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“The Place” – Five Big Promises God Made at Mt. Sinai

Mt. Sinai is famed as the location where God gave the 10 Commandments to Moses. What many may not realize is that God also made five big promises at Mt. Sinai about “the place” that were key to the Israelites’ destiny and building blocks to the future Messiah.

The place – what were these five promises?  God promised to lead the Israelites to the land He promised to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob as the place for their descendants to possess; the place to establish a kingdom; the permanent place for His Name to dwell; the exclusive place for Israel to observe the Passover; and the place for the Judgement Seat of Israel.[1]

God just didn’t say exactly where the place would be. Great faith in these promises was required for a fledgling nation of people who had just fled the only life they had ever known – slavery in Egypt. 

Moving to the place seemed like an impossible task, especially for a ragtag nation of former slaves without a military. Doubts and lack of faith by the Exodus generation would cost them from seeing God’s promised land.[2]

Spies on a recon mission found the land of Canaan to be occupied by many enemies with their kings and militaries. Everywhere they would trek, the local inhabitants would go to war to defend their lands to keep out the Israelites.

Enemy nations had a king with a Seat of the Throne for their kingdom, the monarchy’s base of power, in a fortified city protected by a military. An Israelite kingdom would require a king with dominion over a land with boundaries, but the wandering Hebrews were a people isolated in the desert wilderness without a king or even a country. If there was no king, no land, and no fortified city for the Throne, how could there be a kingdom?

A permanent place for the Name of God to dwell required a temple to replace the temporary Tabernacle tent with its Most Holy chamber. Fundamental to a theocracy, this temple had to be located near the Throne in the nation’s capital protected against heathen enemies.

According to the Law, the Passover was to be celebrated at its appointed time requiring sacrifices to be offered by the priests of God at a central permanent place of worship. This temple would need enough open space to accommodate tens of thousands of people and priests who would attend the annual Passover to offer sacrifices.

To be the Judgement Seat of Israel meant the most important and most complicated cases of the nation were to be judged in finality in the place God chose. For a theocratic government, it had to be located in close proximity to both the Throne and its temple.[3]

None of these promises seemed like even the remotest reality to the Israelites who, after 400 years, were starting from scratch after escaping from under the harsh rule of Pharaoh. Yet, against all odds over the coming centuries, these five prophetic promises did become a reality.

Israel conquered its enemies and took possession of the land promised by God to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob where each of the 12 tribes of the sons of Israel were allotted their own land. Their formidable military protected the nation even before the establishment of a kingdom.

A king, the most famous in Hebrew history, born in Bethlehem in the lineage of Judah, fulfilled the royal prophetic blessing of Judah by his own father, Israel. This giant slayer, King David, conquered and occupied the fortified city of Jebus or Salem, soon thereafter called Jerusalem. The city became the Seat of the Throne of David reigning over the kingdom of Israel.

King Solomon, son of David, built the  the Temple on Mt. Moriah still known to this day as Solomon’s Temple. Its Western Wall remnants have become a most holy place in Israel today.[4] This new Temple was consecrated and blessed by Solomon where the first sacrifices offered on its permanent alter were burned by fire sent down from heaven.[5]

The Passover was observed at its appointed time at the Temple where the sacrifices were offered by the priests of God.[6]Annual pilgrimages to the Passover would resume after the Babylonian captivity at the rebuilt Second Temple until Jerusalem was destroyed by Rome.

Lastly, the capital city of Jerusalem became the Judgement Seat of Israel where both civil and criminal cases were decided. In a theocratic government, God’s Law served both as the civil and criminal code.

Civil cases, initially decided by the famed wisdom of Solomon on the porch of the King’s palace, were judged in the Hall of Judgement.[7] Criminal cases involving the highest level of offenses, including capital death cases, were tried in the Chamber of Hewn Stone [8] The Chamber or Hall was built into the northern wall of the Temple which also served as the meeting place for the 70 elders of Israel, later to become known as the Great Sanhedrin.[9]

God’s five big promises at Mount Sinai laid the ground work for the place and subsequent more specific Messiah prophecies. Over the coming centuries prophets Isaiah, Zechariah, Jeremiah and Micah would reveal prophecies announcing details about the Messiah who would come from the House of David .[10]

Isaiah’s prophecy of “My Servant” described a cruel sacrificial-type judgement resulting in a death verdict which, during the period of the Second Temple, could only be rendered in the Judgement Seat of Israel, Jerusalem.[11] Jeremiah and Zechariah each issued two prophecies foretelling the Messiah would come from the Branch of David.

Zechariah prophesied God would comfort the descendants of David in the city of Jerusalem as they mourned over the death of the one whom they had pierced, the depth of mourning as deep as for the death of a first born only son.[12]

Complete fulfillment of all five big promises made by God at Mt. Sinai about “the place” fulfilled the prophetic promises made to Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and Judah as well as set the stage for the Messiah. What are the odds it was all just an extraordinary coincidence? [13]

 

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REFERENCES:
[1] Genesis 17, 22, 35, 49; Exodus 23, 33; Deuteronomy 12, 16, 17.
[2]  Numbers 14.
[3] Exodus 18; Deuteronomy 1, 17, 19; Numbers 11.
[4] 1 Kings 6; 2 Chronicles 3.
[5] I Chronicles 6; Leviticus 9; Nehemiah 11.
[6] II Chronicles 8.
[7] 1 Kings 3, 4, 7.
[8]  Schoenberg, Shira. “Ancient Jewish History: The Sanhedrin.” 2017.  <http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/the-sanhedrin>   Shachter, J. and Freedman, H.  “ Sanhedrin.”
[9] Exodus 18; Deuteronomy 1, 17; Numbers 11; I Chronicles 19.  Shachter and Freedman.  “Introduction to Sanhedrin.”  Soncino Babylonian Talmud. <https://israelect.com/Come-and-Hear/sanhedrin/index.html>  Ariel, Yisrael. “The Chamber of the Hewn Stone.” The Temple Institute.  2014.  <https://www.templeinstitute.org/illustrated/hewn_stone_description.htm>  Ariel, Yisrael. “Blueprints for the Holy Temple.”  <http://www.templeinstitute.org/blueprints-for-the-holy-temple.htm>[10] Isaiah 7, 9; 11; Jeremiah 23, 33; Zechariah 3, 6, 12.
[11] Isaiah 52-53. Sanhedrin 16a, 17a. Shachter, J. and Freedman, H.  “Sanhedrin.” Josephus.  Antiquities. Book IV, Chapter VIII.14; Book XX, Chapter IX.4.  “Ancient Jewish History: The Beit Din.” Jewish Virtual Library. 2017.http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/the-beit-din>
[12] Zechariah 12.
[13] 2 Chronicles 6.

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