January 17 & 20 – Mosaic Covenant
The Mosaic Covenant technically covers the whole of the Mosaic Law, spelled out in Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy. What we’ll look at this week is the very introduction of the covenant, and laws, at Mount Sinai. This happened shortly after God freed Israel from Egypt and led them through the parted Red Sea (Ex.14). In Exodus 19:1-8 we see God’s initial covenantal promise to Israel, followed in 20:1-21 by the initial law giving with the Ten Commandments. To get a full picture of what’s going on here we’ll look at both texts in our discussion.
Across these two passages we see God’s end goal for Israel pretty clearly: God intends for Israel to be a “kingdom of priests and a holy nation.”(19:6) In his call for obedience (19:5) he has a role for Israel to fill in the world by introducing other nations to God, testifying to his might, and mediating for sin through the sacrificial system. He also gave these laws so that Israel would be holy before him and know how seriously God regards sin.
These two functions, imaging God to the world and keeping right relationship with him through obedience, were the roles given to Adam and Eve (Genesis 1:26-2:24). Those functions were intended for all mankind in a perfect world, but by Exodus 19 we see those two functions through the lens of a fallen world. For instance, now Israel must be a “kingdom of priests” to mediate for sin, which wasn’t a part of the original mandate given to Adam and Eve.
Unfortunately, over the 2000-ish years between Moses and Jesus, Israel failed time and again to fulfill these two roles. Praise God that this mantle of imaging God and obeying him was taken up by God himself in the person and work of Jesus, who fully fulfilled its requirements, and of which we’re the beneficiaries. So now believers follow Jesus by fulfilling these roles under the law of grace through Christ (Romans 8:1-2), in which we enjoy the blessings of the covenant given to Moses by being a “treasured people”, fulfill the goal of the covenant by becoming a “kingdom of priests and holy nation”, and escape the penalty of the covenant because the penalty has already been born by Christ on the cross.
All of that to say, when we look at this passage and see God’s intent for Israel to image him and obey him, we should know that this is God’s intent for us in Christ as well. In light of who Jesus is, the Church now has the role of imaging and obeying; in our imaging we present Jesus to the world, and in our obeying we show that Jesus is worthy of our entire lives.
Questions for Discussion
• Could someone read Exodus 19:1-8 and Exodus 20:1-21?
• What stood out to you from these passages?
• How does this covenant build on the covenants with Noah and Abraham?
• Why do you think God gave Israel these 10 laws?
• Why do you think God wanted to make Israel a “kingdom of priests” in the world?
• How do you think God’s desires for Israel relate to his desires for you and me?
• What can this passage tell us about the God’s love for us and our obedience to him?