God has worked throughout human history. All the Jewish race today are proud to be children of Abraham and connected to King David. Abraham’s obedience allowed his son Isaac to be blessed by God who again renews His covenant with him. Isaac had two sons, Jacob and Esau, but it is Jacob who receives the blessing of God through his father. Jacob was blessed with twelve sons and great prosperity by God. The twelve sons are the fathers of the Twelve tribes of Israel.
One of those sons is Joseph the dreamer who is sold into slavery by his brothers out of jealousy. Even as a slave Joseph is blessed because of his faithfulness to God. Because of this when his master’s wife tries to seduce him, he stays faithful and fights off her advances. As usual, the evil person accuses the innocent person of being the perpetrator and Joseph is unjustly imprisoned. After great suffering, God blesses him for his faithfulness and allows him to interpret Pharaoh’s dream and thus he becomes the Pharaoh’s head steward in Egypt. When the famine hits, Jacob and his 11 sons are providentially reunited with Joseph in Egypt. There God blesses them and they become a great nation. But then out of fear of this blessed nation, the Egyptians begin to oppress and treat them very cruelly. All male babies are to be killed by the midwives.
The child, Moses, is born and God saves him through Pharaoh’s daughter’s compassion. I am going to guess that the Israelites were oppressed as a punishment for taking on the pagan customs of the Egyptian world. This is why it took 40 years in the dessert to purge them of this contamination.
Out of compassion for his people, Moses kills some Egyptians and has to flee. In his exile, God appears to him in the burning bush. Yahweh has heard the cries of his people and raises up Moses to be their savior. God, through Moses, brings the 10 plagues or curses on the Egyptian people.
Again, as in all the covenants and miraculous events, there is ritual sacrificing to God. The night of the 10th plague, the Israelites are asked to put blood of an unblemished lamb on the door post so that the angel of death will pass over and save their first born child. God blesses His people and curses the Egyptians with the death of their first born children and animals. There is rejoicing by the Israelites and lamenting by the Egyptians. From then on, all first born males are to be consecrated to the Lord and the passover meal celebrated.
All along when God sends Moses to the Pharaoh, God always tells him to let His people go free to sacrifice to Him on Mt. Sinai. The purpose of the blessing of freedom was to be free to worship and obey God.
One of the greatest miracles in the history of mankind is when God saved His people by parting the Red Sea and then allowing it to return crashing down on the Egyptians. He continues to miraculously guide His people by a column of fire in the night and a pillar of a cloud in the day. He blesses them with water, quail and manna to sustain them on their journey.
Once they arrive at Mt. Sinai, Moses is called up by God to receive the Ten Commandments. The Jewish people still claim to be a very blessed race because God revealed to them the Law, the Pentateuch. In the Decalogue, there are curses and blessings. “I am the Lord thy God, mighty, jealous, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children, unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me: And showing mercy unto the thousands to them that love me, and keep my commandments.” Exodus: 20: 5-6. When God manifests His greatness with fire and thunder, Moses explains this is so that they might not sin (very unpopular word today). Exodus 20: 20.
A strong admonition was given against worshipping pagan false gods or idols. But the Israelites made a grass eating and pupping calf to worship. We will see the curse of practicing false religions and adoring idols by exile from the promised land.
Great details are given to Moses on how sacred cult is to be given to God. In gratitude to God for all the blessings they had received they return by sacred sacrifices of the best animals and fruits of the earth. The Israelites are given moral laws and ritual laws to obey in order to be in communion with God and receive His protection and blessings. And God revealed His presence among them by the cloud coming over the tabernacle tent (where only Moses could enter into His glory). The treasured tablets were in the Ark of the Covenant. Because God continued to complete His agreement even though the people were always rebelling.
Amongst all the laws and precepts is the law that “A woman shall not be clothed with man’s apparel (pants), neither shall a man use woman’s apparel: for he that doeth these things is abominable before the Lord.” Duet. 22: 5.
Just before Moses dies, God renews His covenant, and He reminds them of all the blessings or curses that are contained in the Law, and the mercy for the repentant. “I set before you life or death says the Lord, choose life.” Moses lays his hands on Joshua and he receives the blessing of the Lord to lead God people into the land He promised to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. But Moses and the others were not allowed into the promised land because God punished them for their rebelliousness. So we see through out the Pentateuch how sin causes curses and suffering and God in His mercy corrects but then helps His people.
In a world and Church that will not talk about sin, punishment or hell, we go against the loving warnings of God what will help us and what will hurt us. God saves us from sin, not to let us go on sinning, but to set us free to be sons and daughters of God. We are so fortunate to know what is right and what is wrong. What is truth and what is a lie.
The original author of this blog passed away in July of 2016. RIP Father Carota.