How can we reach the next generation?
Without the Torah, mankind would have remained rudderless, the only instructions from God having been the set of rules given to Noah, as listed in Genesis 9. They proclaimed that one was now allowed to eat meat unless it contained blood, murder now demanded a reckoning and procreation was to become a priority. Food, death, sex - good for starters, but perhaps not enough for the wise government of a civilised society.
The Torah is best summarised by the instructions found within the first five books of the Bible, in particular the Book of Deuteronomy, which is a summary of the legal elements of it. Although at least these legal elements seem to have been given at Mount Sinai, much of the content of the five books is historical material and would also have been provided as word of mouth from generation to generation over many hundreds of years.
From the Torah we are told:
that God created the World in six days.
that Adam and Eve were ejected from the Garden of Eden
that the sacrifice of an animal was now required to ensure God's favour
that Noah and his family were the only ones to survive the Flood
that Abraham's faith in God was to cement him as the founder of a great dynasty
that Abraham's dynasty spent four centuries as slaves in Egypt
that Moses was used by God to liberate this dynasty
that the dynasty, the Children of Israel, became a Kingdom of Priests as a result of their covenant with God at Mount Sinai
that the Children of Israel now had a fixed set of rules, the Torah, by which to live holy, wholesome and acceptable lives
that there were the seeds of an expectation of a future prophet.
I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their brothers; I will put my words in his mouth, and he will tell them everything I command him. If anyone does not listen to my words that the prophet speaks in my name, I myself will call him to account. (Deuteronomy 18:18-19)
It is clear that this concept stayed in their psyche for generations to come, because the Jews at the time of Jesus spoke of this person.
After the people saw the miraculous sign that Jesus did, they began to say, "Surely this is the Prophet who is to come into the world." (John 6:14)
They identified Jesus as the Prophet of whom Moses spoke. Jesus himself didn't seem to disagree, when he spoke these words.
If you believed Moses, you would believe me, for he wrote about me. (John 5:46)
Let us now revisit Mount Sinai. But first we can sample the atmosphere of this unique occasion in human history, by reading what the writer of the Book of Hebrews had to say of it, by way of a comparison between the Old and the New:
You have not come to a mountain that can be touched and that is burning with fire; to darkness, gloom and storm; to a trumpet blast or to such a voice speaking words that those who heard it begged that no further word be spoken to them, because they could not bear what was commanded: "If even an animal touches the mountain, it must be stoned." The sight was so terrifying that Moses said, "I am trembling with fear." (Hebrews 12:18-21)
What happened next? Find out next week.
(This is an abridged extract from Steve's book How the Church Lost the Truth)
A Lib Dem candidate who was due to stand in the upcoming election...