had been a law given which could have given life, verily righteousness should have been by the law.
      But the scripture hath concluded all under sin, that the promise by faith of Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe.
      But before faith came, we were kept under the law, shut up unto the faith which should afterwards be revealed.
      Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith.
      But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster.

      Comment


      • #4
        Re: Was the Law given by God to the Israelites meant to punish them?

        Originally posted by David Taylor View Post
        I believe the intent of the Law was to show them they could not live a sinless life by their own strength, and the purpose of the law was to point them to saving faith in Jesus Christ who would come to deliver them from their sins.
        I agree and this is a clear and unmistakable teaching which has its roots in the Old Testament. I also propose this concept was known and practiced before Jesus' first advent; I just don't know how widespread the belief it was. It's clear to me that total dependency on God is a continuing thread throughout the Bible.

        Surely there were many who lived by faith that the Bible doesn't even mention, regular folk I mean. Like the 7000 in Elijah's day. Who were they, and what kind of lives did they live? Probably just like us, not very high in profile, but mighty in faith?
        Those who seek God with all their heart will find Him and be given sight. Those who seek their own agenda will remain blind.

        Comment


        • #5
          Re: Was the Law given by God to the Israelites meant to punish them?

          Originally posted by Butch5 View Post
          According to Paul the Law was given to the Jews as a tutor to lead them to Christ.

          Galatians 3:19-25 ( KJV )
          Wherefore then serveth the law? It was added because of transgressions, till the seed should come to whom the promise was made; and it was ordained by angels in the hand of a mediator.
          Now a mediator is not a mediator of one, but God is one.
          Is the law then against the promises of God? God forbid: for if there had been a law given which could have given life, verily righteousness should have been by the law.
          But the scripture hath concluded all under sin, that the promise by faith of Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe.
          But before faith came, we were kept under the law, shut up unto the faith which should afterwards be revealed.
          Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith.
          But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster.
          Indeed. So did Boaz rightfully use the Law in his application of it? Do you think the Law point Boaz to Jesus? Maybe His character, which is an exact likeness to God's character? Do you think the Law was intended as a 'punishment?'
          Those who seek God with all their heart will find Him and be given sight. Those who seek their own agenda will remain blind.

          Comment


          • #6
            Re: Was the Law given by God to the Israelites meant to punish them?

            Originally posted by keck553 View Post
            Indeed. So did Boaz rightfully use the Law in his application of it? Do you think the Law point Boaz to Jesus? Maybe His character, which is an exact likeness to God's character? Do you think the Law was intended as a 'punishment?'
            No. The main purpose of the law is stated in Galatians 3:24, which is that it "was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith". But it also served the purpose of showing people that they were sinners who fell short of the glory of God.

            Romans 7:7 What shall we say then? Is the law sin? God forbid. Nay, I had not known sin, but by the law: for I had not known lust, except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet.

            Comment


            • #7
              Re: Was the Law given by God to the Israelites meant to punish them?

              Keck, I'm going to throw in my two cents, if that's ok.

              The law was indeed a tutor to lead the Israelites to Christ. It was not meant as a punishment as much as a guide/teacher/tutor. Christ was the bodily fulfillment OF the Mosaic Law.

              When the children of Israel were in the desert, they had just left a pagan land. They had spent many generations in that land. Much like small children need to be held by the hand and protected, so were these people. They needed to be reined in and focused. But all the "rules" were put in place to show the people they NEEDED a savior.

              Does that makes any sense at all?
              I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.
              - Mahatma Gandhi



              Comment


              • #8
                Re: Was the Law given by God to the Israelites meant to punish them?

                Originally posted by Vhayes View Post
                Keck, I'm going to throw in my two cents, if that's ok.

                The law was indeed a tutor to lead the Israelites to Christ. It was not meant as a punishment as much as a guide/teacher/tutor. Christ was the bodily fulfillment OF the Mosaic Law.

                When the children of Israel were in the desert, they had just left a pagan land. They had spent many generations in that land. Much like small children need to be held by the hand and protected, so were these people. They needed to be reined in and focused. But all the "rules" were put in place to show the people they NEEDED a savior.

                Does that makes any sense at all?
                Of course you make sense because you are on sound biblical principles. My question is "was the Law given to punish Israel?" and then by logical extension: "was the Law given to push Israel into sin?" Is that a characteristic of God, to push His own chosen people into sinfulness? That we come to know our dependence on God, yes, He has done that, and will still do that; are we really that different as a church as Israel was? How much like Canaan does the church look today? Check the divorce rate lately in the church? Adultery, legailism, etc, etc.? Romans 11 clearly states that we should not become too proud of our position, that if God cut off the natural branches, He will not spare the wild branches for the same disobedience, religious legalism and pride either. We need to remember this.

                God flatly states in Deuteronomy that the Law was not too difficult for the Israelites. Can God lie? The written code is easy as any religious ritual. That's not what Israel had a problem with. Any of us can partake in the LORD's supper; it is not difficult. What is difficult is falling on our face before God with the complete and utter knowledge that HE is our only source of life and light in this world, not the worship and legalistic compounding of a bunch of precepts and rules, but worship of the Almighty God, and the total submission of our all; to cast our crowns at His Feet, so to speak. Until we get into that position, we're not going to 'get it.' To simply admit "I CAN'T DO IT."

                I just want to know how Boaz' application of the Law caused any harm to Ruth's faith. Did all those "silly ordanances" cause Ruth and Boaz to stumble, or did they reveal the hand of God and the need for dependency on God?

                This is just one story that relates an utter dependance on God, not in spite of the Law, but because of the Law. It is repeated; in fact Solomon wrote an entire thesis on how vain and worthless obedience to the Law is without the very dependence on the LORD that we know very well we need.

                These people only had a glimpse of what we know through the prophets, the Gospels and the Apostolic writings. But I believe they knew full well what we know. I do not think Boaz' application of the Law in regards to Ruth was insufficient worthless rags. In fact, the Bible tells us different. The real difference was Boaz heart condition, Ruth's heart condition and both their relationship with God - not the Law - not religion - but GOD. Boaz was a sinner just like we all are, nowhere does it say Boaz was justified or favored by God for his "works." I am not addressing justification in this thread; I hope we all know that God alone did that for us through Jesus, and not by our own hand.
                Those who seek God with all their heart will find Him and be given sight. Those who seek their own agenda will remain blind.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Re: Was the Law given by God to the Israelites meant to punish them?

                  Originally posted by keck553 View Post
                  Of course you make sense because you are on sound biblical principles. My question is "was the Law given to punish Israel?" and then by logical extension: "was the Law given to push Israel into sin?" Is that a characteristic of God?


                  I just want to know how Boaz' application of the Law caused any harm to Ruth's faith.
                  I don't think it could/would be termed "punishment" as much as "discipline" - not to FORCE them into sin but to show them the logical extension of law keeping as opposed to grace and mercy - which IS the law of God when coupled with the all important "love". Rule keeping frustrates a person until they learn to do something because they desire to do it.
                  I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.
                  - Mahatma Gandhi



                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Re: Was the Law given by God to the Israelites meant to punish them?

                    Originally posted by Vhayes View Post
                    I don't think it could/would be termed "punishment" as much as "discipline" - not to FORCE them into sin but to show them the logical extension of law keeping as opposed to grace and mercy - which IS the law of God when coupled with the all important "love". Rule keeping frustrates a person until they learn to do something because they desire to do it.
                    Yeah, I can go along with this.
                    Those who seek God with all their heart will find Him and be given sight. Those who seek their own agenda will remain blind.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Re: Was the Law given by God to the Israelites meant to punish them?

                      [QUOTE]
                      Originally posted by keck553 View Post
                      It has been suggested that the Law given through Moses at Sinai was for the punishment of the Golden Calf incident and the obstinate attitudes of the Israelites, whom God freed from slavery in Egypt.
                      The Golden Calf incident occurred simultaneously, while Moses was receiving the law.

                      Intent of this thread: To discuss whether the Law given through Moses was “punishment” for Israelites. This is not, repeat not a thread to argue if/how Jews or Gentiles are “under the Law.”
                      One has to consider the Father/son relationship when asking if it was punishment, or not. The motive of the father when correction is given is to change the direction that the child is going in, so that he might conform to the wishes of the father.

                      2 Samuel 7:14-15 I will be his father, and he shall be my son. If he commit iniquity, I will chasten him with the rod of men, and with the stripes of the children of men: but my mercy will not depart from him, as I took it from Saul, whom I put away before thee.

                      Was the law given because of iniquity? Definitely! Galatians 3:19-25 ( KJV )
                      Wherefore then serveth the law? It was added because of transgressions, till the seed should come

                      Jeremiah 7:21-24
                      Thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel; Put your burnt offerings unto your sacrifices, and eat flesh. For I spake not unto your fathers, nor commanded them in the day that I brought them out of the land of Egypt, concerning burnt offerings or sacrifices: But this thing commanded I them, saying, Obey my voice, and I will be your God, and ye shall be my people: and walk ye in all the ways that I have commanded you, that it may be well unto you. But they hearkened not, nor inclined their ear, but walked in the counsels and in the imagination of their evil heart, and went backward, and not forward.

                      These verses in Jeremiah indicate that it was not God's perfect will that Israel should have been given the burnt offerings or sacrifices, otherwise they should have been given to Jacob.

                      Was the Law punishment? If you make your child write on the blackboard a thousand times, "I will not lie", is that punishment, or correction?

                      If the child takes to heart what he has written, then it will be for his good.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Re: Was the Law given by God to the Israelites meant to punish them?

                        Read psalm 119 for king David's view of the Law. It begins "Happy are they that are upright in the way, who walk in the law of the LORD. Happy are they that keep His testimonies, that seek Him with the whole heart." and takes it from there.

                        Jews have never seen the law as a "punishment" or a "curse", but rather the way to express the divine will on this earth.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Re: Was the Law given by God to the Israelites meant to punish them?

                          Sin caused the curse. Death was the result. The law was given to give sin the character of transgression. To make sin as a transgression personal and impute personal guilt. Gal 3:19

                          Exo 19:8 is interesting...we will do all the Lord has spoken.

                          For the cause of Christ
                          Roger

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Re: Was the Law given by God to the Israelites meant to punish them?

                            Originally posted by notuptome View Post
                            Sin caused the curse. Death was the result. The law was given to give sin the character of transgression. To make sin as a transgression personal and impute personal guilt. Gal 3:19

                            Exo 19:8 is interesting...we will do all the Lord has spoken.

                            For the cause of Christ
                            Roger
                            So then I read it that you believe God did not give the Law because He was "angry" and made them do "silly" things.
                            Those who seek God with all their heart will find Him and be given sight. Those who seek their own agenda will remain blind.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Re: Was the Law given by God to the Israelites meant to punish them?

                              Originally posted by rejoice44 View Post
                              Jeremiah 7:21-24 [/B] Thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel; Put your burnt offerings unto your sacrifices, and eat flesh. For I spake not unto your fathers, nor commanded them in the day that I brought them out of the land of Egypt, concerning burnt offerings or sacrifices: But this thing commanded I them, saying, Obey my voice, and I will be your God, and ye shall be my people: and walk ye in all the ways that I have commanded you, that it may be well unto you. But they hearkened not, nor inclined their ear, but walked in the counsels and in the imagination of their evil heart, and went backward, and not forward.
                              .
                              You keep bringing this up, and it's not getting any better a point.

                              God is saying that He didn't bring the Jews out of Egypt to bring sacrifice, which is when they fall short of the law. He brought them out to obey the law.

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