Steve With – August 5, 2018
We are working on the study of God’s Covenant with His people. Biblical Covenants emphasized what was needed at specific stages of God’s kingdom by furthering the principles of previous covenants. Covenant, literally a contract…an agreement between God and his people, in which God makes promises to his people.
I. History of the Covenants
Noah, Abraham, Sons and Slaves
Okay, so we have covered God’s Covenant with Noah and Abraham. Both of these men were richly blessed by God.
Noah: His Covenant was threefold: “Never again will floodwaters kill,” murders are murdered, and you can eat animals.
Abraham: His Covenant with God was for all who will call on God for salvation… they will be called Children of Abraham, God will always be their God and all of God’s Covenant Promises are Sure.
Isaac: The Covenant that God made with Abraham was renewed with his son Isaac. God said to Isaac, “I will give all these lands to you and your descendants.” Genesis 26:3
Jacob: And then to Isaac’s son, Jacob, God appeared at Bethel and confirmed the covenant to Jacob.
Slaves: At the time Jacob may not have known that he would be going to Egypt and that for 400 years his descendants would be slaves and that the promise would lie dormant until God confirmed it afresh with a man named Moses.
II. Establishing the Covenant
God calls Moses and liberates his people from bondage. They cross the Red Sea on dry ground. They receive food from the sky and water from the rock. And in three months they arrive at Mount Sinai. Here God makes a solemn Covenant with Israel to confirm and support the covenant he made with Noah, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.
The Lord’s Work – Exodus 19–34
Moses goes up onto Mount Sinai, and God announces the covenant:
“If you will obey me and keep my covenant, you will be my own special
treasure from among all the peoples on earth; for all the earth belongs
to me. And you will be my kingdom of priests, my holy nation. This is
the message you must give to the people of Israel.” Exodus 19:5-6
The People, “We will do everything the Lord has commanded.” (19:8)
The Lord instructs them, come and approach the mountain (19:10-15)
The Lord descends in fire & the mountain is wrapped in smoke (19:18)
God addresses the People, gives them the 10 Commandments and the People are terrified, “You speak to us, and we will listen. But don’t let God speak directly to us, or we will die!” (20:1–19)
The Lord tells Moses to get the priests and the elders and to come up on the mountain (24:1–2)
The people, ”We will do everything the Lord has commanded.” (24:3)
Moses, Aaron and 70 elders went had a feast and saw God’s glory (24:9–10) then Moses went up into the cloud & stayed 40 days (24:18)
The Lord spoke to Moses, plan for the tabernacle to be built and for the ministry of the priests. (ch25–31)
The Lord spoke, during the 40 days the people had already broken their covenant promise and made an idol. “How quickly they have turned away from the way I commanded them to live!” (31:18, 32:8)
Moses prays for the people to withholds his destruction (32:11–14). Moses comes down to the camp (32:19), smashes the two tables of the Covenant to show how the people have broken the Covenant.
The Lord tells Moses, make a new set of stone tables and to come up again (34:1). God reveals himself and renews the covenant:
“Yahweh! The Lord! The God of compassion and mercy! I am slow to anger and filled with unfailing love and faithfulness. I lavish unfailing love to a thousand generations. I forgive iniquity, rebellion, and sin.” (34:6–7)
The Lord responds, “Listen, I am making a covenant with you in the presence of all your people. I will perform miracles that have never been performed anywhere in all the earth or in any nation.” Last meeting on Mt. Sinai: “Write down all these instructions, for they represent the terms of the covenant I am making with you and with Israel…And the LORD wrote the terms of the covenant—the Ten Commandments—on the stone tablets.” (34:27-28)
Moses came down the mountain, his face shining from his time with The Lord.
III. The Promises of the Covenant
Now from that overview of how the covenant was established between The Lord and Moses we can answer our third question: What are the Promises of this Covenant? Five Divine Promises
- God’s Prized Possession: ”My own special treasure” Ex 19:5
- God mentions that all the earth is his to show that when he calls Israel his “special treasure,” he means more than the general care and authority he has over the world.
- He will be Israel’s God and they will be his possession in a special way. They will have blessings beyond all other nations. They will be God’s prized possession—if they keep his covenant.
2. Kingdom of Royal Priests: “My kingdom of priests” Exodus 19:6
- The most striking privilege of the priests was intimate access to God. They drew near on behalf of the people. Their inheritance was not the land but the Lord.
- This privilege God promises to the whole nation. This privilege is heightened when God calls them a royal priesthood. There is no greater privilege than to have intimate access to the King of the universe.
3. A Holy Nation “My holy nation” Exodus 19:6
- Israel would be holy in two senses: one, set apart and distinguished from all the other peoples; two, granted a moral likeness to God.
- Israel would share God’s character. “Be holy, for I am holy” (Lev 19:2). If Israel keeps covenant with God and will have the all-satisfying privilege of likeness to God.
4. Defense from Enemies: “Oppose those who oppose you.” Ex 23:22
- Anybody who opposes Israel will have to deal with almighty God. This is what God means in Exodus 34:10 when he promises,
“I will perform miracles that have never been performed anywhere in all the earth or in any nation. And all the people around you will see the power of the Lord—the awesome power I will display for you.”
- In defense of his people God will do marvels to display his glory among the nations.
5. God Will Be Merciful, Gracious and Forgiving
“Yahweh! The Lord! The God of compassion and mercy…” Ex 34:6–7
God promises to be merciful, gracious and forgive iniquity and transgression and sin. As we mentioned above…
- So the fifth great promise of the Mosaic covenant is that God will treat Israel with mercy and grace and will forgive her sins—if she keeps the covenant.
These are the divine promises of the covenant. But they all depend on certain conditions being fulfilled by the people, as Exodus 19:5 says,
“Now if you will obey me and keep my covenant, you will” experience all these divine blessings.
IV. The Covenant Points to the work of Christ
We turn now to the human conditions that must be met in order to enjoy the covenant blessings.
1. Founded on Grace and Offering Forgiveness
- The Mosaic covenant does not teach that if you commit a sin, you forfeit the covenant blessings. It says that the Lord forgives iniquity and transgression and sin (Exodus 34:7).
- The Foundation of the Covenant is Grace. Therefore, when Exodus 19:5 says that Israel must “obey God’s voice and keep God’s covenant,” it does not mean they must earn their blessings by working for God. It means they must keep themselves in an attitude to receive God’s grace, mercy and forgiveness.
2. Loving God over Earning Grace
- One answer is given in in the midst of the 10 Commandments:
“I lay the sins of the parents upon their children; the entire family is affected—even children in the third and fourth generations of those who reject me. But I lavish unfailing love for a thousand generations on those who love me and obey my commands.” Exodus 20:5–6
- Israel upholds her side of the covenant by loving God and by not putting any other value where God belongs in her heart. And out of this love to God inevitably flows an obedience to his word, because you always go after what you value.
3. Understanding Covenants are Based on Faith
1st – Covenants are Renewed on grace w/merciful Forgiveness (Ex 34:6)
- Forgiveness can only be received by faith. It’s God’s mercy that saves us
2nd – The Lord promises Mercy to all who Love Him (Exodus 20:6)
- Loving God must include delighting in his trustworthiness.
- Looking at Him as one who brought you to Him (Exodus 19:4).
3rd – Israel’s disobedience was their Struggle to Trust God….“for they did not believe God or trust him to care for them.” Psalm 78:22
- Again and again in the O. T. the rebellion of Israel against the Covenant is traced back to Unbelief: They didn’t trust God. (Numbers 14:11; Deut 1:32; 9:23; 2 Kings 17:14; 2 Chronicles 20:20; Psalm 78:22, 32; 106:24).
“They didn’t share the faith of those who listened to God.” Heb 4:2
- The Noahic covenant, the Abrahamic covenant, the Mosaic covenant, and the covenant that Jesus sealed with his own blood are all various expressions of one great Covenant of Grace. And under all these covenants, expressed in many different ways, one thing is required of a person in order to inherit the covenant blessings: “faith expressing itself in love.” (Galatians 5:6)
- Celebrating the Grace of the Covenants
“All of us, like sheep, have strayed away. We have left God’s paths to follow our own. Yet the Lord laid on him the sins of us all.” Isaiah 53:6
(circle all of us)
Question: How could a just God, under the Mosaic covenant, be so gracious and forgive so freely?
Answer: He looked forward to the coming of his Son and the sacrifice that repairs all the injury done to God’s honor through the disobedience of the elect. There could have been no covenants without the coming of Jesus Christ.
- ?What was freely given under Moses was purchased by Christ.
5. The Gracious Work of Jesus
If you want a fresh glimpse of Jesus to help you trust him and love him and obey him, consider these two things.
1st – Every Sin from Adam to the end of the age was laid upon the Innocent Christ. He accepted them, for the glory of His Father and the good of His People.
2nd – If you trust, follow and obey in faith, then you are the heirs of God’s covenant with Abraham and God’s covenant through Moses.
“You are a chosen people. You are royal priests, a holy nation, God’s very own possession. As a result, you can show others the goodness of God, for he called you out of the darkness into his wonderful light.” 1 Peter 2:9,10