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What is the Pentateuch?

Greg Gilbert

The following is a transcribed Video Q&A, so the text may not read like an edited article would. Scroll to the bottom to view this video in its entirety. 

"The Pentateuch is the first five books of the Bible, and it is the heart of the Mosaic law.

When God rescued the people of Israel from slavery in Egypt, He called them out through the 10 plagues and miracles, and the splitting of the Red Sea, and Moses's leading them out of the land of Egypt, and He calls them to Mount Sinai, and they all gather around Mount Sinai. God calls Moses up to the top of the mountain, and gives him the Law that's now going to organize the lives of the people of Israel.

So Moses writes the Law down that God has given him — Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy — and what you have in the Pentateuch are several different themes that are playing throughout it. One of the major themes in the Pentateuch is that God wants His people, Israel, to be separate from the nations around them, and it just runs like a drumbeat through all five of those books. 'You will be different.' And the reason God wants them to be different is so that God Himself, Yahweh, will be seen to be different from the false gods of the nations that surround Israel. In fact, the point of it would be to show that God, Yahweh, is the only god that exists in the universe, and He wants His people to be a strong testimony to that fact.

Another thing that you find running through the Pentateuch and the Law that God gives to His people is the fact that they don't deserve to be His people. They're sinful, they're rebellious. The stories that are told in Exodus and Leviticus and Numbers are all about how the Israelites grumble against God, and how they rebel against Him in various ways, and you just get the sense that, wow, why is God choosing this grumbling people to be His own? And so you start to wonder, how is this going to happen?

Well, that's where all the sacrifices begin to come in, because God teaches His people, especially in the book of Leviticus and Deuteronomy, and some other places also, He teaches them that the only way they can be in their presence is for someone or something in the Law to die in their place. Because for their sin and rebellion and grumbling, what they deserve is to be killed. God should kill them, and yet in His grace and in His mercy, he tells them, 'Look, I'm not going to kill you. Instead of killing you, I'm going to allow you to kill an animal, a lamb or a bull or a goat, and that goat or bull or lamb is going to die in your place for your sins. Every year, we'll do this to remind you of this.' And of course, that whole sacrificial system is pointing forward to the Lamb of God who would die for the sins of the world 2,000 years later, Jesus Christ. He would fulfill everything that the Law was trying to teach the people of Israel. So that's what I think the Pentateuch is finally about."

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