Ex 19:5                      A Covenant or a Contract?                                  11/29/2009    ßà   

  • Apparently a Contract (Ex 19:1-25)

 

 

 

 

#1.       If Ye Will Obey My Voice (Ex 19:5, Gal 4:24-25, 2Cor 3:7-11)

 

 

 

 

  • There Is Only One Covenant (Gen 6:8, Gal 3:10, 2Sam 12:13, Rev 13:8, Ex 19:5)

 

 

 

 

  • And Keep My Covenant (Psalm 37:4, Matt 22:35-40, 5:48, Eph 1:4)

 

 

 

 

#2.       Ye Shall Be a Peculiar Treasure (Ex 19:5, Deut 14:2)

 

 

 

 

  • Ye Shall Be a Kingdom of Priests (Ex 19:6, 1Pet 2:5,9, Rev 1:6)

 

 

 

 

#3.       Those That Make a Contract (Ex 19:8, Heb 8:6-13, Rom 9:6, 2:28-29)

 

 

 

Please open your Bibles to the Prophecy of Exodus, Ex 19:1 (2X). The children of Israel have left Rephidim and are now camped near the mountain of God, Mount Horeb. If you have followed them in Num 33 where all 42 camping places are listed, you can see that they have left their 10th camping place and are now camped at their 11th camping place. We should see in this story of the Exodus our salvation and deliverance from sin and Satan. To this end God gave us a chronological sequence of events which serves to give us a better understanding of God’s dealings with His elect children. After their miraculous deliverance from Pharaoh who drowned in the Red Sea, the children of Israel sang the song of Moses, praising God for His wonderful providence. Then follows a sequence of events that characterizes our salvation. The sequence that God wants us to remember is this: In Ex 16 God told us about the manna, which represented Christ as the Bread from Heaven and the Bread of Life, and which was pointing to the Incarnation of the Lord Jesus Christ at about 6 BC. In the first part of Ex 17 God told us about Moses striking the Rock, which represents Christ, and which was pointing to the atonement of the Lord Jesus Christ on the cross in AD 33. In the second part of Ex 17 God told us about the battle between Joshua and Amalek, which represents the battle between Christ and Satan, which was pointing to Pentecost in AD 33 and beyond. In Ex 18 God told us about the return of Moses’ wife, and which represented the reconciliation of the remnant of Israel, and which was pointing to the interpretation of Rom 11. Today in Ex 19, before God introduces us to the law of God, He introduces us first to the Covenant, for only if we understand the Covenant of God are we able to understand His dealings with us under the law. And thus the title for the sermon of today is, A Covenant or a Contract? (2X). What do we find here in Ex 19? Is it a Covenant, or is it a contract? And what is the difference between the two? First we see it is:

  • Apparently a Contract (Ex 19:1-25)

Ex 19:1-25  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. 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. 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. And the LORD said unto Moses, Go unto the people, and sanctify them to day and to morrow, and let them wash their clothes, And be ready against the third day: for the third day the LORD will come down in the sight of all the people upon mount Sinai. And thou shalt set bounds unto the people round about, saying, Take heed to yourselves, that ye go not up into the mount, or touch the border of it: whosoever toucheth the mount shall be surely put to death: There shall not an hand touch it, but he shall surely be stoned, or shot through; whether it be beast or man, it shall not live: when the trumpet soundeth long, they shall come up to the mount. And Moses went down from the mount unto the people, and sanctified the people; and they washed their clothes. And he said unto the people, Be ready against the third day: come not at your wives. And it came to pass on the third day in the morning, that there were thunders and lightnings, and a thick cloud upon the mount, and the voice of the trumpet exceeding loud; so that all the people that was in the camp trembled. And Moses brought forth the people out of the camp to meet with God; and they stood at the nether part of the mount. And mount Sinai was altogether on a smoke, because the LORD descended upon it in fire: and the smoke thereof ascended as the smoke of a furnace, and the whole mount quaked greatly. And when the voice of the trumpet sounded long, and waxed louder and louder, Moses spake, and God answered him by a voice. And the LORD came down upon mount Sinai, on the top of the mount: and the LORD called Moses up to the top of the mount; and Moses went up. And the LORD said unto Moses, Go down, charge the people, lest they break through unto the LORD to gaze, and many of them perish. And let the priests also, which come near to the LORD, sanctify themselves, lest the LORD break forth upon them. And Moses said unto the LORD, The people cannot come up to mount Sinai: for thou chargedst us, saying, Set bounds about the mount, and sanctify it. And the LORD said unto him, Away, get thee down, and thou shalt come up, thou, and Aaron with thee: but let not the priests and the people break through to come up unto the LORD, lest he break forth upon them. So Moses went down unto the people, and spake unto them.

And so, what do we see here? Is it not clear that this is a contract? God says in Ex 19:5-6, “If ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation.” In other words, “If ye obey My law which I shall dictate in the next chapter, then I shall give you my greatest gift, which is eternal life forever.” Let us now consider this contract. Put a sticker here.

#1.       If Ye Will Obey My Voice (Ex 19:5, Gal 4:24-25, 2Cor 3:7-11)

Ex 19:5, “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.”

God called the Decalogue, which He dictated in Ex 20, His Covenant. What is a contract? A contract is made between two equal parties. A contract is usually of this format: If you do this then I shall do that. Is God’s Covenant really a contract between two equal parties? God is greater than this universe which He created. Man is a tiny speck of dust within our solar system, which itself is only a tiny speck of dust in our galaxy, which in turn is only a tiny speck of dust among the trillions of galaxies in this universe. Will the Almighty make a contract with puny man as if man stands as an equal to God? Will the Almighty wait taking any action until He has seen what actions puny man has taken? You can see that such a world-view elevates man to the level of God. We can see that this is very unlikely. And even though the words of Ex 19:5-6 seem to make us understand that God refers to a contract, we need to give this conclusion a serious consideration. What is a Covenant? A Covenant is a one sided promise that God makes with man, where God makes all the decisions and man is subject to those decisions. God makes a covenant primarily for the purpose of salvation. When we ask for the opinions of famous Bible teachers, we are told that there are many different covenants. For example, there is the Noachian covenant, which is the promise that God made with Noah and with all the living things that came out of the Ark that there shall never again be a worldwide flood. There is the Abrahamic covenant, which is the promise to Abraham and his seed that they would inherit the land of Canaan. There is the Mosaic covenant, which is the promise that God will save everyone who will obey all His laws. And then there is the Covenant of Grace which began at the cross of Jesus Christ and where God promised to save people by grace. Please turn in your Bibles to the Epistle to the Galatians, Gal 4:24 (2X). Let us now look carefully at the last two covenants, the Mosaic covenant and the Covenant of Grace, in the light of what the NT teaches. Here in Gal 4 God rehearses for us the story of Abraham and Hagar and her son Ishmael, and contrasted with Sarah and her son Isaac. And then God says something very profound in Gal 4:24-25,

Ga 4:24-25 Which things are an allegory: for these are the two covenants; the one from the Mount Sinai, which gendereth to bondage, which is Agar. For this Agar is Mount Sinai in Arabia, and answereth to Jerusalem which now is, and is in bondage with her children.

God speaks here of the two covenants; one is the Mosaic covenant and the other is the Covenant of Grace. Hagar represents the Mosaic covenant, and Sarah represents the Covenant of Grace. But only the Covenant of Grace is the covenant that saves. The Mosaic covenant does not save people, but brings them under condemnation, like verse 24 says: “which gendereth to bondage.” Moreover, the nation of unconverted Jews, identified as “Jerusalem which now is,” is still in bondage to sin and Satan, for they who still adhere to the Mosaic covenant are under a covenant of works, which cannot save. And so, the question is, did God ordain that before the cross people could be saved under a covenant of works, whereas after the cross only the Covenant of Grace brought salvation? Please turn in your Bibles a few pages back to the Second Epistle to the Corinthians, 2Cor 3:7 (2X). In this chapter of 2Cor 3 God shows the contrast between the Mosaic covenant and the Covenant of Grace. The Mosaic covenant was written in tables of stone, but the Covenant of Grace is written by the Spirit of the living God in fleshly tables of the heart. The letter (in stone) killeth, but the Spirit giveth life. We read in 2Cor 3:7-11,

2Co 3:7-11  But if the ministration of death, written and engraven in stones, was glorious, so that the children of Israel could not stedfastly behold the face of Moses for the glory of his countenance; which glory was to be done away: How shall not the ministration of the spirit be rather glorious? For if the ministration of condemnation be glory, much more doth the ministration of righteousness exceed in glory. For even that which was made glorious had no glory in this respect, by reason of the glory that excelleth. For if that which is done away was glorious, much more that which remaineth is glorious.

God says here that the Mosaic covenant was a ministration of death and it was a ministration of condemnation. And thus, in OT times the Mosaic covenant was a covenant that brought condemnation to all who adhered to a works gospel, just like today. That is terrible news for all those people who lived in OT times. Will they all be condemned to Hell? But that is an impossible conclusion. God is not an ogre. It cannot be that God gave all the OT people the law through Moses so that they all would go to Hell because they kept the law. That would make God a mean ogre. That would make God a murderer of those who want to obey His laws. Therefore, let us reexamine these verses, for we may not have interpreted them correctly. First of all we have to start with the better premise:

  • There Is Only One Covenant (Gen 6:8, Gal 3:10, 2Sam 12:13, Rev 13:8, Ex 19:5)

God has only one covenant that saves, and it is the Covenant of Grace. Already in Gen 6:8 we read, “Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord.” And thus, there are not many different covenants, like the Noachian covenant, or the Abrahamic covenant, or the Mosaic covenant. Those are all splintering the grace of God, and it is all rubbish. We must see the grace of God in all these covenants and then every-thing shall fall in place. God’s plan of salvation for OT people is almost exactly the same as for NT people. And so, how can the covenant given through Moses be a covenant of death? Just like today, it can be a covenant of death if people believe that by obeying these laws they would earn their salvation. Please turn in your Bibles to the Epistle to the Galatians, Gal 3:10 (2X). If today people believe that the Bible is only a book that teaches men how to get along with each other, then for them the Bible becomes a covenant of death. If today people believe that the Bible is the law of God, and we can only be saved if we obey that law, then the Bible is for them a covenant of death. And so, if the OT people believed that they were saved because they were descendants of Abraham, and because they obeyed the law, then the Bible has become for them a covenant of death, for there is salvation only through Christ, and not through the law. God says very plainly in Gal 3:10,

Ga 3:10  For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse: for it is written, Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them.

And since no one is able to do “all things which are written in the book of the law”, it is evident that anyone who tries to do any work for his or her salvation is under a curse. It is the curse of the law. And thus, in Gal 4:24-25, this curse of the law rests upon those who hang on to the law of Moses, even after the cross, for salvation can only come through Jesus Christ, and not by obedience to the law. Moreover, in 2Cor 3:7-11, the ministration of death was that part of the old covenant that was carved in stone, and God gave it to the children of Israel with much fanfare, and thunderings and lightnings. But king David was certainly saved by grace, for the prophet Nathan said to him in 2Sam 12:13, “The LORD also hath put away thy sin; thou shalt not die.” And we should notice the past tense in that verse, “The LORD also hath put away thy sin,” because the sins of David were paid 1000 years later at the cross, but the effect of that payment on the cross reached as far back as the beginning of creation. That is why in Rev 13:8 the Lord Jesus Christ is called the “Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.” And so, we should carefully discern the grace of God and the intentions of men. God gave to Moses a covenant that included the ceremonial law, and God commanded the children of Israel to keep that law, and to see through it that the law contained pictures and types and figures of Christ and of the atonement of Christ. But Israel kept the law as an end in itself, for Israel did not need a Savior. Israel believed that they were righteous because they were children of Abraham and they obeyed the law. And then the Old Covenant becomes a covenant of works, and it turns into a covenant of death and condemnation. So, let us see now if God formulated this Old Covenant in such a way that it could have brought salvation to everyone who was willing to listen. God said in Ex 19:5,

Ex 19:5, “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.”

  • And Keep My Covenant (Psalm 37:4, Matt 22:35-40, 5:48, Eph 1:4)

What does it mean to keep God’s covenant? Does it mean to obey His commandments? Absolutely Not! It cannot mean that, for God knows that we cannot obey His commandments perfectly. The entire NT testifies that we are unable to keep His commandments perfectly. Please turn in your Bibles to the Prophecy of the Psalms, Psal 37:4 (2X). A lawyer who was tempting Jesus asked Him in Matt 22:35-40

Mt 22:35-40  Then one of them, which was a lawyer, asked him a question, tempting him, and saying, Master, which is the great commandment in the law? Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.

Now we know that we are unable to love the Lord thy God with all our heart, and with all our soul, and with all our mind. The Lord mentioned our mind. Our mind wanders in all directions at the same time. We are unable to focus our mind on God alone. And so, we realize that we cannot even keep one of His commandments perfectly. But is it necessary to do it perfectly? Absolutely yes, for the Lord Jesus said in Matt 5:48, “Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.” And so, we realize that if we cannot do it perfectly, how then can we keep God’s covenant? Now God gives us a way out in Psalm 37:4, for there we read:

Ps 37:4  Delight thyself also in the LORD; and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart.

We delight ourselves in the Lord, for He has given us faith and He has given us the Lord Jesus Christ to atone for our sins. Therefore we delight to glorify Him and worship Him. We also have the desire to serve Him, and we desire to obey His commandments. God has put these desires in our heart, and therefore He shall also fill those desires. He gave us the Lord Jesus Christ, and Christ fulfilled the law perfectly in our place. But since we are in Christ, we share in the fulfillment of His commandments. And so, this is how we keep His covenant perfectly. Christ kept God’s covenant perfectly, and since we are in Christ we keep God’s covenant in Christ. Therefore, when God says in Psalm 37:4, “he shall give thee the desires of thine heart”, we realize that God gave us these desires, and then He also fills those desires. It seems like magic, but it all flows out of the fact that we were placed in Christ from before the foundation of the world, according to Eph 1:4. Please turn again to the Proph of Exodus, Ex 19:5 (2X).

#2.       Ye Shall Be a Peculiar Treasure (Ex 19:5, Deut 14:2)

Ex 19:5, “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.”

To whom does God make this promise? Who will be a peculiar treasure unto God above all people? This language is spoken only to God’s elect people, those whom He chose unto salvation from before the foundation of the world. God is not speaking these words to the entire nation of Israel, for there are elect people among them, but there are also many reprobate, those whom God never intended to save. And thus, if only the elect are addressed in Ex 19:5, then we can understand that these are indeed those who will obey God’s voice, for God the Holy Spirit will cause them to become born again and to listen to what God has to say. And if only the elect are addressed in this verse then we can see that these are the people who will keep God’s covenant through Christ who will keep it in their place perfectly. Please turn in your Bibles to the Prophecy of Deuteronomy, Deut 4:20 (2X). Let us take a look at a few more verses which prove that God indeed addresses only the elect. We are going to look at three verses in Deuteronomy which use the language that God only uses when He speaks to His elect. God does not speak this way to everyone in the world, and neither does He speak this way to those who are unsaved and are on the way to Hell. We read in Deut 4:20,

De 4:20  But the LORD hath taken you, and brought you forth out of the iron furnace, even out of Egypt, to be unto him a people of inheritance, as ye are this day.

To be unto him a people of inheritance” means that these are people who have received eternal life, and are on the way to the NH&NE. This is the inheritance that the Lord promises to all His children. Not the land of Canaan. The land of Canaan will be burnt up on the last day; that is not a great inheritance. Please turn a few pages forward to Deut 7:6 (2X).

De 7:6  For thou art an holy people unto the LORD thy God: the LORD thy God hath chosen thee to be a special people unto himself, above all people that are upon the face of the earth.

What does it mean “to be a holy people unto the Lord thy God?” It means to be holy and without blame before Him. It means to be a people of saints, and set apart for service to God. When we read that “the Lord thy God hath chosen thee to be a special people unto himself”, we are reminded of God choosing His elect and placing them in the mind of God the Son before the foundation of the world. God does not make up His mind in the course of history, for God knows how all the history shall develop. God is definitely speaking here to His elect. Please turn a few pages forward to Deut 14:2 (2X). Th.w.r.

De 14:2  For thou art an holy people unto the LORD thy God, and the LORD hath chosen thee to be a peculiar people unto himself, above all the nations that are upon the earth.

Here we see that the “special people” of Deut 7:6 are the same as the “peculiar people” in Deut 14:2 and they are the same as the “peculiar treasure” in Ex 19:5. These are the special people of God. Please turn again to the Prophecy of Exodus, Ex 19:6 (2X).

  • Ye Shall Be a Kingdom of Priests (Ex 19:6, 1Pet 2:5,9, Rev 1:6)

Ex 19:6,  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.

What is a kingdom of priests and a holy nation? This is NT language addressing the saints in Christ. In the NT the saints are called a royal priesthood and a holy nation. In the NT all the saints are prophets, priests and kings. Please turn in your Bibles to the First Epistle of Peter 1Pet 2:5 (2X). A kingdom of priests does not belong in the OT, for in the OT God ordained the family of Aaron to supply all the priests for the nation of Israel. But when God calls the entire nation of Israel a Kingdom of Priests, something special is going on. What is going on? God is in the business of temple building. We read in:

1Pe 2:5  Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ.

We are the living stones that God uses to build His spiritual house. And to this end we all together are an holy priesthood. We all are interceding for one another, and for those who still need salvation. We are offering spiritual sacrifices, for animal sacrifices are no longer acceptable to God. Spiritual sacrifices are prayers for the saints, and prayers for the furtherance of the Kingdom of God, and giving of our time for the business of the Kingdom of God. Today these are unpopular sacrifices to give to God. People rather give some money and be done with it. Please look now at verse 9, 1Pet 2:9

1Pe 2:9  But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light:

We are “a chosen generation”, for God is speaking only to those who belong to the elect of God. We are a royal priesthood, and an holy nation, and a peculiar people. We were created to give glory to God, who called us out of the darkness of our bondage to sin and called us to be in the glorious light of the Gospel of Christ. We hear it once every two weeks when I read from Rev 1 where God says in Rev 1:6

Re 1:6  And hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father; to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.

We were made kings and priests, and that is why God speaks in 1Pet 2:9 about a royal priesthood. And so we see that everywhere God speaks of a covenant, God only addresses His elect. And why is that so? We need to understand that there is only one covenant that saves, and that is the Covenant of Grace. What is that Covenant of Grace? From Gal 3 and 4 and from Heb 8, 9, and 10 we understand that the Covenant of Grace is God’s last will and testament, and all the elect are the beneficiaries who are named in that last will and testament of God. I have addressed the Covenant of Grace in many sermons in the past. In order for a testament to be of force there must be a death of the maker of that last will and testament. The Lord Jesus Christ died, and since He in the person of God the Son was the maker of that will, it means that this last will and testament of God became effective in AD 33. It means that all the elect were justified when Christ rose from the grave. I will further expand this concept at a future date. Please turn again to the Prophecy of Exodus, Ex 19:8 (2X). We began this sermon with the question, “A Covenant or a Contract?” These words from God in Ex 19 sound like music in the ears of God’s elect, for they see in this a covenant. But then there are others who hear the same words, but to them it sounds like a contract.

#3.       Those That Make a Contract (Ex 19:8, Heb 8:6-13, Rom 9:6, 2:28-29)

Ex 19:8, 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.

Did they realize what they were saying? They promised to God that they would be obedient to ALL His commandments and ordinances. This sounds like a contract. They believed that God would be their eternal protector because they were obedient to all His commandments. But let us now hear from God if they really obeyed all His commandments. Please turn in your Bibles to the Epistle to the Hebrews, Heb 8:6 (2X). In the passage that we are going to read, God complained that the nation of Israel had not obeyed His covenant, and therefore He was going to replace them with another nation, and He was going to replace the covenant with another covenant which God called “A New Covenant”. Essentially this New Covenant is the Covenant of Grace. We read in Heb 8:6-13,

Heb 8:6-13 But now hath he (Christ) obtained a more excellent ministry, by how much also he is the mediator of a better covenant, which was established upon better promises. For if that first covenant had been faultless, then should no place have been sought for the second. For finding fault with them, he saith, Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah: Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day when I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt; because they continued not in my covenant, and I regarded them not, saith the Lord. For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord; I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people: And they shall not teach every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for all shall know me, from the least to the greatest. For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more. In that he saith, A new covenant, he hath made the first old. Now that which decayeth and waxeth old is ready to vanish away.

God says that He is making a new covenant with the house of Israel; not with the old rebellious Israel but with the NT Israel, the Israel of God which is mentioned in Rom 9:6. And God is making a new covenant with the house of Judah; not with the old rebellious Judah, but with the NT nation of Jews as defined by Rom 2:28-29. And the new covenant that God makes with the NT nation of the elect people of God is not going to be patterned after the first covenant, but after 100% grace from God. And therein is the mercy and grace of God displayed, for God says in verse 12, “For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more.” We shall rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory. Thanks be to God for His unspeakable gift.            

AMEN.                 Let us turn to the Lord in prayer.