When you visit the Iraqi museum, you come across some of the ancient Sumerian deities. These were excavated at the ancient site of Eshnunna in ancient Mesopotamia.
Like most ancient civilizations, they too had law codes.
In the same museum you have a replica of the statue of Hammurabi. He worships the sun god Shamash. His actions express the words: kiri shu men. It means “Oh Shamash I worship you with my right hand, symbol of my strength, (shu)
I will worship you as long as I have breath (kiri). The word “men” is the verb for movement of the right hand to the nose.
Kiri shu men. The expression eye for eye appears in one of 284 laws
Come with me to the ziggurat at Ur. It was erected by king Ur-Nammu. He also wrote a law code.
It is on display in the Istanbul Museum.
The last law code comes from Lagash. It was written by king Urukagina a usurper who introduced the very first law code. It is the nearest to the law of God which was codified at Sinai. He also introduced the word “amargi” freedom because obedience leads to freedom.
Here at the traditional Mount Sinai God verbalized His holy law and afterwards codified it, wrote it on stone, (Sapphira).
What is one of the big differences between the ten commandments and the ancient law codes?
The application of the lex talionis (punishment is determined by the offence). When one of the rulers transgressed the law, they could redeem the death penalty by payment. Common people were punished by death.
But when you read chapters 20 to 23 of the book of Exodus you notice that in contrast to Sumerian laws, the law of God protected
Whereas the laws protected the ruler class in the ancient law code, the law of God protects the vulnerable, the poorer class, the slaves.
Not in a single instance is the concept of covetousness mentioned in ancient law codes. The emphasis is exclusively on the punishment of the deed.
The law of God goes to the heart of the problem which is covetousness. Before you steal, murder or commit adultery there was a prior process going on in the brain. This fact makes the law of God unique.
The focus of the law of God is on love. Love for God and love for people.
When Joshua crossed the Jordan, before conquering Canaan, he led the twelve tribes to the valley between two mountains. Six of the tribes were placed on Mount Gerizim and six on Mount Ebal.
Deuteronomy 27:4 Therefore it shall be, when you have crossed over the Jordan, that on Mount Ebal you shall set up these stones, which I command you today, and you shall whitewash them with lime.
Deuteronomy 27:5 And there you shall build an altar to the LORD your God, an altar of stones; you shall not use an iron tool on them.
What was the message of the altar?
Deuteronomy 27:6 You shall build with whole stones the altar of the LORD your God, and offer burnt offerings on it to the LORD your God.
Deuteronomy 27:7 You shall offer peace offerings, and shall eat there, and rejoice before the LORD your God.
Deuteronomy 27:8 And you shall write very plainly on the stones all the words of this law.”
When you visit the ancient ruins of Tel Balata at modern Nablus you get a good view of Mount Ebal.
Whenever I visit here, I am reminded of our loving caring saving God. Right here God warned Israel of the consequences of disobedience.
Deuteronomy 27:26 “Cursed is anyone who does not uphold the words of this law by carrying them out.” Then all the people shall say, “Amen!”
And after pointing out the price to pay for breaking God’s golden rules of happiness, the blessings of keeping them followed.
Deuteronomy 28:1 If you fully obey the LORD your God and carefully follow all his commands I give you today, the LORD your God will set you high above all the nations on earth.
Deuteronomy 28:2 All these blessings will come on you and accompany you if you obey the LORD your God:
I told my daughter when we visited Mount Gerizim that this was the first Mount of Blessings. Obedience holds untold blessings in her bosom.
JESUS AND THE SECOND MOUNT OF BLESSINGS
We are going to listen to the most important sermon ever preached in history that wonderful spring morning.
He is going to rephrase and repeat the same law that He pronounced on Sinai.
And at the end of His mission of love die on another hill, called Calvary.
On this other hill He made the most important statement which fills every fallen sinner with hope a
THOUGHTS FROM THE MOUNT OF BLESSING
I have this pearl of a book in my library. One of the most reliable sources I have used in my research on this topic. Let me share the few words on the preface:
The Sermon on the Mount is Heaven’s benediction to the world—a voice from the throne of God.
The very first line stirred my soul. I desperately need heaven’s benediction.
It was given to mankind to be to them the law of duty and the light of heaven, their hope and consolation in despondency, their joy and comfort in all the vicissitudes and walks of life. Here the Prince of preachers, the Master Teacher, utters the words that the Father gave Him to speak.
The Beatitudes are Christ’s greeting, not only to those who believe, but to the whole human family. He seems to have forgotten for a moment that He is in the world, not in heaven; and He uses the familiar salutation of the world of light. Blessings flow from His lips as the gushing forth of a long-sealed current of rich life.
Christ leaves us in no doubt as to the traits of character that He will always recognize and bless. From the ambitious favourites of the world, He turns to those whom they disown, pronouncing all blessed who receive His light and life. To the poor in spirit, the meek, the lowly, the sorrowful, the despised, the persecuted, He opens His arms of refuge, saying, “Come unto Me, … and I will give you rest.”
Christ can look upon the misery of the world without a shade of sorrow for having created man. In the human heart He sees more than sin, more than misery. In His infinite wisdom and love He sees man’s possibilities, the height to which he may attain. He knows that, even though human beings have abused their mercies and destroyed their God-given dignity, yet the Creator is to be glorified in their redemption.
Throughout all time the words that Christ spoke from the mount of Beatitudes will retain their power. Every sentence is a jewel from the treasure house of truth. The principles enunciated in this discourse are for all ages and for all classes of men. With divine energy, Christ expressed His faith and hope as He pointed out class after class as blessed because of having formed righteous characters. Living the life of the Life-giver, through faith in Him, everyone can reach the standard held up in His words.
I am looking forward to new spiritual heights as we study to words of God that He gave to Jesus to share with us.
I pray that the Holy Spirit would convince us of our weaknesses and empower us to become overcomers.