True Education


Chapter 5—The Education of Israel

The system of education established in Eden centered in the family. Adam was “the son of God” (Luke 3:38), and it was from their Father that the children of the Highest received instruction. Theirs, in the truest sense, was a family school. TEd 23.1

In the divine plan of education as adapted to humanity’s condition after the Fall, Christ stands as the representative of the Father, the connecting link between God and the fallen race. He ordained that men and women should be His representatives. The family was the school, the parents were the teachers. TEd 23.2

The education centering in the family was that which prevailed in the days of the patriarchs. The people who were under God’s direction still pursued the plan of life that He had appointed in the beginning. Those who departed from God built for themselves cities, and, congregating in them, gloried in their splendor, luxury, and vice. But the families who held fast to God’s principles lived among the fields and hills. They were tillers of the soil and keepers of flocks and herds. In this free, independent life, with its opportunities for work and study and meditation, they learned of God and taught their children of His works and ways. TEd 23.3

This was the method of education that God desired to establish in Israel. But when brought out of Egypt the parents themselves needed instruction and discipline. Victims of lifelong slavery, they were ignorant, untrained, degraded. They had little knowledge of God and little faith in Him. They were confused by false teaching and corrupted by their long contact with heathenism. God wanted to lift them to a higher moral level, and to this end He endeavored to give them a knowledge of Himself. TEd 23.4

In His dealings with the wanderers in the desert, in their exposure to hunger, thirst, and weariness, in their peril from heathen foes, and in the manifestation of His providence for their relief, God was seeking to strengthen their faith by revealing to them the power that was continually working for their good. And having taught them to trust in His love and power, it was His purpose to set before them, in the precepts of His law, the standard of character to which, through His grace, He desired them to attain. TEd 24.1

Precious lessons were taught to Israel during their sojourn at Sinai. This was a period of special training, and their surroundings were favorable for accomplishing God’s purpose. On the summit of Sinai, overshadowing the plain where the people spread their tents, rested the pillar of cloud that had been the guide of their journey. A pillar of fire by night, it assured them of the divine protection, and while they were locked in slumber, the bread of heaven fell gently upon the encampment. On every hand, vast, rugged heights, in their solemn grandeur, spoke of eternal endurance and majesty. The people were made to feel their ignorance and weakness in the presence of Him who has “weighed the mountains in scales, and the hills in a balance.” Isaiah 40:12, KJV. Here, by the manifestation of His glory, God endeavored to impress Israel with the holiness of His character and requirements, and the exceeding guilt of transgression. TEd 24.2

But the people were slow to learn. Accustomed as they had been in Egypt to material representations of the Deity, and these of the most degrading nature, it was difficult for them to conceive of the existence or the character of the Unseen One. In pity for their weakness, God gave them a symbol of His presence. “Let them make Me a sanctuary,” He said, “that I may dwell among them.” Exodus 25:8. TEd 24.3

In building the sanctuary, Moses was directed to make all things according to the pattern of things in the heavens. God called him into the mount and revealed to him the heavenly things. In their similitude the tabernacle was fashioned. TEd 24.4

So to Israel, whom He desired to make His dwelling place, He revealed His glorious ideal of character. The pattern was shown them in the mount when the law was given from Sinai and when God passed by before Moses and proclaimed, “The Lord, the Lord God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abounding in goodness and truth.” Exodus 34:6. TEd 25.1

But in themselves they were powerless to attain this ideal. The revelation at Sinai could only impress them with their need and helplessness. The tabernacle, through its service of sacrifice, was to teach the lesson of pardon of sin, and power through the Savior for obedience unto life. TEd 25.2

Through Christ was to be fulfilled the purpose of which the tabernacle was a symbol—that glorious building, its walls of glistening gold reflecting in rainbow hues the curtains inwrought with cherubim, the fragrance of ever-burning incense pervading all, the priests robed in spotless white, and in the deep mystery of the inner place, above the mercy seat, between the figures of the bowed, worshiping angels, the glory of the Holiest. In all, God desired His people to read His purpose for the human soul. It was the same purpose long afterward set forth by the apostle Paul, speaking by the Holy Spirit: “Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s spirit dwells in you? If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy that person. For God’s temple is holy, and you are that temple.” 1 Corinthians 3:16, 17, NRSV. TEd 25.3