Dr. S. Lewis Johnson explains the covenant made between God and Moses which put the Nation Israel under holy law.
[Prayer] Father we are grateful to Thee again for the privilege of the study of the word of God and we thank Thee now for the subject that is before us. We recognize that the covenant that was made with the nation Israel on Mount Sinai was extremely important. So much of the word of God in quantity, at least, is devoted to that age. We thank Thee for all that Thou didst have in mind in putting Israel under the covenant given at Mount Sinai and we pray that we may learn the lessons that Thou didst desire to teach them through the centuries. May we not forget them. May they help us to understand the principle of divine grace by which Thou has dealt with us. Be with us in this hour.
We ask in Jesus’ name. Amen.
[Message] So the Sinaitic covenant. In the Abrahamic covenant, which we’ll look at a bit though not in great detail because we’ve studied that before here, God promised Abraham a seed, he promised Abraham a land, and he promised Abraham a royal line. Now, I say a royal line because God promised Abraham that kings would come out of him Genesis chapter 17 in verse 6. Furthermore, that particular promise made to Abraham was repeated to Jacob and it was stated that kings and a nation would come from him. So part of the Abrahamic promise finds its expansion and ultimate expression in a line of kings or in particularly the king.
There are some other aspects of the promise such as words pertaining to a name for Abraham but the three that are just mentioned are really the three important things in the Abrahamic promise. In a sense these are the basic biblical promises: A seed because, ultimately, Christ is the seed, a land where the promises will find their ultimate expression in human history, and then the royal line and that too leads to on to our Lord Jesus Christ as the son of David and the King of Israel. So these are the biblical promises, and the Bible is really the record of the path along which Israel treads toward the fulfillment of these promises. For example, when the Lord Jesus Christ’s birth is recorded and those birth accounts are given in the Book of Luke, the Abrahamic promises are specifically connected with the anticipations of his birth. In the Magnificat, we find Mary saying these words.
“My soul doth magnify the Lord, and my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour. For he hath regarded the low estate of his handmaiden: for, behold, from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed. For he that is mighty hath done to me great things; and holy is his name. And his mercy is on them that fear him from generation to generation. He hath shewed strength with his arm; he hath scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts.”
By the way, if you read this and then you look at these words from a concordance you will find that these are terms that are found in the Old Testament. Many of these expressions, phrases and clauses are Old Testament phrases and clauses, which will give you an insight into the fact that Mary was a student of the Old Testament Scriptures.
Now, we give due respect to the Holy Spirit who spoke through her but normally in the Bible men don’t speak words that they’ve never reflected upon before and so this does reflect the fact that she was a student of the word of God. Listen further.
“He hath put down the mighty from their seats, and exalted them of low degree. He hath filled the hungry with good things; and the rich he hath sent empty away.” You’ll recognize Psalm 107 there. And then, “He hath hopen,” we don’t use that word, “He hath helped his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy; As he spake to our fathers, to Abraham, and to his seed for ever.” Luke chapter 1 and verse 55
Now, four hundred years pass from the patriarchal times to the Mosaic era but as one of the men who has influenced me has said, “theology scarcely misses a beat.” The seed of Jacob has now become a nation. It’s the time for God to manifest himself to Israel as Yahweh and to remember his covenant. Remember in Exodus when God begins to deal again with the nation after the four- hundred-year period of time. He sets it forth that way. “And God spake unto Moses, and said unto him, I am Yahweh: And I appeared unto Abraham, unto Isaac, and unto Jacob, by the name of God Almighty, but by my name Jehovah was I not known to them. And I have also established my covenant with them,” and then in verse 5 we read, “And I have also heard the groaning of the children of Israel, whom the Egyptians keep in bondage; and I have remembered my covenant.” So the Exodus and the events of the Exodus are God’s way of letting Israel know that he still considers those promises viable promises. They are valid and he is going to carry them out. And so the Exodus is part of the way by which he does. He manifests himself to Israel as Yahweh. He remembers his covenant and in the light of the fact that as he brings Israel out one of the first things he does is to at Mount Sinai give them the Mosaic Law or the Sinaitic covenant. In the light of that it’s clear that the Sinaitic or the Mosaic covenant is an undergirding, a step along the way, to the fulfillment of the Abrahamic covenant.
Now, that is made plain when you read the Book of Exodus or if you read the Pentateuch. The mosaic covenant, the law given on Mount Sinai, was a step along the way to the fulfillment of the Abrahamic covenant. Now, occasionally you will find theologians, I think, a bit confused over this and some of them in their anxiety to keep believers under some aspect of the Law of Moses, at least, will affirm the fact that the Mosaic covenant was not really a conditional covenant at all but rather simply an appendage to the Abrahamic covenant. And, on the other hand, probably some others have gone too far the other way. But, I think, that what we have been trying to show is more balanced. That is the Mosaic covenant is the step along the way to the accomplishment the Abrahamic promises but it’s not a step along the way because it’s the same kind of covenant. It’s the step along the way because it’s the means for the moral preparation of the children of Israel and others so that they might be responsive to promises of grace. In other words, the Mosaic covenant is given, primarily, though there are other reasons, primarily, to reveal to men their sin. By the Law is the full knowledge of sin, the Apostle Paul points out.
Now, we don’t want to discount the fact that it also was an illustrative code given to Israel and in all of the ceremonies of the law there was a remarkable anticipation of what our Lord would do in reality. So the Mosaic Law is filled typical instruction in the ceremonies designed to teach certain aspects of God’s salvation through sacrifice. The priests and the priesthood the duties of the priest and all of the other aspects of that particular system are important for instructional purposes.
Now, the Abrahamic covenant was characterized by promises of grace. It did not stress human sin and inability and it did not instruct in grace. So Israel needs a tutor. Israel needs to be prepared morally for the coming of the seed. That’s what Paul means when he says in Galatians chapter 3 in verse 24. He says, “Wherefore the law was our slave guardian to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith.” So there begins then at Mount Sinai the Mosaic legal age with its subordinate temporary nature and its definite termination at the sacrifice of the Lord Jesus Christ on Calvary’s Cross. Or in other words, the legal age extends from Mount Sinai to Mount Golgotha. That’s the period of time, specifically, that men and I’m, of course, speaking of Israel primarily, men are under law.
Now, let’s look at our outline and roman I is the preparation for the legal covenant Exodus chapter 19, verse 1 through verse 25, and to capital A: The conditions. Let me read Exodus chapter 19 in verse 1 through verse 6.
“In the third month, when the children of Israel were gone forth out of the land of Egypt, the same day came they into the wilderness of Sinai. For they were departed from Rephidim, and were come to the desert of Sinai, and had pitched in the wilderness; and there Israel camped before the mount. And Moses went up unto God, and the Lord called unto him out of the mountain, saying, ‘Thus shalt thou say to the house of Jacob, and tell the children of Israel; Ye have seen what I did unto the Egyptians, and how I bare you on eagles’ wings, and brought you unto myself. Now, therefore, if ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me above all people: for all the earth is mine: And ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation. These are the words which thou shalt speak unto the children of Israel.’”
The ages anticipated by God’s words in chapter 3 in verse 12, “When thou hast brought forth the people out of Egypt, ye shall serve God upon this mountain.” So Israel has reached the mountain and it is here that they’re going to have the great experiences that gather round the giving of the Law. Notice that God takes the initiative and he calls Moses. He knew God. That is, Moses knew that they would serve God on this mountain. The Lord reminds him of the grace that was shown to them. In the fourth verse, “You have seen what I did unto the Egyptians, and how I bare you on eagles’ wings, and brought you unto myself.” And notice too that the promise precedes the demand. God does not demand before he gives but he gives and makes demands.
Now, he says, “Ye have seen,” in the fourth verse and introduces the statement that shows that the passage is addressed to a typically redeemed people. So the law is not a means by which Israel was to be saved right from the beginning they should have known that. And also the readers of the Bible should recognize that because typically Israel is a people that has passed through the experiences that suggest redemption. So the Law is a means by which redeemed people are to remain in fellowship with Yahweh the Lord God. So right at the beginning it seems to me very plain that Moses and the Lord intend for us to understand that the Law is not intended for salvation. The obedience that God requests of them is obedience that is grounded in the grace that is shown to them.
Now, notice to that he says, “You have seen what I did unto the Egyptians, and how I bare you on eagles’ wings, and brought you unto myself.” Now, this refers to the salvation that Israel received from the Egyptians who were definitely seeking to destroy them. The reference is through the Passover lambs and their separation to God. Thus, now a nation she’s journeyed to Sinai redeemed by blood and power, the Passover lamb slain and by the power of God through the Red Sea. The eagles’ wings refer to the strong and loving care of the Lord God. This is a remarkably beautiful figure and for those of you who are familiar with eagles, I’m not really, you may remember that eagles are among the highest flying of the fowls, and since they are those that fly high they carry their young on the top of their wings rather than other ways because they don’t fear any peril from above. And so the reference here is a figure designed to remind Israel of the way in which he guided them by the pillar of cloud in the day and the pillar of fire at night and the fact that the enemies of the children of Israel could not lay their hands upon Israel because of the shekinah glory that embraced them.
A great deal of discussion has gathered around the words of verse 5, “Now therefore, if ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me above all people: for all the earth is mine.” In the old Scofield Bible, which many of us grew up reading, it is said, and I’m quoting from it, “the dispensation of promise ended when Israel rationally accepted the Law,” Exodus chapter 19 in verse 8. In the new edition, the editors have thought it wise to modify those words and so the new edition says, “the age of promise was ‘superseded’ though not annulled by the law that was given at Sinai.” So evidently the editors have felt it necessary to make reference to the fact that the age of promise is an age that does follow through according to dispensational schemes through the age of the law.
Now, the words that are given here are words that express a condition. “If you will obey my voice indeed,” and in the Hebrew text the conjunctive particle “im” is used here which is a conditional particle and so it does seem to be a condition set out by the Lord God. This it’s conditionally but it’s evidently related to Israel’s mediatorial role and status as a holy nation bringing God’s truth to the nations. The promise is conditioned upon obedience to the Sinaitic covenant. So Israel, God’s peculiar treasure, is to enjoy her promises if she is obedient.
Now, the words should be carefully noted. God is not saying now if you are disobedient those promises are cancelled. He never says that. As a matter of fact, long after Israel has been disobedient those promises are still set out as applicable to them. What the situation was is essentially set out in Deuteronomy 5:11, “she must obey God’s voice and heed his covenant not in order to live and that things might go well with her but with the result that she will experience authentic living and things will go well for her.” In other words, the promises are unconditional for they are the Abrahamic promises, but the enjoyment of them is related to their obedience to the word of God.
The promises are spelled out by three expressions. First of all, Israel shall be a peculiar treasure. [Hebrew indistinct] is the Hebrew word. A movable treasure not real estate but valuable moveable property is its force. It’s the word that is found in the New Testament to describe certain aspects of the church and the churches relationship to the Lord. For example, in Titus chapter 2 in verse 14, and in 1 Peter 2 verse 9, the church is called “a people for his possession.” Well, that’s derived from this particular place. So just as Israel was his peculiar treasure so the church is looked at as God’s peculiar treasure. The reason why these figures are used with reference to the church is because the church in Israel formed part of the one people of God and, therefore, those things that describe the blessing of Israel are things that describe the blessing of the gentiles who are in the church of the Lord Jesus Christ. So I’m not surprised that in Titus 2:14, we’re called the people for God’s possession, 1 Peter 2:9, the same thing.
The second thing that is said about Israel is that she is to be a kingdom of priests, kings and priests, because that’s the sense of the word “mamlakuwth” in the Hebrew, which means a kingdom, and it’s probably here used in the active sense of a kingship. The Greek translation of this particular passage has the word “royal priesthood” and again that is referred in the New Testament to the church of the Lord Jesus Christ again for the same reasons; that the church in Israel inherit those blessings that were given to Abraham. So just as Israel possessed the Abrahamic blessings so those who have been grafted into the olive tree possess those blessings as well.
The third thing to that is said about Israel is that if Israel obeys she should be a holy nation. A nation set apart from other nations to belong to God. He displayed his glory in creation and preservation and his holy name in the election and guidance of the nation Israel. Some time read Psalm 103 and Psalm 104 and to see that idea expounded. The covenant relationship is involved here and the indispensable subjective condition for the maintenance of this relationship is faith.
Now, capital B in the outline, that was capital A, the conditions, the consent and verses 7 and 8, read in this way.
“And Moses came and called for the elders of the people, and laid before their faces all these words which the Lord commanded him. And all the people answered together, and said, ‘All that the Lord hath spoken we will do.’ And Moses returned the words of the people unto the Lord.’”
The promise precedes the demand. Notice that the law was proposed before it was imposed. The answer of the people, however, one might think is totally bad. In fact, I’ve heard people say that. That the answer, all that the Lord hath spoken we will do, was just bad but now if you read through the whole of the Pentateuch you will discover that that’s not true. In Deuteronomy chapter 5 in verse 28 and verse 29 and verse 33, Moses said that their answer was good. “All that the Lord has promised we will do,” but it was good so far as it went. It’s perfectly all right and it’s good for a person to desire to serve the Lord, to desire to give oneself holy to him, to desire to be explicitly and implicitly obedient to him. That’s a magnificent desire. In fact, one wonders if an individual can really be a genuine Christian who doesn’t want to obey the Lord, but there is a difference between wanting to obey the Lord and being able to obey the Lord in this sense all that the Lord has said or spoken we will do. So, I think, that this particular answer while it’s good as far as it went and Moses statement of chapter 5 of Deuteronomy that it was a good answer is correct there is more to it than just that.
I think, it points to Israel’s immaturity and also it’s a clue to why they were placed under Mosaic Law and why for hundreds of years they were under that Law. First of all, Israel had little knowledge of the Laws holy character even in the apostle’s day he had to say to the leaders in Israel the Law is holy just and good. It’s not a means of salvation but it’s holy just and good and men can only be saved by grace. Even in Paul’s day that lesson had not been learned by those with whom he spoke.
The very next verse graphically points to the quality to difference between Yahweh and the people. Notice the ninth verse, “And the Lord said unto Moses, ‘Lo, I come unto thee in a thick cloud, that the people may hear when I speak with thee, and believe thee for ever.’ And Moses told the words of the people unto the Lord.” So you can see in this particular symbolic representation of the Lord coming in the cloud and then the thunder and the lightenings an evidence of what the law really meant. To put oneself under the Law and to put oneself under the law with the idea of fulfilling the Law out of our own power is to put one under that which will surely bring us into judgment. That’s why the picture is as it is and you may remember that the writer of the Epistle to the Hebrews speaking about this very incident in the twelfth chapter of his book makes reference to this for he says, he’s talking about the fact that we’ve come unto the mount that might be touched, “For ye are not come unto the mount that might be touched, and that burned with fire, nor unto blackness, and darkness, and tempest, and the sound of a trumpet, and the voice of words; which voice they that heard intreated that the word should not be spoken to them any more: For they could not endure that which was commanded, and if so much as a beast touch the mountain, it shall be stoned, or thrust through with a dart: And so terrible was the sight, that Moses said, ‘I exceedingly fear and quake.’” So the author reminds the readers of his epistle. We haven’t come to mount Sinai. We’ve come to mount Zion the mountain of the grace of God. So the very things that happened to Israel around Mount Sinai were things that spoke symbolically and typically to them of the fact that the law brings us into judgment.
So Israel had little knowledge of the laws holy character and they didn’t have any knowledge of themselves properly. They were carnal sold unto sin and yet in spite of that they can say all the Lord had spoken we will do. Who’s that remind you of? Well, that reminds me of Peter. We read in Luke chapter 22, “And the Lord said, ‘Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat: But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren.’ And he said unto him, ‘Lord, I am ready to go with thee, both into prison, and to death.’ And Jesus said, ‘I tell you, Peter, the cock shall not crow this day, before thou shalt thrice deny that thou knowest me.’” Isn’t that amazing? So Peter didn’t understand himself. He didn’t understand the holy character of the Lord God himself either. He stands as a living illustration of the fact that it’s possible for an individual to do something good. Peter wanted to please the Lord but to want to is far different from having the power and enablement to do it. And, furthermore, to want to and not understand our weakness and the necessity of leaning constantly upon the Lord will lead inevitably to failure all the time. So often that happens to us. So in the Abrahamic covenant God binds himself in the Mosaic the people bind themselves and there’s a whole lot of difference between the two.
Well, the charge to the people, capital C in our outline, verse 9 through 25, we’ll just pass by with a comment or two. This section sets forth the sanctification of the people. It’s ceremonial but is suggestive of the internal requirements of true sanctification. The mount’s sanctification is set forth and the darkness, the thick clouds, and the setting of bounds is to show the holiness of God and they could not even touch the mountain. God was trying to show them something of his holy character.
Now, we have lost a lot of that in Evangelicalism and we today have a very interesting thing going on in Evangelicalism. We have individuals who have recognized that but they don’t know what to do about it. There is a professor at Wheaton College, a fairly well-known younger man. He’s going around the country talking about his experiences in evangelical churches and how in evangelical churches there is no sense of the holiness of God. No true worship according to his definition is being carried on in many evangelical churches
Now, I think, I sympathize a bit with what he is trying to say. What he’s trying to say is that when we gather together as the Lord’s people there should be a sense of the holiness of God, of the presence of God in our meetings and, therefore, the lightness and frivolity that characterizes so many of our meetings and, furthermore, the entertainment feature that is characteristic of evangelicalism today lends to a superficiality that in many ways is dishonoring to the Lord. Well, this professor instead of, to my mind, doing what should be done. That is, among the true believers seeking to exhort them and build them up in what the Scriptures teach concerning the holiness of God, the righteousness of God, the justice of God are all of the things that characterize his attributes and particularly his grace. For I don’t know of anything that creates a greater sense of awe and reverence than the knowledge of the grace of God shown to us has thought that the answer lies in ritual, and so he now is a member of the Episcopalian church.
Now, let me say there are some very good Episcopalian churches and in years past and in generations past many of them have been model churches in the sense that there has been the preaching of the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. There has been true doctrine proclaimed and some of the truly great men of the Christian church have spent their lives in the Anglican church, but to seek to find us a sense of the knowledge of God’s holiness and his grace and an atmosphere of worship and to find it simply in ritual where the word of God is not proclaimed, that’s to go to the other extreme and to make the same kind of mistake.
I have another person that I’m thinking about whose wife is an old friend of mine even before I came to Dallas and whose father delivered my children, married to a man who is a professor in a Christian college in the east, and he has recently joined the Roman Catholic Church for the same reason. His story has appeared in Christianity today and along the same lines, for the same kinds of reasons and when one o f the men at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School had an interview with him, which was crediting Christianity Today and asked him the scriptural basis of his change some of it was not included in the Christianity today interview. He had no real scriptural basis for the change in his going into the Roman Catholic Church. I kind of think that’s extremely sad. But when we talk about then sanctification of the people and the sanctification of the mountain and the picture here of the darkness, the thick cloud, the setting of bounds to show God’s holiness, we’re talking about something that would be useful for us to remember too in our meetings.
One of the things that I love about our Sunday evening meeting is the sense of reverence and awe that we often, I know you have as I have, we often have as we think about God’s holiness and as we think about the elements on the table and what they signify and as we read and ponder the word of God as one of the reasons the elders, and I certainly am in hundred percent sympathy, feel that we should every Sunday give an opportunity for the saints of God to worship him in spirit and in truth. Well, these are lessons that the Bible teaches from beginning to end but we often forget them.
Now, the delineation of the legal covenant, Roman II and capital A: The moral law. You’re familiar with most of this and so, I think, we can proceed rather rapidly through it. Moses beginning at chapter 20, begins to unfold the details of the Mosaic Law. So we’ll refer review only briefly the three aspects of the Law remembering this, don’t forget this important thing, that the Law is one law. The fact that the law can be analyzed into the moral law, the civil and social law and the ceremonial law is no reason for saying that the law was given in three specific parts and so signified by Moses. He did not say the Law is a three-fold law. The Law is one law. Therefore, to break as James says “one of the commandments is to break them all.” The Law is like a pane of glass. You cannot break part of it but when you break the pane you have broken the pane. So the Law is one.
But you can analyze it in the sense of exposition and note that aspect of it which can be called the moral law, the Ten Commandments, that part that can be called the civil and social laws, those things that regulated certain aspects of their daily life. For example, the commandment is you curse your mother or father you shall be put to death that was part of the civil and social law. Well that was just as much a part of the Law as the Ten Commandments and the Ten Commandments were just as much a part of that as that particular law and the ceremonial law which had to do with the priests as the carrying out of the covenantal requirements that too was part of the law. So the Ten Commandments make up the moral law, a revelation of the moral will of God.
The Ten Commandments or the Law was given to Israel chapter 34 in verse 27, and then in Romans chapter 9 in verse 4, Paul says, “the law, the commandments belong to Israel.” They were given to Israel I mentioned earlier as a way of life under the Abrahamic covenant not as a way of salvation. Paul rings the changes on that in Galatians. If there had been a law given that could have given life invariably righteousness would have been by the law. If righteousness should be by the law then Christ died in vain. All of these things the apostle says lay stress upon the fact that there is no salvation by the Mosaic Law. Yet in spite of that today in Judaism, the great doctrine in Judaism is the way in which a man is related to God is through the things that he does. Judaism is an ethical religion and the idea of the grace of God is foreign to Judaism. Occasionally, you will find the term used but the idea is foreign to Judaism. Israel still has the blinds over their eyes. They still do not see nor does anyone for that matter, who thinks that he can be justified by what he does. It must be remembered that the Law was given to Israel after their deliverance from Egypt by the blood of the Passover lamb and by the power of God through the Red Sea.
Hypothetically, our Lord can speak of life coming by the law but only hypothetically. It is true. If it’s possible for a person to believe in God and carry out the Mosaic Law perfectly then he would live. That’s what Jesus said to the lawyer remember. Listen to what he says in John chapter 10. By the way, many Evangelicals seek to explain this away but I don’t think it can be explained away. The simple language is very plain. Luke 10:25, “And, behold, a certain lawyer stood up, and tempted him, saying, ‘Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?’ He said unto him, ‘What is written in the law? How readest thou?’ And he answering said, ‘Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbour as thyself.’ And he said unto him, ‘Thou hast answered right: this do, and thou shalt live.’”
Now, those are the words of our Lord hypothetically. You see he had asked what great thing did I do. I’m now expounding the sense of the tenses that this man used when he came to Jesus. “What great thing shall I do that I may inherit eternal life,” and Jesus said after he repeated the law, he said, “this do,” but he didn’t use the word that refers to one great act he used the present tense. This go on doing and thou shall live. In other words, if you want to put yourself upon the doing road to salvation there’s no great thing that you can do in order to inherit eternal life. It is a constant thing from the moment you breathe your first breath.
Now, of course, he might have turned to the young lawyer and then said it’s too late you’ve already disobeyed the Lord God, but he was trying to show him that it’s impossible for a person to be saved by what he does because he must go on doing as long as he lives and he can never have the sense of assurance. That’s why in churches where salvation is set out as something we do in order to obtain it can never give you any assurance to make it very particular. That’s why in the Roman Catholic Church for a person to teach that one may have assurance of salvation is to teach doctrine that is condemned by the church. Why? Well, because basically their system is a system of works and, therefore, you can never know that you have eternal life. Even if you’ve carried out all of the prescriptions of the church you still cannot know. Assurance you cannot have. So a system of works can never bring you assurance.
The civil and social law is given in chapter 21, verse 1 through chapter 23. These were integral parts of the Law of Moses. They are called the judgments by Moses. Verse 1, now these are the judgments which thou shall set before them and included in it is the one I mentioned a minute ago verse 17, “And he that curseth his father, or his mother, shall surely be put to death.” There are some people in Evangelicalism today who would like to put believers not simply under the Ten Commandments but would like to put them also under the civil and social laws, but if we are to be put under them we must also be put under the sanctions. And the sanctions are physical death and so if we are to be under law we must be under the penalty of the Law otherwise we’re scoffing at the Law of God. The Law of God is only law when its penalties are meted out. And the ceremonial law is described verse chapter 25, verse 1, almost through the end of the Book of Exodus.
Grace is seen in the tabernacle and the service whose plans, incidentally, were not submitted to Moses in a building committee. The ceremonial law was portrayed as that which figuratively sets out the redemption that was to come by means of judge revelatory lessons and so every time Israel looked at the tabernacle they had a Texas-sized object lesson of the grace of God. Just think of the magnificent things that the tabernacle taught. How many doors into the tabernacle? One door. Jesus said, “I am the door.” To get into the tabernacle what did you have to pass by? Well, you had to pass by the brazen altar where the animals were sacrificed. No entrance into the tabernacle where the presence of God was symbolically set out except by sacrifice and then also the brazen laver before you could enter in where you washed your hands and feet because it was not only necessary for the sacrifice to be offered but also for daily cleansing. And so every time the priests passed by they had to stop and wash their hands and feet. That’s a very important lesson for believers such as you and I are that we do not enter into the presence of God with dirty hands. It’s essential that we confess our sins as Christians and receive forgiveness as well. Well, there’s so many lessons it’s not we don’t have time to talk about them.
Let me conclude with the ratification of the legal covenant chapter 24, verse 1 through 18 and capital A: For the Lord and then for the people verses 7 and 8. Now, this particular chapter is important simply because it shows us the conditional side of the Mosaic commandment. Now let me read and I’ll just comment on these two features because our time is just about up. Chapter 24 of Exodus, “And he said unto Moses come up unto the Lord, thou, and Aaron, Nadab, and Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel; and worship ye afar off. And Moses alone shall come near the Lord: but they shall not come nigh; neither shall the people go up with him. And 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 hath said will we do.’” You admire their desire, but oh what ignorance manifested by the condition of their hearts. “And Moses wrote all the words of the Lord, and rose up early in the morning, and builded an altar under the hill, and twelve pillars, according to the twelve tribes of Israel.” Notice, Moses is acting representatively. “And he sent young men of the children of Israel, which offered burnt offerings, and sacrificed peace offerings of oxen unto the Lord. And Moses took half of the blood, and put it in basons; and half of the blood he sprinkled on the altar.” Now, that’s the first important phrase. That’s the ratification of the covenant as it pertains to the Lord God. That in a sense is expressive of God’s determination to do his part in this conditional covenant. He will bless them if they obey him and the blood sprinkled on the altar represents the Lord’s commitment of himself to his part of the covenant. Characteristic word is “on the altar” for that’s the place where God met with the people.
Now, you can see from this that this is a two-sided covenant or a conditional covenant, for we go on and read verse 7 and 8, “And he took the book of the covenant, and read in the audience of the people: and they said, ‘All that the Lord hath said will we do, and be obedient. (They even had that) And Moses took the blood.’” Now, the blood which he had sprinkled on the altar for the Lord God he took the blood and sprinkled it on the people and that was the representative way by which the people were committed to obedience to the Mosaic Law. “Sprinkled it on the people, and said, ‘Behold the blood of the covenant, which the Lord hath made with you concerning all these words.’” So here we have then a two-fold covenant; God committing himself to fulfill the promises, Israel committing herself to be obedient the blood sprinkled on the altar representing God the blood sprinkled on the people representing the people. This is a two-sided covenant. It is a conditional covenant.
Now, I think, it’s striking, of course, that this expression in verse 8, “Behold the blood of the covenant, which the Lord hath made with you concerning all these words.” Here is an expression that is later found when our Lord ratifies the New covenant. In Matthew chapter 26 in verse 28, we read these words. This, of course, is designed to represent that the New Covenant is going to be able to do that which the Mosaic covenant could never do. Matthew 26:28, says, “For this is my blood of the New covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.” That particular expression which our Lord used at the ratification of the new covenant is one that almost all biblical students acknowledged is derived from Exodus chapter 24 in verse 8. It’s the language of the making of a covenant. In the case of the New covenant, however, the people of God do not have a conditional responsibility. God says that he will perform the things that he promises in the covenant. So the Mosaic covenant conditional covenant it’s very important to recognize that. Next week, Lord willing, we’ll take a look at the unconditional promise covenants.
Now, we have, as I mentioned, studied these covenants in some detail. Some of you have heard probably four or five lessons maybe more because I’m just speaking of ones that I’ve given on some of these aspects, so I’m going to take the liberty of shortening our discussion a bit rather than spending three or four of our Wednesday nights on the Abrahamic covenant. If you’re interested, I suggest you read not only Genesis chapter 12, but take a concordance and look up Abraham and read some sections in the Old Testament and read some sections in the New Testament and we will try to hit the high points next week in this fundamental promise covenant the blessings of which we share in today. That is if you’re a child of Abraham. Are you? Are you? Well, there are six or eight of you that are. [Laughter] The rest of you come into that family as well.
Let’s close in a word of prayer.
[Prayer] Father, we are grateful to Thee for these wonderful sections from the word of God and… [End of Tape]