The writing of the Bible was done in four stages: 1) God Himself wrote the Ten Commandments on tables of stone. 2) God told Moses to write the five books of the law (Pentateuch); 3) The Spirit of God moved on prophets and pious men to write additional books over the centuries to make up a total of 39 titles. 4) After Christís ascension the apostles and Luke the physician wrote another 27 books of the New Testament.
In Exod. 25:16 God said to Moses regarding the ark he was to make, "You shall put into the ark the Testimony which I will give you." Then God proclaimed the Ten Commandments, "and when He had made an end of speaking with him on Mt. Sinai, He gave Moses two tablets of the Testimony, tablets of stone written with the finger of God." Exod. 31:18. Before this, people had a strong memory, so God's revelations to men were transmitted by word of mouth. Abraham, who lived about 500 years earlier than Moses, already knew of God's Law. Gen. 26:5 records God's words, "Abraham obeyed My voice and kept My charge, My commandments, My statutes, and My laws." But due to the degeneration of the power of memory, people of later generations needed to have the word of God in writing. And God Himself wrote the Decalogue in stone to lay the foundation.
1) Did God really tell Moses to write the five books? Can we prove that they were written by Moses? What are their contents?
Answer: Yes, God told Moses to write the first five books (Pentateuch). Exod 34:27 says, "The Lord said to Moses, 'Write these words, for according to the tenor of these words I have made a covenant with you and with Israel." Deat. 31:24 says, "When Moses had completed writing the words of this law in a book, when they were finished, that Moses commanded the Levites, who bore the ark for the covenant of the Lord, saying, 'Take this Book of the Law, and put it beside the ark of the covenant of the Lord your God. ' " These five books of Moses (Torah) became the recognized Bible of the Jews for a thousand years. It was partly composed of history, with some prophecy, but mostly of (1) ceremonial ordinances, (2) criminal codes, (3) civil codes, and (4) health principles.
In the 19th century many scholars doubted that Genesis was written by Moses, but the archaeological diggings in the middle east in the last hundred years have uncovered much evidence to prove the accuracy of its record.
2) Since the writings of Moses fall into four categories, will you please give an introduction to these contents?
Answer: Yes. Let us begin with the rituals. Before Moses' time, the offering of a lamb as a sacrifice began since our first parents sinned. Gen. 4:3 says, "In the process of time it came to pass that Cain brought an offering of the fruit of the ground to the Lord. Abel also brought of the firstlings of the flock and of their fat. And the Lord respected Abel and his offering, but He did not respect Cain and his offering." The reason for this was because Cainís offering failed to typify the sacrificial blood of Jesus. Heb. 9:22 says, "According to the law almost all things are purged with blood, and without shedding of blood there is no remission." An earlier example of a bloody offering is seen in Gen 3:21: "Also for Adam and his wife the Lord God made tunics of skin, and clothed them." This is the first record in the Bible of an innocent creature bleeding in sacrifice to provide a covering for manís shame, establishing the principle of shedding blood to atone for sin.
3) Is this directly related to the words of John the Baptist: "Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world?"
Answer: Yes. In fact all the ceremonial rites in the law of Moses typified Jesus Christ. He is also the central figure in the book of Hebrews in the New Testament. These rituals were performed in the sanctuary that God told Moses to build. Heb. 9:2-7 says, "For a tabernacle was prepared: the first part, . . . which is called the sanctuary; and behind the second veil, the part of the tabernacle which is called the Holiest of All, which had the golden altar of incense and the ark of the covenant overlaid on all sides with gold, in which were the tablets of the covenant; . . . the priests always went into the first part of the tabernacle, performing the services, but into the second part the high priest went alone once a year, not without blood, which he offered for himself and for the peopleís sins."
Heb. 9:11-15 says, "But Christ came as High Priest of the good things to come, with the greater and more perfect tabernacle not made with hands, that is, not of this creation. Not with the blood of goats and calves, but with His own blood He entered the Most Holy Place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption. . . .And for this reason He is the Mediator of the new covenant, by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions under the first covenant, that those who are called may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance."
4) According to the Bible record, the tabernacle was later replaced by a temple, and when Jesus expired on the cross, the veil in the Temple was torn from top to bottom.
Answer: Yes. It is recorded in Matt. 27:50,51: "Jesus, when He had cried out again with a loud voice, yielded up His spirit. And behold, the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom; and the earth quaked, and the rocks were split." Heb. 8:5 says, "Who serve the copy and shadow of the heavenly things." Now that the shadow has reached reality, the function of the shadow comes to an end. By tearing the veil in the Temple from top to bottom, God proclaimed: all the ritual law typifying the redemptive work of Christ had reached fulfillment in Him. Their performance need not be continued. But because the Jews did not believe in Jesus, they did not understand this truth. Even those who believed Him lacked this knowledge. So Paul had to write the book of Hebrews to clarify this point. Heb. 8:1-5 says, "Now this is the main point of the things we are saying: We have such a High Priest, who is seated at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens, a Minister of the sanctuary and of the true tabernacle which the Lord erected, and not man. . . . there are priests who offer the gifts according to the law, who serve the copy and shadow of the heavenly things."
5) Is the Jewish rite of circumcision also part of the ceremonial law, and does not apply to Gentile Christians? What spiritual significance does circumcision have?
Answer: Read John 7:22,23: "Moses therefore gave you circumcision (not that it is from Moses, but from the fathers), and you circumcise a man on the Sabbath . . . . so that the law of Moses should not be broken." This indicates that though the rite began with Abraham (see Gen. 17:9-14), it is considered part of the law of Moses. As for its spiritual significance, Rom. 2:26-29 says, "If an uncircumcised man keeps the righteous requirements of the law, will not his uncircumcision be counted as circumcision? And will not the physically uncircumcised, if he fulfills the law, judge you who, even with your written code and circumcision, are a transgressor of the law? For he is not a Jew who is one outwardly, nor is that circumcision which is outward in the flesh; but he is a Jew who is one inwardly, and circumcision is that of the heart, in the Spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not from men but from God."1 Cor. 7:19 says, "Circumcision is nothing and uncircumcision is nothing, but keeping the commandments of God is what matters."
6) Acts 15:28,29 mentions "these necessary things." Are they part of the law of Moses that cannot be abolished?
Answer: Yes. At the time there were Jews who taught Gentile Christians to be circumcised. This caused controversy. After it was discussed in a meeting of the apostles, they decided to write a notice to Gentile Christians that they need not be circumcised. Except for three items: "that you abstain from things offered to idols, from blood, from things strangled, and from sexual immorality." The Old Testament basis for these prohibitions are Gen. 4, Exod. 20:5 and Lev. 18. People often confuse spiritual purity with physical cleansing. For instance, when Jesus said in Matt. 5:11,17,18: "Not what goes into the mouth defiles a man; but what comes out of the mouth, this defiles the man. . . Do you not yet understand that whatever enters the mouth goes into the stomach and is eliminated? But those things which proceed out of the mouth comes form the heart, and they defile a man." The Jewish rite of hand-washing before meals was a human tradition dealing with spiritual purity. Jesus also spoke of spiritual purity, and not physical sanitation. The matter of eating foods sacrificed to idols also deals with spiritual purity, not physical health and sanitation.
7) Lev. 11 lists pork and fish without scales and fins as unclean, is there any scientific basis for these regulations?
Answer: The classification of animals as clean and unclean existed before Noahís flood. See Gen. 7:2. God permitted men to eat flesh after the flood, and when they first ate flesh, they must eat clean animals, because there was only one pair of unclean animals preserved in the ark. According to the science of nutrition, pork and fish with no scales or fins do not make healthy food. Chinese traditional medicine advises the sick to abstain from pork, shrimp and crab meat because they tend to aggravate diseases. Genesis records that the original diet God planned for humans was vegetarian, and nutritionists admit that such a diet is the most healthy.
8) Rom. 14:2; 1 Cor. 10:25; Acts 10:13; 1 Tim. 4:1-5 all deal with the diet. Please explain these four texts in their order.
Answer: Rom. 14:2 says, "He who is weak eats only vegetables." The weakness is explained by the words, "their conscience being weak."1 Cor. 8:7. A "weak" conscience is a highly sensitive conscience that fears to touch the least particle of food that has been offered to idols. Paul says, "Eat whatever is sold in the meat market, asking no questions for conscience` sake."1 Cor. 10:25. For believers often asked the meat vendors, "has this sheep or ox been offered to idols?" For in the near East idolaters also offered sheep, goats and oxen to their idols. And the vendors often lied to them, hence to avoid eating something offered to idols by mistake, they decide to eat no meat. These passages all deal with the matter of eating food offered to idols, not the matter of eating unclean foods as outlined in Lev. 11.
In Acts 10:14 Peter said, "I have never eaten anything common or unclean." Proves that Jesus never taught the disciples to break the rules in Lev. 11. If one should argue with the words spoken from heaven, "What God has cleansed you must not call common," We will say, Very well, any animal let down from heaven on a piece of cloth is cleansed by God, that we can eat." As for animals running around on the earth, we will eat according to the standard set down in Lev. 11, making a difference.
1 Tim. 4:1-5 says, "Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons, . . . forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from foods which God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth. For every creature of God is good, and nothing is to be refused if it is received with thanksgiving, for it is sanctified by the word of God and prayer." It should be pointed out that to "abstain from foods" is wrong. According to Bible revelation, clean animals are food; unclean animals are not food. Food was created by God to be received with thanksgiving and prayer by those who believe and know the truth. Those who donít know the truth would eat what the truth reveals to be unclean and not fit for food. Verse 4 says, "Every creature of God is good, . . . for it is sanctified by the word of God and prayer." Here again it is the word of God that tells us what things are fit for food. In the matter of diet we should follow the principle stated in 1 Cor. 10:31, "Whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God."1 Cor. 9:25 says, "Everyone who competes for the prize is temperate in all things. . . .for an imperishable crown." In the light of this text, tobacco, alcoholic drinks and drugs are ruled out. We should learn from Paul, who said, "I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified." 1 Cor. 9:27.
9) Although the Levitical rites are no longer performed, shouldnít they still be studied to help us learn Godís plan of redemption?
Answer: Yes, Jesus said, "These are they which testify of Me." John 5:39. "These" Scriptures embrace the ritual law of Moses. In John 5:46,47 Jesus said to the Jews, "if you believed Moses, you would believe Me; for he wrote about Me. But if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe My words?" Jesus is the "Lamb of God." All the sacrifices in the Levitical rites typified Christ. Lev. 4,5,6 listed pardonable sins in three categories. The first was sins of ignorance, explained in Lev. 4:13,14. "If the whole congregation of Israel sins unintentionally, and the thing is hidden from the eyes of the assembly, and they have done something against any of the commandments of the Lord in anything which should not be done, and are guilty. When the sin which they have sinned becomes known, then the assembly shall offer a young bull for the sin." Unintentional sins modern believers are often guilty of are idolatry and Sabbath-breaking. Acts 17:30 says, "Truly, these times of ignorance God overlooked, but now commands all men everywhere to repent." To overlook does not mean that they have no sin and need not repent. The fact that God commands men to repent means that their sin is still sin, for which an offering is to be made. Jesus must be sacrificed for our sins of ignorance.
The sins listed in Lev. 6 are violations of the 8th, 9th and 10th commandments. They are not sins of ignorance, nor sins of defiance, but sins of human weakness, having covetousness for their prime motive, and pardonable. Because it is of a different nature, the sacrifice is called a "trespass offering." And because these sins violate the criminal code, the unlawful gain must be returned to tits original owner with one fifth added as interest. The trespass offering typified Christís atonement for all sins of human weakness.
The nature of the offenses listed in Lev. 5 point to the sharing of another personís guilt. Lev. 5:1 says, "If a persons sins in hearing the utterance of an oath, and is a witness, whether he has seen or known of the matter---if he does not tell it, he bears guilt." This "hearing the utterance of an oath," refers to the court procedure of requiring witnesses to take an oath before testifying. If one refuses to testify, he shares the guilt of the offender. Lev. 5:1 calls the required sacrifice a trespass offering, and also a sin offering, so it may be called a "sin-trespass offering."
10) Apart from these three pardonable sins, is there a fourth category of unpardonable sin?
Answer: Yes. Num. 15:30 says, "The person who does anything presumptuously, . . .that one brings reproach on the Lord, and he shall be cut off from among hizs people. Because he has despised the word of the Lord, and has broken His commandment, that person shall be completely cut off, his guilt shall be upon him." The Hebrew for "presumptuously," is "with a high hand, meaning that he sinned openly, daring to let people see, as if saying to God, "I will disobey You, and see what You can do to me." This is a reckless, arrogant stance. In the same chapter in immediate context is an example that occurred soon after the Israelites started eating manna. They were told to cook their Sabbath food on the sixth day, and plainly told not to kindle a fire on the Sabbath. A man purposely went out to gather sticks, thus committing an unpardonable sin. "The Lord said to Moses, 'The man shall be surely put to death: all the congregation shall stone him with stones without the camp.' And all the congregation brought him without the camp, and stoned him with stones, and he died; as the Lord commanded Moses." Num 15:35.
Matt. 12:31 says, "Every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven men: but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven men." Jesus spoke these words when men said of Jesus, "This fellow does not cast out demons except by Beelzebub, the ruler of the demons." A sinner repents only under the moving of the Holy Spirit. One who resists the Spirit refuses to repent, so can't be forgiven.
11) A sinner who offers a sin offering or trespass offering according to the instructions in Lev. 4,5 & 6 has already been forgiven, what need is there to offer another sin offering on the annual Day of Atonement?
Answer: Yes. When a man commits a sin or trespass, he must make a sin or trespass offering. On the tenth day of the seventh month the high priest must offer a goat as a sin offering for the entire congregation, and all must afflict their souls in repentance. This appears to be over-elaborate procedure. Not so. It brings out an important truth: a believer who is saved must be twice judged. The first time when first he repents and is forgiven, the next time when his life record undergoes final review. Matt. 18 makes this clear. A servant who was forgiven a big debt refused to forgive a small debt owed by a fellow servant. His master said to him, " 'I forgave you all that debt because you begged me. Should you not also have had compassion on your fellow servant, just as I had pity on you?' And his master was angry,
and delivered him to the torturers until he should pay all that was due him." Jesus said, "So My heavenly Father also will do to you if each of you, from his heart, does not forgive his brother his trespasses." The blood of Jesus is to accomplish two things for the sinner: (1) to blot out his sins, (2) to change his sinful nature. The first step gives him his title to heaven, the second makes him fit for heaven. These steps require his active cooperation. If his sinful nature is not changed, his forgiven sins will be revoked and again counted against him. Men like to talk of being freely forgiven, but often fail to teach people to forgive others. Jesus laid much emphasis on this. In teaching the Lord's prayer, He added, "If you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your
trespasses." The plan of redemption must restore in man the image of his Maker. This image is summed up in the declaration, "The Lord, the Lord, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abounding in mercy and truth, . . .forgiving iniquity and transgression." Exod. 34:6,7.