Why Sinai belongs to the Covenant of Grace

RUIN & REDEMPTION

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Why Sinai belongs to the Covenant of Grace (Lesson 6.4)

December 27, 2018

 

 

1. First, Scripture tells us that the ESSENCE of the Mosaic Covenant is the same as the Covenant of Grace:  Moses tells Israel in Deuteronomy 7:12, “Then it shall come about, because you listen to these judgments and keep and do them, that the Lord your God will keep with you His covenant and His lovingkindness which He swore to your forefathers.” Notice that Moses is not saying: If you listen to these judgments, then the Lord will keep with you the covenant He is making today with you. Rather, Moses is saying: If you listen to these judgments, the Lord will keep with you the covenant He had made with the patriarchs. God isn't saying: If you embrace the terms of the Mosaic Covenant, I will give you the blessings of the Mosaic Covenant. Rather, He's saying: If you embrace the terms of the Mosaic Covenant, I will give you the blessings of the Abrahamic Covenant. This is because the covenant that God was renewing with Israel at Sinai was the same covenant He had made with Abraham. The Mosaic Covenant was simply a continuation of the Abrahamic Covenant. This is all the more explicit in Deuteronomy 29:10-13, where Moses tells Israel, “You stand today. . .that you may enter into the covenant with the Lord your God. . .in order that He may establish you today as His people and that He may be your God, just as He spoke to you and as He swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.”2 In other words, what God is doing here at Sinai for Israel under Moses is the very thing He had promised to do in His covenant with Abraham. What God would do for Israel in His covenant with them was the very same thing that He had promised to do for the patriarchs in His covenant with them. So then, if the Abrahamic Covenant belongs to the Covenant of Grace, and the Mosaic Covenant is the same in essence, it follows that it must belong to the Covenant of Grace as well.3

 

2. Scripture tells us that the PRIVILEGES of the Mosaic Covenant are the same as the Covenant of Grace.  The passage from Deuteronomy 29 quoted above doesn't just teach us about the essence of the Mosaic Covenant, but also about the privileges contained in the Mosaic Covenant. We read again: “You stand today. . .that you may enter into the covenant with the Lord your God. . .in order that He may establish you today as His people and that He may be your God. . .” This is God's promise to Israel at Sinai: “I will. . .be your God, and you shall be My people” (Leviticus 26:12). We've shown earlier that this is the very heartbeat of God's promise to His people in the Covenant of Grace.4 God further tells Israel in Exodus 19:5-6 that if they will listen to His voice and keep His covenant, “then you shall be My own possession among all the peoples. . .and you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.” These are also the same privileges given in the Covenant of Grace, for we read of the very same gospel privileges in 1 Peter 2:9-10, where Peter quotes this same verse, applying it to Gentile believers and telling them: “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God's own possession. . .” Further, God freely bestows the land of Canaan to His people Israel as an inheritance, which He had previously sworn on oath to give to the patriarchs and their descendants. This was also a gospel privilege, since the land of Canaan was a picture of the eternal inheritance God has sworn to freely give to His people in Christ.5 So then, all the privileges given at Sinai were truly gospel privileges.6

 

3. The CONTEXT of the Mosaic Covenant is the same as the Covenant of Grace:  The Lord begins the Ten Commandments by reminding Israel why it was that they were to obey the Law they were about to receive: “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.” (Exodus 20:2).7 In Israel's slavery in Egypt they were confronted with their desperate need for redemption; but in their deliverance we behold God's gracious provision of redemption. They had been enslaved, but now they were set free through the power of God (Exodus 9:16; Psalm 106:8), having been marked with the blood of the Passover lamb (Exodus 12:22). The Law, then, is only given to Israel in the context of redemption. Israel is not to obey God's Law in order to be set free from their slavery in Egypt—but because they had been set free; they are not to obey God's voice in order to be redeemed—but as those who already had been redeemed. We see the same pattern throughout the Law. Leviticus 11:45 says, “For I am the Lord who brought you up from the land of Egypt to be your God; thus you shall be holy, for I am holy.” Deuteronomy constantly invokes God's redeeming of Israel from Egypt as the grounds and reason for their obedience.8 Over and over again we read in the Law Scriptures such as Deuteronomy 27:9-10, where Moses says to Israel: “This day you have become a people for the Lord your God. You shall therefore obey the Lord your God, and do His commandments. . .” God doesn't give Israel the Law in order that they might become His people; He gives them the Law as those who had become His people. Isn't this exactly how God calls us to obedience in the Covenant of Grace?9 Just like Israel, we were enslaved to our sin (John 8:34); but Christ, our Passover lamb was sacrificed; and through faith in Him we are now set free by the power of God (Romans 1:16). Having been set free, God gives us His Law to obey. But like Israel, we do so, not in order to be redeemed, but rather because we've already been redeemed. So then, Israel was to obey for the same reason we do now in the gospel.

 

4. The REQUIREMENT of the Mosaic Covenant is the same as the Covenant of Grace:  When Jesus was asked what was the greatest commandment, He replied that the whole Law could be condensed into this: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.” Our Savior chose to quote Deuteronomy 6:5, but the Law is full of Scriptures like these. We read in Deuteronomy 10:12, “Now, Israel, what does the Lord your God require from you, but to fear the Lord your God, to walk in all His ways and love Him, and to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul. . .?” Deuteronomy 11:18 says, “You shall therefore impress these words of mine on your heart and on your soul.” What we see is that the obedience God required of Israel reached far beyond externals to the very depth of their being. The Law was never fulfilled by merely keeping a set of rules; it always goes beyond actions to the deepest longings of our hearts. God was not just commanding Israel to obey Him in a perfect but mechanical, robotic way. He was commanding them to love Him, to belong wholly to Him, to know and cherish and walk with Him, to cling to Him; to to follow Him and serve Him with all their hearts. When Jesus expounded the Law in the gospels, He wasn't teaching anything new; He was merely showing what the Law had required all along. This is why Paul says in Romans 7:14 that “the Law is spiritual”; it requires far more than just external obedience; it extends to our thoughts, motives, and the deepest longings of our hearts.10 So then, what God required of Israel under Moses is what He requires of us still in the Covenant of Grace. This is perhaps most clear in Deuteronomy 10:16, where God commands His people to circumcise their hearts. This shows us that all the obedience God requires in the Law is a gospel obedience. God isn't just commanding Israel to obey Him, but to obey Him in a gospel way. He's not commanding a robotic, legal obedience; He's commanding a true and living evangelical obedience. Not just to obey Him, but to obey Him with hearts that have been circumcised by the gospel. What God required at Sinai was gospel obedience.11

 

5. The PROVISION of the Mosaic Covenant is the same as the Covenant of Grace:  God required Israel to love Him with all their being, but in doing this, He actually required the impossible. Adam's fall has made it impossible for man to love God. Jesus tells us in John 3:19 that all of us are born with hearts that love the darkness rather than the Light. To say that all of us fall short of loving God with all our heart and soul is a massive understatement. As fallen sinners, we're naturally both enslaved to our sin (John 8:34) and in love with our sin (John 8:44). We're not only slaves, but willing slaves. We're neither able nor willing to love God. But as we've learned, God provides all that He asks in the Covenant of Grace. God would provide for all the miserable imperfections of His people through the blood of atonement. Christ was fore-pictured and proclaimed in the sacrifices of Leviticus. The believing Israelite would bring an animal to the tabernacle “to make atonement on his behalf” (Leviticus 1:4). The man would lay his hand on the head of the animal, picturing the truth that his sin was being imputed to the animal on his behalf; then he would slay the animal to symbolize the truth that God's wrath must be satisfied—and yet that it might be borne by a substitute. So then, there was forgiveness in the Mosaic Covenant (Exodus 34:6-7).12 Transgression was atoned for; sins were forgiven. There was grace under Moses because Moses was part of the Covenant of Grace. Of course, the blood of goats and bulls can never take away sins. But they pointed to the One who would. God would one day send to His people the Lamb of God, who would live a life of perfect obedience and submission to the Father and then take upon himself on the cross the punishment that every one of us deserves for our sin.13 Further, we read in Deuteronomy 30:6, “Moreover the Lord your God will circumcise your heart and the heart of your descendants, to love the Lord your God will all your heart and with all your soul, so that you may live.” God wouldn't just atone for the sins of His people; He would also take away their hearts of stone and give them circumcised hearts; radically new hearts. So that the Lord would not only provide forgiveness for His people, but also make them willing and able to love the Lord—not perfectly—but no less truly. So then, the way that God provided for His people at Sinai is no different than how He still does today.

 

6. The CONTENT of the Mosaic Covenant is the same as the Covenant of Grace:  Simply put, the Mosaic Covenant points us to Jesus and the gospel over and over again. Through pictures, promises, and prophecies, we see His fingerprints on every page of His covenant at Sinai. This is why the Savior plainly told the Jews, “if you believed Moses, you would believe Me, for he wrote about Me.” (John 5:46). That's an amazing statement. Here, Jesus himself is giving us His own interpretation of the Mosaic Covenant. And what we learn is that, at the end of the day, the Law of Moses is ultimately about Christ. What did Moses write about? He wrote about Christ. In the same way, the author of Hebrews tells us that all those who were listening to Moses had the “good news” preached to them—the same good news that is preached to us (4:2,6). In other words, it was the gospel that was preached to Israel under Moses. So then, Moses' ministry was actually an evangelical ministry—a gospel ministry. How so? We might give just a few examples here: 1) Moses himself points to the greater Prophet like him who was yet to come, of whom God said: “I will put My words in his mouth, and he shall speak to them all that I command him. . .whoever will not listen to My words which he shall speak in My name, I Myself will require it of him.” (Deuteronomy 18:15-19).14 2) The Passover and sacrifices of atonement point to Jesus, “the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29), as we've seen. 3) The Tabernacle points us to Jesus, who became flesh “and tabernacled among us” (John 1:14).15 4) The Priesthood points to Jesus, our greater high priest who offered himself once for all and ever lives to intercede for us (Hebrews 7:23-28). 5) The Manna points to Jesus, the true bread that has come down out of heaven to give life to the world (John 6:30-33, 49-51). 6) The bronze serpent points us to Christ, who was lifted up just as the serpent in the wilderness, that “whoever believes will in Him have eternal life.” (John 3:14-15). 7) The Rock that Moses struck in the wilderness points to Jesus, for Paul tells us that Israel was “drinking from a spiritual rock which followed them; and the rock was Christ” (1Cor.10:1-4).16 And whatever else we might find in the Law, Scripture sets forth as shadows of the good things to come (Hebrews 10:1); all serving to point us to Christ and his gospel.17 Christ and His redemption are either pictured or promised on every page of the Law of Moses. The Scriptures themselves testify that ultimately, the ministry of Moses at Sinai was all about Christ. And surely it is no different for us now in the Covenant of Grace.

 

7. Lastly, the MEANS of benefiting from the Mosaic Covenant is the same as the Covenant of Grace.  Everything in the Law pointed to Christ. We see Jesus everywhere. But just like us, Israel was called upon to embrace this message of life in Christ from the heart, by faith. Israel had to respond in faith. This is most evident from one particular passage of Scripture. In Romans 10:5-9, Paul says the following:

 

5For Moses writes that the man who practices the righteousness which is based on law shall live by that righteousness. 6But the righteousness based on faith speaks as follows: 'Do not say in your heart, “who will ascend into heaven?” (that is, to bring Christ down), 7or “Who will descend into the abyss?” (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead).' 8But what does it say? 'The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart' — that is, the word of faith which we are preaching, 9that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. . .

 

Here Paul seems to contrast two ways of life, two ways of righteousness; the righteousness that is based on Law and the righteousness that is based on faith. Later we'll deal in detail with the nature of the contrast, but for now I want us to just notice one thing: the Scripture that Paul here quotes in order to describe the righteousness that is based on faith actually comes from a passage in the Law. Let's say it again. Paul is quoting Deuteronomy 30:11-14, a passage in the Law, to describe the righteousness that is based on faith. Isn't that amazing? Paul here quotes from the Law to teach us about the righteousness that is by faith.18 And the reason is simple: the Law required faith.19 Just as the Law pointed to Christ in so many ways—it also required Israel to put their faith and hope in that Messiah it was so often prefiguring.20

 

Likewise, Scripture helps us understand that the reason most of the first generation of Israel under Moses never made it into the promised land was not because of a lack of works—but because of a lack of faith. The author of Hebrews had told us that the word which was preached to Israel under Moses in the wilderness was the same “good news” that is preached to us—that is, the gospel (4:2,6). Nevertheless, he goes on, “the word they heard did not profit them, because it was not united by faith in those who heard” (4:2; cf. 3:19). In other words, the very place that Israel went wrong was that they failed to believe in the same gospel that's preached to us. And this isn't something we only learn about in the book of Hebrews; the same truth is recorded in the Old Testament Scriptures themselves. For, when Moses recounts why Israel was made to wander 40 years in the wilderness, he declares to them the reason was: “you did not trust the Lord your God. . .” (Deuteronomy 1:32). This is also echoed in the Psalms. Reflecting on why God entered into judgment with Israel under Moses in the wilderness, the psalmist declares: “Therefore the Lord heard and was full of wrath; and a fire was kindled against Jacob and anger also mounted against Israel, because they did not believe in God and did not trust in His salvation,” (78:21-22), and again, because they “did not believe in His wonderful works (v32). So then, the reason that many under Moses missed out on the blessing was not because of a lack of legal obedience—but rather a lack of faith.21

 

So then, the question that we would put to any who would hold to a different view of Sinai is this: If the essence of the Mosaic Covenant is the same as the Covenant of Grace, and if the privileges of the Mosaic Covenant are the same as the Covenant of Grace, and if the context, and the requirement, and the provision, and the content, and the means of entering into the blessing in the Mosaic Covenant are all the same as the Covenant of Grace—then how can it be said that the covenant God made at Sinai with Israel was anything other than simply one of the manifestations of the Covenant of Grace?22

 

 

 

1 Most of the following evidences were gleaned from the writings of Puritans such as John Ball (pp102-143); Francis Roberts (pp757-764); Anthony Burgess (pp234-237); and Thomas Blake (pp202-219). Cf. also Colquhoun, Law and Gospel, pp54-62.

2 See also Luke 1:54-55, where Mary declares the same truth: “He has given help to Israel His servant, in remembrance of His mercy, as He spoke to our fathers, to Abraham and his descendants forever.”

3 “This speaks clearly and fully to the point, that by this covenant He would be their God, and they should be His people, as He had sword to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, that is, according to the tenor of His covenant with Abraham, etc. So that this confirms God's former covenant with Abraham, and the same covenant interest betwixt God and Abraham with his seed, and in the same way, as he had sworn to Abraham, etc; therefore these covenants were one and the same for substance.” (Roberts, p758). Of Deuteronomy 7:12, Roberts says, “Their keeping of this Sinai-Covenant, has the promise of God's keeping to them, and performing to them his covenant and mercy sworn to their fathers; therefore this Sinai-Covenant, and that covenant made with their fathers, held forth. . .unto them the same mercy, and are, for substance, the same kind of covenant.” (p757).

4 See also Deuteronomy 29:12-13. As Roberts puts it: “How can the Lord be a covenant-God to sinners; or sinners be a covenant-people to God, but only in Christ by faith? . .Therefore this evangelical covenant relation betwixt God and Israel. . . proves this covenant to be a covenant of faith.” (p759). Ball says, “faith in the promised Messiah. . .is implied in the promise, 'I will be thy God', and commanded in the precept built upon it, 'Thou shalt have me to be thy God.' For God is not the God of Israel, but in and through the Mediator, neither can Israel take God to be their God, but by faith in the Messiah.” (p134).

5 As Calvin says, “the Lord of old willed that his people direct and elevate their minds to the heavenly heritage; yet, to nourish them better in this hope, he displayed it for them to see and, so to speak, taste, under earthly benefits. But now that the gospel has more plainly and clearly revealed the grace of the future life, the Lord leads our minds to meditate upon it directly, laying aside the lower mode of training that he used with the Israelites. . .[others] teach that the Israelites deemed the possession of the Land of Canaan their highest and ultimate blessedness, and that after the revelation of Christ it typified for us the heavenly inheritance. We contend, on the contrary, that, in the earthly possession they enjoyed, they looked, as in a mirror, upon the future inheritance they believed to have been prepared for them in heaven.” (Institutes, 2.11.1).

6 “these pure gospel-blessings in Christ do necessarily infer a pure gospel-covenant at Sinai promising them” (Roberts p758).

7 As John Ball says, “When God then says to Israel, 'I am your God, which brought you out of the land of Egypt'; does he not propound himself as their King, Judge, Savior, and Redeemer: Spiritual Redeemer from the bondage of sin and Satan, whereof that temporal deliverance was a type [?] . .The reason from all this is plain, that Covenant wherein the Lord promises, or proclaims himself to be the God of Israel, is the Covenant of Grace, which God made with Israel.” (p105).

8 Deuteronomy 1:30; 4:30, 34, 37; 5:6, 15; 6:12, 21-23; 7:8, 18; 8:14; 10:19; 13:5, 10; 15:15; 16:1, 12; 20:1; 24:18, 22; 26:8.

9 Theologians call these the “indicatives” (what is true) and “imperatives” (what to do) of Scripture. The imperatives are always grounded in the indicatives. A few New Testament examples of this are the doctrines of Romans 1-11 (indicatives) grounding the exhortations of Romans 12-15; or the indicatives of Ephesians 1-3 grounding the exhortations of Ephesians 4-6.

10 Luther puts it beautifully: “But God judges according to what is at the bottom of the heart, and for this reason, His law makes its demands on the inmost heart and cannot be satisfied with works, but rather punishes works that are done otherwise than from the bottom of the heart, as hypocrisy and lies. Hence all men are called liars, in Psalm 116, for the reason that no one keeps or can keep God's law from the bottom of the heart, for everyone finds in himself displeasure in what is good and pleasure in what is bad. If, then, there is no willing pleasure in the good, then the inmost heart is not set on the law of God, then there is surely sin, and God's wrath is deserved, even though outwardly there seem to be many good works and an honorable life…For even though you keep the law outwardly, with works, from fear of punishment or love of reward, nevertheless, you do all this without willingness and pleasure, and without love for the law, but rather with unwillingness, under compulsion; and you would rather do otherwise, if the law were not there. The conclusion is that at the bottom of your heart you hate the law. To fulfill the law, however, is to do its works with pleasure and love, and to live a godly and good life of one's own accord, without the compulsion of the law.” (from Luther's commentary on Galatians). Colquhoun says: “The laws then, which Jehovah prescribed to the Israelites. . .required internal, as well as external, obedience; the obedience of the heart, as well as of the life; they directed and bound every Israelite, in the inward man, as much as in the outward. The sum of the duty required in the moral law, is love: 'Thou shalt love the Lord thy God, with all thine heart, with all thy soul, and with all thy might'. . .” (p74). And again: “The Law is also spiritual. The Lawgiver is a spirit, the God of the spirits of all flesh; and he beholds all the inclinations and affections of the soul, as well as all the deeds of the body. His Law therefore is spiritual (Romans 7:14), requiring internal, as well as external obedience. It reaches the understanding, will, and affections, with all the other faculties of the soul, as well as all the gestures, words, and actions of the body. It extends, not only to external appearances, words, and works, but to the dispositions, thoughts, principles, motives, and designs of the heart; and requires the spiritual performance, both of internal and external obedience (Hebrews 4:12; Matthew 22:37-39).” (p88). And finally: “every Divine precept requires spiritual obedience, the service of the whole heart, as well as of the whole life.” (p244).

11 Bavinck puts it this way: “The entire law, which the covenant of grace at Mount Sinai took into its service, is intended to prompt Israel as a people to 'walk' in the way of the covenant. It is but an explication of the one statement to Abraham: 'Walk before me, and be blameless' [Gen. 17:1], and therefore no more a cancelation of the covenant of grace and the foundation of a covenant of works than this word spoken to Abraham.” (Reformed Dogmatics, V3, p222). Ball sums up much of what we've seen, saying: “the covenant that God made with Abraham was the Covenant of Grace, as it is acknowledged; but the covenant made with Abraham is for substance the same with the covenant made with Israel upon Mount Sinai: the promise is the same, and the things required the same. For in that [covenant] God promised that he would be God all-sufficient to Abraham, to bless him with all necessary blessings for this life, and the life to come. In this he promises freely and of his own mere grace and favor to be their God, and make them a kingdom of priests and a holy nation unto himself. In that he requires of Abraham, that he walk with or before him in integrity; in this he covenants, that they should obey his voice, and keep his commandments. And what is it to walk with God or before God, but to walk in his Law?” (pp108-09). Kevan notes: “The Covenant at Sinai is but the working out of the Covenant with Abraham, both in its promises and its requirements.” (p123).

12 See also Leviticus 1-6; Deuteronomy 4:30-31; 30:1-5; etc. As Ball notes: “The legal covenant or Covenant of Works cannot be renewed after it is once broken, seeing it admits not repentance of sin past, but exacts perfect and perpetual obedience. But this covenant made with the Israelites might be renewed after transgression, [and] did admit repentance. . . And if the Covenant after transgression may be renewed, it is of grace.” (Ball, p107). And again, “The frequent and earnest exhortations of the prophets made to backsliding and rebellious Israel, that she should acknowledge her wickedness, and return unto the Lord, is a full commentary of that which God required of them in this covenant.” (Ball, p133).

13 Actually, even more: not only would our sin be imputed to Christ, but His righteousness would be imputed to us.

14 Moses is set forth as a type of Christ in many ways: 1) In his commission: Just as Moses was commissioned by God with the task of delivering God's people and bringing them back with him to the place from which God had sent him, so too Christ was commissioned by the Father to deliver God's people and bring them back with Him to glory (Ex.3:12). 2) In his coming: Moses reflects Christ's incarnation in his refusal to stay comfortable in the king's palace; for the sake of his brothers he gave up the royal robes and the king's house. 3) In his birth: Just as the Savior, Moses was preserved from slaughter (Ex.1:15-22 with Matt.2:13-16) at the time of his birth; he was born into a poor family yet was the heir of a king; he was born into poverty but had access to unlimited wealth; born the child of a slave but he himself was free from the slavery of his brothers. 4) In his wilderness preparation: Just as God was preparing Moses in the wilderness 40 years for the great work of delivering God's people, so it was for 40 days of testing for Jesus in the wilderness. 5) In his offices: Christ is said to be our prophet, priest, and king; and though Moses is never called a king, he is called a prince (Ex.2:14; Ezek.34:24); and a priest (Ps.99:6), for he served as the mediator between God and the people; but perhaps most of all a shepherd-prophet, for in speaking the very words of God, he typified the greater Prophet yet to come (Deut.18:18; Jn.10:11). 6) In his supernatural signs and wonders: For Moses' rod could be turned into a snake and his hand made leprous, and it was for the express purpose that the people might believe that God had sent him (Ex.4:5); so it was with Christ, for His signs and wonders testified about him, that the Father had sent him (Jn.5:36). 7) In his being rejected: At first, the Israelites rejected his leadership, just as Christ was rejected by his own kinsmen during the course of his earthly ministry (Acts 7:25). 8) Lastly, in his sacrificial love for sinners: For God's people broke His Law before He was even finished giving it to Moses, and incurred God's wrath for their sin; but Moses pleaded for forgiveness on their behalf, even if it meant his own name being blotted out from the book of life. Moses offers up his own life in exchange for theirs, which is exactly what Jesus did—giving up paradise for our sake and taking all hell upon himself.

15 a) The Table of Showbread: “I am the bread of life;” b) The Golden Lamp-stand: “I am the Light of the world;” c) The Veil of Christ's flesh was torn for us (Heb.10:20); d) The Mercy Seat points us to justification through Christ's blood; e) The Laver for Washing points us to the washing of regeneration by the Spirit (Tit.3:5). Or, in the words of Francis Roberts, “Christ was the true ark, having the covenant and Law of God fully in his heart and bowels; Christ was the true mercy-seat, covering the curse of the Law; Christ was the true sacrifice, purging away sin, and making atonement by his own blood; Christ was the true table of show-bread, whereon all his Israel are daily presented as acceptable before the Lord. Christ was the true veil, by which, rent, we have open entrance made into the Holy of Holies, heaven itself. . .” (Roberts, Marrow, p767).

16 This makes the story in Exodus 17 take on new meaning: God's people disobeyed. But instead of striking them, God told Moses to get his staff and strike the rock (17:6); a foreshadowing of the atonement. Christ was punished in our place.

17 Roberts puts it this way: “The ceremonies [IE, ceremonial laws] are Christ veiled; Christ wrapped in swaddling clothes; Christ, the son of righteousness, shining through a cloud; Christ was implicitly revealed in them all.” And again he says: “Jesus Christ was the very principal scope and soul of the Law, or Sinai Covenant, in all the doctrines, commands, and promises thereof. . .so that in this whole Sinai Covenant Jesus Christ was primarily intended.” (Roberts, p765).

18 Calvin says of this passage in Deuteronomy 30, “the apostle, our sure interpreter, removes our every doubt when he declares that Moses here spoke of the teaching of the gospel [Romans 10:8]. . .It is perfectly clear then that by these words Moses meant the covenant of mercy that he had promulgated along with the requirements of the law.” (Institutes, 2.5.12). Roberts speaks of the significance of Romans 10, saying, “Paul himself derives and proves the righteousness of faith from this Sinai-Covenant; as contained therein, and revealed thereby. . . From where did this description [in Romans 10:6-11] of the righteousness of faith come from; but from Moses describing the Law or Sinai-Covenant? And Paul excellently expounds the words of Moses, as peculiarly intending to set forth the righteousness of faith. We cannot wish a better commentator.” (p767). Samuel Rutherford likewise notes here: “This covenant has the promise of a circumcised heart, Deuteronomy 30:6, and of the word of faith that is near in the mouth, and of the righteousness of faith clearly differenced from the righteousness of the Law by doing. For so Paul, Romans 10:5,6,7, etc, expounds Moses, Deuteronomy 30:11,12,13,14.” (Rutherford, p61). And Turretin, noting the passage quoted in Romans 10:6-8, asks, “Now how could Paul have said this unless he had recognized that covenant, by virtue of which such promises were given, to be not so much legal as evangelical?” (Institutes, V2, p266).

19 Noting Romans 3:21-22, Roberts states simply: “The Law itself testifies that the righteousness of God (viz, which God has ordained, revealed, and will accept), is without [IE, apart from] the Law; that is, by faith without the deeds of the Law.” (p787).

20 Roberts says, “Faith in Jesus Christ and justification by faith in him, must be necessarily implied in the same covenant. For these, Christ and saving faith; Christ and justification by faith; have inseparable connection and dependance one upon the other; as the act and object, as the cause and effect. Where Christ is revealed for life and justification, there faith in him is implicitly required; and where Christ is received by faith, there justification by faith must infallibly ensue.” (pp765-66). Ball puts it this way: “the Law requires faith as well as love and obedience, and does build these upon it as a foundation. It prescribes faith in the first place, and throughout, namely that we acknowledge God the Law-giver, to be the Lord our God, the only true God, and testifies that faith unto him, by an universal and uniform obedience to that whole Law and every title thereof. . .Certainly, 'whatsoever is not of faith is sin', even all works, though good in show, and for substance seeming agreeable to the rule of the Law, if they issue not from faith, they are vain and hypocritical, if they be not quickened and enlivened by faith, they are but the carcass of a good work. . .Therefore the Lord in Covenant commanding the observation of his Law, exacts faith also, without which the Law cannot be obeyed in an acceptable manner. For when the Law is spiritual, and commands true worship and invocation, how can it be observed without faith?” (pp105-106). And again, “the Law requires faith as well as love and obedience, and does build these upon it as a foundation. . .that love which the Law requires, either towards God or towards man, must flow from a pure heart, and faith it is that purifies the heart.” (Ball, p109). And finally, “The condition of this covenant [at Sinai]. . .is faith in the promised Messiah, which is implied in the promise, 'I will be thy God', and commanded in the precept built upon it, 'thou shalt have me to be thy God.' For God is not the God of Israel, but in and through the Mediator, neither can Israel take God to be their God, but by faith in the Messiah.” (Ball, p134).

21 This is also given as the reason for the exile of Israel, which was outlined in the Mosaic Covenant. We read in 2 Kings 17:14: “However, they did not listen, but stiffened their neck like their fathers, who did not believe in the Lord their God.”

22 We might also note: H) The BESTOWER of the Mosaic Covenant is the same as the Covenant of Grace: For Acts 7:38 tells us that it was actually the angel of the Lord who spoke to Moses on Mount Sinai, the same angel that appears throughout the Old Testament, and is understood by most to be the pre-incarnate Christ (see Gen.22:12,15ff; Exod.3:2-6; Jud.2:1-3; 13:15-22); so that the One who gave the Law at Sinai was none other than Christ himself. This was a commonly held view by the Puritans and others (cf. John Colquhoun, A Treatise of the Law and Gospel, p52). I) The FOUNDATION of the Mosaic Covenant is the same as the Covenant of Grace: For the ratification ceremony recorded in Exodus 24:3-8, and Moses sprinkling the people with the blood of the covenant, did also show forth Christ, whose blood is the only foundation of hope we have in the new covenant. Ainsworth says, “Thus the first covenant was not dedicated without blood, and the patterns of heavenly things were purified by the blood of these sacrifices; signifying that Christ by his death should sanctify himself for his people, and them unto himself, by the blood of a better covenant, John 17:19; Heb.9:13,14; 1Pet.1:2.” Fisher also says that by Moses' sprinkling of blood, “they were taught that by virtue of blood, this covenant betwixt God and them was confirmed, and that Christ, by his blood shed, should satisfy for their sins; for, indeed, the Covenant of Grace was, before the coming of Christ, sealed by his blood in types and figures.” (p68). And Burgess, “the visible seal to ratify this covenant which you heard, was by sacrifices, and sprinkling the people with blood: And this did signify Christ. . .” (p236). J) The SACRAMENTS of the Mosaic Covenant are the same as the Covenant of Grace: As Blake says, “the Jews had Christ in their sacraments (1 Cor.10:4; 5:7), and we have no more in ours. . .The initiating sacrament of the Jews. . .was that painful circumcision in the flesh, yet, those that would be the Lord's did, and must submit unto it. . .he that was not circumcised in the flesh, might not eat of the Passover (Exod.12:48). A full text against all that plead for unbaptized persons admission to the Lord's table, God will not suffer that disorder, that the leading sacrament should come after. The initiating sacrament with Christians is that of baptism, no sooner was a man brought into covenant, but he was straight baptized; as soon as he made profession, he had this sealing engaging sign. . .The following sacrament in the old covenant was that of the Passover, a lamb without blemish to be eaten in the place and way that God prescribed. That in the New Testament, is the Supper of the Lord, in ordinary, common, useful, and necessary elements, bread and wine, which are of a strengthening and cheering nature. . .” (pp209-210). And Roberts says, “this Sinai-Covenant, being confirmed and ratified by these seals and tokens of the Covenant of Faith it must needs be a Covenant of Faith in Christ; for it were most improper and absurd to add the seals of the Covenant of Faith, to a Covenant of Works, a Mixed Covenant, a Subservient Covenant, or to any other sort of Covenant but the Covenant of Faith.” (p764).

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