The purpose of this article is to stimulate the interest in Bible students to study these often overlooked books. To many, these books are dry, uninteresting, and contain little application to life today, after all it was written to be the legal standard of a people who lived long, long ago. But, my friends, there is a wealth of information, and powerful lessons to be learned from these books. Let us look at just a few of these powerful lessons. Perhaps such a look will cause us to go back and study these books with greater detail.
If we compare Luke 2:22-24 with Leviticus 12:8, it becomes apparent that Joseph and Mary were not wealthy people – In fact, they were poor (cf. Leviticus 12:1-8 cf. 14:21; 27:1-8). Now here’s the point: They were poor; Mary was pregnant before she had married Joseph (Matthew 1:18-20). It would have been easy, if Mary and Joseph were like so many today, to get an abortion (and yes, there was abortion, and abortion-inducing drugs then). But, they didn’t. Brethren, where would we be today if they had done this?
Each child aborted is a great tragedy! Among the aborted could be a Nobel Prize winner, a future President, a great musical talent, a faithful preacher of the Gospel, or worker in the Kingdom.
Let us remember that God called the unborn “life” (Exodus 21:22-25). The unborn, Biblically, is considered superior to sub-human animal life (Exodus 21:22-25; cf. 21:28-32; cf. 21:33-36). God used the same term “babe” (brephos) to describe the child in the womb, and the child out of the womb (Luke 2:21, 16; cf. Luke 1:39-44). He did not refer to the unborn as a blob, nor did He call it non-living matter (cf. Jeremiah 1:5). Then, let us remind ourselves that children are to be valued, “children are a heritage from the LORD” (Psalm 127:3). Our children belong to God (Ezekiel 18:4); they have been just been entrusted to our care for a short while.
Everyone is to give. No one is exempt. In Numbers 18:25-ff, we are informed that God expected even the Levites, who were supported by offerings, to make offerings themselves.
Now, why is this important? I have met preachers who have wondered if they really ought to give or not, after all they are supported out of the contribution. But, notice that God expected the Levites of old to give.
There is no exception found in the New Testament. 1 Corinthians 16:1-2 instructs every one of us to give. Every preacher today should be an example of how to give (Acts 20:33-35). Giving is necessary for spiritual maturation. It teaches us to deny self. It teaches us to remember worthy causes and help in those areas of need. It reflects our spiritual faith in God. Yes, every preacher should be a giver! By the way, if the Jews were expected to give 10% (and maybe upward of 30% when all was calculated) how can we think of pulling out of our wallets or purses the smallest percentages, and think that God will be well pleased?
Murmuring is not pleasing to God. At least 22 times does some form of this word appear in the books of Exodus, Numbers and Deuteronomy. Twenty-five times is the word used in connection with the Exodus journey, when the whole of the Bible is considered. God did not tolerate such. God struck people dead for this. It kept many from the promised land (1 Corinthians 10).
Some people, it seems, can complain about anything. If the preacher preaches his heart out hoping someone will respond and someone does, I guarantee that someone, somewhere, will complain over that few minutes it took for the preaching and response (cf. Luke 15:7, 10, 32). In one assembly I heard someone complain that the temperature was too hot, while another at that same place complained that the thermostat was set too cold! The Bible says that we are to “Do all things without murmurings and disputing” (Philippians 2:14). Let us not use our tongues to whine and complain. Let us use our tongues to edify one another (Ephesians 4:29).
In Matthew 12:1-8, Jesus’ disciples are accused by the Pharisees without having violated the Old Testament law. If we read Exodus 12:16, it becomes apparent that they did not do any such thing. They had not violated the Sabbath laws (Exodus 12:16), and they certainly did not commit theft as some today charge. This likewise is apparent by simply reviewing the Old Testament law (Deuteronomy 23:24-25; Leviticus 19:9-10, etc.). Jesus disciple were falsely accused. They had violated the Pharisees traditions. They had violated the Pharisees misunderstandings of the Old Testament; but, neither He nor His disciples had violated God’s standard on this occasion (And Jesus never did!).
Now, what I am saying is this: (1) From these Old Testament legal requirements we can find great treasures that help us to understand later accounts much clearer; (2) From these neglected books we learn just how God views certain things such as sin and especially misuse of the tongue. No, He may not presently deal with us the same way, but there is a judgment coming; (3) We learn timeless truths concerning when life actually begins, and how God views mankind in comparison with animal life.
I urge you not to neglect to study these books. It will be to your profit.