Every generation of Believer is faced with the question of whether or not God’s Word still applies exactly the same today as it did when originally given so long ago. Often it’s supposed that because “today’s” culture is so different that at least portions of His Word might not apply in the same way. Or because we live in “modern” or “technological” times that certain contexts have changed the meaning for us today. And yet Hebrews 13:8 states, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” And since we know that Christ Jesus IS the Word, we are faced with making the personal decision as to whether or not the Bible applies to us today exactly as it did when originally given. This is not a new conundrum for Believers, but an argument as old as the Law itself.
Read verses 1-5
Q: What happened to the first 2, original tablets?
A: Moses shattered them in anger, providing visible confirmation that Israel’s disobedience had in like manner shattered God’s Word. (Exodus 32:19)
Q: Who wrote the original tablets and who is going to write them again?
Q: Does God change anything He wrote from the first time to the second?
A: No. He writes the exact same commandments.
Point: Although man may personally shatter God’s Word through disobedience, God’s Word never changes. Although someone temporarily falls away from God and is subsequently reconciled to Him, God’s Word does not change in the interim. It is the same forever, still having the same requirements.
Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish but to fulfill. For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass from the Law until all is accomplished. Whoever then annuls one of the least of these commandments, and teaches others to do the same, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever keeps and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.
— Matthew 5:17-19
Application: Give an example of what you believe is someone’s attempt to “re-write” God’s Word; that is, to make a case that “that was then, but this is now” to revise it from it’s original meaning. Is it true? Is there any example you can think of where the meaning of God’s Word has changed because of man, such as history or culture? What does Hebrews 13:8 mean to you: “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.”
Read verses 6-9
Q; When God first revealed Himself and His name to Moses at the burning bush, what was God’s stated purpose for doing so?
A: It was to deliver His people, the work of a Savior.
Go and gather the elders of Israel together and say to them, “The Lord, the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, has appeared to me, saying, ‘I am indeed concerned about you and what has been done to you in Egypt. So I said, I will bring you up out of the affliction of Egypt to the land of the Canaanite and the Hittite and the Amorite and the Perizzite and the Hivite and the Jebusite, to a land flowing with milk and honey.’”
— Exodus 3:16-17
Q: At this second revelation to Moses in which He provides His name, what appears to be His chief purpose?
A: To forgive their sin, the work of a Judge.
Q: How do these revelations of God’s purposes to Moses teach us about the work and character of God?
A: He is not just a one-time Redeemer saving us from the old life, but facilitating a new life going forward. He addresses the thing that separates us from Him—sin—under all conditions past, present, and future.
Point: God here discloses that He is love, but the kind of love in which mercy, grace, long-suffering, goodness and truth are united with holiness and justice. His purpose in redeeming or saving someone is to change them forever going forward.
Read verses 10-28
Q: Why is God saying He is “going to make a covenant” with them? Didn’t He already do that?
A: They shattered it; He is establishing it again, exactly as before.
Q: Is the work of God for the Israelites alone?
A: According to v.10, what God does for Israel will be a witness to all the other nations, that “all the people among whom you live will see the working of the Lord”.
Q: But isn’t Israel commanded to destroy all the people around them? If so, who will be left to be an example to?
A: No, they are only instructed to remove specific groups, people that have not only utterly and finally rejected God but actively encourage others to do so, too. God is closing the door of opportunity for those specific groups to return to Him after 430 years of rejection, and opening another door to all the other nations through the example of Israel.
Q: What is the first and most important condition of God’s covenant?
A: To completely remove—even destroy—all false religion and its practitioners so as to be wholly devoted (the biblical term is actually “faithful”) to God alone. THEY are to be the influence, not influenced.
Q: According to v.16, to what does God liken those that go after other gods?
A: He likens them to harlots. It’s the ultimate picture of unfaithfulness.
Q: In this summary of the commandments God has previously established, what is the common denominator? What common thread links them all together?
A: They are all things that identify and separate someone as being devoted to God and to no other. The laws concerning feasts (v.18, 22-24), dedicating the firstborn (v.19-20), observing the Sabbath (v.21-23), sacrifices (v.25-26) and even those pertaining to dietary restrictions (v.26) are all unique to the One True God. Observing them identifies the practitioner as a servant of God not just to himself and fellow Jews, but to all outside observers as well. To truly follow them negates the possibility of serving anyone else.
How would you answer the age-old question, “If you were on trial for being a Christian, what evidence could be brought into court to prove it?”
Do others know you’re a Christian? Can they tell from your behavior and lifestyle that you live according to a different standard, even a biblical standard?
How do you feel about people that believe the biblical provision for divorce or relationships no longer applies to us today? Do you believe God’s truth is relative or absolute? How does this show in your own life and choices?
Do you see that an inseparable component of God’s love and grace is truth and justice? Do you see clinging to His truth and justice as part of the exchange of love in your relationship with Christ?
In John 8 the religious authorities of the day try to test Him. They bring a woman caught in the act of adultery who, according to Old Testament law, should be put to death. By Jesus’ day, they weren’t actually following through with such a sentence. In other words, they were no longer literally following the Law and therefore presented this test to Jesus to see how He would apply the Law. Isn’t it fascinating that whatever answer He wrote in the ground, that after being pressured, He simply wrote it again, just like God’s writing the commandments down exactly the same way the second time as the first. What He has written is the same the second time as the first. It never changes.