The Use of the Old Testament Scripture (II)

Billy W. Moore
Butler, Missouri

In every age acceptability with God has required faith in God and obedience to his commandments. One very profitable use of the Old Testament is to exemplify this principle. While the commands of God have been different unto men in different ages, he had always demanded that men believe in him, that he is, and that they obey his commandments. In the old testament times when God was rewarding men with physical things and punishing them in a physical way, this lesson of obedience was easily seen. As we read and study the Old Testament, may this lesson be impressed in our minds.

Adam And Eve

With the creation of man God gave commandments unto him. "And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die." (Gen. 2:16-17) This command was given unto man before the creation of woman. However, it was repeated unto her, for when the serpent came to her saying, "Yea, hath God said, ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden." She replied, "We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden: but of the fruit of the which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die." (Gen. 6: 13) That part, "neither shall ye touch it" was not mentioned when God gave the command unto man. If she understood the command, why did she eat? She said, "The serpent beguiled me, and I did eat." (Gen. 3:13) She was not just making an excuse, for Paul, by inspiration, bears her out saying, "the woman being deceived was in the transgression." (I Tim. 2: 141 The serpent deceived her by making her think that the tree was "a tree to be desired to make one wise." (Gen. 3:6) Why did Adam eat? He said, "The woman whom thou gavest to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I did eat." (Gen. 3:12) This was true. Paul said, "Adam was not deceived" 0 Tim. 2:14), and the Biblical record does not infer that he was. He made a choice when the woman gave him the fruit. He chose to be with his wife and to please her even though it meant disobeying God.

If you are familiar with the Bible record you know that God meted out punishment to every party involved in the first act of disobedience- the first sin, for sin is the transgression of law (1 John 3:4). He was trying to impress man with the importance of obeying God. There were four parties involved in the sin: the serpent, the devil, woman and man. God punished them all. Unto the serpent God said, "Thou art cursed above all cattle, and above every beast of the field; upon thy belly shalt thou go, and dust shalt thou eat all the days of thy life." Unto Satan he said, "I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head. . . ." Unto the woman he said, "I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception; in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children; and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee." Unto man he said, "Cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life; thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee; and thou shalt eat the herb of the field; in the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return." (Gen. 3:14-19) Then God sent Adam forth from the garden of Eden, and placed at the east of the garden Cherubims, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life. Man and woman were doomed to die! What misery and punishment to suffer, all because they regarded not the commandment of the Lord God. Surely they would teach their children after them that man must obey the voice of the living God.

Cain And Abel

The first two sons of Adam and Eve were Cain and Abel. Had their parents taught them the lesson they should have learned when they were expelled from the garden? Abel is known as a man of faith, and though he has been dead for thousands of years he continues to speak unto men through an act of obedience and righteousness. (Cf. Heb. 11:4) But Cain is known as a transgressor, who was "of that wicked one." God commanded these brothers to offer a sacrifice unto him. It was to be an animal sacrifice. The record declares that Abel "brought of the firstlings of his flock . . . And the Lord had respect unto Abel and to his offering." But "Cain brought of the fruit of the ground an offering unto the Lord" and "unto Cain and to his offering he had not respect." (Gen. 4:3-4) Since Abels offering was "by faith," and knowing that faith cometh by hearing the word of God (Rom. 10: 17), we conclude that God had specified what they were to offer. Abel believed God and obeyed his Voice. God was pleased and had respect unto his offering. Cain did not obey the Lord. He made an offering unto God, but it was not what God commanded. (Who said, It does not make any difference how we worship God, just so we are sincere?) He was rejected and no doubt punishment would have been brought upon him for this sin, but before this was done he came upon his brother in the field and slew him. Then God brought punishment upon Cain. (See Gen. 4:915) Cant you see that God was trying to teach man that he demands obedience?

The Example Of Moses

The life of Moses is a wonderful and interesting study. The first forty years were spent in Pharaohs house; the next forty years as a shepherd in Midian. Then God called him to lead the children of Israel out of Egyptian bondage. Moses, at first, said, "Who am I, that I should go unto Pharaoh, and that I should bring forth the children of Israel out of Egypt?" (Ex. 3: 11) But God assured him that he would be with him, and gave him miraculous power to convince the elders of Israel that the great I AM had sent him. What a man Moses was! What a great example of obedience to God.

But once he disobeyed the voice of God. It was at the "waters of Meribah-Kadesh, in the wilderness of Zin." (Deut. 32:5 1) For years the Israelites had been wandering in the wilderness because of their unbelief. They had murmured and complained to Moses on so many occasions. This time they were without water and God commanded Moses to "Take the rod, and gather thou the assembly together, thou, and Aaron thy brother, and speak ye unto the rock before their eyes; and it shall bring forth to them water out of the rock: so thou shalt give the congregation and their beasts drink. . . . Moses and Aaron gathered the congregation together before the rock, and he said unto them, Hear now, ye rebels; must we fetch you water out of this rock? And Moses lifted up his hand, and with his rod he smote the rock twice: and the water came out abundantly, and the congregation drank, and their beasts also. And the Lord spake unto Moses and Aaron, Because ye believed me not, to sanctify me in the eyes of the children of Israel, therefore ye shall not bring this congregation into the land which I have given them." (Num. 20:7-12)

How trivial seems the act, from mans viewpoint. But how important the lesson! God said, "Speak ye unto the rock , but Moses spoke unto the people and smote the rock twice with his rod. How easy it would have been for Moses to strike the rock, for some years before when they had first come out of Egypt they were without water and God commanded Moses to, "Go on before the people, and take with thee of the elders of Israel; and thy rod . . . in thine hand, and go. Behold, I will stand before thee there upon the rock in Horeb; and thou shalt smite the rock, and there shall come water out of it that the people may drink. And Moses did so in the sight of the elders of Israel." (Ex. 17:5-6) Surely Moses remembered that scene when lie stood at the rock in Kadesh. But he rebelled against Gods commandment and God would not let him go unpunished. (I have heard brethren say, It does not matter how you do it, just so you get the job done. Try telling that to Moses!)

In the days to follow Moses felt the sting of the punishment God had meted out unto him. He prayed unto the Lord, "Let me go over, and see the good land that is beyond Jordan, the goodly mountain, and Lebanon." But the Lord was wroth with him and said, "Let it suffice thee; speak no more unto me of this matter. Get thee up into the top of Pisgah, and lift up thine eyes ... and behold it with thine eyes: for thou shalt not go over this Jordan." (Deut. 3:25-27) God said, "For ye rebelled against my com andment in the desert of Zin . . ." (Num. 27: 14) Moses was a great man. There is no question about his being saved eternally. But he did not get to enter the promised land because he did not obey the command of God. Surely through this story God is teaching all mankind how important it is to obey his word.

Saul, King Of Israel

King Saul was commanded to utterly destroy Amalek and all that they have. But he spared the king, Agag, and the best of the sheep and the oxen, and of the fatlings, and the lambs. When God sent the prophet Samuel unto him, the king said: "Blessed be thou of the Lord: I have performed the commandment of the Lord." And Samuel said, "What meaneth then this bleating of the sheep in mine ears, and the lowing of the oxen which I hear?" Saul replied, "They have brought them ... to sacrifice unto the Lord God; and the rest we have utterly destroyed." Surely the king thought he had obeyed the command of the Lord. But Samuel said, "Hath the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams. For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. Because thou hast rejected the word of the Lord, he hath also rejected thee from being king." (1 Sam. 15: 1-23) It may seem insignificant to man that Agag was spared, and that the best of the animals were spared to be used as a sacrifice unto God. But God said it was rebellion. God was teaching the importance of obedience.

Numerous other stories from the old testament could be cited to illustrate this point. Remember: these things were written for our learning (Rom. 15:4). Parents and grandparents should not fail to use such stories to impress in the minds of children the importance of doing the will of God. When we learn what God commands of us, do not stop to ask, Why? But obey. Saul may not have understood why all of Amalek must be destroyed. It should have been done simply because God commanded it. After all, God, the Father of our spirits and the creator of man, says the whole duty of man is to fear God and keep his commandments. (Eccl. 12: 13). Jesus said, "Not everyone that saith unto me Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven." (Matt. 7:21) Among the last of the inspired words are these: "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." (Rev. 22:14)

God commands that we believe in Christ, repent of our sins, and be baptized into Christ for the remission of sins. Let us obey him. When we are commanded to live soberly, righteously and godly, let us put forth every effort to live that way, knowing that such is the will of God for us. It is true that "in every nation he that feareth him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with him." (Acts 10: 34) Let us use the Old Testament scripture to teach that God demands obedience.

November 9, 1972