Sermon No: 132512-Covenants - Part 10 - The Mosaic Covenant



SERMON TOPIC: Covenants - Part 10 - The Mosaic Covenant

Speaker: Gavin Paynter

Language: ENGLISH

Date: 30 January 2022

Topic Groups: COVENANTS, LEGALISM, MOSES

Sermon synopsis: The Mosaic covenant was a formal arrangement of mutual commitments between God and Israel, with Moses as the mediator between the Israelites and the angels who put the covenant into effect.

While we are “not under law, but under grace” (Rom 6:14), the Old Testament (in particular, the Moral Law) is still a valuable source of ethical wisdom when understood in accordance with the ways in which the New Testament authors apply the Old Testament for ethical teaching.

COVENANTS

PART 10: THE MOSAIC COVENANT

COVENANTS

A covenant has always been a crucial part of God’s relationship with his people. Covenant is a legal concept often used in the Bible as a metaphor to describe the relationship between God and humankind.

Modern synonyms for a covenant are:

Contract, deal, pact, agreement, treaty, alliance, pledge, constitution, testament or will.

LAW

Promise

Human government

Conscience

Innocence

OLD (Mosaic)

Abrahamic

Noahic

Adamic

Edenic

COVENANTS

DISPENSATIONS

CONITIONAL vs UNCONDITIONAL

There were 3 main types of covenants:

BETWEEN EQUALS

The Covenant of Parity (CONDITIONAL)

BETWEEN NON-EQUALS *

A Royal Grant (UNCONDITIONAL)

The Suzerain-Vassal covenant (CONDITIONAL)

Conditional covenants had conditions (about either promised action and/or non-action) attached to one or both parties.

The Mosaic Covenant (Old Covenant, The Law) is a conditional covenant.

The Mosaic covenant is similar to other ancient covenants of that time because it is between a sovereign king (God) and his people or subjects (the nation of Israel).

The Mosaic covenant is similar to other ancient covenants of that time because it is between a sovereign king (God) and his people or subjects (the nation of Israel).

Ex 19:3-6 (NIV) Then Moses went up to God, and the Lord called to him from the mountain and said, “This is what you are to … tell the people of Israel: ‘You yourselves have seen what I did to Egypt, and how I carried you on eagles’ wings and brought you to myself. Now if you obey me fully and keep my covenant, then out of all nations you will be my treasured possession …’”

MEDIATOR

The 2 central mediators in the Bible are:

Mediator of the Old Covenant (Testament): Moses

John 1:17a (NIV) For the Law was given through Moses…

Mediator of the New Covenant (Testament): Jesus

John 1:17b … Grace and Truth came through Jesus Christ.

ISRAEL

GOD

GOD

MAN

MEDIATOR

The Mosaic covenant was a formal arrangement of mutual commitments between God and Israel, with Moses as the mediator between the Israelites and the angels who put the covenant into effect.

Gal 3:19 (NIV) …The law was put into effect through angels by a mediator.

Moses’ mediatory role involved communicating the terms of the covenant to Israel while he and Aaron interceded to God on behalf of the people.

The people lost their covenant mediators when Moses and Aaron died so this role was fulfilled by prophets and priests.

MEDIATOR

The prophet represented God to the people.

God does not merely give his law but enforces it. The prophets were covenant enforcement mediators and God’s mouthpiece.

The priest represented the people to God.

When the people sinned the priest would offer sacrifices and intercede for the people.

Thus says the LORD…

BLOOD COVENANT

The Covenant with Israel was a “blood covenant”.

Ex 24:8 (NIV) Moses then took the blood, sprinkled it on the people and said, “This is the blood of the covenant that the LORD has made with you in accordance with all these words.”

The people were initially sprinkled with blood; this was perpetuated by continual animal sacrifices.

The Law required that the blood of animals be sprinkled on the altar for a sin offering, indicating the substitution of the victim’s blood for that of the sinner.

The sacrifices that would typify the sacrifice the coming Redeemer would make.

COVENANT SIGN

The sign of the Mosaic Covenant is the Sabbath.

Ex 31:13 (NIV) "Say to the Israelites `You must observe my Sabbaths, This will be a sign between me and you for the generations to come…’”

COVENANT SIGN

3 reasons are given for this sign:

Having completed his work of creation God "rested on the seventh day" (v. 11), and the Israelites are to observe the same pattern.

Their servants should also rest, just as God delivered his people from the burden of servitude in Egypt (Deut 5:14-15).

Animals must be rested (Ex 23:12).

PARTIES

This covenant was given to Moses on Mount Sinai shortly after leaving Egypt. It ushered in the Dispensation of Law.

The covenant was with Israel – not with the Gentiles

Ex 19:5-6 (NIV) “… Although the whole earth is mine, you will be for me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’ These are the words you are to speak to the Israelites.”

Even according to Rabbinic Judaism, the Mosaic covenant was presented to the Jewish people and converts to Judaism and does not apply to Gentiles, with the notable exception of the Seven Laws of Noah which apply to all people. *

The covenant appears to have been modelled on the Suzerain Vassal covenant, the political treaty between a powerful king and his weaker vassal. Following the standard form of such treaties, God (the suzerain) reminds Israel (the vassal) how he has saved them, and Israel in response accepts the covenant stipulations. Israel is promised a blessing for obedience and a curse for breaking the covenant.

The covenant appears to have been modelled on the Suzerain Vassal covenant, the political treaty between a powerful king and his weaker vassal. Following the standard form of such treaties, God (the suzerain) reminds Israel (the vassal) how he has saved them, and Israel in response accepts the covenant stipulations. Israel is promised a blessing for obedience and a curse for breaking the covenant.

THE PREAMBLE

A certain pattern was followed in the covenant document, including its content and form. In general, ancient Near Eastern covenants had 5 sections:

1. The Preamble

This section identified the two parties of the covenant. In the Torah, God established the identities of the parties in the creation story. He was the Creator, and Israel was his creation. *

In the covenant summary, the Ten Commandments, he said simply, "I am the LORD your God" (Ex. 20:2). *

THE HISTORICAL PROLOGUE

2. The Historical Prologue

In this part of the document, the history leading to the cutting of the covenant was recited to prove the right of the superior party to make it. *

In the Torah, the stories of the Fall, Noah, Abraham, and the Exodus are detailed as the basis for God's making the covenant with Moses on Mount Sinai. *

In the Ten Commandments, the summary is simply, "... who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery" (Ex. 20:2). *

REQUIREMENTS

3. Requirements (Commandments)

The Torah contains 613 of the requirements God placed on the people with whom He was in relationship. The number of obligations He placed on Himself was even greater. *

In the summary of the commandments, these requirements were simplified to 10 (Ex. 20:3-17). *

BLESSINGS & CURSES

4. Blessings and Curses

Keeping a covenant brought specific rewards, and breaking a covenant brought specific penalties. In the Torah, such blessings and curses are many and varied. Moses summarized both in Deuteronomy 28 in a powerful challenge to the Israelites. *

The summary document also contains curses and blessings scattered throughout the discussion of the requirements (see, e.g., Ex. 20:5,7 for curses, and Ex. 20:6,12 for blessings). *

THE SUMMARY DOCUMENT

5. The Summary Document

The summary document served two purposes. Because it was short, it could be easily read and stored. Because it summarized the entire covenant, it represented the total relationship between the parties. Normally, two copies of this document were made, and each party would take a copy and put it in a sacred place for safekeeping. *

He declared to you his covenant, the Ten Commandments, which he commanded you to follow and then wrote them on two stone tablets. - Deut. 4:13 (NIV)

Because the Bible is silent about what was written on each tablet of the Ten Commandments, and because the culture demanded that two identical copies of a covenant always be made, it seems clear that each tablet contained all 10 commandments. One copy was God's, and the other belonged to the people of Israel. Thus when God gave both tablets to Moses, he was making a profound statement. Since God trusted Moses with his copy of the covenant, it indicated that his sacred place was the same as Israel's: the ark of the covenant in the Holy of Holies in the tabernacle.

Because the Bible is silent about what was written on each tablet of the Ten Commandments, and because the culture demanded that two identical copies of a covenant always be made, it seems clear that each tablet contained all 10 commandments. One copy was God's, and the other belonged to the people of Israel. Thus when God gave both tablets to Moses, he was making a profound statement. Since God trusted Moses with his copy of the covenant, it indicated that his sacred place was the same as Israel's: the ark of the covenant in the Holy of Holies in the tabernacle.

Ex 34:27-28 (NIV) Then the LORD said to Moses, “Write down these words, for in accordance with these words I have made a covenant with you and with Israel.” Moses was there with the LORD forty days and forty nights without eating bread or drinking water. And he wrote on the tablets the words of the covenant— the Ten Commandments.

COVENANT TERMS

COVENANT TERMS

The Old Covenant had the Law which was a list of commandments as the covenant terms for God’s covenant people.

Deut 6:6-9 (NIV) These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.

BLESSINGS & CURSES

God promised the Israelites a blessing for obedience and a curse for disobedience. Much of the OT chronicles the fulfilment of this cycle of judgement for sin and later blessing when God’s people repented.

But ultimately we see Israel’s failure in this dispensation to faithfully observe the laws of God. They are taken into captivity by the Babylonians, Medo-Persians, Greeks and then the Romans.

TERMINATING JUDGEMENT

The Dispensation of Law began with the Mosaic covenant and ended with the judgement of man’s sin through Jesus’ crucifixion shortly after Jesus ushered in the New Covenant.

PALESTINIAN COVENANT

Some argue that Deuteronomy 30:1-9 contains a new and separate covenant from the one offered through Moses, a covenant commonly called the Palestinian Covenant.

The name comes from the language in Deuteronomy, where God promises Israel their land as an everlasting inheritance.

This view is less popular than it once was. Deuteronomy 30 does not offer a distinct covenant from those given before. The language contains none of the characteristic covenant signs and language.

Moses is simply reiterating the terms of the covenant as a reminder to the people before he died.

Using the term “Palestine” to refer to Israel is unscriptural and was intended to be offensive to Jews.

Using the term “Palestine” to refer to Israel is unscriptural and was intended to be offensive to Jews.

Shortly before or after the Jewish revolt against Rome by Bar Kokhba’s (132–135 AD), the Emperor Hadrian renamed Jerusalem to Aelia Capitolina. He also changed the name of the Judea province - it was merged it with Roman Syria to form Syria Palaestina, spitefully named after the age-old enemies of Israel – the Philistines. Both of these actions appear to be attempts to remove the relationship of the Jewish people to the region.

PALESTINIAN COVENANT

Joshua also assembled the tribes at Shechem to call Israel to a renewal of the covenant. It was his final official act as the Lord's servant, mediator of the Lord's rule over his people. In this he followed the example of Moses, whose final official act was also a call to covenant renewal--of which Deuteronomy is the preserved document.

Scripture never refer to the promises in Deuteronomy 30 as a distinct covenant by name.

A single covenant better fits Dispensational theology.

3 PARTS

The Old Covenant may be divided into 3 parts:

The Moral Law (Exodus 20:1-26) i.e. the 10 Commandments

The Civil Law (Exodus 21:1 - 24:18)

The Ceremonial Law (Exodus 25:1 40:38). i.e. the tabernacle, the priesthood and the order of service.

The 10 commandments or Decalogue are the moral law given to Israel. The first 4 commandments deal with man's relationship with God, and the last 6 with man's relationship with man.

THE OLD & NEW COVENANTS

 The New Covenant is most often contrasted with the Old Covenant, particularly in the epistles of Paul and the Book of Hebrews.

The Pentateuch (Torah) was called the Book of the Covenant (Ex 24:7), and Hebrews calls that covenant “the first covenant” (Heb 8:7).

Hence we split the canonical books into Old Testament / Covenant and New Testament / Covenant.

In the Epistle to the Hebrews the "old covenant" is portrayed as inferior and even defective (8:7).

THE OLD & NEW COVENANTS

Moreover the Old Covenant is said to be obsolete and replaced by the New Covenant.

Heb 8:13 (NIV) By calling this covenant "new," he has made the first one obsolete; and what is obsolete and outdated will soon disappear.

Christ is the end of the Law:

Rom 10:4 (ESV) For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes. But the righteousness based on faith says …

THE OLD & NEW COVENANTS

After John the Baptist, the proclamation of the Law was replaced by the preaching of the gospel.

Luke 16:16 (NASB) "The Law and the Prophets were proclaimed until John; since that time the gospel of the kingdom of God has been preached…”

But the NT reaffirms 9 of the 10 moral laws as requirements for New Covenant Christians.

1) SOVEREIGNTY OF GOD

Ex 20:3 (ESV) You shall have no other gods before me.

1 Cor 8:6 (ESV) yet for us there is one God …

1 Tim 2:5 (ESV) For there is one God…

You can make a god out of anything e.g., possessions, money.

Matt 6:24 (NIV) “... You cannot serve both God and money.”

You can make a god out of activities (e.g., sport, entertainment)

No other gods

You can make a god out of activities (e.g., sport, entertainment)

2 Tim 3:4 (NIV) … lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God.

You can make a god out of people: celebrities, family - even yourself!

Matt 10:37 (NIV) “Anyone who loves their father or mother more than me is not worthy of me …”

2) IDOLATRY

Ex 20:4 (NASB) You shall not make for yourself an idol...

What is the difference between an idol and a god? An idol is a graven image or representation of anything that is revered, or believed to convey spiritual power while a god is an unseen deity.

Reiterated in the NT:

1 John 5:21 (NIV) … keep yourselves from idols.

Rev 21:8 (NIV But … the idolaters… their place will be in the fiery lake of burning sulfur …

Rev 21:8 (NIV But … the idolaters… their place will be in the fiery lake of burning sulfur …

1 Cor 6:9-10 (NIV) … Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters … will inherit the kingdom of God.

The NT extends this to any type of greed:

Eph 5:5 (NIV) … No immoral, impure or greedy person—such a person is an idolater—has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God.

No idols

3) HONOURING GOD’S CHARACTER

Ex 20:7 (ESV) You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain…

We must not bring dishonour to God’s name in our words or actions.

1 Tim 6:1 (ESV) …so that the name of God … may not be reviled.

Purity Of Speech

In addition, we are to have purity of speech. We are to avoid gossip, slander and filthy language.

Col 3:7-8 (NIV) … But now you must rid yourselves of all such things as these … slander, and filthy language from your lips.

Boasting and flattery are to be avoided.

Boasting and flattery are to be avoided.

Jude 16 (NIV) …they boast about themselves and flatter others for their own advantage.

Obscenity or coarse joking are out of place for Christians.

Eph 5:4 (NIV) Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving.

We will be judged by our speech.

Matt 12:36-37 (NIV) “But I tell you that men will have to give account on the day of judgment for every careless word they have spoken. For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned.”

4) WORK AND REST

Ex 20:9-10 (ESV) Six days you shall labour, and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God. On it you shall not do any work…

We have an obligation to work (2 Thess 3:10-13), to serve others in order to provide for our own needs and those of our family (1 Tim 5:8) and to imitate God who is himself a worker. But we must also honour and recommend the Creator's rule of one day's rest in seven, recognising that it was made for our pleasure and benefit (Isa 58:13-14; Mark 2:27)… *

But while the principle of work and rest remains, the specific day is no longer important. Sabbath observance is the only commandment not applicable to Christians.

Col 2:16-17 (NIV) Therefore do not let anyone judge you … with regard to … a New Moon celebration or a Sabbath day. These are a shadow of the things that were to come; the reality, however, is found in Christ.

5) AUTHORITY AND THE FAMILY

Ex 20:12 (ESV) Honour your father and your mother.

Col 3:20 (NIV) Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord. [cf. Eph 6:1-3]

God has established human authorities as his agents to serve and protect us and we should submit to them and not rebel against their authority (Rom 13:1-7). Most important among these is the family which is God's provision for the protection, nurture and discipline of children (Dt 6:6,7; Eph 6:1-4) and the stability of society as a whole. *

6) THE SANCTITY OF LIFE

Ex 20:13 (ESV) You shall not murder.

1 Pet 4:15 (NIV) If you suffer, it should not be as a murderer…

Sanctity of life addresses the issues of murder, abortion, suicide and euthanasia.

Sanctity of life addresses the issues of murder, abortion, suicide and euthanasia.

All human life is made in God’s image (Gen 9:6,7) and is worthy of the utmost respect from its beginning to end. This includes the unborn (Ps 139:13-16; Isa 49:1; Job 10:8-9), the handicapped (Lev 19:14), the vulnerable (Ex 22:21-24) and the advanced in age (Lev 19:32). *

Love For Enemies & Pacifism

The NT extends this to:

forbidding anger and abusive language

Matt 5:21-22 (ESV) “You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder… But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment…”

Rom 12:14 (ESV) Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them.

forbidding hatred

1 John 3:15 (NIV) Anyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life in him.

loving enemies

Matt 5:43-44 (ESV) “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbour and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies …

praying for enemies

Matt 5:44 (ESV) “… pray for those who persecute you”

pacifism towards evil people

Matt 5:38-39 (ESV) “You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I say to you, Do not resist the one who is evil. But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also.

Rom 12:18 (ESV) If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.

instead of revenge, returning good for evil

Rom 12:17-20 (ESV) Repay no one evil for evil… Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God… To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink…”

Self – Defense

On the flipside, this does not preclude:

the right to protect yourself and your families in self-defense.

Luke 22:36 (ESV) “… And let the one who has no sword sell his cloak and buy one.”

The OT Law distinguished between murder (killing with malice) and killing in self-defense with cities of refuge being mandated for the latter – where perpetrators of accidental manslaughter could claim the right of asylum (Joshua 20).

Protection of Property

the right to defend property

Ex 22:2–3 (ESV) If a thief is caught breaking in at night and is struck a fatal blow, the defender is not guilty of bloodshed…

External Security

Protection against external enemies

War between nations is a constant threat. The government has a responsibility to keep external aggressors at bay.

Soldiers are simply told not to extort money and to be content with their wages (Luke 3:14).

Jesus commends a Roman centurion for his faith (Matt 8:5-13) while the first Gentile convert to Christianity is a Roman centurion (Acts 10). In neither case are they told to quit the army.

Internal Security

Governments must also ensure security within the country’s borders.

Ps 72:4 (NIV) May he [the king] defend the afflicted among the people … may he crush the oppressor.

Civilizations need some form of restraint and rules to protect people from each other. An example of this function is seen in Acts 21:27-37 where Roman soldiers intervene to prevent Paul from being murdered.

7) SEXUAL PURITY

Ex 20:14 (ESV) You shall not commit adultery.

1 Cor 6:9-10 (NIV) … Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral … nor adulterers … will inherit the kingdom of God.

Jesus’ instruction regarding adultery is more stringent than the OT as he addresses the thought life rather than actions only.

Matt 5:27-28 (ESV) “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart.”

Marriage

Sex was created by and blessed by God within the context of marriage.

Heb 13:4 (NIV) Marriage should be honoured by all, and the marriage bed kept pure, for God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral.

Marriage is a life-long, publicly recognised, heterosexual, monogamous relationship (Gen 2:24; Matt 19:4-6; Eph 5:31-33) and is representative of Christ's own relationship with the church. Sex is God's good gift for intimacy (Matt 19:4), pleasure (Prov 5:18,19) and procreation (Gen 1:28) but must only take place within the marriage relationship. *

Polygamy, Divorce & Celibacy

The Song of Solomon depicts sensual love as good and it was God who instructed mankind to “Be fruitful and multiply ” (Gen 1:28).

In the NT, polygamy is discouraged (1 Tim 3:2).

Divorce is frowned upon (Mal 2:16) but permissible in the case of marital unfaithfulness (Matt 5:31) or desertion by an unbeliever (1 Cor 7:12-15).

Voluntary celibacy for the sake of the gospel is also approved of, provided the person has sexual self-control. (1 Cor 7:8-9)

8) RESPECT FOR PROPERTY

Ex 20:15 (ESV) You shall not steal.

Eph 4:28 (NIV) He who has been stealing must steal no longer…

1 Cor 6:9 (NIV) Neither … thieves … nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.

1 Pet 4:15 (NIV) If you suffer, it should not be as a … thief …

God has blessed human beings materially in order that they may provide for their own needs and those of others (2 Cor 9:8). We should show respect for the property of others and seek to use what he has given us in accordance with his revealed will. *

9) VERACITY

Ex 20:16 (ESV) You shall not bear false witness against your neighbour.

Col 3:9 (NIV) Do not lie to each other...

Rev 21:8 (NIV) But … all liars—their place will be in the fiery lake of burning sulfur.

Eph 4:25 (NIV) Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to his neighbour…

Integrity

We should “speak the truth in love” (Eph 4:15) at all times, using our words to build others up rather than tearing them down. Lying through commission or omission runs counter to the nature of God himself (Num 23:19) and leads to injustice. *

We should have integrity and be people of our word.

James 5:12 (ESV) But above all, my brothers, do not swear, either by heaven or by earth or by any other oath, but let your “yes” be yes and your “no” be no, so that you may not fall under condemnation. [cf. Matt 5:33-37]

10) CONTENTMENT

Ex 20:17 (ESV) You shall not covet your neighbour’s house… or anything that is your neighbour’s.

Eph 5:3 (ESV) … covetousness must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints.

Col 3:5 (ESV) Put to death therefore what is earthly in you… evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry.

We should be grateful and content with what God gives us (Phil 4:11-12), not being driven by jealousy or desire for the possessions, relationships, gifts or honour of others. Rather we should desire to do his will, to have his gifts to serve others (1 Cor 12:31) and most of all to desire God himself (Ps 37:4), knowing that he will provide us with what we need. *

CONCLUSION: THE OLD & NEW COVENANTS

Christians are no longer directly subject to all the laws of the Mosaic covenant (in particular the Civil Law and Ceremonial Law) but now live instead under the provisions of the New Covenant.

While we are “not under law, but under grace” (Rom 6:14), the Old Testament (in particular, the Moral Law) is still a valuable source of ethical wisdom when understood in accordance with the ways in which the New Testament authors apply the Old Testament for ethical teaching.

Notably we have seen that the NT explicitly reaffirms 9 of the 10 moral laws in the Decalogue as requirements for New Covenant Christians.

COPYRIGHT INFORMATION

Unless otherwise stated, Scripture quotations are taken from:

THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Other Scripture quotations taken from:

The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

The New American Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.

The New King James Version. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.




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