Last week we buried Jacob. Jacob, the heel-grabber, whose name was upgraded to Israel; the Prevailer, took his family to live with his favorite son, Joseph, in Egypt. Last week, we read that “wow” verse where YHWH renews his covenant with Jacob/Israel…
Genesis 46:1-4 So Israel took his journey with all that he had and came to Beersheba, and offered sacrifices to the God of his father Isaac. And God spoke to Israel in visions of the night and said, "Jacob, Jacob." And he said, "Here am I." Then he said, "I am God, the God of your father. Do not be afraid to go down to Egypt, for there I will make you into a great nation. I myself will go down with you to Egypt, and I will also bring you up again, and Joseph's hand shall close your eyes."
Israel did, indeed, become a great nation. Joseph did, indeed, close his father’s eyes. When Jacob died the covenant changed. It had been a covenant with a person… Abraham; then his son Isaac, then stolen by Jacob. But the Covenant goes to a family. 11 of the sons receive a blessing. Joseph gets the double blessing! Because he lived up to the Covenant, he is double blessed.
Then… nothing happens for 400 years. 400 hundred years is a long time. Abraham; Isaac, Jacob, Joseph… bam, bam, bam, bam… and then nothing for 400 years. 400 hundred years is a long time. 400 years ago…
--1619, the pilgrims are thinking about coming to America.
--Of course, the San Miguel Chapel, the oldest known building in the USA, is under construction in Santa Fe.
--Travel by horse… no indoor plumbing… 3 months to cross the Atlantic.
--It was 372 years before Al Gore invented the internet… Dec. 9, 1991
400 years is a long time for nothing to happen. Well, to be completely honest, 2 things did happen between the end of the book of Genesis and the beginning of the book of Exodus.
1) The 70-member family of Israel grew to be a people-group! From 70 to 10,000s of people!
2) The children of Israel became slaves!
Exodus 1:8-13 Now there arose a new king over Egypt, who did not know Joseph. And he said to his people, "Behold, the people of Israel are too many and too mighty for us. Come, let us deal shrewdly with them, lest they multiply, and, if war breaks out, they join our enemies and fight against us and escape from the land." Therefore, they set taskmasters over them to afflict them with heavy burdens. They built for Pharaoh store cities, Pithom and Raamses. But the more they were oppressed, the more they multiplied and the more they spread abroad. And the Egyptians were in dread of the people of Israel. So, they ruthlessly made the people of Israel work as slaves.
Then, after 400 years of nothing, YHWH remembers the covenant… His oath bring them back…
Exodus 2:23-25 During those many days the king of Egypt died, and the people of Israel groaned because of their slavery and cried out for help. Their cry for rescue from slavery came up to God. And God heard their groaning, and God remembered his covenant with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob. God saw the people of Israel- and God knew.
You, also, know the story. Let me hit the highpoints…
--Moses is born. Fetched from the Nile by Pharaoh’s daughter…
--Moses kills an Egyptian and flees to Midian, where he marries Jethro’s daughter.
--God appears to Moses in a burning bush.
--Moses returns to deliver the children of Israel by 10 plagues.
--The last plague is the death of the firstborn.
--The cross the Red Sea.
--The Mosaic Covenant is instituted on Mount Sinai!
Remember, I told you there are lots of covenants in Scripture, but there are five major covenants...
--Abraham, Isaac, Jacob…
I hinted there may be a sixth major covenant… I’m still processing that one.
Now we are ready to study the third covenant; The Mosaic Covenant.
This huge people-group; these descendants of Jacob; these newly rescued slaves are gathered at the mountain of God.
Exodus 19:2-6 There Israel encamped before the mountain, while Moses went up to God. The LORD called to him out of the mountain, saying, "Thus you shall say to the house of Jacob, and tell the people of Israel: You yourselves have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I bore you on eagles' wings and brought you to myself. Now therefore, if you will indeed obey my voice and keep my covenant, you shall be my treasured possession among all peoples, for all the earth is mine; and you shall be to me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation. These are the words that you shall speak to the people of Israel."
This was God’s intention. God wanted the children of Israel to be this special people; His holy people… so, they could be a kingdom of priests. They were to be God’s representatives to the world. They were the called out. They were set apart. They were select for a sacred purpose. God was not writing off the rest of the world – “for all the earth is His”. Israel was supposed to take the message of who YHWH was to the world.
YHWH brought the children of Israel out of Egypt as if on the wings of eagles. Imagine they were small eagle chicklings, being held in the tender grip of a mighty eagle. This eagle protected them. And rescued them from slavery to be this holy people. To be the glorious representative of YHWH to the world. “This is our God! This is our El-Shaddai. YHWH is almighty. YHWH is more powerful than all the Egyptian gods. YHWH, the eagle, is the deliverer! A holy people for a holy task!
So, Moses brings this beautiful offer back from YHWH to the people. Moses gives them the opportunity to be a kingdom of priests! Moses brings the deal to the people. Preparations are made. The people enter a covenant with YHWH… Listen to how the Mosaic Covenant is created…
Exodus 24:3-11 Moses came and told
the people all the words of the LORD
and all the rules. And all the people
answered with one voice and said, "All the words that the LORD has spoken
we will do." And Moses wrote down
all the words of the LORD. 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. And he sent young men of the people of Israel, who offered burnt
offerings and sacrificed peace offerings of oxen to the LORD. And Moses took half of the blood and put it
in basins, and half of the blood he threw against the altar. 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 spoken we will do, and we will be
obedient." And Moses took the blood
and threw it on the people and said, "Behold the blood of the covenant
that the LORD has made with you in accordance with all these words." Then
Moses and Aaron, Nadab, and Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel went up,
and they saw the God of Israel. There was under his feet as it were a pavement
of sapphire stone, like the very heaven for clearness. And he did not lay his
hand on the chief men of the people of Israel; they beheld God, and ate and
Notice all the elements of an effective biblical covenant are there.
Seven Elements of an Effective Biblical Covenant -- Version 2.3.
1) Covenants create relationships by giving identity. My kingdom of priests!
2) The parties in the covenant are named; one superior and one inferior.
3) Valuable Blessings are Granted.
4) Oaths are given.
5) A sacrifice cuts the Covenant. Number 5 Subpoint… Meals are involved in covenants.
6) There is a symbol to remember. We will discover next week the Tabernacle.
7) Names are given or changed.
At the end of Moses’ life, he recaps this event…
Deuteronomy 7:6-13 "For you are a people holy to the LORD your God. The LORD your God has chosen you to be a people for his treasured possession, out of all the peoples who are on the face of the earth. It was not because you were more in number than any other people that the LORD set his love on you and chose you, for you were the fewest of all peoples, but it is because the LORD loves you and is keeping the oath that he swore to your fathers, that the LORD has brought you out with a mighty hand and redeemed you from the house of slavery, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt. Know therefore that the LORD your God is God, the faithful God who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments, to a thousand generations, and repays to their face those who hate him, by destroying them. He will not be slack with one who hates him. He will repay him to his face. You shall therefore be careful to do the commandment and the statutes and the rules that I command you today. And because you listen to these rules and keep and do them, the LORD your God will keep with you the covenant and the steadfast love that he swore to your fathers. He will love you, bless you, and multiply you. He will also bless the fruit of your womb and the fruit of your ground, your grain and your wine and your oil, the increase of your herds and the young of your flock, in the land that he swore to your fathers to give you.”
You did notice the “be careful to do”. You did notice the “listen to these rules”. You did notice, “keep and do them”.
There are two types of Covenants. There are unconditional covenants and there are conditional covenants. Unconditional covenants God states what he will do… black, black, no trade back.
--The Rainbow Covenant God made with Noah was unconditional… I will never destroy the earth…
--The Covenant God made with Abraham was unconditional… I will bless you and curse others who cross you…regardless.
--Isaac’s covenant, Jacob’s or Joseph’s were all given without conditions.
But the Mosaic covenant hinged on the people’s obedience.
If… you will indeed obey my voice and keep my covenant.
If… you keep his commandments.
If…keep and do them.
The Mosaic Covenant was conditional. As you know, the people of Israel were off and on again in keeping their covenant. The story of the rest of the Old Testament was the ups and mostly, downs of the offspring of Jacob as they mostly did not keep their covenant. The Mosaic Covenant was a conditional covenant.
Here is how we are to understand the Mosaic Covenant.
Galatians 3:24-29 So then, the law was our guardian until Christ came, in order that we might be justified by faith. But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian, for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you are Christ's, then you are Abraham's offspring, heirs according to promise.
The Mosaic Covenant was like a babysitter or more accurately a nanny, a tutor, until humanity was ready for Christ. Now in Christ, the Mosaic covenant with all it’s laws, has been replaced by faith. When we, in faith, are baptized into Christ we enter the New Covenant. The temporary, conditional Mosaic Covenant is over. We, now, live in the New Covenant.
May 19, 2019
Los Alamos Church of Christ