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Biblical Covenants

 

We always assumed that Mount Sinai [Si-nai’] was in the Sinai Peninsula. Well, recent researchers have concluded that it is in Midian, what is now northwestern Saudi Arabia. (Gal. 4:25 “for this Hagar is Mount Sinai in Arabia .. .”) We won’t take a position in the actual location of Mount Sinai, but I thought you’d like to know about these opinions.

But that is not what I wanted to talk about today. What I want to talk about is the agreement or covenant of Sinai. What is that? It is the contract or covenant between God and the Israelites to obey the Ten Commandments and the judgments given by God at Mount Sinai. These commandments and judgments are stated in Exodus chapters 20 through 23 and Deuteronomy 5:6-21.

What are the commandments? Let’s briefly describe them:

1. They would have no other gods before the true God.

2. They would not make any image of God or bow down to these images.

3. They would not use the name of God vainly or carelessly or without respect.

4. They would keep the seventh day Sabbath holy, with no work on the Sabbath.

5. They would honor their father and mother.

6. They would not murder.

7. They would not commit adultery.

8. They would not steal.

9. They would not bear false witness against another.

10.They would not covet anything which was their neighbor’s.

Now, what were the judgments God gave them on Mount Sinai? First let’s define “judgments.” “Judgments” comes from the Hebrew word mishpat, H4941, which means a “verdict pronounced judicially.” In other words it has about the same meaning as used in courts today. These judgments describe proper decorum or propriety. Let’s look at some Biblical examples of judgments:

Ex 20:22-26 How to make and approach an alter.

Ex 21:1-11 How to obtain and treat a servant.

Ex 21:12-27 Judgments concerning violence.

Ex 21:28-36 Judgments concerning control of animals.

Ex 22:1-15 Judgments concerning the responsibility for property.

Ex 22: 16-31 Judgments regarding moral principles; treatment of the poor, aliens, widows, animals; loans; disrespect to rulers; eating torn meats.

Ex 23:1-9 Justice for all.

Ex 23:10-13 Observance of the seventh day Sabbath and seventh year land Sabbath.

Ex 23:14-19 Annual feasts.

Ex 23:20-33 An angel would lead the Israelites to the Promised Land where the current occupants would be filled with fear as the Israelites drove them out of the land God has reserved for the Israelites. No covenant could be negotiated with the Canaanites. I wish the governments of modern day Israel would heed these verses.

Are these judgments all that different than we might have seen in the early days of America?

In Exodus 24:3-8 the Israelites agreed to follow His instructions in Exodus 20 plus His judgments in chapters 20 through 23. Let’s read their agreement:

(Exo 24:3-8 NKJV) So Moses came and told the people all the words of the LORD and all the judgments. And all the people answered with one voice and said, "All the words which the LORD has said we will do." {4} And Moses wrote all the words of the LORD. And he rose early in the morning, and built an altar at the foot of the mountain, and twelve pillars according to the twelve tribes of Israel. {5} Then he sent young men of the children of Israel, who offered burnt offerings and sacrificed peace offerings of oxen to the LORD. {6} And Moses took half the blood and put it in basins, and half the blood he sprinkled on the altar. {7} Then he took the Book of the Covenant and read it in the hearing of the people. And they said, "All that the LORD has said we will do, and be obedient." {8} And Moses took the blood, sprinkled it on the people, and said, "This is the blood of the covenant which the LORD has made with you according to all these words."

So, let’s emphasize the key parts of Exodus 24:3-8:

1. Moses presented ALL the words and all the JUDGEMENTS of the LORD to the people.

2. All the people promised Moses to follow all the words the LORD has said.

3. Moses WROTE [recorded - H3789] ALL the words of the LORD on a scroll (H5612).

4. Moses built an alter and twelve pillars, one pillar for each tribe of Israel.

5. He had young men offer burnt offerings of OXEN to the LORD.

6. Moses put half the oxen’s blood on the alter.

7. Moses then read the words on the scroll to the people.

8. The people again promised TO DO all the LORD had said and to be obedient.

9. Moses then sprinkled the remaining blood on the people and declared, “This is the blood of the agreement, contract, covenant that the LORD has made with you according to all these words.” The blood sealed the contract between the people and the LORD.

10. Again, what had the people agreed to do? To obey the commandments and the judgments given to Moses by the LORD on Mount Sinai.

So, these verses describe the Sinai covenant.

But did the people obey the commandments and judgments of the LORD? Let’s read a few scriptures which tell us.

(Deu 1:19-46 NKJV) "So we departed from Horeb, and went through all that great and terrible wilderness which you saw on the way to the mountains of the Amorites, as the LORD our God had commanded us. Then we came to Kadesh Barnea. {20} "And I said to you, 'You have come to the mountains of the Amorites, which the LORD our God is giving us. {21} 'Look, the LORD your God has set the land before you; go up and possess it, as the LORD God of your fathers has spoken to you; do not fear or be discouraged.' {22} "And everyone of you came near to me and said, 'Let us send men before us, and let them search out the land for us, and bring back word to us of the way by which we should go up, and of the cities into which we shall come.' {23} "The plan pleased me well; so I took twelve of your men, one man from each tribe. {24} "And they departed and went up into the mountains, and came to the Valley of Eshcol, and spied it out. {25} "They also took some of the fruit of the land in their hands and brought it down to us; and they brought back word to us, saying, 'It is a good land which the LORD our God is giving us.' {26} "Nevertheless you would not go up, but rebelled against the command of the LORD your God; {27} "and you complained in your tents, and said, 'Because the LORD hates us, He has brought us out of the land of Egypt to deliver us into the hand of the Amorites, to destroy us. {28} 'Where can we go up? Our brethren have discouraged our hearts, saying, "The people are greater and taller than we; the cities are great and fortified up to heaven; moreover we have seen the sons of the Anakim there."' {29} "Then I said to you, 'Do not be terrified, or afraid of them. {30} 'The LORD your God, who goes before you, He will fight for you, according to all He did for you in Egypt before your eyes, {31} 'and in the wilderness where you saw how the LORD your God carried you, as a man carries his son, in all the way that you went until you came to this place.' {32} "Yet, for all that, you did not believe the LORD your God, {33} "who went in the way before you to search out a place for you to pitch your tents, to show you the way you should go, in the fire by night and in the cloud by day. {34} "And the LORD heard the sound of your words, and was angry, and took an oath, saying, {35} 'Surely not one of these men of this evil generation shall see that good land of which I swore to give to your fathers, {36} 'except Caleb the son of Jephunneh [a Jew]; he shall see it, and to him and his children I am giving the land on which he walked, because he wholly followed the LORD.' {37} "The LORD was also angry with me for your sakes, saying, 'Even you shall not go in there; {38} 'Joshua the son of Nun [an Ephraimite], who stands before you, he shall go in there. Encourage him, for he shall cause Israel to inherit it. {39} 'Moreover your little ones and your children, who you say will be victims, who today have no knowledge of good and evil, they shall go in there; to them I will give it, and they shall possess it. {40} 'But as for you, turn and take your journey into the wilderness by the Way of the Red Sea.' {41} "Then you answered and said to me, 'We have sinned against the LORD; we will go up and fight, just as the LORD our God commanded us.' And when everyone of you had girded on his weapons of war, you were ready to go up into the mountain. {42} "And the LORD said to me, 'Tell them, "Do not go up nor fight, for I am not among you; lest you be defeated before your enemies."' {43} "So I spoke to you; yet you would not listen, but rebelled against the command of the LORD, and presumptuously went up into the mountain. {44} "And the Amorites who dwelt in that mountain came out against you and chased you as bees do, and drove you back from Seir to Hormah. {45} "Then you returned and wept before the LORD, but the LORD would not listen to your voice nor give ear to you. {46} "So you remained in Kadesh many days, according to the days that you spent there.

But did their experience with the Amorites teach the people to obey God? Not at all. Let’s read of another rejection of God’s commandments to which they swore to obey but then reneged on their promise. This time let’s read from Exodus 16.

(Exo 16:2-29 NKJV) Then the whole congregation of the children of Israel complained against Moses and Aaron in the wilderness. {3} And the children of Israel said to them, "Oh, that we had died by the hand of the LORD in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the pots of meat and when we ate bread to the full! For you have brought us out into this wilderness to kill this whole assembly with hunger." {4} Then the LORD said to Moses, "Behold, I will rain bread from heaven for you. And the people shall go out and gather a certain quota every day, that I may test them, whether they will walk in My law or not. {5} "And it shall be on the sixth day that they shall prepare what they bring in, and it shall be twice as much as they gather daily." {6} Then Moses and Aaron said to all the children of Israel, "At evening you shall know that the LORD has brought you out of the land of Egypt. {7} "And in the morning you shall see the glory of the LORD; for He hears your complaints against the LORD. But what are we, that you complain against us?" {8} Also Moses said, "This shall be seen when the LORD gives you meat to eat in the evening, and in the morning bread to the full; for the LORD hears your complaints which you make against Him. And what are we? Your complaints are not against us but against the LORD."

{9} Then Moses spoke to Aaron, "Say to all the congregation of the children of Israel, 'Come near before the LORD, for He has heard your complaints.'" {10} Now it came to pass, as Aaron spoke to the whole congregation of the children of Israel, that they looked toward the wilderness, and behold, the glory of the LORD appeared in the cloud. {11} And the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, {12} "I have heard the complaints of the children of Israel. Speak to them, saying, 'At twilight you shall eat meat, and in the morning you shall be filled with bread. And you shall know that I am the LORD your God.'" {13} So it was that quails came up at evening and covered the camp, and in the morning the dew lay all around the camp. {14} And when the layer of dew lifted, there, on the surface of the wilderness, was a small round substance, as fine as frost on the ground. {15} So when the children of Israel saw it, they said to one another, "What is it?" For they did not know what it was. And Moses said to them, "This is the bread which the LORD has given you to eat. {16} "This is the thing which the LORD has commanded: 'Let every man gather it according to each one's need, one omer [about three quarts] for each person, according to the number of persons; let every man take for those who are in his tent.'" {17} Then the children of Israel did so and gathered, some more, some less. {18} So when they measured it by omers, he who gathered much had nothing left over, and he who gathered little had no lack. Every man had gathered according to each one's need. {19} And Moses said, "Let no one leave any of it till morning." {20} Notwithstanding they did not heed Moses. But some of them left part of it until morning, and it bred worms and stank. And Moses was angry with them. {21} So they gathered it every morning, every man according to his need. And when the sun became hot, it melted. {22} And so it was, on the sixth day, that they gathered twice as much bread, two omers for each one. And all the rulers of the congregation came and told Moses. {23} Then he said to them, "This is what the LORD has said: 'Tomorrow is a Sabbath rest, a holy Sabbath to the LORD. Bake what you will bake today, and boil what you will boil; and lay up for yourselves all that remains, to be kept until morning.'" {24} So they laid it up till morning, as Moses commanded; and it did not stink, nor were there any worms in it. {25} Then Moses said, "Eat that today, for today is a Sabbath to the LORD; today you will not find it in the field. {26} "Six days you shall gather it, but on the seventh day, which is the Sabbath, there will be none." {27} Now it happened that some of the people went out on the seventh day to gather, but they found none. {28} And the LORD said to Moses, "How long do you refuse to keep My commandments and My laws? {29} "See! For the LORD has given you the Sabbath; therefore He gives you on the sixth day bread for two days. Let every man remain in his place; let no man go out of his place on the seventh day."

No, the people swore to observe all that God said at Sinai but didn’t have the faith or backbone to obey what they swore to uphold. They violated the 4th & 10th commandments.

But was the Sinai covenant ever accepted by God-respecting Israeli leaders down through the centuries? Well, let’s see how David saw them:

(Psa 111 NKJV) (Hymnal #85) Praise the LORD! I will praise the LORD with my whole heart, In the assembly of the upright and in the congregation. {2} The works of the LORD are great, Studied by all who have pleasure in them. {3} His work is honorable and glorious, And His righteousness endures forever. {4} He has made His wonderful works to be remembered; The LORD is gracious and full of compassion. {5} He has given food to those who fear Him; He will ever be mindful of His covenant. {6} He has declared to His people the power of His works, In giving them the heritage of the nations. {7} The works of His hands are verity and justice; All His precepts are sure. {8} They stand fast forever and ever, And are done in truth and uprightness. {9} He has sent redemption to His people; He has commanded His covenant forever: Holy and awesome is His name. {10} The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom; A good understanding have all those who do His commandments. His praise endures forever.

(Psa 105:5-8 NKJV) Remember His marvelous works which He has done, His wonders, and the judgments of His mouth, {6} O seed of Abraham His servant, You children of Jacob, His chosen ones! {7} He is the LORD our God; His judgments are in all the earth. {8} He remembers His covenant forever, The word which He commanded, for a thousand generations,

A thousand generations is about thirty thousand years. We’ve only passed through about a hundred and fifteen generations since the Sinai covenant.

Moses wrote the book of Deuteronomy and the other books of the Torah from about the time the Israelites left Sinai until they were about to cross over the Jordan River into the Promised Land. Deuteronomy is a condensation of the first four books of the Torah or Pentateuch. In chapter 4, verse 13, he comments on the Ten Commandments, then in verse 14 describes the Mosaic law he had been told to write.

(Deu 4:13-14 NKJV) "So He declared to you His covenant which He commanded you to perform, the Ten Commandments; and He wrote them on two tablets of stone. {14} "And the LORD commanded me at that time to teach you statutes and judgments, that you might observe them in the land which you cross over to possess.

We’ve defined a judgment, but what is a statute? From Wilson’s Old Testament Word Studies, “A statute is something decreed, prescribed; an ordinance or law; usually applied to the positive statutes appointed by Moses.” Strongs’ number is H2706 but the Strong’s definition is not clear. The Complete Jewish Bible describes a statute as laws and rulings. Wilson’s seems to be the best definition. I think it is essential that we understand that statutes were written and appointed by Moses but via God’s instruction.

So the difference between Exodus 20-24, which we read earlier, and Deuteronomy is that Exodus 20-24 and Deuteronomy 4:13 referred to God’s instructions to keep the Commandments and His judgments, while Deuteronomy 4:14 and most of the rest of Deuteronomy seem to refer to statutes and laws God directed Moses to declare just prior to the Israelites passing into the Promised Land. Let’s look at some more scriptures which indicate the laws of Moses were different from the Ten Commandments and the judgments received from God at Mount Sinai.

(Deu 1:3 NKJV) Now it came to pass in the fortieth year, in the eleventh month, on the first day of the month, that Moses spoke to the children of Israel according to all that the LORD had given him as commandments to them,

So, the fortieth year of wandering in the wilderness was about to come to an end. There were about two months left before the Israelites would cross the Jordan River and enter the Promised Land at Jericho. Moses had apparently been given additional laws to give to the people.

(Deu 1:5 NKJV) On this side of the Jordan in the land of Moab, Moses began to explain this law, saying, ....

Moses’ law apparently included all the laws, statutes, ordinances, and judgments we see in the Torah or Pentateuch.

In verses 7 and 8, he describes the extent of the Promised Land.

(Deu 1:7-8 NKJV) 'Turn and take your journey, and go to the mountains of the Amorites, to all the neighboring places in the plain, in the mountains and in the lowland, in the South and on the seacoast, to the land of the Canaanites and to Lebanon, as far as the great river, the River Euphrates. {8} 'See, I have set the land before you; go in and possess the land which the LORD swore to your fathers; to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; to give to them and their descendants after them.'

The Euphrates River had to be that part of the river which runs through northern Syria.

An example of how Moses’ law seemed to include new laws which were given subsequent to the Sinai Law is provided in Exodus 25:9 where we read how the Tabernacle is to be constructed.

(Exo 25:9 NKJV) "According to all that I show you, that is, the pattern of the tabernacle and the pattern of all its furnishings, just so you shall make it.

The Tabernacle did not exist at the time of Sinai, but we’ll next read in Deut 29:1 that the Tabernacle did exist and Ex 25:9 just told them how to build it. But most interesting of all, notice in Deut 29:1 Moses refers to both a covenant made with the children of Israel in the land of Moab [Mo-av’], as well as the covenant He made with them in Horeb’. “Horeb” is the word used for “Sinai” in most of the book of Deuteronomy. Horeb means “the waste.”

(Deu 29:1 NKJV) These are the words of the covenant which the LORD commanded Moses to make with the children of Israel in the land of Moab, besides the covenant which He made with them in Horeb.

So now we have two covenants: One at Sinai and one given in the land of Moab. Why did God make a second covenant? Jeremiah 7 tells us:

(Jer 7:22-24 NKJV) "For I did not speak to your fathers, or command them in the day that I brought them out of the land of Egypt, concerning burnt offerings or sacrifices. {23} "But this is what I commanded them, saying, 'Obey My voice, and I will be your God, and you shall be My people. And walk in all the ways that I have commanded you, that it may be well with you.' {24} "Yet they did not obey or incline their ear, but followed the counsels and the dictates of their evil hearts, and went backward and not forward.

The second covenant, the one announced in Moab, was made because of the evil hearts and ways of the Israelites. Notice what Gal.3:19 says about this.

(Gal 3:19 NKJV) It was added [G4369] because [5484] of transgressions [3847], . . . .

But the translators of the Complete Jewish Bible translate this verse differently. Let’s compare the NKJV translation with that of the CJB.

(Gal 3:19 CJB) ... . . .It was added in order to create transgressions . . . .

Why would the Eternal want to create transgressions? Paul tells us in Romans 3:20.

(Rom 3:20 NKJV) Therefore by the deeds of the law no flesh will be justified in His sight, for by the law is the knowledge of sin.

The written Torah, as opposed to the oral Torah, “creates transgressions” by defining sin. Why is this important? First of all, because only the written Torah was declared by our Creator. The oral law is a combination of the written law and the additions of many rabbis who wanted to “explain” what God’s law means, although Judaism believes that God gave the oral law at Sinai. But secondly, because the people had to have a list of laws with which they could see the hopelessness of trying to keep the law perfectly. Why? Because, like Abraham, their righteousness should really have depended upon their obedience to God and faith in a Savior. Let’s read a little more of Gal 3:19:

(Gal 3:19 CJB) So then, why the legal part of the Torah? It was added in order to create transgressions, until the coming of the seed about whom the promise had been made. [The “seed” is Christ in His Kingdom, not many seeds. See verse 16. The Moab law ends then.]

(Rom 4:15 NKJV) Because the law works wrath: for where no law is, there is no transgression.”

Again, the Moab law is temporary. However, these laws are applicable even today. In the following verse the Israelites were told that they must keep the covenant made in Moab.

(Deu 29:9 NKJV) "Therefore keep the words of this covenant, and do them, that you may prosper in all that you do.

In fact, earlier in Deuteronomy, it is made clear that all their sacrifices and offerings would have to continue to be offered to the LORD even after they occupied the Promised Land and were safe from foreign nations.

(Deu 12:8-11 NKJV) "You shall not at all do as we are doing here today; every man doing whatever is right in his own eyes; {9} "for as yet you have not come to the rest and the inheritance which the LORD your God is giving you. {10} "But when you cross over the Jordan and dwell in the land which the LORD your God is giving you to inherit, and He gives you rest from all your enemies round about, so that you dwell in safety, {11} "then there will be the place where the LORD your God chooses to make His name abide. There you shall bring all that I command you: your burnt offerings, your sacrifices, your tithes, the heave offerings of your hand, and all your choice offerings which you vow to the LORD.

The statement “every man doing whatever is right in his own eyes” sounds like attitudes in our world today. . . An ominous warning as to the difficulties that may lie ahead of us.

The law is the second covenant, the law covenant. As we shall see, it was placed beside the Ark of the Covenant of the Lord. It did not replace it, nor was it the same covenant. It contained new regulations and could not be added or merged into the first Covenant, the Sinai covenant. This covenant that ratified the Law of Moses is the Old Covenant, not the covenant made at Sinai. If the scroll of the law becomes old, that does nothing to His Covenant, the covenant of the LORD, that predated it. His, the LORD’S, Covenant is forever.

 

(Gal 3:15 NKJV) Brethren, I speak in the manner of men: Though it is only a man's covenant, yet if it is confirmed, no one annuls or adds to it.

(Deu 26:16-19 NKJV) "This day the LORD your God commands you to observe these statutes and judgments; therefore you shall be careful to observe them with all your heart and with all your soul. {17} "Today you have proclaimed the LORD to be your God, and that you will walk in His ways and keep His statutes, His commandments, and His judgments, and that you will obey His voice. {18} "Also today the LORD has proclaimed you to be His special people, just as He promised you, that you should keep all His commandments, {19} "and that He will set you high above all nations which He has made, in praise, in name, and in honor, and that you may be a holy people to the LORD your God, just as He has spoken."

(Exo 7:5 NKJV) "And the Egyptians shall know that I am the LORD, when I stretch out My hand on Egypt and bring out the children of Israel from among them."

(Exo 13:14 NKJV) "So it shall be, when your son asks you in time to come, saying, 'What is this?' that you shall say to him, 'By strength of hand the LORD brought us out of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.

(Deu 31:9-17 NKJV) So Moses wrote this law and delivered it to the priests, the sons of Levi, who bore the ark of the covenant of the LORD, and to all the elders of Israel. {10} And Moses commanded them, saying: "At the end of every seven years, at the appointed time in the year of release, at the Feast of Tabernacles, {11} "when all Israel comes to appear before the LORD your God in the place which He chooses, you shall read this law before all Israel in their hearing. {12} "Gather the people together, men and women and little ones, and the stranger who is within your gates, that they may hear and that they may learn to fear the LORD your God and carefully observe all the words of this law, {13} "and that their children, who have not known it, may hear and learn to fear the LORD your God as long as you live in the land which you cross the Jordan to possess." {14} Then the LORD said to Moses, "Behold, the days approach when you must die; call Joshua, and present yourselves in the tabernacle of meeting, that I may inaugurate him." So Moses and Joshua went and presented themselves in the tabernacle of meeting. {15} Now the LORD appeared at the tabernacle in a pillar of cloud, and the pillar of cloud stood above the door of the tabernacle. {16} And the LORD said to Moses: "Behold, you will rest with your fathers; and this people will rise and play the harlot with the gods of the foreigners of the land, where they go to be among them, and they will forsake Me and break My covenant which I have made with them. {17} "Then My anger shall be aroused against them in that day, and I will forsake them, and I will hide My face from them, and they shall be devoured. And many evils and troubles shall befall them, so that they will say in that day, 'Have not these evils come upon us because our God is not among us?' [hurricanes an example?]

We see this even today in recent years as Israel caves in to the desires of the gods of the Canaanites.

(Deu 31:24-29 NKJV) So it was, when Moses had completed writing the words of this law in a book, when they were finished, {25} that Moses commanded the Levites, who bore the ark of the covenant of the LORD, saying: {26} "Take this Book of the Law, and put it beside the ark of the covenant of the LORD your God, that it may be there as a witness against you; {27} "for I know your rebellion and your stiff neck. If today, while I am yet alive with you, you have been rebellious against the LORD, then how much more after my death? {28} "Gather to me all the elders of your tribes, and your officers, that I may speak these words in their hearing and call heaven and earth to witness against them. {29} "For I know that after my death you will become utterly corrupt, and turn aside from the way which I have commanded you; and evil will befall you in the latter days, because you will do evil in the sight of the LORD, to provoke Him to anger through the work of your hands." [Brethren, we’re in the latter days.]

(Heb 9:18-22 NKJV) Therefore not even the first covenant was dedicated without blood. {19} For when Moses had spoken every precept to all the people according to the law, he took the blood of calves and goats, with water, scarlet wool, and hyssop, and sprinkled both the book itself and all the people, {20} saying, "This is the blood of the covenant which God has commanded you." {21} Then likewise he sprinkled with blood both the tabernacle and all the vessels of the ministry. {22} And according to the law almost all things are purified with blood, and without shedding of blood there is no remission.

In the Sinai Covenant, the sacrifice was oxen, not calves and goats. In the Sinai Covenant there was no tabernacle. Clearly, Paul in Heb 9:18-22 is talking about the Covenant made in Moab, not the Covenant made in Sinai. While the Covenant made in Moab covered the entire Torah from Genesis to Deuteronomy, the Sinai Covenant commands only the Ten Commandments and the judgments which immediately follow them (i.e. Exodus chapters 20-24).

(Mark 9:2-8 NKJV) Now after six days Jesus took Peter, James, and John, and led them up on a high mountain apart by themselves; and He was transfigured before them. {3} His clothes became shining, exceedingly white, like snow, such as no launderer on earth can whiten them. {4} And Elijah appeared to them with Moses, and they were talking with Jesus. {5} Then Peter answered and said to Jesus, "Rabbi, it is good for us to be here; and let us make three tabernacles: one for You, one for Moses, and one for Elijah"; {6} because he did not know what to say, for they were greatly afraid. {7} And a cloud came and overshadowed them; and a voice came out of the cloud, saying, "This is My beloved Son. Hear Him!" {8} Suddenly, when they had looked around, they saw no one anymore, but only Jesus with themselves.

Yes, we are to follow Christ. That would certainly include following the Ten Commandments and the judgments given to us in Exodus chapters 20-24 by the One Who was to become Christ. Is there also an implication that Christians dedicated in mind and spirit to obeying the Sinai instructions may not need to follow certain laws of Moses because they are already applying them in properly obeying the commandments and judgments given at Sinai and later emphasized by Christ? Possibly, but only when they have total faith in Christ to have paid the penalty for their breaking of the law.

So far, this sermon has addressed what is called the Old Covenant. But there is another covenant which is described in the New Testament as the New Covenant. What is the New Covenant? Let’s read a few scriptures which refer to it.

(Heb 8 NKJV) Now this is the main point of the things we are saying: We have such a High Priest, who is seated at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens, {2} a Minister of the sanctuary and of the true tabernacle which the Lord erected, and not man. {3} For every high priest is appointed to offer both gifts and sacrifices. Therefore it is necessary that this One also have something to offer. {4} For if He were on earth, He would not be a priest, since there are priests who offer the gifts according to the law; [He couldn’t be a priest. He was not from the tribe of Levi] {5} who serve the copy and shadow of the heavenly things, as Moses was divinely instructed when he was about to make the tabernacle. For He said, "See that you make all things according to the pattern shown you on the mountain."[This was said after the Sinai Covenant] {6} But now He has obtained a more excellent ministry, inasmuch as He is also Mediator of a better covenant, which was established on better promises. {7} For if that first covenant had been faultless, then no place would have been sought for a second. {8} Because finding fault with them, He says: "Behold, the days are coming, says the LORD, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah; [notice that the two houses are different]{9} "not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day when I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt; because they did not continue in My covenant, and I disregarded them, says the LORD. {10} "For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the LORD: I will put My laws in their mind and write them on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. {11} "None of them shall teach his neighbor, and none his brother, saying, 'Know the LORD,' for all shall know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them. {12} "For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more." {13} In that He says, "A new covenant," He has made the first [the covenant given in Moab] obsolete. Now what is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to vanish away.

If adherence to every item of the Moab covenant is not required for converted Christians, what Christian guidelines are required which enhances those given in the Sinai Covenant?

(Heb 12:14-Heb 13:1-9, 12-21 NKJV) Pursue peace with all people, and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord: {15} looking carefully lest anyone fall short of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up cause trouble, and by this many become defiled; {16} lest there be any fornicator or profane person like Esau, who for one morsel of food sold his birthright. {17} For you know that afterward, when he wanted to inherit the blessing, he was rejected, for he found no place for repentance, though he sought it diligently with tears. {18} For you have not come to the mountain that may be touched and that burned with fire, and to blackness and darkness and tempest, {19} and the sound of a trumpet and the voice of words, so that those who heard it begged that the word should not be spoken to them anymore. {20} (For they could not endure what was commanded: "And if so much as a beast touches the mountain, it shall be stoned or shot with an arrow." [Stoned if a man; shot through with an arrow if a beast.]{21} And so terrifying was the sight that Moses said, "I am exceedingly afraid and trembling.") {22} But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, to an innumerable company of angels, {23} to the general assembly and church of the firstborn who are registered in heaven, to God the Judge of all, to the spirits of just men made perfect, {24} to Jesus the Mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling that speaks better things than that of Abel. {25} See that you do not refuse Him who speaks. For if they did not escape who refused Him who spoke on earth, much more shall we not escape if we turn away from Him who speaks from heaven, {26} whose voice then shook the earth; but now He has promised, saying, "Yet once more I shake not only the earth, but also heaven." {27} Now this, "Yet once more," indicates the removal of those things that are being shaken, as of things that are made, that the things which cannot be shaken may remain. {28} Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us have grace, by which we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear. {29} For our God is a consuming fire.

 

(Heb 13:1-9, 12-21 NKJV) Let brotherly love continue. {2} Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some have unwittingly entertained angels. {3} Remember the prisoners as if chained with them; those who are mistreated; since you yourselves are in the body also. {4} Marriage is honorable among all, and the bed undefiled; but fornicators and adulterers God will judge. {5} Let your conduct be without covetousness [an instruction for our time]; be content with such things as you have. For He Himself has said, "I will never leave you nor forsake you." {6} So we may boldly say: "The LORD is my helper; I will not fear. What can man do to me?" {7} Remember those who rule over you, who have spoken the word of God to you, whose faith follow, considering the outcome of their conduct. {8} Jesus Christ [Yeshua ha Moshiach] is the same yesterday, today, and forever.. . . .. . . .{12} Therefore Jesus also, that He might sanctify the people with His own blood, suffered outside the gate. {13} Therefore let us go forth to Him, outside the camp, bearing His reproach. {14} For here we have no continuing city, but we seek the one to come. {15} Therefore by Him let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name. {16} But do not forget to do good and to share, for with such sacrifices God is well pleased. {17}Obey those who rule over you, and be submissive, for they watch out for your souls [bodies], as those who must give account. Let them do so with joy and not with grief, for that would be unprofitable for you. {18} Pray for us; for we are confident that we have a good conscience, in all things desiring to live honorably. {19} But I especially urge you to do this, that I may be restored to you the sooner. {20} Now may the God of peace who brought up our Lord Jesus from the dead, that great Shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, {21} make you complete in every good work to do His will, working in you what is well pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.

We can read a short prophesy of the difference of this new covenant in Isaiah 59.

(Isa 59:21 NKJV) "As for Me," says the LORD, "this is My covenant with them: My Spirit who is upon you, and My words which I have put in your mouth, shall not depart from your mouth, nor from the mouth of your descendants, nor from the mouth of your descendants' descendants," says the LORD, "from this time and forevermore."

No mention of the many other laws given by God and announced by Moses just prior to his death and the Israelites crossing into the Promised Land, is there?

The New Covenant demonstates a difference in the attitude of people and its thorough application by people. Let’s turn to the book of Jeremiah to see the results of the New Covenant.

(Jer 31:31-34 NKJV) "Behold, the days are coming, says the LORD, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah; {32} "not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt, My covenant which they broke, though I was a husband to them, says the LORD. {33} "But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the LORD: I will put My law in their minds, and write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. {34} "No more shall every man teach his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, 'Know the LORD,' for they all shall know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them, says the LORD. For I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more."

 

Yes the problem with the Sinai Covenant was that the PEOPLE did not keep it. The problem with the covenant written by Moses while in Moab was that the PEOPLE did not and probably could not keep it. But the laws of the New Covenant will be put into the minds (i.e. the knowledge) and the hearts (i.e. the desire) of the people. They will be motivated to worship and obey the Father and the Father, in turn, will look on the people as His children. There will never need to be any “testifying” to our neighbors because everyone will already know the LORD. Because everyone will then accept their Savior, and any accidental breaking of God’s laws will be forgiven.

This New Covenant is not for today for those not called by God, those not convinced that God’s instructions apply to everyone, and for those not committed to God. For them the New Covenant is for tomorrow. But for those now called, convinced, and committed by God, many of its provisions are in place today. After the tribulation, when the Kingdom of God arrives, with Christ at its head, when all His enemies have been put down, the New Covenant will be in place for all people, and all people will benefit from it. This is the true Gospel, the true Good News.

That is why we read at the end of the Bible, in Revelation 22:

(Rev 22:14 NKJV) Blessed are those who do His commandments, that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter through the gates into the city.

 

 

Sermon given by Wayne Bedwell

30 November 2013

 

 

 

Copyright 2013, Wayne Bedwell

 

 

 

 

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