THE AGE OF LAW
FROM THE EXODUS TO THE REIGN OF SOLOMON
Before Israel was delivered from the oppressive hand of Pharaoh, God had to send ten natural calamities to overcome his obstinate heart. Can you recall any of the plagues that came upon Egypt all because of a stubborn king? (Ex. 9-11) Immediately before the last plague, the death of the first born, the Passover was instituted and celebrated by the Israelites. God instructed them to slay a lamb for a household, take it’s blood and sprinkle it upon the doorposts of their house. This was the sign to the death angel that the home belonged to the Hebrews, and they were “passed over” when he came to destroy the first born of the land. Can you imagine the weeping and wailing that must have gone up in the land? There would not be a single household without grief to go console those who were stricken with death among the Egyptians.
It was in this distress of death and grief that the Israelites were hurriedly driven from Egypt and into their new freedom. Even then they were pursued and God intervened with a pillar of fire in front of Pharaoh’s army until the Israelites could cross through the raised walls of the Red Sea. As the army of Pharaoh pursued them, God brought the walls of water down upon them and drowned every last one of them. After 430 years of oppression in Egypt, they were finally free.
In the third month of their journey from Egypt they pitched camp at Sinai, where they remained for a year. Moses was called by God to the top of the mountain. It was there he was given the Ten Commandments, and also the directions for the construction of a tabernacle, or sacred tent, which was to be the dwelling place of God in their midst.
During their stay at Sinai, Israel was organized into a nation, and after the numbering of the people, and arranging of the tribes, they moved towards the Promised Land. Upon arriving at the border Moses sent twelve men to report on the land. Upon returning all reported a good land, but ten declared that it could not be conquered; two said they could (one of which was Joshua). Fear immediately destroyed their faith, and the people refused to go in and take possession of it. As punishment of rebellious unbelief, they were sentenced to wander in the wilderness for forty years. All above the age of twenty were doomed to die without entering the Promised Land, Canaan.
At last the new generation arrived at Kadesh, the scene of their father’s tragic unbelief. Here Moses repeated the Law, and rehearsed the conditions that accompanied the promises and blessings of their entrance into Canaan. After his farewell message, God called the faithful law-giver home, and God’s unseen hands buried him on the mountain from where he had viewed the promised land.
After the death of Moses, the people were led into Canaan by Joshua, his successor. After the final conquest on the land, Joshua with the help of Eleazer the high priest, divided the territory among the tribes that had yet to receive their allotment.
While Joshua and the Elders lived, the people served the Lord, but after their death, there was a gradual back-sliding of the nation. Judges 2:6-10 The condition is summed up in the often repeated words, “Israel did evil in the sight of the Lord”, and “the Lord sold them into the hand of their oppressors.” Judges 2:11-15 At these critical periods God raised up a man from the tribes through whom He could govern and execute His judgments. These officers were called the “Judges” of Israel. Judges 2:16-23
After several hundred years of defection from the faith, slavery and deliverances, the Israelites became tired of the government of the Judges and demanded a King. 1 Sam. 8:4-9 After being warned of the tragic consequences of changing the government from a Theocracy (ruled by God through godly men) to a Monarchy, God granted them their request. Saul was chosen to be the first king of Israel. He was impulsive and self-willed. He ruled over Israel for 40 years, and his miserable death was a fearful commentary of his life. 1 Sam. 31:1-6 The reign of David, who succeeded him, was undoubtedly the brightest era in Israel’s history, and he was one of the great and good men of the Old Testament. He also reigned 40 years.
In magnificence, wealth, and wisdom, none equaled Solomon, who succeeded his father, David, to the throne. 1 Kings 2:1-4 Solomon’s reign has been called the “golden age of Israel.” The nation reached it’s height of its national glory. Solomon’s first and greatest achievement was the building of the Temple at Jerusalem, which David had designed. During the reigns of Saul, David and Solomon, Israel was one United Kingdom.
1. What can you surmise was going on in the minds of the Egyptians as all the plagues happened to them and their households, and not one Israelite home was affected by them?
2. If the numbers of the Israelites was a threat to the Egyptians, why didn’t Pharaoh just let them leave the country the first time or two Moses asked to let God’s people go?
3. At the Red Sea crossing, what do you think was going on in the minds of the Israelites? How about the children who were present?
4. How do you think it would have felt to be a part of the group that marched around the city walls of Jerico for six days before the walls fell on the seventh day? What would it do for your faith to see those walls fall by the hand of God on the seventh day when the trumpets were loudly blown?
5. Why do you think it is that the second generation after miraculous events begin to back-slide from the faith? What can we do to insure our children find the same convicting faith we have found?
6. Solomon took up the unfinished project of his father, David, and built the Temple in Jerusalem. What project would you like to see your son follow you after you are gone from this earth? What can you do to build the relationship with your son now that would solidify their desire to follow your footsteps?