A Covenant Faith - Arrival Series [7-5-20]

Updated: Jul 29


Do you remember what a covenant is? A covenant is, literally, a contract. In the Bible, it is an agreement between God and his people, in which God makes promises to his people and, usually, requires certain conduct from them. In the Old Testament, God made agreements with Noah, Abraham, and Moses. Those were covenants.


The covenant God made with Abraham was renewed with his son, Isaac:

Sojourn in this land, and I will be with you and will bless you, for to you and to your offspring I will give all these lands, and I will establish the oath that I swore to Abraham your father. I will multiply your offspring as the stars of heaven and will give your offspring all these lands. And in your offspring all the nations of the earth shall be blessed, because Abraham obeyed my voice and kept my charge, my commandments, my statutes, and my laws. - Genesis 26:3-5

Here's an amazing insight into God and the covenant He makes. Isaac's son was Jacob. And God reiterated the covenant with Jacob. Here's the sureness of God's covenant. At that time, Jacob probably had no idea he and his family would be going to Egypt. For 400 years his descendants toiled as slaves as the promise seemed to come to a standstill. But while God's plans might stall, they cannot be stopped. Jacob had no idea God would renew His promise with Moses.


But we know what the Bible says. God's ways are seldom our ways. There are things we think we know that we don't know. There are things we don't know that we think we don't know. There are things that we don't think we know that we know. And there are things that we know that we know but we only know in part. It was always God's plan to move His covenant people through the trials and tribulations of Egypt toward the promised land. That was God's plan. God's covenant with Israel, begun with Abraham, was later solidified with Moses in the tablets on Mount Sinai.


Before we move through God's promises in Exodus, let's take an important short side-trip through the divine principle of God's covenant as touched on

by Paul in Romans 8:17:

And if children, then heirs - heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.

Jesus Christ makes us part of God's covenant people. And when we serve him sacrificially, we show that we are God's adopted children.


Here's the covenant rundown from Exodus.


1. In Exodus 19, God announced to Moses the general terms of the covenant.

  • If you obey and keep my covenant, you will be my special possession, a kingdom of priests, a holy nation.

  • Moses shared it with the people, and they said all the Lord has spoken we will do.

  • It's all good.

2. In the second half of Exodus 19, God told Moses to consecrate the people.

  • In three days God descended in fire and the mountain was wrapped in smoke.

  • God again called Moses up the mountain. This time, Moses returned with a warning from God - boundaries were set so the people would not approach too near to God. This was to guard against making false images and idols.

3. Then, in chapter 20, God Himself addressed the people {through Moses}.

  • God gave them the Ten Commandments.

  • The people were terrified when the presence of God was manifested in thunder and lightning and the sound of the trumpet and the mountain smoking.

  • They were very happy for Moses to remain the point person in this encounter with God.

4. In Exodus 24, as Moses reported all the ordinances to the people, they said, "All the words that the Lord has spoken we will do."

  • That's when Moses wrote them down, built an altar, sacrificed several oxen, and sealed the covenant with blood.

  • With everything in place, Moses read the Book of the Covenant {the Ten Commandments and the rules and commands that follow}, threw some blood on the altar, and threw some blood on the people.

  • It literally had a bloody implication…if the people broke the covenant, their blood would be shed, and it would be their fault.

5. Exodus 24 wrapped up with two big things - plans for building the tabernacle {portable sanctuary for worship} and two stone tablets.

  • These two tablets of testimony served as a personally signed covenant document from the Lord.


Now for the sadly pathetic part. Less than forty days into the covenant, the people broke their promise by making an idol. A golden calf. It's amazing what mob mentality will do. In a huge understatement, God said to Moses, "They have turned aside quickly out of the way that I have commanded them." {Exodus 32:8} Then Moses prayed for the people, and God withheld his wrath. Moses broken that tablets to show how the people had broken the covenant. The ringleaders were destroyed and/or cast out. But the nation as a whole was spared.


So, when the tablets were smashed, we wonder. What became of the covenant? They broke if before it even became completed. And here's where we really need to pay attention. If this covenant had been based on works or on strict justice alone, Israel's goose would have been cooked. But to show the covenant was based on grace, even after the rebellion, God renewed the covenant and used grace as its foundation.


In Exodus 34:1 God said to Moses, "Cut for yourself two tablets of stone like the first, and I will write on the tablets the words that were on the first tablets, which you broke." Then God proclaimed the basis for the renewed covenant:

The Lord passed before him and proclaimed, “The Lord, the Lord, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, but who will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children and the children's children, to the third and the fourth generation.” - Exodus 34:6-7

Do you see the beauty of the covenant in the Old Testament? And here's where we reach back from the cross, and hear the sweep of this covenant from Exodus 34:10:

And he said, "Behold, I am making a covenant. Before all your people I will do marvels, such as have never been created in all the earth or in any nation. And all the people among whom you are shall see the work of the Lord, for it is an awesome thing that I do with you."

God's mercy and grace are always shining through. Remember:

GRACE = GETTING WHAT WE DON'T DESERVE.
MERCY = NOT GETTING THE PUNISHMENT WE DESERVE.

God's grace and mercy are always shining through…from the Old Testament to the New Testament, we read the story of His grace and mercy. Amen?


Follow the flow of the five major promises within the covenant to its

fulfillment in Jesus Christ:

  1. Israel will be God's Prized Possession.

  2. Israel will be a Kingdom of Royal Priests.

  3. Israel will be a Holy Nation.

  4. God Will Defend Israel from all Her Enemies.

  5. God will be Merciful and Gracious and Forgiving.

With great clarity see the progression from My. Sinai to My. Calvary; from the Ten Commandments to the Book of Romans. The message of Moses is in perfect harmony with the message of Christ. They are both messages of grace.


So, what does all this mean for us? What does it say to us? Debilitated as we are, at times, by our wretched human condition, how does the covenant speak to our hearts?


First, the covenant doesn't say we have to be perfect to receive God's blessing. Or that if you are imperfect you will lose God's blessing. Exodus 19:5 says, "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." Simply put, it means Israel must remain open to receive God's grace and mercy and forgiveness.


Second, Israel upholds her side of the covenant by loving God and by not putting any other value where God belongs in her heart. Again, simply put, this is not about earning anything. It is evidence of what has been freely given by God. It would hardly be loving if we had to earn this grace from God.


Third, sinful people that we are, we will struggle with rebellion against God. All we like sheep have gone astray, and all that. But our struggle with unbelief does not control, direct, or fashion God's grace to us. As the new covenant under the cross requires obedience, it is God Himself who supplies the power. Hebrews 5:9 says, "Being made perfect he became the source of eternal salvation to all who obey him." Never forget. Jesus sealed the covenant with his blood. He was perfect. We're not. But we must strive for obedience, and even then, our obedience is faith working through love {Galatians 5:6} which is a gift of grace.


Now for the beauty in all this. Here's the glorious way in which the New Testament reaches back into the Old Testament. As we saw in Exodus, God freely and graciously forgave His people. Why? Because God looked forward to the coming of His Son and how Jesus' death on the cross brought forgiveness for sin. What was freely given under Moses was purchased by Jesus Christ. This covenant of grace and mercy and forgiveness was anticipatory of the cross.


Finally, every forgiven sin was laid on Christ on the cross. Jesus willingly accepted it for the glory of God and the good of his people. If you trust Jesus Christ and obediently seek to do his will, numbered among his elect through the grace and mercy and forgiveness of God, then you are God's special possession. You are a royal priesthood. You are a holy people.


How wonderful it is that the Old Testament…the covenant with Moses…is working in our lives today. The Lord, the Lord, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love - forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin.


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