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17
OLD TESTAMENT TIMES

Sea, Moses' leadership had only begun. He instituted an organization of the people for relieving himself of his heavy duties as judge. He determined the line of march, and sustained the spirits of the fighting men in their struggle against the tribes of the desert who challenged Israel's passage.

But, above all, Moses became the "mediator" of the "covenant," Heb. 9 : 19-21, between the Hebrews and Jehovah their God at Mount Sinai. On the basis of the Ten Commandments, Ex. 20 :2-17; Deut. 5 :6-21, that guide to God's nature and will which formed the Hebrew constitution, the people agreed to worship and obey Jehovah alone, and Jehovah promised to be their God, fulfilling to them his promises made to their fathers. By solemn sacrifices, according to the custom of the time, when the symbolism of altar and priesthood was well understood, this covenant was sealed.

Exodus, Chapter 25 to Numbers, Chapter 36

After long seclusion on the mount alone with God, Moses ordered the erection of a house of worship. It had to be portable, so as to accompany them in their wanderings and express visibly, wherever set up, the religious unity of the twelve tribes. Aaron and his sons were consecrated to be the official priesthood of this new shrine and were clothed and instructed accordingly. Minute details regulated all sacrifices, and similar minute instructions enabled the priests to decide questions of ceremonial cleanness and uncleanness in matters of food and health.

All these laws and regulations, mainly recorded in Leviticus, were given through Moses, either alone or in association with his brother. It is not surprising to learn that there were those who challenged this exclusive leadership in every department of the national life. We read of a willful disregard of divine orders even in the family of Aaron, with immediate fatal results. Lev. 10 : 1-7. Like punishment overtook those members of the tribe of Levi who showed jealousy of the house of Aaron, and those elements in other tribes that claimed rights equal or superior to those of Moses. Num., chs. 16, 17. It would be strange, indeed, if God, who had vindicated his servant Moses against Pharaoh, should let his own authority as represented by Moses be challenged within the camp of Israel. He punished to save.

Just as God took up the Sabbath and circumcision, old customs of the preceding era, into the law of Israel, so also he spoke to this people through an elaborate system of feasts and pilgrimages, which bound