Lesson 8 | Sabbath, 21 August 2021
“The government of Israel was administered in the name and by the authority of God. The work of Moses, of the seventy elders, of the rulers and judges, was simply to enforce the laws that God had given; they had no authority to legislate for the nation. This was, and continued to be, the condition of Israel’s existence as a nation. From age to age, men inspired by God were sent to instruct the people and to direct in the enforcement of the laws.” –Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 603.
God and King
1. What did the psalmist do to the Lord? Did he recognize and worship Him only as God?
Psalms 44:4; 47:6, 7. Thou art my King, O God: command deliverances for Jacob…. 47:6Sing praises to God, sing praises: sing praises unto our King, sing praises. 7For God is the King of all the earth: sing ye praises with understanding.
“God is our King, and we are His subjects.” –Signs of the Times, November 18, 1903.
“Who, then, is to be regarded as the Ruler of the nations? The Lord God Omnipotent. All kings, all rulers, all nations, are His, under His rule and government.” –(Manuscript 119, 1903)Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 6, p. 1081.
“God is King, He is high and lifted up, and the train of His glory fills the temple. God is to be feared, He alone is to be worshiped. His laws are holy, the foundation of His government in heaven and earth. How weak and foolish is the position taken by finite opposers of His government, as they declare that the law of the Governor of all intelligences is abolished. Who put these words into the mouth of men?”–Review and Herald, October 9, 1894.
2. After making a covenant with God, into what government was Israel as a nation incorporated by Him? What is this special type of government commonly called?
Exodus 19:4-6. Ye have seen what I did unto the Egyptians, and how I bare you on eagles’ wings, and brought you unto myself. Now therefore, if ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me above all people: for all the earth is mine: 5And ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation. 6These are the words which thou shalt speak unto the children of Israel.
“Soon after the encampment at Sinai, Moses was called up into the mountain to meet with God. Alone he climbed the steep and rugged path, and drew near to the cloud that marked the place of Jehovah’s presence. Israel was now to be taken into a close and peculiar relation to the Most High–to be incorporated as a church and a nation under the government of God….
“Moses returned to the camp, and having summoned the elders of Israel, he repeated to them the divine message. Their answer was, ‘All that the Lord hath spoken we will do.’ Thus they entered into a solemn covenant with God, pledging themselves to accept Him as their ruler, by which they became, in a special sense, the subjects of His authority.” –Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 303.
“A theocracy is a government which derives its power immediately from God. The government of Israel was a true theocracy. That was really a government of God. At the burning bush, God commissioned Moses to lead His people out of Egypt. By signs and wonders and mighty miracles multiplied, God delivered Israel from Egypt and led them through the wilderness and finally into the promised land.” –Patriarchs and Prophets, Appendix, pp. 761, 762.
3. From what place did the Lord communicate as Israel’s Leader and give instructions for the people?
Exodus 25:22. And there I will meet with thee, and I will commune with thee from above the mercy seat, from between the two cherubims which are upon the ark of the testimony, of all things which I will give thee in commandment unto the children of Israel.
“God’s truth is the same in all ages, although differently developed to meet the wants of His people in various periods. Under the Old Testament dispensation every important work was closely connected with the sanctuary. In the holy of holies the great I AM took up His abode…. There, above the mercy seat, overshadowed by the wings of the cherubim, dwelt the Shekinah of His glory, the perpetual token of His presence, while the breastplate of the high priest, set with precious stones, made known from the sacred precincts of the sanctuary the solemn message of Jehovah to the people. Wonderful dispensation, when the Holy One, the Creator of the heavens and the earth, thus manifested His glory, and revealed His will to the children of men!” –That I May Know Him, p. 101.
4. Considering the large number of people, what good advice did Moses’father in law, Jethro, give him on the condition that God would command that this be done? Did the people agree with this proposal?
Exodus 18:21-23. Moreover thou shalt provide out of all the people able men, such as fear God, men of truth, hating covetousness; and place such over them, to be rulers of thousands, and rulers of hundreds, rulers of fifties, and rulers of tens: 22And let them judge the people at all seasons: and it shall be, that every great matter they shall bring unto thee, but every small matter they shall judge: so shall it be easier for thyself, and they shall bear the burden with thee. 23If thou shalt do this thing, and God command thee so, then thou shalt be able to endure, and all this people shall also go to their place in peace.
Deuteronomy 1:13, 14. Take you wise men, and understanding, and known among your tribes, and I will make them rulers over you. 14And ye answered me, and said, The thing which thou hast spoken is good for us to do.
In the days of the theocracy, when Moses was endeavoring to carry alone burdens so heavy that he would soon have worn away under them, he was counseled by Jethro to plan for a wise distribution of responsibilities. ‘Be thou for the people to Godward,’ Jethro advised, ‘that thou mayest bring the causes unto God: and thou shalt teach them ordinances and laws, and shalt show them the way wherein they must walk, and the work that they must do.’ Jethro further advised that men be appointed to act as ‘rulers of thousands, and rulers of hundreds, rulers of fifties, and rulers of tens.’ These were to be ‘able men, such as fear God, men of truth, hating covetousness.’ They were to ‘judge the people at all seasons,’ thus relieving Moses of the wearing responsibility of giving consideration to many minor matters that could be dealt with wisely by consecrated helpers….
“In harmony with this plan, ‘Moses chose able men out of all Israel, and made them heads over the people, rulers of thousands, rulers of hundreds, rulers of fifties, and rulers of tens. And they judged the people at all seasons: the hard causes they brought unto Moses, but every small matter they judged themselves.’ Exodus 18:19-26.” –The Acts of the Apostles, pp. 92-94.
5. What preparation for service were the seventy elders given? What special gift did the Lord give to those who were to share the burden of decision making and leadership fort he many people?
Numbers 11:16-18, first part. And the Lord said unto Moses, Gather unto me seventy men of the elders of Israel, whom thou knowest to be the elders of the people, and officers over them; and bring them unto the tabernacle of the congregation, that they may stand there with thee.17And I will come down and talk with thee there: and I will take of the spirit which is upon thee, and will put it upon them; and they shall bear the burden of the people with thee, that thou bear it not thyself alone. 18And say thou unto the people, Sanctify yourselves against to morrow.
“Later, when choosing seventy elders to share with him the responsibilities of leadership, Moses was careful to select, as his helpers, men possessing dignity, sound judgment, and experience. In his charge to these elders at the time of their ordination, he outlined some of the qualifications that fit a man to be a wise ruler in the church. ‘Hear the causes between your brethren,’ said Moses, ‘and judge righteously between every man and his brother, and the stranger that is with him. Ye shall not respect persons in judgment; but ye shall hear the small as well as the great; ye shall not be afraid of the face of man; for the judgment is God’s.’ Deuteronomy 1:16, 17.” –The Acts of the Apostles, p. 94.
“The setting up of the tabernacle ‘was followed by the consecration of the priests, the celebration of the Passover, the numbering of the people, and the completion of various arrangements essential to their civil or religious system, so that nearly a year was spent in the encampment at Sinai. Here their worship had taken a more definite form, the laws had been given for the government of the nation, and a more efficient organization had been effected preparatory to their entrance into the land of Canaan.”–Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 374.
Chosen judges and leaders
6. In the next period, after the nation was established in Canaan,whom did the Lord call to lead the people? What did the latter tend to do, and how did God deal with this?
Judges 2:16-19. Nevertheless the Lord raised up judges, which delivered them out of the hand of those that spoiled them.17And yet they would not hearken unto their judges, but they went a whoring after other gods, and bowed themselves unto them: they turned quickly out of the way which their fathers walked in, obeying the commandments of the Lord; but they did not so.18And when the Lord raised them up judges, then the Lord was with the judge, and delivered them out of the hand of their enemies all the days of the judge: for it repented the Lord because of their groanings by reason of them that oppressed them and vexed them.19And it came to pass, when the judge was dead, that they returned, and corrupted themselves more than their fathers, in following other gods to serve them, and to bow down unto them; they ceased not from their own doings, nor from their stubborn way.
“The government of Israel was administered in the name and by the authority of God. The work of Moses, of the seventy elders, of the rulers and judges, was simply to enforce the laws that God had given; they had no authority to legislate for the nation. This was, and continued to be, the condition of Israel’s existence as a nation. From age to age men inspired by God were sent to instruct the people and to direct in the enforcement of the laws….
“There was ever a remnant who were true to Jehovah; and from time to time the Lord raised up faithful and valiant men to put down idolatry and to deliver the Israelites from their enemies. But when the deliverer was dead, and the people were released from his authority, they would gradually return to their idols. And thus the story of backsliding and chastisement, of confession and deliverance, was repeated again and again.” –Patriarchs and Prophets, pp. 603, 545.
GOD, THE CENTER OF AUTHORITY
7. Even though dozens of men occupied executive positions, who remained the center of authority and government for the nation? How close and constant was the Lord in guiding and ruling His people?
Psalm 48:14. For this God is our God for ever and ever: he will be our guide even unto death.
Isaiah 48:17. Thus saith the Lord, thy Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel; I am the Lord thy God which teacheth thee to profit, which leadeth thee by the way that thou shouldest go.
“The government of Israel was characterized by the most thorough organization, wonderful alike for its completeness and its simplicity. The order so strikingly displayed in the perfection and arrangement of all God’s created works was manifest in the Hebrew economy. God was the center of authority and government, the sovereign of Israel. Moses stood as their visible leader, by God’s appointment, to administer the laws in His name. From the elders of the tribes a council of seventy was afterward chosen to assist Moses in the general affairs of the nation. Next came the priests, who consulted the Lord in the sanctuary. Chiefs, or princes, ruled over the tribes. Under these were ‘captains over thousands, and captains over hundreds, and captains over fifties, and captains over tens,’ and, lastly, officers who might be employed for special duties. Deuteronomy 1:15.” –Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 374.
For additional study
“From the outset of the journey from Egypt, lessons had been given for their training and discipline. Even before they left Egypt a temporary organization had been effected, and the people were arranged in companies, under appointed leaders. At Sinai the arrangements for organization were completed. The order so strikingly displayed in all the works of God was manifest in the Hebrew economy. God was the center of authority and government. Moses, as His representative, was to administer the laws in His name. Then came the council of seventy, then the priests and the princes, under these ‘captains over thousands, and captains over hundreds, and captains over fifties, and captains over tens’ (Numbers 11:16, 17; Deuteronomy 1:15), and, lastly, officers appointed for special duties. The camp was arranged in exact order, the tabernacle, the abiding place of God, in the midst, and around it the tents of the priests and the Levites. Outside of these each tribe encamped beside its own standard.” –Education, pp. 37, 38.