If your faith is in Christ, and your failures lead you to struggle at times with doubt, fear, and worry over your salvation, this Bible study will encourage you. God was very clear, He did not save and set the Jews free from Pharaoh, Egypt, slavery, and captivity, and bless them with the promised land, because of their righteousness, their lack of sin. The possession of their salvation and the promised land were based on God's promise to Abraham and their trust and belief in God's Word. These same truths revealed to the Jews apply to us today.
Many people miss the fact that in the Exodus, Moses and the Jews were saved before they received the Ten Commandments. They were set free from Pharaoh, slavery, and Egypt (a picture of our salvation) by the blood of the lamb placed on the doorposts in Egypt. After the death of the firstborn male in each Egyptian home, Pharaoh's fear of God loaded the Jews up with treasure and rushed them out of the land into freedom. The Passover lamb's blood on the doorposts, is one of many pictures in the Old Testament of the blood of Christ shed for the sins of the world.
By faith he kept the Passover and the sprinkling of blood, so that the destroyer of the firstborn would not touch Israel's own firstborn. Heb 11:28 BSB
The Jews had a choice to believe God's clear instructions and use the little bit of faith it took to place the blood on the doorposts, thus allowing God to save them. The other option was unbelief, which would have resulted in disaster for their family, no matter how good, righteous or loving they appeared to be. Those who applied the blood as directed had another choice to make that night. We have the same decision to make after trusting Christ. After applying the blood, the Jews could simply trust God like a child and sleep in peace or spend the night awake, in doubt, fear and worry, as many probably did. No matter which choice they made, both families were saved. This shows us clearly that it was not about a person's perfect faith; it only took a little bit of faith to apply the blood. It was God and the blood that saved, not the degree of a person's faith or their lack of sin, doubt, worry, and fear. The blood on the doorposts said, do not enter to the angel of death. Likewise, if we have chosen to believe God's explicit instruction and place the blood of Christ on our life, we are saved. We now make a choice to keep the big picture in mind and live in faith, peace, and joy as God desires for us, or to believe the enemies lies and live in doubt, fear and worry. Either way, we are saved because of our faith in Jesus and what He has accomplished. From the beginning, it has always been the Lord's righteousness alone that saves, not ours, and not a combination of the two.
No weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper; and every tongue that shall rise against thee in judgment thou shalt condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the LORD, and their righteousness is of me, saith the LORD. Isa 54:17 KJV
But didn't the Jews sin keep them out of the Promised Land? The answer is yes, and no. If you are thinking about their many outward sins like lying, stealing, adultery, grumbling, complaining, worrying, looking back, double-mindedness, fear, gossip, sexual sin, idol worship, and any other sin they may have committed, the answer is no. God wants us to love one another and to not sin against each other, but these are not why He let the Jews die in the wilderness. I thought that myself at one time based on a misunderstanding of the following:
Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one will fall by following the same pattern of disobedience. For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it pierces even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow. It judges the thoughts and intentions of the heart. Nothing in all creation is hidden from God's sight; everything is uncovered and exposed before the eyes of Him to whom we must give account. Heb 4:11-13 BSB
Some try to use these verses to say that the Jews did not get into the promised land due to their sins, lack of practical righteousness. Then they add, if we do not add our practical righteousness (law-keeping and good deeds) to God's righteousness, we won't get into heaven. In other words, Jesus did a lot of the work, but we must add to what He has done or maintain our salvation by law-keeping and good works to fully qualify. This claim is fully discredited by Scripture we will read, and we know for certain, Moses, who did not get into the promised land on earth, is in heaven.
Giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified us to share in the inheritance of the saints in Light. Col 1:12 ESV
The Jews Were Not Saved or Given the Promised Land Due to Their Righteousness
After they were free, God gave the law to the Jews and they swore they would keep it.
And all the people answered together, “We will do everything that the LORD has spoken.” So Moses brought their words back to the LORD. Exd 19:8 BSB
Then he took the Book of the Covenant and read it to the people, who replied, “All that the LORD has spoken we will do, and we will be obedient.” Exd 24:7 BSB
Then God led them to the edge of the promised land, Ten Commandments in hand. There, God clearly conveyed His message to the Jews, the fulfillment of His promise would NOT be based on their practical righteousness (law-keeping, good works). This was true then, and it is true for us today. He confirmed this three times in Deuteronomy 9:4-6, so we would never misunderstand. God keeps His promises based on His righteousness and faithfulness to His Word, His Son. The land was being given to the Jews to fulfill His age-old promise to Abraham. An inheritance that we step into when we place our faith and trust in Jesus. This land was available because of the wickedness of the current tenants, not because the Jews were sinless. As a matter of fact, we know for certain from Scripture that this large group of Jews were quite sinful. But God's righteousness was still giving them the promised land as part of the promised inheritance. This land would be theirs because God had given the current occupants many years to repent, change their mind, but they refused. Now, He was evicting them and letting the Jews freely move into this abundant, fruitful, and built out land, even though the Jews own righteousness, like ours, resembled filthy rags. These verses leave no doubt that God did not require the Jews to display practical righteousness to inherit the promised land.
(1) "Do not say in your heart when the LORD your God has driven them out before you, 'Because of my righteousness the LORD has brought me in to possess this land,' but it is because of the wickedness of these nations that the LORD is dispossessing them before you. Deut 9:4 NAS
(2) "It is not for your righteousness or for the uprightness of your heart that you are going to possess their land, but it is because of the wickedness of these nations that the LORD your God is driving them out before you, in order to confirm the oath which the LORD swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Deut 9:5 NAS
(3) "Know, then, it is not because of your righteousness that the LORD your God is giving you this good land to possess, for you are a stubborn people. Deut 9:6 NAS
The above verses are excellent news for us. They show us clearly that God's righteousness is on a mission of pure rescue and recompense for humanity's years in slavery and captivity, not a mission to see if man could qualify for salvation under grace. The truth is, the only sin that let the Jews die in the wilderness was their unbelief, and it is the only sin that will keep a person from salvation, eternal life, and participation in the great inheritance. The Jews refused to mix faith with what they heard, believe God, and go into the promised land (Numbers 14). Their failure to believe, let the enemy possess the promised land for 40 more years. The land was right across the river and they had seen God do miracle after miracle, but these stiff-necked people adamantly refused to accept the great blessing God wanted to give them. Their unbelief proved they feared the men that would greet them in the wilderness more than they feared God. They even wanted to stone Joshua and Caleb when they argued for trusting God and going into the land. The fear of man over God is the biggest of sins, worship of man over God or idol worship always leads humanity astray into disaster then and now. But God still did not wipe them off the map. He let them have what they wanted, to stay in their comfort zone and die in the wilderness.
For who provoked Him when they had heard? Indeed, did not all those who came out of Egypt led by Moses? And with whom was He angry for forty years? Was it not with those who sinned, whose bodies fell in the wilderness? And to whom did He swear that they would not enter His rest, but to those who were disobedient? So we see that they were not able to enter because of unbelief. Heb 3:16-19 NAS
The land was part of an inheritance based on the unfolding of God's promise to Abraham and his decedents over 430 years before. It was also based on His love for the Jews who had been unjustly kept in captivity and slavery for 400 years, not having a home. The land was a promise to Abraham, an inheritance. During their 400 years in slavery, they had built most of Egypt for wicked Pharaoh, their slave driver, and picture of Satan. First, God, let them take great wealth from the Egyptians as a partial recompense.
Furthermore, the Israelites acted on Moses' word and asked the Egyptians for articles of silver and gold, and for clothing. And the LORD gave the people such favor in the sight of the Egyptians that they granted their request. In this way they plundered the Egyptians. Exodus 12:35-36 BSB
Next, God was offering the Jews a move-in ready, built out, fully furnished, and fruitful land. God's faithfulness was fulfilling His promise to Abraham as His righteousness was righting injustice, saving and recompensing the Jews back for all the lost years in Egypt.
Esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt: for he had respect unto the recompence of the reward. Heb 11:26 KJV
The story of Exodus is true, but it is also a snapshot of the big picture. The big picture is Satan's deception that stole the dominion of this world from humanity, bringing unrighteousness and unjust rule along with sin, suffering, pain, and death. This is the full unrighteousness that God's righteousness has had complete victory over in Christ. Followers of Christ will be part of the great inheritance and repayment in the eternal promised land. The promised land offered to the Jews in this world is only a shadow of the actual reality.
Cast not away therefore your confidence, which hath great recompence of reward. Heb 10:35 KJV
And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him. Heb 11:6 NAS
The most important thing to rest in within these verses is God's faithfulness to His Word that continues for us today. God is faithful, and His righteousness is what brought the Jews who believed, justice with Pharaoh. God's righteousness always seeks to right the wrong, here or in eternity. God's righteousness is doing the same for us today.
God presented Him as the atoning sacrifice through faith in His blood, in order to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance He had passed over the sins committed beforehand. He did this to demonstrate His righteousness at the present time, so as to be just and to justify the one who has faith in Jesus. Rom 3:25-26 BSB
Picture a Jewish baby born into unjust captivity and slavery in fallen Egypt. Your conscience tells you that this is unjust and unfair. That is a picture of you, born into captivity and slavery in a fallen world, inheriting a sin nature from Adam. A sin nature that leads us to sin. You were made a sinner, born into a fallen world and inherited bondage, slavery, and death.
For as through the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, even so through the obedience of the One the many will be made righteous. Rom 5:19 NASB
Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man (Adam), and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned— for sin indeed was in the world before the law was given, but sin is not counted where there is no law. Yet death reigned (because of Adams one act of disobedience) from Adam to Moses, even over those whose sinning was not like the transgression of Adam, who was a type of the one who was to come. Rom 5:12-14
This is the unrighteousness, the injustice, that God's righteousness has defeated. His righteousness seeks to set us free from captivity.
"Here is My servant, whom I have chosen, My beloved, in whom My soul delights. I will put My Spirit on Him, and He will proclaim justice to the nations. Matt 12:18 BSB
"The Spirit of the Lord is on Me, because He has anointed Me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent Me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor." Luke 4:18-19 BSB
This is what the LORD says: “In the time of favor I will answer You, and in the day of salvation I will help You; I will keep You and appoint You to be a covenant for the people, to restore the land, to apportion its desolate inheritances, to say to the prisoners, ‘Come out,’ and to those in darkness, ‘Show yourselves.’ They will feed along the pathways, and find pasture on every barren hill. They will not hunger or thirst, nor will the scorching heat or sun beat down on them. For He who has compassion on them will guide them -and lead them beside springs of water. Isa 49:8-10 BSB
During our lives here, we do not even realize how much our captivity, and our inherited sin nature, loss, unfairness, destruction, injustice, and death, steal from us. Satan only works to try and fulfill his agenda, appeasing us with vain amusements and using us as expendable slaves. God's righteousness sent Jesus to make things right for us, and as heirs in Christ, we are assured the fruits of His great victory.
Rather, as it is written: "No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no heart has imagined, what God has prepared for those who love Him." 1 Cor 2:9 BSB
Only God could rescue the Jews from captivity, and only God can save us and make our unjust situation, right. This is God's word for us today, believe, place your faith in Jesus as Lord and Savior. This is how a person is born-again in the Spirit and made right with God. In Christ, we are then descendants of Abraham and heirs of the promise by faith.
For all who rely on works of the law are under a curse; for it is written, "Cursed be everyone who does not abide by all things written in the Book of the Law, and do them." Now it is evident that no one is justified before God by the law, for "The righteous shall live by faith." But the law is not of faith, rather "The one who does them shall live by them." Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us—for it is written, "Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree"— so that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we might receive the promised Spirit through faith. Gal 3:10-14 ESV
And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham's seed and heirs according to the promise. Gal 3:29 BSB
Even Jews Must Be Born-Again
Jesus was clear that not even the Jews could rely on their birth as Jews for this magnificent inheritance. They, too, must come under Christ to be children of the promise. This is evident by the words of Jesus, who stated He was sent to the Jews. The majority of the Apostles were also sent to the Jews to preach the gospel. All called and pleaded with the Jews to believe in Jesus as the Messiah so that they could be saved. Paul even stated he would give up his salvation to save the Jews if possible. They told the Jews to not rely on being born of the flesh as a Jew as a way to Abraham's promise.
It is not as though God's word has failed. For not all who are descended from Israel are Israel. Nor because they are Abraham's descendants are they all his children. On the contrary, "Through Isaac your offspring will be reckoned." So it is not the children of the flesh who are God's children, but it is the children of the promise who are regarded as offspring. Rom 9:6-8 BSB
In speaking to Nicodemus, a Jewish leader, Jesus spoke the most well-known Bible verse, instructing him how he could be born-again of the Spirit and be saved.
For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that everyone who believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16 BSB
Eleven of the Twelve Apostles to Jesus were Jews. They witnessed the resurrected Christ and left the Jewish faith they had been taught was the only way to God. They were still Jews by heritage and proud of it, but the resurrection of Jesus led them to know that Jesus was the long-awaited and prophesied Messiah. They placed their faith in Christ and were born-again of the Spirit to guarantee their great inheritance.
And do not presume to say to yourselves,' We have Abraham as our father.' For I tell you that out of these stones God can raise up children for Abraham. Matt 3:9 BSB
Jew and Gentile Followers of Christ Can Rest in The Great Assurance of God's Promise to Abraham
Seeing God's promise to Abraham as it starts to unfold in the life of the Jews of old, should greatly encourage us as believers. The covenant established by God with Abraham and His seed (Jesus) is not dead. God's faithfulness to His Word never ends. Those born by faith under Christ, are Jesus seed and under the same promise. We can rest in the knowledge that NOTHING can stop God's promised inheritance from fully unfolding for all who trust Christ.
Brothers, let me put this in human terms. Even a human covenant, once it is ratified, cannot be canceled or amended. The promises were spoken to Abraham and to his seed. The Scripture does not say, "and to seeds," meaning many, but "and to your seed," meaning One, who is Christ. What I mean is this: The law that came 430 years later does not revoke the covenant previously established by God, so as to cancel the promise. For if the inheritance depends on the law, then it no longer depends on a promise; but God freely granted it to Abraham through a promise. Gal 3:15-18 BSB
Read Hebrews 4 in full here where it explains that the Jews promised land was a picture of the Sabbath rest we can enter today in Christ. Jesus is the real Sabbath that we see pictured in the Bible. It is where we rest from our works to try and be right with God, resting instead in His finished work as God's promise is fulfilled before us. The only thing that can keep a person out is unbelief in Christ, a refusal to go in.
The Ten Commandments/Ten Words
The Ten Commandments, or Ten Words as they were called in Hebrew, were NEVER given to the Jews to make them right with God. And they were NEVER given at all to the Gentiles who lived outside the law.
Is the law, then, opposed to the promises of God? Certainly not! For if a law had been given that could impart life, then righteousness would certainly have come from the law. But the Scripture pronounces all things confined by sin, so that by faith in Jesus Christ the promise might be given to those who believe. Gal 3:21-22 BSB
Righteousness had already been revealed as coming by faith alone in the life of Abraham. The law was given to the Jews because God knew what was in man, a fallen nature inherited from Adam. The law was never given to make them righteous but because God knew the unrighteousness that dwelt in their flesh from Adam.
But now, apart from the law, the righteousness of God has been revealed, as attested by the Law and the Prophets. And this righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no distinction, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus. Rom 3:21-23 BSB
We know for certain the Ten Commandments were given to the Jews out of love, based on Rom 13:8-10. These verses tell us that the only thing that fulfills any of God's laws is love. This tells us the Spirit, the reason and purpose for God authoring all of His laws, is love. Love is much higher than the written law and what God has written on the tablet of our hearts. If we love our neighbor, we will not hurt them. If we love God, we will listen, follow, and obey His good instruction, never being led astray.
The written law was a shadow of the true reality (Heb 10:2). Just think of what the shadow of love would look like. How about, do not murder, do not steal, do not commit adultery, and the other moral laws? That is loves shadow, but not its totality. The letter of the law was given out of love to protect and guide the millions of Jews who had been in captivity all their lives and did not know how to live as free people in the wilderness. The laws given covered everything from morality (Ten Commandments) to hygiene. We know from Moses's experience with killing an Egyptian and running from Pharaoh, that Egypt had laws with consequences. Even the Egyptians laws had helped keep the Jews in slavery alive and from committing sins against Egyptians and one another. Now, God's laws were given to the Jews, not to place them under bondage again, but as a foundation for order in their large rebellious group that was on its own. God was shepherding the Jews in a special way to bring forth the promised Savior into the world. Ultimately the law would become the mirror that would reveal the Jews and our need for the Savior.
Before this faith came, we were held in custody under the law, locked up until faith should be revealed. So the law became our guardian to lead us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith. Now that faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian. You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham's seed and heirs according to the promise. Gal 3:23-29 BSB
What the Pharisee's and We Can Get Wrong With the Law
The Jewish religious leaders were sincere and zealous but deceived by the enemy. They worshiped the law and themselves instead of God, presenting their interpretation of the law as the path to righteousness before God. In their hearts, they knew they could not keep God's standard, but just like unbelieving Rabbis today, they rationalize that they are doing their best, and God will be happy with their best. No human was doing better in the Pharisee's eyes, which led them to see themselves as God's standard of righteousness for others. As long as they could find others with more visible sins, they deemed themselves good enough. It was their comparison of themselves to others and not God's perfection that led to their fall. Even the best law-keeping Christians can step into the same trap, by comparing their ability to keep the law to that of others.
We do not dare to classify or compare ourselves with some who commend themselves. When they measure themselves by themselves and compare themselves with themselves, they show their ignorance. 2 Cor 10:12 BSB
This comparison is what left the Pharisee's blind to God's true standard of righteousness, God Himself — worshipping the law and themselves as they did allowed sin to become their master instead of God. This resulted in hypocrisy, judgment, and condemnation of others, and zero love for the lost. Their self-righteousness violated the Spirit of all of God's laws (love) and broke Jesus' heart.
For sin shall not be your master, because you are not under law, but under grace. Rom 6:14 BSB
Dead in their own sins and too blind to see it, they were using the law to scatter (as we can do today in error) instead of as protection and a guide to the Savior. They even used the law to kill the Author of the law (John 19:7). They were deceived, ignoring that the Spirit of all of God's commandments is love, the sole reason God gave the law in the first place (Rom 13:8-10, Gal 5:14).
Paul, a Jew himself, had a huge heart for the Jews and wanted them saved. They had a zeal for God without knowledge of the truth. All they had to do was believe and by faith place the blood of Christ on their life. Many Jews of Jesus day did trust Him as Savior, but many refused.
Brethren, my heart's desire and my prayer to God for them is for their salvation. For I testify about them that they have a zeal for God, but not in accordance with knowledge. For not knowing about God's righteousness and seeking to establish their own, they did not subject themselves to the righteousness of God. For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes. Rom 10:1-4 NAS
The Exodus, A Picture of Our Journey of Faith Today
In recapping our study, I believe it is powerful to realize that the Jews were saved by grace before they were given the law. Then after being given the Ten Commandments, they vowed they could do it all and failed miserably. But God's righteousness and faithfulness to His promise to Abraham, still takes the sin-laden Jews to the edge of the promised land. Not even their sin could not stop God's intent, to bless them and give them the land. Then, before they go in, He makes one thing abundantly clear by stating it three times in Deuteronomy 9:4-6: "Know, then, it is not because of your righteousness that the LORD your God is giving you this good land to possess."
The Jews did not go in because they refused to believe and trust God had made a way. Today, the same thing is true. No one is prevented from getting into heaven because of their innumerable number of sins. They do not get into heaven because they refuse to believe and trust the only way possible.
Jesus said to him, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me. John 14:6
The Jews' journey confirms what many other scriptures also state. We are not saved by the law or grace plus the law. We are saved by grace through faith alone. God's righteousness and faithfulness guarantees that heaven and a renewed earth are our future, not even our sin can get in the way of God's blessings in Christ. God wants us to understand the same truth He revealed to the Jews:
"Know, then, it is not because of your righteousness that the LORD your God is giving you this good land to possess, for you are a stubborn people. Deut 9:6 NAS
Did God want the Jews to sin? Absolutely not. Does God want us to sin? Absolutely not. But God has called us to a much higher standard than the letter of the law. He wants us to walk by the Spirit of the law. The Spirit of God's law is precisely why the letter was written. The Spirit embodies His full intent and reason for writing the law. As previously stated, the Spirit of all of God's commandments is LOVE (Rom 13:8-10, Gal 5:14). LOVE it is the only thing that can fulfill the law and please God. Love God and love others is what God has called us to do. If we do that, we will do good.
The key to stopping sin in our life is found in realizing that God knows everything about us, past, present, and future, and still love us deeply. He will never leave us or forsake us and has forgiven us completely. Get your heart established in His great love for you, and His love will transform your life. Love changes us from the inside out.
Faith Has Always Been the Only Way to God's Heart
Long before the law was given and to this very day, faith has always been the only way for humanity, born with an inherited fallen nature, to be righteous before God. Abram, who God later renamed Abraham, discovered this truth, righteousness only comes by faith and not through works. He is called the father of righteousness in the Bible, and he lived long before the Ten Commandments were given.
Abram believed the LORD, and it was credited to him as righteousness. Gen 15:6 BSB
What then shall we say that Abraham, our forefather, has discovered? If Abraham was indeed justified by works, he had something to boast about, but not before God. For what does the Scripture say? "Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness." Rom 4:1-3 BSB
For it was not through the Law that Abraham and his descendants were promised that he would be heir of the world, but through the righteousness that comes by faith. Rom 4:13 BSB
Noah, who lived long before the law was given, discovered this same truth.
By faith Noah, when warned about things not yet seen, in godly fear built an ark to save his family. By faith he condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness that comes by faith. Heb 11:7 BSB
Now since we are under grace and no longer the letter of the law as followers of Christ (Rom 6:14), should we sin? No. Just like with the Jews who left Egypt, God wants us to love Him and one another amid this fallen world. If we love our neighbor, we will not sin against them; no letter of the law needed. It would be foolish for us to think that anything less than the Royal Law of Love is what God has written on our hearts.
Jesus replied, "'You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments." Matt 22:37-40 NLT
Jesus' righteous victory is available to whosoever will believe. Do you believe?
Technically it was not the Jews who were set free from Egypt, it was the Israelites. But the coming Jewish nation was made up of Israelites. Because this article spans the time when the title changed, and this article is not addressing this issue, I am using the title of Jew all the way through the article. I believe this study is very clear for any reader and the central truth in this study remains the same. If you would like to research when the Israelites were first considered a Jewish nation, that would be a seperate study that the reader can can conduct on their own.
Many more New Covenant Bible Studies HERE. Jesus poured out His blood for the New Covenant of grace and truth, replacing the Old Covenant law of Moses. Believers are exclusively under the New Covenant, the last will and testament of Jesus that began after the cross.
And in the same way He took the cup after they had eaten, saying, "This cup which is poured out for you is the new covenant in My blood. Luke 22:20