Lesson 6 - Moses and the Law






When Jesus began speaking to the two men on the road to Emmaus, the Bible says in  Luke 24:27 that “beginning with Moses… he interpreted…” all of the things concerning himself.  As established in the previous lesson, the promises made to the Patriarchs were also concerned with Christ and were critical in terms of establishing the people of God from whom the messiah would come.  However, it is with Moses that we first begin to see specific prophecies of the messiah.  It is also with Moses that we really start to see more complex and full pictures that foreshadow and suggest our need for a suffering savior.   After all, it was more than 430 years after the unconditional covenant was made with Abraham that God makes the conditional covenant with Moses and the Children of Israel.  As we shall see in this lesson, it is precisely the conditional nature of that covenant that points to the need for a savior who must suffer and die for the sins of the world.



Moses – Prophet, Redeemer, Ruler


The First Prophet


Deuteronomy 18:15-19

15 The Lord thy God will raise up unto thee a Prophet from the midst of thee, of thy brethren, like unto me; unto him ye shall hearken;


16 According to all that thou desiredst of the Lord thy God in Horeb in the day of the assembly, saying, Let me not hear again the voice of the Lord my God, neither let me see this great fire any more, that I die not.


17 And the Lord said unto me, They have well spoken that which they have spoken.


18 I will raise them up a Prophet from among their brethren, like unto thee, and will put my words in his mouth; and he shall speak unto them all that I shall command him.


19 And it shall come to pass, that whosoever will not hearken unto my words which he shall speak in my name, I will require it of him.


Moses was the first prophet to the people of Israel, but he prophesied of yet another prophet who would come at some later time.  This future prophet would be the last and greatest prophet.  As the centuries passed, the coming of this future prophet became a much anticipated event.  This prophet was not at that time considered to be the same person as the Anointed One or the Christ.  In fact, many believed The Prophet to Come was someone separate and distinct from the Christ.  When John the Baptist came on the scene, the priests and Levites first asked him if he was the Christ.  When he said no, they asked if he were the Prophet?  Again, he said no (John 1:21). 

Similarly, as Jesus began his ministry, people began to openly question whether he might be this coming Prophet.  In John 6:14, after feeding the five thousand, the people declared “This is of a truth that prophet that should come into the world.”  Later in John 7:40, after speaking at the Feast of Booths, many people declared that he must be the prophet, while others declared that he must be the Christ – not realizing that both declarations were right.

It was not until after his resurrection and ascension into heaven, however, that his disciples openly declared that Jesus was, in fact, the prophet foretold by Moses.  Peter is the first to do so publicly just after the Day of Pentecost in Acts chapter 3, as he is preaching in Solomon’s portico in the Temple.  He quotes Moses’ prophesy in Deuteronomy 18 as evidence that Jesus was indeed the Prophet.  Likewise in Acts chapter 7, Stephen is preaching and says these words (Acts 7:35-37)


35 This Moses whom they refused, saying, Who made thee a ruler and a judge? the same did God send to be a ruler and a deliverer by the hand of the angel which appeared to him in the bush.


36 He brought them out, after that he had shewed wonders and signs in the land of Egypt, and in the Red sea, and in the wilderness forty years.


37 This is that Moses, which said unto the children of Israel, A prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto you of your brethren, like unto me; him shall ye hear.


 So Moses the first prophet prophesies the coming of the last prophet, but Jesus is the fulfillment of that prophecy.  He is the last prophet.


The First Redeemer


God’s chosen people, the Children of Israel, were born into slavery.   They began as a rag-tag family of just under 70 people who stumbled into Egypt seeking refuge from famine.  430 years later, they were a nation of nearly 2 million people, but they were living in bondage and slavery.  At that time, God raised up Moses to deliver his people out of slavery.

Moses was sent directly by God, via his encounter with God at the burning bush, to redeem Israel from the bondage of Pharaoh.  Jesus came to redeem us from bondage to sin and death.  Moses’ people did not initially believer or receive him as their redeemer.  He performed numerous signs and wonders to prove that he had been sent by God.  Jesus also performed many signs and wonders to prove that he had been sent by God, and like Moses, Jesus was also rejected by his own people.

Ultimately, God delivered the people of Israel from slavery in Egypt through a spectacular event.  The event was so spectacular, in fact, that it became an annual celebration and feast and established the beginning of the Jewish calendar.  The details are found in Exodus chapter 12.  On the 10th day of the month, the people were to gather in their homes with a spotless lamb, keeping the lamb with them until the 14th day of the month.  At that time they were to kill the lamb, placing the blood of the lamb on the top and sides of their doorposts.  During that night, God sent an angel of death throughout Egypt. The angel would pass over any home containing the blood of the lamb, but in any home in which there was no blood on the door, the first born son was killed by the angel of death.  It was a crushing blow to Pharaoh and the Egyptians, who subsequently agreed to free the Children of Israel.

From that moment forward, the Passover celebration was a symbol of the redemption of Israel.  This redemption came as a result of the sacrifice of the spotless lamb.  Numerous times, now, we have seen how the sacrifice is essential for redemption, but now it has become ritualized in the Passover celebration.  Later, in the Mosaic Law, this concept would become even more reinforced.  Without the shedding of blood, there can be no remission of sin (Hebrews 9:22)

From the moment that Jesus comes onto the scene, he is immediately identified with the sacrificial lamb.  Jesus is born in a stable where the sheep were kept and placed in a manger.  Jesus was announced by angels to shepherds who watched over the flocks of the sheep that were being kept for the sacrifice.   John the Baptist looked at Jesus and said “Behold the lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world” (John 1:29).  Eventually, we shall see the prophets foretelling how the Christ must be led like a lamb to slaughter, but somehow the Jews missed this.

But most notably, we cannot ignore the most astonishing part of Jesus’ association with the Passover.  Jesus was sacrificed and his blood was shed on the cross during the Passover celebration.  The blood from his crown of thorns covered the top of the cross, like the blood on the top doorpost.  The blood from his hands covered the sides of the cross like the blood on the sides of the doorpost.  The spotless lamb that spent time with his people was slain by his people.  And as the first Passover sacrifice resulted in redemption from bondage in Egypt, so the ultimate Passover sacrifice resulted in redemption from bondage to sin and death.  Moses was the first redeemer.  Jesus is the final redeemer.

Ironically, just as the redemption of Israel from the bondage of Egypt was accomplished in a spectacular event that reset the Jewish calendar, redemption through the blood of Christ also occurred in a spectacular fashion.  The resurrection of Christ was so spectacular, in fact, that it also reset our calendars into the time before Christ (BC) and the time since his resurrection (AD).


The First Ruler


Moses was the first ruler of God’s chosen people.  Prior to Moses, the people were a family led by their Patriarchs.  As they grew into a nation of people, though, they had no leader because they were enslaved in Egypt.  After leading God’s people out of slavery, Moses became their de factor ruler, who led them in the wilderness for 40 years. Moses ruled over the Children of Israel as God’s emissary, meeting with God regularly and delivering his words and law to the people.

He was never their king, but in every other way, Moses was both lord and master to the Children of Israel.  He ruled them with an iron rod, but he was also their spiritual leader. He taught them the ways of God.  He disciplined them when they strayed from God.  He interceded on their behalf before God.  His leadership is unquestioned in the history of God’s people.  When the Pharisees spoke of their history and their rights as leaders of the people of Israel, it was always in the context of Moses and in comparison to his undisputed position of leadership.  The seat of prominence and authority in the Synagogue was even called the Seat of Moses.  Moses was their foremost leader.

The leadership of Moses, however, is only a foreshadowing of the leadership of Christ.  The writer of Hebrews tells us in Hebrews 3:3 that Jesus has been counted worthy of more glory than Moses just as the builder of a house has more honor than the house itself.  Moses’ glory is only a reflection of the glory of Jesus.  Indeed, the glory that shone on Moses’ face – for which he had to wear a veil – was only  reflection of God’s glory… a direct result of the time that Moses spent in the company of the pre-incarnate Jesus – speaking face to face with him like a friend (Exodus 33:11).

Ultimate lordship and ultimate authority, however, belongs not to Moses but to Jesus.  As Israel’s first leader, Moses is a foreshadowing of Christ, who is Israel’s ultimate leader and Lord as well as ours.



The Law of Moses


While Moses may be a foreshadowing of the Prophet, Redeemer, and Ruler aspects of Jesus Christ, the Mosaic Law gives us an even greater picture of the Messiah.  Beginning in Exodus chapter 20, God delivers to Moses first the Ten Commandments then all of the rights, rituals, and commands of the Mosaic Law.  From that which is handed down through Moses, therefore, we not only see more of the characteristics of the coming Messiah, but we also see more foreshadowing of his suffering.  Ultimately, though, it is through the implementation of the law that we discover our need for the Messiah and why, ultimately, he must suffer on our behalf.


The Priesthood


Generally speaking, Moses is not typically called a priest, yet it would be hard to argue that Moses did not perform the duties of a priest.   Moses represented God to the people of Israel.  Moses represented Israel to God and pleaded on their behalf.  Moses performed sacred ritual rites.   These are all actions of a priest.  Whether he is called one or not, Moses is a priestly figure.

The reason we do not speak of Moses in terms of the priesthood, however, is because as God handed down the Mosaic Law to Moses, those priestly aspects were very specifically assigned to Moses’ brother Aaron and the rest of the tribe of Levi.  Moses, therefore, ordained Aaron as High Priest and assigned all of the tasks of the priesthood to the Levites.  From that moment on, the line of Aaron became the line of the Priesthood.

The entire book of Leviticus is dedicated to unfolding the priestly duties as well as the ritualistic relationship between man and God that was established on Mount Sinai.   Leviticus is concerned primarily with how unholy humans can be reconciled with a Holy God, and it is the responsibility of the priesthood to carry out the religious rites necessary for that reconciliation.  Only the High Priest could approach God on behalf of the people by entering into the Holy of Holies and offering sacrifices on their behalf – and he could only do this once per year (see the section below on the atonement).

As important as the priesthood was to the spiritual condition and holiness of the people, the human priesthood of Aaron was flawed and failed.  Aaron and his descendants sinned, and so were just as unholy as the people.  Although the ritual of Aaron’s priesthood remained in place, it could never be more than a vague shadow of the true priesthood that is represented in Christ.  In fact, the writer of the book of Hebrews explains that there actually exists a priesthood that is of higher authority than the order of Aaron and that Jesus Christ is priest according to that order.    He says first in Hebrews 4:14-16


14 Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession.


15 For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.


With these words, he is reminding us that High Priest Jesus did not fail us as the priesthood of Aaron did.  He further explains in Hebrews 5 that priests are chosen from among men who must first offer sacrifices for themselves because of their failings.  They must then be replaced upon their death.  Their service as priest is therefore both weak and temporary.  Jesus, however, being the Son of God was without sin and was appointed as “a priest forever after the order of Melchizedek,” not after the order of Aaron.  This appointment as a priest of the order of Melchizedek was actually prophesied by King David in Psalm 110:4.  The writer of Hebrews goes on to explain in Hebrews 7 how the priesthood of the order of Melchizedek is divine, above the order of Aaron, and establishes him as our final High Priest, never to be removed from his place.


The Atonement


The word “atonement” means to make right a wrong.  In the context of mankind’s relationship to God, atonement means to repair the relationship between God and man that has been broken as a result of man’s sinfulness.  Without such atonement, man and God cannot be in fellowship.  This is why a great curtain separated the Holy of Holies, so that man, in his sinfulness, would not inadvertently come near the presence of the Shekinah glory of God and so be killed.

Once per year, on the Day of Atonement, the high priest was allowed to enter into the Holy of Holies in order to offer sacrifices for the atonement of the sins of the people.  First, he was to take a bull and to make a sin offering for himself and his family.  This he must do in order to cleanse himself so that he could then make atonement for the people.

After making a sin offering for himself, the High Priest would then take two goats.   One goat would be a sin offering for the people and the other would be a “scape goat” (see below).  The goat offered as a sin offering would be slain and its blood sprinkled on the mercy seat inside the Holy of Holies and then again on the altar.  In so doing the High Priest makes atonement before God for the sins of the people.  The carcass of both the bull and the goat that were offered as a sin offering were then carried outside the camp and burned.

The writer of Hebrews, however, explains how this ritual was nothing but a copy and shadow of what Jesus Christ did in the heavenly temple.  Hebrews 8:5 says, “Who serve unto the example and shadow of heavenly things, as Moses was admonished of God when he was about to make the tabernacle: for, See, saith he, that thou make all things according to the pattern shewed to thee in the mount.”

Everything that was established in the Levitical order was done so as an earthly picture of God’s intention to redeem mankind through the sacrifice of his son, Jesus Christ.  Consider Hebrews 9:11, which explains it fully.


11 But Christ being come an high priest of good things to come, by a greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this building;


12 Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us.


13 For if the blood of bulls and of goats, and the ashes of an heifer sprinkling the unclean, sanctifieth to the purifying of the flesh:


14 How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?


Stated more plainly, Jesus Christ was not only our High Priest, but also our sacrifice of atonement.   He both went into the true Holy of Holies in heaven on our behalf and offered his own blood as a sin offering.  A weak and imperfect annual sacrifice was replaced with a permanent and effective sacrifice – the blood of Jesus.  


Hebrews 9:23-28

23 It was therefore necessary that the patterns of things in the heavens should be purified with these; but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these.


24 For Christ is not entered into the holy places made with hands, which are the figures of the true; but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us:


25 Nor yet that he should offer himself often, as the high priest entereth into the holy place every year with blood of others;


26 For then must he often have suffered since the foundation of the world: but now once in the end of the world hath he appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself.


Christ ultimately fulfilled what the Day of Atonement attempted to accomplish, but could not do.   And just as the bodies of the bull and goat of the sin offering were carried outside the city, so Christ was also led outside the city to be crucified.  “Wherefore Jesus also, that he might sanctify the people with his own blood, suffered without the gate” (Hebrews 13:12).


As if this picture of atonement were not complete enough, even the concept of the scapegoat points to Christ.  Two goats were selected, but only one was sacrificed. The other goat was brought before the people.  The High Priest would then lay his hands on the head of the goat, confessing the sins of the people.  The sins of the people, therefore, would be placed symbolically upon the head of the goat.  The goat would then be sent away into the wilderness, carrying the sins of the people into the wilderness along with it.

It is Jesus, however, who ultimately carries the burden of our iniquities.  It is Jesus who took those sins upon himself as he hung on the cross.  As the prophet Isaiah says in Isaiah 53:6, “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.”


The Manna


During the time that the Children of Israel wandered in the wilderness, God provided for them with bread from heaven.  Each day, God would send just enough manna to provide for the daily nutritional needs of the people.  Each day, the people of Israel would collect the manna and eat it during the day. If they attempted to collect more than their daily needs, the manna would spoil.  On the day before the Sabbath, however, they could collect enough for two days.  No manna came down from heaven on the Sabbath, but the manna collected the day before would not spoil.  In providing this manna, God ensured the survival of the people as they wandered 40 years in the wilderness.  It was the Bread of Life.  Without the manna, the people would have long since perished.

In John 6:35, Jesus boldly declares, “I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst.”  Just as the manna came down from heaven, so Jesus came down from heaven.  Just as the manna gave life to the Children of Israel, so Jesus gives life to all who believe.  Jesus, however, is far superior than the manna, because the people of Israel eventually died.  However, as Jesus goes on to explain concerning himself as the bread that came down from heaven, “


47 Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me hath everlasting life.


48 I am that bread of life.


49 Your fathers did eat manna in the wilderness, and are dead.


50 This is the bread which cometh down from heaven, that a man may eat thereof, and not die.


51 I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever: and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.


By speaking of his flesh as the bread of life, Jesus was referring yet again to the crucifixion.  In fact, it is through the ordinance (sacrament) of the Lord’s Supper (Eucharist) that we celebrate through the breaking of the bread that the body of Christ was broken on the cross for our sins.


The Serpent that was Lifted Up


There is one more beautiful picture of Jesus Christ that manifests itself in the history of the Children of Israel during the time of Moses.  It occurs in Numbers chapter 21.  The people of Israel had begun grumbling against Moses and against God because they were in the wilderness.  The Lord, therefore, sent “fiery” (poisonous) serpents among them as a punishment.   Many people died from the bites of the serpents.

When the people repented of their grumbling and cried out to the Lord, Moses prayed to the Lord on their behalf.  In response, the Lord instructed Moses to craft a bronze serpent and place it on a long pole.  When the people were bitten by the serpents, they were to look upon the bronze serpent in faith and they would be healed and not die.

Ironically, the serpent in the wilderness makes us think of the serpent in the Garden of Eden.  The evil serpent deceived Eve and when Adam also ate the fruit, sin and death came to the world.   As a result, we are all infected with sin.  Like the Children of Israel, we have all been poisoned.  The poison of our sinfulness is killing all of us.  Unless we are redeemed, we will all die in our sins.

Fortunately, Jesus identified himself as the serpent in John 3:14 saying “And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up.”  Just as the serpent was cursed in the garden, so Christ became a curse for us when he died on the cross.  In so relating his crucifixion to the bronze serpent, Jesus was declaring that salvation and spiritual healing would come to all who looked upon and placed their faith in his death, burial, and resurrection.



How The Law Points To Jesus


In addition to the specific pictures and foreshadowing of Christ that exists in the Mosaic Law, there remains still the effect of the Law itself, which ultimately points directly to the need for a suffering savior.  Through the Law, we find God’s righteous requirements for holiness.  Beginning with the Ten Commandments, we know and understand how God intends for us to relate to both the divine as well as to other people.  These ten form the basis for all of the Mosaic Law and are as follows from Exodus chapter 20:


The Ten Commandments

1.     I am the Lord thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. Thou shalt have no other gods before me.

2.     Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the Lord thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me; And shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments.

3.     Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain; for the Lord will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain.

4.     Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy.  Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work: But the seventh day is the sabbath of the Lord thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates: For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the Lord blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it.

5.     Honour thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee.

6.     Thou shalt not kill.

7.     Thou shalt not commit adultery.

8.     Thou shalt not steal.

9.     Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour.

10. Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that is thy neighbour's.


The remaining set of over 600 laws are all based upon either a clarification of these ten, an expansion or implementation of these ten, or have to do with what happens when one or more of these ten have been broken.   They consist of moral laws, civil laws, social laws, food laws, and purity laws.

The problem with all of them, however, is that God actually expected the Children of Israel (and by extension you and I if we plan to live under the Mosaic Covenant) to obey them all perfectly.   If the Law were obeyed, God promised blessings:


Deuteronomy 28:1-14

1 And it shall come to pass, if thou shalt hearken diligently unto the voice of the Lord thy God, to observe and to do all his commandments which I command thee this day, that the Lord thy God will set thee on high above all nations of the earth: 2 And all these blessings shall come on thee, and overtake thee, if thou shalt hearken unto the voice of the Lord thy God. 3 Blessed shalt thou be in the city, and blessed shalt thou be in the field. 4 Blessed shall be the fruit of thy body, and the fruit of thy ground, and the fruit of thy cattle, the increase of thy kine, and the flocks of thy sheep. 5 Blessed shall be thy basket and thy store. 6 Blessed shalt thou be when thou comest in, and blessed shalt thou be when thou goest out. 7 The Lord shall cause thine enemies that rise up against thee to be smitten before thy face: they shall come out against thee one way, and flee before thee seven ways. 8 The Lord shall command the blessing upon thee in thy storehouses, and in all that thou settest thine hand unto; and he shall bless thee in the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee. 9 The Lord shall establish thee an holy people unto himself, as he hath sworn unto thee, if thou shalt keep the commandments of the Lord thy God, and walk in his ways. 10 And all people of the earth shall see that thou art called by the name of the Lord; and they shall be afraid of thee. 11 And the Lord shall make thee plenteous in goods, in the fruit of thy body, and in the fruit of thy cattle, and in the fruit of thy ground, in the land which the Lord sware unto thy fathers to give thee. 12 The Lord shall open unto thee his good treasure, the heaven to give the rain unto thy land in his season, and to bless all the work of thine hand: and thou shalt lend unto many nations, and thou shalt not borrow. 13 And the Lord shall make thee the head, and not the tail; and thou shalt be above only, and thou shalt not be beneath; if that thou hearken unto the commandments of the Lord thy God, which I command thee this day, to observe and to do them: 14 And thou shalt not go aside from any of the words which I command thee this day, to the right hand, or to the left, to go after other gods to serve them.


On the other hand, if the Law were disobeyed, God promised cursing:


Deuteronomy 28:15-47

15 But it shall come to pass, if thou wilt not hearken unto the voice of the Lord thy God, to observe to do all his commandments and his statutes which I command thee this day; that all these curses shall come upon thee, and overtake thee: 16 Cursed shalt thou be in the city, and cursed shalt thou be in the field. 17 Cursed shall be thy basket and thy store. 18 Cursed shall be the fruit of thy body, and the fruit of thy land, the increase of thy kine, and the flocks of thy sheep. 19 Cursed shalt thou be when thou comest in, and cursed shalt thou be when thou goest out. 20 The Lord shall send upon thee cursing, vexation, and rebuke, in all that thou settest thine hand unto for to do, until thou be destroyed, and until thou perish quickly; because of the wickedness of thy doings, whereby thou hast forsaken me. 21 The Lord shall make the pestilence cleave unto thee, until he have consumed thee from off the land, whither thou goest to possess it. 22 The Lord shall smite thee with a consumption, and with a fever, and with an inflammation, and with an extreme burning, and with the sword, and with blasting, and with mildew; and they shall pursue thee until thou perish. 23 And thy heaven that is over thy head shall be brass, and the earth that is under thee shall be iron. 24 The Lord shall make the rain of thy land powder and dust: from heaven shall it come down upon thee, until thou be destroyed. 25 The Lord shall cause thee to be smitten before thine enemies: thou shalt go out one way against them, and flee seven ways before them: and shalt be removed into all the kingdoms of the earth. 26 And thy carcase shall be meat unto all fowls of the air, and unto the beasts of the earth, and no man shall fray them away. 27 The Lord will smite thee with the botch of Egypt, and with the emerods, and with the scab, and with the itch, whereof thou canst not be healed. 28 The Lord shall smite thee with madness, and blindness, and astonishment of heart: 29 And thou shalt grope at noonday, as the blind gropeth in darkness, and thou shalt not prosper in thy ways: and thou shalt be only oppressed and spoiled evermore, and no man shall save thee. 30 Thou shalt betroth a wife, and another man shall lie with her: thou shalt build an house, and thou shalt not dwell therein: thou shalt plant a vineyard, and shalt not gather the grapes thereof. 31 Thine ox shall be slain before thine eyes, and thou shalt not eat thereof: thine ass shall be violently taken away from before thy face, and shall not be restored to thee: thy sheep shall be given unto thine enemies, and thou shalt have none to rescue them. 32 Thy sons and thy daughters shall be given unto another people, and thine eyes shall look, and fail with longing for them all the day long; and there shall be no might in thine hand. 33 The fruit of thy land, and all thy labours, shall a nation which thou knowest not eat up; and thou shalt be only oppressed and crushed alway: 34 So that thou shalt be mad for the sight of thine eyes which thou shalt see. 35 The Lord shall smite thee in the knees, and in the legs, with a sore botch that cannot be healed, from the sole of thy foot unto the top of thy head. 36 The Lord shall bring thee, and thy king which thou shalt set over thee, unto a nation which neither thou nor thy fathers have known; and there shalt thou serve other gods, wood and stone. 37 And thou shalt become an astonishment, a proverb, and a byword, among all nations whither the Lord shall lead thee. 38 Thou shalt carry much seed out into the field, and shalt gather but little in; for the locust shall consume it. 39 Thou shalt plant vineyards, and dress them, but shalt neither drink of the wine, nor gather the grapes; for the worms shall eat them. 40 Thou shalt have olive trees throughout all thy coasts, but thou shalt not anoint thyself with the oil; for thine olive shall cast his fruit. 41 Thou shalt beget sons and daughters, but thou shalt not enjoy them; for they shall go into captivity. 42 All thy trees and fruit of thy land shall the locust consume.  43 The stranger that is within thee shall get up above thee very high; and thou shalt come down very low. 44 He shall lend to thee, and thou shalt not lend to him: he shall be the head, and thou shalt be the tail. 45 Moreover all these curses shall come upon thee, and shall pursue thee, and overtake thee, till thou be destroyed; because thou hearkenedst not unto the voice of the Lord thy God, to keep his commandments and his statutes which he commanded thee: 46 And they shall be upon thee for a sign and for a wonder, and upon thy seed for ever. 47 Because thou servedst not the Lord thy God with joyfulness, and with gladness of heart, for the abundance of all things;


As harsh as these words may be, God kept the promises he made in the conditional covenant of the Mosaic Law.  When Israel kept the Law, God blessed them as a nation.  When Israel turned away from the Law, God brought upon them all of the curses listed in these passages.

The problem is that no one can truly keep the Law.  Mankind is fallen and corrupt.  He is enslaved by the sin that has been passed down to him from Adam.  By God’s own admission at the time of Noah in Genesis 8:21, “the imagination of man's heart is evil from his youth.”  The Psalmist also proclaims man’s depravity in Psalm 14:2-3, “The Lord looked down from heaven upon the children of men, to see if there were any that did understand, and seek God.  They are all gone aside, they are all together become filthy: there is none that doeth good, no, not one.”  We are all sinners who have trespassed against the Law of God in general and the Law of Moses in particular.

How then, can the Law bring about righteousness or salvation?  Paul reminds us that it cannot.  In Galatians 3:10-11, he says


10 For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse: for it is written, Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them.


11 But that no man is justified by the law in the sight of God, it is evident: for, The just shall live by faith.


Yet if the law cannot bring justification, then what purpose did it serve?   Simply put, the Law was put into place to hold us until the coming of Christ so that we may be justified by faith.  It was established to remind us of our need for a savior, to direct us to the cross.  Paul explains in Romans 6:10-11


10 And the commandment, which was ordained to life, I found to be unto death.


11 For sin, taking occasion by the commandment, deceived me, and by it slew me.


Therefore, that which was holy and good – that is, the law – reveals in us that which is unholy and unrighteous.  That which was intended to bring us life – the holy requirements of God’s law – actually brings us condemnation. From it, we see our weakness and our need for Jesus.

Thanks be to God, though, that we have a redeemer who has conquered the Law.  Paul explains further in Romans 8:1-4 that while the Law is weak because of our flesh, Jesus is strong and accomplished all that the Law requires.


1 There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.


2 For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death.


3 For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh:


4 That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.


The Law, therefore, has the end effect of both demonstrating the need for a suffering Messiah because we need a perfect sacrifice and pointing us to that Messiah because he alone fulfills its requirements.